Rob Hall blew an engine in Thursday morning practice, but was able to find a new one in Philadelphia, retrieve it and have installed in the car in time for Friday afternoon’s qualifying race.

Four laps into Thursday’s first practice session before the Eastern States Championships, NASA Southeast racer Rob Hall’s Thunder Roadster slung a rod out the side of its engine block. A failure that catastrophic meant it was effectively game over for Hall’s Championship races before they even began.

But Hall didn’t give up. He got in touch with friends via social media and located a new 1,300 cc Hayabusa engine in a motorcycle salvage yard in Philadelphia — a five-hour drive from Watkins Glen, N.Y. So Hall dispatched his mom and his wife, Kaitlin Pantas Hall to drive to Philadelphia while Hall readied the car for the new engine.

From left: Kaitlin Pantas Hall drove to Philadelphia while Rob Hall readied the car for the new engine.
From left: Kaitlin Pantas Hall drove to Philadelphia while Rob Hall readied the car for the new engine.

“Luckily it wasn’t all nighter,” Rob said. “There wasn’t much I could do to put it in there all by myself. I did everything I could do to have it ready.”

Rob had the car ready for the new engine by 11 o’clock that night. Kaitlin arrived back with the engine after midnight. The next morning, Rob rounded up a few people who muscled the engine back into the car. He missed the first qualifying session, but got it buttoned up in time to make the qualifying race by 2 o’clock Friday afternoon. For her efforts, Kaitlin earned wife-of-the-year status.

The 1,300 cc Hayabusa engine threw a rod in Thursday morning practice.
The 1,300 cc Hayabusa engine threw a rod in Thursday morning practice.

“You know, people say that, but I think I was just doing what anyone else would do for her husband,” Kaitlin said on Saturday. “I know he would do the same thing for me. We grew up racing, so you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get on track, no matter what it is. We were just going to sit around or head back home, and it was 10 hours to get back home. So it was either 10 hours to get the motor and stay the whole weekend or go home. I think I did the right thing.”

Hall ended up finishing fourth in the Super Touring 3 race, but recorded the fastest lap time of the race at 2:02.238.

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Image courtesy of Brett Becker