New Numbers, New Paint
Passenger cars are like static things. You get in one and the first thing you do is adjust the seats, the steering wheel and the mirrors. The car stays the same.
Racecars are not like that. They don’t have adjustable seats and steering wheels. What you do is adapt the car to fit the driver. This is the first stage.
Then there are the other things that you just have to fuss with. Maybe you want to make it look like it is yours rather than the previous owners. Maybe some neat racing stripes will make it go faster (or at least make you feel faster).
It doesn’t matter that you may not be a brilliant mechanic. It doesn’t matter that you don’t even know how to set it up yet. It doesn’t matter that the previous owner spent years honing the car so that it performs like a Swiss watch. You just got to mess with it. Change things. Fix things that are not broken. It’s a rule.
As soon as Hugh could keep both feet firmly on the ground after his first outing in the car, his hands began to itch.
We had already made some basic modifications to fit the car to him. We changed a roll bar brace, shifted some straps, and relocated the mirrors. Little stuff. The car came to us basically race ready. It was just tweaking that was required to adapt it to a different driver.
But he didn’t "own" the car yet. He hadn’t made it his. So it started.
He bought some Bondo and started smoothing out some nicks in the nose cone. (Nose pieces always get the worst of it in open wheeled cars. They are constantly blasted with small rocks and track debris, and when there is a crash, you can count on repairing or replace one) Then he started peeling off all the old numbers and the advertising from someone else’s sponsor. Stuff like that.
Then came the sandpaper. I slept late one morning and when I woke up he was on the back porch with some spray cans going at it like the happiest elf that ever existed. It was your basic fifty / fifty paint job. (Fifty feet away at fifty miles per hour it looked pretty good.)
Even the track photographer got a shot of him in action.