One Weekend. 2 Wins, 3 Podiums, a $1000 Fine and Lots of Cheap Champagne
Our second race weekend of 2011 was retardedly exciting to say the least. The shit that went on (not only with our team but with everyone in the series) was crazy and actually pretty awesome. This tends to always happen when we race at ICAR, which is a full concrete track built on an airport. When you’re at ICAR you have the feeling that you’re invincible, nothing can hurt you. There aren’t many walls to hit, there are no REAL boundaries around the track, and it seems to make every driver think we’re out there go-karting instead of racing 3000lb sedans.
The weekend started off pretty shitty for myself. After arriving late Thursday night and realizing we had missed a full test day, I walked the track trying to learn all of the new sections that were added since last year. The track looked ridiculously bumpy. Almost reminiscent of Sebring, just without the long straights or history. I was excited to rip it but on the first lap of practice our power steering rack grendaded itself. This is the 3rd time this has happened and we’ve yet to figure out exactly why it is happening. Just days ago we had replaced the rack, the pump and inspected pretty much the entire system. Luckily we anticipated the problem and brought a spare rack. We made a make fix restrictor for the pressure line that consisted of 2 washers and an M6 nut, also we loctited the power steering lines, but tightened them very soft – as the more pressure you put on the fitting the more liable it is to crack and explode. We then wrapped the lines in hose to help add mass and reduce vibration of the hardline. Whatever we did – it worked.
This meant however, that I had to go out for Qualifying with ZERO sense for the track. Shitty.
The first couple laps in qualifying I SHOULD have just run smooth and figured the line. Instead I was being an asshole and driving 110% and sliding off the track left right and center. Wrong gears, locking tires, bouncing curbing. It wasn’t fast. I came in to make some shock adjustments and went back out and took it a little easier and turned a time just one tenth faster than Bob, enough for 3rd place. Bob was 4th. Some of our best qualifying results ever!
That was all for Friday, we had a nice dinner, got some rest and prepared for our race. Come morning we didn’t have any issues and everyone was in really good spirits. We were happy the power steering was staying together and if we could just finish the race at this point I think we all would have been happy. The two cars that qualified infront of us were the GT Racing Pontiac Solstice’s of Borgeat and Fayer. Both really good drivers that know the track well. The solstice is a smaller car with a shorter wheelbase, so naturally it does really well at a tight track like ICAR. That being said, P1 was only something like 3 tenths ahead of me and I KNEW I had more in the car.
I had a horrible start. Protecting the inside first corner I ran a really tight line and bogged really hard coming off the corner. I should have gone into 2nd gear but really didn’t think I was going so slow. I got passed by 4 or 5 cars including Bob, moving to 7th or 8th. By the end of the lap I had made up a few positions and after a few laps I re-passed Bob for 3rd. A few laps beyond that I was really hustling and started to pressure Borgeat for 2nd.
Taking up his mirrors, sticking my nose in in braking, and just being a general asshole I was able to make him make a few mistakes and setup a nice pass. I think it was into a hairpin but I don’t even remember. The next car to catch was Fayer. He was really on it and even though I was closing on him a little bit, I was too far behind from the bad start and fighting with Borgeat to ever catch him. 2nd was good and I would have been happy if the race ended at that point.
Now if you compare my luck to a hurricane, I would say at that very point in time we reached the eye of the storm. Suddenly, with only a few laps to go, Fayer goes into the pits! Without any effort on my part I was now running 1st, and Bob right behind me in 2nd. This was to be our best ever finish for the team, and in only our second race of 2011 after ENTIRELLY revamping the cars and switching to 2L engines, different wiring harnesses, ECUs, suspension systems, I mean EVERYTHING! Forget the fact that Bob’s car was just a shell only a couple moths ago, built entirely by SG minus the cage.
The race finished. I was so happy. I mean I got lucky, and I felt bad for Fayer, who was driving GREAT. But for Bob and I to be 1-2? So early in the season? A brand new car doing that well out of the box? It felt great. We were ecstatic.
But things were not meant to last. The eye of the storm passed. As soon as the green flag dropped for the second race on Sunday, shit was about to hit the fan. I had an OK start. Not a great one, but not a bad one either. I was entering the first corner as per last time, braking hard and down to 2nd gear for the corner so I wouldn’t bog on the exit. With 30 maniacs behind me still at full throttle. It’s a great feeling. Racing into a near stop for the first corner of a race.
One bump. No big deal, car is still ok.
At this point the car is sideways, pretty much at full lock but with way too much rotation for any hope of saving it.
That was number two, surely my car is fucked.
As I’m spinning I see the entire field drive by narrowly avoiding my car, luckily no one else hit me. I don’t even know where Bob is, or how he was running. I just know that I’m in dead last, and my suspension is certainly mangled. I turn around and try to continue. To my surprise, the car feels somewhat OK. The steering wheel is just a little off center. I go through ONE corner, and that’s enough for me to say fuck it, car feels fine.
At this point, I am in full adrenaline pumping, don’t give a shit about anyone, I’m going to fuck you up and rip like a maniac mode. The same mode that propelled me to chases and all sorts of trouble in my youthful days. It feels good to know the old me is still hiding in there.
I tell you this – it was some of the best driving I’d ever done. Not the fastest, just the best. The most awesome you could say. Smashing curbing, passing people where it wouldn’t even make sense to pass. Dive bombing cars from 5 car lengths behind. Driving off the track to pass multiple cars. Passing cars that were passing each other. And the best part is, I only smashed one. And he was able to continue and still finish 3rd in class! So I was having a great time. Infact, I realized after talking to my crew on the radio that I had moved all the way up into 3rd.
Unfortunately, in all of my insane driving that included no shortage of smashing into curbs and ruts (there’s even a nice big deep sewer on the racetrack) I damaged a toe link. Either that or it was already damaged from the wreck. The car started wobbling down the straights, shifting from side to side on turn in and direction changes, and thinking back on it now – it was getting worse each time I hit a hard bump or touched the steering. At some points it felt like the car was trying to spin itself out. With only 10 minutes to go a full course yellow came out as another car bit the dust (guys were smashing into each other and damaging their cars left right and center). The car was really bad at this point – and both Solistice’s had caught me up from behind. Bob was in 1st, Nick Wittmer 2nd. I just knew in my heart, that if this thing went green I wouldn’t be able to hold off the Solstices. And unfortunately, it did go green.
At the time, I thought Nick was the one that had hit me at the start of the race. So naturally during one of the caution laps I smashed into his rear bumper. It made me smile. When the race went green I tried to make a stupid pass on Nick and ended up hitting my inside left wheel REALLY hard on the inside of a curb, and that’s when it was over for me. The car wouldn’t even turn at what felt like half of it’s racing speed. In less than a lap I went to last place, with the back of the car wiggling and shaking down the straights, going ape shit in braking, and under steering unable to turn. It was sad. Keeping 3rd would have been so awesome. To go from 1st to last to 3rd.
But I will have my chance again. Instead, I slowed down on the last lap. Let everyone that was may have been behind me (which was no one) pass me. I stopped right after the start finish line. I selected 1st gear. I put my right foot all the way down. I dropped the clutch. I watched and listened to the wonderful noises. I packed 2nd. I watched and listened to the wonderful noises. Donuts and tire smoke made me feel better. I straightened her out and got back into the pits. Some people were excited – including myself. I knew I was going to get in shit.
In the end, the burnout cost me $1000 and I’m now on probation for the remainder of 2011. I am accepting donations.
Bob won, it was his first win and he couldn’t have been happier. I was very happy for him as well. I later found out it was Arek in the Yellow BMW that accidently spun me. I really like the guy so I wasn’t even mad - I had an awesome race and my only regret was the suspension link. It’s possible it would have come loose in the race even without the accident. So I can’t be upset.
Wait for the video, you must see it.
*UPDATE* Here is a quick video from the weekend:
I must take this opportunity to thank our sponsors. Without them this fun wouldn’t be possible. We’re very fortunate to work with some of the best in the industry, and I think it obviously shows with the performance of our cars.
Haltech ECU’s have controlled the engines flawlessly, and every time I check the data looking for something to be even the tiniest bit off they are spot on. With just a simple sensor set I have consistent fueling at all times. The integration to the AIM MXL dash over CAN BUS is the fastest, lightest and easiest solution out there that was previously available only to very expensive motorsport ECUs.
Vibrant performance supplies us with fabrication materials to build our charge piping, exhaust systems and miscellaneous other systems. Even after being rear ended this weekend there are no cracks to be found in the exhaust, even in the one place where the exhaust kinked from the hit. The aluminum charge pipes weld beautifully, but boy can they take a hit. Their intercooler cores had our air temps never a touch over 100 degrees F, and this is on a sunny 80 degree day, where the track temp was almost 100 degrees itself.
Our SPEC clutches and flywheels work flawlessly, and the car shifts gears almost as fast as a smaller diameter race clutch – even with an OE diameter pressure plate and flywheel.
Injector Dynamics have become a huge hit in the industry in the last few years – with every big name switching to them. I was sold on them at PRI after hearing the Motec / ID talk on injectors and figured there were very few in the industry that sold injectors to the aftermarket with that kind of knowledge. Without fail ID came on board and their injectors have not only run the engines consistently, but both cars use almost identical engine maps – which says a lot about the consistency of ID injectors.
APR Performance has been a great help as their front lips produce real downforce and conform to the front bumper beautifully. They meet our series’ splitter rules almost to the tee, and as a result save us from having to produce very expensive splitters – which you can see often get damaged in touring car racing!
Continental Tire has come on strong lately with all sorts of new support in racing, and these tires we race on sure are exciting. They offer tons of grip, and smoke beautifully They are ultra consistent over the course of an entire race, and allow smooth careful drivers to excel.
Castrol has been the most supportive and best company to work with ever, giving us great swag to give away to fans, providing us with the best lubricants in the industry and all the support we could ask for. There aren’t many companies that make a street oil so good you can race on it- and race on it with a turbo car none the less.