MIS Fall Classic
“The Scream of the Falcon”
The saga of the journey of the Dean Axe Vintage Racing Traveling Road Show continued at the MIS (Michigan International Speedway) Fall Classic in mid September.
After an unusually cool late August and early September the weather suddenly decided that it was Summer again with highs in the 80s.
Blessed with good weather (for a change) I along with the infamous Gooseman (?) arrived at MIS mid afternoon Friday only to pull into the track directly behind Dean and the notorious “Black Pearl” with race trailer attached.
This day was restricted to moving in, getting through registration and pre race tech inspection and all was ready to go racing the next morning. As usual the team headed to JR’s Pub to work on team strategy and again as usual spend an inordinate amount of time toasting one another’s good health.
Saturday morning dawned early but not necessarily bright and it was off to the track for our motley crew. After dispensing with the mandatory driver/s meeting along with exchanging pleasantries with old friends we prepared for the beginning of practice.
Making a guess at beginning tire pressures we prepared the Falcon and waited our turn. This is where the warts popped up in the program. Although the ambient temperature was warm the track surface was cool. Leaving the pits for the first time the Falcon accelerated strongly onto the expanse of the oval.
Using caution being on cold tires and all I gingerly made the turn into the infield road course, accelerated towards the left hand turn two, braked very, very early, turned in gently, picked up the throttle and……….spun the rear tires and looped it off into the scenery! Calling on years of experience I blipped the throttle to keep the engine from stalling and it spun the rear tires hard on the wet grass launching me into another set of spins.
I’m not sure how many times I went around, kind of lost track myself but I’m certain it was at least a 720 (2 revolutions) and could very well have been a rare 1080 (3 revolutions)!
Somewhat flustered by this turn of events I eased the Falcon back onto the racing surface before motoring on to the following left hander. Already well off the pace I eased it into the turn and made it albeit using every inch of track surface, both curbs and some real estate on both sides.
Now convinced that my educated guess at tire pressures was very questionable I approached the following right hand curve, eased off the throttle, turned in and……….lit up the rear tires again with another visit into the lush Michigan greenery.
This time the left engine stalled and I limped back to the pits on one engine getting the clutch uber hot in the process.
I’ll readily admit to being more than a little flustered, I don’t recall ever being that out of control in my life. Goose and Dean hoisted the Falcon back onto the stand with the aid of Dean’s inventive crane system and the three of us removed the accumulated wet green debris with the ever present blue paper towels, made a big swing at tire pressures and again presented it to the grid for the second practice round.
Still rattled from the disastrous first session again I took to the track. Clearly the tire pressure adjustment went the right way but if I were to deny it being a white knuckled few laps I would be in error.
After a tire warming lap I picked up the pace and began to come to grips with the braking zones taking into account the weight and power that is the Falcon’s. Lap times tumbled lap after lap and the comfort level was much improved but not yet ideal.
Now with some actual data to go on we adjusted the tire pressures even more, shortened the pipes, leaned out the carbs and readied for the third round of practice. Again lap times tumbled and the grip level was much improved.
Deciding to stand pat on the set up, new Dunlops were installed and the nearly four hour wait for our feature event began.
Confidence levels had improved immeasurably and when race time finally rolled around we were ready to rock and roll. Amongst the machines taking their spots on the grid was the Nice Quicksilver B-Stock machine of Michigan’s Bob Cole.
Thinking that Bob may well give us a run for our money we awaited the green flag. Goose and Dean fired the engines on my command and as the green flew so did we. To put it simply I vanished into the distance lapping back markers as early as the third lap. It’s impossible to see signals from the pits at MIS and concerned that Bob Cole was following in my wheel tracks I kept the pressure on not realizing the size of my advantage until about the 20 minute when I realized that I was coming up on Bob and about to put him a lap down.
From there I proceeded to put in quick but somewhat careful laps until the checkers flew on the front straight. On the cool down lap I realized that my new ear plugs were woefully inadequate for the task they were given (The Falcon is LOUD!!) and I was very deafened by the howl of the engines.
I could only hear sounds in the highest registers and when somebody spoke it sounded like dialogue from the Sci-Fi Comedy “Mars Attacks” with everything sounding like “Ack-Ack, ack ack ack”! Conversations were a bit difficult the rest of the evening but that didn’t stop the Jolly Crew from having another strategy meeting that night this time at Shady’s Tap Room. And yes indeed some time was spent toasting our good luck, our health, the weather and several items that I didn’t hear at all.
Sunday dawned nearly identical to Saturday and we decided to only do a few shake down laps during practice and park it for the race. Feeling much more confident after Saturday’s success I set a personal best time on the third lap in spite of myself. This time trying to avoid any more ear damage I duct taped my ears over the plugs which decreased the noise some but not enough. There will be some custom molded ear plugs in my helmet bag the next time for sure.
From here the story is pretty simple. Come race time the Falcon sat on the grid with (as usual) a much depleted field of Vintage laydowns. The green flew and again I vanished into the distance eventually putting two full laps on the rest of the field.
I have to thank the Michigan Kart Club and all their workers for a great event, AKRA for making this part of their National series and of course the indefatigable Gooseman (?) and most of all Dean Axe for the privilege of being the pilot of such an awesome machine.
Now preparations begin in earnest for the next outing for the Dean Axe Vintage Racing Traveling Road Show and the daunting adventure that is the fabled high banks of Daytona International Speedway and WKA’s historic “Kart Week”. The Falcon shall scream again.
***The author Greg Wright is the owner operator of Rapid Racing Inc. a Full Time, Full Service kart shop since 1983