Almost 25 years ago, I walked into a small-town gun shop looking for a surplus Chinese SKS rifle. At the time, the gun market was flooded with SKSes and the steel-cased 7.62×39 ammunition that they used. $99 for a gun, $0.02 a round for the ammo; it was pretty much the official rifle of Ohio rednecks for a solid year. If I had a nickel for every afternoon I spent with a bunch of worker’s-comp-addicted ex-bikers shooting at abandoned cars, ovens, and “empty” propane tanks, I’d have my very own Viper ACR already.
Most of the shops I’d visited in pursuit of my own SKS had tried to foist off recent-production stuff made for the U.S. market as authentic ’60s ChiCom army stuff. I was sick of it. You can imagine my relief when the fellow behind the counter at this particular shop had the right gun at the right price and was willing to go over every component of said rifle to make sure it was correct. He even helped me get the Cosmoline off the thing. I was impressed by that dude. So impressed that I ended up shooting competitively with him and traveling all over the Midwest to ride mountain bikes with him. He was the best man at my first wedding, and we stayed close even when he left the shooting world to start a mortgage brokerage firm.
Over the past couple of decades we’ve pursued all sorts of stupid ideas together, from riding bicycles off loading docks to running a Neon in NASA’s Performance Touring class. Our latest idea, hatched during a dinner in which we celebrated his divorce was this: How fast can we go for virtually no money at all?
What did you do this morning? I spent $101.78 at the local Pick-N’-Pull, using a completely inadequate set of hand tools to remove the last twincam Neon head to be found in any Columbus, Ohio – area junkyard. I removed the power steering reservoir by beating it to pieces with a crankshaft damper from a Chrysler LHS. I imagine Adrian Newey is doing something similar right now on the Red Bull RB6.
The reason for this outrageous expenditure is simple: NASA (the race sanction, not the folks who no longer build rockets) has partially come to its senses. In previous years, the minimum weight for doublecam Neons was 2650 pounds, while the twincam Sentras and single-cam Neons were both 2450. Needless to say, our single-cam Neon has never successfully beaten a Sentra in a Performance Touring race unless it was raining (I’m the Jenson Button of club racing, including pre-trophy-ceremony makeouts) or the aforementioned Sentra has made a major mistake.
This year, two interesting things have happened. First, NASA dropped doublecams to 2550 and raised the Sentra to 2525. Now we have a fighting chance. Second, the fellow who owns the other half of my race team acquired his racing license last week. Finally, I have a teammate! So we need a new name, and I’m taking suggestions.
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