Took the fam to Spartan Speedway in Mason, Michigan tonight, courtesy of Ken Coutler, crew chief for the Number 9 JD Wisner Electric School Bus of Tomorrow. It was our first time at the figure eight school bus races, and it is one we'll never forget.
Ken always fields a strong bus and this year was no exception. The victim of a bad draw, Ken's bus was forced to start near the back of the pack for the twenty-five lap feature. Within two laps, Ken's driver, Steve, was already moving up when he got into a scuffle coming off turn four. The 9 bus was wedged in between the Number 3, driven by the Mayor of Mason, and the Kitsmiller RV entry. At last year's September race, the Kitsmiller bus rolled Steve on his side. Steve returned the favor this year, dumping the Kitsmiller bus and breaking it's drive shaft. In the fracas, the Wisner bus began losing water.
By the time the green flag flew again, Ken's entry was running without any coolant. Just prior to the restart Ken told his driver, "It's a diesel engine and has new oil. I think she'll hold together for another twenty-three laps. " The Wisner Electric cheering section held its breath and crossed its fingers. The next fifteen laps were a dual between the Culligan Water entry and the camo painted Beacon Sales bus. But when they two of them crashed into the wall, the Wisner bus took the lead and began steadily pulling away.
With just two laps remaining and with a slower bus ahead of him, Steve looked like he would cruise to victory lane. But it was not to be. The big diesel motor seized up just short of the win. Our hopes were dashed! Nevertheless, we enjoyed a great night of racing with our friends the Coulters, the Maltzans and the Sleights and many others that we've just met.
We plan to be back at Spartan September 5 for the final showdown of this year's figure eight school bus races! With crashes like tonight's (shown here in the video below) you can see why!