Today my guest blogger for the A to Z challenge is Race Morgan. Race is Cody Everett’s uncle, and Cody is the protagonist of my first two books, In the Blood and Getting Sideways, which will be coming out this summer. The thing about Race is that he’s an over-all nice guy. The kind of guy who put his twenty-something bachelor lifestyle on hold to take in a pain-in-the-ass kid who gave him nothing but grief at first. And even when Cody dropped the hostility, he didn’t let up with the practical jokes and smart-assed attitude.
Race: Well, to be fair, I sling a lot of that right back at him.
Lisa: True enough. The other thing about Race is he’s a totally kick-ass driver. He’s practically the Cesar Millan of stock car racers. He can take a car that’s cobbled together with duct tape and bailing wire and coax it to the front of the pack like—
Race: Uh, Lisa?
Race: You’re laying it on kinda thick. Nobody’s that good.
Lisa: Oh, sorry. Guess I got carried away. Would you like to get on with your blog post now?
Race: That would be great. Kasey’s expecting me at the shop in a few minutes. If I don’t get that Mustang II front end conversion buttoned up on the ’53 Ford pickup we’re working on, our customer’s gonna blow a gasket.
Lisa: Okay, well have at it, then.
Race: All right. First on the agenda is the letter “P.” “P” is for porting and polishing. My girlfriend, Kasey, could ramble on for hours about this process, but I’ll try to keep it simple. Porting uses a small grinding tool to remove excess material from the intake and exhaust openings of an engine head. This lets you to change the contour of the ports and match them to the gasket. Polishing uses a sanding disc to smooth the rough cast finish in a port until it’s mirror-like. Basically, porting and polishing eliminate obstructions and create a smooth surface so the air can freely flow into the engine.
Lisa: Nice explanation. I think McKenzie’s going to give you a thumbs up on that one.
Race: Thanks. Gotta keep our non-gearhead types happy. Next up is “Q.” “Q” is for qualifying. Most of you probably know what this is. The drivers take turns making a couple of laps around the track while their times are recorded. The fast guy gets the pole—that’s the front position to the inside of the track—and everybody else lines up behind him, with the slowest person at the back. Pretty simple, right? Only at Eugene we run an inverted field, which means the slow guys are at the front. This makes things a lot more entertaining for the fans because the fastest driver can’t just run away from the pack. He has to work his way through traffic. One of the problems with an inverted field is that nobody wants to be at the back, so some people don’t really push their cars in qualifying. This is called sandbagging. Naturally the track officials hate it, so they’ll randomly clock drivers during competition, and if their racing laps are too much faster than their qualifying laps, they’ll penalize them. That tends to put a damper on the sandbagging.
Lisa: I’ve always preferred an inverted field. I think it makes the racing more exciting, but most tracks don’t run that way. What have you got for “R?”
Race: “R” is for redline, which refers to the highest level of RPMs—revolutions per minute—you can run an engine before you start doing damage to it. It’s called this because it refers to an actual red line on the tach—or tachometer—which is the piece of equipment that measures how fast the engine is turning.
Lisa: Thanks, Race. That was very informative.
Race: In other words, boring.
Lisa: I wasn’t going to say that. It’s just that Cody sort of brings out the smart-ass in you.
Race: Yeah, he’s got a talent for that.