Taylor tightens the intake manifold to ensure there are no boost leaks before Travis works his magic. After the dyno, tune and four maps were complete, the car was ready to take to the track. Engine break in, Snail Style!
As we wrapped up at the shop we loaded up the cars and trailers and headed towards Taylor's house to pack and roll. Chuckwalla is about a three hour drive from Phoenix and we needed to get to the gates by 9:00 p.m. as it is a private facility and they close up shop “on time.” Our late departure would not bode well for being on time yet the Snail team refused to eliminate anything necessary to ensure a successful weekend. Next stop was Fry's for some weekend beverages, plenty of water, 6 12 packs of Dr. Pepper, and enough Crown Royal to have the cashier questioning our decisions. At this location if you want to buy the crown one must pull a card and take it to the front of the store. Yup, just like buying office furniture! We left 1 card on the shelf for the person walking up behind us whom also shook their head and smiled. Let's face it peeps, no way we aren't going to keep ourselves hydrated in the middle of the desert. As we caravan back to Taylor's we meet up with the third member of the Snail Team, Markos Mylonas. After walking in long enough to relieve my bladder, we were loaded up and the 4th member of Snail, Jerome Silvers, had arrived and climbed in the truck. As we rolled out we all pointed and laughed at Markos as he climbed in to his WRX race/street car to hoof it the 3 hours in the Arizona heat with no AC. If I were younger I would call that hardcore, now I just call it… well… choose your adjective. The drive was 3 hours of desert and at least I had my boy Travis to rap with and make fun of Markos some more. I will tell you this much… Chuckwalla is in the MIDDLE of fucking NOWHERE! The only clue that there is a racetrack off the desolate road is a large empty tank that is painted with the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway logo. Even that blends in with the other random double-wides you see along the way. Just when you think you are at the track you pull into the entrance road to drive to the middle of nowhere and just as you are sure your arse is about to be probed by aliens a small building appears near the gate. We sign in, get our credentials or lack thereof, and proceed down the desolate road once more. As we finally can make out the paddock area we see some signs of life and beach the whale of a trailer for the weekend. As we climbed out we unstuck the boys and get our stretch on while saying hello to the usual suspects. I quickly realize one thing… I AM COOKING. No lie the heat coming off of the blacktop was literally warming my FACE. Yup, I knew right then I was screwed. We unload the cars from the trailers and set up shop for the weekend, it really makes sense to do do most of this at night because “when that blazing sun gets overhead, we won't get very far!” The forecast for Saturday was quite warm and as we fired up the generator to power the AC trailer everyone was already feeling the heat, the real problem was that it was approximately 1AM in the middle of the desert. As we set up our cots in the snail trailer I was thankful for two things… 1. That no one had eaten peanuts or spicy food and 2. That there was no black light within reach.
This is the Snail paddock at the buttcrack of Dawn (no idea who she is TBH) on Saturday. The kiddie pool was in place to cool off and it was the only time of day I did not feel like the flesh was going to melt off my body.
As I tossed and turned in a tin can full of beer farts the day broke early and I wandered about to take in the cars that had shown up. I also took the time to commandeer a friends long board (THANKS ULRIK) so that I could push around the track and take in some of it's features. Chuckwalla is a 2.68 mile 17 turn venue that is 40' wide. Despite being in the middle of Hades the layout of CVR is bad ass. Great flow and transitions along with some slight elevation changes and a banked area provide something for everyone, as I pushed around the track I also tried to look at it from both directions as they would run the track both ways during the weekend. I was also gaining hope that I had gotten somewhat used to the heat as it felt rather pleasant that morning even when pushing my way around the entire track.
Here is my artsy fartsy shot of the crest of turn 9 heading down into turn 10. The elevation change between turns 8 and 10 makes this complex very fun. Regardless of direction you come in blind over 9. Very fun stuff!