The Journey Continues (Part 3)

Phoenix Pits

When you last heard from me, we were about halfway through our 10-week family journey. Four weeks later, I have an update… We’re still on the road! However, as I pen this column we’re nearing the end of our adventure. By the time you read this, our last event – the Spring Fling Million in Las Vegas – will be in the books, and we should be residing comfortably in Carterville, IL (some 1700+ miles from where I sit right now).

Before we look forward, allow me to relive the last few weeks; they’ve been pretty special! 

Following the K&N Southwest Showdown in Tucson, we really dug into the “vacation” portion of our trip, highlighted by a lot of Arizona site-seeing (thankfully, the state has a lot to offer)! We saw the sunset in Sedona (amazing!). We took a pink-Jeep tour at the Grand Canyon (awe-inspiring!). We took a guided tour of the Hoover Dam (an engineering marvel!). While we were in Tucson, the circus came to town (literally… at the race track): so Jess and the boys got to check that out. We took in the desert museum near Tucson, which was actually super cool as well. The only downside to the desert museum was that there is apparently no way to get there in an RV without crossing roads that are designated “not for travel” by RV’s of our size (or any overweight vehicles). As a result, it took us about 3 hours to get there (which was accomplished only by saying “screw it; we’re going down THIS road”), and the journey itself was admittedly, a bit harrowing… But the end result was well worth the aggravation!

We also decided to take in Tombstone, AZ (yea, where they shot the movie), which is a throwback to the old west. Tombstone is pretty cool – that’s not where we went wrong. Where we (and when I say we, I mean I) went wrong was in booking an RV park about 2 miles from town. Actually, booking an RV park 2 miles from town would be a non-issue in and of itself, so let me rephrase… Where we (and when I say we, I mean I) went wrong was booking an RV park 2 miles from town with no transportation except the RV. What this meant? A two-mile hike… down a desert trail. The fine folks at the RV park even warned us to look out for rattlesnakes and javelina (the desert version of a wild boar). As you might imagine, as fun as an adventure as this sounded to us (and when I say us, I mean me), about a mile in it lost its humor… for everyone! In our family, we’ve come to refer to these ideas, not as “bad” ideas specifically, but rather as “Dad” ideas. In all honesty, we made the most of it; and Tombstone was pretty cool… But the desert hike won’t make the highlight reel of the trip!

Initially, when we got done in Tucson, we were really looking forward to two weeks of vacation without visiting a race track. About a week-and-a-half in, we got a bit restless and decided (shocker) we should go racing! So we wheeled back into Phoenix for a stop at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park for their regular ET bracket program. It was an opportunity for Gary to get some more seat time in his Moser Engineering Junior Dragster, and for Jess to get some runs in her Moser dragster as well. Little did we know, it would also bring little Jack’s first on-track competition opportunity as well! 

To our surprise, in addition to their typical Junior Dragster and Junior Street program, Wild Horse Pass also regularly hosts a big wheel category for kids that aren’t yet Jr. Dragster age. We literally learned of this Friday night, which necessitated a stop at the local Target 10 minutes before closing time to purchase Jack’s Big Wheel, errr… Race car (thanks Debbie!).

While Jack is still yet to turn on his first win light, he had an absolute blast getting to compete on the big track (I’m equally confident that we had more fun watching him and the other kids than he did racing)! Gary highlighted the weekend with a stellar Sunday performance that ultimately landed him in the semi-final round of the 6-12 year old Junior Dragster class. While he fell in that round, he had an awesome day behind the wheel: including three consecutive lights of .032 or better. I was super proud of both of our boys!

Following a brief campground stay, we set sail for the last stop on our journey (which was also the first stop on our journey nearly 2 months ago): The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Thankfully, our stop here in Vegas is not a brief one… We close out the trip with 3 huge weekends of racing: the NHRA 4-wide Nationals, a Division 7 Lucas Oil Series Double Header, and then the grand finale… The Spring Fling Million!

As I pen this column, we’re two weeks into the Vegas stay, with only the MIllion remaining. On my end, the on-track results have been fairly frustrating. I lost good races in the early rounds of both the national and the second leg of the divisional. In the opening divisional, I did advance to round 6, but did an awful job there and had to settle for a semi-final finish. The frustrating part is that I genuinely feel like my Moser Engineering Corvette is the best Super Gas in the country right now (even better than it was last season), and I just can’t seem to capitalize on it! My on-track frustrations, however, pale in comparison to those of my wife Jessica. On the track, she’s had a rough trip. Nothing will fall into place for her. For the most part, she’s made good runs at the wrong time (alongside opponents who make better runs). When she’s made untimely mistakes (mainly red lights), almost without exception, they’re opposite awful runs in the other lane that should have been easily beatable.

If you know my wife, you know that she’s incredibly competitive, and largely as a result she can be very hard on herself when she’s not having the success she’s accustomed to. You should also know, however, that she has a bit more on her plate than the average competitor. Let’s take, as an example, her Thursday morning at the Division 7 LODRS here in Vegas. Jack woke her up early because he wasn’t feeling good (a stomach bug ran through our entire family that week), so she’s short on sleep to begin with. She gets him up and going and handed off to me in time to make her Super Comp time trial. Of course, the boys are great with me as we setup camp and watch Mommy make her run: no issues whatsoever. She gets back to the pits, and I head up to make my Super Gas time trial. I’m not gone more than 10 minutes before… Jack poops his pants (which he likes to announce with some degree of pride). While she’s tending to that mess in the motorhome, she hears a blood-curdling scream coming from the direction of the trailer. Gary had closed a toolbox drawer on his finger (thankfully, there was no serious injury here; he can be a touch dramatic). Our pit neighbor Ryan Herem was first on the scene and got Gary calmed down a bit, but it was a tense situation!  Needless to say, by the time I (completely unknowingly) returned to the trailer, everyone in our camp was a bit disheveled! I’m not trying to make excuses for my wife (she certainly wouldn’t have that), I’m just saying that these aren’t issues that the typical Super Comp racer is concerned with between rounds! On our end, it’s just another day in the life of the family that plays together, races together, and travels 5000 miles over 9 weeks in a 300 square foot RV together!

If you’ve enjoyed this written account of our adventure, you might also get a kick out of the video version. Check the vlog of our adventures on the Moser Engineering YouTube channel. 

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