Last Friday I took the day off of work to go up to Ennis for the O'Reilly Fall Nationals. Rather than ride straight there, I turned off the interstate to follow TX 7 to Kosse and then north on 14 from there. This took me through a bunch of Falls county, which I had only been through the corner of and through Limestone county, which I don't think I'd ridden through yet.
This time I decided to spring for nicer seats- in the super seats section, which are just to the (driver's) left of the track, tilted to have a good view of the whole track without having to crane over the rest of the hordes. The seats there have backs, although they're still stadium bench seats. My seat was closest to the tower and was in the shade from about noon to 4, which was very nice in the intense sun of Friday and Saturday. It wasn't particularly humid and the ambient temp wasn't real high, with a nice breeze, for qualifying. Eliminations on Sunday the weather was completely different- humid, very little wind and overcast. There was about a 20 minute delay for a little drizzle during the first round of funny car, but it was nothing like the downpour the previous year or what happened in Houston.
The crowd was a lot smaller on Friday, so it was easier to navigate the pits and get driver cards and autographs. I didn't wind up getting many autographs this weekend, but I did get Jeg Coughlin Sr's. I talked briefly with George Smith about the Buell motor they run in pro stock motorcycle- 160 cubic inch 60 degree sportster ohv motor. After the race I got to ask one of Tony Pedregon's crew guys about the body- he said Roush makes the bare body and they add the windshield, firewall and supports and everything to attach it to the chassis. I also talked with one of Larry Dixon's crew guys about the injector scoop and other engine stuff.
Qualifying's most spectacular moment was when Scott Palmer's engine let go and there was a huge fire ball early in the second session. Friday night qualifying is always awesome with the 8 foot flames lighting up the night. There were good runs in all the sessions, but more notable was that Robert Hight and Doug Herbert failed to qualify. It was also disappointing that Gary Densham bumped in and then was immediately bumped out again in the third session.
Eliminations started in the usual way, which I love- American flag parachutist during the Star Spangled Banner and then immediately firing the first pair of top fuelers. Other than the brief rain delay, pro eliminations went pretty smoothly. In the second round of TAFC, there was a big oildown that I missed- Bob Newberry was leaking something, which he ran over and almost took out the Christmas tree. That caused enough of a delay that they decided to push off second round of TAD to let the pros come up. Second round of pro eliminations was completely overshadowed by the big John Force-Kenny Bernstein wreck in the shutdown area. I was watching the scoreboards at that point, which showed Kenny having gotten a holeshot win over John. I didn't see the actual wreck, but it was clear something wasn't right because it looked like a sandstorm at the far end. Nobody moved for several minutes until the word came that John was alright. The ESPN camera showed Kenny getting out right away, but nobody knew what had happened to John. Bob Frey relayed little bits of information, but he didn't seem to know more than anybody else. All that I could see was every single Safety Safari vehicle, an ambulance, a tow truck and I'm not sure what else. A number of the drivers came out from the staging lanes and Cruz Pedregon and Tim Wilkerson, the next pair on the line, got out of their cars and out of some of their equipment. After they got everything cleaned up, racing continued. The semifinals of funny car was just Cruz and Tony Pedregon having singles since John and Ashley Force weren't there. The pro stock motorcycle final had the dramatic holeshot win of Peggy Llewellyn over Andrew Hines to make it into the "Countdown to 1" for the series championship, as well as getting her first career event win.
The ride home was going along alright until I got to Waco and traffic came to a dead stop. It was terrible all through town, speeding up only to come to a stop again. The traffic continued to suck ass from there on south, going from 65 down to 50 for no apparent reason all of a sudden. The speed picked up briefly in Belton when it opened up to three lanes, but slowed down the second it went back to two lanes. It continued to suck all the way to Williamson county when it opened to three lanes for good. Once the third lane opened, I took it and hit the throttle. I didn't let up until I was going 88 mph. It moved from there, but there were far too many idiots going absurdly slow in the ultra-fast lane and wouldn't get out of my way, like the guy who was going 70 I came up to at 77 and didn't get over even though there was room. I got home about 9:15 and read the paper while watching the ESPN coverage of the race until I fell asleep on the couch.