Sean does the FRY

Savannah Double National, Jul 01

Sean would pilot my Cheetah for the annual summer FRY at Savannah. He needed some races to qualify for the Runoffs while he waited for Lee Stohr to build his new DSR. Plan was to drive carefully, finish and bag some points. To that end, the weekend was successful with two finishes and 3rd and 4th place points. But is was not easy.

We departed Hampton about 1PM (Sean had to work half a day) for the 8+ hour drive. We arrived late and went to the motel (the new Red Roof Inn). We arrived at the track early Saturday morning to do the registration, tech, gas buying and tire mounting. Sean would be using two old (Runoffs 2000 vintage) front tires. He bought new R45 rears. The first qualifier went off at 0930 under sunny and 85 degrees. He did two laps of warm-up before parking the car between turns 4 and 5. The cable clamp (stainless steel!) that held one of the coils broke and the coil wires came off. I took off from the pits on the ATV to find him. I passed him a new clamp and tools and he made quick repairs. He managed to get back on course, sans tail section for two laps at the end of the session. He got a 1:12.7 lap for third of 6 DSR's fastest time. Very good, it not exceptional.

July in Savannah brings afternoon thunderstorms. It is the norm. The afternoon session was wet and Sean decided not to risk the car.

Sean ran 7 laps of the Sunday morning qualifier turning laps around 1:13.0 with a 1:12.7 best despite running in a pack of slower FF's. He came in early to save the car. We were chosen for the random fuel test. What a process! We drained a half-pint of gas for the SCCA guy from Denver. The process takes many steps with cleaning the device, putting samples in two test tubes, adding reagents and observing color changes. We actually didn't quite pass the test, but the tester said the track gas had too much water in it and caused one reading to be too high. He passed us, but I can't image what a local, overzealous tech inspector might do. I declare Fuel Testing to be flawed. We found a water hose (engine front) that had a leak and lacking a Kawasaki part, we made do with a piece of 1-inch diameter hose. To get to the hose, we had to remove the headers and found that the #4 header had BIG cracks. Sean when with Byron Stauffer over to his shop across from the track to get it welded.

Sunday race. Thunderstorms were looming with lightening to be seen just beyond turn one. Sean got balked by a couple of S2000's on the start and fell to 4th in DSR just behind Chip Haddock. In a few laps he began to run progressively slower. Tom Robertson, the 2nd qualifier was also beginning to slow. They exchanged positions a couple of times as the battle of the "sick" cars unfolded. Rain began at lap 15 of the scheduled 23-lap race. SCCA ended the race 6 laps early. Sean managed to hang on, turning 1:20 laps for third place. We all got drenched while waiting to go thru the impound scales. Turns out a couple of the coil wire connectors were too loose/broken and the car would not run at high RPMs. Situation like caused by the coil falling off the day before. Anyway, he finished, beat 3 guys and got points. Mike Schmidt lent us his industrial strength wire crimper and we put new connectors on the wires.

Monday qualifying. Sean ran 8 laps and turned a very good 1:12.1 on the second lap. This put him second in DSR one second behind Vic Moore. Tom Robertson had reasoned that he had a bad shock and would not race on Monday. We would spend the rest of the morning watching the clouds roll in and getting out the rain tires.

Monday race. 95 degrees and HOT. With the sole CSR not making the race, Sean and Vic were on the front row. We had noted that Vic's race laps were around 1:12 flat, so Sean figured he had a chance to take him. The first lap was a bit bizarre and Brandon Dix in his FF got by both of them. Sean was on Vic's tail with Chip close behind. Chip had found some speed over his previous race and qualifying times. Sean got beside Vic a couple of times. Then Sean started to fade as he began to have shifting problems. By lap 6, Chip got by. At lap 8, Sean came rolling into the pits going very slowly. As I jumped over the pit wall to assist, he found a gear and took off. He ran the remainder of the race in top gear turning laps in the 1:20 range. He was desperately trying to retake Mike Schmidt for 3rd place. It was not to happen. He finished a lap down to Vic, but was happy with the "finish" and the points.

Our mechanical gremlin this time was a clutch line that was rubbing the adjacent master cylinder and had developed a leak. Damned racecars. At least it didn't rain.