Former Castrol Cougar Melinda Price continues to talk about her return to racing, in this article she looks back on her first racing meeting behind the wheel.
It was this article that was featured in the issue of Auto Action №1833 on sale from 7 to 20 April.
The new team and the new car deserve a new look, and Kaz covered me with an individual OMP racing suit.
But the show’s star, the gods, also deserves a new look, so we’re going to see (former supercar racer) Alan Gur to wrap up.
Now my car and I are looking for a role, looking for a route to drive a few laps. Morgan Park or QR is not available until race day, so I’m starting to emphasize.
Even two weeks ago I was sent a photo of the main straight line on Leatherside, where someone is sailing on it in a canoe after the flood, but it’s incredible that the water is gone, and Thursday is the day of the test!
There is still a list of tasks that need to be completed with the gods, so the next 3 days are scheduled to get to Thursday by the lake.
Since the start of the project, there have been two people helping out at every turn, and without their time and knowledge, I would not have hoped to get to that point – such a big thank you to Jesse Hannigan and Josh Hunt.
At this stage, creating a new team costs the maximum, so having such experts to help me is an invaluable asset.
Over the decades, I’ve made many friends in the world of racing, and a couple more have joined some support, including familiar racers Charlie O’Brien (Coombahbah Plaza) and Todd Vanless (Raw Metal Corp.)
Finally the car is ready. I have two sets of tires and wheels, all assembled and skillfully sanded, marked and wrapped, and just the last thing to do along the way …
Put this new Fataz power plant on the speaker to run in and confirm the expected kilowatts. We are looking forward to Scott’s Rods, and the results confirm what we hoped for: our new power plant is a small rocket!
Finally, our test day happens, we’re in Lakeside and I’m leaving. I’ve never been to Lakeside before, and all week people have been telling me how relentless it is when you make a mistake.
I’m trying to block it, but all I can think about is that the first race will take place next weekend – and I MUST be there.
Today, nothing can go wrong, there is no time or resources left to repair a broken car. I’m increasing my speed and confidence over the course of the sessions and we’re trying a few changes to the setup and progressing well.
Then it starts to rain! I do not want to take risks, so the next session I sit down to see how other cars drive, and assess the conditions.
Eventually I put on my big pants for the girl and went back there, ending the day with a pleasant passage of over 30 laps in the rain and reaching the target time.
Aside from the fact that I would like ten more test days before my first race, we have one in our bag and we are officially ready to race!
Before I knew it, racing week was already here (y-y-y), and the dream was about to come true. Tuesday night the van is loaded with bugs on a tug, and it’s time to GO!
Morgan Park hosts a midday practice, so we set off early.
Warwick is a small bustling town and I was caught up in homelessness when trying to book a few months ago, so I settled on the track in a caravan kindly lent to me by my parents ’friends (thanks Wayne), which I think will be fun. I am very excited and also nervous.
We went on the track, and the new engine is definitely a product, but, oddly enough, the lap time is not much faster than in the original search!
A few problems with teething, equipment problems (absence) and limited classes left the atmosphere in the pits on Wednesday quite bad and we scratched our heads a bit.
As soon as the gates reopen on Thursday afternoon, I’m ready to camp, hang my Castrol flags and make Garage 81 my own by Sunday.
My machine is the most beautiful bug in Excel (I can be biased) and I’m proud of how the whole program comes together for a big debut.
There is only one thing left – to get out of this wheel.
Unfortunately, that’s not what I did on Friday. I was slow … very slow. Very disappointed with how far I lag behind the fast guys.
People everywhere passed me, and I quickly began to realize how super competitive these guys were – no prisoners – even around the corner – even in practice.
The intensity on the track was huge, I already had a few fixes and I needed a STEP. (Most) of my competitors are 15-year-olds. P-plastics straight from go-karts. They are fearless, invincible, motivated by plans to conquer the world – and absolutely envelop me!
The data showed everything and I had a lot of work to do.
There was a lot of emotional searching on Friday night, and I woke up on Saturday, ready to put on the qualifying tires and break his neck, which I did.
The car felt weird and I was a different driver.
For three turns I was on target during qualifying time, which was seconds faster than any lap I’ve done there before … but alas … at the exit of the sweeper the back of the car started to turn and eventually passed by the point of no return.
I pressed the brakes to avoid skidding on the wet grass into the wall, flattened both front tires to the canvas, and the qualification ended up in the dump. So close … but in the end nowhere. So I start race 1 from position 41.
I don’t even see the starting lights, there’s a marshal with a green flag to let us know when they go out.
In the bumper field of 40+ cars there will always be a lot of action and we went through just a few racing laps before the safety car came out and Race 1 ended in one file. I moved from the 41st to the 30th.
Starting with the P30 for Race 2, I was thrilled to get a lot more positions and get closer to the front before the finals on 18 laps on Sunday.
I got a great start and finished 27th on the first lap before I was flipped over in a flip flop. Honestly, I was lucky that the car was not destroyed.
On the way I pressed a few more taps and managed to limp home again.
Pretty upset today, what happened on Saturday night reminded me why I love this sport so much.
My rear suspension was damaged and we needed help with repairs, and my fellow competitors jumped in to help without thinking.
Holly Espray came to the rescue and I have a lot of respect for this chick (one of 5 female Excel racers on the weekend, which is great).
She builds and takes care of her cars, understands everything first and foremost and drives fast.
The gods are back on track with a few battle scars and go to bed for tomorrow’s final.
The final continues, and, as expected, at every step outsiders and balls of brake smoke fly off the track. I manage to pick up the cars one by one with very good dice, avoiding trouble, and between the safety car and the damaged exhaust came to P26.
Far from the weekend we wanted, but I survived. The weekend showed that the gods definitely have a pace, and the driver too, if I can just tie it all together.
It was something like a baptism of fire, but I am more motivated than ever to master the art of perfection and teach hard as the year goes on … Stay tuned for more.
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