We took Kitty — a car so named for the “Hello Kitty” stickers that were on it when I bought it — to our first enduro in the fall of 2010. Emilio Cervantes and I were both on rookie licenses and we quadruple-dipped that weekend, with Emilio in Spec Miata and me in PT class. We split TT sessions and also signed up for the enduro. I didn’t sleep the day before, and we barely got the car ready for its first race, let alone the enduro. Suffice it to say, we made a few mistakes.
Mistake No. 1: The car had to go through annual tech in the morning, so we missed practice for TT, SM and PT.
Mistake No. 2: We missed PT qualifying. We also missed enduro qualifying.
Mistake No. 3: We missed the drivers meeting for the sprint races.
Mistake No. 4: We missed enduro meeting.
Emilio did well in Spec Miata, his first race ever, and finished sixth out of a 22-car field. I remember doing well enough to get on the podium in PT, but I don’t remember the field size, though.
By the time 5 o’clock rolled around, I was beat. No sleep, and after running around like a headless chicken all day, I gave up. But Emilio wanted to do the enduro. We thought this would be a good idea to get our feet wet.
Mistake No. 5: The race started at 6:30 p.m. Emilio jumped in and started the race, and I started moving equipment to our pit. I knew Emilio would not come in for at least 90 minutes, so I took my time. I moved the first piece of equipment to my pit after the race was underway. A NASA official walked over, and as it turns out, someone has to be in the pit at all times during the race. That was a problem because I was the co-driver and the only crew member. How could I move the equipment NASA wanted me to have, if I couldn’t leave the pit to get them? A friend of mine, Eric Green, was around, and out of pity, he volunteered to stand in my pit, so I could move the equipment.
Mistake No. 6: Our pit-stop strategy was for Emilio to jump out of the car, hold the fire extinguisher, while I refueled. Then I would jump in to finish the race, while he served as pit crew. I thought that was pretty smart. Two drivers, with no need for a crew.
Mistake No. 7: Since Emilio missed qualifying for the enduro, he had to start dead last.
Mistake No. 8: Emilio forgot to put the window net up — was that my job? — so he got black-flagged on lap 1. He came back to the pit to fix it.
Mistake No. 9: After Emilio fixed the net, he was desperate to catch up and take our first enduro win. He peeled out of the pit at wide-open throttle, doing 80 mph, but the speed limit was 25 mph. He was black flagged the second time on lap 2.
Mistake No. 10: NASA SoCal Regional Director and National Chairman Ryan Flaherty came to our pit to talk to Emilio. The following dialog ensued:
Ryan: “Did you miss the enduro meeting?”
Emilio: “Enduro meeting?”
Ryan: “Did you read the enduro supplement?”
Emilio: “I read some, but my crew chief, he read it all,” he said, pointing at me.
Ryan: “Did you know why you got black-flagged the second time.”
Emilio: “Um … no.”
Ryan: “Do you know what the pit speed limit is?”
Emilio: “Um, 40 mph? No? How about 30 mph?”
Ryan: Shaking his head, “I am going to quiz you with five questions about enduro rules before you can go back out.”
Emilio: Anxious to go back out on track. He sighed, “OK, go ahead and quiz me.”
The line of questioning lasted five minutes, and while Ryan was quizzing Emilio, a NASA official was grilling me.
NASA official: “Where is your kitty litter?”
Me: “Um … kitty litter? We don’t have a cat.”
NASA official: “Where is your water?” We needed five gallons for putting out fire, according to the rulebook Emilio supposedly had read.
Me: “I’ve got some Arrowhead bottled water here, for driver and crew.”
NASA official: In disbelief, “Did you read the enduro supplement?”
Me: “I read a bit, but Emilio, over there, he read all of it.”
NASA official: Looking at Emilio serving his penalty, shaking his head. “Where is your fueler?”
Me: “I am the fueler. I’ll get dressed later when I drive. It’s way too hot now.”
NASA: “Are you the fueler or driver?”
Me: “Um … is that a trick question?”
Emilio went back out, and I started moving equipment while Eric stayed in our pit. About 80 minutes in, while Emilio was running in third, the car lost rear lights. Emilio got black flagged for the third time. He pulled in, but we couldn’t see what the problem was by looking at the bulb, so we pulled it into the paddock. It turned out to be a simple blown fuse, but we were both so beat, we didn’t even bother checking the car. We cracked open a couple of beers and retired for the night.
One year and three months later, Emilio and I won our class in the 2011 25 Hours of Thunderhill.