From the Cheap Seats

Savannah, March 2008



Sean and my first racing outing of the season, was to be full of drama.Kathy and I drove down Friday, as did Sean and Mark.We had time to do the annual car inspection and setup the paddock before heading off for dinner.


Savannah was repaved last year, and by all accounts the nasty bumps and wash-board is long gone. Racers were actually buying ďsoftĒ tires.My group went out for practice mid morning.Wow, is the track smooth.I have been fighting the Flu since I got home from the races, so my recollections are somewhat hazy due to the medications. I really donít have much memory of the practice session.I was running last seasonís R35 tires.Best time was 1:11 which is not too bad for a 12 year old and technically obsolete car.There were 6 black bullets, as I call the carbon fiber Stohr cars.Three guyís times were an astounding 1:02, which is quicker than the FA record. If I could part with $90k or so, I could have one of those bullets.


The temperature for the afternoon qualifying session was getting warmish at 80 degrees.I could definitely feel the tires giving up some.After about 3 laps, it became hard, them impossible to upshift.I drove a couple more laps struggling with the shifting and then came in.The clutch slave strand off plate had become adrift again (no clutch: same problem that had sidelined me at VIR in October,My fixit abilities can be called into question).I was surprised to find out that I had improved my time slightly to 1:10.The standoff plate is attached to the engine with three long bolts.One had sheared off in the engine.I had to fashion another attachment point. I wasnít too confident that my band aide would hold up in the race.


Sean was having a fun day Saturday also.His first session, the shift linkage was binding, so he had to run the session locked in 6 th gear.Easily fixed, though. Surprisingly, he turned a 1:08 lap.He ran slowly in the qualifying session.He said he was suffering fuel starvation. He, Mark and me would spend the next several hours working on the fuel system.We tested the fuel flow.Car was suffering a WEAK STREAM.We compared Seanís car to mine.Very weak stream.The fuel cell was opened and the pump inspected and tested.Sean eventually figured out the RTV flakes in the cell were clogging the pump.He would spend some time tapping the pump on the trailerís spare time to dislodge the offend bits.(Lesson learned, never use RTV near the fuel cell.) The fuel cell was cleaned and vacuumed.†† Long day.


Sean, being in race group one, was on the track early Sunday.Since his qualifying was WEAK, he would start near the end of the 36 car field. For six laps, he passed lots of guys.Then disaster.(see video)Cars spun in front of him in turn one.Doing about 140 mph, one doesnít have too many options to avoid a problem.Seanís car will need new left side suspension, wheel, wing, etc.Bummer.It was only its second race.


As race group 6, I had lots of time to waste before race time.Kathy and I visited with Tom Drewer, who was over from Australia to race with the West team.Tom drove a West car to the Australian championship last season.Since we are planning a trip to Australia in October, we had questions for him.Nice young man.My race got off about 2 ish.I would grid 12th of the 13 car sportsracer field.Got a good start on the inside line.Rodger Cook aggressively cut me off entering turn one.Damn.(See video).It took me about 3 or 4 laps to reign in Rodger.I drafted him coming out of turn 9 and pulled clear of him going into turn one.After that,I mostly ran alone, passing a couple of cars.About 3 laps from the race end, I waived by the overtaking WF-1 of Jean Luc.He deliberately hit me exiting turn 6a (he bragged so in a Forum post.)I would finish 8th overall and 6th in DSR.Not bad.


Kathy went to impound to take some photos and reported back that Jean Luc was loudly complaining that I was holding him up. Had to be somebodyís fault other than him for not winning the race, I guess.Anyway, how can a car that is 8 seconds a lap slower hold someone up?I have video.I ran the racing line each and every lap.



Seanís crash video: