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|Kevin wins ITB Championship||Thursday, November 11, 2010|
|Even though we had just come off of our big win at the Runoffs in F Production we still wanted to go back to the ARRC (American Road Race of Champions) at Road Atlanta. It’s always been one of our favorite events and we are the defending champions in ITA for the last two years. We also wanted to enter the ITB Civic just to see how it would fair against the best competition in the country in a race where the tech inspection lent credibility to all cars being legal. And lastly we wanted to do the father-son thing with the ITB Civic in the 3 hour enduro race on Sunday that we have won several times before in the ITC car.
We went down to Atlanta a day early so we could do a few sessions with the cars on the test day on Thursday. We decided to drive the ITA car in sessions 3 and 4, and the ITB car in session 4. The Civic ran just fine but the Integra seemed to have too much play or knock back in the brakes. That meant Kevin had to pump up the brakes at every corner or there just wasn’t enough pedal to get the car slowed for the corner. We decided that we had to do something so we went out to Advance Auto and got a new master cylinder and a new brake booster for the Integra. Of course they didn’t come in until the next morning so we had to miss the 8am qualifying session.
Thursday night after we took off all the parts we could on the Integra we hitched a ride with the Huffmaster bunch to the Mexican restaurant down the road. There we met the Keanes and others and had a great meal and a great time.
The Civic was surprisingly quick in its first qualifying session on Friday. We had just this year converted the Civic from and ITC car to an ITB car and had only taken it out twice before this weekend. In our previous races with the car it handled quite well but just didn’t have the horsepower to stay with the other good ITB cars in the straights. We made a few changes to the car that we thought might help but we didn’t think it would be that much different. At the end of the session on the cool down lap Kevin radioed in to ask if I knew where he had qualified. I knew the track record was 1:46.0 and I knew Kevin had turned a very respectable 1:47.3 but I didn’t have anyone else’s times. Just then the announcer said “and the ever impressive Kevin Ruck has taken the pole position for ITB”.
We spent all morning installing the new parts and trying to see if the Integra was going to be any better – it wasn’t. We then spent the rest of the day driving to get a complete new set of front calipers and installing them on the car with the hopes of running the race from the back with no qualifying times - but it still wasn’t right so we scratched it. There is no sense taking chances with brakes. At the time of this writing we still don’t know what the problem is but I will report what we find at a later date. UPDATE - The brake booster being new was not properly adjusted to allow the master cylinder to return far enough. The original problem appears to have been worn out calipers with too much play.
In the meantime when it came time for the second qualifying session for the Civic it started raining. It stopped before the session but the track was still wet. We couldn’t see any reason to go out since we were already on the pole and it was pretty much assured that no one would go faster on a wet track than they had gone in the morning on a dry track. In second place was Ken Haughwout in his Audi Coupe GT. In third place was Jeff Underwood in his Civic. Jeff had the pole last year in this race and finished 3rd. In fourth place was Deuce Keane in his Accord that he won the race in last year.
They decided to do a split start with ITR & ITS first, and ITB in the second wave. The Audi did not show up in time due to a dead battery so Underwood started second. At the start of the race Kevin got a good jump and pulled out left on the normal line. Meanwhile Underwood went right to the inside of turn one and passed Kevin. In turn seven leading onto the back straight Kevin was in Underwood’s draft and Keane was in his draft. At the end of the straight Deuce motored by both of them. The next time through turn seven Deuce baubled slightly which allowed Underwood to get along side. Kevin decided to draft deuce as he motored by the Civic fairly easily. The race continued for some time with Deuce, Kevin and Jeff as they pulled away from the rest of the field. In lap 15 Kevin showed a move on Deuce going into seven again which sent Deuce a little wide and allowed Kevin to get a good run and go along side. Just as he was wondering how he was going to get past the big motor of the Accord he felt a bump from behind – Underwood was right behind him and helping the two of them pull away from Deuce. At turn 10 Kevin pulled into the lead and Deuce fell in behind him, Jeff in third. Going down the straight towards turn one Deuce got a bit anxious. Instead of waiting until the back straight he attempted to pass on the outside of turn one, got into the marbles, dropped two wheels off, and eventually spun and hit the wall. His race was over.
Now Jeff was chasing Kevin. On the back straight he drafted, pulled out and passed Kevin in turn 10A. Kevin immediately passed him back in 10B. Kevin knew he had to have some distance between him and Jeff before they got to the back straight or Jeff would draft him and pass again. Kevin stayed out in front just enough so Jeff couldn’t get deep in his draft. On the last lap they were barreling down through the esses when they came up on a slow ass Pinto – yes an ITB Ford Pinto! Kev flashed his brights franticly to let him know the leaders were coming and to let them by. No such luck, the idiot parked it in the entrance to turn five so slow that Kevin actually barely tapped him in the rear bumper as he stood on the brakes. The Pinto went straight ahead on the right side of the track while Kevin pulled to the left and Jeff went to the middle. Just then Jeff gets banged on his right side. As he is wondering why he was hit he gets hit again much harder which spins him around. He does an excellent job missing the wall, gathers it up and continues on still in second place but way behind Kevin. In the meantime the Pinto goes after Kevin and tries to hit him – but can’t quite catch him. Kevin wins the race, Jeff takes second, and the Idiot in the Pinto gets nothing more that a stern talking to from the Stewards. The Pinto driver is one of them who has been around for a long time so they do nothing. Jeff is appealing their judgment to try to get the idiot some sort of penalty before he puts someone in the hospital. It is amazing how much effort we put into making our sport safe but still allow this kind of behavior to occur. All of the race action I have described can be seen from Jeff’s in car camera which he has posted.
Somewhere in the race as Kevin & Jeff were chasing and drafting Deuce, Kevin broke the track record by 1 tenth of a second and Jeff broke the record by 2 tenths of a second. Other than the Pinto back marker not getting the hell out of the way, it was a great race.
The Saturday night Turn Five party was held as usual and was also a great success. Consensus was that Kevin won the turn five party. I’m not sure how you win that party but Kevin seemed to do it.
Sunday morning Dick took the ITB Civic out for qualifying for the 3 hour endurance race. Having not driven Road Atlanta for two years and only driven two races this year, he was glad to have turned in a 1:50.9 for second place in ITB. At race time Kevin took the first stint and stayed out for about 70 minutes and 39 laps. In that time he passed into first and pulled out about a 25 second lead by turning mostly 1:47’s a couple 1:46.s. Near the end of his stint a full course yellow came out which cut his lead to only about 5 seconds. After refueling with about 10 gallons we checked the oil level since the engine had developed a small leak near the distributor. We added nearly a quart of oil and Dick jumped in the car while Kevin tried to get the hood closed. When the car finally started rolling we were about 6 minutes and 20 seconds into our 5 minute pit stop which put us behind the Mazda Protégé that qualified first.
In the second stint Dick did 31 laps before coming in for our second pit stop. He mostly turned in 1:52’s and 1:53’s but did one 1:50.9 again. The stop went perfectly since we decided not to open the hood and we only put in 8 gallons of fuel. When Kevin got back on the track we were about one minute behind the Protégé with about 35 minutes to go. He poured it on and started turning 1:47’s with tires that had over 80 laps on them. He caught and passed the Protégé with about 10 minutes left in the race. When he was told he was in the lead and he didn’t need to go so fast he slowed down and turned in 1:48’s until he took the checkered flag. In Impound the car weighed in just 9 pounds over weight even though we had over ¼ tank of fuel. The front left tire was showing the cords over half the tire. We knew that wheel didn’t have enough camber in it.
We were very lucky to have the expert assistance of Sam Meyers for Friday & Saturday, and Dennis Delaney for the whole weekend without which we could not have even attempted two sprint races and the endurance race. Even though we did not run the ITA Integra it took a huge amount of our time.
We packed up everything and got on the road about 5:30pm. Near Chattanooga we stopped at the Hamilton Place maul for dinner and to watch the Packers spank the Dallas Cowgirls 45-7. It was a good weekend!
|Kevin wins 2 of 3 races at OVR Sprints||Monday, October 11, 2010|
|Kevin ran the 92 ITB Honda Civic DX for the second time this year to test out the new final drive we installed in the transmission and see if it's ready to be taken to the ARRC next month.
The weekend didn't start out to smoothly. Since Dick was at the Kal Kan Boo Bash with his grandsons Kevin had to drive the race rig up to Mid Ohio alone and unload the car by himself. When Kevin released the last tie down in the trailer after he thought he had put the car in gear it rolled out of the trailer across the parking lot, through a wooden rail fence and backed right into a tree. Actually it could have been much worse if the tree wasn't there. All that was damaged was the fence, the rear hatch door, and the rear window was shattered. He had to get permission from the chief steward to race without a rear window even through we are pretty sure not having the rear window slowed the car down all weekend.
Saturday morning he took the car out and turned in a third place qualifying time behind Scott Hileman (VW) and Jim Hardison (Civic). They had combined groups one and three into one huge 41 car group and finding a clear track was difficult. Kevin had a good start and drove a consistant race reeling in Hileman until the last lap. When Kevin went to pass into first coming out of the keyhole he missed hs shift and ran his slowest lap of the race to finish second. Third was Vaughan Scott ( Porsche) who was quite a ways back.
Sunday morning they had a 10 lap qualfying race instead of a qualifying session. Apparantly Saturday afternoon Hileman had damaged his transmission in the special enduro race and could not get it fixed in time for the morning race. Also on Sunday they switched to the pro course which does not run the chicane turns 2 & 3. Kevin owns the track record on the pro course in the ITA car so he knows how to drive it. He pull out to quite a lead and never looked back to finish 1st in ITB and 4th overall.
For the Sunday afternoon main 13 lap race Kevin was started 4th but the 3rd place ITA car did not show up for the start so Kevin started right behind Joey & Bob Moser - just like usual. He had a great start and managed to keep the ITA Miata and HP VW behind him so he could get away. by the time Scott and Hardison got past the Miata & VW it was too late to catch Kevin even though they both ran faster laps than Kevin and faster than the track record. Actually the 4th place ITB car was Hileman and he also ran a fatser lap then Kevin. Its not the fastest single lap speed, but rather the fastest average lap speed that wins the race. The Civic is pretty good in corners and braking but it is being beaten by the faster engines in the other cars. They put 150 pounds more in our Civic than the Civic that Hardison runs. We have some more work to do to make the car competitive on a National basis.
The weather was awesome and we had a great time with all of our IT friends. And we had our Crew Chief Carrie Troesch there to keep us on track.
|2010 National Championship Runoffs||Saturday, October 2, 2010|
|2010 National Runoffs
Dick & Diane drove up the rig on Thursday to the Lake House and dropped off the RV and race trailer with the race car at Road America Saturday morning.
On Sunday Kevin drove up to Road America in the CR-V. After watching the Packers beat the Bills Diane drove Dick back to the track.
Monday morning Kevin took Laddie for a long walk all around the back of the track while Dick set up the canopy. They set up the paddock and got the car ready to go. Early on Dick found that the adjuster on the left rear Koni had popped off and was sitting in the trunk of the race car. Unfortunately one of the two fittings was missing. After talking with Lee at Koni and to some people at the track we found that we could still adjust the shocks and Lee was going to ship a fitting to the track for us. Kevin also found out that Hoosier was making a larger (225) version of the radial slicks than we had been testing (215) that would fit our wheels. After some negotiating Kevin secured a set of the wider tires to try. We drained out all of the old fuel from the car and refilled it with the official race gas from Road America.
Diane came back to the track to join us for the Elkhart Lake welcome party at the Oshoff Hotel. As usual it was a great party with great food and music. We got to see some of our friends and spend time talking racing. Diane drove back to the lake house that evening.
On Tuesday we took the car out for an early 9am qualifying session. It had not rained much overnight but the air temperature warmed considerably which left all the roads and track damp. The two qualifying sessions before us had not dried the track out much. The worst places were the ones in shade like the back straight and Canada corner. Kevin was very nervous about how the car was going to handle after the multiple changes we had done to the car, and after how bad it was here at the June Sprints. He went out in the sixth position from the random draw with the new radial slicks 215 size. He proceeded slowly to feel out how the car was going to handle. He added speed where he could and kept going faster. We found out later that he and Eric Prill were trading the fastest lap throughout the session. On Kevin’s last lap he had to pass several cars and was held up considerably. He stated that he thought he could have gone 2 seconds faster but his time still managed to take the pole away from Prill by .034 seconds with a 2:38.851. Being on the pole after this damp session didn’t mean much but it meant that if it was damp at race time Kevin was going to have an advantage. Steve Sargis didn’t bother to go out at all. We found that the camber adjuster on the right front tire was loose and had slid in to way too much camber so we reset it and locked it down.
Tuesday evening we went to the Prod party in the upper paddock. We had Johnsonville brats, New Glarus beer on tap and got to see all of our Production friends. The Prod group raised $1500 to donate to the worker fund which was distributed at Thursday nights worker/driver party by giving out twenty five $60 gifts to workers.
On Wednesday the sun came out to warm up the track but the air was still cool at noon when we went out in the first position on grid. We had decided to try the wider 225 Hoosier radial slicks to see how they would do. Kevin went out and turned in several laps nearly ¾ of a second faster than he had ever gone here before. His fastest was 2:33.381. He found out that left him third behind Rick Harris in his Miata who turned in a lap just 56 thousandths of a second faster than Kevin, and Sargis who went out well after everyone had left the grid, did one out lap, one fast lap, and came right in, and turned in a 2:30.789 – a new Runoffs qualifying record time nearly 2 ½ seconds faster than second place. We found out he did the same with his car in H Production – one fast lap and was on the pole by nearly 2 seconds. We brought the car in, adjusted both rear camber settings, changed the Mobil 1 oil, checked the RedLine transmission fluid, gassed her up and she was ready for the next day.
We were invited to another party with Chris Childs and crew but we decided to relax and cook a frozen lasagna in the RV and then go up to the party later.
On Thursday morning Kevin drove to the Milwaukee airport to pick up Carrie Troesch. While he was gone Dick fixed the antenna for the TV for local channels and he managed to hook up the direct TV box to the built in satellite antenna an aim it manually. After adding fuel, charging the battery and adjusting the rear camber in both rear wheels, we went out in 3rd position for our final qualifying session at 4pm. We didn’t expect anyone to improve on the times set on Wednesday but we wanted to see what we could do with the narrow tires (215) on a dry track. Sargis ran 2 seconds slower (still fastest), and we ran about 1 second slower which was 2 seconds faster than anybody else ran in this session except Sargis. Although making less horsepower due to warmer air, the car handled very well with the changes we made and on the narrow radials.
Thursday night we went to the worker/driver party before it rained and the wind picked up. Several canopies did not survive the night and it remained windy all day Friday. The first race was T3/STU at 8:30am. We were happy to see an Acura win STU and a Honda and fellow OVR member Chad Gillsinger win T3.
Next was F500 with our good friend Pat Gallager. Kevin went to talk with Pat while he sat in his car on the grid. He told him one thing – “Don’t beat yourself”. Pat took this advice to heart as he proceeded to drive what was probably his best race ever. Pat and Mike Mueller passed each other at least twenty times before Pat took the checker flag for the win. Unfortunately, just as the field rolled out of grid it started to rain lightly. That caused the pole sitter Knuteson to spin in turn five and fall back several places. Pat also spun to avoid Knuteson and fell back one space. Both cars passed under yellow to regain their starting positions. Pat was penalized three finishing positions for the maneuver but he appealed the decision. The appeal decided in Pat’s favor since it was ruled he had to avoid a collision with Knuteson. He was once again the winner of the F500 race.
Next was GTL which was won by another Honda driven by Peter Shadowen, 2nd was another Honda driven by Dentici, 3rd should have been another Honda driven by Chris Bovis but he picked up a bunch of blowing leaves that clogged his cooling system and overheated the engine.
Last before lunch was Spec Miata – 60 of them! It was exactly as you would have expected, lots of bumping and banging, two full course yellows and a yellow checker to end the race. The announcer had it right. He said there were body shops all over the country waiting for this race.
Lunch, as it has been all week, was excellent and provided by Honda Performance Development. After lunch we watched EP with the classic battle between Ira in his Datsun, and Brakke in his Miata. Ira had quite a lead when a full course yellow brought everyone back together. After that Brakke took off and never looked back. The only other car that was quick was Downey in a Mazda RX3.
Next was D Sports Racer where we wanted to watch a former Honda Prelude driver and good friend Lawrence Loshak driving a Stohr WF1. Damn is that car fast! He ran away from everyone. After he got out to about a 20 second lead he backed it off and cruised for the win.
Next we watched Showroom Stock C where we hoped for another Acura win by Joel Lipperini. Unfortunately he could not stay with a much faster Toyota Silica driven by Mark McCauey and had to be satisfied with second.
The last race of the day was Formula F. There was actually two cars with the new Honda Fit engines but we just couldn’t get excited enough to brave the wind for another race so I have no idea who won.
On Saturday we were anxious to watch Pat Gallager drive his second car in the Formula Enterprise class. It was a great race. Early on Pat spun at the exit of 14 going on to the front straight and fell back to 9th. With the help of a full course yellow he battled all the way back to make the podium in 3rd place. First was taken by another Ohio Valley Region member Scott Reddich. Scott also was the first driver of the weekend to win a Super Sweep Award.
We also watched the Showroom Stock C class race from turn five. We were hoping that one of the Honda Civics would have a good race. Well, one finished 3rd and another rolled over as it hit the gravel trap in front of us in turn five.
We were very interesting in watching the H Production race. Steve Sargis who was the pole sitter in FP also was the pole sitter in HP by also a large margin. He took off at the green and never looked back until he took the checker by almost a half lap on the 2nd place car. This HP car is the same one he used to run in FP with an engine change. Apparently Steve has several Triumph chassis’ and knows all of the ins and outs of these cars and the rules governing them. The controversy in HP this year was the 2nd place car – a Honda Civic CRX. It won HP last year and was awarded 150 pounds to “even the field”. Early this year the CRX was still winning all of the races it entered. Mid year the SCCA decided to listen to the whining of some of the other HP drivers and add another 200 pounds to the CRX. That must have been when Sargis decided HP was an easy class to win and entered his red Spitfire.
Finally Sunday arrived and our race was scheduled at 1:30pm. We made our normal checks and re-checks and decided to run the narrow Hoosier 215 tires for the race since they had performed so well on Thursday. We waited to see if the sun was going to come out or if it was just going to stay very cool during our race to decide the final set up of the car. At 1pm we decided to move the rear bar by one notch but the bolt would not budge. At 1:15 we gave up and rushed down to grid to find they were already on a 3 minute warning. We just got Kevin’s helmet on, connected the Issac head & neck restraints, snapped in the window net, and cars were rolling – we had just made it!
Kevin had not had time to put in his ear phones so he could not hear the green flag call. He really didn’t need it since his plan was to tuck in behind Sargis and boost him to the front in turn one if he had to. He knew the gaggle of Miatas were going to work together to come after him as soon as Sargis pulled away. Sure enough Harris and Prill towed each other around the course and made several passes of Kevin – none of which stuck as Kevin re-passed immediately for 2nd place. Kevin also knows that the larger Integra punches a very nice hole in the wind for the Miatas to tuck into on the straights so they would catch him in turn one after the long uphill straight and in turn five after the long downhill straight. Surprisingly, from turn five to Canada corner Kevin pulled away from them quite nicely. Although Kevin had never taken the kink on the back straight flat out, he was enough better in the turns to pull out a few car lead.
Before the race we knew we could not stay with Sargis in his blazingly fast 50 year old British car. We also knew he was driving a 50 year old British car, and that at times he has some trouble finishing races, so our plan was just to keep him in site. On the start of the 8th lap as Sargis passed the start/finish I noticed a tell-tale sputter coming from the Spitfire and knew he was done. I couldn’t relay that to Kevin but I thought he would find out soon enough. Kevin passed Steve in the kink to take over first place. Now we would find out what kind of driver Kevin was. If you have never been in a position where you have just entered first place in the biggest race of your life, you can not begin to understand what goes through your mind. Both Kevin & I have experienced that before and discussed how to handle that pressure, fear, excitement, euphoria that leaps into your mind and keeps you from concentrating on driving. Kevin did exactly what he had to do. He forced himself to concentrate on the next corner, the next braking point, and the next turn in, until the race was over. Both Prill and Harris were close behind and waiting for Kevin to make the slightest error. He didn't, he drove a flawless race – especially those last six laps to win the F Production National Championship.
On the podium after he was presented with the first place trophy he was also presented with the Super Sweep award. Of the 27 classes running at the runoffs, 18 drivers were eligible for the Super Sweep. Kevin was one of only 4 drivers that achieved the Super Sweep which requires winning a premier event (Kevin won 2 premier events), winning your division championship (Kevin won Great Lakes division), winning the National Points championship (Kevin took first of 78 FP cars with 117 points over Eric Prill in second with 107), and winning the National Championship Runoffs race.
After the excitement of the podium and the spraying champagne we went on to the Tech Building. There they impounded the top six finishers and proceeded to go over our car (the first place car) with a magnifying glass. They checked compression ratio, throttle body, intake & exhaust head polish, bore, stroke, intake & exhaust valve dimensions, intake and exhaust valve travel, and fuel, among others. We were pretty sure we were OK since we checked everything we could before the race but we had not checked everything. It was nerve racking but it was nice to work with a knowledgeable and friendly person, and it was so nice to have passed.
|Ruck Wins National Championship||Sunday, September 26, 2010|
|For Immediate Release
Ruck Takes F Production Title and SCCA Super Sweep
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Sept. 26, 2010) – Kevin Ruck, of Delaware, Ohio, used skill and a little bit of luck to win the F Production National Championship and SCCA Super Sweep at Road America. Rick Harris, of Derby, Kan., and Bill Wessel, of Madison, Wis., completed the podium at the 2010 SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America Presented by Subway.
Starting third in the No. 73 Hoosier Tire/Engineered Performance Acura Integra, Ruck was charging from the drop of the green flag, taking over the second spot in Turn One as Gumout Polesitter Steve Sargis, from Frankfort, Ill., sped off into the distance in his No. 18 SBS Batteries/Goodyear Tire Triumph Spitfire.
Ruck soon had his hands full with the No. 8 JPM/Goodyear/Red Line Oil of Harris and while the pair fought for the runner-up spot, they were caught by the No. 7 JP Motorsports/Hoosier/ESCP/FIGHT-MS Mazda Miata of Eric Prill, from Topeka Kan.
“I was in third gear at the start and it jumped especially with the cool air today,” Ruck said. “My goal was to suck up on Steve and just focus on him and know where he was going to go. The guys in the Miatas got in formation behind me and caught up in back of me.”
The two-car battle became a three-car dog fight on lap six, when Harris ran wide in Turn Seven, allowing Prill to get by in Turn Eight. Ruck, Prill and Harris continued to shuffle positions as Sargis opened up a lead of more than eight seconds. On lap eight, however, it was clear that Sargis’ car was slowing and his gap to second-place Ruck shrunk quickly. When the battle for second arrived at the back straight, it instantly became a battle for the lead, as the trio blew past Sargis, who had slowed to a crawl.
“[Sargis] never checked out so far that we couldn’t see him,” Ruck said. “I was looking up and thought ‘it looks like he’s a little closer.’ Then, coming through Five he was just at the top of the hill. Then, I looked ahead to Turn Eight expecting to see his car digging out of Turn Eight and it wasn’t. We came through the Kink and he just moved over. It took me about half a lap before I realized (I was in the lead) and I asked ‘how many laps are left?’”
With the lead now on the line, Prill made the pass on Harris for second and sailed off in pursuit of Ruck.
“Eric [Prill] and I went back and forth, actually helping each other,” Harris said. “Miatas line up real well. He has a different gear box and I know where he is faster and where I am faster. I just had to take it on the chin in a few corners but, that was what I had to do.”
Prill closed the gap on Ruck, but his run ended prematurely on lap 10, when his Miata ran wide in Turn 12, then looped around and backed into the tire wall.
In only his second-career Runoffs race, the pressure was now on Ruck to pick his way through lapped traffic and bring it home for the win. The traffic allowed Harris to close on Ruck some in the closing corners of the 13-lap, 52-mile race, but at the checkered flag it was Ruck by 0.930-second, averaging 93.406 mph.
“I was trying to concentrate on getting the best run onto the straightaways,” Ruck recalled. “Through One the Miata's were better. The car did good through fourteen and up the hill.”
Ruck was also a Super Sweep winner, collecting the Great Lakes Division Division FP Championship, the FP National Points Championship, a key National race win and the Runoffs victory.
It was the third-straight podium finish for Harris, who won FP in his 2008 Runoffs debut and finished runner-up in 2009.
Wessel drove an uneventful race from eighth to third in the No. 47 Goodyear/Nissan Datsun SPL 311. It was his first podium finish since 2004 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
“From the start, I fell back a few spots until the old girl cleared her throat,” Wessel said. “I think I made my way back to fifth and then from there on it was just some gifts that fell my way. I ran most of the way by myself.”
Bob Bramlage, of Junction City, Kan., came home fourth in the No. 83 Spark Wraps/Jesse Prather Motorsports Mazda Miata.
Sam Henry, of Republic, Mo., was fifth in the No. 37 SpringfeildDyno/SafeRcer/ Goodyear Mazda Miata.
Gerald Lamb, Paul Kullman, Dieter Griesinger, Brian Linn and Serge Lentz completed the top 10.
Before retiring, Sargis set the fastest lap of the race, a record 2:31.590 (94.993 mph).
Michael Engelke, of Chilton, Wis., was named the Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race, advancing 16 positions from 28th on the grid to 12th at the finish.
Now in its 47th year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Subway annually crowns Champions in the Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing classes. The live broadcast of all 28 National Championship races will be available throughout the weekend at www.Speedcasttv.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.
Follow the action on Twitter @SCCAOfficial or the SCCA, Inc. Official Facebook page at facebook.com/sccaofficial.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Provisional Results from Sunday’s F Production National Championship Race, part of the 47th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (3), Kevin Ruck, Delaware, OH, Acura Integra, 13.
2, (2), Rick Harris, Derby, KS, Mazda Miata, 13.
3, (8), Bill Wessel, Madison, WI, Datsun SPL 311, 13.
4, (6), Bob Bramlage, Junction City, KS, Mazda Miata, 13.
5, (15), Sam Henry, Republic, MO, Mazda Miata, 13.
6, (12), Gerald Lamb, Oswego, IL, MG B, 13.
7, (19), Paul Kullman, Seminole, FL, Mazda Miata, 13.
8, (21), Dieter Griesinger, Maple Park, IL, Triumph Spitfire 1500, 13.
9, (7), Brian Linn, Hermosa Beach, CA, Mazda Miata, 13.
10, (18), Serge Lentz, Circleville, NY, Mazda Miata, 13.
11, (17), Mark Weber, Saint Louis, MO, Lotus Super 7, 13.
12, (28), Michael D Engelke, Chilton, WI, Honda CRX Si, 13.
13, (22), David Mead, Tacoma, WA, Mazda Miata, 13.
14, (23), Christopher Patrick, Derry, PA, Triumph Spitfire 1500, 12.
15, (25), Paul F Jensen, Colorado Springs, CO, Mazda Miata, 12.
16, (20), Robert Keller, Algonquin, IL, Volvo P-1800, 12.
17, (27), Michael T Gnadt, Kiel, WI, MG Midget, 12.
18, (26), James R Smith MD, Alvin, TX, Honda Civic Del Sol, 11.
19, (4), Eric Prill, Topeka, KS, Mazda Miata, 9.
20, (1), Steve Sargis, Frankfort, IL, Triumph Spitfire 1500, 8.
21, (5), Ken Kannard, East Troy, WI, Mazda Miata, 7.
22, (24), Ken Alderson, Westlake, OH, Opel GT, 6.
DNF, (13), Donald Kraftson, New York, NY, Elva Courier, 5.
DNF, (16), Rick Haynes, Hebron, OH, MG Midget, 3.
DNF, (9), Mason Workman, Reynoldsburg, OH, Mazda Miata, 0.
DNS, (10), Chuck Mathis, Saint Jacob, IL, Volkswagen Scirocco, 0.
DNS, (11), David W Strittmatter, Akron, OH, Lancia Scorpion, 0.
DNS, (14), Harold L Flescher, Palm Bch Grdns, FL, Austin-Healey Sprite, 0.
Time of Race: 33:24.146
Winner's average speed: 93.406 mph
Fastest race lap: #18 Steve Sargis 2:31.590 (94.993 mph)
Lap Leaders: 1-7, #18 Steve Sargis, 8-13, #73 Kevin Ruck
Sunoco Hard Charger: #31 Michael Engelke
|First win in ITB Civic||Tuesday, September 14, 2010|
|Kevin drove the ITB 1992 Civic at Mid Ohio for his first time. Since Dick drove the car back in August we had added a rear roll bar, increased the engine compression and re-tuned the ECU.
On Saturday as he was getting used to the car, he qualified 2nd behind Jim Hardison in his 90 Civic. At the green flag Kevin caught the brake while going for the clutch and lost about 10 spots. He gathered it up and charged back up through the field. He got right behind the leader in ITB but decided not to attempt a pass on the last lap. He finished second but turned in the fastest race lap time.
On Sunday they ran the pro course which does not include the turn 2 chicane. Kevin owns the track record in his ITA on the Pro course. He qualified on the ITB pole by nearly 2 seconds and proceeded to run away from the field for the win. He actually wasn't far behind the ITA leaders in this race.
Since Dick was in Alaska on a cruise with his mother and brothers the crew chief for the weekend was Carrie Troesch. She did a great job and had the shirt to prove it.
|Friday Test session for the FP Integra||Tuesday, September 7, 2010|
|Kevin drove the FP Integra at Mid Ohio on the Friday night test session at Mid Ohio. We had made many changes and fixes to the car and had to test them out before taking it to the National Championship Runoffs.
First we had to test the repairs we did to the left knuckle that broke at the June Sprints. We repaired the left knuckle and reinforced both knuckles to make up for the inherent weakness. In the last test session of the day the left control arm broke in half on the back straight. Kevin did a great job controlling the car and bringing it to a safe stop. Later we found that the left knuckle was cracked again, probably due to the impact of the broken control arm. We are thinking that the control arm may have been cracked or weakened at the Sprints when the knuckle broke. Actually we have never liked these "custom" made parts on the car. These were some of the only parts left from the previous owner so we decided to go back to good old OEM parts from Honda. Yes they weight about 4 pounds more on each front corner but it's worth it to have condfidence that your car will hold together for the whole race. Besides, since we have shaved nearly 100 pounds off our driver we have weight to spare.
The new brake master cylinder didn't work as expected either. It required too much input from the driver that would have been hard to maintain for a whole race. We had to intall another different master cylinder with another different mounting plate and new brake lines and a remote reservoir.
There were also electrical problems with the new voltage controller that we installed. We are still trying to figure out this thing.
Fortunately we learned a lot at this test session. Unfortunately our nest opportunity to test will be qualifying at the Runoffs.
|Good Showing at IT Festival||Monday, August 2, 2010|
|Traditionally we have never done well at this race. Something has always gone wrong for us. However, Kevin finished well enough in the last two years to win the ITA Triple Crown award. This year in addition to Kevin in the 92 ITA Integra, Dick entered the new ITB Civic for its first race and Dick's first race of the year. The Civic had been converted from ITC to ITB and the Integra had 70 pounds of lead bolted in to offset what the driver had lost, and we had decided to try a different type of tire from Hoosier which might be faster.
On Friday night Kevin drove the Integra in 3 test sessions to get used to the ITA car again and temper some new Hoosier tires. Of course Mid Ohio screwed everybody again by raising the cost above what they had advertised for the test day - no surprise there. Kevin drove his fastest lap he had ever done on Mid Ohio in the IT car of 1:43.28.
On Saturday morning Dick took out the new ITB Civic DX for qualifying on new Hoosier tires and turned in a 1:50.467. Surprisingly he found himself in 2nd place in the field of 13 cars. Kevin went out to qualify and temper another new set of tires. He turned in a respectable 1:44.103 for 3rd place behind both Mosers who were both in the 1:43s. Goran Pesevski was the only other driver to be in the 1:44s.
In the Saturday 20 lap race Dick started 16th overall and 2nd in class. All races this weekend were to start on the back straight rather than the traditional start-finish on the front straight. Dick fell back to 5th place in class but slowly increased his speed and regained position back to 3rd. At the checker he had caught Jim Heckman in his BMW and would have passed him if the race had gone another lap longer. First was taken by Scott Hileman in his VW who was running over 2 seconds a lap faster than anyone else in ITB – the speeds a top ITB car should be running.
Kevin’s race went as you would expect. Joey, Bob & Kevin checked out on the rest of the ITA cars. In lap six Bob briefly went wide in turn 13 and fell back. He re-entered the track and worked his way back to finish in third place behind Kevin and Joey. Fourth was Goran Pesevski in his CRX. The race was shortened due to the Honda Research Integra being on its side in the turn one sand trap.
Although Dick finished 3rd on Saturday he started the Sunday morning qualifying race 5th in class and 20th overall based on the lap times. Once again Dick battled back to 2nd in class but he could not hold off the horsepower of the BMW who passed him to leave him in 3rd once again and 16th overall. First, way out in front, was Scott Hileman again and 2nd was Jim Heckman again.
Kevin’s race was typical again. Although Kevin finished 2nd Bob edged him out with a slightly quicker lap time (.06 seconds) so Kevin started the race 3rd again. The race finished the way it started – Joey, Bob & Kevin. Although maybe not a real exciting race it was fun to watch the three best ITA drivers in the country driving nose to tail. The ITC race in the same run group was great fun to watch. Bob ran a great lap of 1:43.54. Kevin ran his best lap ever again with a 1:43.21. Joey ran a new ITA track record of 1:42.68 – just a tenth slower than the ITS track record currently held by our Prelude.
The final 20 lap race on Sunday afternoon started based on how you finished the morning qualifying race. Dick started 3rd in class and 16th overall and had a good start. Unfortunately in the first lap a VW driven by Ray Santomo hit the left side of Dick’s Civic in turn eleven and knocked him way back. Santomo then proceeded to tap another car in turn 12, and then bounce off a 3rd car hard in turn 13 which sent it spinning and started a huge crash. Dick saw it coming when the idiot passed him so he was able to get though the carnage without making more contact. Santomo’s reckless, bumper-car driving resulted in two destroyed cars, three or four more damaged cars, and it sent one driver to the hospital. Santomo had been driving aggressively all weekend and never finished above 5th. By Sunday he was frustrated enough to really “go for it”. He is the typical over aggressive young driver in a car that is faster than it should be (read illegal), driven by a clown who thinks he is driving in the Indy 500 – a very dangerous combination. Fortunately our club has rules and procedures to take care of someone like this so they don’t continue to damage vehicles and send people to the hospital. Unfortunately, as good as the club’s rules and procedures are they are left in the hands of local volunteers who work for nothing and are usually overpaid. The race stewards, in their pretty embroidered hats and shirts so everyone will know who is “in charge” did absolutely nothing. They had witness statements and video which collaborated exactly what I had told them and written down in my statement and still they did nothing. Well it seems our only hope is that Santomo kills himself in that car before he gets someone else killed.
Kevin went out for the 20 lap race starting 3rd again behind the Mosers. In the first three laps they all stayed close. In lap 3 Kevin passed Bob and went after Joey. He got within 1 second of him in lap five and started to pull away from Bob. In lap 11 after the heat of the day affected both the tires and brakes on the much heavier Integra, Bob re-passed Kevin for 2nd place. Once again great driving by all three but the lighter, more nimble CRX’s proved to be the car for the Mid Ohio Club Course. Kevin commented on the weekend – “So with three wins, Joe took the overall IT Fest Champion honors, and an impressive track record. Dude's just flying. By beating me in the Sunday afternoon race, Bob took 2nd overall, and I got 3rd. Still though, my best IT Fest ever, and the car did real well despite the warm track temps all weekend. In all, it was really just a blast to get back into the "old shoe's" ITA car and mix it up with Joe & Bob again. Awesome, awesome, awesome racing against the two guys I most want to race against. Got me all excited for the ARRC again.”
It was a great weekend with a bunch of our great IT friends. We were thrilled to see Kevin’s brother & wife Andy & Sarah, and his nephews Drew & Nolan come to the track on Saturday, and we were also happy to have Kevin’s mom come to watch Saturdays race. We were also very fortunate to have our assistant crew chief Carrie Troesch for the weekend.
|Another 2nd at the June Sprints||Sunday, June 27, 2010|
|We left early in the week for Oshkosh to get to the Lake House before we had to go to the track. We put the boat in the water, changed oil in the jetski and put it on the lift, cut the grass, etc. On Thursday morning early we drove the race rig to Road America for the test day. We wouldn't normally have done that but we were testing some radial tires for Hoosier again. We had to totally change the car over to run the radials and we had a brand new splitter and air damn on the car. The car was more loose than it had ever been before - probably due to our setup, not the tires. With only two test sessions there wasn't much time to fine tune the setup before the day was over and we had to go back to the bias ply setup for the rest of the weekend. That proved to be a lot more work than we had anticipated, and the new splitter combined with the fact that we had removed the brake ducts several races earlier also gave us braking problems. Apparantly we don't need brake ducts at most tracks but we sure needed them at Road America.
The first test session on Friday morning left Kevin very nervous with the car. It was still loose and the brakes were gone after things heated up. Kevin turned in a 2:40.224 which was 6 seconds behind his best lap last year and 5th in FP. For the afternoon first qualifying session we made and installed brake ducts that helped some, but the brakes still were not right. Kevin had to drive one hot lap and let the brakes cool down before driving another hot lap. We posted a 2:37.63 which left us 3rd in FP behind Ken Kannard on the pole and Nigel Saurino in 2nd.
Before the Saturday qualifying session we decided to leave the splitter on but replace our brake fluid with Castrol SRF ($80 per quart) which finally eliminated the brake boiling problem. The car was set up better and the brakes were now fine but it still took time for Kevin to regain condfidence in the car. As any smart driver would, he slowly worked his way up to faster speeds. He turned in a 2:36.094 which still left us in 3rd place in FP and 13th on grid. Kannard(Miata) was on FP pole in 3rd place, and Saurino(MG Midget) was 2nd in 7th position on the grid. Between the three of us were a bunch of EP cars and a few GTL cars. The 4th place FP car was Don Kraftson(Elva Courier) who was right behind Kevin in 14th. Larry Funk(CRX) and David Strittmatter(Lancia Scorpian) were in 17th and 18th.
Satruday evening we fine tuned the setup, changed a few spherical bearings, replaced the left rear wheel bearing/hub, and bled the brakes again.
Sunday morning it was wet from the rain storm during the night. It rained at the beginning of the race just before ours but the track was drying out fast. Then just before our race the sky turned dark and the radar showed another cell coming our way, so we bolted on the rain tires and changed to the wet setup. Of course just 2 minutes before we had to go to the grid it started to clear so we quickly put back on the dry tires and the dry setup and sped down to the false grid. As we were going to grid on our dry setup it started to sprinkle.
At the green flag the track was just slightly damp but OK. Kevin had another great start and by the end of the first lap went from 13th to 7th and 2nd in class. By the end of the 2nd lap he had gone to 5th and 1st in class. After a full course yellow and restart Kevin went to third place overall before Kannard passed him on the 6th lap going up the hill on the front straight. Kevin stayed close to Kannard until lapped traffic got between them and allowed Kannard to pull away from Kevin. The race continued in that order to the end. Actually on the last lap Kevin reported that the car suddenly refused to turn right without massive steering input. Kevin managed to limp the car around to finish in 2nd thanks to the roughly 20 second lead he had on the 3rd & 4th place FP cars of Bill Wessel and Nigel Saurino. We found out later that hitting the new large berms at Road America had actually broken the custom made left knuckle. It was only held together by the brake caliper mounting web. We repaired and reinforced both knuckles to strengthen this apparant weak spot in the design.
It was a frustrating week with many problems with the car but we worked through them all and learned a ton. The weather alternated from drop dead gorgeous to horible thunder storms. We were fortunate to have family from Oshkosh come to watch us race. Connie & Lyle Conrad, Kevin & Micki Dewing, Kerry & Eliot Hosenfeld and Kevin's mom came to watch the race.
So far this year we have run seven races. We have taken four pole positions, set two track records, won four races, and placed 2nd in three races. Last year we ended the season with 80 National points for 3rd place in the country. We now have 114 National points to lead the nation in the F Production class.
|Great Racing at Grattan||Monday, May 31, 2010|
|We have been used to going to Grattan nearly every year for the Memorial Day double but this was the first year it was a double National race. We knew this track wasn't made for the Integra. It only has one straight but many twisting turns most of which are blind and sharp. That makes it very fun to drive but more suited to the quick turning cars like the Lotus Super 7 or CRXs.
We arrived Friday evening and the infield was already full so we went up on the hill outside the track again. There's no power and you have to wait for the track to open to cross to the inside but Laddie likes the grass. After getting set up we found the Huffmaster camp and spent most of the evening with our good friends Ray & Rob & Mike.
The next morning we went out for a practice session to check out the partially newly paved track, to see we had the oil leak fixed, and to see if the .180" rear bar was going to work on the car. Everything was fine and Kevin turned in a time of 1:28.158 which was almost identical to his fastest time last year. He was third fastest behind Peter Morton and Joe Walker both in FP Lotus Super 7s. The next closest FP car was Bill Wessel in his Nissan SPL.
That afternoon Kevin went out to qualify in the heat of the day, around 90 degrees. Kevin had a tough time trying to find clear track but on his last lap turned in a 1:27.189 which was his best ever. It was actually good enough for the overall poll position in front of Peter Morton by .3 seconds and Sam Halkias' EP car by 1.2 seconds. Joe Walker had broke something on his car and went home.
Our first race was Sunday morning at 10:30 and it was already on its way to 90 degrees. We employed two ziplock bags of ice to keep Kevin cool in his fire suit. Kevin managed to keep Peter and the EP cars behind him all the way to turn one at the start. Sam had passed Peter for second but that didn't last long. In lap 5 Peter scooted past Kevin for the lead and never looked back. He was flying. He actually turned in a 1:25.753 to break his own track record while holding Kevin off. Kevin ran a great race and finished well ahead of all the EP and other FP cars in the field. He turned in his best ever lap of 1:26.978, 1.2 seconds faster than his fastest lap last year. The car handled great and the Hoosier tires ran well enough through the whole hot race to lap all but 5 of the other cars. Bill Wessel took 3rd in FP and 6th overall.
Sunday afternoon we had to go back out in the heat to qualify for Monday's race. Kevin was tempering a new set of Hoosiers on the front so he was building speed gradually. On his 8th lap he clicked off a 1:27.836 which turned out to be good enough for the overall poll again. Peter only did two laps before his front wheel started vibrating due to a cracked knuckle. He was lucky it lasted through the race and went bad in qualifying.
Monday morning it started raining at 7am. The hardship practices and the first race was pretty wet even though it had stopped raining by then. By our race the sun came out and it had dried out pretty well. Once again Kevin kept all the cars behind him through turn one but Peter had blasted from 4th to 2nd right behind Kevin. Once again Kevin stayed in front of Peter until the fifth lap. After Peter took the lead nothing much changed from the day before. We were actually running older tires since we couldn't catch the Lotus anyway and there wasn't anyone else in FP that could catch us.
These two races netted Kevin 18 divisional points, and 28 national points to put him in first in both categories. The weather was great, the food and people at Grattan was excellant and we couldn't have had a better weekend.
|FOUR FOR FOUR||Sunday, May 23, 2010|
|After some more Hoosier tire testing on Friday evening at Mid Ohio, we tore into the car to reset the car setup back to our standard tires. The car was running well but was still spitting a little oil from our catch can. And for some reason the splitter/air damn we had just build unattached itself from the car even thought we didn't even hit anything.
On Saturday morning is was raining when we awoke, but by the time we were to go out for our first qualifying session it had stopped raining but was still threatening. At first we weren't going to go out at all and wait for the afternoon session because it was supposed to be clearing as the day went on. Then we decided we had better not bet it all on the weather forecast which is usually wrong so we went out. We went out in the dry setup and it was horribly spippery. Of course the rear wheel drive cars had a worse time than us and Kevin ended up turning in some relatively quick laps. We grabbed the overall pole in the non-SRF group but expected that not to stand after the next session.
By the time the afternoon came along it was certainly clearing and the sun was popping out occasionaly. But just as our group was called to grid it started pouring again and the times in the second session were worse than the first. Anyway we took the overall pole with 5 EP cars right behind us before two FP cars could be found.
Kevin controlled the speed of the start to a slow pace because he knew he had less horsepower but more torque than the EP rotary Mazdas. He held off all of them except Jason Albright but in the second lap he got back around him to regain the overall lead. Kevin pulled out to about a 10 second lead and started to cruise. In lap 5 our primary competition in FP Mason Workman got knocked off the track by one of the EP Mazdas so we thought we would have an easy race from then on. Just then we saw David Strittmatter in his Lancia Scorpian charging up behind Kevin. Kevin picked up the pace and even turned in his bast lap of the day in the 17th lap of the 19 lap race. For the next ten laps Strittmatter chipped away at the lead until he got right behind Kevin with about 4 laps to go. Although the Lancia was faster in the tight turns, the Integra was able to pull away on the straights where a pass might have been attempted. Kevin ran a flawless race to take the overall win and his fourth win of the year so far.
Surpisingly, Kevin's fastest lap was only .4 seconds slower than the Scorpian. And even more surprisingly, the winning EP car finished well behind Kevin and David and the fastest EP lap was 2 seconds slower than the fastest FP lap.
It was a great win and a great weekend with tons of fans in attendance. We had over a dozen spectators including Kevin's Aunt Connie, Uncle Lyle, and Grandma Ruth all the way from Wisconsin.
|Testing Tires at Blackhawk||Friday, April 30, 2010|
|On Tuesday we loaded up the rig with the Prod car and headed for Indiana. We arrived at the Hoosier warehouse just before lunch and received a great tour from Bruce Coss while they mounted the experimental tires on our wheels. We can't discuss anything about the tires but we can say it is awesome working with a great company like Hoosier that puts so much time and money into research. They are forever trying to make better tires to help us racers be safe, get more value for our money and above all WIN.
After leaving Hoosier we visited our long time friend Rob Huffmaster. Rob & his father Ray are our good friends and great racers. Last November Robby put on a drving clinic at the ARRC in the ITS sprint race. He's always been a great driver but he keeps getting better - now I think we know why. He is the manager of Michiana Raceway, an extremely nice Karting track in Northern Indiana. They have dozens of different karts and several different configurations of the track where Robby gets to hone his driving skills at infinitum. It was great to see Rob again.
After visiting Robby we carried on to Blackhawk Farms Raceway in Northern Illinois. The next morning we went in and set up in the brand new tech building - very nice. Kevin hasn't driven Blackhawk since his first driving school back in 1999 in our 1985 ITC Civic. It took a few laps for him to get up to speed but he certainly did by turning in several laps in the 1:19'S. Kevin kind of liked being the only car on track. Unfortunately mid afternoon we snapped off a lug bolt on the front left wheel so the day was over.
|Two National Wins||Saturday, April 24, 2010|
|Two More Wins at Virginia International Raceway
We have only been to VIR once before with the ITA Integra and we won both races. We just loved the track and the people (read news article from 13-May-2008). We also remembered that we won that weekend because the competition wasn’t great, not because Kevin ran the track that well. We knew that it was a tough track to learn and it was probably better suited for the smaller nimbler cars rather than the Integra due to the huge number of twists and turns, even though there were three places on the track where the FP car reached over 130 mph. They actually have one track configuration with like 46 turns called the Grand Circuit. Fortunately we weren’t running that one, just the normal full track.
This was not only our first time at this track with the FP Integra but it was out first double National race. Fortunately we were used to running double races in the ITA cars. Friday morning was the first qualifying session for the Saturday race. Kevin ran eleven laps during the session to maximize his learning of the track. He managed to turn in a lap of 2:12.309 which we thought was pretty good. Turns out it was only good enough for 3rd behind Harold Flescher in his BMC Sprite with a 2:12.009 and the pole sitter Donald Kraftson in his Elva Courier with a 2:11.468. Later that day we went out for the first qualifying session for the Sunday race. Of course it was a lot hotter so no one ran better laps. Actually Flescher didn’t even go out. He was just interested in getting his fourth finish of the year so he could qualify for the Runoffs.
Friday evening we had the good fortune of having Jeff Underwood join us in the RV. His advice to Kevin on how to handle the turns of VIR was invaluable while we watched in-car video. Saturday morning Kevin took the car out for its second qualifying session for the Saturday race. The cool morning air and sunny skies, along with Jeff’s cornering advice allowed Kevin to take 1.1 seconds off his best time the day before. Unfortunately Kraftson shaved 1.6 seconds off his time and came within a half second of the FP track record. That left Kevin in second place in FP and 6th on grid right behind FP pole sitter Kraftson who was 4th on grid. Flescher was 3rd in FP and started 10th on grid.
The race was just before lunch. The weather was pretty much perfect for Southern Virginia – about 72 degrees and sunny. Kevin had a good start and followed the Courier into turn one. Just as they reached the braking zone the Courier lurched left, then right, and then left in front of Kevin and off the track. Kraftson had locked up his rear brakes. Fortunately he hadn’t damaged anything and was able to return to the track but way back. Now Kevin had to just stay in front of Harold Flescher. On the 3rd lap Harold broke a control arm which sent him off the track near the famous Oak Tree corner. That left Serge Lentz in 2nd but way back and Kevin continued to pull away from Serge. In the 8th lap Kraftson had made his way up to pass Lentz for 2nd place but he could not shave any of the 25 second lead that Kevin had built up. Kevin ran a very consistent race while having fun with the GTL cars and one very fast in the straights and very slow in the corners Caterham 7 EP car piloted by Christine Fox. He won the FP race and finished 7th overall with a fastest lap of 2:12.881. Kraftson had set the fastest FP lap with a 2:11.949. Third place was Serge Lentz with a fastest lap of 2:15.458. Flescher had to try to get his finish tomorrow.
Sunday morning we went out again early for the second qualifying session of the Sunday race. The track was cool even though the skies were sunny. On the first hot lap Kevin felt the car wiggle in turn one. He gathered it up and tried to shave some speed in turn two and going into turn 3 when the rear end just broke loose. He saved it once left and once right and just about had it back in control when he ran out of track in turn four. He went off track just past the tire wall and hit the guard rail pretty hard with the front left of the car. It then spun around and tapped the left rear corner as well. He was able to drive the car back to paddock so we could start work on repairs. We took the car and tools over to the skid pad to get away from the insidious gravel in the paddock area. We used Jeff’s truck to pull on the car to get it close to back in shape. Fortunately there was no damage to the engine, cooling or oil systems. We were also fortunate that our race was moved to after the lunch quiet time on Sunday. We got the bumper back on, the hood closed and the light panels back in place. The air damn/splitter was destroyed. We knew that running without it would cost us maybe 5-8 mph on the straights.
We made it to false grid just in time not really knowing where we would be starting. They put us 2nd in FP behind Kraftson again in 9th position on grid. Lentz was only two places back on grid and Flescher decided to start at the very back just to get his finish. Kevin had another good start and passed several cars on the outside of turn one including Kraftson. On the second lap Kraftson passed Kevin on the back straight to re-take the lead. Since we were not real sure if the car was 100% we decided before the start just to stay in the race and not take any chances with overstressing the car. Kevin was following Kraftson on lap 5 when the Elva Courier decided to give up one cylinder which ended its race. At that time Kevin was 17 seconds in front of Lenz. Kevin won the FP race and finished 6th overall running in the conserve mode 25 seconds in front of Lenz. Third place in FP was Barry Perkins in his MG. We were happy to see the Integra had actually turned in a faster time then the day before by .3 seconds even without the air damn.
Yes, the fastest car on the track this weekend was not ours. But in order to win a race you have to finish all the laps. That’s where our secret weapon comes in……….it’s called a HONDA.
Our best luck of the weekend was having Jeff Underwood there to help. We could not have put the car on track without him on Sunday.
Sunday afternoon we packed everything up and dropped the race trailer in the fenced area of VIR with their permission. We took the Honda Elite on the hitch platform behind the Discovery RV and Kevin followed on his Honda CBR motorcycle to the Staunton River State Park where we vacationed for the next three days. On Thursday we drove back to VIR for the Super Race Weekend as spectators and picked up the trailer for the trip back home on Sunday evening. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it!!
By the way, the car is 45 pounds lighter than it ever has been before because of the driver.
|Kevin gets First National Win, Beats Track Record||Monday, March 22, 2010|
|This was Kevin's 8th National race in the F Production Integra. Of the eight races, it was his 4th pole position, but only his first win. Last year, even though we finished 3rd in FP National points, we had difficulty finding the top of the podium.
This was our first race ever in March and our first race with the FP Integra at Road Atlanta. However, Kevin is no rookie at Road Atlanta. He's finished 7th, 3rd, 2nd, 5th, 1st, and 1st in the ITA ARRC race held there every November. He was anxious to see what the FP car could do at one of his favorite tracks.
We went down to Atlanta a day early so we could run a couple of the practice sessions on Friday before qualifying began on Saturday. In addition to shaking the dust off the driver we needed to test the repairs we completed on the car due to a slight crash in October when Richard was driving the car. We also were testing a new larger air damn on the car and the car was 30 pounds lighter than last year.
In the first test session we found that the new air damn was just a bit too low. Under braking the damn would scrape the track and vibrate due to buffeting of the air. In the second session we removed the air damn/splitter and the rear wing and went back out. The car ran well but it was considerably slower on the straights without the air damn. That night we modified the air damn and its mounting brackets and remounted it on the car.
In Saturday's first qualifying session it was cool and sunny - just the way the car likes it. Kevin was driving better each session and each lap so he decided to go ahead and crank one out - and turned in a 1:38.02, .75 seconds faster than the FP track record. And of course, he said "It will go even faster". His only real competition, David Bryson, in a Miata came in early with a car problem.
Later that day Kevin went out for the second qualifying session. We made some adjustments to the car and we removed the rear wing to see if the car could handle the front splitter without the wing. The car ran great and cranked out a couple more laps below the track record and the fastest lap overall of the run group. Bryson was back running well and also ran below the track record but still slower than Kevin.
On Sunday as was predicted the weather was miserable. It was cold and rainy all day. We strapped on our new Hoosier rains and went out to race. Sam xx in an EP BMW Z3 was on overall pole, Kevin was second with the FP pole, 3rd was Bryson. As they came down the hill it was still raining so when the green flag flew and Sam hit the gas his powerful engine instantly broke the wheels loose and he spun right in the middle of the track. Fortunately Kevin had hit the green perfectly and accelerated past Sam. The rest of the group all managed to miss the spinning Z3 but that left Kevin with about a 6 second lead. Bryson broke out of the pack and came after Kevin. On the second lap he was only back 4 seconds, and only 2.2 seconds on the third lap. He was going really fast...........too fast. He spun in turn five and hit the wall pretty hard. Kevin was increasing his speed steadily and carefully. After only a few more laps most of the Spec Racer Fords caught up from the split start. Turns out the SRF cars are only about 3 seconds slower in the rain than in dry. Even though there was no competition left in FP, Kevin continued to gain speed and ended up running some consistantly fast rain laps throughout the race.
It was a great weekend at a great track. Too bad we couldn't have taken down the track record but we'll get it some other time.
|Kevin named National Rookie Driver of the Year||Monday, February 1, 2010|
|At the SCCA National Convention in Las Vegas on January 30 Kevin was awarded the Jim Fitzgerald Award by Club Racing Board Chairman Bob Dowie. "The Rookie of the Year award recognizes the driver showing the greatest promise demonstrated during their first season of national competition. Named after driving instructor, mentor and national champion Jim Fitzgerald of the Southeast division. Past recipients include Mathew Godell, Dick Van Qusoe, and last years honoree Chris Calloway. Our 2009 recipient, although a young man, has ten years of wheel to wheel racing experience in our competitive Improved Touring Class. Moving to the Production category in 2009 provided him the opportunity to compete in a national program. Never one to shy away from tough competition, our recepient ran against the toughest compitition available at the most prestigious events. Running eight nationals, he was able to capture the Division Championship, as well as a second place finish at the June Sprints. The Runoffs saw him work hard to qualify in the fourth position in the final session. After a wild first lap had him in eight place, he put his head down and went to work finishing a respectable fifth. But he wasn't done yet - after the Runoffs, he and his family loaded up the IT car, headed to Atlanta and won the hotly contested ARRC Championship. I told you he likes tough competition. We are proud to award the Jim Fitzgerald Rookie of the Year Award to Kevin Ruck of the Ohio Valley Region."
Actually, Kevin raced in seven national races and one regional race. Of those 8 races he captured 4 pole positions and led every race. He finished with 1 first, 5 seconds, and fifth at the runoffs after falling back to ninth in the first lap and battling back to third before the tires were totally gone. He did win the ITA ARRC race for the second year in a row.
Kevin was surprised and honored to have been chosen amongst the astonishing class of first year drivers in 2009.