Sitting in the car, engine thrumming, a deep rumble. The field is behind me, when the green flies I will be leading the Nascar Exide Short Track drivers into the first turn.
Over the motors I can hear the roar of the crowd and even hear my name called out as they go through the field on the track PA system. My nerves are on fire with excitement, and a touch of fear.
The flag-man gives the signal for us to do the pace laps, the pace car pulls away and I follow. Weaving the car side to side to get some heat in the tires. They are a special compound that sticks to the asphalt when warm.
The turns are really just one long curve if you’re looking at the 3/8ths mile oval from above, but from behind the wheel it is at least 4 turns.
The pace laps done, we get the signal one lap before green. Gripping the wheel we follow the pace car into turn one, turn two, the pace car pulls off on the backstretch into pit lane. I’m now leading the field of 20 cars. I pick up the pace as we enter turn three.
Off of turn four I see the green flag waving and mat the pedal, the car lurches forward, gripping the wheel I let off the gas, touch the brakes and lean into turn one, a glance at the mirror shows chaos behind, in my right peripheral I see the second place starter pull ahead of me on the outside as we go into turn two.
Exiting turn two onto the backstretch, cars are now starting to pass me on both sides. This track doesn’t do three wide very well. I back off the gas and get to the top groove and out of three wide before we hit turn four.
Several cars are now in front of me as we cross the start/finish line. I see them starting into turn one a car spinning, another one collected in the spin, I let off the throttle, my left foot jamming on the brake. Cut the wheel to the right to head to the top side of the self-cleaning track. I come to a stop a foot away from another car broadside in front of me. Just long enough to catch a breath and think YES! I missed it!
Crunch, bang, shit. I guess not everyone got the memo that there was a wreck in turn one. Yeah I missed it but it didn’t miss me. Two cars slam into either side of mine, one in my right rear, not a big deal, the other into my left front tire. We sit waiting for the track to clear, my car still running. I don’t know how bad the damage is yet.
The track clears, I put the car in gear and pull away. The sound is horrendous and the steering isn’t very responsive. The car won’t turn left, thankfully I am near pit lane and can just pull off and into the pits.
My day is done, I’m not sure I like this format of having the slowest qualifier start at the front of the field.