Last weekend I got the opportunity to go to Chuckwalla Valley Raceway for a NASAAZ track event. Initially I had no plans of attending, however Phil was running on Sunday and I decided to tag along. I had to work that Saturday so the plan was to leave after work. As fate would have it, I woke up super late and this prevented me from getting all my stuff ready before I left for work. This meant that I would have to return home after work before heading out to the Robles’ residence, therefore – late (Again! Damn it!). Luckily when I got to the house, Phil was still getting some last minute things ready. Since Chuckwalla was not around the corner, he wanted to make sure he had all the essentials and more. Paul and Nolan were supposed to join us but at the last minute something came up and they were not able to go.
I was looking forward to this trip for two things. One, Phil has new updates on his car and I wanted to see it first hand at the track. “What are these upgrades?” you ask; well he is running 17″ wheels and behind the front wheels sits a jaw-dropping new brake set up. If you are wondering, Dan at Rcrew Racing designed the brakes and not only do they look amazing but they also perform admirably. Phil told me that the force of the brakes was incredible and a little punishing and that he was still getting used to the feel of the brakes. A couple weeks prior to this event, he built a front splitter at home and this was his first time running with it.
The second thing I was looking forward to was getting the opportunity of some long exposure photography. Since CVR is in the middle of nowhere, it is super dark, therefore no light pollution. I’ve never mixed cars and long exposure/night photography, so this was going to be another first for me.
Once we got to the track, we realized there was little to no parking available. After we drove around we found an open area near the Honda Challenge guys who even made some space for us. The unloading and setting up for the night was completed rather quickly. One of the air mattresses we brought did not have the blower to inflate it. We had to be innovative and ended up having to use an air compressor with a blowgun. Although it took forever and we probably woke up a few people, it worked! Genius at its best!
After taking one shot as a test bed, I realized that there was a full moon which completely ruined the darkness of a moonless night that I wanted. After a few adjustments on the camera and few more beers, we decided to call it a night. The weather at that point was comfortable but somewhere around 4am, the cold crept in and it got freezing cold. It got so cold that we decided to get the generator going and hook up a small heater that Phil brought.
Meanwhile as this was going on, I headed outside to take a piss and also to check on the camera and set it for one more shot. When I went outside I realized that it was way darker than before. After checking the sky I noticed that the moon had come down pass the horizon and the stars were shining brightly. I knew that the last shot would be my best since it was pitch black. I set the camera to 125 minutes and went back to sleep.
Morning came way too soon and Phil was on the move to get going. He had to install the front splitter and go to tech before his first session. Like a true geek, I was excited to see how the image came out. I knew that the camera had finished taking the long exposure and it was still processing/writing the file to the CF card, so I left it alone and helped Phil. After I helped Phil out, I had some coffee, a quick breakfast and I eagerly
went to check the camera. To my dismay the stupid batteries ran out of juice! I was hoping for the file to be completed but after a quick charge, no file was written. This was a bummer but at least I was able
to capture a few frames. Still, massive FAIL!
Once the drivers met for the morning meeting, the sessions started coming rather fast and just like that everybody was on full swing.
And just like that, the day was over. We got to spend some time with Andy and Larry after the track went cold but eventually we had to pack, load the car and make our drive back to Phoenix.