Today in Electronics class, we had a representative from Lincoln Tech college come and talk to us about considering a career in Advanced Technology (programming, repair work, etc. etc.) He was talking about the daily expenses most people rack up when living by themselves (food, utility, entertainment, and general maintainence. Suddenly, the Electronics teacher, Mr. Dodds, a tall thin man of timid demeanor and caustic, wicked wit that I've nicknamed Beanstalk announces to the class that we're going to take an adventure. Predictably, this stirs the class, and as we file out the door, I overhear him telling the representative to "Bring it around back, OK?"
The class ventures across the school into the Small Engine Repair shop, which is a mess of car parts, engine parts, and a place where it would be MOST unwise to light a match. I wander over to the lifter, which is supporting a Ford pickup truck. A few seniors are attempting to install a wheel back on the truck, but are not doing much more than stripping the bolt.
Suddenly, everybody starts crowding around the exit/entrance ramp. I use my small size to my advantage, squeezing between the people to the front. Around the corner comes a pickup truck, towing behind it a trailer with a racecar painted on it. Everybody "Oooohs" and "Ahhhhs" while the representative flips up the back door on the trailer, revealing a beauty: An Indy 500 style race car. He unlocks the straps holding it in place and climbs in.
It sputters at a rate of roughly 8 times per second, and the kid next to me says "Oh, it's struggling, it's struggling!"
"No," I correct him,"THAT is a purr." A few seconds later, the classic sound emanates from the car: "VRRRARMMM VRROOOMMM NREEEEAAAHHHHH!"
"And THAT is a growl!" I grin.
It is quite interesting how directly sound can affect you. At a somewhat slow rpm (rotations per minute), the sound produced by the engine seems like it is just above the threshold where a series of clicks becomes a buzz. Idling the engine slowly merely causes your jeans to vibrate microscopically, as if a hundred hands were patting your clothes in the lightest way imaginable, fifty times per second. But when the engine starts REALLY revving up, then the sound begins to feel like if it gets any higher pitched, your eardrum might explode. Pop. If you can imagine ten thousand bumblebees all buzzing under a car's hood, you can imagine what the engine sounds like. Give those bumblebees a sugar high, and that's what a race car sounds like three feet away from you.
"Small block Chevy, solid cam? What kind of suspension?" asks the engine-repair teacher.
"Yeah" replies the driver "nice suspension. I've only driven it in one race, but it handles beatifully."
"Why doesn't it have a door?" asks a student.
The driver explains: "It's safer that way. There's something called a rollbar that protects the driver. Thats why you see 12 car crashes one minute, and five minutes later, they're interview the drivers. The whole car is really built around safety." He pops the hood. "As you can see here, the engine is surrounded by a rollbar of it's own, and it can ensure that the engine will work right even if the car is flipped over like a pancake. Also the skin of the car is very thin - thinner than most mass-produced models. The real sturctural support lies in the framework on the inside. Like your body - the bones are inside, and there's a thin layer of skin overtop."
The small engine repair teacher grins upon learning one of the students, Joshua, is absent. "Oh, he's just gonna DIE when he learns what he missed!" Everyone laughs.
Sadly the bell heralding the end of sixth period cuts the mirth short, as students hustle to get to their next period class. I go to Geometry, where we learn about some of the eccentricities of our Math teacher. I write down a note to myself to write about seeing and hearing a race car, and here I am....and there I was...