Finally, we calculated we would need three complete sets of tires to make it through the race. When we built the car, Aero supplied us with two sets of steel wheels which have held up flawlessly. We like to stick with what works and added another four wheels to our inventory and mounted them up with tires as well.

Going into the event, ChumpCar had more than 30 entries for the race, which was impressive considering it was the first race on the East Coast for the new sanctioning body. Unfortunately, several of the cars scheduled to race got torn up in the late February LeMons race and were unable to make the March event at Rockingham. Because of that, a week or so before the race ChumpCar changed the duration from 24 to 14 hours, saying it wanted to make sure that there were several cars running at the checkered flag even with the lower car count. It was disappointing for all involved, but it made sense considering there were only 19 cars at the green flag.

We arrived at the track during the race weekend on Friday afternoon for sign-in and tech. The tech inspection was quite thorough, and while the inspector did evaluate our car to make sure it was within the spirit of the "under $500" rule, he seemed more concerned with making sure everyone was in a safe race car. Although we've fabricated a rear firewall, we never patched the openings in the rear package tray (speaker holes and other stuff) which concerned the tech guys. Since we're running an ATL fuel cell they let us through, but we'll need to get that fixed for the next go-round.

One of the more impressive things ChumpCar does is to adopt a local charity at every track it visits. For the Rockingham race, it was a local food bank. In addition to accepting food donations from the racers, ChumpCar also granted a bonus lap for every $20 a race team donates (up to $100). As a result, most teams started off with five laps in the bank and the local charity benefited greatly.

Of course, ChumpCar also gives out bonus laps for great decorative themes and imaginative engineering. We had gotten as far as repainting the car but never actually got around to decorating it to match our "Pig Rig" name. As a result, we received no bonus laps for theme and started out the race eight laps down.

On Saturday morning, the driver's meeting was held shortly before the green flag. During that meeting I witnessed one of the most impressive aspects of this new racing organization. After going over the race rules and precautions for safety, ChumpCar's John Condren opened up the meeting for questions. One of ChumpCar's rules is that no driving shift can last more than two hours. One team mentioned that it had signed up six drivers back when the race was scheduled for 24 hours. Now that the race was cut to 14 hours, equal shifts for each driver equaled two hours and fifteen minutes. Would it be possible to extend the maximum driving shift an additional fifteen minutes?

Instead of making an arbitrary decision, Condren listened to the question and polled the gathered racers for their opinions. The crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of extending the maximum allowed driving time. Condren made the change official, explaining that the ChumpCar Series always tried to make decisions not directly involving safety with the wishes of racers in mind.

Nineteen cars took the green flag shortly after 9:30 a.m. The Pig Rig was fast, but we were far from the fastest car in the field. By the end of the day, six cars had posted a lap faster than our 1:14.961 best. But there is obviously more to endurance racing than simply putting up a single fast lap. The Rockingham track was particularly hard on tires. Although we had planned for each driver to run a two hour shift, our first two shifts lasted only 1:45 before the tires simply gave up. Our first two pit stops required both front tires to be changed. We only had 13 total tires mounted, so we knew the tires wouldn't last at this pace. The only option was to slow down and we started averaging laps in the 1:18 range.