Hello and happy Monday! Yesterday Robbie Grove and I got Jeff and Jim Rust to their 8:30 A.M. mandatory brief, then headed to our respective Crew Chief brief, where they go over race rules and regulations. He and I sat in the back and giggled before silencing our cellphones and listening to the familiar spiel. We then headed to a sandwich shop and got our crews some lunch. Our morning started the same today, except our briefs began even earlier, at 7:45 A.M.
I’ve known Robbie longer than anyone else here. I’d buy wheels and brakes from his company, Grove Aircraft, when I worked at Glasair and he’d buy hydraulic actuator rebuild kits and the like for his race plane from us. He was the first person to explain to me what TSO’d parts were, back when I thought words like “knee board” and “wind screen” were silly.
Nowadays we bond as crew chiefs and laugh over the similarities between Jeff and Jim. The way they think, speak and fly—it’s hard to explain, but they are two peas. Robbie and I have to make sure we keep cookies in our pits for those two, who both have a sweet tooth. I wouldn’t be lying if I said we’ve caught them sitting together, munching on mini chocolate donuts when they were supposed to be on the ramp with us. Perhaps sugar is the most overlooked race secret.
In one of my YouTube videos of last year’s races I compare Jim Rust and Robbie Grove to Statler and Waldorf, the Muppets who sit high, seemingly untouchable, in their balcony seats and heckle people. When things are quiet Jim and Robbie can be found sitting side by side in their golf cart cracking jokes and laughing (Jeff doesn’t rent me a golf cart—I have a bicycle. I’m not jealous or anything…). You can tell Robbie and Jim have been friends a long time, because they have. They met when Jim was seven and Robbie was fourteen and have been friends ever since.
Sport class went up yesterday for a quick four laps to get their “G card.” I asked my dear friend Sean VanHatten (another Sport racer) why the G card is necessary and he explained that it gives pilots the opportunity to practice flying on the pylons prior to qualifying (Most pilots haven’t flown the course since the Pylon Racing Seminar in June). It also allows pilots to demonstrate they have the ability to manage the G-loads imposed on them during racing.
Jeff didn’t fly the Glasair today, just his Mustang, Sweet and Lovely. He got his G card for that as well and called the clock to get qualifying out of the way. Jeff still needs to qualify in Race 39. I’m sure I’ll have more to report here soon. More crowds are rolling in and more engines are firing up. Bye for now!