You Lose It on The way Up, And You Lose It On The Way Down!

The morning in Frankenmuth started out with a bit of rain. That clearly would have an impact on how the speedometer calibration would go – but not as much impact as the traffic! Typically the speedo will run a bit faster on wet roads, but we never really got to find out how much variance there was because we ran into heavy traffic on I-75 before we even got to the first 15 minutes. By the time we got restarted, the rain had stopped and we were on mostly dry road (for the limited time we had before the next traffic delay.) We were finally able to get a good 20 minutes in and got our calculations to adjust the speedometer (not much needed, and the earlier wet road times did indicate the faster number than the dry road surface!)

Today’s stages were pretty technical, but less of the intricate cloverleafs we were expecting (though there were 2 legs that looped back upon each other.) The various legs were mostly at higher speeds with lots of transitions to slow speeds and then going back to higher speeds. There was also a lot of slow speed driving in the towns that we went through on our way to Sault Sainte Marie, MI (just 1/4 mile across the river to Canada!)

We drew position 94 for our start today, and as luck would have it, we started one position in

front of our favorite expert team of Jeff and Eric Fredette. The Fredettes drive a fabulous yellow 1933 Ford Pickup Model B that they have built just for the Great Race. It is an incredible machine and Jeff and Eric are in the hunt for the top spot, currently in 2nd place overall. They have always been willing to give us direction when we have a question and never hesitate to give us suggestions to improve our techniques.

However, it’s still pretty intimidating to run in front of them. You just don’t want to screw up! After the first couple of legs we saw they were much closer behind us than we knew was good for us. We thought we were doing pretty well, having recovered from a couple of mistakes that might have cost us a few seconds, but we didn’t think they were so costly to back us up so far.

At the first restart the 2 cars in front of us seemed to start relatively close to the time we calculated the offsets to be for our start time, so we were mystified at why the Fredettes closed the gap on us so much. At the first transit break, Lauren asked them what they thought and they said we had lost about 20 seconds somewhere. We ticked through the possibilities, eliminating the speedometer, missed instructions, improper recoveries, and so on. Nothing seemed to jump out. Perhaps some of our techniques need to be examined…

The rest of the stage found us keeping pace with the car in front and keeping the the car in back at what appeared to be a constant interval. But the differential in scores was telling! We had a decent set of scores coming in with a total score of 35.1 seconds. The Fredettes came in with a 4.98 seconds score! Wow, what a difference!

We think we know where we need to focus next – figuring out how to mange speed changes involving high speed and low speed combinations. We’ll be practicing that at home for sure. Our score for the day put us at 39th for the day, but bumped us up to 34th overall and 15th in our class.

Tomorrow is the final stage for the 2017 Great Race as we head to the finish in Traverse City. We’ll be sharing the July 4th crowds with thousands in town for the Cherry Festival.

Should be a blast!