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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First sprint distance race

William and I were both too busy running our respective businesses last week to really get his car prepped for the NASA event at Buttonwillow 4/17-18/10. The plan was to do the Spec Miata race and then the enduro in E3 (PTE). Worked through until about 12:30am Saturday getting ready, when home for a shower then loaded up and headed to the track. I was able to lay down for about an hour but didn't actually sleep. Too much buzzing around in my head. What I may have forgotten to do, what I remembered to do and the things I forgot that I had remembered to do. William went home and got maybe 2hrs sleep. Lucky!

So race morning we roll to tech and they ask if we want to get our annual. You bet, let's get it out of the way. Of course that meant missing practice for the SM race. My first time ever in the car was SM qualifying. 7/21, not bad. Fell off at Phil Hill and knocked the alignment way out on the left front. Reset the toe and got ready for the race. Chatting with Burgoon he asks if  I'm doing the PTE race too. Three races in one day? You bet! So I sign up at the last minute, too late to quailfy. So about an hour before the SM race, I'm gridding for the PTE race. At the very back of the field. :(

PTE race
Managed to get by 8 cars on the first lap, about that many more during the race and a few dropped out I think. Finished 3rd of 21, 2nd fastest race lap. Cool!

Spec Miata race
Was actually pretty uneventful. Left the door open at the start and a slower car got by me going into T1. Took about two laps to get around and break free. Lead 5 were gone by then so I soloed in behind them. Finished 6th of 21. It was clear that William's car had the same grip everywhere but was just down about 10-15hp to the front cars. We'll work on that and hope to be closer next time.

Last year I did two enduro's, always with someone else coordinating as crew chief. This year it was William and  I, both not having a full understanding of the enduro rules. Lameness #1. To make things more interesting, this driver missed every driver's meeting during the day. Lameness #2. So I roll up to pre-grid for the enduro about ten minutes late. Lameness #3. Since I didn't qualify, I'm at the very back again. Lameness #4. My window net is down so I'm held for a moment while a steward helps me get the net in. Lameness #5. Meanwhile, the field rolls out. In the vein of being lame and unprepared, I blast out of the pits to catch up with the back of the field on the formation lap, obliterating the 25mph pit speed limit in the process. Lameness #6.
Of course I get black flagged. So while the green flies, I'm having a cordial chat with Ryan, who is doing his best not to yell at me for being a complete idiot, which we both know I was. He grills me for a bit then decides I'm merely temporarily lame, not endemically so.

So now I'm out, immediately chasing down the E3 backmarkers and making short work of them. I think I was either one or possibly two laps down when I joined the race. About an hour in I've caught the leader and unlapped myself. I wondered why the guy in the 944 fought for the position so hard. I only learned later that he though he was losing the lead. Which he would have been if I had been experience my typical lameness factor of only about 2.2, instead of the pegged 9.8 I was running that day. Yeah, starting near the front on the same lap is a good thing. argh.

Sun sets, 1:45 in and I'm actually finding a good groove, steadily making up ground and still a 1/4 tank indicated. Set fastest race lap in our class. Then my old buddy the black flies. For me? Aww, you shouldn't have. Turns out it's a good idea to have functioning running lights in a race car at night. Who knew? At this point, I fear I still have some unused lameness lurking, nurtured no doubt by an utter lack of REM sleep. So I throw in the towel, pull the car back into the pits. William is disapointed but also relieved. We raced hard on an unproven car, went fast and didn't bend it. He exhibited enough speed, situational awareness and consistency in HPDE4 to earn his provisional competition license. A very good day.

On the way back to LA, we each have to take about 60 minute stints driving. Both of us are just worked. Looking forward to doing more enduros and seeing William beat up on the regulars in SM.

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