Today’s daily event was a lap around Donington Park, which is a real-world track in Leicestershire, England. The track is named after a nearby castle, which I probably climbed around on while playing Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. The car is called a Caterham. I’ll have more to say about it shortly. There will be cussing. My best lap time, after using all 20 available attempts, was 1 minute and 38.589 seconds. As of this writing, that puts me in the silver ranking at 132nd place.
Following are ten reasons I’m not in 131st or better place.
10. I accidentally screwed up the camera for one of my laps and drove in helmet cam, which moves your view into a turn based on the sharpness of the turn. I’m sure this is awesome when you get used to it. I’m not used to it. It was like fighting a rogue AI for control of the car and then realizing the rogue AI is you.
9. I normally drive in cockpit view. I changed the camera since I was having trouble with the final hairpin because of a big fat rearview mirror mounted on the dashboard. It makes it so I can’t see the apex of the turn! If there’s one time when you really need to see a specific point in space, it’s heading into the apex of a hairpin turn. So, to the folks at Caterham Industries Ltd. who mounted a big fat rearview mirror right in the middle of the dashboard, thanks. Next time, give your car a roof where you can hang the rearview mirror like every other car in the world.
8. In case it wasn’t clear, I was being sarcastic when I thanked the folks at Caterham Industries Ltd. I’m also being sarcastic when I thank them for making the Caterham Seven, a petulant little fucker that loves to lose traction and skid off the track. Hey, Caterham Industries Ltd., maybe put some spoilers or something on your peevish little brat. Downforce is a thing, you know. Look it up.
7. The ghosts for other player’s laps keep messing me up. I mean, they’re ghosts, so they’re not affecting me physically. But I keep looking at them and messing up.
6. The ghosts not only mess me up by making me look at them, but they mess me up by being in front of me and making me want to beat them. I get greedy and brake a little later, or push my speed through a turn, or try to cut inside them thinking I’ll pull ahead. I prefer ghosts when they’re behind me and I don’t have to think about beating them.
5. Did I mention that the Caterham is a petulant little fucker? Because it is. And Caterham Industries Ltd. knows it because at the very top of their web site, they have three words: Raucous. Pure. Unapologetic. I don’t know about pure, but I can attest to raucous and unapologetic. The little fucker didn’t apologize to me once for skidding off the track. Today’s daily event can be attempted up to 20 times. I didn’t log an actual lap time until my fifth attempt because the Caterham kept leaving the track. Which wasn’t my fault! If it had better traction, it would have stayed on the track. So that’s on it. But even after I logged a time, I decided to keep trying because I didn’t want to let the Caterham win. I refused to adopt a policy of appeasement to its lack of traction. At that point, I didn’t care about the other players or even the ghost cars taunting me by being in front of me. I just cared about not letting this stridently peevish little go-kart waltz off the track whenever it felt like it. So I used all 20 of my attempts to wrangle it into some semblance of good behavior. I only logged times for about half my attempts. I’m sure the lap times when I skidded off the track would have been great if I hadn’t added to the lap time by skidding off the track. Not to mention invalidating the lap time by skidding off the track.
4. My hand slipped on the next to last hairpin on the 14th attempt. Seriously. It slipped. I might need a new controller.
3. I paused a run to take some screenshots for this game diary entry and when I resumed the race, I’d lost my mojo. So I hope you like that picture up there. You’re welcome.
2. It wasn’t until my 18th run, which was my best time at 1:38.589, that I finally accepted the Caterham’s deep-seated desire to drop down into second gear after many of these turns. Which is something no self-respecting car would do for anything less than a hairpin turn or steep climb. But because I had to lose so much speed around turns to keep this wayward little rascal on the track, I had to accept that its gears were short enough to drop down to second, even on relatively open turns. So, okay, maybe “petulant little fucker” was a bit strong. Me and the Caterham learned to get along by the time it was all over. We were like a buddy cop movie. I was the older cop, set in my ways, a few weeks from retirement, constantly taking from my wallet the clipping of the fishing boat I’m going to buy and restore when I retire. The Caterham is the hot-under-the-collar rookie who plays fast-and-loose with the rules and wants to break into the warehouse even though we don’t have a warrant and even though the chief just chewed us out for all the damage we caused during our last car chase. It took a while — 17 laps, to be precise — but we’ve learned to get along. We even hang out socially now. I invited the Caterham over for a barbecue with my wife and family this weekend. Together, we’re cleaning up the streets, starting with anyone on Doningham Park who can’t get a lap time of 138.599 or better.
1. The number one reason I didn’t place higher is because I only got 20 tries. I’m confident my 21st try would have been better!