Monday, July 27, 2009

My love and hate relationship with Road America!

It began the first time I arrived in Elkhart Wi when I was teenager. I love this track. It is big and beautiful it deserves the name Road America. Too bad my racing success has not equaled my love for the track! With my overall record there being 4 DNF's and 1 last place this track has been one track that I have struggled on to say the least! Unfortunately this track will now host the SCCA Runoffs for the next 4 years, so it is time to get good on this track.

To say this track big is an understatement, the track is 4 miles long, most tracks are not over 3 miles. It is mix of very long straights and very fast corners. It is not a track for the faint of heart and those lacking the proper attachments.
This trip we brought our Nissan Z race cars, my father had built a car specifically for this track and turned over his SCCA EP to me for the race. The Z's would run in group but separate classes. The first session was wet, very wet but I felt comfortable and laid down a few decent laps about 30seconds off the pace. The 2nd session was worse (so I am glad I didn't run it).

The next morning we had the early session, it hard to run the early session after a night of partying. But I went out and successfully qualified 3rd in class. The first race went smooth, jumped a bunch of cars on the start since vintage drivers all start slow. Held off a few of them and finished 2nd in class 3 cars behind first and 15 overall out 52. The race the following day went similar I jumped up to the 1st place car in my class and tried to maintain pressure on him but with out success. I ended up getting passed for 2nd and finishing 3rd in class and 12th overall!

Honestly I have no compliants this is the best I have ever done at this track and it is nice to see some results from all the hard work I have put in training in the off season and working on my racing craft!

-D racer

Monday, July 6, 2009

Daedal \DEE-duhl\, adjective:

1. Complex or ingenious in form or function; intricate.

2. Skillful; artistic; ingenious.

3. Rich; adorned with many things.

Putting the Miata's on notice!

SCCA has become more and more Mazda friendly because they are inexpensive and make good race cars, my father calls it the MCCA (Mazda car club of America). So when I rolled my little Lotus Super 7 at High Plains Raceway in Byers CO for SCCA national weekend I knew my challengers would be in Miata's.

It was my first time in the car, this is the car I crewed for all the way through high school while my father was one of the most competitive EP racers in the country. I love this car, it is a beautiful car, a fast car and fun car to drive. I spent the Friday test session just getting comfortable in car and feel for the car and the track. I did notice that the foot box where my feet go (makes sense) was very hot and burning my leg. I would address that later.

SCCA "National" weekends people take very serious as if they were getting paid "or trying to get paid". I was not taking it that seriously I was looking at it as a good weekend to learn the car. Each day consistent of a practice, qualifying and race. There were 7 competitors in the FP class, mostly Miata's, a few BMW 2002's and my Lotus.

Sat morning I arrived at the track excited to see how the Lotus would fare in a very competitive race with me behind the wheel. The morning practice was smooth and clean and I 4th fastest in class and 14th overall on the time sheets. A good place to start the weekend. We went out for the Qualifying after tightening the bolts on the rear axle. I ran the whole the qualifying session and qualified 8th overall and 2nd in class. As my father said "I may have pissed on some bushes" with the car running that well. As our race time approached the sky above us began to darken within seconds of the pushing the Lotus into the trailer the sky opened up upon the track on the Colorado plains. I did not bring rain tires and was not planning on running in some rain let alone the rain that Noah built the arch for. The race was postponed until the morning.

Sunday morning I awoke early and determined to defend my qualifying position to prove it was not fluke lap! We were the 2nd race out (being that group 4 and 5 were rained out). The morning was cool the skies were still dark. The car slowly begun coming up to the pre-grid, the moment that some racers think of there plan for the race or relax there minds in preparation for the next 35 minutes of racing. We rolled on to the track and began our warm up lap, I personally find starts the most exciting part of any race because anything can happen and this is where your skills are really challenged. We came around to the front straight the green flag dropped, this is the point in a race I do not hear the sound of the cars around me, everything goes quiet as my mind quickly process everything that is going on around me. The lotus has very little torque so on starts you get jumped by all the cars with more horse power, this is the first time I experienced it. I got a good start only one car was able to jump me through turn 1 (too bad it was the 3rd place in class car), as we came through turn 2 a yellow car that had started 14th comes out of nowhere across the track dragging wheels through the dirt to take position. We head through the next 2 corners and down the back straight everyone picking up speed, at the end of the straight there is fast set of downhill corners, the yellow car tries to pass and has the door shut on him, resulting in him spinning in front of me. I react braking and maneuvering around him, this causes me to lose to much speed I am passed by 2 cars behind. Back to work I go trying to get back to position. We continue around the track I pick my places and tack advantage of the slower cars that had taken advantage of me. The race has settled in and start logging laps. The 2nd place in class Miata has gotten too far away from me, I am by myself. I finished the race 3rd in class and 10th overall, not bad for my first time in the car. Unfortunately the story does not end there. During post race tech inspection it turn out my car is under the required weight, like 70lbs under. I am disqualified from that race, but if I add the weight I will be able to race the afternoon race!

I Qualified 3rd in class for the afternoon race, with one of the Miata's qualifying 3rd overall and the other missing qualifying and starting in the back of the field. When the green flagged dropped I had good start into the first corner gaining 2 spots, but with a little slip up off the next 2 corners I was caught by the 2 cars behind me on the long straight. I was trying to keep calm and focus on my line. I knew that the other Miata would be storming through the field to the front. As I pushed I made a few mistakes and continued to fall back. Once I found my rhythm I started taking spots back, that is when the Miata from the back caught me. He ran me down the straight and made a pass. I was on him I knew this was my chance. That was when I put in the worst lap of the weekend, I thought it was over. I once again refocused and started working my way back. With 6 laps to go I could see the Miata again, I pushed and pushed hard, with 3 laps to go the Miata that was leading our class broke down. This was it I was racing for the lead and I had to go, 3 laps were not enough I finished under a second behind the leading Miata and 2nd class and 9th overall!

This is the best have I ever done in a SCCA National race and for the first time in the car and first racing on the track I would call it a very successful weekend!

-D racer

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Editorial note on use of Fonts!

Since I am going to be discussing several lines of thought within this blog space and don't feel like creating multiple blogs I am going to use different font for different topics. I figure I should have 4 separate fonts for the separate topics: Design, Racing, General Musing and Editorial Notes.

Design: will be Arial because it is what I use for presentations

Art: Courier, who knows why!

Racing: will be Verdana, no particular reason big letters I guess

General Musing: will be Trebuchet, seems to flow for free form writing

Editorial Notes: will be Times, because it is official

-D racer