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July 26, 2012

Another Lemons Race. Another Track. Another Team. Another Car.

Filed under: Cars,The 24 Hours of LeMons — chuck goolsbee @ 10:55 pm
This WAS a fairly nice Acura Integra - at some point in the distant past.
This WAS a fairly nice Acura Integra - at some point in the distant past.

Racing cars is a lot like smoking crack. One hit of the stuff and you’re hooked – and then you can’t get enough.

I’ve loved every minute of racing with my Clowntown Roadshow team mates. However, I’m the sole team member living and working in the Pacific Northwest, with the rest being in Northern California. While I’m very in-touch with my team mates via our Facebook group, and I always volunteer to pull tow-duty on the SoCal races – I miss the weekends wrenching on the car, and have been unsuccessful in convincing my team to think about coming north for events in the northwest.

I advertised myself as a “driver for hire” on the 24 Hours of Lemons forums for any team in the PNW planning on running the Pacific Northworst Grand Prix in Shelton, WA. I had a few teams show an interest, but a group of “newbies” from Shoreline, WA seemed the most eager to have me along, so I joined their team. They had a car, and a lot of enthusiasm, but only three drivers. All had young families and hoped to make it a big outing. Nick had his Freshman Orientation the two days before the event, so I brought him along to round out the family atmosphere.

The event was at the brand new Ridge Motorsports Park outside of Olympia. Nick and I awoke at O’dark:thirty Thursday morning to drive to Corvallis – spent all day and the next attending welcoming lectures, parental-panic-soothing seminars, class registrations, and advanced placement tests at Oregon State University, before making the dash Friday night (with a stop in Portland for dinner with friends) to Olympia. Saturday morning dawned wet and gloomy – yes we were back in western Washington! We arrived at the track, paid our fee, and lapped the paddock looking for our team. I noted that street cars were lapping the track, and since we could not find our team I steered my car out onto the pit lane and decided to see this new track.

Wow!

The track layout. What this doesn't show is the dramatic elevation changes... beatific bovine!
The track layout. What this doesn't show is the dramatic elevation changes... beatific bovine!

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July 8, 2012

The Clowntown Roadshow runs a 24 Hour Race!

Filed under: Cars,The 24 Hours of LeMons — chuck goolsbee @ 4:54 pm
The Clowncar on the Pit Straight at Buttonwillow.
The Clowncar on the Pit Straight at Buttonwillow.

Buttonwillow last December (The 2011 Arsefreezeapalooza)
Infineon in March (The Sears Pointless)
and now, Buttonwillow again for the 2012 Arsesweatapalooza.

The Clowntown Roadshow completed our third Lemons race, and our very first true 24 Hour event. We did “good” in that we all had two shifts at the wheel, and didn’t irreparably break the car. We made a bunch of mistakes, but also did some things right, and all had a ton of fun.

Donald Webster, known Clown, in our office for the weekend.
Donald Webster, known Clown, in our office for the weekend.

I flew down to the Bay Area last wednesday, and spent Thursday at Facebook HQ attending some meetings before hopping in our team tow vehicle – an un-airconditioned early 90s Ford F250 with utility bed, and driving south for Buttonwillow, which is near Bakersfield in SoCentralCal. Yes, it was HOT. Insult to injury was the 100+ minutes I spent in stop-and-go traffic due to some construction on I-5 about halfway there. I survived (barely) and enjoyed the combination of the best Carne Asada (I’ve had since La Hacienda in Arlington, WA) and the worst Motel 6 (ever on the planet) in the non-town of Buttonwillow, California. Friday was a practice day, and we had too much fun lapping the track, then put the car through Tech & BS Inspection – passing both easily. We enjoyed a team dinner at a small Italian place in Shafter, CA. Since I noted the place was owned an run by some Thais I ordered a Pad Se Ew off the back page of the menu and was blown away by how good it was. Pro Tip: If you dine at Giovannis in Shafter, go for the Thai!

Going through tech & BS inspection - our Head Clown Matt Kulka watches the Judges look for cheats on our stock beater E30.
Going through tech & BS inspection - our Head Clown Matt Kulka watches the Judges look for cheats on our stock beater E30.

Saturday at 10 am the race started. We ran the #15 config for the terminally curious. I volunteered to take the first shift to avoid the heat of the afternoon. Unlike previous Lemons races where the start is laps and laps of full-course Yellow the green flag flew on my second or third circuit of the track. At the start I was a few cars behind the infamous Rolling Chicane Limousine, this race in the guise of the Titanic. Thankfully I was able to pass it just past the start-finish line.

The Clowncar passes the Titanic on the pit straight. Yours Truly at the wheel. Photo by Donald Webster. Hey! Isn't that Kate Winslet?
The Clowncar passes the Titanic on the pit straight. Yours Truly at the wheel. Photo by Donald Webster. Hey! Isn't that Kate Winslet?

Our little ’89 BMW 325i E30 wasn’t the fastest car on the track though. The field contained several faster cars, mostly BMW 3 & 5 series machines, along with a few fast oddballs like a 4th generation 300ZX and the Model T GT, which you can see passing me below:

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July 7, 2012

Christopher Graduates!

Filed under: Goolsbee News — chuck goolsbee @ 3:39 pm
Chris shaking Rick Steves' hand after receiving his diploma.
Chris shaking Rick Steves' hand after receiving his diploma.

It has been a very busy June and early July here at Chez Goolsbee, so apologies for the lack of updates. The day after Nick Graduated he and Chris hopped in the car and drove “home” to Washington state where they visited friends. Nick was able to attend the AHS Graduation ceremony where he would have walked across the stage had we not moved to Oregon. Christopher went to Seattle and took the LSAT test for entrance into Law School, afterwards he visited friends. Sue & I dashed up to Olympia on Friday, June 15th to watch Christopher participate in graduation at The Evergreen State College. He completed his degree in March, but the ceremony took place at the end of the Academic Year. Like all things at Evergreen the event was filled with unbridled enthusiasm and energy – along with a healthy dose of chaos. It was wonderful.

The scene as the graduates file in.
The scene as the graduates file in.

The day was sunny and beautiful, and we were all there to see Christopher receive his Degree.

A little creative chaos never hurt anyone.
A little creative chaos never hurt anyone.
Speedy the Geoduck makes an appearance.
Speedy the Geoduck makes an appearance.

TESC’s mascot is the Geoduck and the school’s motto is “Omnia Exteras” (look it up) and the day was as out there are unrestrained as every other graduation is dull and constrained. Everyone just smiled and enjoyed it, including the school administrators and staff. The commencement speaker was PBS travel show host Rick Steves (of Edmonds, WA) and he delivered a passionate oratory on living life and seeing the world.

Rick Steves speaks.
Rick Steves speaks.

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