PAX Americana or, The 2011 Harvest Moon: Better Late Than Never

September 25th, 2011 by Kate

Picture stolen from Ben, because my camera's busted.

First off, I’m a little late getting the recap out this time, so sorry about that. I’ve been adjusting to the new job and the new schedule that comes with it, and as a result, the write-up fell by the wayside. Now, a week later, it’s time to look back and see if I can remember anything through the fog of time and alcohol. Remind me to get this done faster next time, trying to remember everything a week later is a real pain in the butt.

The weekend’s big story was of course, me beating Paul on Sunday. I’m sure you want to hear every gory detail of my heroic triumph, but be patient, we’ll get to it. First we’ve got to slog through all the boring details of Saturday. And then there was that little PAX shootout thing, but no one cares about PAX anyway, am I right?

Friday afternoon, I was finishing up my first full week at my new job in Silver Spring, and rather than head all the way home to ride with Paul, we decided to drive separately and reconvene up in LaVale. And since driving alone is boring, I invited my sister Elizabeth to come along for the weekend. Because you guys just haven’t had enough chances to be creepy perverts this year.

We were some of the last to arrive at Henny’s, where several of the usual crowd had already been drinking—some for several hours. Between many beers, a few rounds of shots, and pitchers of Harpoon being passed around, the night got a little fuzzy. The group grew raucous, with popcorn (and sour cream) being tossed at one another, and Paul and Rob having their own version of Fight Club. We left before we could wear out our welcome, hopefully tipping well enough to make up for the mess we left for Larissa to clean up.

Saturday started off with a chill, and Paul and I left Elizabeth to enjoy the comforts of the Slumberland and sleep in a little, while the rest of us suckers made our way, cold and hungover, to the airport. In addition to the usual four heats, we would be making a second attempt at the PAX shootout, which was called off at the Sizzler due to inclement weather and technical difficulties. The forty original qualifiers, in addition to CBE loyalist Ron Dotts and the shameless interloper Mike Lane, would use their six runs to try to make the shootout’s top sixteen, which would be run NCAA tournament bracket-style.

As we near the end of a long season, more and more cars have begun to break down, and car swapping becomes a necessity, rather than a leisure activity. With the Suxass down for the count and the Cobra needing a new radiator, all three Morans were in need of loaner cars, and Rob was once again seeking a replacement for the motorless RX8. Mustang Boy was kind enough to allow Mike to be a Mustang Boy, too. Doug opened up the art-car Audi to Jake, and Ben passed his Coupe around, giving Jen and Rob co-drives.

The course was typical Cumberland fare, but with an extra tight opening half. In the WRX, second gear wouldn’t be necessary until after the first turnaround at the terminal end. Meg and I were up in the first heat. Heading out on course on cold tires proved to be an exercise in ice skating. Meg finished with a 51.247, good for 50th in PAX. I had a messy morning, taking out three cones (thank goodness for Rob—but more on that later) en route to my best time of a 48.818. There is something to be said for running in the first group though. Thanks to Jim Harris spinning out on his first run, I managed to hold set and hold onto Fastest Time of the Day into the second passes of the heat. It was nice while it lasted.

In the second heat, Joseph laid down a 45.832 in his Mustang, and in the process snagged himself a spot in the shootout. Paul was up in the third, and using the tires I heated for him, he put down a 44.783, securing the top spot in PAX and the top seed in the shootout (you’re welcome). The fourth heat featured the majority of Team Zip-Tie members. Rich squeaked by my time with a 48.774, good enough for 5th in BSP. Doug ran a 47.884, which couldn’t quite beat Jake’s time in the Audi. Mike showed Joe why it’s a terrible idea to loan out your car, beating Mustang Boy with a 45.357, also landing himself a spot in the shootout. And then there was Rob. Jen and Ben had already taken their turns in the Coupe, running a 46.090 and 45.686, respectively. As he grew more used to the car and began to drive in a more Rob-like fashion, Rob also had a very Rob-like spin, rotating the Coupe a full one and a half turns before coming to a stop down at the Trooper Five end of the course. He finished third in the Coupe with a 46.467, and an impressive six cones, handily taking the cone award for the day.

When the day was over, three members of Team Zip-Tie made the cut for the shootout—Paul in the WRX, and Mike and Joe both in the Mustang. Unfortunately, Joe fell to Mike Lane, but Mike Moran used the Mustang to play spoiler, taking down higher seeds Wade and Fred, before losing out to Paul in a Team Zip-Tie semi-final. The final featured Paul versus Mike Lane in his BSP 350Z. Paul ran first, and laid down his fastest time of the day. Perhaps Mike Lane felt the pressure, or maybe he was trying to drive through the red mist, but he coned on the back half of the course, and rather than get a time, aborted the run and took the loss. Paul survived all challengers to be named King of the Hill, and now we have a lovely Lucite trophy sitting on our bookcase, and our cost for autocrossing at CBE next year is cut in half. For his part, Mike Lane earned the honor of taking home the Connecting Rod of Shame.

After relieving our coolers of their beers in the paddocks, we departed from the airport. Rather than attend the picnic, Paul, Elizabeth, and I, along with Mike and Jen, Joe, Larry and Ben, went out on the town, having dinner at D’Atris in LaVale. Then we retreated to our motel rooms to clean off the grime of the day before heading back to Henny’s. Saturday evening was, as usual, a much more subdued affair. We bought Larissa a shot to apologize for creating such a mess the night before, and Andy came straight from a wedding, looking downright dapper in his formal wear. Paul and Ben, not to be outdone by a tuxedo, decided to introduce some class to the evening and ordered martinis from bartender Mike—who makes a damn good dirty martini, by the way.

Team Zip-Tie: We clean up nicely.

Sunday morning saw the field decrease further to 53 cars, so we ran an abbreviated day with combined heats. The course was for the most part similar to Saturday’s version, with a more open kink through the middle of the course. Today our car-hoppers found themselves in new rides. Rob joined Andy in the Hyundai Stinkbug, and Paul took Gary Hughes up on an alcohol-induced offer to co-drive his Corvette. With a spot open in our car, Mike Moran co-drove the WRX.

Paul came down hard from the high of winning the PAX shootout on Saturday. He never quite got used to Gary’s Vette, and finished the day with a 54.769. Running in the same heat, but in a car I’m far more familiar with, I ran a 54.686. While this is the first time I’ve ever bested Paul’s time, I will admit it feels a little cheap. The real victory will come when (ok, if) I beat Paul when we’re both driving the same car. It was a real banner day for me, as I not only topped Paul in time, but took the cone award back from Rob, hitting a Zip-Tie high three on the day. Meg’s 58.887 wasn’t enough to beat the Banes in their CS Miata, and Rich was 6th in BSP with a 54 flat. After kicking out his co-driver, Joe was able to top ESP with a 52.122. But Joe’s gain was my loss, as Mike Moran crushed my time with a 50.417, handily taking the DS class win. In the Stinkbug’s inaugural Cumberland race, Andy was able to hold off his co-driver, running a 52.479 to Rob’s 52.994.

The condensed format allowed us to change tires and get on the road quickly. Elizabeth and I headed out in the Fit, passing brothers Herb and Sandy Smith and their trailers along the way. We honked and waved, but I don’t think they had a clue who those strange girls in the Honda were. Thanks to light traffic and heavy speeding, I made good time, even with the detour in Silver Spring to drop Elizabeth off before making my way home.

We’re getting down to the wire now, folks. All that’s left is the Pumpkin Carve before the long, cold winter begins. Many questions still remain though. Who will take home the coveted Team Zip-Tie Cup? What addition will we see added to the trophy for this year’s winner? Will I three-peat the Cone Award, or will Rob take home the not-so-coveted “Slow Children” road cone? Stay tuned, all will be revealed in October!


Saturday (77 Entrants)
12 – Paul (1st in PAX)
11 – Mike (16th in PAX)
10 – Joe (18th in PAX)
9 – Kate (30th in PAX)
8 – Doug (34th in PAX)
7 – Rich (41st in PAX)
6 + 2 – Rob (43rd in PAX – Cone Award Winner with 6 cones)
5 – Meg (50th in PAX)

Sunday (53 Entrants)
12 – Mike (1st in PAX)
11 – Joe (15th in PAX)
10 + 2 – Kate (20th in PAX – Cone Award Co-winner with 3 cones)
9 – Andy (23rd in PAX)
8 – Rich (29th in PAX)
7 – Rob (30th in PAX)
6 – Paul (36th in PAX)
5 – Meg (44th in PAX)

Current Team Standings
1. Mike (107 points)
2. Paul (101 points)
3. Rob (97 points)
4. Joe (93 points)
5. Kate (75 points)
6. Doug (68 points)
7. Meg (52 points)
8. Rich (47 points)
9. Andy (33 points)
10. Bill (18 points)
11. Patrick (12 points)
12. Thomas (0 points)

With only one day left to score points, the totals are close, but don’t forget, we still have the four lowest scores dropped.

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