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Hi, been a while

I know it has been two years since a new post here.  Something clicked differently and I lost most of my spare time to write.  In 2010, I was traveling for work nearly 100%, and mostly in places that didn’t have much to do after hours (cue: West Virginia banjo music), so I had time to write the blog (and some other stuff).  Now, I’m still traveling nearly 100% but with some other folks rather than alone; so after working until 7-7:30pm, finding a place for dinner that has something non-fried on the menu (cue music again, with rabbit noise), and dealing with other hobbies (like my instrument rating for flying) – the blog took a backseat.  There are no backseats in racecars.
All these have greatly reduced the blog-o-writing here. My sincere apologies to the loyal fan club.
Both of you.

So, to recap the last few years:

2011

Ok, well, let us talk first the Looong Race, circa 2010

Coming into Spring of 2011, I last ran the Hawke in the MCSCC Looong Race in October of 2010 (click here to see all the pictures, which most of us didn’t know existed! thanks to whomever took them!).

It was a great weekend. Just look at the weather…

Finally got to use those pricey rain tires!
Luckily, this was just practice and qualifying.  The actual race was in much better weather – like 46f and partial sun.  Between the weather and the dudes with bad teeth, we might as well been at Brands Hatch in February.

Anyhow. Let’s get 2010 over with:
After driving a 100-mile race at the end of the season, you really don’t do much to the car except get out, find the nearest beer, and forget about the car until later.
Later came a month or two after when LMI cranked up the car in the shop (there might have been some question of “whats that noise” before this….) and there was a different sound to the idle. Long story short, the camshaft sprocket had decided to loose one of its baby teeth. The problem with these sprockets is, they don’t always grow them back.

At the Sebring 12 hour race, just before I got into my LMP2 car to qualify, Bruce Lindstrand presented me with a zip-lock baggie of metal parts. I should maybe say pieces of parts, or parts of pieces that were once a cohesive unit inside a racecar engine. Either way, I was so traumatized I couldn’t qualify my LMP2 ALMS car, and quit my professional driving career right there. Now you know, when someone asks “why didn’t he go pro” you can blame Bruce and his baggie of stuff. And to think, baggies of stuff mean so much to kids these days.

You might ask if that was a serious breakage. I don’t really know. But, when you gotta replace all this stuff, it probably was close to blowing up:

So, 2011 started with an engine that had been pulled out and gone over, relatively new rear suspension and brake changes, and otherwise no big problems. Yay.

May 1st – SCCA regional @ Blackhawk Farms Raceway

Video of first lap.  Car ran great, fun event, however not too much CFF competition (just a few FF’s).  Check out turn 6 where I braked too early and how that hurt dearly the rest of the lap.. I believe the maroon FF is John Luxon (in one of his two Pipers).

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July 9th – SCCA regional and national @ Gingerman Raceway

My first time at Gingerman.  This was on the changed circuit, so I cannot compare to the old layout… but, wow, it was fun.  Lots of technical parts where being a foot the wrong way really felt slower.  Click the image below to watch qualifying.

 

On Sunday, I ran the national.  I can’t recall if we even put R35 tires on the car or ran the harder R60’s.  Here is a brief video of the start and me getting schooled that you don’t bring a knife club ford to a gun fight national.

 

July 13th – SCCA regional @ Road America

This weekend was eventful.  I had planned to rent an Evolution Formula First (FST) to see if I liked the car.  There was rumor that my 6’3″ self would fit.  Combine rumor with my lack of time to get up to LMI to try the car on for size and I was left with not feeling comfortable in the car after 2 laps on the Friday test day.  Too broad of shoulders.
LMI was quite hospitable (after numerous sasquatch jokes); after a little beg/borrow/go-now: we were able to pick up friend-Orie’s Spec Miata from the LMI shop in Darien and return to Road America for the Saturday morning sessions so I could race the weekend. Thanks to Dave Wheeler @ Advanced Autosports for lending a trailer to run down and pick up the car!

Let’s clear this up now: I’ve never driven a Spec Miata. I’ve never driven a Miata. I’ve actually never driven a Mazda until this day.

Long story short, SM’s are a blast.  Short story laundromat, see video (they didn’t tell me to drive on the pavement only):
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Whoops!

It wasn’t 2 hours later since we returned Dave’s trailer, when we returned to the Advanced Autosports rig and had to beg for an urgently-needed set of spare wheels and tires after I flat spotted 3 out of the 4 here… Thanks, Dave!  I imagine Bruce knows some serious blackmail shit about Dave – or Dave is just a really really nice guy. Either way, I tend to get the benefit of both situations.

October – MCSCC Looong Race

After my great success with someone else’s Miata, somehow I was allowed to share Orie’s Spec Miata with Nick Temple from the LMI crew.  She drove first and I played clean up. Except I think I made more of a mess in the 2nd half of the race.

Racing SM is like gang on gang violence: it isn’t really talked about except those in the fight club, and second, miata on miata carnage is like one meth dealer taking out a coke dealer – no one in authority seems to care. Sorry, Orie, I really don’t know how that green paint got on your red car.

The real memorable part of this race was the driver change: Nick drove first. She is a tad shorter than I am, so there was a bead seat setup in the usual seat so that we didn’t have to change the seat position during the driver change. In my haste to get in the car and get driving, I neglected to wait for someone to pull that out.   I will note that I had a helmet on and couldn’t hear a damn thing, but I might have ignored someone tapping on my helmet with a stop motion at this point.
I hopped in the car like I normally do, all dukes-of-hazzard style (except the door was open, but theres a big bar in the way.. and no girls in short shorts… ok, you get the idea), and promptly whacked the big rear view mirror with my helmet, causing it to shatter.  No one really noticed the breakage, until I think Bruce says “hold on” and then realizes there isn’t much he can do.  When the door shuts, you can hear what is left of the mirror falling to the floor board (at 11 seconds into this video):

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2012

The Hawke stayed tucked away @ LMI for the winter, with no major work to be done.  Finally, a cheap winter of racing!

April 29th – SCCA school and regional @ Blackhawk Farms Raceway

This was the race after the 2 days of SCCA school, which I used to get my feet wet after a mild winter.  The first open track day was chilly rain, which was good to get a feel for the car without much go-fast pressure. Second day, Saturday, was nice but still cool out.  Good day to scrub in some new tires and pick up the pace. I was somewhere in the low 1:19’s and maybe one or two high 1:18’s for a lap.  Fastest I’ve been at this point was a 1:18.6xx last year.

The red car in front here is Ethan Mackey.  If you want to watch the whole video with mapping and speed, click the video below (contour GPS camera).  If you want to watch just the good engine, click here for the quick youtube version.  If you want just the “incident” with GPS data, click here.

This was on the last lap.  Ethan was in FF and I was in the CFF class.  So it wouldn’t even matter if I passed him; well, it would matter for after race bragging rights.  As you might be able to tell, on the entrance to turn 5 there is an access road coming from the right.  My goal is always to get really really close to that road and start my turn-in right as it begins.  Well, this time I was really motivated to make it perfect – too bad all the racing of the day had left a 4″ rut in the grass.  My right rear tire got caught and it just flung me around for the ride.  The impact into the tires was 37mph.  Bent some tabs on the upright, put a nick in the front nose, and got to finally use the HANS setup on the helmet.

I am still amazed how violently my head snapped forward (and was caught, as designed, by the HANS). You can see here how the black tethers hold the helmet and your head in one unit to your body.  Without them, you end up looking like a giraffe. And dead.scrp_0609_01_z+HANS_device+crash_test

 

Luckily, this was the last lap of the last race for the day.  So the race finished about 30 seconds later and I still kept my #1 spot in CFF class.  They plucked me out of the grass and mucky tire-wall water and all was well.

The best part of this race was I got my fastest laptime ever at Blackhawk, a 1:16.8.  Faster than any other event by a second.

October 20th, 2012 – MCSCC Looong Race

So what happened to the summer? The car took a little time to get fixed, I had alot of traveling to do that conflicted with racing weekends, and had two weddings to attend that also conflicted.  So, didn’t do any racing 🙁

For the looong race, I raced Orie’s Spec Miata on Saturday and my Hawke Club Ford on Sunday.  Both races were fun without incident.

Spec Miata race: Orie and I co-drove this race, with Orie starting out the race and running about 22 laps, them myself taking over.  The Miata will go the whole race on a single fuel fill, so while the pit stop is quick, it still takes a lap or two to get Orie out of the car and stuff me back in.
Out of 24 cars, we placed 17th with our driver change. No one ahead of us changed drivers or had to stop for fuel. Not bad. Really fun and enough other cars to have some competition.

CFF race: Most formula cars can’t race 100 miles without fuel.  The looong race 50 laps, but with the S2000 and Atlantics on the track the slower classes get 40-45 laps.  Many of the CFF drivers will either A) have a bigger fuel cell for this race or 2) short shift or otherwise drive a little slower in order to get better gas economy and not have to take the penalty of a 2-3 minute pit stop.  Fueling, by the rules, requires the driver to get out of the car for safety.

My Hawke should be able to do 24-26 laps on full fuel.  About lap 24, I felt a gurgle in the engine coming out of the last turn.  Every once in a while this was normal, but not this time.  I, stupidly, didn’t just pull into the pits (I was scheduled to go in NEXT lap!).  About 3/4 of the way around the track on this lap, I ran out of gas.  I coasted to about 200 feet from pit entrance. Drat.

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I was this close.
Note: I am stopped in this image.

Now we’re getting going!
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So, for the second time in one year, the wonderful wrecker workers come help me out. At least this time they were quickly able to throw on a tow strap and tug me into the pits for fuel.  In April, it involved a cherry picker to pluck me outta there.

Lesson learned: 24-26 laps of fuel should probably be rounded down a few.  Math, not just for dorks.

What I didn’t know, was that at the end of the race I caught back up to Bob “spongebob” Fleming and was only 16 seconds behind him. And he didn’t stop for fuel, drat again!.

Here are the results just for FF and CFF (out of 27 total cars):

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and… we’re done..

Thanks for reading this far!

So, in summary. Not too much racing… but that hopefully is about to change in 2013!

 

 

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2010 Fall Sprints

I know I slacked on the blog writing, again.  The last time out racing, Road America in July with SCCA, I still haven’t written up.  I will – but it wasn’t too exciting being the only club ford there.  Racing was good – but nothing really really exciting.  I guess that is a good thing in car racing – all too often things break, people do something stupid, or the weather sucks.  No news is good news, yeah?

Anyhow…

Friday Practice

I arrive at Blackhawk Farms early Friday morning.  Weather was a bit chilly, but fantastically clear and calm like October never is…. splendid.

This is the first time I’ve been at Blackhawk since the attempted April national.  And, the first time since the brakes in the car have been moved from inboard (on the Hewland) to the outside, within the wheels on the uprights.

See before:

Old location of rear brakes (inboard)

As you might recall, the inboard brakes had a few issues – first, they transferred all the braking force thru the CV joints, axles, yokes, stub axles, and finally the wheels.  This adds a lot of stress to components that don’t need to be stressed.  With the stress and the heat, the CV bolts were loosening up to the point of falling out during a race.

And after:

So – actually driving the car…

The first session was a relearning experience; as I haven’t driven the car in two months, and have not been at Blackhawk since April.  I didn’t push the car hard, and didn’t do anything stupid except whacking a high curb once or twice. Oops.

The next session, and the following 3-4 sessions – I was convinced that the rear tires were locking up under braking.  Everytime I got hard on the brakes, the rear of the car would dance around.  This was unnerving to me, as I felt the ass-end of the car was going to come around and I’d end up in the bushes/trees/tire-wall/grain-silo off track.

So, I adjusted the brake bias with the little knob in the car.  I kept adjusting. And more. And then it would not adjust anymore. Uck oh.

You really want the front tires to lock up before the rear tires – if the fronts lock up, you generally keep going straight.   If the rears lock up, you can easily end up in a spin.  Well, people with my skills can easily end up in a spin.

I was convinced that the recent changes to the brake setup had caused the braking force to be much greater to the rear.  Thus, the rear tires would lock up before the fronts…  makes sense in my head.   So adjusting the bias to the rear seemed like a good idea.
In between sessions, Lindstrands and company made numerous adjustments to attempt to resolve… including more brake bias, new brake pads, and scolding me for simply using the brakes. The static check of brake bias indicated that everything was setup properly beforehand, and that with the adjustments I should be locking up the fronts well before the rears.. Nonsense!

So, I just dealt with it… I think everyone thought I was crazy, and damned if I didn’t think they were crazy too (see next blog, re: Looong Race, to find out they are in fact, not crazy)!

Saturday Qualifying

Qualifying with off without a hitch – good weather, and no changes on the car.  I still felt an instability that I was sure was rear lockup under braking.. But I just adjusted to it.  Qualifying got me 4th overall in group 2.

An 18.8 was near my fastest time ever at Blackhawk…So, given the excusotron was enabled due to the rear-brake issue, I was justified in saying I could do better.

Saturday Sprint Race 1

The Fall Sprints scheduled is qualifying, then 3 sprint races, and a feature race.  After qualifying, each race decides your position for the next race.

The first race start was interesting.  It was slower than any start I’ve ever done.  I’m not sure why, but the pace car was going about 40mph when it pulled off (a tad too slow?), and the lead car kept that pace (per the rules…).

Tom Tipsword is the blue car in front of me.  He will prove to me my new archnemesis for the weekend (as John Haydon’s excusotron included not having tires made this decade, and not having been in a racecar since 2009).

Around 1:39 into this video, I get passed by a ton of cars.  Somehow I ended up shifting into 4th and not actually flooring the car.  Maybe my foot was angled on the pedal, or maybe I just didnt push it all the way down – but it shows you what 1 or 2 seconds of half-throttle will do to your whole race… I lost those few positions and never gained them back. Oh well…

Results from the race…

Saturday Sprint Race 2

So, the sprint race 2 was basically the same as the first one.  I lost two positions again… finishing 8th.  Tom Tipsword in the blue club ford was still just out of reach in front of me.

Sunday Sprint Race

Sunday morning started warm again, relative to October in South Beloit, with not a cloud in the sky and the 55 degree mark getting tickled by the the thermometer.

Elizabeth and I got a late start to the morning from the comfort of the Best Western – so we got through the gates into the infield about 3 minutes before they closed them for the group 1 race.  Looking back, driving 7hrs on the highway to drive an 8-laps on a racetrack is silly; it would have been real silly to miss the race due to sleeping in.  Oops.

I arrive and the Hawke was warmed up and ready.  I received only a small heckling about my timing, and Elizabeth received kudos for not appearing hungover.

After my performance yesterday, I qualified 8th. Someone didn’t show up so I was gridded 7th, which meant I was starting on the inside of the track finally.   Tom Tipsword was next to me on the left, as he finished just ahead of me yesterday in the last sprint race.  The other CFF, driven by my usual nemesis John Haydon, was directly behind me on brandy new tires (and wearing a brandy new suit, too.. but that is discussed in his blog, here).  There was a car that looked like an FF in front of me, but I think it was dripping rice and smelled of bad sushi – and it might have had a Honda engine in it.  Oh well – they’ll let anything race these days.

Even though the track had a cold evening with no blanket, the plentiful sunshine and the group 1 cars (Miatas?) on the track for the last 15 minutes had really warmed things up.

The pace lap confirmed the track was heating up – the car felt good in both the grip and power department.  I was still struggling with a high-RPM miss (above 6700rpm) that I just resolved with short-shifting at 65-6600.  I found that making formula-1 sounds in my head helped me shift earlier (It was so fun I kept doing that even when driving my usual car home to Ohio that afternoon.  You should try it).

If you want to watch a video and learn how to start a race – this is not for you.  This was a horrible start.  I look back and wonder what I was thinking.  Even with Brandon on the radio calling the green flag, I delayed almost a second before putting the pedal down.  Maybe I was too high in 1st gear or maybe I was day dreaming; oh well.  You can see how I get left in the dust.

The race was a blast – Tom and I were behind some faster Formula Fords (err, Formula F with a Honda engine…grrrr..) that were a little slow (1:23) in the first few laps , then everyone picked up the pace.   You can watch the video to see the fun.  Moving pictures do a much better job than my memory.  I was behind John Luxon for a while, then he passed a few cars and I ended up behind the blue Club Ford again….Tom Tipsword (again….in front…. the whole time….).

First part of race:
(sorry about the video and sun reflections – I forgot to clean the lense after yesterday’s race)

Second half of race:

So, as you can see – I didn’t pass Tom.  Soooooo close.  I tried. Really. He is a really good driver and really knows how to play defense.

Sunday 18-lap Points Race

More on this soon….

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Formula Ford 40th Anniv @ Road America

Pregame

So now that Lindstrand Motorsports has my car, I’ve mitigated my bad luck of just getting to the track a fair amount..

On Thursday, my prep for the 3-day weekend involved grabbing my gear from the closet, throwing some spare parts in the truck that I forgot to send with the car, and driving the 400 miles (well, with a brief stop in Milwaukee Airport to pick up a friend, Christian, who flew up from Florida) from Dayton to Elkhart Lake.   Much less stress than loading and driving the truck and trailer setup….

This is a welcome change of the usual prep – which involves taking a day off work, getting the trailer from storage yard, loading it up, loading the car, fixing whatever breaks on the truck, etc etc…

The drive up was uneventful, other than Chicago traffic at 2pm in construction, and my first experience with Leinenkugel’s light beer, for two reasons –

First – this beer sucks.  I stopped at a grocer just outside the Milwaukee Airport while waiting for Christian’s delayed flight to arrive, and stocked up on beer, some snacks, etc.  I’ve had Leinenkugel stuff before – mostly Sunset Wheat and some other fruity variation – so I figured their light beer might be good.  The two lessons I learned in college but didn’t stick include: do not buy beer if it comes in 20-count cases, and don’t buy beer in a can.  I broke both of these rules with this crap….
bad beer
….and Second – when drinking this imitation beer (if you haven’t associated this with something yet – think Keystone and Busch beer – ass in a can, good for putting out fires, etc), if you desire to pour it out because it inducing vomiting in your mouth, do not do this while in the cell-phone waiting lot at the airport.   With a laptop. And a camera.  In a big white truck with a tinted contractor shell full of boxes and gas cans.  It is frowned upon by airport police.

Anyhow. I digress. We get to the track around 5pm, where registration lines are surprisingly short.  I have to say, that, with hundreds of people coming in for this event – the SCCA volunteers really did a fantastic job of getting everything right (thanks for Kay Imig!) and done quickly.

As we drive through the paddock to the trailer – the place is covered with Formula Fords.  They’re everywhere from all levels of ‘investment’ – everything from small SUVs towing single-axle open trailers to 53′ race rigs that have more square footage than my house.

Friday practice

So onto racing, or least practice – Friday morning I arrive at the track to find my car under a tent at Lindstrand’s trailer.  I must say this is a nice way to show up at the track.

Until today, I have only driven two laps at Road America.  This was two years prior in my Porsche for some casual Sunday drive around the track at the KIC.   Luckily, there are a ton of newbies to RA like me; so, they are offering instructional-rides around the track in the morning.

It seems all the track vans were down at the river, so Bill Bonow offered up his stylishly-creepy, yet functional-as-seen-like-in-this-pic Sprinter van down to tote around us Road America virgins.  I had the priviledge to have Duck Waddle at the helm (no, really!), who has more years of racing than I do on this earth, and is an instructor with SCCA and Skip Barber at Road America.

He took us in a stop-and-go trip around the 4+ mile track for one lap, explaining and showing what to do at each corner.  Then, we took a faster lap (well, as fast as the sprinter will go without mimicking a tour bus on a cliff-edge road in Pakswanistany) bouncing around the track’s rumble strips.  It was very educational.

So, finally onto the track. Well…..maybe.  About 15 minutes before the first morning practice session started for Club Formula Ford, with a planned 100+ car count (as seen with my #171 – which you never see 100+ at an event), I got all suited up.  Jeff, with Lindstrand, strapped me in; which, I must say was much more accommodating in the seatbelt + nuts department than my girlfriend was at the last event.  I’m still unclear if it is because I’m a jackass to my girlfriend (you’re the best, Elizabeth! don’t pull so hard on that strap) or Jeff likes me too much (highly unlikely).

I fire up the already-warm engine, and Nick and Web start to push me out of the comfort of the trailer and tent into the paddock for the first time.  We get about 12 feet.

I hit the brakes, and, since no one can hear anything (I’m in a helmet, and they’re 2 feet from the tail pipe), frantically waive my arms (see picture below) and clap to get their attention.  I’m pretty sure I look like a retarded sea otter clapping at this point.  Nick runs up, and with a what-the-hell-is-your-problem look on her face, asks “What the hell is your problem?”

To which I reply, “Where do I go? I’ve never driven here before!”

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It seems that during my brief drive around the paddock in my truck, and Bill Bonow driving me over to the track in the Sprinter for our morning tour; I had no idea where to get on the track, or even where pit lane was.   After a brief set of directions – go down here <points left>, go past the bathrooms, past the big white tent, then there is a chain link fence,turn before that, turn right, then you’re in pit lane.

So, I follow directions and get over to the pit lane entrace.  I am just at the end of the cars heading out (mildly late), which was somewhat planned and ok by me – this means I do not have to wait to go out on track.  And, in most situations mean that I will have a good amount of time to myself, at the back of the pack of cars out practicing, to learn the track at a tad slower speed.  Well, with probably 60 cars showing up for practice, this is a horrible idea.   I exit pit lane at about 50mph thinking that there will be no other cars around except the other late-arrival behind me, and quickly find my left mirror useful as a early-out car whizzes by me at 110+ mph going into corner one.

So, now I am out on track with all the fast guys that showed up early to practice.  At this point in authoring this thing, I looked at mylaps.com at the practice session – 87 cars!  That’s a ton of racecars in a 4 mile one-way road.

For those of you who read this for the racing and car content, my first lap was a 3:20 something (yeah, that sucks) and after 4 laps 2:50.  Thats an average speed of ~70mph up to 85mph, which is slow as congress but for a first time out with a ton of traffic (and I passed people!) I was happy. I should say now that this is the first time I’ve been out since Grattan with the Hawke, and Bruce and Nick did a baseline suspension job at their shop.  The car feels fantastic – at speed in a straight the car is much more stable, most likely attributed to having a negative rake setup before, and the car just being aligned properly.  And, most amazingly, the car turns equally left and right.  I used to think I should give up this road course thing and just goto ovals that turned left – as my car turned left mucho better than right, due to some suspension quirks (never the driver, promise).

My practice time was #82nd out of 97 cars.  I suck ass.

Rather than explain why I suck, I’ll just say I went out for the next session – an FF70/Vintage FF group – where I was running 23 out of 41.  Much better than 82/97, but still disappointing for some reason.   My best lap was a 2:48…with my two best laps only 0.039 seconds apart.  I felt I hit my best after maybe 10 laps around Road America.  Oh well.

Friday CFF qual 1

Around 2pm on Friday, I went out for qualifying.  This session – to my own little personal victory – I actually got to the track on my own.  I also had the awesomeness of having radio communication in my helmet back to Jeff w/ Lindstrand.  Bruce Lindstrand and Larry w/ Trackside Communications put a nice radio system in my car between the sessions – I’ve wanted radios for a while, and the price discouraged me.  However, once I get at the track that caution seems to go away – so without asking price, I decided it would be a good idea.

Two afterthoughts on this – first, it was a good idea – for the knowledge that a radio-equipped-crew-member can provide, including pit talk (including Bruce’s horrible jokes), speed (its hard to remember how to take a turn when there are 14 of them) and safety (flags, when to pit, what to do on a black flag, etc) – which reduced my retarded-sea-otter-clapping……. and second, you should know what you want and what you can afford; as, a setup that will work at every corner at Road America (a 4+ mile track with lots of woods and elevation changes) will cost $1500.  Ouch, says my 401k.

The qualifying was busy – real busy – while I will not complain that “I could get a clean lap out there, cars where everything” because I was the “everywhere car” for the fast guys – it was a blast.  I was surprised with the courtesy and smoothness of the operation.

I dropped only a little to a 2:47, which got me 80th out of 97 – not too thrilling.

Saturday FF70 qualifying

fri_grp_4_pract_462Summary: 15th out of 48 FF70/vintage cars.  My best time was 2:44.693.  Down 3 seconds from the last outing.  I’ll note that I was on heavier rims sporting Hoosier R35 tires (courtesy of Allen, thanks!), and not the usual CFF R60s.

In this qualifying session, I seemingly lost the idea that it was qualifying and not a race.  I believe I was following one of the Lenhart crew (Ian or his dad?) for a lap or two, and knew I could pass him.  So, on the carousel, I got a good run and decided to go out on the left to pass, about 200 feet before you return to the apex at the carousel.  I get out to the left of the track and realize why no one ever comes out here – its really slick – rubber curds everywhere, a cactus, some oil, a small fishing hut, etc, its all out here on the outside of the carousel.
Well, at this point in the top of 3rd gear I decide to slow down and get back into order before I go off the track and annihilate myself, which I think I’m doing about 85-90mph, I hear Bruce in my head saying “it only gets worse if you lift”.
So, in good order to learn from my elders (and I’ll tell you, Bruce is waaaaay my elder) I do not lift, but I do feather the throttle a little and let the car continue its direction.  This takes me off the left of the track, into the grass.  I believe I ran right over the outer yellow-and-red rumble strip, which I heard thrash and scrape the bottom of the car.
I now think it might be a good idea to slow down in the grass – but – I hear Bruce in spirit – “it only gets worse if you lift”. So, my right foot is somehow planted at this point.

For the folks who have been here – I exited about 100 feet before the Suziku bridge on track left.  I kept my right foot in it all through the grass.

I end up flooring the car all the way on the grass, and gradually move back onto the track well past the Suzuki bridge, only a short distance before the kink.  The best part is – the guy I went to pass that got me in this mess (yes, maybe you Lenhart crew!) was only a few inches in front of me when I reentered the track after my off-road excursion.

What did we learn here? Know when you’re just qualifying and not racing..and.. Keep the throttle on all the time. Grass is just a different colored track.  What’s the worst that could happen?

Saturday CFF qual 2

#78 out of 98 cars total (FF and CFF).. Here I will note that I am back on the harder (slower) R60s and ran a 2:42, which I’ve gone from an average of 85ish to 89mph – which is a sustantial fun difference when you’re ass is big-mac-height off the ground.

I am also 45 out of 58 cars in CFF.  It seems everyone is improving.

Saturday FF70 race 1

Late Saturday was my first real race this weekend.  Without going into all that mushy foofoo crap – I’ll say that coming up the hill and then the front straight at Road America with 35-40 other Formula Fords from 1965-1980 was awesome.  I’ll also throw out there that I ran a 2:38, 6 seconds faster than my previous time (!!) this race.  I ended up 7th place (both class and group) out of 43 cars.  While I’ll admit that most vintage guys were on less-sticky tires, my time were not that much better depending on r25 or r60 tires.  To most good drivers, there should be a difference. uck oh.

I’m now up to a 91.7mph lap.  At this point, I realize that practice and coaching does help – I’m dramatically dropping lap times.

Rock the Cat Box

After driving a ton Friday and Saturday, we finish up around Saturday 5:45pm.  I’ve not spent much time in Wisconsin before, but damn – its cold compared to “summer” elsewhere.

I think this is valid excuse to drink heavily.  Christian, my Florida-blood-like-friend, also agrees.  It seems that everyone agrees – as Saturday evening quickly turns into drinking a lot without much else to do.

I’ll note now that my car was not unscathed.  Lindstrand Motorsports spent a few hours on the car before imbibing on my car as well as a few others.  My Hawke was mostly OK except a few broken CV joint bolts – it seems to snap the left inner bolts. Maybe the heat from the exhaust on that side, maybe the stress being on the mostly-outside of the track, maybe I have no clue.  But, the bottom line is that I had no clue and it got fixed – I think this was the first time I really appreciated doing the whole prep-shop thing.

On this above-note, it was nice to be on the other side of fellow racers coming up to the Lindstrand trailer looking for help.  I’ve been there many times before; where I beg of their help to fix some quirky issue.  Not that I prefer drinking beer over working on racecars; but, after a day of racing – that math works out to desiring to drink beer rather than trying to figure out if its a 13mm or a 1/2 socket. I’m no good at that.

About now – you might ask (if you’re a good ADD-kid and taking your ritalin) why this section is called Rock the Cat Box.  Well, the entire race weekend is called the Cat.  You can find various reason for this – mostly because the following of the Brian Redman story (which, you can find a version  of here – http://www.september8th.com/news_br_cat.htm) which seems to be the most accurate.

Soooo…. the fantastic workers at this event, along with Mazda’s sponsorship of a beer-trailer, puts on the Cat Box Races.  You can read the rules here – http://www.scca-milwaukee.org/RoadRacing/2009/4th_Annual_Cat_Box_Races.pdf – which might be painful and boring if you’re used to the useful, strict SCCA rules and regs that keep us safe and in compliance.

Long story, that I honestly do not remember (see above: beer-trailer), includes Bruce Lindstrand and myself being on one team, against Nick Webb and Bill Bonow (of the aforementioned creepy Sprinter van, which you know this guys has issues to begin with).
Nick and Bill have one offspring from Jeff, in their LMI-tuned Cat-box, Annie-

And Bruce and myself have Aimee in tow, in a much more protective, well prepared, cardboard box…..

Which, this physical exertion of crazy proportions resulted in my only checkered-flag of the weekend

Checkered flag

Checkered flag

You can view more pictures from the Cat Box Races here – http://www.tobinschuster.net/2009/catbox1/index.htm

And, you can watch this awesome video – note at 38 seconds into it where one of Jeff’s children goes.  Hopefully his wife doesnt find this – I think he told her everything was ok and she fell on the stairs.  Uck oh.

So, Saturday’s essay might be cut short because I don’t really recall everything. The things that we did do included having dinner courtesy of Mazda (and the beer trailer? they must have mis-funded it for the margarita-trailer for the spec-Miata guys) and the corner workers, including the really loud and big corner worker in the orange suit dropping the F-word around the kids every 4.23 seconds.  Yeah, you know him. He’s a fun guy, though.

I will say, as a driver – someone who doesn’t get to spend much time with the workers much (and I’m sure the same gig on Saturday nights at other tracks) – this is a great time.  I learned stuff from the guys and gals that watch me drive around, picked up some safety stuff, and learned some SCCA rules in the progress.

Sunday race

#62 out of 97 overall, or 35 out of 63 in CFF.

This race was fun. Then boring. Then fun.

We started out like family – similar to qualifying and the rest of the sessions.  Somewhere on lap 3 – a few guys got tangled up into turn 1.  Someone ended up on their head (anyone know who? I can’t recall) in the gravel, along with a few others immobile, which resulted in a black-flag for all of us.

We pulled into the pits, and waited for 35 minutes..

Then we went back out.  Luckily, they parted us in FF and CFF, so us CFF guys didn’t hold up the FFs.  I can’t recall the race -but I had a blast.  I do remember getting passed by a ton of FFs, and passing some other cars.  There is always action when there are 100 cars on the track.

More to follow…..

In the meantime, check out these pictures from the event –
Pictures of my car (the good ones by purple frog, who has a bazillion other pictures of the weekend if you want good pictures – purplefrog48@earthlink.net

Doug Carter/ApexSpeed pictures

Pictures of all groups, all days by (I think) Bill Valet

Sunday FF70 race 2 in the wet and DQ Cheese Curds

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