Phoenix, Arizona, the site of our 3rd annual Modified Tuner Shootout is known for its unrelenting heat, scorching sun and desert dryness (with an annual total of just 8.3 inches of rain). Naturally, it would seem that rain would be the last thing we would have to worry about at our event. However, the rain gods were feeling frisky. The very day that we had our autocross, quarter-mile and time attack scheduled, a nasty downpour (the first in three months) hit early and hard, turning our autocross area into a water park. Only a few teams were prepared for the wet conditions and quickly switched to rain tires. The others had to slip-slide their way through the cones or sit it out entirely.
I ended up bumming an umbrella and a garbage bag to keep myself and my camera somewhat dry. Ironically, the day I was packing my bag I actually pulled a rain jacket out of it, which was there from a previous event. I'll never leave home without it again.
The rain kept up all morning and it began to look like we might have to cancel our quarter-mile shootout. But by early afternoon the sun burned through the cloud cover and the track dried up. Unfortunately, we were about an hour behind schedule and that meant everyone had to rush. To make matters worse, the rain had washed off all the adhesive compound, leaving a slick rubber surface for the cars to contend with. It was clear from the moment the first car launched that there would be no record-breaking times this year. I knew it was really bad when the GT-R went into limp mode due lack of traction. Then a car lost its rear window at 100 mph and that put us even further behind, limiting the teams to just two timed runs down the strip.
The rain gods tortured us a little more in the early evening, soaking the road course just in time for our team's time attack practice session. But as Brian from Hasport's iPhone weather radar application confirmed, this was the last of the rain, so our time attack session was run in the dry, something I'm sure everyone was grateful for given that this event is more than challenging enough because it runs at night.
Despite the curveballs that Mother Nature kept throwing at us, our host and weekend organizer NASA Arizona did a tremendous job keeping everything on schedule and the Tuner Shootout once again delivered great excitement and tough competition for all our teams. As always, we have to thank Continental Tire for its tremendous support of this event. Without them, the Tuner Shootout wouldn't be what it is today. Furthermore, the 11 teams that put it all on the line have to be thanked for taking the time out of their busy schedules to compete, especially our pals from Forged Performance who drove more than 30 hours from Atlanta! This event just keeps getting better and better, and I personally can't wait until next year's Shootout!
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