So, you think you've found your mojo, have you? Just turn on the television in the last 120 hours and there you are - all spit-shined, fire-red, dolled up to the 9's, and looking damned fine on everyone's Wide-Screen. There are video clips aplenty as you cross finish lines all over the South...a winner. Often, the competition wasn't even in sight. You are getting maximum pub and even some love; a few suggesting (the audacity) that you have more than a puncher's chance of appearing in the Champion's Circle. Revel in this, my friend. But remember the not-so-distant past.
Oh, you've had a few interesting moments this season, haven't you? Sometimes, high octane and fuel additives just aren't enough. Despite all your horsepower, you have to do some driving. And take some advice.
When you crashed and burned back in early October there is no question that, despite the million dollar engine inside, your motor wasn't clean. Before the season even started there was a sludge problem, evidently affecting at least 4 cylinders. Your injectors were clogged. Your on-board computer wasn't calibrated. Yeah, you always looked good, with those aggressive lines, fat tires and chrome (silver?) running boards. But a '76 Vega can look good, too with a bit of high-gloss DuPont, four Cragar's and a bit of chrome. Window dressing, big deal. There were also some sporadic mis-firings in the first half of the season that eventually had some serious consequences. The Palmetto Race nearly ended it all and you almost lost a few sponsors, yours truly included. I hang my head...
Fortunately, one of your mechanics saw a few performance issues with some of the drivers and crew, and called out the problem. It wasn't popular, mind you. Some got mad. Some got introspective, and then a wonderful thing happened upon gazing into the rear-view: Everyone changed...for the better. Synergy.
Then we had another race. It was a big one way down in the Sunshine State. We still had a few injector problems and didn't quite pull away when we had the chance, but in the end, we crossed the finish line ahead of the competition and ran over a gator for good measure.
God, I love it when you run right. You're my car. And I'm in love.
Rock and friggin' Roll...
So, things are about as mechanically sound as they can possibly be. The last few weeks have certainly been a testament to that. The track has been good and fast, the tires are fresh, your timing is right, and harmonic balance is TDC, baby. We're running like the super fine-tuned driving machine we all thought you would be way back in the Spring. It's been a beautiful thing. When you revvvvvv...it inspires moving violations.
We've got one more race in a few hours. It's the only one that matters. It'll be tough; perhaps the toughest one yet. Our opponent, a racin' team from the West, has many similarities. They, too, hit the wall at a high rate of speed. Seemingly, they have recovered, but I detect a little bit of vulnerability in the way they drive. They race the right way, don't get me wrong, but are they still The Hot Rod? Last time we met, some felt an exterior color change might actually replace horsepower and technique. That was a fallacy, and we have paid the price. We owe the other guys some payback, and we owe ourselves an exorcism from 4 years ago.
You've got a chance to be The Hot Rod tomorrow. The baddest car on the track.
Gentlemen, start your engines. Go Get 'Em, Hot Rod.