Racing at Brainerd

6 August 2007
Peyote has a lot of history around here. Many of the people that stopped by said something like “I never expected to see that car again–I remember Peyote from when I was a kid”. far fewer people asking what it was–many of them knew a lot more about the history of Peyote than I did.

Here’s a news flash: Howie Wold was at the track on Sunday and told me that real Peyote was actually involved in the building of Peyote MK II!! The car had already been named Peyote after a friend of Bill Ames made the comment “where you guys on drugs when you built that?” But Bill’s girlfriend took a trip to Mexico and brought back some Peyote buttons as a joke. I guess these guys were always up for anything because they ate some while they worked on Peyote MKII. They woke up the next morning sprawled all over the garage.

BIR is a surprising track. It’s kind of the middle of nowhere, Brainerd is a rundown mid-sized town with nothing I could find to recommend it. The surrounding area has been strip-malled to death, there’s nothing but chain stores and restaurants, no local culture at all. Nearby are some very nice lakes, but that’s it. then there’s this track, with as much infrastructure and sophistication as Road America. Not what I expected.

The track itself is interesting. There’s a super long dragstrip straight (slippery in the staging area) that leads into very fast turn one. I think even modern race cars can take it flat out. Turn two was also flat out for Peyote, though it was a bit bumpy and blowing the line could result in an excursion to the woods. After turn two there’s a chute into three, which is a tight 130 degree right hander that I took in second gear. Lots of sliding and throttle steering. Then a long chute to turns four and five that are almost close enough together to treat as esses–but not quite, then a long chute to six which is tight enough to use second at the exit. Long chute to 7 and 8. Seven is almost flat out but you need to set up for eight, so I braked a little at the entrance to get a better exit from eight. Turn nine is flat out under a bridge, but the exit of the turn is a wall which puts a big penalty on blowing the line. Long chute to ten, which is tight enough for good passing except that it leads onto that long straight again, which means you want good exit speed. All of the cars I was playing with had a lot more power, so I got passed in the straight a lot, but I’d get them back in turn one or two when they lifted or braked.

Once I got the line down in the first practice I was able to go flat out through 1 and 2 as long as there was no one on the line in front of me. I told people it was that third testicle I grew at Mosport. Actually, it felt pretty safe, Peyote does high speed turns very nicely and it feels magical. The tail comes out a little bit, the steering gets a little light, and you watch the apex come sideways, but it’s all very predictable (as long as nothing breaks).

I heard that anything close to two minutes was a good time, the best Peyote did was 1:57:7something. That qualified me in the top four or five, though for the final race on Sunday I was gridded seventh because there was a little crowd of fast cars doing 1:57. Cool, lots of folks to race.

The two fastest cars were a brutally quick Shelby GT350 and a March sports racer. Then there was Bob Youngdahl’s Porsche-powered Elva, another Elva, a Whale-tale Porsche with a huge wing added, and a couple of other sports racers. I got a decent start but got outpowered up the straight, there were a lot of cars in front of me. Fortunately, they were all taking a classic wide entrance to turn one and lifting. I stayed flat and went up the inside, passing a whole knot of cars and getting into third place. That didn’t last, a few cars caught me in the chute between one and two and then were too deep into the turn for me to repass when they braked. I got by a couple of cars in the tight stuff and was back into third, but then I couldn’t pull out enough lead to stay in front down the straight. We went back and forth like that for several laps, but I was getting ahead of the pack later and later in the lap, which meant they were getting farther ahead at each lap. For a while I could still stay in contact because I’d catch up in turn two, but we got into traffic and I lost contact with Youngdahl. So I battled with the lady in the Whale Tale for a while. As long as I could draft her for part of the way down the straight I could stay in touch. We had some good corner battles, but she finally got away from me down the straight. I think I finished fourth.

Nice track, nice weekend, good people. But now I get to pick up Diane at the Airport and go have some fun with two of my grandsons. On Monday I’m going to the Old Liars Club in Minneapolis for lunch–a bunch of guys that raced in Peyote’s era. Should be fun. Then I pick up Diane and head for Michigan.

Rozier Says:
August 6th, 2007 at 12:04 pm e
“…I told people it was that third testicle I grew at Mosport…”
That, my friend, is not reporting…that is art…

cassie Says:
August 6th, 2007 at 3:05 pm e
love reading your blog, need to add more pictures.
the boys are looking forward to seeing you guys – keep asking when you’re getting here.
its been a trial…lol can’t wait to see you both

Gary Says:
August 6th, 2007 at 7:12 pm e
I was cruising east on Hwy 29 between Abbotsford and Wausau and passed an old Airstream that someone had augered a hole into the back…as I am passing I see an older dude with a windsurfer, a bike and some other toys loaded on the truck……I had to jump on the “allaluminumtour” site and see what this was about. Cool adventure!!!!!
I am heading over to Michigan on the 17th but to take in the NASCAR race. I will watch for you on the road again.
Good luck keepin’ the “vintage aluminum rod” racin’ across the finish line!

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