I can not smell diesel without being taken immediately to the paddock of Sebring International Raceway in 1991. I was fortunate enough to be working with the Hacker Express squad that was based outside of Albany New York* and was a regular championship contender in the IMSA Firehawk Series. The team had the all new Quad 4 engine for the Oldsmobile Achieva, and carried robust sponsorship from Castrol.
The team had an RV and apparently some hotel rooms for the event, but I might not have been on the original roster so I found myself cozied up and tucked into my borrowed team jacket in the cab of a diesel dually Chevrolet truck as my nightly accommodations. I was so excited to be there, that it didn’t even occur to me that it wasn’t the best set up.
On the first day at the track, I wandered the paddock, enthralled not only at the amazing IMSA GTP machines that were there, but also my ability to get so up close and personal with the cars and see the guys working on them to prepare for the race.
The highlight of the day was absolutely when I said “Hello” to Dan Gurney as we crossed paths, and he returned with a hearty “Well, good morning!” I was already walking a few inches off the ground, and that just elevated my day that much more when a living legend said hello back to me.
At the end of this amazing day, though, my mood crashed a bit when I returned to the team truck.
“Where have you been all day!?!?” was the team managers’s terse greeting. “Oh well, I was out checking things out…” I said, meekly.
“Well that’s great, but you aren’t here to check things out, we are here to get a job done!”
So there it was, my one day off in racing… Here is hoping I catch a little whiff of diesel again this weekend to take me back to exactly where I am.
Looking forward to another edition of Sebring 12 Hour intensity this week, the Sunday Group team will be on site to support 8 clients competing in 3 different championships during the event so it should be a very busy few days.
*I played drums in the spirit band in highschool, and the music teacher’s husband had raced against the Hackers and was kind enough to connect me with them for the opportunity. So, you kids looking to get into racing…learn an instrument!