Racers – Who was naughty and who was nice??

December 19th, 2017 by Sherry Grantz

by Wheel Editor, Blake Tatum

Here it is the day after the SCCA banquet and all the SCCA racers are busy thinking about the next race season.  They are thinking of what it will take to win the championships, who will show up next season, will they have a crew to support them?  Many wonder if they have the resources to continue, while others think about what might have been had they had the extra little piece of the puzzle to finally put them on the top rung of the podium. While some anticipate running for the regional championship others are thinking of being national champion at the Runoffs, which for the second time in the last four years will be run on the West Coast. 

The weather is chilly with the sun barely peaking through the clouds. It is early in the morning and we find several SCCA Racers waiting in line. Only this time it is to see Santa not Linda Rogaski and Claire Kelly. All in attendance figure Santa is their key to SCCA glory. Santa will solve all their problems.  Whether it be equipment related or talent related, Santa will certainly have the answer.

Of course not everyone in line will get what he or she is asking for.  It is not because Santa plays favorites (he does like SCCA better then NASA for some reason). It is because some of these people landed on the naughty list. You see, Santa can see you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.

Santa knows when you squeezed your competition  off into the dirt, he knows when you are telling the truth to the Stewards in impound, and most importantly he knows when you are traveling faster then a brisk walk in the paddock.

As the long line of SCCA racers took their turns, we elves got to listen in. First up was Joe Briggs.  Joe is a driver of a Spec Racer Ford and told Santa that he gave all of his competitors plenty of racing room especially at the starts. He said that he was nice to all the SCCA volunteers and because of his good behavior he asked Santa for a few items. He said that he did not win the championship and feels that a test day here and there would really make him more competitive. He also would like Santa to bring him driver accessories like Helmet shields, gloves, and a cool shirt because in order to be comfortable going fast first you have to be comfortable.   Speaking of comfort Joe needs to spruce up his paddock space so he would like Santa to bring him a couple of specialty designed SCCA lounge chairs and an ice chest.  Lastly when the last checkered flag of the day falls he would like to enjoy a beer while relaxing on those new chairs.

Jerry Aplass was next to sit on Santa’s lap.  As he shyly made his way up to the jolly ol’ fellow in the big red suit, you could tell that Jerry did not have a list in hand.  As Santa asked Jerry his name and before he could answer, he blurted out TIRES! Santa said do you want anything else and Jerry just said TIRES, TIRES, and more TIRES.  Just to make sure Santa got the message as he was walking away Jerry whispered in Santa’s ear “Did I say Tires?”  

We have to wait through several five year old kids to have their turn with Santa as the next SCCA racer Roger Eagleton lost his place in line when he got distracted by the throng of people that surrounded him wanting to wish him good luck as a new San Francisco Region board member. He will certainly need it.

As Roger walked up to sit on Santa’s lap several of the girl elves swooned. They must have had a little extra eggnog that morning because one was over heard saying “He can drive me anywhere!”.  Roger was oblivious to this extra attention, as he wanted to tell Santa what he is hoping to get to bring him to that next level. Of course he wanted the usual stocking stuffers like brake pads, he wanted a set of tires, but number one on his list was a combo package of a new racecar and personal coaching lessons from Ross Bentley. Roger did not specify what kind of racecar so lets hope Santa has been paying attention and gets him a Mustang.

As Ken Fukuda made his way towards Santa, he totally ignored the elves handing out the free candy canes. His focus was the big man. You see it has been several years since Ken has asked Santa for anything and he wanted to make sure he did not stumble or stutter his words.  Ken did not want to ask Santa for too much so he asked if Santa could provide him with a sponsorship.  In his excitement he did not tell Santa how much of a sponsorship or from which company, so it was up to Santa to decide whom it should be. Ken’s only other request was some old school high top racing shoes so that gave Santa an idea. Santa contacted his buddies at Converse to see if a deal could be worked out.  That way not only could Ken get his old school racing shoes, the entire crew would be decked out in the original high top shoe: the Chuck Taylor Converse Canvas all star. That is unless his team wants to run faster and jump higher, then they would have to opt for PF Flyers.

Santa was getting pretty tired at this point so he decided to open some of the mail he recently received.  Santa reached into his mailbag and just so happened to pull out a letter from another SCCA racer.  It was from none other then Helmuth Jones, a Sealed Spec Miata driver.  Santa had all of his elves gathered around sitting criss/cross applesauce in front of him.  The letter went like this:

Dear Santa,
Everyone knows that SSM is the ‘purest’ racing class in SCCA in these days of ever increasing complexity, horsepower, and FLASH. However, respect has not equaled purity. How often have we been battling for position with another SSM competitor, only to have another Group 7 SMT car with Runoff SM power (we all know who we’re talking about) slot in between with all their straight away speed, and end up blocking in the corners, fully messing up that ‘Mano el Mano’ SSM contest. And who hasn’t been cursed with that Group 5 SMG Mustang that can block, but not turn. Oh Santa, can you not deliver us from this nonsense ??

Hamilton, Vettal, and Ricardo have DRS, Indy’s have PTP, it is now our time to get back that respect. Santa, all I want under the tree is my own SSM Push To Pass System, my own DRS, only to use when that over-powered, under-driven, non SSM race car is interfering with my own race. To keep the SSM race as pure and equal as always, of course, I will never use this gift to gain any advantage on any of my fellow SSM class competitors.

P.S. It’d be best to present this gift in a way that would not get our Tech Stewards involved, they have enough on their plates anyway.
Merry Christmas

As Santa finished reading the letter he texted the North Pole and told his head design elf to get started.  You see Helmuth has been an exceptionally good boy this year and Santa did not want him to wake up Christmas morning disappointed.

Tao Takaoka was the next SCCA racer to have his turn with Santa. Tao has had a tough year and his always present smile has most recently been missing from his face.  Santa did not have to ask him what was wrong because Santa certainly knew that all of Tao’s cars have taken a beating. Before Tao could make his request Santa said “I know what you want. You want a new racecar”. Tao’s bright white smile suddenly returned to his face and he walked away a very excited boy.

It seems the Spec Miata drivers like to hang out in line together because on the heels of Tao was SSM 2017 champion Alan Gjedsted. Alan told Santa it was a tough season and he raced hard all year. He won the regional championship at the last race of the season and when he reflects back on his racing career he thought he would ask Santa for a special device to be placed on all of the cars in his group. He asked Santa if he could design a spring-loaded, rubber-covered halo that would wrap around each Miata. He described this device as something like the bumper cars at Playland in San Francisco. He thinks it would make the race starts much more exciting and it would certainly bring a whole new meaning to the term bump drafting.  As Alan walked away Santa had to shake his head about this one.

Just as Alan got down there were some loud high pitch squeals coming from behind Santa.  It seemed the elf that was swooning over Roger had passed out.  The eggnog must have had something slipped into it and the elf fell face first onto the ground.  Lucky Alan was there as he was able to revive the poor little gal and once she awoke she had a new favorite driver.

Once all the commotion was over Santa had to make sure all the eggnog was disposed of as there was no way he was going to get through the throng of people with a staff of inebriates.

Robbie Rodriguez Jr., who finished second by four points in Spec Miata to Tommy McCarthy, was next to pay a visit to Santa. Robbie had a few big requests for Santa.  He would like a street circuit to race at and a key to Sonoma Raceway.  He then asked Santa if he could make sure more Miatas show up at the races because more is always better. Robbie likes the extra challenge of rain races and asked Santa if he could make it rain more often during his races. Lastly Robert asked Santa if he could have a marble dispenser for the back of his car to ensure victory. Santa looked at Robbie with a sense of puzzlement, but as Robbie walked away he told Santa he was only kidding about the marble dispenser because he is fast enough to win on his own merit.  

The next group of SCCA racers to pay a visit to Santa was some open wheel racers. First up was Larry Bacon.  Larry is a big guy and seemed to be in an exceptional mood this day.  He waited in line a long time but did not seem to mind.  I think he was showing off for Santa as he wanted his Christmas request to come true.  Larry just bought a new car (surprise, surprise).  He wants to go to the Runoffs in 2018 and wants to have a good showing.  So the only thing he asked for was some test days.  As Larry walked away he had his fingers crossed.

A long time competitor of Larry’s was up next, Scott Meyer.  I think Scott and Larry are in a personal contest with each other to see who could buy and sell the most racecars before they retire. At this point Scott has a slight lead. Scott had two requests. One has a very remote chance of being granted the other has a snow balls chance in h… of being granted.  Scott requested a Ginetta G57 and asked for a return of 40 car Formula Vee fields.  I will let you decide which wish is most likely to happen.  

The last open wheel competitor to have his go with Santa was Kevin Gordon.  Kevin is a FV racer who happens to be a very good driver.  He just needs a little more power. So his request was quite simple. He just wants five more horsepower from Santa.  Santa did not seem to think that was going to be a problem, but did not know if the FV engine elf (Ronnie Chuck) would ever get it done because Ronnie is busy building his revolutionary FV.

The last person in line was Brandon Miller.  Brandon was the ITA regional champion for 2017.  He spent a lot of time getting the car ready to race and a lot of time driving to the racetracks.  He would like to spend a little less time doing both so he asked Santa for a racecar that can never be damaged and never needs repairs.  He also asked for what every track enthusiast in the Bay Area wants: A hyperloop from the bay area to Thunderhill

As Santa waved good-bye to all the SCCA racers at the mall the well wishers watched him load up into his ride.  Santa gathered his elves.  He did a head count and had FV racer Kevin Gordon do a field sobriety test on the ones that were sampling the eggnog. The elves that did not pass received an extra dose of magic dust and soon everyone was loaded up and departing for the North Pole.  Santa lifted off and his final departing words were

“Merry Christmas, Happy New Year to all, and don’t forget the tech sticker goes on the left shoulder roll bar!!!

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