The pit garage was a small boxed in area, little more than thirty metres square, a gantry over hung the front providing some cover for the pit crew to work under whilst in race conditions and several marquees provided extra shelter between the rear doors of the building and the team bus and transporter.
Seeing someone is such a small area wouldn’t usually be a difficult task but with more than thirty stray bodies wandering back and forth through the pit garage all doing their own thing spotting Tracey was something Danny was having difficulty doing. Even with half the crew wearing full or partial racing suits it didn’t make the job of spotting her easy, either she was out of sight or she hadn’t arrived.
Danny was due to head out for his “Run For Pole” in less than twenty minutes, had Tracey not specifically told him she’d be there for Saturday race day he wouldn’t have been looking for her but she had given her word. Having spoken to her the previous night he hadn’t expected her there for the early morning practise which had started at 8AM but she did know he was in the Run For Pole and he figured that was enough incentive for her to be there to see him.
Danny pushed his helmet down onto his head, the HANS (Head and Neck Support) device which was attached to the helmet and part of the regulated safety equipment rattled into place quietly. Once the helmet was secured Danny’s ability to turn his head from side to side was limited and he was restricted to talking in a loud voice due to the plugs in his ears. Plugs which preformed two duties, muting from the engine roar and communications from his pit crew.
The car had been pushed out of the garage and was sitting on the concrete apron having the last of it’s adjustments made before Danny’s single quick fire run for pole. Because a qualifying car needed to be set up for speed both in a straight line and in corners where as a car set into race trim was set for longevity and getting to the end of the race in one piece the team were allowed to make some adjustments before the pole run. Things like adjusting the tyre pressure and allowing them to run hotter, increasing the fuel usage for more power and speed, adjusting the suspension to allowed harder but faster cornering, and allowing the revs to run higher to help maintain a higher average speed were just some of the things they did.
Danny walked out to the car, he couldn’t hear everything each person he passed said to him because of his ear protection but given the time and place he knew the other members of the team were wishing him good luck for the Run For Pole. Because his time was well monitored getting in the car was done casually, he even had help putting on the multi-point racing harness, raising the window safety mesh and shutting the door.
Because the car’s engine was running the only thing Danny had to do after getting in the car was wait for his pit manager, who for the Sands track was Tommy Anderson, to give him the go ahead to exit the pit. The go-ahead from the pit manager would be given over the radio the moment the driver who finished third fastest crossed the start finish line on their hot lap. Danny would then be allowed to take off from his pit, which was closest to the pit lane exit, and start his own warm up lap.
Traversing the pit lane exit he would be speed limited but once clear of the pit Danny would then be free to warm up his tyres in a hope to get them up to racing temperature before crossing the line for his hot lap. While the driver who finished third would be well ahead of Danny, barring any miscalculations and errors slowing him down, Danny would be free to use as much of the track as he needed.
Throughout the warm up lap Danny’s team manager would be feeding constant information to him through his ear piece, telling him if there was anything he needed to work at to get the car up to racing temperature. Once Danny rounded the final corner of the track his team manager would then silence all communications and remain that way until the end of the Hot lap leaving Danny every chance to remain at the level of concentration needed to complete an error free lap at the quickest speed possible.
Even before Danny hit the track he knew he’d have to be fast, three out of the eight cars that had completed their Run For Pole had gone faster than the quickest qualifying time from the previous day. But the most concerning issue for Danny was that Fittzy, his arch rival who had finished seventh in the previous day’s qualifying, had gone out and broken the qualifying lap record, he’d shaved three tenths of a second off the time that had stood for five years. What that meant for Danny was that he had to make up seven tenths of a second to take pole position, the three tenths broken by Fittzy and the four tenths he’d lost in qualifying the day before.
“Three, two, one. Free to exit pit lane now Danny.” Tommy Anderson’s voice came over the comms unit.
The pit crew cleared the area, Danny put the car in first gear and took off slowly. Although there was no other cars traversing pit lane at the time force of habit had Danny checking his mirrors as he moved into the outer pit lane. He would remain in first gear until he was able to release the pit lane speed limiter.
It was as he was passing the pace car, which was parked inside the safety barriers at the end of pit lane, that he looked through the mesh safety barriers and saw Tracey standing in the VIP area.
Previous Car Racing story here.