July 2005 CalClub California Speedway race
July 30th & 31st: J.B. had been #1 in points for four months heading into the weekend's big CalClub SCCA doubleheader road race on the high speed California Speedway track. Facing some seriously over-horsepowered competition, Jim Sleeper had spent days preparing Uncle Joe's Nissan 300ZX. A fender-destroying slap to the wall didn't help Saturday's qualifying effort or the 300ZX's beauty quotient, but after Jim and crew guy Casey's intense thrash (and a few miles of red "racer's" tape on the nose), the car was declared ready to go. Starting 23rd in the 77 car field with an ambient air temperature of 98 degrees, Unc just launched! By the end of the first lap, he was running 6th! For the next 35 minutes, with Sleeper, Casey and Jan Benson spotting on the radio for him, Joe eventually passed all but three cars on the track (some more than once) to finish 2nd in class and 4th overall — then completely ran out of gas as he crossed the finish line! Amidst spraying water and Gatorade, Jenna and Jeremy Benson joined their Dad on the podium next to old friend and former crew guy Dan Pedersen who had won the event.
Sunday morning brought other challenges. Four laps into qualifying, the Z's old motor blew up in a huge cloud of smoke, oil and broken parts. Less than 20 minutes before the race, as the engine's autopsy took a grim turn, Bob "Fireball" Spencer offered his legendary Nissan 240SX to his old friend. Somehow the boys squeezed Unc into Bob's seat (the first time Joe had ever been in the car) and got him out to his 6th place starting spot before the green flag flew. Discovering why Fireball's 240SX holds so many track records, Joe adapted his driving technique, passed virtually every car except three before running out of gas three laps from the end. Still finished 2nd in class — this time behind a 10-cylinder Dodge Viper! Even with 98+ degree temperatures and 77 sports cars thrashing on a 21-turn road course, Joe kept his points lead making this a most auspicious weekend!
(Photos by Jan & Joe Benson)
Early Saturday morning, Casey preps the Z for the first race of the weekend.
Jim makes the final adjustments.
Later Saturday morning, the Benson kids join their Dad and
ITE division race winner Dan Pedersen on the podium.
Casey, Sleeper and Unc with the Z car
after an extremely hot and hard fought day.
The crew uses a car cover to demonstrate how well
Uncle Joe fit into Bob "Fireball" Spencer's
legendary Nissan 240SX for Sunday's race.
Still #1 in points!
It blowed up!
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