One Man’s Bucket List

JR Smith, my friend of almost 50 years, said he wanted to drive an Enduro race with his old friend, Bob Lee. Cool!

Since he lives in Utah, I wasn’t sure it would ever happen, but what a great idea!

JR used to drag race, as did I. In fact, we co-owned a Buick V8 powered dragster for a while. I’m not sure how he came to move to California in the late 60’s and got a job with LA Sheriff’s department. Over the years Joe (JR) raced drag boats, on and off road motorcycles, sailboats and bicycles. We kept in touch and eventually Joe got into road racing  and became a driving instructor at Miller Motorsports park and won NASA National Championships in a Corvette.

Well, Joe kept after me and we decided to race at Homestead, a first-class racetrack. Of course, it was convenient that my local Florida Region SCCA was holding a double endure there at the end of June 2015. We gathered all the necessary documents to make the board happy and registered for both endure races. Well, our Homestead saga started with much drama, when on the way down Krome Avenue to the track, my motorhome (towing the race car on a trailer) had a tire come apart (pulled over and changed tire). A short time later a transmission failure in Florida City. Close, but no cigar.

After much handwriting, I called my son, Todd. He works for a race team (American Speed Factory) as crew chief. So, Todd unhooked the semi-trailer, brought a strap and towed/hauled the complete rig to the track.

Once at the track, we realized we have no clue how the heck we will get home after the races. Well, we have a race to run and shift priorities!

The Saturday endure was held on the long course and it was Joe’s first time at Homestead. Even though Joe had little practice, he drove the bulk of the first race, since it was called early due to rain with the threat of lightning. We came in first since the ITB class
leader had lost wheel. I was glad Joe would have a trophy to take home.

Now, what the heck is going on with the motorhome. It had so much over the years and had lived nine lives and I was hoping for a tenth. Todd called our friend David Hamilton to ensure we would have a tow home, if necessary. Starting out with how the motorhome sounded, screaming like it was getting no fluid, I removed the tranny pan and the filter looked okay. After some deep thought, I figured it might be better with no filter, so I went in to remove it. When I dropped the pan again, I noticed the filter had been installed in reverse and caused a blockage. Swapped it around. Good so far.

Well, Sunday went smoothly except for, during qualifying, the brake pedal went to the floor going into turn #6. Joe kept the car off the wall-“barely” (but an excitable corner worker yelled over the radio, “Jesus Christ, he is going into the wall.”) JC was not driving but JR was- this was a good laughable topic among all the workers. Having to pump the brakes on the short course, which is harder ob brakes, Joe got out of the car after his drive and was completely overheated and dehydrated- needs to get used to Florida weather. Pouring ice water and iced towels to the back of his neck helped cool him down. We finished the race without incident. Hot, hot, hot weather!

Our car, the trusty Fire Arrow performed well. We would have enjoyed going a bit faster, although were just happy it ran smoothly with no problems.

Joe’s bucket list has one fat check mark!Hope he has a bunch more fun along the line. You can be sure I will be checking on his adventures!

Bob “Thundershifter” Lee