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You Might As Well
Hanging out in the paddock in between sessions, the guy with the big station wagon gets to have two different experiences. Becoming known as a regular and being a member of the advanced run groups has diminished the severity of Stage I considerably.
Its in the air. You can smell it: Guys walking by or just staring. You can sense what they're thinking. "Who is this idiot? Doesn't he know he's out of his league? That he doesn't belong here?" Typically its just a casual sort of cold shoulder, but on occasion I've been asked flat out what my problem is. If the conversation turns to lap times, I've been told my timer is certainly malfunctioning.
Knowing whats to come, I relish these morning moments. And I can hardly blame them. I remember one time on Laguna Seca I was parked right up against the track fence, backed in and up to the fence line, I was lined up alongside a whole pack of Lotus Elises and Exiges. The car - as low-slung as it is - towered over the bunch, and stuck out so far... it looked like someone had parked a moving van in the middle of those cute little critters.
So who would take this pig seriously? Nobody, in Stage I.
After the first session; two max, the change is dramatic. I have a steady stream of visitors. If I'm walking across the paddock I overhear conversations about the car. Its both gratifying and a lesson in humility: Don't let it go to your head. You can easily tell the people who love motorsport from the ones who simply have their egos wrapped up in the sports coupe they spent a lot of money on. When it comes to the snooty types, you have gone from small and contemptible to completely invisible. These are people who have just been dipped in icewater and now know that - even with $200,000 worth of spectacular all-wheel-drive, purring automotive magnificence - um, they are slower than a station wagon. That driver is going home in a black mood, indeed.
The true motorsports enthusiasts, on the other hand, want to know "How in the hell did you pass me like that? Jesus H. Christ thats incredible. What did you do to this thing? Dangit ... how cool is that?" They are having as much fun as I am, and thats how it ought to be for everyone. I wander off and get worked up over other people's cars, myself.
At last, to the point!
It was during Stage II that I was chatting with a Porsche pilot, doing some kind of work on the car and dipping into the load of tools and gadgets I brought along with me. He wistfully observed that "If you have the room to bring along your whole garage, you may as well!"
Yes indeed. I do love the ability to pack up the car. And I cannot count the number of times having all that gear is a godsend, both for me or the guy a few stalls over who needs a particular tool or socket ... and you bet, I've got one of those you can borrow.
Originally I packed up with a just four wheels.