One of the best parts about being a blogger is connecting with other bloggers. I was pleased to recently become acquainted with Kristin Berkery. She’s a writer and marketing designer in Sacramento, California, who blogs at www.ilovehorses.net. Kristin is a passionate rallycross fan and ardent supporter of Tanner Foust. She not only loves the sport but regularly keeps fans and followers in the know on Google+. I was very excited when she accepted my request to guest blog on her recent experiences at X Games 18 in Los Angeles, California with her family. You can also follow her on Twitter @ilovehorsesnet. I certainly hope that you enjoy her first guest post as much as I did. Cheers!
Getting Looped at the X Games
by Kristin Berkery
There it was as we rounded the corner from X Fest at X Games 18: A six-story loop based on the Hot Wheels track that my three-year-old has played with. We got there more than an hour before the stunt because we wanted to be as close to the front as possible.
That morning stunt drivers Tanner Foust and Greg Tracy would attempt the Double Loop Dare: Their cars would travel in their own lanes into the loop, merge into one lane as they exit the loop, and then go flying over a wide gap jump. In the process they would break a world record for the largest loop driven by a car.
The stunt had obvious risks. The cars had to maintain a steady 52 mph or they could fall off the track. The drivers couldn’t afford to bump each other at the lane merge. They faced up to 7 Gs of force, which could cause them to lose control or black out. They had to navigate a gap jump as soon as they came out of the loop and stop quickly before they ran out of road ahead of them. Not far from the end of the track was a Hooters restaurant with patrons inside.
Immediately next to the big loop track was the metal gap jump that would be used for Sunday’s rallycross races. Only a day earlier Toomas Heikkinen crashed spectacularly on the gap jump when the front of his car slammed into the landing ramp, flipping the car and causing it to fall on its roof and burst into flames. It was a terrifying crash, but fortunately Heikkinen suffered just a broken ankle
While we were waiting for the Double Loop Dare we watched workers busy on the rallycross gap jump. We wouldn’t find out until later about the changes made to it.
I’m sure the crash was fresh in both stunt drivers’ minds. Not only did they have to follow the plan exactly — the physics of the jump had been precisely calculated for them — but they had to stay conscious, in control, and stick the landing after the jump.
The stunt was delayed about 20 minutes past its scheduled time and the long wait was torture for my kids. But I knew the drivers were probably going over the details a hundred times to prevent any disasters. Foust had the most to lose — he was participating in the rallycross races the next day.
There was no announcement, no fanfare, just the sudden roaring of the engines and we knew it was time for the show. Green Driver Tracy raced toward the loop first, Yellow Driver Foust followed, and then both cars began to slow down. It was as if the stunt was performed in slow motion! I wondered if the drivers were going too slow to stick to the top of the loop, but they pulled it off and merged with room to spare. Then they cleared the jump with a bumpy landing on the other side. Afterward Tracy’s car showed the strain of the stunt — its suspension was dragging on the ground as it was taken back to the paddock.
Both drivers made a triumphant appearance at the top of the landing ramp and waved to the crowd. Even from far away you could tell they were both relieved to have the stunt behind them.
Shortly afterward I held my six-year-old daughter’s hand as we walked through X Fest and around Staples Center to scope out where we’d be watching the races the next day. As we made our way around the circular arena, a group of people was walking in the opposite direction. Something brightly-colored in the middle of the crowd caught my eye and I glanced up to see Tanner Foust in his Hot Wheels racing suit.
“Hi Tanner!” I said a little loudly. He flashed a big smile at me and said “Hi!” back. My daughter giggled and whispered to me, “That was Tanner!” Yes it was.
Ah, I floated on air for a while after that.
Next up, the X Games rallycross races on Sunday. That metal jump would continue to bedevil the drivers.