4th of July weekend is, without a doubt, the best weekend to be up at the Brainerd International Raceway for a Central Roadracing Association event. There were so many things that happend this weekend that made it one of the best experiences I've had to-date at the track. I made some new friends this weekend who, shortly after they meet me, handed me the keys to one of their scooters, causing me to have an immediate need for one of these adorable two-wheeled manifestations of freedom. Josh and Robyn are friends of Matt and Dennis' and they were visiting for the weekend. Josh brought 3 scooters all the way from their home in Colorado for the weekend, one of which was a birthday gift to Dennis. The single seater 50cc that Josh wasn't using ended up with me for every free moment of the weekend. Thursday morning, Josh tossed me the key to the little red scooter, showed me how to kick-start it and work the throttle, then he told me to have at it. I figured out breaking and turning on the fly and was able to get some more advanced lessons from Matty later in the day such as turning it completely off and using the center stand. I didn't realize what I had been missing until that morning and I'm quite proud of how quickly I took to it. The saddest thing will be returning to the track next month and not having access to such a wonderful mode of transportation. I'm going to try to save up some money to get my motorcycle endorsement and buy my own scooter next year. Seems a bit more reasonable than a full on motorcycle right now...
The trend of making new friends continued with meeting a couple of racers. One of them was racer #28, Luke, who was crazy enough to trust me with working on his bike... My friend Jerome works on his crew and showed me how to attach the safety wire to the front tire axel and calipers. Not only did Luke not lose his front tire while racing, but he and his team won the 3-hour endurance race for their class the next day. I'm going to claim a teeny tiny part of that victory for myself. Now that I'm meeting some of the racers, watching races is becoming more exciting. It's fun to put names and faces with the speed demons that put their hearts into something that would terrify the living day-lights out of me.
I spent a majority of the working hours of the days honing my training skills with new workers. I got to train Josh and Robyn on Friday and two other newbies on Saturday. Being a Captain in Training (CIT) is still rather intimidating but the more experience I get, the more confident I'm feeling with everything. Last month I almost threw in the towel when they put me on corner 12 and I had 5 bikes go down over the course of the day. I'm still not sure how I will handle seeing a racer get hurt but responding to incidents is becoming more manageable. The adrenaline rush is not as debilitating and my reactions are starting to be more automatic. I got a lot of great feedback this weekend for the incidents I had to handle which helped build my confidence for where I am in my abilities. It feels good to have the support of so many people.
Watching the pit bike races on Saturday was a hilarious way to end a long day. Racers tore through the "course" on their scooters, playing tricks on each other and spinning out in this parody of what they usually do. The race wasn't without its mishaps and one racer twisted his ankle but I heard that he was up and racing the next day. These guys just bounce right back. Ashley was declared the winner of the races and she won a credit for future races and got to take a victory lap with the checkered flag.
Saturday night ended with fireworks and the worker bonfire. I got to do a little pre-show fire dancing which is becoming a tradition at the track. I'm glad they enjoy fire so much because it seems like BIR is one of the only places I can do that without getting the fire department called on me. The owner of the track puts on the best fireworks show I have ever seen and we got to watch it from the comfort of the Mok 2.0. I'm so glad that beast of a machine was functional for this weekend. It just doesn't feel like CRA with out the Mok. I spent the rest of the evening scooting around with Jerome and enjoying the creepy fog as it rolled in. It was like something out of a horror movie and felt delightfully creepy, especially when the fog was so thick that we weren't quite sure where the heck we were.
The last day started with even more fog that burned off before the races began. It quickly became hot and muggy and I was very grateful when Abbie showed up to my corner to relieve me as corner captain so I could observe what goes on in the air conditioned control tower. As part of the training program for CITs, the Chiefs of Flagging and Communication encourage us to see what goes on so we have a better understanding of why things are done the way they are. It was fascinating to see their process, witness the start and end of each race, and watch what happens on their side of calls. Definitely a helpful part of the training process.
Spending 4th of July up at the racetrack is quickly becoming one of my favorite holiday traditions. This marked my 2 year anniversary of being addicted to track and I'm realizing that there is no turning back. The people here are some of the most amazing, generous, and fun-loving individuals I've ever met. If you are reading this and you're thinking, "Hey, that stuff sounds kinda fun. I want to go to the racetrack!" just talk to me. I will gladly go into recruitment mode on you. The racetrack has something for everyone and we are always looking for new workers to join our family.