On lap 7 I got a good run coming out of Turn 1 on polesitter David Shotz, who had dropped to second, and drafted past him on the run up to the Keyhole, then settled in behind Glenn Landrum's Forth-Gen Camaro. I tailed Landrum for the next nine laps, closing on his bumper many times but never finding the opening I needed to get around him, despite a few small errors on his part. When the checkered flag flew, I was just 0.395-second behind him in second, a gap of about two car lengths. Following in dogged pursuit was Pontiac Firebird driver Bob Denton, who was on my bumper the entire race, ready to pounce at any mistake I might have made attempting to pass the leader. After 16 laps, the gap from first to third was a mere 1.1 second, the closest battle of any class during the Championship weekend.
A long Wisconsin winter provides plenty of time to ponder what might have been and to rethink all the things I could have done differently in a race I lost by less than half a second. But the disappointment of missing the top step of the podium and a National Championship is tempered by the thrill and satisfaction at bringing the season and this project to a successful conclusion just five months after starting both with a gutted shell. Plus, there's always next year.
Try It YourselfYou don't have to spend a lot of money or build a race car from scratch to get involved in road racing. There are many other ways to get started in "corner carving" with a Mustang, ranging from weekend autocrossing, open-track days, time trials, all the way up to wheel-to-wheel competition, and there are organizations in every part of the country to help you accomplish your goals. Many national and regional clubs organize track days at area tracks where you can participate with a street car equipped only with a helmet and a basic safety inspection. Most of these groups organize run groups by skill level and provide ride-along instructors to help you get up to speed, so even if you've never turned a wheel on a race track of any kind, you can get started for a very minimal investment in time and money. Here are a few links to groups that organize various track events around the country.