Just got back from our annual trip to the DSM Shootout. Basically, hundreds of people that are all into a specific kind of car get together in northern Ohio for a weekend of racing, drinking, and overall misbehavior. Some of our regulars weren't able to make it this year due to work obligations, and one friend had to back out at the absolute last minute due to illness. We didn't manage to find a tow vehicle until 4 days before the event, and had to have it fitted with a tow hitch before it was usable. Plus, I had a soccer tournament the Saturday before, and played a game or practice every night after that. The week was chaotic, to say the least.
We arranged to meet at 7:30am near our house, to get started on the long drive at a reasonable hour. Dave, Ira, and I were at the parking lot at 7, loading the 4g63-powered Challenger onto a rented trailer. I texted the other guys at 7:25, just to make sure everyone was awake. At 7:45, Cory let me know that Derek had just woken up and was on his way. They finally met up with us around 8:30, and then we found out that they had all stopped for breakfast together on the way! We didn't let any of this phase us, just hopped in the trucks and got down to business. We only stopped once along the way, for gas and lunch, and managed to do the whole trip in 8-1/2 hours.
As soon as we arrived, Dave pulled the Challenger off the trailer, Ira stuck the trailer in a back parking lot, and I walked around collecting our money for rooms. Every year, the three hotels that all of the attendees stay at inflate their prices for the one weekend. Since we're still staying at an Econolodge, though, the prices end up still being pretty cheap per person. Our friends from previous years, primarily from Wisconsin, plus a bunch of new people that they'd brought with them, were already spread out on the neighboring lawn, drinking and grilling. We settled into our rooms, bringing out the fold up chairs and BMX bicycles that we always carry with us. Ira found a mailbox on a post in the bed of the borrowed truck, and managed to affix it to the drainpipe next to our rooms. We always make it easy to find us!
Everyone relaxed together like we had never left, comparing stories from the past 12 months as we watched more and more people arrive. Later on, we loaded in to the trucks and made a run up to Steak & Shake for some dinner, stopping on the way back for a lot of alcohol. While we were gone, the sun had gone down, and people had started to get a bit wild. Friday night is usually pretty calm, since most people don't arrive until Saturday, but not this year. All three of the hotels were packed, and the Econolodge seemed to be overflowing. As always, there were beer pong tables on the grass and foot races in the parking lot, with the occasional burnout thrown in. The last of our friends from Wisconsin showed up around 3am, and I went to bed not long after that.
At 6am, I was awakened by a loud banging on our door. Dave and Ira didn't move, so I got up to find out who it was. I checked the peep-hole, but couldn't see anyone there. So, stupidly, I opened the door...and found Matt! He had suddenly been able to take Saturday off, so had left immediately following work the night before, and had arrived not long after I went to sleep. Ira had posted a picture of the mailbox on Facebook, so Matt knew which room was ours immediately. He said that he had banged on our door a few different times, but nobody had answered. I'm not sure why he didn't just call one of our cell phones. I was so happy to see him; I gave him a big hug...and then went right back to bed, haha.
After another hour of sleep, Dave woke me up with a sausage, egg, and cheese croissant and orange juice from Burger King next door. Mmmm, the only time the whole year that we would ever eat fast food for breakfast! Dave and Ira were dressed long before Matt and I, so they headed over to the car show, and we followed a bit behind. The rest of the guys were still sleeping, as expected. The car show is about twenty minutes away in a teeny tiny, one-traffic light town called Wakeman, OH. The shop that puts on the event holds an open house, complete with car show, refreshment vendors, and a dyno competition. They actually shut down the main street in the town, and let us take over. It was incredibly hot and sunny, so after a quick lap around the grounds to look at anything interesting, I settled in next to the Challenger and relaxed. Between a chair in the sun, some grass in the shade, and a giant fresh lemonade, I was all set. Throughout the day, we ran into pretty much everyone that we knew, and made some new friends that we would meet up with at the hotel later on. Dave's friend Mike and his wife Krysti arrived from Cincinnati early in the afternoon. The remaining NY crew showed up from the hotel, but by then we were all dripping in sweat and ready to head back.
It felt late when we got to the hotel, but it was only around 2:30pm. Everybody crashed, most of us even taking naps. I didn't get any sleep, but it was nice to just lay around for a little while. I spent a few hours chatting with the Wisconsin guys, and ate some awesome Oreo ice cream with Cory. Around 7, everyone finally got up, and Cory, Krister, Scott, Derek, and I went to Cracker Barrel for dinner. According to Dave, things got pretty out of hand while we were gone, including Ira doing burnouts in our borrowed tow vehicle, and a silver Evo flying by on the main street doing over 100 mph, with two cops following much more slowly behind. From what we hear, the guy wasn't caught, and nobody seems to know who he was. The police then pulled over every single silver Evo they saw for the rest of the weekend, which was quite a few, given the event we were there for. The parking lot was completely packed when we came back from dinner, including the upaved areas behind the hotel, and the lots next door. We squeezed into a small empty area, and jumped right into the mayhem. Low points (or highlights, depending on your perspective) of the night included: a footrace that ended in roadrash, some scary guy bringing over a stripper, shooting everything (including people) with the pellet gun, somebody with a taser?!, drinking 2 bottles of Arbor Mist Sangria, and a guy with a penis on his shirt that looked like it was realistically sticking up out of his pants. I was exhausted and had to get up early for the track, and went to bed around 2am. At 2:30, Cory sent me a text message that they were putting someone's wave-runner in the swimming pool. I didn't get up, figuring there would be a video in the morning, and I was right.
We made it over to the track in the morning not long after the gates opened. Dave was able to get into the staging lanes quite early, did an incredible burnout, and then couldn't build any boost on the line. He drove the car out pretty slowly, and I thought I heard him hit the rev limiter between first and second gears. Back in the pits, it turns out that the car was breaking up past 6k rpms. After checking every possible option, including unmounting the MSD ignition system to check its setup, I discovered that the tach was actually incorrect. It was reading 6k when it was really at 8k, and the sound I heard before the shift really had been the rev limiter. Armed with this new information, he took the car out for another pass, only to find that he still couldn't rev past 3k rpms on the line, so couldn't build any boost. At this point, both passes were in the 13.50 range. Frustrated that the newly refurbished converter had a problem again (the same problem that kept the car out of the race last year), Dave decided to run the car in the slow bracket class just to keep running. He was probably the only 500+ hp car there running in the 13 second and slower class, haha. The first car he competed against broke out, so he made it past the first round, but lost on the second race. At least the day was salvaged by some fun, and the car was still running and driving fine, it just couldn't launch.
Sweaty, dirty, and tired, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up, and then on to Red Lobster for our traditional Sunday night-end of the trip-Dave's birthday dinner. As always, I ate more that night than I do at any other meal the entire year, since it's the only time we ever go to that restaurant. Some of the guys were getting rather cranky with each other, after a few long days spent together. Most people leave right after the event, so only a couple of small groups were at the hotel when we got back. Matt and Krister packed up and started driving home, since Matt had to be at work Monday morning. Ira went to bed right away, and was followed pretty quickly by Dave. The rest of the group sat around with the Wisconsin and New England guys, waiting for some waitresses from Red Lobster that meet up with us every year. Not long after they arrived and started playing drinking games, I headed to bed, too.
The drive home was pretty much uneventful, and we made it with about a half hour to spare returning the trailer. Then it was off to Mom & Dad's house for birthday cake and presents, and to pick up the dogs. As always, we had an absolute blast on the trip, and have tons of stories to tell, most of which no one else will understand! :-)