At Last!

Labor Day double races at Summit Point – 2015

Now that I’ve found the cure for my yearlong sick engine and plan to mount, well past the point of being needed, fresh tires, these races should be GOOD.  However, I have learned NOT to be too positive.

Sean and I towed up midday Friday.  With the price of gasoline at a 10 year low ($2/gallon), Virginia’s state troopers were keeping the economy lubricated by writing gallizion citations.  We saw more than a dozen cars pulled over.

The DC Region returned to their old user unfriendly ways by abusing the drivers with an unnecessary 2-hour wait for technical inspection after the official opening time.  The tech guys  sat in their shed shuffling papers and whatever and demanded that the car owners wait outside.  After about two hours, they got up and started their inspections.  Jerks!

Saturday morning qualifying got off at about 10 AM with temperature around 80 degrees.  WOW! Are new tires nice?  I had forgotten in the more than a year since I had a set.  The car stuck everywhere.  I had new limits to explore; to tip-toe up to, to enjoy!  My best lap of 1:20.6 was a personal best for me in a Club Ford and was within a half a second of the CF fast guy.  This is a big leap of progress. I had already exceeded expectations.  Footnote:  All our on track sessions were being shortened by two guys showing up with Indy Lights cars and lapping us a time or two.  Being passed by one at speed is awesome/frightening as a 2 and a half foot wide tire roars past your ear.

It was hot and muggy when the afternoon 12-lap race got off and race times would suffer a bit.  I got a good start, advancing one position.  Mid race, Keith McDonald who started at the back in a P2 car caused a small scrum in turn one; being distracted I missed a shift and dropped back 3 places to 11th overall.  I managed to get back to 7th overall and 3rd in CF and with a lap time of LESS than 0.3 seconds of the CF winner Wayne Nicolette. (Wayne is the perennial CF leader).  I was faster than second place CF of Chuck Van Nostrand and had caught up to him on the last lap, but ran out of laps. Both Wayne and Chuck bought new tires.

Sunday’s format would be the same as Saturday’s.  I do need to take better post session notes since it is all running together now.   In a day or so, after I review my videos, some of these recollections will need updating.  The morning qualifying session was marred by two tow trucks on track and the yellow flags.  By midafternoon I am beginning to think I would have had enough “fun” by Sunday’s race and should blow off Monday’s.  Sitting around the track each day in the heat and hot sun for about 12 hours is less than wonderful, even though I have an air conditioned trailer.

It was again hot and humid for the Sunday race.  The first start attempt got waved off. I had a good start getting past Chuck and Sam Youngman in a DB1/Honda. I was behind Dave Gomberg in his P2/DSR. Dave’s first couple of laps were OK, but then he started to slow and drive somewhat erratically.  I could close but with his significant horsepower advantage, he would gap me on the straights.  Chuck, Youngman, Sam Eyer and a F500 were stacking up behind me constantly nipping at my heels.  We were all now running 3 or more seconds off qualifying times.  Both Chuck and Youngman managed to pass me at some point (Chuck more than once), but I managed to get back to my position on Dave’s tail.  On the next to last lap of the race, I managed to slip past Dave exiting turn 5 and to open a nice gap to the conga line behind me.   Last lap, feeling good, pushing for a decent lap time, I overcooked it entering turn 5 (yes the brakes were going soft, requiring a couple pumps, but I was aware of that) and went off!   Shit, four cars went streaming past. Dummy. DUMMY!! 

In impound, Sean who was pissed went over and yelled at Gomberg for ruining so many guy’s races.  Gomberg said his mirrors are poor and he didn’t see the angry pack stalking him.  I told him that I would send him a copy of my video.  

 I finished 3rd in CF and 11th overall.  Certainly didn’t exceed expectations in this race. OK, now I am annoyed and am definitely staying for the Monday race.

Monday there would be a 20 lap race and no qualifying session.  By virtue of an early Sunday qualifying time, Gomberg would be gridded in front of us CF’s.  Not good.  But Gomberg had listened to the chorus of disgruntled racers and announced he would start from the rear.  Nice. 

This time, my 8th place start was not great with Eyer getting by in turn one and Youngman opening a pretty good gap just ahead.  I quickly repassed Eyer and got past Youngman on lap 7, noting that Wayne was not too far ahead.  However, Chuck and Youngman were now hard on my tail.  As before, Chuck would pass me going into turn one a couple of times, but I could retake the point within a few corners.   There were cars off in turns 3 and 5, but only yellow flags for a couple of laps.  I really had to hustle to stay in front of Chuck. The race was a relatively long duration and my mouth had gotten extremely DRY.  I need a drink, but more importantly I am determined to stay out front.  I can open up a gap on Chuck in the turn 2 thru 4 and the 7 thru 8 sections.  I am trying to drive just fast enough to stay ahead.  I am not going to risk an error by trying to go faster.  I see the one lap to do go signal and note I have managed to increase the gap to 4 to 6 car lengths.  I tell myself to be cool and drive just fast enough to keep most of the gap.  Good plan; bad execution.  I momentarily miss an upshift going into the chute but didn’t lose much momentum.  Then I botch a shift into third in turn 7 and end up having to hold 3rd gear to turn 10.  Chuck is closing rapidly.  I best him by 0.12 seconds which is about 10 feet.