Longest Day Driving School 2011
Preparations for this year’s driving school at MidAmerica Motorplex involved a quite unusual factor. The track is only about a mile and a half from the Missouri River, and current record-high water flows from Montana and the Dakotas could wipe out the track at any time. Levees in the area are in danger as I write this in mid-June, and the river is still rising. The final chapter for the residents and businesses all along the Iowa side of the Missouri has yet to come, but for a few it’s already critical and for many others it’s prepare, wait, and hope time.
In the midst of all that, we had a driving school scheduled. We talked to track management at length, consulted with local authorities and the Corps of Engineers, and elected to go ahead. Some of our members in northwest Iowa and South Dakota had to do a bit of a detour around a flooded section of I-29, but all were able to get there OK. And what an event it was! After a couple hours of downpour on Friday afternoon, the weather gods smiled upon us for the rest of the weekend festivities. The track’s management and corner workers were great, the track itself was in good shape, and all had a wonderful time. It was quite surreal to look at the blue sky, feel temps in the 70s (LDDS veterans know that combination doesn’t seem to happen often for us!) – and realize that a short distance away was a major civil disaster just waiting for a weak spot in the levee to happen and water to start creeping across the farm fields toward us.
LDDS always takes a group of dedicated volunteers to make it happen, giving us a hard-earned reputation in this area of the country for the best organized, educational, and fun driving school. To name just a few of the most significant contributors – Jeff Daly helped on the event committee, did the financial side, and generally assisted wherever needed. Scott Smed as our new Chief Instructor worked very late hours getting all the educational side prepared – and then did a fantastic job of dealing with the many little brushfires that happen when someone doesn’t turn up or a last-minute entrant needs to be slotted into the big picture. Rick and Kathy Talbot, new on the grid team for us but old hands with SCCA race weekend grid work, had the grid procedures down to a T like we’ve never seen it. And Don Van Lengen’s incomparable Saturday night feast, with the able assistance of wife Stacy, was as always the hit of the event. Sheridan White ran the Friday reception, taught in the intermediate/advanced classroom, plus did the Saturday evening track walk/ride commentary along with Chet Dawes. Brian Smith did the novice classroom yet again for us. Numerous others helped out with building participant packets, pre-event registration, check-in, clean-tech, parade laps, those who toted club tools and equipment to MAM and more. Many thanks to all who helped out! And finally, a word for our sponsors: BMW of Des Moines as the prime event sponsor, joined this year by Dent Eliminators and by Cottman Transmission and Repair in Des Moines. Their support really helps us in adding the extra features to the event.
It really only felt like hell in the event preparation stage when four days before the event we still didn’t know if we were going to be able to put it on. And the high waters didn’t arrive. So it may not be heaven, but it’s Iowa and it was our driving school – and it felt pretty close as we experienced a weekend to remember!