Downtown Toronto, And The Best Race Weekend Ever?
First of all, I have to apologize for slacking so hard on the blog lately. We’ve been ridiculously busy at the shop getting ready for the Honda Indy, and what an event it turned out to be. Let me start with some pre-event primer to get you guys in the same mind-set we were in before the weekend.
Picture working 14hrs a day. In the ridiculous heat, remember Toronto just had a killer heat wave. Why 14hr days? Well engines of course. What other part of a racecar could possibly waste so much time? Thankfully the engine on the car I’m driving, the #87 car, is good. But Bob’s engine was on the way out the door and a fresh one was just being finished that we could put in. We’re not allowed to do much of anything to the engine, but because the car is using an AEM ECU we do have to have custom triggers machined and installed onto the cams to get the variable intake cam timing to work. Machine a set of those, and some solid engine mounts (since the god damn stock ones ripped taking the engine out) and put the new engine in, finally running and on the dyno, I want to say Tuesday. I can’t even remember now. Not like it matters since the fucking thing grenades itself on the dyno. Rod bearing? Peace out. So that’s fantastic, put the old engine back in.
Car is supposed to move in to the Indy for Wednesday AM but of course it’s not ready. Get the engine we just took out back in and running and finish the cars up and get over to the Indy. The one cool thing we did for my car this event was make a sick airbox. No more hot engine bay air, and if we’re going fast enough we may even be creating some positive pressure with this thing.
So we load up the little trailer and bring down one car at a time. Traffic is a nightmare. Hate downtown. At least we get to make a lot of noise and annoy people that dislike cars.
Thursday is supposed to be the rest day at the track, but we manage to spend the whole day working on the cars and getting them legal ride height wise. STILL too low. We must have raised the front of both cars a good 15mm before we were legal. Cars look stupid, and surely won’t drive as well as they should. Get some brake ducts run for my car that still weren’t done, surely we’ll need those! Ok that’s Thursday finished. Now we’re on to Friday, which is practice FIRST THING in the AM. Like 8.30 am.
Alarm goes off at 5.45am. Perfect. Fucking racing. Get to the track, get the front bumper installed on bob’s car and get him ready to go and we suit up and get out for practice. Wet track. Dry setup. Walls everywhere. Scary. We roll out and everyone is wise and stars slow. Bob and I build some pace and the track starts to try, only half of it is wet and the sun is out now, so it should be dry before the end of practice. I start ripping after a little and Bob is a bit behind me when I hear him yell over the radio that he smells oil and he’s coming in. Fuck. Engines. I clear my mind of Bob’s car and focus on getting all the speed I can out of the track. Braking zones are the toughest to master and I try to find all the time I can without flat spotting tires or going off the track. I fly off the track anyways. Luckilly there was runoff there! More front brake bias: check. Practice is over, we’re 2nd fastest. Which sounds impressive, but every fast competitor had a problem. Pootmans, Audette, Wittmer, all had problems or didn’t do a fast lap. Bob’s engine? Grenaded. Mother fucker.
So we get back inside and assess the situation. Qualifying is at the end of the day, so we have time. Do we have the energy? No. But that’s irrelevant. We do have a brand new crate engine that was supposed to get set out for balancing, however we have no spare triggers machined so the engine will require a cam swap. So let’s review:
We need to remove bobs engine, take the cams out of that engine, install the cams in the new engine, seal it back up, install in the car, break it in, get it back downtown (traffic) before qualifying. Oh, we also need to borrow someones trailer. Ok. Let’s do it.
CanJam lets us use their trailer. Thanks! We get to the shop and rip like animals. Engine was out in less than 30minutes, all the while I was taking apart the new engine preparing for the cam install. Which I had never done before. Thankfully there is a service manual online for the genesis. Similar to the 350z anyways. Big job, have to remove the timing cover, oil pan, 3 seperate chains, have to make sure everything is done right proper or boom!! We make good progress and have the engine prepped and ready to be installed by 1pm. At 2.30pm the engine is just about ready to fire and by 3pm it’s running perfect, no problems, and broken in around SG. Thank god. There was no time to deal with problems.
Tow the car back to the track for Qualifying. Getting pretty tired now. Bob runs great considering he had zero practice, qualifying 14th. My strategy is to run on brand new tires, the higher up I can qualify, the more of the mess I’ll leave behind me at the start of the race. Qualify 3rd which I’m super excited about. Inside line on the start works perfectly for what I had hoped. Bob however gets hit in Qualifying and has to come in. Shock bent so the tire is touching the shock and is un-driveable.
Hey CanJam, can we use that trailer again? Back to the shop, we rotate the shock body to gain clearance to the tire, as that’s really all we can do. Shock is clearly bent and most likely internally broken, but at least now it won’t blow the tire up. Aligned and back to the shop, we’re racing at 5.30pm the next day.
Sleep in. So good.
Saturday I wake up and start feeling nervous. Good starting position. Planning the start. Behind Wittmer, Audette forward and left, Bensadoun on my Left, Pootmans directly behind. Plan was to drive up the inside all the way to the hairpin after the main straight, and hopefully be able to charge from there.
One more brake duct is installed for extra cooling, car is checked over, and we get out for the grid. Feels good to be starting so far forward and I’m just hoping for a clean start. Pace laps go by fast and my drink tube is full of fresshhh vitamin water. So so so good.
Fuck! Bad jump. I tried to time it by backing off and jumping but the flag went green right as I was backing off. I stayed tight to the inside and was able to hold position, tucked right behind audette. The first few corners went by clean and I felt a huge weight off my shoulers. Started to charge and try to keep up with Audette, although he was clearly faster mid-corner than me. I just couldn’t get the car to rotate. Car was working awesome in braking though. A few laps into the race Audette slows right up, turns out he lost an engine. So frustrating for them. I felt bad, I know they’ve been working so hard at it. I check my mirror and notice Pootmans isn’t as close as I would have expected. I just focus on banging out clean laps and trying to catch Nick. I didn’t have anything for him the first few laps but as the race progressed I started making up more and more time in braking on him and entering corner 1 where I could carry more speed into the corner. He was killing me through the transitions and through the carousel. Again, couldn’t get the thing to rotate. Fuck.
Near the end of the race half the course was yellow. Two cars RIGHT on the track, almost on the racing line, around blind corners! How they did not go red is beyond me. I almost hit them, and I wasn’t in a heated battle with anyone! I was closing on Nick but I couln’t pass this one Mini on the main straight and then the two yellows were close enough together that I had to stay behind him for the entire space between the two yellow flags. Fuck. So I would end up finishing 2nd.
I make it sound disapointing, but at the time I was so so so happy. I was so happy that I didn’t care if I wrecked or had an incident on the second race. This was a huge accomplishment for the team, and to have the pace to run with these guys was so satisfying. We go to impound and the nervous peak again. We pass impound with no problems. Bob doesn’t quite have the luck I did. That front shock is too broken to be driveable, so he had to park it for the race. I can only imagine his frustration at that point, the Indy being our biggest race.
We don’t have any spare parts for Bob so we essentially have no way to get him out there for the Sunday race. We have no stock suspension, no aftermarket suspension. So we have an idea. What if we take a 240sx coilover, and cut the brackets off the Hot Bits strut and weld them onto the 240 sleeve. Infact, it’s possible they are the same thread pitch and the sleeve may just thread right onto the shock body! Well, an even better solution was found. Varun had some Genesis HSD coilovers IN STOCK. We just had to wait until MIDNIGHT when he left a wedding! ohhhhh thats tough. CanJam? Trailer? Thanks! Back to the shop, we have some Pizza at Bob’s house and chill while waiting for Varun. Once we can get the coils the guys go to the shop to install the front coilovers and align the car. Thankfully they let me sleep. The next morning we meet at the shop and I blast the car around the complex. Hmm. It actually feels really fucking good! I think Bob’s going to have a good racecar when he makes his charge from the back.
We get back to the track, install some fresh tires on my car and bleed the brakes and install new front pads (I used half the pads in a 30 minute race!!!!!) Download the data and all the fun stuff and get ready to rip. Starting 2nd is much more stressful. Pootmans is on my inside rear, so I could easilly lose a few positions if I don’t get a good start. So ripping time it is! Bed the brakes in on the warm up lap and get mentally ready to rip, watching the flag watching watching
YES! I get a sick start. Jump on Nick and am side by side with him entering 1. I feel like I braked a little bit later than him, but that might just be my memory. I stay as tight as I can without pinching nick so that I can get a good exit. Tuck in behind Nick and get a good run onto the straight. Perfect. Phew. Huge relief. Now it’s time to brake real tight on the inside so no one tries any funny business. Chase chase chase. Hunt hunt hunt.
I work as hard as I can to keep up with Nick, but he’s faster again in the carousel. Raising the front of the car really killed the cars ability to rotate and the diff is dragging through the low speed corners like crazy. My saving grace is that the car is coming off of the corners incredibly. Full throttle it’s sliding just ever so slightly, and if you kick it a bit you can get it to rotate and get on the power a little earlier than it wanted to. Felt very Aussie V8 Supercar ish. Coming off the corner sideways, almost into the wall like you always see at Bathurst. Except I’m sure I was no where near as close to the wall as those guys get.
Following Nick’s line I picked up a few tenths through the last esses section. I guess I could call them esses. But we were getting up on some curbing which was saving some time, really trail braking into the corner and trying to get the thing to rotate. Left foot braking for life. I could transition the car as violently as possible and it still wouldn’t get loose. Needs more rear shock or something.
As the race progressed I noticed Nick started losing pace. I wasn’t about to try and pass him as I didn’t know if he was going to let me have it, and I didn’t want this fantastic position to end ugly. We started coming up on traffic so it was a difficult game, judging the risk and trying to gain time through traffic without getting taken out by some asshole that wasn’t checking his mirrors. I wish these guys would pay more fucking attention. Then again I’m sure it’s tough to be driving and only watching your mirrors. A few yellow flags meant I really had to be heads-up. I mean if I pass some traffic under a local yellow I’ll really fuck myself.
Nick gets held up by some traffic coming into 1 and I jump on the opportunity. Bam. Passed. Oh shit. There was just a yellow flag at that station. I think I just fucked myself. I lift right away and let Nick have the position back. I get right back on it like nothing happened and tuck behind Nick. Next lap? No yellow there. SHIT! I gave it away.
I keep pacing him and hope for another opportunity. He’s really having trouble in braking now, so I figure I’ll be able to find a way. Coming into 1 again, this time a little bit further back, but I decide to go for it anyways. It was a little past my latest brake marker to still hit my marks, but I got the car rotated and left enough space to not run Nick off the road. Got on the power as hard as I could coming onto the lakeshore straight and thankfully I was able to make it stick.
Now I’ve really got to focus. Pacing a car is one thing, you do as they do. Apply pressure where you’re faster, and try to learn why you’re slower where you are. When you’re in front, you naturally want to go as fast as you can. Which means overdriving the car, potentially blowing a brake zone, or just carrying too much speed into corners and killing exits. I keep my focus up and drink my juice when I feel like I’m losing my edge, and run some strong laps. Get through traffic fairly decently and notice the gap to Nick is growing quite quickly. I know I’m not going any faster, so I assume he’s backed it off. With only a few minutes to go a full course caution comes out and I realize I FUCKING DID IT. I won. There’s no way this race is going to go green with only 3 or 4 minutes left. Short of the car breaking on me right now I’ve got this in the bag. Sure enough, the next lap there it is. Checkered flag. Victory. First win for the Genesis in North American road racing. And in Toronto. Infront of our home crowd. So tired, such a long week and weekend, but the payoff could not be any higher. We are standing on the top of the podium today boys.
So I’m screaming my head off, stoked as can be, pumping my fist as I do my cool down lap. I was supposed to come into the pits and go to victory lane, but instead I was drifting around, riding the rev limiter and being a general jackass. Blew past the pit enterance and started doing a burnout on the start/finish line. It’s not like the IndyLights race has to start right after me or anything. No big deal, I’ll just try to pack 2nd gear and break an axle and disable the car on the track. I get out of the broken car after they push me out and just start screaming some more. Yelling at the crowd and hugging my crew like a genuine lunatic. God dammit it was awesome.
On victory circle my car was missing, no one knew why. But it didn’t matter, we didn’t care. I get my trophy, and its champenge time. Oh boy. I got ruined. Pootmans must have had the entire bottle down the back of my suit, and nick got me in the face. Or maybe it was vice versa. Either way, I tried to get those guys the best I could but they just ruined me hahaha. I just stopped and started screaming ” I LOVE IT! I LOVE ITTTTTTTTT!” Although in hindsight that may have been a lie. It burs the eyes, and is very sticky.
This wouldn’t be the end of the road for our little adventure. No no, there is always more. So it’s off to the press room to report on our race. Haha, it was such typical F1 press conference style as you see on tv. Little mics setup with water beside them, sit at the table, press asks you questions. I explained the story which was cool, although sadly it doesn’t look like anyone’s found it interesting enough to publish. Then we go back to the paddock to talk to the crew and guess who’s looking for me?
The stewards. I was a bad boy. Time for trouble. That burnout? The one with the broken axle? And the missing of the pit enterance? Yea. That one. Bad idea. But it felt so good! Usually when things feel that good they are illegal. In this case, the rule held true. I got fined, and it could have been much worse! I must say I understand, But if you watch this video below you’ll sure hear that the crowd fucking LOVED IT!!!
And that was the 2010 Toronto Indy for us. Just incredible. Hopefully we can keep the momentum for the rest of the season and maybe visit the podium again!