Flying Solo in the Piper
9 June 2012
With Kathy off in St. Louis attending to family matters and Sean indisposed, I would be on my own for the Summit Point regional race. Since “regional” races have little track time and mammoth waiting around, it is not a problem. (Unless of course one needs to repair damage or such. Heaven Forbid!)
I drove up Friday afternoon and found my assigned paddock space with 10 or so formula cars adjacent to a sea of Spec Miata racers. There were actually many unclaimed spaces on the pavement. Guess the racing recession is not over yet. Did a leisurely unpack and paddock setup.
Saturday’s 15 minute qualifier went off at about 10 AM. Our group consisted of 5 CSR/DSRs, one FB, 3 FFs and 5 CFs. Ray Phillips had been there on Friday testing his new VD/Honda/FF but decided to go home when his fuel pressure reading on the data system looked problematic. (Turns out it was a sensor problem.) It was hot, in the mid 90’s, and very sunny. I had a huge problem getting my belts to latch and got off a bit late and forgot to turn on my video. Car ran fine on the much used Pro1600 spec tires. I was the fastest of the FF/CF gang with a respectable 1:19.4 lap.
Sat around for 5 hours waiting for our afternoon 10 lap “fun?” race and by the 3:30 start, the sun had baked everything. I did take the time to lube and exercise my lap belt latch. It was still a problem to get latched, but lesser so. I blew the start by messing up two shifts before turn one. I got passed by 3 cars! I had to put my head down and drive hard. I got by one of the CFs fairly quickly. It took me a couple of laps close on and pass Marcinski. He wouldn’t fade quickly and hung on my tail for several laps. I caught up to Nicolette but missed a shift in T5 and lost some ground. It took me another lap or so to catch back up. I pulled along beside him heading to the start line and passed him. It was the last lap of the race, but I was busy and didn’t notice. About four corners later, I noticed the corner workers doing their wave thing and concluded the race had ended. Drat, and apparently Nicolette had edged me by a gnat’s eyelash. I did take the FF win and had the best lap time of all FF/CF with a 1:19.4.
Left the track fairly early and headed off to the Winchester motel. As race group number 5, we would race tomorrow just before lunch. With the only car preparation required being adding gas and checking tire pressures (I did not touch it with a wrench all weekend), I had plenty of sitting time. For the Sunday 20 lap race, the temperature was “only” 87 degrees in the shade. Beastly sun kept me under my tent and my now ANNUAL summer rash is in full bloom. I may have to give up warm weather racing.
I was determined to get a good start this time. I did. In a couple of laps, I put some distance between me and the CF pack. Nicolette had hounded me at first, but now was 100 yards of so arrears. I am keeping up with the guy in the FB, who is 60 yards ahead. Cool. On lap 10, I came upon the back marker FF (Ken Arters) going into turn 10. I followed carefully and pulled out to pass to his right at track out. He steered right, I moved over, He steered more right, I moved over more, He steered right more and by now I had two wheels in the grass and complete the pass. What the hell was he doing? Grrrrr, *#@*$%!!!, GRrrrr! I am still going over the incident in my mind as I get to the braking zone for turn one. Distracted, I left my braking too late and spin. I sit while 5 cars go by. Crap! Now I have some motivation to turn some fast laps. Over the next 9 laps or so, I slowly pick off cars. About two laps from the checker, I close on the FF/CF leaders, Nicolette and Marcinski, who are locked in an intense back and forth battle. Since they are not in my class, I decide to back off bit and not interfere with their fun. Still won FF with the fastest FF/CF time of 1:19.5. I could have gone a bit faster if needed. It wasn’t.
I was back home (200 miles) in time for dinner with Kathy who had returned home. Priceless.