Things get pretty interesting this time of year. We’re now in the middle of our most hectic time of the race season -- the summer. We just did three weeks in a row of back-to-back racing, had one week off, and now we’re in the midst of a four-week stretch. After this four in a row, we have another week off, and then our Patrón XO Cafe Toyota Camry Funny Car team heads to the Western Swing for three in a row.
It’s times like these that will really make or break you -- especially if you have a family at home and you’re trying to balance that. In the days (or sometimes day) between these back-to-back races, I’m only home long enough to unpack my suitcase, wash my clothes and repack them. Then it’s off to the airport for another race.
Luckily, Sunny and Bella just got out of school, and Jesse and I plan on taking them on the road with us to as many races as possible. We’ll blow up the air mattress in the motor coach and set up our “home away from home” at the track. It’s close quarters, but it’s fun to camp out like that as a family and see the country. Between races, we always try to find some different things to do together.
We’re heading to Epping, New Hampshire, this week and then after that it’s off to Chicago and then straight on to Norwalk, Ohio, which for my girls is probably one of the most anticipated races of the season. They love the Norwalk race because we stay at the Kalahari Resort -- the largest indoor waterpark in the nation. The Kalahari is really a great place for the kids. In addition to the waterpark, they have tons of fun activities, games, an arcade and a petting zoo. The girls even got to hold a baby tiger last year.
Bella and Sunny are friends with a lot of the other racers’ kids, so they all love to meet up at this race and play at the hotel. While they love coming out to the track and watching us race, the days are pretty long, and they can take only so much out there, so it’s nice to have something else to distract them and keep them occupied.
The Fourth of July always falls either right before or during the weekend of the Norwalk race, and the track owner, Bill Bader, puts on an amazing fireworks display out there on Friday night. It’s incredible. The fireworks light up the whole place -- even more so than our cars do when we blaze down the track at night with our 10-foot-high header flames. It’s really exciting and it’s nice that even though we’re on the road and away from home, we still get to enjoy the Fourth together as a family.
For me as a racer, these back-to-back races can be grueling, but at the same time there are some advantages to nonstop racing. Not having much time out of the seat keeps you sharp. It keeps you on your game, especially when you’re trying to stay up there in points, as we are. We don’t get to have practice days because we are in the car so much. The race weekends are our practice. If there is something specific we want to try out, than we may stay the Monday after a race to test, but that’s rare.
We did pretty decent this past weekend in Bristol, Tennessee. Our team picked up some more qualifying bonus points and second-round points. Hopefully we’ll continue to collect more points throughout this four-in-a-row, and keep ourselves up in the top half of the points ranking.