Saturday, May 28, 2011

I should never have said, "Maybe it won't rain."

Springfield. It's a big deal, in Springfield (also the capital of Illinois, and home of Abe Lincoln, who is probably not the 'Abe' cited in the bottom image.)
It's been a hell of week for weather in the Midwest. Of course, there was the deadliest single tornado in decades in Joplin, and the following couple of days were seriously ominous in Kansas City, with tornado warning sirens going off for hours at a time.

Springfield's only a few hundred miles from KC, so it was with some trepidation that I checked the Springfield forecast last Wednesday, but it looked good for racing. As I packed my gear on Friday night I thought, Rain jacket? Nah...
Every kind of gear except rain gear.
That was mistake number one. You should always pack rain gear, so that it won't rain. At 0630 this morning, I collected photographer Phil Peterson and we headed east from Kansas City into unbroken heavy cloud cover. (Phil's never shot or even attended a flat track race but if you check out his portfolio, here, you'll understand why I'm eager to see the images he comes back with.) Phil mentioned that he'd checked the weather forecast just before going to bed and they'd changed the forecast to a 40% chance of rain. Still, we got all the way to the Illinois State Fairgrounds with just the finest smattering of droplets.

Then, as we were picking up credentials, I said, "Maybe it won't rain."

That was mistake number two. It started to rain. Then it started to pour. There was lightning. Toto, we're not in Hollywood any more. Oh, and then it hailed.

Nichole Cheza's team couldn't get their truck into the pits to remove their gear, so Nichole rode one of her bikes out to the road. Her dad(?) told her, "Try not to get it all muddy." Right.
Saturday's program - the Springfield TT - was canceled before it started, and rescheduled for Monday. With memories of recent tornados and flooding along the Mississippi in Illinois, the vibe wasn't, like, 'Let's go to the motel and watch TV,' as much as 'Let's get the heck out of here.'

The evacuation from the pit area of the multiuse stadium resembled the evacuation of Dunkirk (minus artillery and strafing runs, but you get the picture) with guys pulling trailers down from the parking lot to load all their gear creating gridlock for those trying to leave.

If anything it rained even harder later in the afternoon, and it remains to be seen what the Mile track will be like tomorrow.

So, I waited out the rain in a cafe downtown. To get online, I had to select a network. Judging from name of the top-listed network in this screen cap, there's at least one guy in Springfield who's less than enthused at the influx of Harleys...

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