This past weekend was the inaugural NMRA Gateway Rumble event in Madison, IL. Many racers were excited for this event because this location is where the famous World Ford Challenge use to take place. This was my first time racing at this location and I have to say, I liked the establishment.
The events leading up to this race weekend were all but easy. The car underwent some major transformations but ultimately ended up right back to how it was prior to any of the hard work that was done in the 6 weeks off time between NMRA Atlanta and NMRA Gateway.
If you read the recap of the NMRA Atlanta event, you are aware that we experienced electrical and transmission problems ending our weekend extremely early. During the time between Atlanta and Gateway, the transmission was pulled and sent off to be fixed, all the wiring was ripped from the race car, the install of the new suspension started along with the installment of the new Bosch ECU. Everything seemed to be going as planned but that quickly changed days prior to our schedule departure date to a private test session at Holly Springs. I was starting to think we would never make it to this upcoming race event that was only days away.
The nightmare began when the transmission that was sent to be fixed, was not going to arrive in time. We rushed to find a replacement and an anonymous person was so kind to lend their transmission in order for us to make the event. After the install of that transmission, we continued on with the installment of the new BMR rear suspension. In the mist of that, we realized we did not have all the necessary parts to finish it. With time not on our side, the decision to put the old rear suspension back in was made. Already running a day behind, the work continued. Other events happened during all of this, like our power board being ran over, the drive-by-wire gas pedal going bad, and breaking a u-joint on the driveshaft…causing more delays.
Then it came down to the moment of truth, operating the car on the new Bosch unit. When communication with the ECU was made, it was extremely exciting. However, that quickly changed when we learned that the ECU we had was not licensed for drive-by-wire. Luckily, we had the stock ECU and wiring harness on hand. The entire car was stripped of all its new wiring and the stock harness, ecu, and old Racepak components were reinstalled. This made us miss Qualifying Round 1 at the NMRA Gateway event.
To save from an extremely long read, lets speed up to Saturday at the race event. We finally got the car running. We know the car works on the stock components but knowing the fact we were up reinstalling all these items in the middle of the night with little sleep, we were not sure if it was reinstalled correctly. We finished up just in time to make Q2 where we made a soft hit just to be safe. When we returned to the pits, data was pulled and changes to our tune up were made. On Q3 we ran a firstname.lastname@example.org mph landing us the #3 spot on a 9 car ladder.
Eliminations started Sunday and we knew that anything can happen on race day. With the week that was had, I kept telling myself I was just happy to have the car running again and that it made a 8 second pass. We had a first round win and a second round win, allowing us to have the BYE into the finals. In the finals, we had a deadly consistent car to beat. Time came to really test my driving skill. The tree dropped and both cars were gone. We were neck to neck the entire way down the track. At first, it was such a close race that when I turned off on the return road, I had no idea I even won until the text message with the ET and results were read. It was a hole shot win, our 8.80 beat a 8.77! I could not believe we took home the WIN after all that had happened leading up to this event.
Overall, it thought me that the determination that lives within me can overpower any obstacle thrown my way. I was ready to throw in the towel after all the delays and problems I experienced prior to this event but I am really glad I stayed with it and kept working away. It ultimately paid off in the best way possible.