There was a wet and tacky track at the practice session Friday night. There were some ruts in the corners by the end of the night, but overall a well-prepared track. Several cars from each division were in attendance. Everyone was in great spirits and ready to get on the track. A young man came around to gather car and driver information including number, name, and transponder info. We took both the Sports Mod and Modified out early in the day and planned on leaving both there for the night to hold our spots. Around 3 pm went to the gate to sign in and get pit passes. The cost for the practice was $30 for the car and driver, $10 for the additional pit crew.
Initially, the only car we planned on practicing was the Sports Mod. Bill Hackett needed all the seat time he could get before Saturday night. He did some last-minute checks such as tire pressure checks. The practice was set to start at 4 pm, which came and went with the tractors still on the track. No one wanted to be the first one out. By 4:45 pm, cars were lining up to go out. Bill took his place in line.
1st and 2nd Session
The new track officials managed the cars as they entered the track one at a time. Each car was allowed about 3-4 minutes until they were instructed to leave the track. When it was Bill’s turn, he was tentative, to say the least. He seemed to be feeling out the track and the car. After he got out of the car, he said that his foot slipped off the gas pedal a few times in the corners. We looked at possible solutions and put a piece of angle iron on the floorboard to rest his heel on. He then got back in the lineup for another try. After waiting in a long line, he found himself back on the track. This session was definitely better and you could tell he was getting more comfortable. He got right back into the lineup.
A little after 6 pm, they sent the kids out on the little track. Bill was 3rd or 4th in line to go out. While the kids were practicing the officials decided to wet the track. There were about 5 kids practicing. It took 30 minutes or so to get them finished. Once finished and off the track, they allowed a couple cars to go out and wheel pack. It was taking too long so they asked if a few more cars could go out. Several cars went out on the track. When they came back in, the lineup was a mess. The officials did the best they could to get it straightened out. Bill was able to get in another practice session and build a little more confidence.
Bill came back into the pit area after the 3rd session. Our test driver, Eric Evans was at the track practicing his Sprint car. After a quick discussion, he agreed to getting into both of our cars to test them for set up and mechanical issues. We put both cars into the lineup. Eric is a superstar with years of experience under his belt. During this session he was going to test another car and his sprint car. We had to separate each of the cars with another car to allow him time to get back off the track and into the next car.
The first of our cars was Bill’s Sports Mod. Eric looked great and reset the rear brake a little heavy. The car was fast! The Harris Modified was next. He pushed that car to its limit and was throwing it hard into the corners. A few laps in the session, the driveshaft dropped out in turn 3. He drove it into the infield.
The last session
Bill put the Sports Mod back into the lineup. The cars were dwindling down and the line was much shorter. He would be able to get one more practice session. Now that he knew the car was fast, he could push himself a little. Eric had set the rear brake to his talent. Bill still wasn’t quite there. After a couple of laps, he came off the track.
The track officials stayed in a good mood and kept control of the night. They allowed the time to go over until 9 pm (instead of 8 pm) to cover the late start and extended time to run in the track after the kids. They allowed the kids back on the track after the big cars to get some more time in as well. There were a lot of cars present and everyone seemed very patient. We got 5 practice sessions in for our money on a decent track.
The only issue that I saw during the night, was with the transponders. The transponders connect to the Speedhive app and monitor lap times during practice and race events. Barona Speedway started using these this year. This was the first night in fact. Apparently, after the first few drivers went out there were technical difficulties. I was looking forward to having this data as a reference point to the progress Bill had. It wasn’t a critical issue by any means.
Lots of cars, a positive mood, and a good track made for a successful night. I hope to get our cars to another practice session in the future. To keep up with the events at Barona Speedway, click here.