Kick Ass at Summit
Summit Point is definitely my home court. I have done a lot of laps at Summit since I re-fired my racing habit in 1987. It has always been a very technical track with miniscule traction. It has gotten bumpy and pothole ridden over the DECADES since it was last paved. The gravel traps added to turns 3 and 10 this year have made the monster more likely to eat your racer.
Travis Duder would be continuing his East Coast odyssey with a stop at Summit. It would be my chance to stay close to him.
Kathy and I drove up Friday morning. Paddock space at Summit Point is always at a premium, so we wanted to get at least a decent spot. Many DC area racers bring their car/trailers to the track on Wednesday in order to stake out a space. My trailer lights were not working, so we left after sunrise. I was lucky to find a space across from Travis. KB went off to do the usual shopping. I just hung out and helped Travis change his motor (Just what he needs, fresh POWER!) I tried to buy a tire to replace the one damaged at Road Atlanta, but there is a shortage at Hoosier and my DSR competitors (Travis and Steve Carroll) had reserved the few available. At least none of them did the practice day. My home court advantage was beginning to evaporate.
Sean came up Friday night with his hastily pasted together backup motor.
Weather was the usual Summit Point user-unfriendly: Cool, cloudy and very windy.Hoosier guy said go ahead and use the damaged tire since the cord wasn’t showing. I had to make do. Our group (7) got out just before lunch. The first 2 laps were unbelievably slippery, just like a stone cold and green track. On lap 3, I noted Sean parked in T3. His Van Diemen racing gremlin was still with him and without any apparent reason, his throttle cable came adrift. With 35 cars in the combined S2, FF, CSR and DSR group, there was always someone in your way, or spinning, or causing a yellow flag. My hot lap computer was not working (too many senders on the pit wall), so I had no idea of how I was doing. I did notice that my brakes were fading badly, requiring a couple of pumps in T10 and T3. Turns out that all the DSR guys ran in the 1:19.2 range. Travis was just 0.1 second in front of me. My usual time at Summit Point is 1:18, so I knew I could improve.
We got out for our second session at about 6 PM. With the DC Region overcommitting track time with an extra PRO Vee group plus the 2 new car eating traps (and SCCA was not prepared to remove cars quickly), the day droned long. I spend the second session racing with a S2 – the purple one. It was entertaining. Twice, I drove under him in T1 only to find much less grip on the inside line. I slid wide a bit and the PURPLE barge re-passed at corner exit. Each time, it took 2 laps to close on him again. My engine was running quire nicely and I was running up against the rev limiter just before the braking point in T1. (Discarded the notion that a gear change would be necessary). Brakes, thoroughly bled again with cooling fins added to the nose, were fine. On the 3rd try, I passed the PURPLE sled for good. By then, there was a disabled car on course with a tow truck ineptly trying to move him. Hot laps were no longer possible.
Result was that Travis took DSR pole at 1:17.8, Steve Carroll took second at 1:19.03, me third (morning session time) at 1:19.12 and Dick Knoblauch at 1:19.28. There were 8 cars between Travis and me on the grid, so I didn’t think I would see him after the green flag.
Sean’s woes continued as he qualified 14th of 18 in FF. He remained HP deprived. We packed up quickly after the session and headed off to visit the kitchen of Madam Wong. We took along Travis and his pit crew/neighbor/dentist. Many Tsing Taos were consumed and a good time was had by all.
Despite our late day race, we arrived at the track in time to watch the group 3, FA/FC race. It promised to be most entertaining with many, many fast cars. There were at least 10 FA cars plus the usual 20+ wackos in FC’s. Neat. At one point, the race got stopped for about 30 minutes while they emptied the gravel trap in T10. The old Fox, Rich Mullins, led for a long while, but he disappeared for a ½ dozen laps at mid race. Given how long it took to run the race, we were beginning to think we would need headlights for our group 7 race.
Starting, as I did, 14th overall, all you can see is a flying wedge of wheels and gearboxes in front of you. I got a good jump, but there was no path to get around anyone. I went inside at T1 and got balked as a car a couple of places ahead lost momentum. Ran in a juking and jiving bunch for two laps with every corner an opportunity for trouble. I got around Carroll as he went a bit wide in T1. The PURPLE S2 gets very sideways in T3 with his nose perpendicular to the apex. I go outside as he drifts backwards towards my path. I go wider, he continues to backup, I go wider with 2 wheels in the gravel trap: I’m silently yelling BRAKES DUMMY! He backs into my left side pod as I pass. I am practically stopped by now, and several cars race past as I get back on the gas. I stay very busy for the next few laps re-passing cars. Car is running very nicely as I knife through the pack. Finally, I get a small breather as I pass the pits and notice my lap time display. It was showing a 1:17 lap. WOW!
I had noticed that I was running up on the Rev limiter way before the braking zone in T1. I was going much faster (…and a higher gear would have been better). I still wasn’t able to get the car to stick in T7 (loose) so my long drive uphill to T10 was less than optimum. I am beginning to lap some cars and they keep my heart pumping. One loses it in the "braking zone" in T10. Another severely chops me in T8. The corner workers were waving the passing flag at him IN ANGER. I waved my "You are a BOZO" finger at him. I closed to the rear of a group of S2’s and the leading FF’s. I note Knoblauch as he was reentering from the pits (flat tire) and know I have a safe lead over the 3rd place DSR. Good Thing.
Oil pressure is starting to fluctuate in T6. It is OK elsewhere and the car is running strong. I slow a lot in T6 and keep an eye on my mirrors. I really don’t want anyone to sneak up on me. Kathy is counting down the laps on the radio. Three laps from the end, I close on a group of 3 FF’s (including Sean) who are locked in a fierce battle. With them slowing each other in the corners and my better HP, I got by them quickly. Oil pressure situation was getting worse and by the last lap, I had slowed significantly. (Oil tank had suffered a stress fatigue/impact failure at the top weld and was allowing that precious fluid to escape slowly).
Race result for me was outstanding …2nd in DSR, 8th overall, 3rd fastest in the group, and a new personal best for me at Summit Point by over a second per lap. It was also heartening that I ran within 0.4 seconds of Travis with my stock backup motor. I was pumped!
Sean, despite a continuing lack of HP, had a race long battle and much fun. His car handled nicely. For a change, he was upbeat also. Two laps from the finish, one of the cars he was dicing with punted him in T5 and he lost a couple of places and took 14th in FF.
With the trailer lights not working, we grabbed the trophy and raced daylight home. We lost that battle at Richmond and suffered the clicking of the emergency flashers for the last hour.
Now I have to get that very ugly PURPLE stripe off my yellow paint.
Bill Maisey April 99