June 2009

The Gold Cup is a big deal with big fields of competitors and large crowds of spectators and car club guys.  SVRA was the sanctioning body this year.  After my annoying experience at the Summit Point vintage race last month, I entered the Gold Cup somewhat reluctantly.  VIR is close, a great track and Ive got a nice car, so enter I did.

  The car required some fixing before I could go.  Two rear stub axles, carriers, universal joints, etc. arrived Tuesday from Ireland via Continental Motorsports in Ohio.  Customs had held them up for a few days.  I paid the UPS next day fee for a box of heavy parts so I could get them installed in time.  Amazingly, all the parts I needed and ordered were in the box.  Must have been a quiet pub day in ole Ireland. 

  Immediately, I determined that I would NOT be able to press the new stub axles into the uprights.  Frank Malone stopped by to take a look and took the parts home to make the press fits.  He said it was not easy.  Frank returned Thursday morning to assist in the assembly.  Four hours later, and hundreds of getting up and down to work on the car, the car was ready to be put into the trailer.  (I must get one of those car lifts someday.)  We loaded the trailer and Frank left saying he would see me at the track the next morning. 

  Weather forecast was for heavy rain/storms on Thursday and rain most of Friday (a qualifying day).  I decided to leave after coffee on Friday, blowing off making the morning qualifier.  There was some hope of clearing by the afternoon qualifier, according to the weather channel.  I got to the track about noonish, but it rained hard for the next few hours.  Frank and I kept the car company in the trailer.  Virtually no racers ventured on to the track all day.  About 3PM the rain slacked off enough for us to unload the car and to take it to tech.  Still wet, but tolerable for gear heads.  Mark Walthew was there (saved me a paddock space) with his friend Bob Graham who was having his maiden voyage in his Lotus 51 FF.  Mark, Bob and I went to the Black and White dinner held in the Gallery, along with maybe 500 other racers/crew.  Food and spirits were excellent.  Dinner was included with the entry fee.

  Saturday was cloudy, but dry.  In a session before ours, some poor soul in a vintage F1 car lost an engine and dropped a huge amount of oil.  It took an hour to get it cleaned up.  As a result our qualifying session got shortened to maybe 5 laps.  The ole Crossle handled well and our repairs/new parts worked nicely.  I had the third fastest time of the nine FFs.  Things were looking up. 

  One guy did come over and introduce himself as a Club Ford driver (Bob Bruce).  Im apprehensive, wondering if this is more Summit Shit.  He explains that he didnt go out for the morning qualifier and would be starting from the rear of the pack, and stated he was very fast and would be passing me very soon in the race.  A heads up?  Maybe, or just draw your own conclusion.  I did notice that he didnt have a warning conversation with the FF in the paddock beside me.

  Afternoon race.  Sean arrived to help out. Six fast FB cars would head the field. Actually one of them was a F2 driven by Ted Wentz.  I got a good start and was first in FF after turn one.  Not so by turn 2 as two FFs would out drag me.  In time, the CFs and another FF would pass me.  I could keep up the fast FFs except on the straights where they would gap me 10 or more car lengths.  I was beginning to think they had cheater motors (word is that cheating in FF is fairly common) or my motor was lame.  Race was shortened to six laps.  I continued having trouble consistently getting first gear in turn one. I think my clutch action needs work.  I finished 4th with 5 FFs behind me.  Not too bad. Sean pointed out that only 3 of the FB bunch finished the race, and maybe I should reconsider buying one (Ok, it is only lust so far) since they are fragile.  Best lap time was 2:18 which is 20 seconds slower than my last outing in the Cheetah DSR.  Still, it was fun. Frank went home to pick up his wife at the airport.  Huge thanks, Frank for all the help.

  [Footnote: while getting into the car for the race my foot somehow caught the fire bottle handle and activated it.  Oops (or more accurately, Ah Shit!).  System was Halon, so there was no foam or white power residue.  Sean told me not to catch fire, which is always good advice.]

  We went to the Monoposto (formula car guys) party.  Didnt see ole Joe Blacker there.  Pizza, spirits, munchies.  Nice spread.  Monoposto guys have a gathering at every race.  We didnt stay long and Sean and I headed to Danville for dinner. 

  Sunday morning brought FOG, which delayed activities for an hour.  A nice bright sun would eventually take over.  I even have a little sunburn.  Race got off about 10:30.

Again I got a good start.  My secret?  I really could NOT see the flag guy, and wasnt using radios, but I just watched the fast FBs one row up and when they went, I nailed it.  Worked for both races.  Race 2 was pretty much like race one, and I finished 4th again.  The three FFs in front of me could easily pull many car lengths on the straights. I need more Horsepower!  I did knock another 1.5 seconds off my best lap time. Again only 3 FBs finished the race.  Hmmmmmmm.

  Overall, this was a much nicer vintage racing experience than last time.  I could get used to it.  AND, I got home in time to watch the F1 race in Turkey (3pm).