After a number of years having our holiday party in a drafty VFW hall we decided to try to do better.
For a few years we went to a steak house in Natick but the room topped out at 120 and we outgrew it, plus the dinner costs were getting out of control. While the club subsidizes the party as much as possible the per member charge was heading north of $35 with a net party cost (including entertainment, prizes etc) approaching $65 per person. Last year we were at the Museum of Transportation (won't be going back *there* anytime soon) and for this year we decided to try something more than just a dinner and awards ceremony.
One of members suggested we take a look at F1 Boston. F1 Boston is an indoor carting facility. It is scaled to F1 racing complete with corner workers, transponders, neck restraints and just about everything you would expect to see at a real race. The building has two legs with a circuit in each. For major events they open doors and the two circuits become one. For our party we had the city course which is the bottom track in the image.
When you enter F1 the first thing you see is a formula one car. There is a gate keeper and he attaches a driver?éÔÇÖs wristband which you must wear at all times. Once you are done racing and head to the bar the first thing the bartender does is hand you scissors. If you enter and do not get a band, you can not go back and get one. Once inside the next step is registration and a mandatory safety briefing. The staff explained the flags including the ever important yield to passing traffic and the caution, both of which would be the subject of some discussion later. We started to get the idea that this was serious when they made us change into track suits and use neck protection. Most of us brought our own helmets. Here is a photo of JB, myself and Chip Robie waiting our turn.
(all photos copyright by Al Latham with equipment provided by Village Photo of Bellingham, MA)
Once suited up and ready to race we put ourselves under the control of the marshall. We had 32 drivers so the plan was to have each driver do three 10 lap qualifying races, with the top 12 advancing to a 15 lap run for the cup. The scoring was one point for every kart you beat and the starts were rolling single file. Starting position was critical and the scoring computer made sure that everyone started once in the front third, once in the middle and once at the bottom third. While starting position was important there were plenty of passing opportunities. Looking back at the track layout, the hairpin was the scene of many spinouts as it was an off camber turn heading down into a tunnel. The area before the hairpin is very fast. (top speeds were 35-38 mph)
The spectators had a good show.
It became apparent that to make the final one would need around 25 points. The more points earned in qualifying the better the start position for the final.
In race two controversy erupted when the crowd felt the Ritalin Boy passed JB on a caution. Since this is *my* story the fact is JB had a big lead and had to slow for a caution, I was far enough back that I saw the caution being lifted at the next corner as I passed the flag so I stayed on the gas. The marshalls agreed and there was no penalty assed, if there was I would have been black flagged into the penalty box for six seconds. As it were JB was the fastest driver of the day and spent three laps tapping me going into every turn. And they told us in the safety briefing that bumping would not be tolerated.
Here is a photo of JB right on my tailpipe but not quite able to get around.
Remember I mentioned there are transponders in the karts? This gives the spectators a scoreboard and also allows the drivers to see their performance in any given race. Here is my sheet from this race, JB and I finished under 4/10th of second apart!
After 9 races the stage was set for an exciting final with JB on the pole followed by Chip Robie, myself and Victor Cruz. Once we got going JB once again started to pull away but I was holding onto Chip, but not gaining. I figured it would be four laps or so before lap traffic and this would be the only opportunity to pass. With JB running fast up front controversy could only be around the corner. According to the vanquished the slow driver ahead of JB was signaled to move right. Apparently he did not see the flag for a few turns and JB, knowing that Chip and I could only be gaining got a little impatient and gave Paul a little nudge going into the hairpin causing Paul to spinout directly in JB's line. Game over, Chip goes on for the win and I finished second.
Hey Chip, what happened to your gloves?
After racing we joined the rest of the YB Party hounds for dinner and awards. Chip read a very nice letter from Diane, aka photobiker, who had been in a serious accident last spring. YB Phil Rose took the lead on setting up a fund for Diane which has been very successful (donations are still being gratefully accepted) . In her letter she wrote: "I want you to go over and give Phil a big kiss for me. So I did.
After we all got done making out with Phil Chip continued reading. The next line was: "I meant for STACEY to give Phil the kiss from me". Good one Diane, you got me.
After dinner we retired to the lounge for some dancing and further merriment, then over to the hotel....and we all know that what happens in a hotel, stays in a hotel.
A great time was had by all. Perhaps next year we will try disco bowling.
A huge tip o the keyboard to the following for incredible door prizes:
And especially Max BMW
- Rob Nye