It has be a long 2 year stretch since we last set out to drive faster than ever before. If you remember, the previous attempt ended in the bushes and I have God to thank for keeping the car and myself alive. Shortly after that trip, Ed was diagnosed with cancer and the North American Eagle project seemed at a standstill. While the team was actually hard at work making sure the car was dialed as well as securing the environmental shenanigans for the "new" lakebed (which was still too wet to drive on), Ed's cancer eventually took a turn for the worst, and we lost him the day we left for Alvord to set the new records.
This very well could have been the end of it all. Ed was our leader, our mentor, our rock. For me, the heightened responsibilities of near death possibilities began to set in. Ed was always the one who did the shakedown runs and would converse with me about the things to keep an eye on when it was my turn in the car. He was the primary driver and I was the lucky one to follow in his footsteps. Now, I am the one literally paving that path and proving what this team is capable of. An honor to say the least, tho not under the most positive circumstances. The entire demeanor on the lakebed this year was different... still fun and go-getting... but somewhat erie with random bursts of tears and memorials in Ed's name.
Truth be told, we were 100% ready. Steering was on point, new parachute systems in place, the weather was perfect and the course was lit up with Buggy Whips for better vision. I pulled up my big girl panties in order to collect the best data we have ever experienced with me at the helm of the North American Eagle.
The shakedown run was so good. I tested the steering quite a bit, maybe more than I should have since it was working almost too well. Somewhere around the 4 mile I had to pull out of afterburners to get the car settled in a straight line again, and then went back into full AB. The car felt solid and responsive the entire run. As it came to a forceful stop at the 8 mile, I was ready to take her to the pits for a good look over and fill up the fuel. Unfortunately a panel had fell off the car and dangled at 488 mph until part of it broke off and went into the intake on the left side. I had no clue until the car was cooling down and the team was doing a walk around, I didn't feel or hear a thing during the run. Thankfully there was not a lot of damage, but enough where we had to pack up the pits and take it back to the shop in order to fix the first 2 turbine blade levels. That's racing.
Very pleased that my first run, a shakedown run, of 483.227 mph was faster than my last pass of the last test session of 477.59 mph.... not by much, but it's only a matter of the perfect combination. Plus, it felt really good to get those skeletons out of the closet and haul some serious mail. We will go back at it again in the near future. Thank you for your support!
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