Spa 6h, or “The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was” almost..


Isn‘t it great when prejudices tumble?

I hate it!

I hate it because it usually means that some wonderful bit of self conviction has to go.
In this case I had become absolutely certain during the past two years, that I was a fearless beast.
Well.
The spa six hour race is rightly famous, as six hours continuos racing are not only tiresome on man and machine, the greater part of it takes place in complete darkness of course, as the sun sets around seven in September. And It’s Belgium, dark foresty spa, not nicely lit Le Sarthe!
Luckily, Claudia Huertgen and Marc had agreed to race with me, so I didn‘t feel vulnerable at all, until I realised, that in a field of more than 100 cars, 9 Ford GT 40 alone, our 911 would be in the last third of the field.

I like his colour sense!

But first things first.
And in this case it was the gearbox, which had to be changed, before. At home. And as with all things mechanical, a thing a beauty in itself!

After that, we arrived in Spa Friday morning and I was honestly surprised at the amount and quality of the cars.
Drivers Briefing and Qualifying in the afternoon where both astonishing, the first because of the sheer numbers of drivers in this race, the later because a suspicious amount of cars had looked like Santa Claus trucks on the interstate highway.

They had also done funny stuff to their rear windows: stick foil, tape and all sorts of view blocking devices on the glass.

 It all looked very pretty and peculiar to me, which only proves how naive I am, and how little Marc ever thinks about asking anybody advice..

Claudia beat all other 911 during qualifying by at least three seconds, which again shows all sorts of things, like how amazing she is as a driver, how well the cars goes and lots of other things which are not so complimentary to me and my driving.. ( a long way to go, baby….)
She was was also much quicker than Marc, who is the quickest usually and that put him in  a HELL of a mood….

The next morning we all slept in (wonderful! It usually never happens!) had a relaxed morning, I tried to remember all the things Claudia told me about the track, we practised taking fuel (you’ll see later why), eating fries when suddenly it was time for the start.

Such extraordinary field really, and we were the first 911, number 47 out of 103. Seriously.
When the introduction lap rolled past we waited in anticipation for the rolling start, the cars roaring past, yet for some reason no Kobold. 

It´s easy to miss a car in so many but the second lap passed and still no Kobold. The third lap passed and still no Kobold and by than we knew that Claudia and the car were truly missing and that they had not simply escaped our eyes…
I tried to call her, no answer…
She finally rolled the car (and her eyes) into the box, the throttle cable had jumped of!
It was quickly fixed, but those laps missed threw us back onto last position!
When I took over the car, she had moved us forward more than twenty places.
I however had to fill the car with petrol, that´s the rules at the six hours, rendering the race somehow into a lottery, yet adding a bit of that hurray cowboy feeling. You basically drive the car out of the pit lane into the filling station, where you jump out, open the tank, the marshall handing you the filling nozzles and than you stand there, holding the nozzle all the way, feeling your hands cramping, hearing the grinning Marshals joke about you (at least they were about me), counting the litres you have already taken and it feels like a journey to the moon and back. Endless and funny.
They helped me into me seat belts, still joking and than I was off.
And it was shocking.
The track looked like a scrap yard full of Cobras, Alfa TZs and E-types and MGs..
Scary!

But than my cold blood took over and I just ignored the sights of sorrow, slowly finding my rhythm.
Yet not long the same thing happened as with Claudia and the throttle cable came off again. Luckily the car rolled out just before the exit to the pits, where some very nice Marshals first pushed me into a safe corner and then got some tape to stick the throttle thing (what´s it called?) in the engine bay into place, so at least I could roll into our box.
Again, this was quickly fixed and I drove off into the dusk, which very quickly turned into normal dark and than into pitch black with Blitzes and flashes of blinding light from the cars behind.

The problem with a slow car here is that there are a lot of cars following you for a bit, before overtaking, blinding you endlessly with their flaming lights.
And that´s when the reason for the interstate high way decoration become clear to the last of the housewives on track.

It is damn dark out there, and our car was in no way sufficiently equipped with neither enough light to see in front of you, nor with anti glare protection against the 80 cars coming from from behind. I couldn’ t see the track, I couldn’ t see our panel at the pit wall, nor could they see me.

After coming off track twice and at the thought of a car stranded without signals anywhere on track (which of course would have been catastrophic with the range of our light cones) I decided after twenty laps to come in and hand the car over to Marc, who A: doesn‘t have any children and B: prepared the car.
In German we say: let somebody take the bath he‘s filled.
It was still an incredible race.
The length of the race on that beautiful track, all the amazing cars, the darkness, the sense of exitement.
A true adventure in my books!

That’s what they thought tooooooooo.

Oh and before I forget. There is News.
In the shape of  a german version of the originally english magazine “Octane”.
Yes and I write for them.
So let me know what you think.
Please.

18 Comments

  1. Carol Quiniou says:

    Greatly enjoyed reading this… Merci pour le partage…Love it!

  2. Steve says:

    I liked reading this a lot! Even the fear comes across well!

  3. Rainer Merlot says:

    What a lovely report,Gaby,one can feel your emotions… in the 70’s early 80′ there were some tricks to fix the throttle cable, but sometimes it was the linkage,and that happened more than once….so the mechanics had to pay a large one at the bar;-)
    YES, Octane arrived, great stuff, compliments and best of luck for your new venture:-))

  4. jj says:

    Welcome back blogging. Now we all know why you were so quiet in the past months.

    Racer, Blogger and now Presenting Editor – and there are stil some people saying the life of a houswife is boring.

    Looking forward for the next recepies :)

  5. Arneyb says:

    Aha… Claudia was faster than Marc. Well, I would never dare to call Marc a slow driver, but was he really surprised about the fact that she beat him ?
    I am curious about your compared laptimes. How big or small was the gap ? Are You willing to tell the brutal truth to the public ?

  6. Very good to have you writing here again … remember … CARRERAS SON CARRERAS already said Fangio.

  7. Carol:merci!!!!! a lot!

    Steve:fear? terror!
    Rainer:thank you, too!!!
    JJ. oh dear, you´re raising recipe pressurrrrre…
    Arne: NO!
    And Franciso: Fangio is right. as always!

  8. Gabriele,
    Saw your message on my Bumpsteer blog. Thanks for that! I already put your link up. Hope you’ll do the same.
    Keep up the great work, your blog looks awesome.
    Cheers,

    -Maurice | dutchman-photos.com | Bumpsteer blog

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is Chris, Willy’s friend from NYC. Meeting you, and Stephan, yesterday (not to mention the cars…) made it all become real. ! What I see on your (very well designed) blog makes me feel like getting behind the wheel and hitting the track ‘big time’. For all this, thank you Gaby.

  10. Chris. Thank you! I hope you´ll be hitting the track BIG time!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m extremely pleased to find this web site. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely liked every little bit of it and I have you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff in your site.

  12. This is very good for people that plans to set up their cars for racing purposes. I plan to make my used Hyundai sonata a test car so I would be able to gauge the adjustments that I will make cause I’m planning to join a race when I have the money to compete with other racers.

  13. If I want to have this one, I think I should avail to some car loans cause those cars looks like expensive. I would love to try driving this one given a chance.

  14. I always fancy racing cars not only because of the horse power it got but it’s also the overall appearance of them are all jaw-dropping. If I could only touch one of them, it would be a dream come true.

  15. Steven Brett says:

    This just shows that you must never underestimate someone. Every human being is entitled to improvement, people that don’t improve just lack the motivation that they need.

  16. These race cars are definitely an eye candy. Though the pink one really caught my attention.

  17. Talk about a nice experience at an endurance race. I don’t care if it’s just a fraction of Le Mans; that night race just give it a more epic feel!

  18. Brian Limon says:

    Car aficionado or not, I think everyone has a hidden fondness towards a good-looking car running swiftly on roads. I admit me myself can’t help watching a race competition especially when the cars were as appealing as the one you got here.

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