On Friday evening, Donna and I went to Red, White and Brew for dinner. We sat at the bar and had a cold one before ordering from their appetizer menu. Donna had her favorite – mussels vin blanc – which are green lip mussels sauteed with white wine, lemon, garlic and butter.
I ordered a quesadilla with spicy chicken sausage, three cheeses and hatch chile peppers. It was delicious.
After we ate, we decided to swing by Lucky Lou’s and see who was there. We found all the usual suspects – Mike and Jodi Hall, Mike’s brother Brian, Pat, Leendert, Ray and John. Pat, Leendert and I firmed up our plans for the NHRA drag races. Pat would pick me up a little before 8am Saturday morning, then we would drive to Scottsdale to pick up Leendert and head out to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park – formerly Firebird Raceway (map).
Leendert had made arrangements with his friend Ray. We would join Ray and his crew in the RV section where Ray had his motorhome parked right next to the track near the finish line. For $50 each we got admission, breakfast and lunch and unlimited beer, soda and water all day.
One of the things I enjoy at the NHRA events is the access. Your ticket for admission is also a pit pass. You can wander around the pit area and watch the teams prepare the cars. You meet drivers and crew – they’re all very accessible and friendly. I took a few pictures of the cars and bikes being prepared for the afternoon qualifying sessions. One of the new events here was nitro Harley top fuel bikes.
I won’t go into all of the technical details of the cars – but suffice to say that any motor burning nitromethane is going make huge power and they tend to break parts. The top fuel dragsters and funny cars get a complete teardown and rebuild after every run. That’s right – the engines only last for a minute or two of running time. They get fired up after assembly to make adjustments and make sure nothing is leaking. Then they are started when the cars approach the staging area. They do a burnout to heat and clean the tires. Then they make the full power pass that propels them to speeds over 320 mph in 1,000 feet – it takes less than four seconds.
The guys doing this on two wheels are crazy. They are laid out in a superman position with their arms cradling a nitro-burning grenade of a motor as they accelerate down the 1/4 mile dragstrip to speeds of 220 mph in about six seconds.
Although there’s nothing to compare to these nitro-burning contraptions, I also enjoy watching the Pro Stock class. These cars are very sophisticated. They’re powered by gasoline burning 500 cubic-inch V8 engines. This year they’re using fuel injection – in the past they used carburetors. Most of the teams are secretive about their set-ups and often cover the engine or intake manifold with towels in the pit area.
Mike Hall and his brother Brian showed up around 10:30am and joined us.
We had a fun afternoon. It was hot out – the temperature reached 88 degrees. I stayed hydrated with plenty of water in the morning and cold beer in the afternoon. Ray’s crew cooked up fixings for breakfast burritos in the morning – scrambled eggs with cheese and sausage and hash browns wrapped in a toasted flour tortilla. In the afternoon cheeseburgers and hot dogs were on the grill served with potato salad.
While I was at the races, Donna planned to ride the Spyder over to Sara Graff’s house. She and Sara would drive to Singh Farms – a local working farm that has a farmers’ market on the weekend – and meet up with their friend Stevie Ann. Donna’s plan was dashed when she reached Gilbert & Brown. Gilbert Road was closed for the Phoenix Marathon as were the main roads north of Brown. The only way Donna could get to Sara’s house would be to backtrack and get on the Loop 202 freeway. She wasn’t dressed for a blast down the freeway at 70 mph. After exploring her options, she gave up and told Sara she wasn’t going to make it over there.
A funny thing happened in the morning while I was on the way to the races. Sara’s husband Howard sent me a text telling me to let Donna know that Sara was in the shower and would call her back. Apparently Howard saw the missed call from Donna on Sara’s phone. He sent the text to me because he didn’t have Donna’s number in his phone. I, in turn, sent the message to Donna. I thought Donna would wonder how I knew she called Sara and how I knew Sara was in the shower!
I walked more than 11,000 steps at the races yesterday. That and all of the pickleball I’ve been playing lately left me with a little soreness in my feet and stiff joints. I think I’ll take it easy today – read a book and try to stay cool as the temperature will be in the upper 80s again today.