Reflections on Arby’s and Road Atlanta

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This season I have become quite a bit more serious with my racing. In the pursuit to see how fast I can go, I made lots of changes to my race weekends. I get to the track the day before and have the paddock setup well before sun down. In bed no later than 10, no alcohol, eat healthy etc… And overall I can say that these changes along with several other things I’m doing different are really paying off. But sometimes, even the best laid plans get derailed. I call this the Arby’s incident.

My view for most of the weekend. At least Best Western had very clean facilities.

This occurred during the Race for Pi at Road Atlanta with NASA. Everything was going to plan. ‘Sometimes’ the 944spec crowd can get a little rowdy so I booked a room at the local Best Western instead of staying at the track. A little tired from the drive, I skipped the spec dinner and went to the hotel that just so happened to have an Arby’s next door. I like Arby’s but I was soon to discover this Arby’s did not like me.

Tired and hungry I ordered a turkey sandwich and went up to my room. In hind sight the soggy bun should have raised some red flags but road trip hunger is hard to ignore. After inhaling the sandwich, I was off to bed by 9:30 and up vomiting by 11:00. This wasn’t a one and done type ordeal. This was the throw a lung up, wake the neighbors, I am never eating food again situation. I honestly felt a little sorry for anyone staying in the rooms around me. I have a very healthy diaphragm and when I vomit, loud would be an understatement. My ability to care quickly disappeared when the other end starts exploding at 1:00am.

Saturday

So here I am, writhing in agony in my hotel room, dealing with food poisoning when I am supposed to be heading to one of my favorite tracks for qualifying. I’m stubborn so I was still trying to figure out how to make the race. I kept telling myself that once I stabilize I will head to the track and get things done. But as I’m dealing with one or two ‘situations’ almost every hour on the hour, I realize this is wishful thinking. I settle in for a long day trying to keep any sort of fluids down and spend my free time staring into space trying not to throw up. At one point I start to get a little concerned that I am getting too dehydrated but luckily, I start to hold some fluids down in the evening.

Sunday

Saturday night was less eventful but still had it’s moments. Sunday, however, I began to turn a corner. I knew I was too weak for warmup or qualifying so I spent the morning focused on hydration and recovery. I wouldn’t say my energy was great but around lunch I ventured to the track. Taking it super easy, I mustered up enough strength to hop in the car for the race. Because I missed qualifying I started in last place but worked my way up to a third place podium finish. Let’s just say my body was not happy with what I had just put it through but I was thrilled with the result.

The Race

This was a very unique experience for me. A race weekend usually involves practice or warm-up, qualifying and then the race or races. Pace is built throughout these sessions. By only attending the last race I basically had to get on pace instantly. And I’m not going to lie, entering a race in this state put me in a mindset with zero expectations which I suspect allowed me to tap into my subconscious easier and drive more on instinct. Racing is one of those things where over thinking will generally make you slower. But whatever it came down to, third from last at Road Atlanta ain’t to shabby.

By Chris Simmons

Chris Simmons is a race car driver, instructor, business owner and all around gearhead. His passion for motorsport started in the drifting community over 10 years ago and progressed into wheel to wheel racing of all kinds. When off track Chris can be found training and working on a myriad of projects. After a hiatus from writing, he is back to share his passion, knowledge and experience in regard to motorsports on and off the track.

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