April 11, 2015
The big questions going into the 2015 season are will my motor run properly and will my new knees allow me to race comfortably?
I replaced a suspect fuel cell in the Crossle after the season ending October race last year along with moving the fuel filter to the recommended position. I would have to wait for 2015 to see if this solved my fuel supply problems. This would be the primary goal for Summit. I had already tested my knees by getting in and out the cockpit many times. I did not expect any problems.
I had moved the racecar shop and trailer to the new Williamburg house by February. Gathering up all the stuff that goes with me to the races would be a bit of a scavenger hunt. Sean helped me extract the trailer from its parking spot in the woods. This was a bit of a challenge and I will need to remove a couple more small trees to ease future parking. I went up on Thursday to load up. We (Sean will come along) would leave from Williamsburg mid-day Friday.
With my surgery and engine problems last year, I really had not raced at speed for 18 months and hoped I would not be too “rusty.” As the first race group, we went out very early (0815) on a cool (45) and damp track for qualifying. I spent two laps following normally fast prototype cars, being held up. By the third lap, they had gone on and MY ENGINE WAS STILL RUNNING FINE. Good news! I got one lap before a F5 car crashed/rolled in the chute and the session got stopped. My one good lap was a 1:27 which surprise; surprise put me fourth on the grid in front of maybe fifteen fast, winged formula cars and prototypes.
Mark Walthew had a spin in his Crossle early in the qualifier, losing his car’s nose. Mark and Sean would spend a couple of hours repairing the nose under tray, finishing just in time for the race.
The 12 lap Saturday race got off around 1100. I managed to keep my fourth position (second in CF to Wayne Nicolette) for 3 laps until a Radical spun off in turn one and brought out the safety car for 4 laps. The field bunched up behind me and drove past me in a speeding train when we went back to racing. It was expected, since they were all faster class cars. I had my best lap at 1:23 before getting held again by passing winged cars. Chuck Van Nostrand (CF regular in a Zink) took advantage of me getting held up by winged cars in turn one and sneaked by on the inside. I pulled along aside him through turns 2 and 3, trying to regain the advantage. A fifty car pack of Miata’s in the proceeding session had covered the offline part of the track past turn 3 with lots of gravel. (Too my surprise!) I lost traction and visited the grass, damaging my car’s nose which was now dragging. I visited the pits to get the damaged nose removed just as the race ended. Mark Walthew would benefit from my misfortune and take third in CF. I needed to be more patient. Hopefully, lesson learned. My best lap was better than Chuck’s but Wayne showed the way with a 1:21. I would need to find some speed.
With our racing over before lunch time on Saturday, we had lots of time to look over and piddle with the cars. Mark found a dead rear shock on his car. (I have a set of new shocks I planned to lend to Mark but they were home since he said he wanted to race his car before starting CHANGES.) With my engine problems taking up all my attention, I really haven’t looked at the suspension. Sean discovered that I had the same size springs on the front and rear (calculated to be 400#). NOT GOOD, and my suspension was VERY hard, and perhaps my shocks were too long. The Crossle was “pushing” too much in turns 6b thru 8, and I was not able to neither keep much power on nor place the car where I need to in the turns. We softened the FRONT sway bar one inch each side and at least achieved the ability to compress the front suspension a bit with BOTH of us pressing on it. Suspension will get a complete review before the next race.
Sunday morning, 20 laps. First race was off at 0900 with a 40 degree and sunny day. I was gridded 9th of 17 cars with Chuck to my right. The two cars directly in front of me in our column were winged (Fast) cars and I figured would get a big advantage on the start and be well ahead of Chuck by turn one. WRONG, my column went very slowly, and ALL the CF’s got past me going into turn one. Near the end of lap one, Mark was dicing with Craig Walker (another Crossle) and I was able to dive under them in turn 10. Back to third in CF. I could see Wayne and Chuck for many laps but was not making up any time. The softer sway bar on the front was an improvement, but I was still pedaling it in the chute and 6-8. My times were steadily improving to 1:23.01 until lap 16 when I went a little wide in turn 10, visiting the gravel trap but not lingering. Again, a bit of nose damage and dragging, but I continued on without losing a place. Started 9th, finished 9th.
I’ve got some work to do to be able to run with Wayne at 1:20.5, which makes prospects for the season alluring and interesting.
Data worked well, SmartyCam worked fine Saturday morning, but not for the race. It showed an error code Sunday after replacing the micro card. Knees were never a problem. Got some nose repairs to do.