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Thursday, June 25, 2009

First race, and some drifting

Did the first wheel to wheel race with ARC June 6-7 at Buttonwillow #1 CCW. Killed the trans the week before. Let the car sit all week, remembered Friday (one day before the race) that it still needed a trans swap. Panic! So I stayed late swapping the trans, got it together in the wee hours of morning, slept for like 9 minutes and head up to Buttonwillow. ARC is the wheel to wheel segment of www.NCRC.org. Its "gentleman's racing" so no contact, no real classing, simple tech. Just a fun, low key way to get in and dice with other cars, gain experience and shakedown the car. Practice, qualifying, two races each day

Saturday June 6

Helping Aaron sort out his brand new S2000 and coach his rental customer on car set up a bit. Minor problem with EDFC install had the damping settings different side to side which led to some quirky handling. Client takes the car out with the warning to not go full out, lest he toss the car off due to the quirky, as yet to be sorted handling. He responds by chucking the car off at the esses going about 100 and tearing a corner off. While he's doing this I'm in the main building downloading the destructions for the Tein EDFC. I stroll out, lap top under my arm and hear over the PA "5 minutes remaining in qualifying". Oops. That would be
my qualifying session. Dash to the car, sorta fasten the harnesses and dash out to the hot pit, get onto the track just in time to get a grand total of one practice/qualifying lap before the checkered. Hadn't run that config in about 18 months so I was just a bit lost. damn! Managed to qualify 6th out of 13 cars on a set of A6's I keep just for such shenanigans.

Roll back into pits to see steam escaping from hood. In that one lap I got a pinhole leak in the rad from some gravel off a passing Viper. 1:30 to race #1 start. I scurry over to 7's only to get some fast setting JB weld for a professional repair. Closed. 1:15 to start. Jet back to truck, unhook, drive 100mph to truck stop at the town of Buttonwillow 11 miles away. Buy anything that looks like it has anything to do with plugging holes in radiators. :50 to race start. 100mph back to track where a a few of the rapidly growing crew of Jennings Engineering pitted next to me jump in and help fix it. JB stuck on, rad empty, I jump in the car. "Last call for pre-grid" over the PA. Rad topped off, fire it up and try not to speed through the pits. Make it to pre-grid just as P1 is rolling out. Pause, Theo runs over and pokes his head into the nose. Head pops back up, with a grin and thumbs up. Looks like we're racing.

Good start. Get past a supercharged Lotus Exige Cup car. Race goes well until about 5 laps in. Shifting up to 5th the clutch pedal goes to the floor and I'm clutchless. I fumble through two shifts trying to shift without it and succeed only in making a lot of expensive noises. None of which are particularly welcome considering I put a new trans in about 12 hrs prior. While I'm trying to prove to myself that syncros are for sissies, the Lotus is rapidly eating into my gap. Knowing that all the parts of the track where I make up time are done in 5th, I nurse into 5th one last time and commence to figuring out a new line for 5th gear only. For about two laps the Lotus ekes closer, now looming in my mirrors in the braking zone for Sunset. After a bit I start to figure out a line that works for my limping Miata and start to claw open up a gap again.

Lotus guys stops by to say hi after the race. I tell him I had a heck of time keeping him at bay with only 5th gear. He looks a bit disappointed .

Confirming my suspicion, I find the clutch slave cylinder missing one of its two bolts. Borrow a bolt off Gordon Jennings coil bracket and I'm back in business. Race #2 is great. Good start, passed one car and ran steady. 4th I think.

Sunday June 7

After Aaron's beautiful Mango S2000 was crippled, he was left without anything to drive. Feeling a bit sorry for him, the irrational part of my brain said I should let him drive the OGK in race 1. As racing is inherently irrational, I felt this was the correct decision. He qualified well, had a good battle with Gordon early on and almost hunted down a Viper towards the end. Went off Sunset with bending it and only lost about 3 seconds. Good stuff.

Race #2 was a pretty intense battle with Tony Colicchio in his roofless beater Miata. Video of Race #2. He had put a fresh set of R430 Goodyear cantilevers in the morning. That just about made up for the 15-20whp I had on him. What made it more challenging was the "driver" in the 700hp GT1 Corvette that had hsi hands full blocking two 140whp Miatas for the entire race. When confrontedafter the race his reply was "My transmission costs more than your whole car and I shouldn't even be racing with you. I don't have to let you pass". Alrighty then.

ARC Race 2, 06-06-09 Buttonwillow from 949 Racing on Vimeo.

ARC race 2 06-07-09 Buttonwillow from 949 Racing on Vimeo.

Next comes the JDM option drift practice event and D1 scouting invitational at El Toro June 20th. Lent my car to a driver I sponsor, Charles Ng, in hopes that he would be one of the 3 drivers that would be invited to a D1 qualifying event. It's not easy to get invited and is a big step in his driving career. Well he made it. Managing to connect the high speed course in the little underpowered OGK with manual steering. Hes a hugely talented guy and I think he'll go far.