Oak Tree National, VIR

August 13, 2006

  Account of my racing activity will be brief, very brief.

  Beautiful weekend, wonderful track.  Big field of sportsracers with 15 in DSR and 7 in CSR.  Gonna be fun.  Kathy, who had just returned home the night before from a 3 week work/leisure odyssey, and I left mid morning for the 3.5 hour drive.  We had light rain up to about 30 miles from VIR.  We squeezed into a spot in the crowded paddock next to Clark Lincoln and Dave Gomberg and unloaded while they continued with the practice day.  Little wetness at VIR, but rain was in the forecast for Saturday. Since I am not running for National points and a Runoffs invitation, I chose to run as a CSR (as I had done at the Savannah double).  I had to bolt in some lead to make the 1000# weight. 

  After a bit of searching, I found Hasty’s spot, but he was nowhere to be found.  Seems he had lost his chain/countershaft sprocket in the first session and was out seeking parts.  Brian Little showed up to crew and hang out.  We did the registration thing and went to the Oak Tree Tavern (at the track) for a civilized dinner.  So far, things were going well.

  Saturday morning brought misting rain.  Not enough wetness for rain tires, and in fact the racing line was dry.  Some chose not to venture out.  I did.  As group 2, it was early in the day.  I did 1.5 laps and the car stopped running in the uphill esses.  Just quit.  After about a 2-mile flat tow back to the paddock, I discovered no fuel pumping sounds.  The spade terminal on the wire had come off.  Damned racecars!

  Since the Carolina Region was running an enduro for IT cars as part of the program Saturday, the schedule moved quickly.  My qualifying session got off before lunch.  Sean and daughter Sammy showed up to crew.  With new tires, the plan was to run a couple of moderate laps before trying to go fast.  Never got there.  On the third lap, the chain broke entering the “roller coaster” and I was able to coast maybe ½ mile to the pits. After a long push back to my paddock space, we started to assess the damage.  The chain had wrapped itself around the countershaft sprocket and pretty much destroyed the cover (and the clutch slave cylinder).  Cover mounting points were broken off the motor, the clutch rod had a 30 degree bend in it and the rod seal was trashed. My racing activities were over.  I have long since stopped carrying a spare engine in my trailer.  I am too old and cranky to change engines at the track anymore.

While removing the chain, Kathy took a nasty spill while exiting the trailer when the step broke.  She got to go to medical. She got a large raspberry on her back and many large bruises.  She is a trooper tho, and elected to stay for the Sunday race.  With most of Saturday still ahead of us, we visited around and Kathy took lots of photographs.  We spent a long time with the Italian contingent that was there with the Gloria car.  Gomberg was having clutch problems and Hasty returned with promises of parts to be FedEx to his motel.  Clark was having brake problems that were making him very reluctant to go fast.  The Shelton clan was kicking butt and turning laps more than 6 seconds under the lap record.  The Gloria car, with its F3 driver, was fast at 1:53 but 2 seconds down to the new Stohr WF1’s.  Our group, sadly without me, would be the first race Sunday.  It was going to the entertaining with 15 DSRs, 6 CSRs, a bunch of FA’s,  5 FM’s, a couple of S2000’s and one lonely, old FC.

Race was as expected.  Lots of FA’s DNF, the senior Sheltons in their new WF1s were the class of the DSR field and only 3 CSRs finished.  Hasty had a good run for 7 or so laps in his CSR, passing many for his DFLast position, until the tranny quit. Bill Gurley had an adventure near the end of the race.  The lower bolt in the front upright broke, machined itself thru the rim and caused a flat.  He took a long ride in the grass outside of the “roller coaster.”  Turning 1:57 laps in his Cheetah, he was the class of the older generation DSR field.

  For the first time in a long time I brought the racecar home without any need for fiberglass repairs (not even the fragile splitter!), and at least the drive home was relatively short. The car has been sitting in the trailer for a couple of days until I get over being mad at it.