June at Summit

June 20. 2015

I blew off the May race at VIR due to pending rain and lack of a crew.  Mark Walthew would stay home also after finding at the last minute a bad rear upright bearing.

June surprised with uncommon heat and THREATS of big afternoon storms.  I met Sean at noonish on Friday for the drive up.  With the bridge to the paddock at Summit condemned, getting into the pits was a little inconvenient.  Mark was already there along with a nice group of formula cars.  Having prepped my car for last month’s VIR,  there was little work to be done before leaving. I had Eric Langbein check and dyno my shocks and I made a small adjustment to the springs installed before doing corner weights.   I also moved the shoulder strap attachment points to be more compatible with the HANS device and adjusted the seating and headrest position.  I was expecting some improvement is performance.  I was expecting some improvement is performance.

There was a rowdy bunch at the Red Roof Friday night which disturbed our sleep at midnight and again at 3 AM.  We have resolved to stay at better class motel in the future.

There is not much track time at a regional and to make the days less pleasant, we were the last race group to run.  Our qualifying session happened just before lunch with temperatures in the high 80’s.  My car seemed somewhat lethargic, or perhaps it was the driver?  Car just did not “stick” in the turn 6b to 8 esses.  A lap time of 1:24 got me next to last in the FF/CF group.  This is not progress.  We decided to add some rear sway bar to help handling in the esses while watching the weather forecasts on our iphones for the pending storms.  I got the rain tires out of the trailer and ready during the nearly five hour wait for our race.  There was plenty of time for visiting around.  Mostly we sat around under the shade providing tents.  Dave Hudson showed up to hangout and help.

I got a good start for the 5PM race passing 4 or 5 cars by turn one.  (Have video!)  Accelerating out from turn 2 to 5, they all got back by.  Again my car was wimpy and slow. Mark, Sam and Chuck disappeared ahead.  My dash refused to show lap times, so I was kinda driving in the dark.  My best lap of 1:25 was just disappointing in spades and nearly 4 seconds slower than Mark/Chuck/Sam.  I am not normally slower than this group.  I had no one to race with.  Huge bummer!

The storms never much showed up and we just had some brief heavy rain as we headed off for dinner.

The Sunday race would be at around 5PM, so we had all day to sit around in the heat and to piddle with the car.   Loose bolts to the outer rear CV joints were found and tightened.  The on board battery ran down while I was testing the data system/dash.  We put it on a charger for hours.  I reloaded the data and dash software.  We decided to check the fuel filter and found it quite clogged with that fine black “dust” likely from the old (replaced) fuel cell.  We checked plugs and wished we had replacement fuel injectors (Likely somewhat clogged) with us.  (Sean has two sets in his trailer at home.)

I saddled up for the race with Hope but not much confidence.  It was hot and I stuffed my cooling packs into my driving suit.   Again, I got a killer start (it is easier to have cars to pass when you start at the rear of the pack!), but lost it all by turn 6.  Mark/Chuck/Sam are running in a tight bunch just ahead, but I slowly dropped back.  My dash again was not showing laptimes, and by the second lap was totally blank.  Sam dropped out, but by mid race, Mark and Chuck were a 1/3 of the straight ahead.  I was passed by John Voissum in a fast F500.  We raced for many laps before I decided I needed to get by.  It took me several laps to make up a small gap and to make a pass stick with maybe two laps left in the race.  Going into turn 10, I see Mark off in the grass.  That meant I had inherited 3rd in CF.  Unexpected and Undeserved.  (Mark had made an ambitious and perhaps ill-advised dive under Chuck.)  On the last lap at speed, my car started to pop and stumble considerably.  I had just enough of a lead to beat John to the checker.  I seriously doubted I could finish the cool off lap, but I just made it needing to get a push to impound.   Best lap of 1:23.1 was around a second per lap slower than Mark/Chuck.  With the battery not holding sufficient charge for my electronics/fuel injection, power was majorly waning. 

So far in two years I have not gotten my Honda to run at full power.  This has gotta stop!