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25 Hours of Thunder Hill PDG's adventure
First I would like to start by thanking everyone for the great year and the best Thunder Hill experience of 2013 I have been in or witnessed.
There are so many people that work on the race car throughout the year. Tearing down, testing, racing and visiting wout our Race family. And Family it is. Our first obstacle was our tires. We had been waiting for our Kumhos to arrive for over a week. Three days before leaving for the track we found that the tires never reached Fed Ex for shipping. Americas Tie worked diligently to get us tires. This year we are running Hoosiers. We did not get to load the trailer until the night before and the day of because of this. What a challenge.
When I arrived at the track on Thursday afternoon, the car was out and everyone was checking it out and making sure it was race ready. The team had already set up my cooing area to start feeding the crew. The crew helped to unpack the trailer and set it allu[ where my make shift kitchen was set up. I usually arrive on Friday afternoon. But I was so excited about the race that I arrived on Thursday. I decided to go ahead and cook for the team, only to find that my mother in law was already doing it. She knew I would be tired from packing the Motor home and getting to the track.
Friday morning got up cooked breakfast and now I am cooking for 3 teams. Bit I love it. It was time to test the car. Had to warm up the tires and keep them heated. We ere running Hoosiers this year and needed to be kept warm after scrubbing them in. Like normal we had our Friday evening dinner with the race family. Crew, Drivers and anyone that wanted to join in the fun. Now it time to try and get some sleep for the start of the race on Saturday morning.
Saturday we started the day at 6 a.m. pumped. The crew was getting fuel, shinning up the car, and prepping anything that needed to be done. 8 a.m. Breakfast. Then put the car on the grid for the race. The horn sounded at 11:10 a.m. for all crew to get off the track to start the race. Cars start their motors and race is on. A few warm up laps and the Green flag drops. Lap two it turns ugly. I hear our crew saying that there is a car on fire. Then I learned it is ours! So many emotions and thoughts running through my mind, is the driver ok, please dear God let the driver be ok. Checking with his family, making sure they are ok. 10 long minutes go by and finally learn the best news; the driver was out of the car before the flames got bad. My feelings got the best of me. Once we could see the driver was oik, it was time to focus on why the car caught on fire and see if it could be fixed to go back out. It took some time to get the car back to the cold pits. Once we got it, it took your breath away.
How can we fix this? Mike Holland one of the drivers jumped rightin, aso did True, Aaron, Daryl, Lee, Stewart, David and Steve, Rick, Mike, Will, Ray, John, Robert, Jim, Mark, Shane, Leonard, Daniella, an so on. They just started tearing into it. Richard left the track to go Home 2 1/2 hours away to get a motor and some other parts that were needed to put from one motor to the next. If they were not on the car they were running around looking for parts or going to the store for supplies. Wiring had to be repaired, replaced motor, lights, clean (lots of cleaning), vacuumn out the car, and sanitize the rear compartment from the fire retardant. This made for a long night. Finally the car started at 11:30 p.m. Then a new issue, the seat belts needed to be replaced. Bought some but they were expired. Mark found some at another pit (car #61) and the crew was kind enough to borrow them for the rest of the race. The car went to Tech and it passed. During the tie a lot of pictures from other teams and track crew. No one a the track thought we could get it done. It was unbelievable. Now around 2:00 a.m. sitll could not get the car to speed so it could go back to racing. It was the middle of the night finally at 4 a.m. there was nothing else that could be done, and went to bed.
Sunday morning, I got up and still had to hold to my commitment of cooking for the 3 teams. It was sad to see the car sitting there and knows it runs but cannot go out on the track. I finished cooking and went to the motor home and saw True. I asked him what could be so wrong that we cannot go out. I just don't understand. True siad well, the mass air is not working. I said well can we get one or is it a dealer part. He said we should be able to get one but all parts stores were closed. There is only 3 hours left n the race. I ran out of the motor home and ran to the car where everyone was putting everything away. I said no put the car together. I asked Richard what part we needed, mass air sensor. I put Mike H on the phone and got Auto Zone on the line. They said they had one but it was in Orland. It was only 24 miles away. Daniella Holland and I ran to the truck went to Orland only to find it was the wrong one. The Manager of the Auto Zone new how important it was to get the part and only had a couple of hours left before the race would end. He searched it out and found one, a mile away at the O;Rileys. Went to O'Rileys and purchased it while the cashier was taking car of that, change the sensor over to the rubber hose it was on so the guys at the track could just put it on the car. We were in contact with he crew while we were on the road so they would know how far away we were. That was one of the longest rides Daniella and I had taken. Daniella jumped out of the truck and ran it tot he car. By the time I parked and got to the car Jim was programming the car to read the sensor. And THEN IT STARTED. What a sound it was. It was wonderful and exciting at the same time. I asked that the drivers be found and each one would get 20 to 25 minutes in the car for the end of the race. First, Mike Holland in the car, he pit several times just to make sure there were no leaks anywhere and safe for the res of the drivers to bring it home, Second, Paul Edwards. Then Steve Zadig, and finally Davy Jones.
And then after all that watching each driver race and the excitement in the pits withour crew and others we cheered them on as if we were winning the race. Then the checkered flag flew as Davy Jones goes past the finish line. It felt like all the drivers were out there in the car at the same time going across. The emotions few high in the pits. We were able to stand at the wall and see him pass by, some 23 hours before we thought it would not happen.
After the race was over we were asked to join everyone else at the awards ceremony. Richard and I both hesitated but thought, yes we should go. the crew stayed back and packed up. It was a long weekend.
We stayed at the ceremony for about an hour listening to each team get there awards. Then to the ES Class, Jenifer Germond master of Ceremonies said she wanted to recognize a team that there car had caught on fire in lap two of the race. She said that she and other officials had watched us wrench on the car all night and that she had never in the life of the track seen so much spirit in a team as PDG. She said that they decided Saturday night that they wanted to create a new award and it was going to PDG. It is call "Spirit of Thunder-Hill". She said they probably are not hear to accept it but lets thank them anyway. Then Richard and I stood u[ and everyone cheered us on. We went up received the award and went back to the crew and told them of what had taken place. They were just as pleased and moved as we were.
After thinking walking back to the pits, we are winners and we did win in my eyes. I have the best crew and I thank God for that.
On my way home I called my sister in Tennessee, I wanted to let her know the outcome of the race. I had talked to her the day before and she was very sad for everyone. She told me that she prayed for the whole team and that hoped for the best. Then she went ot church and the entire congregation prayed too. Boy I can see why we are winners and why out team received the Spirit Award.
I would like to thank Bryan Gregory for seeing the flame, Thunder-Hill Fire Crew and Corner Workers for all their hard work. Thanks to Jerry and Scott, keep the track running, we will see you next year.
Yvonne Migliori, PDG4