DRIFT: Monday Morning Coming Down

It is Monday morning 6:30 a.m.  My gas station coffee is steaming in the cup holder.  The morning show team is bantering back and forth about traffic, gossip, and politics.  I aim my big black Dodge into traffic.  “Why is this car so quiet?   Why am I moving so slow?  “I  asked myself.  Oh yes, yesterday was race day.  More specifically, I joined my friends from the Milwaukee Region SCCA for a Solo Autocross.

They start gathering at sunrise.  Trailered race cars, street driven VWs and Hondas, flocks of Mazda, Miatas, Camaros, Mustangs, BMWs and Corvettes.  A course of traffic cones is set up.  Later in the morning, the whole group of parking lot racers is seen hiking around the course. They’re walking the line.  Figuring out the late apex.  Deciding on the best way through the slalom.  A few hours into the morning, the mechanical music starts. V-8s, high revving fours, turbos, and squealing tires.   The smell of brakes, oil, gasoline, and adrenaline is in the air.  Of course it’s the people that make this sport.  A crazy, sometimes dysfunctional, wonderfully eclectic group of motor heads chasing a dream.

F-Street BMW M3

It’s not that I dislike my day job.  It’s all good, but I dare say, racers of all kinds, feel the day after hangover.  I’m not sure if golfers or amateur baseball players feel this way because I tend to shy away from any sport that doesn’t involve wheels.  Most of it includes internal combustion as well.

I joined the SCCA in the Mid Nineties, as a way to race legally and improve my checkered driving record.  I jumped in with both feet and ran the National Solo Events.  Locally, I ran in three different clubs, drove all kinds of cars and traveled around the Midwest with my vagabond friends.   I still drag raced back then, I crewed for road racers and added Ice Trials and Track Days to my schedule.  In 1997, I drove and raced something almost every weekend, anything to cure my restlessness. Anything for seat time.  But, at the turn of the Century, I had a few setbacks.  By early 2002, I had sold all my equipment, except for my ‘95 Mustang.  Of course, the restlessness kicked in that winter and I called the Tire Rack for a set of tires.  By then I had two kids, a mortgage and lots of responsibilities. I even got a speeding ticket.  For reasons of sanity, however, I had to go back.   Driving is a sanctuary for me.  It’s my office and The Church of the Wide Open Throttle.  Motorsport can be selfish also.  It’s all about you and the machine, track and or course.  There are no problems, only the challenges of the next apex.

So, here I am in 2017.  I’m just a local guy now.  I run about 3 to 12 events a year.  I’m driving a mostly stock Mustang in the Classic American Muscle class.  The Mustang was given to me and with my “spare” time and “extra” money I’ve nursed it back from the glue factory.  My season started late this year and at its first Solo, I blew the water pump and noticed my sway bar bushings were being pulverized to dust.   I spent the next three weeks under the hood and on the floor thrashing away and cursing the gods of arthritis.  But, June 25th dawned and I drove the car to Miller Park.  The car did six runs, beat my only competitor, ended up mid pack in the combined class and got me back home again.  For me, and my wife and friends that helped me, it’s a victory.  Plus, I got to hang with all my friends.  So, yeah, Monday morning was a bit anti climatic.  I guess I’ll just have to approach my work day one moment at a time like a corner on a Solo course, always looking ahead for the time I can drop the clutch on a new day…

-Andrew Epperly

Milwaukee Region SCCA