A little over a year ago, my FCA friend (and buddy from the Mezzi) Bert ranted and raved about a driving school he attended through RMVR. “You sooo have to do it!!! I learned so much! You’d love it!!”
My response: “Why didn’t you tell me sooner your sorry son of a–”
So I made Bert promise to let me know when the next school was, intending on taking the Cheese and burning some hot laps. And also to try and overcome the damn understeer that occurs when you have a monster motor in the nose.
Fast forward to the very beginning of February this year. I am just toodling along, and Bert sends me the email…
Well then, let the racing begin! I surfed my way over to the RMVR sign up site, and upon reading all the info determined that I needed at least a 3-point belt and a roll bar for the Cheese. Crap. Ok, make some phone calls, bug Tom at Aspen…no roll bar around. Because I was a bit concerned about my job status at work, I really didn’t want to spend goo-gobs of cash prepping the Cheese for a 2-day affair, only to take the stuff out and have to store it the other 363 days of the year. So I contacted the head of the racing school to see what the options were, if they were hard pressed on the roll bar thing, and if so does an X 1/9 need any modifications for the school?
Joe Bunton, organizer of the school, contacted me and was super excited that a Fiat would be coming. However, it definitely had to be one of the X’s, no way the Cheese could partake without the extra safety goodies due to insurance reasons.
An X it is then. After talking with Tom about which X might be the better choice, we decided that the Xpresso was probably the most likely to not get heavily scrutinized during tech, and also already had tires that should work. The red X (also just known as “The X”) had been hit REALLY HARD before I got it, and while the repairs were sound, they weren’t all that pretty. Tom’s concern was even though the car is in excellent driving condition, the repairs made to the nose might cause undue alarm and tech might garage it. While I would have preferred to take the X with the less-nice body in case of an unplanned merging with the banking wall, I wasn’t too heartbroken to take the Xpresso and show it off.
Having the “which car am I taking” decision made, I sent in my paperwork and payment of $300 for the weekend. For reference, just to get track time by itself for 1 day is close to $300, so to get pretty much the track time at 1/2 off, instruction, classes, and food? Yeah, sweet deal. I also booked a place to stay through AirBNB, which if you haven’t ever used it for travel, look it up!!! It’s the only way to stay if you like 25 year old scotch and are on a PBR budget. Just check out the slideshow below….I rented this entire house for $95/night, and was 15 minutes from the track.
Now comes the middle of March, which brings all sorts of fun surprises since it includes my birthday (YAY!) and getting laid off from my job (BOO!). I am still a month out from racing weekend at this point, so I wrestle with myself on whether I should be so decadent to go ahead with the trip despite having no income, or if I should cancel. Obviously I decided to go, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article, right? It actually was resolved something more like this:
F**K IT. I’m going racing.
The closer racing day came, the more I was somewhat panicked. Since I had already paid for everything, cost really wasn’t a concern, but there were all those stupid little things going through my head like:
What if you eat the wall? What if you break something? What if you get there and the other racers are pompous assholes? What if your instructor thinks girls belong in the kitchen and not on the racetrack? What if the Xpresso chokes?
Having encountered many occurrences of snootyness directed both at Fiats and being a car chick, my biggest concern was not getting the most out of the weekend due to marque bigotry. After thinking about all of these things for a week or so, I came to the following conclusion:
F**K IT. I’m going racing.
Finally racing day was just 24 hours away, and I got up that morning to very sloppy weather and a VERY ill kitty cat. Now severely panicked and on my way to the wonderful emergency staff at CSU, I really wasn’t sure if I could go on the trip. If Vega was extremely ill and needing constant care, I would be forced to not go, and potentially lose a large portion of the money already put down. Fortunately, the amazing vets at CSU were able to correctly diagnose and fix Vega, and Steph volunteered to keep a close eye on her while I was gone in case of a relapse. Though I would be racing, Vega would be at the back of my mind the entire weekend.
Friday (tech day) finally arrives, and though I am tired and stressed form Vega being ill, she has improved dramatically and I feel better about leaving her for a couple of days. I had sense enough to prep the car earlier in the week, so a quick shakedown of the car, removal of all unnecessary things such as hub caps and junk in the trunk, and a packed overnight bag and I was ready. My plan was to go down the day before actual racing to get the tech done on my car, so if there was a problem I had at least a slim chance of fixing it, and also so I could wake up in the morning with just a short drive to the track, hopefully rested and ready. Traffic was light, and I made good time to my “rad pad” to dump the majority of my stuff. I then bolted for the track, unsure how tech worked, who would be there, and what I was in store for.
I really didn’t need to worry too mech about tech. Jeff the tech guy just gave a quick look over to make sure I wasn’t spewing fluids or parts out of the motor, checked that the ball joints weren’t falling out of the car, gave me some stickers that said my car and helmet passed inspection and we were done. Whew! While checking in for tech, several of the instructors came up an introduced themselves, so many in fact that I lost count of names and also lost track of Hank, who was assigned as my instructor. One instructor named Roger made sure to come and say hi, and we had a nice visit about the awesomeness of X 1/9’s. His was a little warmer than mine. Sadly I was so busy the rest of the weekend I never got back to play with this amazing X.
Just before the Xpresso got teched, this BIG guy named Randy came up and introduced himself. He was in full racing gear, carrying his gloves and a huge happy grin.
Randy: “You wanna go for a ride?”
Me: “Sure. Which one’s yours?”
Randy: “The silver Mustang.”
Me: “OOOHHHH. Did you see me standing in my puddle of drool?”
Randy: Snickering “No, you just looked like a gal who appreciates horsepower. Get your helmet.”
Me: “Yes sir. I’m right behind you!”
Randy has a really nice Mustang. REALLY nice. 709 bhp of nice. Make you have permagrin for days nice. Proof you can buy happiness nice.
To say we went on a “spirited drive” would kinda be like saying the Millennium Falcon uses just a bit of boost. But why tell you when I can show you. Click HERE to watch the short video. (Sorry about it being sideways, my phone was weird)
Afterward I got to help park the car. You can tell I am totally bored with the whole thing. NOT.
While walking past the registration desk carrying my helmet, Dee (who is Randy’s wife) asks “So, did you get carsick?”
Me: “Yeah, only because I know I won’t get to do that again anytime soon!”
Dee: “Oh, you’re one of them. Definitely addicted.”
So my Friday evening at the track was AMAZING. Everyone was super nice, very welcoming, and very supportive of me and the Xpresso. Everyone had Fiat stories, most of them good, a few about rust, but none of them bashing the awesomeness of Fiats. I can’t tell you how refreshing that is. And it was GENUINE. The RMVR folks are true racers, it doesn’t matter how much horsepower it has or how many doors (2, 3 or 4, there were SUV’s there!), if you enjoy driving it and want to play with it, they are there to help.
That night I caught up with an old dear friend and traded silly stories, and I went home too psyched to sleep. Despite drugs, sleeping wasn’t really ever achieved, and 6 o’clock lift off was rough.
Join me for part two of the RMVR racing school coming up next!