I leave work Thursday morning and drive up, arriving at about noon. We don't make a run until after three, but I've had so many energy drinks trying to stay awake on the freeway that I'm way too tired to nap, and decide to push my way through the day.
Thursday wasn't a race day, but the track was open for testing. My parents want Brad to get some more experience in the car, so he was going to make the runs that day. The plan was for three, maybe four runs as time permitted.
First run, just after three o'clock, seemed to go well. The car left strong, but got a bit loose at the top end and shut off a moment early. 6.05 seconds, 212 MPH. Let me at this point describe the view from the starting line - It's the Central Valley in August, there's a low haze and a high shimmer. We can't see the end of the track clearly past the finish line.
But we see the run end, the parachutes come out, and the car start to make the turn off the track, and the crew climbs in the truck to drive down the return road and pick up the car. We're just getting going, when an ambulance goes flying by down the track.
The communal thought seemed to be "WTF?"
My mom is freaking out, and speculation is running wild as to what happened. We feared that he may have hit an inexperienced track employee, as that has happened before with people who are not trained properly to get out of the way of the funny cars. As it's not an official race day, the radio broadcast isn't on, so we can't hear the tower intercom from in the truck. We finally get to the shut-off area, and are all relieved to find Brad out of the car and walking around, and no injured track employees.
However, what we did find was that Brad had misjudged the speed of the car, and instead of trying to make the second turnout further down the track, had tried to make the first turn, wasn't able to slow the car and turn it sharply enough, and ran the left front of the car into a concrete barrier. The left front of the car's carbon fiber body was mangled, and the chassis was badly bent in front of the tires.
Not stuff that can be fixed at the racetrack. Not stuff that will be fixed in time for the next race.
At that point, there's nothing to do but do the basic maintenance on the engine, load the car up, and go home. Problem is, at this point I haven't slept in over 24 hours, and I'm not about to try and make a trip over the grapevine in the evening, half asleep. No big deal, the motorhome is at the track, won't hurt to stay there another night ... except that the generator isn't working, and we can't run anything electrical.
So one night spent sleeping on the couch of a hot, dark motorhome ... I was out of there pretty quickly once i woke up Friday morning.
And my watch broke.
This isn't a good week for anyone.
We'll see what happens with the car ... it's going to be an expensive fix. My brother talks about the whole thing here.