August 31, 2014
I had a lazy start to the day, not being on any specific schedule. It’s only about a half hour drive to the track from Maupin. I ate breakfast at the Café and ordered a sack lunch to go. I was on the way to the track by 8. The route to Grass Valley took me down the Deschutes River access road and then on to OR 216.
At the track, they knew my name when I walked in the door. We had exchanged emails over recent weeks, so I was more or less expected. This being an ORP club day, I couldn’t run unless I bought a trial membership or somebody gave me a guest pass. I don’t know who gave me the guest pass, but it was much appreciated.
“We’re running counter clockwise this morning.” I thought I was somewhat prepared, having watched Travis’s videos online. He ran clockwise, though, so my preparation was all for naught. They offered to give me a ride in their Crown Vic for a couple of orientation laps, which was a big help. I also noted that they said they were running counter clockwise “this morning”, which implied to me that we might change directions after lunch.
There were only ten cars there – two Porsches, a BMW M3, a 1974 Pinto, two Acuras, an Audi TT, a Mustang Boss 302, a BRZ, and me. We could run as much or as little as we liked, there being no groups and no sessions. And with only ten of us there, I often felt like I had the track to myself.
I think the track designer is a sadist. The track is diabolical. It has over 400’ of elevation change and no straightaways. Every turn is either off camber, unsighted over a crest, or at the bottom of a dip. Two sections act as straights, but I never really figured them out completely. Their signature series of turns is called the Half Pipe.
I managed to run three sessions in morning, counter clockwise. Just before lunch they surveyed everybody: “Continue counter clockwise, or switch?” I abstained. I would be happy to continue to learn the track in this direction, just as I’d be happy to start the learning curve all over and run clockwise. At lunch I learned we were switching. I managed three more sessions in the afternoon, clockwise.
I had a couple of minor technical glitches. My lap timer didn’t work first two afternoon sessions. When I start it, I have the option of selecting the track or letting it auto-detect. I’ve always selected it. My first two clockwise sessions it managed to fail to detect the start/finish line. For my third session let it auto-detect and it worked just fine. For my last session, I took the top off and put the camera in my favorite place. I had a fantastic time, felt like I was finally starting to figure out the track. When I got back to the paddock I saw that I neglected to turn the camera on. So it goes.
The track not as slick as PIR, but I was sideways through half the turns all day. I braked too late and missed apexes by a mile. I figured corner workers would be saying something like “that Lotus driver can hardly keep it on the track.” When I paid (here you pay at the end of the day, not the beginning) I asked what the corner workers were saying about me. They told me they enjoyed the show. That was a bit of an ego stroke, but a good driver would have figured out the track quicker and hit the apexes without drama. I had a blast, though, which is what counts most for me. I managed to run a 2:09 counter clockwise and a 2:08 clockwise.
They fed us lunch – chicken, pasta salad, watermelon, and a dessert treat – so I had my sack lunch for dinner. I headed back toward Maupin and pulled into a campground where a stream enters the Deschutes. The stream was carrying a lot of sediment from storms up river. The Deschutes was running clean and clear above the stream. I found it interesting that when the mocha colored stream entered the Deschutes, it turned the water green.
When I pulled into the parking area I drew a crowd. I answered questions about the car and we chatted about motorsports. They kindly invited me to sit with them while I ate. “Do you want a beer, or are you going to keep drinking that water?”
Returned to Maupin to have a beer with Mark. I said I was headed to the Best Western at Government Camp, but he insisted I stay here again. Who am I to argue?