Archive for February, 2013

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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