About a month later, after Cowboy and the team got used to having a turbo and the small issues that came with it, the team put him and all their racing gear on a trailer. Cowboy couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He was sure he heard someone say that the team was going to race in The 24 Hours of Le Mans! What incredible good fortune to have been selected to compete in such a prestigious race. Cowboy could hardly wait to get to France! He immediately began to practice saying “Bonjour!”
When they only drove a few hours to a nearby track called Thunderhill Raceway Park, Cowboy was confused. But as he rode though the paddock on the trailer, he saw 100 miracles much like himself. Every race car here seemed to have been recently liberated from salvage yards. Most were dressed in crazy costumes and some weren’t yet fully assembled! Then the smell of oil, fuel, tires and BBQ fill Cowboys intake. In cool air of this late December afternoon, the sound of air-tools, ratchets, engines and laughter washed over him like a warm summer day.
He heard the cars talking amongst themselves about their good fortune, their travels, their teams, and other races. Then they spoke to him and said, “Where are you from?”, “Is this your first race?”, “Where’s your costume”, “What’s under the hood?”, but mostly they said, “Welcome.” Cowboy proudly answered the questions, except the one about a costume, and to the “What’s under the hood” query he always answered “I’ve got a Turbo!” Some of the cars chuckled at this, but they all said “Good luck.” They told him that the green flag was about 16 hours away, and he finally understood that he was about to race in The 24 Hours of LeMons.
Race Day: About 7:30 AM
The paddock was starting to swell with anticipation and Cowboy felt like anything but a Lemon. On this cool December morning, the sweet life of Cowboy’s dreams was about to come true, and in a way he’d never imagined. How odd, he thought, that his challenging journey had resulted in this great opportunity. Cowboy eagerly awaited his engine warm-up. The smell of coffee, fuel and dust drifted by as fingers of sunlight touched the paddock. Announcements mixed with the sound of engines and last-minute repair attempts.
Cowboy’s owner was the first to arrive in their pit space, and the team followed soon after. The key was turned, and Cowboy shivered with the first sense of warming fluids. Then, suddenly, the shouting started–“SHUT IT DOWN, SHUT IT DOWN!!” roared several team members. Oil. Lots of clean warm oil was rushing onto the ground beneath Cowboy’s 1.6 liter, Turbo-charged heart. Cowboy felt the sudden loss of lubricant like an overwhelming sense of dread and was glad they shut him down when they did.
The source of the bleeding was quickly discovered. The Turbo drain-line had ruptured, and although they had plenty of oil to replenish what had spilled, they didn’t have a spare hose. During this little drama, nearby teams turned to see what the fuss was and began to draw near. Once the team announced the issue to the gathered audience, a call-to-action swept through the paddock like a shock wave. Teams began asking the teams next to them if anyone had some oil hose. Five minutes later Cowboy’s team had the piece of hose they needed. They installed the hose and filled Cowboy with oil just in time to make it to the drivers’ meeting! The team asked the announcer to thank the other teams for their generosity.
Meanwhile, back in the pits, Cowboy thought, “Good thing this happened before the race! If I had be on the track this would have been much, much worse!” Then Cowboy shivered for the second time that morning.
Coming soon: Chapter 3, Green Flag!