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|INDY WAS FUN BUT NOT OUR TRACK||Sunday, October 1, 2017|
|Kevin, Carrie & Walter flew in Thursday night but went to Bob Lawrence’s wedding on Saturday so we couldn’t go over to the track earlier than Sunday morning. It sure was nice having just a three hour drive to the Runoffs. This year there were 969 entrants in the big race. At least Kevin and I got to so a good setup of the car and load at the shop on Friday. We had the good fortune of not only reserving a Gasoline Ally garage that we shared with Larry Gallagher but we also got our reservation in early enough to get one of the 32 RV spots right inside the track. It not only had power and water, but also had a sewer hookup and cable TV. The difficult part was the trailer was in a separate area, which we had to unload and transport to the garage with our Yamaha golf cart. We got all set up Sunday afternoon and invited our cheesehead friends Smycheck and Kannard to watch the Packers beat the Bengals in overtime in our RV. I cooked a frozen lasagna in the RV but after the game we went to 3119 for some appetizers and beers. They walked and we took the Elite.
We wanted to temper two new sets of Hoosiers in the Monday qualifying session so we recruited Steve Smycheck, Bob Moser and xxx to help us do a tire change pit stop at 2:30pm. We did an awesome job. After Kevin completed 4 laps he came in and we had the new tires on the car and torqued in not much more than a minute. Kevin went blasting out to do the second set in this 18 minute session and they stopped him………they had already shown the checkered flag, after just 8 minutes. With really only one semi-hot lap, Kevin qualified 13th in the field of 41 cars with a 1:57.100. Larry was 25th in our old Orange Integra with a 2:03.197.
We really had nothing to do to the car so we went around talking to friends. I met and talked with Preden Kristenson who may be the most knowledgeable Honda engine builder there is. We may work with him next year to add a little oomph to our 1.8L engine. Again we took the Elite into town to attend the welcome party with good food, free beer and live music. Afterwards we went to Huffmasters wo have a couple beers and Kevin got to play some video racing.
I made egg, ham and cheese croissants for breakfast. We put our used tires on the car, and we helped Larry align his Integra. On the way down to grid Kevin heard a tingling noise so I looked and found the O2 sensor was not connected. I just got it connected in time to go out for our second session. Kevin went 2 and a half seconds faster and jumped up to 6th with a 1:54.647. Larry went 4 seconds faster but only moved up to 23rd with a 1:59.108. At least the session went longer and we got about 8 hot laps in. We got pulled into tech where they checked a few minor things and Whistled our engine since we were now in the top six. We got the car ready for tomorrow and made a few changes.
After we cleaned up we took the Elite into town again to meet Justin for dinner at the Irish pub. I don’t get to have bangers and mash very often. After going back in the track we talked with friends again. Kevin and Justin went to the Prod party but it was well attended and broke up early.
I made egg, ham & cheese croissants again and Carrie & Walter arrived about noon from Kerry’s house. We had lunch at the Honda tent, put the 80/75 tires on to see what they would do and took her out for our third qualifying session. We went almost a second faster for 4th in the session but fell to 7th overall with a 1:53.704. Larry went another 3 seconds faster and moved all the way up to 13th. We found a wiring issue with the rear camera and fixed it and then got cleaned up. We all went to the Honda party on the 8th floor of the Pagoda – it was very nice and had a great view of the track and the city. Justin headed back to Columbus and Carrie & Walt headed back to Kerry’s in Terre Haute. Kevin and I went to the Huffmaster compound and I finally got to see Rays new RV.
We made a few more adjustments to the car including installing the .125 bar on the rear and went to the Honda tent for lunch. Then we took her out for our fourth and final session to see if we could get in the top four.
Kevin struggled again and could not improve his time. We ended up in 7th position for the start of the race. Larry did the same. We all went to the SCCA banquet which was ok but very slanted towards the workers. They even handed out the pole awards earlier outside which we and most everyone else missed. Carrie & Walter stayed with us in the RV and we got to see another Packer win vs the Bears.
FRIDAY – RACE DAY
We made a few final checks and adjustments on the car early before all of our guest arrived. I took the CR'V outside and met Kerry, Shane & Delaney, and her Japanese friend at the Registration building. We took both of their cars to the gravel parking lot and they all piled in with me to go in to the RV. Second was Mom and Sheryl. I drove the Elite out to meet them at registration to use our last two crew passes. I gave them the parking pass to drive in with all the food. Last was Andy, Drew & Nolan. I met them at the Speedway gas station and we also parked their car in the gravel lot and they drove in with me in the CR-V. I gave several tours of the grounds in the Yamaha before race time. We then had a great lunch that Mom & Sheryl brought and a birthday cake for Kevin, Andy and me.
We packed up everything into the car and took down the garage sign which we gave to Larry. We had to wait for them to move the trailer so we could load it later. We watched Joey in the EP race but he fell out with a bad clutch after just a few laps. We watched most of the SRF3 race and then went to the Honda tent for lunch. Kev spotted at turn 1-6 and I spotted at 7-11 for Adam Roberts in Sam Myers STL Civic that we used to own. He won in a great race. Another guy protested him because of contact but it did not hold up. Visit with Mosers in their garage after Joey goes to Chicago to get a new clutch. Pack up the rest of the stuff and connect the RV and drive back to the shop. We unload everything that night so we didn’t have to go to the shop the next day.
It was a great week at an iconic track but it was not near as good as Daytona. The Indy road course is crammed into a fairly small space because they decided to put a golf course inside the track. SCCA did a pretty good job of managing the traffic flow in the paddock considering the normal flow is pretty bad. You just can’t get there from here. You found yourself driving around in circles just to go 100 ft from where you were because the pagoda and the adjacent mall was right in the middle and was impassable. The track also was not very much fun. I think it would have been much better if they used more of the oval like Daytona did. In any case we had a great time, especially with all the family that came to watch the race.
|TWO BIG WINS AT Mid Ohio||Wednesday, June 7, 2017|
|We had not won a race since this race one year ago. Since then we had lost the Runoffs here due to a severely shortened race, and could not squeak out a win at either COTA or Hallett this year. So needless to say we wanted this one bad. There was good competition with Last Years Runoffs champion John Walker in his Lotus Super Seven, David Bednarz in his fast Miata, Mason Workman in his fast Miata, and several other fast cars like Haynes in his very fast but unreliable MG, and Strittmatter in his very fast but unreliable Lancia Scorpian, and Larry Gallagher in his fast Acura Integra.
Kevin had come up from Texas the weekend before the race so we had time to do a detailed setup on the car and check out the changes I had made to the car since the last race. We loaded up on Thursday and I drove the rig up and got a great paddock space right next to the Hoosier setup with a 50amp electrical connection. Kevin came up later and we went around paddock visiting with all our friends like Mosers, Huffmasters, Gallaghers, etc.
On Friday Kevins best friend Justin and his son Seth came up to spend the day with us and help us out, and Carrie & Walter came up as well. In the practice session on Friday Morning we went out to check out the car on some older tires. They gridded us based on when we registered for the race so we started 30th. Kevins best time was a 1:39.621 which was not great compared to his track record of 1:38.518 but OK. Surprisingly that was 2nd overall to Joey and three seconds faster than anybody else. Later that day we went out for the first qualifying session with 43 cars in our group including EP, FP and HP, but also GTL and the quite slow B-Spec cars. We were gridded based on the mornings practice session so we were second but we were tempering a new set of tires so Kevin drove slow for the first several laps. After he got up to speed it was very difficult to find clear track to get a good lap. He turned in a 1:40.192 which was 4th overall and 3rd in class behind Walker(1.39.866) and Bednarz(1:40.045). It didnt matter much since we had another qualifying session the next morning. Carrie and Walter had to go back to Columbus to attend a rehearsal dinner for her brothers wedding. That evening after preparing the car we went to the Roadhouse for steaks with the Mosers, Buttermores, and Robbie Huffmaster and some of his crew. They always have great food and the best steaks.
Saturday morning we took her back out for the last qualifying session. Kevin managed to regain the pole with a 1:39.330 but when he pulled the car into the pits it was smoking bad from the left front wheel. The wheel bearing had gone bad and overheated the hub severely. It made it back to the paddock and we tried to get it apart but to no avail. The nut was welded in place and would not budge even with a 5 foot cheater bar. So we took the knuckle and shaft out together and got out the spares. The left knuckle we had was not the good spare we thought we had, and the spare shaft was a new one from Advance Auto (made in China) rather than a race axle from Raxles which we could not get. The Mosers helped us pull back the boot from the outer joint, remove as much of the crappy grease as we could, put back in good high temp grease, and seal her back up with a new metal strap. Fortunately I had my oldest grandson and my only granddaughter there to help me put it all back together. Kevins mother, Sheryl, and Sarah also came for the race. We must have done it right because it worked, as it made it through the afternoons 25 minute race with only a few spritzes of grease coming out of the boot.
Kevin got held up due to Joeys super slow start and fell back to 8th by the time he got through turn one. He calmly managed to pick up cars one by one to get back to 1st in class and 2nd overall behind Joey in his EP Prelude. 2nd in class was Workman in his Miata and 3rd was Walker in his Lotus Super Seven. Actually Kevin finished ahead of 6 cars that had faster lap times then he did in that race. What does that tell you?
Everyone left including Kevin who went to Carries brothers wedding reception in Columbus. Fortunately Shane Gibson came up to help me, add fuel, change tires, and repack the grease and add a new strap to the outer boot on the new CV joint. We went to the Ohio Valley Region dinner for all the drivers in the Honda Pavilion. It was just as horrible as ever, well maybe a little worse. I wont bore you with the details because you can read any story from an OVR race to see it never changes. And they wonder why the attendance keeps going down every year. The only thing keeping drivers coming back is a central location and a good track layout. After that we stopped by the Huffmasters paddock, what a blast. Ray was in rare form and everyone had fun.
Sunday morning Kevin came back to the track along with Carrie & Walter, Kerry & Delaney, Mom & Sheryl, Bob & Jackson, and Kyle & Kendra and their babies. We didnt race until 12:45pm and not much to do to the car so we had some time to sit and talk. Because they gridded cars by their fastest lap of the weekend Kevin started 4th overall and 3rd in class behind Walker and Workman. Kevin actually had a decent start in this race but got boxed out in turn one and two which left him in 10th overall and 6th in class. The Sunday race was 35 minutes so he had more time to get back to the front, which he did. He put on a clinic on how to be patient when passing good cars and how to zip past lapper cars without even slowing down. A freak rain shower near the end of the race probably helped as well because nobody can beat Kevin in wet conditions as long as he can see through the windshield. 2nd place was David Bednarz and 3rd was Mason Workman, 4th was Walker and 5th was Larry Gallagher in our old ITA Integra converted to FP. Too bad we did not get any video from either race due to the Race Technology system being down.
It was an awesome race weekend!! Including the family dinner after the Sunday race I got to see all five of my grandchildren at the same time (first time ever), all my children and their spouses, and many long time friends. Winning both races in come-from-behind fashion was also great fun, especially for all of our fans sitting on the hill in the esses. The car ran great and when we had a problem we got it fixed quite fast. Now we start getting ready for the Runoffs in September which is being held in the most Iconic race venue in North America – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
|FUN AT HALLETT||Monday, April 10, 2017|
|After returning to Kevins house after the cruise we again spent some great time with Walter and worked on a few things around the house. On Thursday we packed it all up and Kevin, Sheryl, Diane & I drove the rig to Hallett, Oklahoma for another Hoosier Super tour race.
It was out first time at that track so we went a day early to participate in the Friday test day. We were in group 3 of three groups which went out every 20 minutes. We did three sessions in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. Kevin got experience at the track and we tempered a set of new Hoosiers and a new set of brake pads & rotors while we were at it. This track had less slow corners than COTA but it still had one very slow corner that led onto the fast back section of the track. That corner cost us about ¾ of a second. Eric Prill and Sam Henry were both faster in those sections and they were very experienced at that track which meant we were doomed to 3rd place unless someone made a mistake.
|GREAT EXPERIENCE AT COTA||Thursday, March 30, 2017|
|Diane, Sheryl & I packed up the RV and race trailer and took two days to drive it all the way to Austin Texas where we met Kevin who had driven up from his home in San Antonio. Diane and Sheryl drove Kevins car back to San Antonio to spend the night with Carrie & Walter while Kevin & I set up paddock and got ready for the Friday practice and qualifying.
Friday morning we put the new rains on the car since it was sprinkling and took her out for practice. It ran great and Kevin got a good feel for the track. He commented that he could feel the wider torque band from the new cams. That afternoon we went out for qualifying feeling pretty confident. Again the car ran great with dry Hoosier tires but we quickly found out that our gear box was not optimal for this track. There were five corners that were slower than what 3rd gear could provide, but shifting to 2nd was really not an option. If Kevin could find 2nd he would be in that gear for a very short time. Our stock gear box does not like going to second and would not stand up to that abuse. That meant that we were lugging the engine in five corners which put us at a severe disadvantage compared to Eric Prills dog box transmission in his Miata that he uses all six gears on every lap. We matched up closer to Ken Kannards Miata which had a conventional gear box.
That evening we used Steve Smycheks rental car to drive into Austin to a Mexican restaurant with Steve, Eric, and Joe and met Deanna & ?. Downtown Austin is quite entertaining and was a great experience.
Saturday morning Diane, Sheryl, Carrie & Walter drove the Excursion up from San Antonio for qualifying and the afternoon race. We qualified well behind Eric by a couple seconds but just in front of Ken. The race was between Kevin and Ken for 2nd place as Eric ran well out in front. Kevin and Ken traded positions several times but Kevin came out on top. After the race we all went to the dinner which was held off track in the back yard of a nearby restaurant. It was crude but had great food – Sausage wraps and brisket sliders, and great Texas beer. They dropped us back at the track and drove back to Kevins home. Kevin and I made good use of the Yamaha and drove all over the huge grounds of COTA. Later we went to Kens RV to watch a great game between the UW badgers and Florida in the NCCA Basketball tournament where Florida won by a last second basket to advance to the final four.
On Sunday they all came to the track again to watch our race again. Kevin had a great start and ran in first for about a lap but could not hold off Eric in the slow corners leading onto the straights. The race finished Eric, Kevin, and Ken again. We packed it all up and drove the rig back to Kevins house.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we enjoyed playing with Walter and helping Kevin out with fixes around the house. I also removed the front knuckles on the CL so he could have new bearings and hubs pressed in. On Thursday we three drove the TL to Galveston to get on the Carnival cruise ship Valor to Cozumel.