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Email from Keith Videtto about the 25hr race
What an a great time!  Rain / Dusk / Night / Dawn / Front Wheel Drive 5 different elements I have never experienced before in racing all in one day! This will look good on the racing resume and something I will never forget. I think the best part was Mike's emotion when he got out of the car, when we won and I didn't even know it.  The hero of the day/night/day was definitely VICMAN!  Thanks again for thinking of me and letting me be a part of your winning team!  I can't wait to keep an eye on Donna's season next year.  She is one of those girls that will bring the boys to their knees with humility. GREAT WRITE UP AND PICS ON YOUR WEBSITE.  I didn't know Gone Racing was a web site and yours to boot. I check it all the time now.  By the way thanks for your guidance and direction as always.  There is not a time I ever get into a race car that I don't hear your voice in my head, telling me not to get into something I can't get out of and at the end of anything even practice Kevin and I tell each other on the radio and in the pits on last runs that (folks) "Disneyland is closing".  

See you at the track!

Keith

Hi Albert,

I really like what you did to your web page. Great pictures!!

Reading about it and looking at the pictures really makes you relive the whole event experience over again.
That was such a memorable time in my life.  One that I will never forget. Thank you for letting me be a part of it. I will never forget it!! And Keith's words are absolutely true. Many times throughout the race your words of wisdom sprang into my head and probably saved me from even more catastrophe.

Thank you for your wisdom.
 

Email from Gary Faules about the 25hr race

 

Hey Bro,

What a great story you posted about your rookie team. But then again I remember when I was a rooke and you held my hand and taught me how to get the job done. What a great time I've had with NASA and with guys like you. Thanks.

As for the chicken shit protest you should have recited paragraph 12.10 of the CCR. It says, Any competitor, entrant, or team member having knowledge or suspicion of illegal parts or modifications to another competitor's car has an obligation to disclose that information to that team well BEFORE the start of the race. Somewhere else in the CCR it says that any person that does not report any violation when they know about it shall also be penalized.

Brother Gary

Team please send your email and stories to me so I can post them. Thanks Albert.

 

my story
by Albert Butterfield
 it's a bit long, but if you know me, you know i'm not short on words

Well here’s my view of the 25-hour race:

The drama started on Friday when the team had problems getting started.  I called Vickman from the track to see when they where going to get there. Vicman said they where still at the shop in San Pablo finishing a few things on the car and would be there sometime in the afternoon. Cars had been testing all day long and soon qualifying would start. The cars started going out for qualifying and we had no car. I called again and they said they were on the 505 hwy and would be there soon. With about 45 minutes left in qualifying, the rig showed up. With a mad dash, we unloaded the car and got it ready to go out. I was ready and jumped into the car and headed out onto the track.

    It was dry and starting to get dark. I drove the car like we had planned to drive in the race. I was trying to keep in my mind where I was shifting and where I was braking, so I could tell my teammates. You see, on my team I had two rookies, and one driver who was in my group 4 class for over a year. He had just started racing in 2003, in a Vette, World Challenge, and a AI class Mustang…. big horse power cars with rear wheel drive. He had never driven a front wheel drive car, so I needed to get as much information to pass on to him, and the others, so we all could drive according to plan.

    After qualifying, I went up to see our times. That’s when the next phase of disaster took place. The transponder didn’t work, and in fact, the timing and scoring people were looking for me. They found me at the door looking for our time. I was told that we were going to start at the back of the pack, but in the morning we could go out and test the transponder to get it working. I went back to the pits and told the team what had happened. We agreed that it was a 25hr race and it didn’t make much of a difference where we started. We also agreed that Keith could drive the car in the a.m. to get some seat time in the car before the race. The team finished up putting on the light rig and a few other things and headed out for some sleep, while Donna, Keith and myself stayed at our pits and put all the stickers on the car.

    Some time around 3:30 a.m., I awoke and stepped out of the motor home to cover the car. The wind and rain had blown the cover off of it. When I stepped out of the motor home I twisted my ankle, not too bad, but a bonehead move. In the morning the team showed up and we got Keith in the car to give him some time behind the wheel. We also got the transponder working.

    NASA a put a lot of time into getting this race ready, and lots of surprises were to come. With the Air Force and Jets and other things, it was a bit overwhelming. For club racing, it looked and felt like a big pro race. Jerry is the man. The cars started going out onto the track to take their places on the grid. We sent our car out to the back of the grid and took some photos and, oops!, we forgot to put gas in the car. We pulled our car off of the track, filled it up and got back on the grid in time for the start. There were two pace laps before the start of the race. The cars took their pace laps and the race started with out incident.

    I’m not sure when it first started happening, but a call came in over the radio. Keith was having some type of problem with the car. Keith was doing a great job of driving, especially in a car he had never been in. The problem didn’t go away, so Vicman told Keith to come in. This is not what you want to happen, but you just have to deal with it. We eventually got the car back out on the track with our next driver, Randy. After some time with Randy driving the car, we started having more problems, but fortunately, after a pit stop or two, we seemed to have it fixed.

    Donna got into the car and drove her turn. Donna, Randy and Keith did just as planned, keep the car on the track, stay out of trouble and let the race play out. Having my team made up of students and new racers kept my mind thinking all the time. Is there something I forgot to tell them, or is there something I should say? It was time for me to go out on the track. When Donna came in, I asked her how the track was. She downloaded like a computer to me about the track conditions. I was so proud of the team I put together.

    Having the information from Donna when I went out on the track, made me feel as if I had already been out there racing. The track had a bit of mud on it, and in fact when I went into turn 2 a bit hot, I almost spun out. I saved it and kept on the plan, let the race play out. This is not a sprint race. Funny, all the things I tell my students, were here in my head. Some time before 11:00 p.m. I came in and Randy took over. At 11:00 p.m., 12hrs after the race started, our team won the E3 class overall for the year. We had achieved our first plan and goal.

    Next, we looked at where we were, somewhere about 10 to 11 laps down from 1st place. Dean said with the lap times we were turning, that in 11hours we could be in first place. All we needed to do was gain back 1 lap per hour. That sounded do-able, so that was the plan. I didn’t plan on going back out until Sunday. I wanted my teammates to get as much time driving as possible. The time was getting late and we were moving up to somewhere around 3rd place now, so I thought I would get some sleep. While I was trying to sleep, hearing the cars going by, not falling asleep like I do most of the time, my head hits the pillow and I’m down for the count. It was more like some type of trance or coma, hearing the cars and thoughts going though my head…did I forget to tell my team driver something? I’m not sure how long I was laying there, when Mike came in and said “Albert, your going to have to drive, we might have a chance to win this if you can go out and drive fast”. Half asleep and in a daze-like a coma, I got up, put on my shoes and headed down to the hot pits. I think Donna had gotten us up to near 2nd place. She had been doing some fast laps out there, and in fact the fastest yet. Donna pulled into the pits and we did a driver change, topped off the fuel, then I went out. But before I went out, Donna said, “The track is fast”. Again my driver and team gave me the information I needed to do the job.

    It’s now about 2:00 a.m. as I head out onto the track. I’m a bit rested and a bit in a daze, but ready to do business, trying to find a point between sprint race and enduro. I tell Vicman over the radio, “I will need all of my lap times to help me pace myself. The first lap time came in over the radio “2:19”… I’m thinking not too bad, not down-shifting to second and not using the brakes too hard, lets see if I can carry a bit more speed and keep with the soft turn-in points to keep the tires alive. Next I hear “2:16”. Not bad. Then I hear over the radio “Nice going Berto, you just had to go faster than me” (Donna). I was not driving the car hard; I was trying to keep in mind what I had told the others. When trying to keep the car on the track, I get a call over the radio, ”Is Albert Butterfield around?” I call back on the radio, ”I’m on the track in turn 2”.  It was Ryan asking for me. Now I’m trying to keep my mind on my job at hand, while wondering why Ryan is asking for me. Then my head lights up with Vicman’s voice, “Albert, Ryan needs to ask you for a favor”. As I’m pushing my way up to turn 9, I reply, “yeah what does he need?”. Vicman comes back on the radio, “He needs some parts off of your Mini Cooper”. “Yeah right”, I say sarcastically, but to my surprise Ryan comes over the radio, ”it’s true Albert”. Then after some pause, as I’m looking into the pits from turn 11 and 12, and have a bit of time on the back straight away, I said, “This is the first new car I’ve ever had Ryan”. Ryan replies, “I wouldn’t ask, but we really need the parts”. I pause again as I’m going into turn 14 and 15, coming into the front straight away, then I said “yeah, go ahead and take what you need, but you’d better put me in any story about that Mini at this race!” I also added sarcastically, “but you have to fix the door ding in the passenger door”. Now I’m back in the race mode…. if that isn’t being a good sport, I don’t know what is! You just never know what’s going to happen when you’re racing. Wow.

    Anyway, back to the story. We were doing as planned, chipping away at the laps that we were down, and trying to keep the car alive. I guess I drove somewhere from 2:00 – 5:30 am.  We were in 2nd place now, 7 or 8 laps down from 1st place. The car was running great and things seemed to be settling down a bit. The race was playing out now, and pace was set. I hear on the radio “2:15.03 your last lap”. I thought to myself, time to back it down a bit. By then I was starting to get a bit tired. It would soon be time for another driver change. Keith was going to be the next driver. I started getting low on fuel now, so I called in on the radio, “get Keith ready, I will been coming in”, and two laps later I pulled off of the track. I will only tell you this…there were some things that happened out on that track. If those things had been seen by NASA officials, the cars and drivers would not be asked to come back and race with us. When I got out of the car I told Keith, “The track is red hot and ready to do business”.

    We fueled up the car and Keith was out, and Keith started to do business, clipping lap times as if it were a sprint race, 2:18, 2:15, then somewhere at lap 406 he turned a 2:13! It was daylight now and we where making up ground on 1st place. It makes me feel great when I see my students drive on my team, and now going faster than me. The car was running well, the laps where coming off, and things where looking good. I was a bit spent and headed up for a quick nap, again trying to sleep and felt more like being in a coma. You hear what’s going on, but you don’t.

    I must have been sleeping for an hour or so, when I had to get up and see how things where going. When I stepped out of the motor home, Keith was standing there, and the biggest bomb shell hit, Keith said, “Donna got tangled up with the E1 Mini, and the Mini is out of the race”. Wow, coming out of a coma-like sleep and hearing that. Wow. I said, “How is the Honda?” Keith said, “It’s out on the track” I headed down to the pit area. I could see it, not only on Keith’s face when I first saw him, but also in the eyes of the rest of the team. It seems that the car had already been in for a pit stop and Vicman had done what was needed, to get the car back out on the track.

    Vicman was by far, the hero on this team, never thinking we were out of the race. He just kept on working to finish the race. “Never give up!” he said. He told me, “Get on the radio and talk to your rookie!” I put the headphones on and started talking to Donna, “You’re doing a good job, keep you’re head on, shake it off, we’re doing fine”, and she did just that. She kept her game plan on, and did what was necessary to get the job done. She called in on the radio, “The car will not turn right!” I said, “Deal with it.” She tried a few more laps and said, “I need to come in.” Vicman said, “Bring her in, I have an idea”, so Donna pulled into the pits. Vicman made some adjustments to the front end and someone from the other pits said your rear wheel is flat. Mike ran back to find the wheel flat. This sure had to make driving the car a bit difficult. Vicman tied up the front end while Mike replaced the rear wheel, and off she went! She said over the radio, “The car is fine now!” and she started to get to work.

    This rookie has a heart of gold, and can drive the wheels off of anything she drives. Her laps times started coming down, as if the car had never had a problem! Then I hear the timer say, “I think she going to beat your time Albert”. And she did! She turned a 2:15:01, and my best time was a 2:15:03. It seems someone going faster than her, is all the fuel she needs (you know, like the race horse, Seabiscuit). Vicman says to me, laughing, “Maybe we should rip the front end off of the car the next time she races, since she seems to drive better under adverse conditions” Again, to see one of my students driving faster than me, makes me feel like I must have been giving them the tools they need to do the job.

   At this point, the team would be happy with a podium finish and a possible 2nd place. It was time to put Mike, the team owner in the car to take the checkered flag. He drove the last hour and a half, this was great. Mike’s family came out to see him race, which only added to this great end of a fantastic 25 hours of racing, and a year of racing. Donna came in and Mike jumped into the Honda to finish the race. When Donna got out of the car she now got to see the damage done to the car. You could see in her face how bad and upset she felt about what she had done to our car and about what happened to the other car. I told her if shit didn’t happen then there wouldn’t be bumper stickers, saying it.  Throughout the race I had been saying, “Probability and outcome, something is bound to happen in 25hrs of racing. It will happen, it has happened to us, and it could and will happen to someone else.” Well sometime in the last half of the twenty third hour, the track went full course yellow.  Mike calls in on the radio, ”There’s a bad wreck in turn 9!” A few seconds go by and Mike calls in again “It’s the 1st place car in our class!” We tried to find out how bad the car was. Mike tells us it looked bad, something with the front end, soon the car was towed into the pits. Dean our time strategist said, “We need them to stay in the pits 20min, that’s all we need to catechu up! Randy, Donna and myself headed up to see what the car looked like. By the time we got up to the car, they had it up on jacks and where trying to find parts. They asked us if we had a tie rod end. We found Vicman and we looked in our spare parts, but we didn’t have what was needed. They ran off looking in the pits, but to no luck, they even tried jacking up one of the team member’s cars, but it was too new.

    The time was going by so slowly now, as if some one had their hands on the clock. Someone said to me, “Well now they know what you have been going through and sometimes shit just happens”. We headed back to the pits.  By now Mike was pulling off 2:19’s. I told his brother to tell Mike the 1st place car was out of the race, and to back down 20%. So Mike did just that, and at 24 hours and 52 minutes we won the 25hr by 3 laps, 8 minutes left until 12:00 noon! If the car had just stopped at that point, the second place car still wouldn’t have had time to beat us. Wow, after pushing the car for nearly 25 hours and 1548 miles, Mike took the checkered flag and we won! When Mike pulled into the pits, Vicman had a surprise waiting for him, an old water-type fire extinguisher hiding behind him, so when Mike stopped the car in our pit, Vicman ran up to the car and hosed him down with water, squirting him all over, and a good thing since the emotions of the race were high for all of us, including Mike. In fact when Mike got out of the car I think he was about to cry, and the water would have hidden his tears, like crying in the rain. At that point I hugged Mike, and almost started to cry myself. The team had worked hard for this all year and it came down to this. It’s funny, but at this point I didn’t know that our leadoff Driver Keith didn’t know we had won, in fact it was a while before he found out.

   Racing is: Part compromise, part determination, part skill, and part luck. Knowing when to compromise, when to keep the determination, and how to use the skills, and if luck has a part in it, then sometimes you win. I think our team used this formula right.

    This is the best I can remember about how things went. Seeing the look in the eyes of the people that didn’t finish or win the race, is something you won’t soon forget, but if everyone could win then there would be no race. Some got to win and some got to lose. That’s racing in a nutshell. To the team and all the people involved, that helped us to make this a possibility, I cannot thank them enough. Without them, this could not have happened. Thank you so very much.

  

 Albert Butterfield  

 

 

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