SCCA Double National
Roebling Road Raceway
July 3-5th, 2009
With all that has gone on this past year I got a really slow start to the 09 racing season. Earlier this year I made it out to Summit Point and qualified 2nd just behind my teammate Marty. Starting in 2nd and after an initial battle with Seg in his F-body, holding that position for most of the race until a left front brake failure caused me to slow and slot in to 3rd place at the finish.
I prepared the car knowing that Roebling Road was the last two races in the Souteast Division and I needed to finish both to keep my 09 Runoffs bid alive. I arrived at the track a day early so that I could participate in the test session and sort out the new suspension and tires that the SCCA had allowed in the offseason. Testing went well and minor suspension and tire pressure tuning made the car handle better than it ever has on this Evo unfriendly course.
I spent the evening going through the car and swaping out the front brakes. I failed to mention that it was HOT at the track…something like 400 degrees F. Well it felt like it at least! (98degees and 92% Humidity)
The next morning the schedule was for a practice session, so I had mounted up a set of intermediate tires so that I could bed the new brakes in. I went out for a few laps and put some heat in to my Carbotech XP 12 pads. Once I had completed the bed process I brought the car back to the pits and put it in the air to prep it for the afternoon qualification session.
I fit the car with a set of 275 sticker Hoosier A compound tires and was ready to take a run at a good qualification.
So as the video above showed I got one decent lap in (my first flying lap was quickly aborted as a car in another class decided to jump inside on the first turn). The second lap turned out to be the fastest at a 1:22.722.
You can see in the third lap I was trying to get more out of the car/track than was there…I think this is what they are talking about when they refer to ‘overdriving the car’. I knew I had left a lot on the table, but the heat had built in to the tires so it was best to save my equipment and bring it back in for the day.
I used the hot tire pressures and GPS data acquisition information to make some changes to the car in preperation for Saturday’s race.
Saturday came and the weather was just as hot and humid as we had both previous days. I had qualified on the T2 pole, but well back in the Group we were running in. I had spoken with several of the T3 drivers that I had qualifed around and we all agreed to try and give each other room to race within our respective classes.
Late in the afternoon our race was finally here and we lined up on the grid. I chatted with Bill S. who was running the 350Z that had qualified just behind me in T2. Roebling Road is known to be a handling track and the 350Z is clearly a handling car. Bill’s car has an excellent pedigree and therefore was well setup for the challenge. The race started as expected and I tried to give the T3 cars room to race each other. In the process of doing that I ended up with Bill in his Z car right on my butt. After a few laps I decided that it was time to move around the T3 cars and found a few good spots to make my way by with Bill hooked to my bumper. This train continued for a while until a GT car made his way around and decided to push his way between us going in to turn 1 and Bill took the oppurtunity to sneak inside me and to the T2 lead. We raced closely for many laps and here are the last few laps to tell the outcome of this first race:
You might have noticed this is a different view. Since my in-car camera died this is a bumper camera mounted sideways to get another perspective. It was taken in HD with an aspect ratio that I was unable to flip so you’ll need to turn your head or screen sideways 😉 I recommend viewing in full screen HD wth the audio up as it really gives you a better feeling of the speed and track condition.
So I tried my best to run Bill down at the end, but he was able to hold me off with a .0134 margin of victory (that is a close race!)
Bill did a good job keeping his line and running as fast as his tires would allow and as you can see with the changing camera angle, I was getting everything out of mine as well 🙂
So with a 2nd place finish I was determined not to have a similar finish from the race on Sunday!
I put the car back in the air and pulled all the data so that I could determine a proper setup for the Sunday qualification session.
I spent the night reviewing all the data/video and put a different setup under the car as well as planned an all out attack on the course.
Really my plan was to drink some NOS so that I would be faster… and I think it worked! 🙂
Qualifying for the Sunday race came and I lined up earlier than normal to be in the center of a faster pack of cars. I had planned to run faster, so I didn’t want anyone slowing me down! I raced out with the faster guys and after a slow warm up lap started to wind the car up, a few of the really fast guys that lined up late decided to ruin my first flying lap so on my 2nd I went for it and put down a personal best lap of 1:20.616 which was only ~.2 off the track record. I wasn’t sure that would be enough so I ran a few more laps, but between the heat build up on the tires and the traffic, I didn’t even come close again.
My fast lap was enough to put my car back on the T2 pole. The race was setup to be another battle. Our race group was the last to run on this Sunday, so the track was slick and covered with trash not to mention it was still crazy HOT!
I had determined that I was going to be less courteous to my fellow competitors as that is what contributed to my defeat the previous day. I wouldn’t block other classes from passing, but I would hold my line and let them work their way by offline. This is the traditional method anyway, but slower class drivers, if not in a heated battle will sometimes make way for the faster cars coming through. Since I knew I was going to be in a heated battle from flag to flag, I didn’t even think about it. The race started and immediately Bill was on my bumper and even trying to sneak alongside and by at the start. We raced bumper to bumper for the entire race, but without a good on line place to pass Bill was unable to get by me this time and I took the checkered flag with a margin of victory of 1.549 seconds. The margin was mostly a result of another GT car runing Bill off in to the grass as he passed, it is tough out there with so many disparate classes running together.
I was unable to get any video of this race as both cameras had run in to technical issues, but Bill was nice enough to post up some to youtube as he had a very good (close) view of my rear bumper for most of the race!
All in all not a bad weekend… the worst news all weekend was that the SCCA decided that our Evos are too great of a threat to win the Runoffs and took away our ability to run the larger 275 tires, so back to the 245 Hoosiers we ran last year. It still makes me wonder what they are thinking when we run a couple of close races and change things. Without the 275 width tires this would have been an all 350z race and I would have been lucky to keep up with the T3 cars…. ohhhh politics have moved from Washington, D.C. to SCCA HQ in Topeka, KS. It’s sad to see SCCA trying to dictate the winning marque of the National Championship for a third year in a row… I hope that we can throw a wrench in to their plans 😉
Oh and my Crew Chief checking out a new set of Hoosiers or my version of a garage spec playpen 🙂