The Golden Gate Petroleum team is more than just a bunch of nice people, it's a great story. I don't think anyone outside the team knows their story, so I'd better tell it - after all, when I asked their captain Pat O'Keefe if he had a blog he replied "I've never blogged before!"
Lets go back in time. It's the holiday break, and everyone in the ChumpCar world is getting ready for the Infineon race. We've wound down our marketing efforts assuming we have all the teams we're going to find, and we're working on our cars and organizing for the race. On Dec 22nd I get the word - we have two new teams signing up. And they don't have cars. And they've never road raced before. Enter Golden Gate Petroleum.
The V.P. of Golden Gate, Pat, had heard about us through his friend and our Marketing Director Cathy. They got immediately excited and dove in head first. I got updates every few hours for the few days surrounding Christmas: we're in the junk yard looking at a Datsun 510 and a 280Z, my neighbor has this Mitsubishi Turbo laying around, sheesh there's a lot of $500 cars on Craigslist.
Nearing the end of the year, the updates got a little sparse. A note about mad dashes to install cages (three of them, they were working on the Racey Diva car too), tales of woe over poorly running cars, a lot of silence. With my experience being what it was, I was 90% sure they weren't going to make it.
On Jan. 7 the word came in: one car was dead. They were only going to bring one car for their seven drivers, and were sharing with Racey Diva and her seven drivers. 14 drivers for two cars in a 14 hour race. It was a disaster in my opinion. They'd literally dumped hundreds of hours into the dead car over their vacation, only to fall short. What a bummer. "What car is it" I asked.
1989 Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo. DOH!
It's no surprise to anyone in the car world it didn't run. It wouldn't rev over 4000rpm and had no power. I encouraged them to bring it anyway, as I had an ace in the hole.
Race day comes. These guys storm the garages with a huge crew and two cars. A yellow RX7 dressed up as a cab, and the Mitsu looking like a delinquent cop car. Pat came over and shook my hand, thanked me for all the encouragement and last-minute registration. As a thanks he offered to sponsor our Free Range MR2:
The guys over at Golden Gate Petroleum showed up to the race with a special delivery for Free Range Racing...
A case of Joe Gibbs XP6 racing oil. For those who know oil, this stuff is the best you can get! It was more than generous and will keep our motor alive for the next two races. Since our car is stuck in Cali without any way to get supplies except the local parts store, this is a life saver.
So it was time to fix their car, my 'ace in the hole'. I called on our race steward, Ron Cortez, who raced Mitsubishi turbos back when they were new. He had lived the car inside and out back in the day. He didn't know, but grabbed his phone and called none other than Fred Lux of Lux Performance, who had been the Mitsubishi Crew Chief. Fred said 'check this' and 'check that' to no avail, then one of the Golden Gate guys mentioned "hey, this all started after we washed it". Fred laughed, said "check this connector buried right here". Sure enough, full of water and corroded. A little WD-40 and they were running like a champ. Sometimes there's no replacement for experience.
One last thing to mention about this team: they were sponsored by Les Schwab, the west-coast tire dealer. Their local Les Schwab had put new tires on all three cars (including Racey Diva). Sadly, they had put what amounted to hard-as-rocks all season radials on all three cars. They raced on ice skates all weekend! If I could recommend one thing for the team - new tires!
These guys were hilarious ALL weekend, great competitors, and all around nice people. They even opened the Mitsubishi up to some of those less fortunate teams who blew up early AND the Chump Tech Assistant, Big Dave. I truly hope ChumpCar can attract more teams like the guys from Golden Gate Petroleum.
If you're in the area, or hell.. just need some oil. Call these guys, and tell em ChumpCar sent you!