This was the first time I...
This was the first time I had ever spotted for anyone. Les made it very easy for me by starting up front and keeping his nose clean during the race.
One of the things I picked up on quickly was that different drivers like different things. Personally, I like for my spotter to talk a lot. and I mean I want him telling me everything that is happening around me. Les isn't quite like that. he just wants to know what's going on periodically. But one thing I made sure we communicated first was what "looking inside" meant. I wanted him to understand that if I said "looking inside" it meant that he could still run his line but he had just a little pressure coming from behind. I really think a lot of accidents happen when drivers think that their spotter is saying one thing, when in fact he means something completely different.
Someone told me that it is extremely nice to be in Daytona around February because of the weather. Well, on this particular night, someone didn't bother telling Mother Nature about the weather. It was cold, and to make things worse Les had one of the last races of the night. So, at 10pm I made my way up to the spotters' stand and made sure I got a decent spot to see the entire track. As luck would have it, I found a great spot, but the man standing next to me was way too loud, almost yelling at his driver the entire race. I couldn't pick out who he was with, but I could tell that driver was getting passed a lot. "Inside! Clear! Inside!"
As the green flag was ready to drop, I made sure that Les warmed up his tires and brakes so that everything was ready to go at the drop of the flag. They gave the one lap to go signal and I gave Les the rundown: "all right, one to go, let's tighten it up and get a good start. remember it's a 25-lap race. Let's just be there at the end."
"All right, get ready...ready...ready...green flag...clear outside ...great start!"
From the drop of the green flag, it looked like Les had the equipment to finish in the top three. he quickly passed for fourth with ease and was hunting down the third-place driver when the first caution came out.
I did my duty: "The caution's behind you. you're behind the 22 car running fourth."
"How's the truck, Les?" asked his dad. "It's loose off the corner," said Les.
Steve reminded him not to drop a wheel below the yellow line and that might help with his loose condition. Les also said that his brake pedal was starting to get a little soft.
Les (in blue) standing next...
Les (in blue) standing next to his dad before the race. Les had a great chance of finishing in the top three, but a brake problem put him out of the race.
When the green flag came back out I could notice right off that something had changed. Les was passed by a couple of cars, but got into a nice little spot running sixth and had no pressure from behind. he radioed, "This brake pedal is getting closer to the floor every lap."
"Try pumping it up before you get to the corner," said Steve.
The problem eventually dropped him from the race when a wreck happened in turns three and four. I saw the crash occurring and told Les while he was coming out of turn two: "Spin in turn three and four, two trucks sitting at the bottom of the track, go high."
Les had more than enough time to get slowed down, but what I didn't realize was how bad the brake problem had become. he came within a few feet of hitting the truck in front of him because he couldn't stop.
"I just can't stop this thing. I am about to hit the guy in front of me," Les said while trying to avoid the truck in front of him.
Steve and Les talked for a time, but eventually decided to park it for the night. They had two more nights of racing and didn't want to end up trashing the truck that night. Disappointed, but with some hope because while the brakes were okay, he was running easily in the top five. Turns out that Les had a couple of worn-out brake pads and a problem with his brake ratio.