Summit Season Finale

October 29, 2016

The Right Coast Formula Ford Series (RCFFS - Duffus Cup) would end the season at Summit Point in partnership with the FRCCA guys from New York.  With Mike Rand lending his enthusiasm and presence to the series, the number of entrants continues to grow.  The field would number 28 cars about evenly split between the two groups.  The fall weather was uncommonly GREAT with warm days and NO rain.  With EMRA providing few other racers, the paddock was not crowded.

As is my practice, I arrived Friday afternoon for setup.  Buying gas was my only major task.  Joe Marcinski stopped by and gave me a tech sticker.  Shane Frebert, Derek Holmes and Al Cantell were adjacent.  Ray Phillips (he ran the F1600 pro series with us a couple of years ago) stopped by.  He was doing driver coaching and data analysis for Shane.

It was a chilly 42 degrees for the 0830 Saturday joint, 15 minute practice session.  I tried to run the heater in my trailer, but the circuit breaker kept tripping.  The Shane crew was making breakfast on a multiple of electric griddles,  coffee pots, etc.  But it got acceptably warm quickly.  We had to sit on the grid for 15 to 20 minutes while waiting for the ambulance crews to arrive. With many of the FRCCA guys new to Summit and with their spec tires being 3 to 4 seconds slower than our “anything goes” tire rule, there were several mobile chicanes to carefully navigate.  OMG I had a half spin in T5 on the out lap in the morning mist.  I did manage a 1:23 best lap after carefully getting up to speed.

Next up was an 1100 15 minute qualifying session for RCFFS cars.  My 1:23.3 got me a 7th spot of cars with the fastest car at 1:21.8.  After the session, I had a chance to look at my data and video.  I needed to work on Turn 3 as I have done it better last year.  A guy from northern Virginia stopped by for a chat.  He has a Swift DB3 that he had just driven at the Runoffs.  He was a fan of the “building Dan’s DB3” blog. 

The RCFFS 30 minute race would start about 1230.  It was a bit strange to head out and form up without a pace car, but all went well.  I would start and finish in 7th.  Shane provided some interest for a few laps.  He got by me once going into turn one but I dove under him in T3 and got some separation.  He would slide off in T5 a bit later and disappear from my mirrors.  Chuck Van Nostrand, my usual “racing shadow” was running 1:22 to 1:23’s and I never saw him.  Phil Kingham, the Michigan fast guy, took the win and was the fastest driver by more than one second.   My car did lose some grip after mid race (race length was 19 laps on a day that got to 80 degrees) so I suspect my tire pressures could have been set lower.  I was going better than prior sessions.  I had 12 laps under 1:22 and my best was 1:20.7.  AIM data says my best split lap was a 1:19.1.  I did find that three jetnuts holding on my rear CV joint had exited and most of the others were no longer tight.  ALL these fasteners were replaced in May when I installed new brake rotors.  Gotta buy more since they should not be reused/retightened.

I had a chat with Mike Rand about the RCFFS joint race with VRG (Vintage Race Group) at the Glen in September.  I won’t go into the issues, but he did say he would never race with them again.

A revised schedule for Sunday was negotiated and a joint RCFFS and FRCCA 30 minute race was added for 1600.  I did not notice that our 0900 15 minute session had been changed from qualifying to just practice.  I ran it like qualifying and was on Mike Hummel’s tail for several laps.  Track was somewhat chilly and damp, but I managed a 1:21.  I was pleased, but it was not of any value.  Our qualifying position for the 1100 30 minute race was determined by Joe based upon our best times in all previous sessions/races.   I would start 11th which would turn out to be very unfortunate for me.  As the pack nailed the throttle at the green flag, I was in the inside line and moving well.  Suddenly, very suddenly Shane in the car in front of me was HARD on his brakes, as well as the car (Derek Holmes) just in front of him.  It was a matter of a millimeter to avoid massive contact.  (Derek had a distributor break)  The pack of five cars gridded behind me went streaming by as I was now mostly stopped.  By the time I got going and got to the start line (and could see down the hill), the entire pack of cars had disappeared around turn one.   (My new AIM SmartyCam has worked flawlessly for a season now and all weekend except for this session . . . . I am trying to get the video “repaired”)

My work is now cut out for me to catch up.  In a couple of laps, I am back up to Cantell and Angela Slocum.  On lap 3 we get a Black Flag in turn 6 (FRCCA shows all flags at the bottom of the course to speed the return of cars to the pits) I see it, but Cantell doesn’t.  FRCCA removed two disabled cars (Derek and Shane), and we head out single file.  I’m still dead last, but now on the back of the pack.  I quick drive past Cantell, Angela (who had a big motor, but slow in T1), and Joe Marcinski (who is still having teething problems with his beautiful Royale).  Next would be Chuck.  I would out brake him in T1 but he would return the move the next lap.  I would make the pass stick the following lap and drive away from him.  The race would run only 14 laps due to the black flag stoppage.  I would spent the last two laps trying to get past Ed Callo’s FF.  The checker came out before I expected it.  Drat.  I finished 8th with lots of 1:21 laps, but FRCCA timing did NOT handle the Black Flag stoppage correctly and things got jumbled a bit.  They had me a lap down, which was not true.  No harm tho, as the prize money was the same.  It did eat at me that they scored Chuck ahead of me.  The racing was close with the 4 cars from 4th all within 2 seconds of each other. The top three were within 0.8 seconds.

I decided to skip the combined 1600 race and head home.  Most of the RCFFS guys skipped it.  Ed Callo would take the win with a 1:22.4 time and Chuck would finish 3rd in the 20 car field.

Well racing season is now over and time to think about car maintenance, fiberglass repairs and maybe fixing and selling Sean’s Citation.  I enjoyed the season and may even do more of the RCFFS events next year.