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|2011 ARRC at Road Atlanta||Monday, November 7, 2011|
|We decided to take both ARRC Champion cars back to Road Atlanta this year to see what we could do. It was the first time Kevin got to drive two cars at the ARRC.
On Thursday we did one test session on the ITA Integra and one in the ITB Civic. Both cars ran well although the last session in the ITB Civic was a bit damp from rain. Late that night Sam Myers arrived to help us keep both cars running well all weekend.
On Friday the Civic was out first. It was very difficult to find enough track for a clear lap with the fast ITS cars and the slow IT7 cars in the same group so we only qualified 5th behind a bunch of Volkswagens and a Mazda Protégé. In the second session the cars were gridded in order of their best times so it was a bit better but it was warmer so not many cars did better. Kevin did however manage to improve to turn in a 1:48.292 for 4th place behind Tristan Herbert in his VW (1:47.084), Kirk Knestis in his VW (1:47.805), and Chi Ho in his Protégé (1:48.173). After the last session we found a bad wheel bearing on the left rear wheel that we replaced with a spare from our friends the Mosers. We also noticed that the brake shoes were quite worn but since the rear brakes don’t do much we decided not to try to find replacements.
The Integra went out second on a cool day and ran well. Kevin turned in a 1:42.484 which was just about a tenth slower than our pole time from two years ago. Unfortunately both Brian Price in his Miata (1:41.461)and Joe Moser in his CRX (1:41.833) were faster. In the afternoon session the Integra ran well again. Although it didn’t go faster than the morning, it turned in the fastest lap in the session followed by Bob Moser, then Joe Moser. After we got the cars all ready for the races on Saturday we went to the Friday night dinner of Cesar salad and spaghetti. It wasn’t bad.
Saturday morning we went to the turn five hill and watched the Ground Pounders race. That is the GT1, GTA, and SPO. cars that really haul. We got the ITB car down to grid and ready for the race. It was weird starting 4th and in the middle of all those VW’s and a Protégé instead of Hondas. At the start of the race Kirk Knestis in 3rd place missed a shift so Kevin just pulled around him and into 3rd. On the second lap Kevin passed Chi Ho in the Protégé and put himself right on the bumper of the VW in 1st driven by Tristan Herbert. In the next two laps Kevin stuck right on his bumper as Tristan struggled to shake Kevin. By the 5th lap the tires on the VW were already starting to go away as Kevin tires on the Civic were just coming in. Just then as Kevin pulled along side of Tristan going into turn 10 the brake seal in the left rear wheel failed which left the car with no brakes at all. Fortunately, Tristan did not turn in when the Civic charged through the turn and off the track and back over the track after 10b. When the car hit the track at speed it flattened the tire and dented the wheel which put Kevin out of the race. Tristan carried on to win the race with Tom Martin in second in another VW Gulf, and Kirk Knestis in third. That was the first time the ITB Civic has DNFed. Too bad because it was a certain win.
At three o’clock the ITA race finally went green. Kevin started 3rd behind Brian Price and Joe Moser. The three of them broke away from the field and pulled out to a substantial lead. Joe & Brian traded the lead a couple times until Brian started to pull away. On the 8th lap Brian dropped 2 wheels off in three which allowed Joey to jump into first place. By then Brian and Joe had pulled far enough from Kevin to break the draft so Kevin started to fall back. It looked like it was going to finish in that order when on the last lap Joey drove off of turn one. It turns out his left radius rod snapped like a twig. Talk about a freak failure. That left Brian in 1st, Kevin in 2nd and way back Bob in 3rd. A second place with this awesome field was quite good. Especially since Brian has placed his car up for sale, and Bob & Joe have said they will put their CRX’s up for sale. If they are not around Kevin may not want to come back next year to no competition.
In impound they pulled the head on the Miata and made us and Bob pull the intake and exhaust headers to inspect for polishing and porting, and the starter motor to inspect the flywheel. After that we packed up the trailer and went to the dinner banquet for burgers. After that we went to our RV to see in car videos and then to a memorial party for “Mac” where some serious drinking occurred. After that a bunch of us went to Brian Price’s trailer and invited him to the turn five party. The T5 party had the LSU-Oklahoma game on, a couple bonfires, food and drinks as usual.
In order to get home early enough to watch the Packers beat the Chargers and go 8-0 we left right after we woke up Sunday morning. It was really nice having Sam Meyers to help crew and Laddie had a great time enticing all sorts of people to pet him. It was a great weekend as the ARRC always is but it would have been better with a win in ITB and a 2nd in ITA.
|Three Ruck Racing Cars at Mid Ohio||Tuesday, October 11, 2011|
|We took all three of our Regional race cars to Mid Ohio for the Ohio Valley Sprints. Kevin wanted to check out the ITA Integra to get ready for the ARRC. Dick wanted to get his two races in for the year in the ITB Civic. And Bob Lawrence took out the ITC Civic to get his two races for the year. That meant it was Carrie Troesch who was going to be our crew chief and try to keep us all in the right place at the right time.
The ITA Integra had been run earlier in the year at the IT Festival but it did not run great. This time we moved the Koni 2812 shocks and the Hy-Tech exhaust header from the FP Integra and we ran A6 radials on 14” Panasports. Before we even took the Integra out on track Kevin felt a clunking noise when he moved the car in paddock. Sure enough the passenger side half shaft had broken so we put in the spare. He was the first out on Saturday morning in group two and he did very well. Although there was not a great ITA field, he ran within .7 seconds of his best time ever for the overall pole position in the run group. He loves the Koni 2812 shocks and says they make the car so smooth and easy to drive – they should since they cost $990……….EACH.
Dick and Bob were in run group six and since they were just trying to finish their races and hadn't raced in over a year, they both went out and took it slow and steady. Dick qualified 6th of 7 cars and Bob qualified 6th of 9 cars. Both the ITB and ITC fields had some very good cars entered.
The ITB Civic had not been run since the ARRC last November at Road Atlanta where Kevin won the national championship sprint race, and Kevin and Dick won the 3 hour enduro race. We had to install a new clutch since it had started slipping in the enduro. We also installed new front brake rotors and pads, and replaced the distributor O-ring to try to fix an oil leak. We also replaced the driver’s side front knuckle when we found some damage.
The ITC Civic had been run just a few weeks earlier by Kevin at the OVR Autumn classic. There he tested changes we made to the car which made it quite a bit faster. Kevin ran 3 ½ seconds faster than he had ever ran before in that car at Mid Ohio.
At the start of Kevin’s race he got jumped by two very fast cars not in his class, an S2000 in T3 and a RX7 in STL. Even though Kevin had out qualified them, they had a bunch more power then he did. Kevin pulled out in front of Matt Downing in 2nd in his Civic EX, and Greg Vandersluis in 3rd in his Civic Si. In the second to last lap Kevin said he felt vibration and that his brakes were not working properly. He limped around for the final lap and won the race. He even finished the cool down lap before bringing it in to impound and the paddock where he discovered a bad front driver’s side bearing that has caused the end of the half shaft to break off and the brake disc to wobble. Fortunately we had a complete spare knuckle with a new bearing and long wheels studs. We also had a spare half shaft for that side. For Sunday’s race we were now running on both of our spare half shafts that were probably not great. Because of that we raised up the front of the car about a half inch to take some strain off the half shafts to try to make them last longer.
Dick started 10th on grid and Bob started 20th. Dick was right behind the ITC leader and in front of the 2nd ITC car. He didn’t want to mess up their race so he decided to get out in front of them and try to stay there. He did just that with a great start and finished 4th in ITB behind Dan Hardison in his Civic, Tony Swan in his Accord, and John Lukcaz in his VW GTi. He actually drove most of the race in 3rd but let Lukcaz in his VW go when he got tired near the end of the race.
Bob could not stay with the 4 leaders in ITC who were way out in front and actually finished mid pack in the ITB race. They were Carl Holbrook in his Renault, Jim Royal in his Renault, Bill Shearer in his Civic, and Jim Hardesty in his Civic. Bob did, however, pull out in front of the rest of the group and finish 5th with a very respectable 1:53.778 – over 6 seconds faster than he qualified. It was nice to have Kevin’s sister Kerry and husband Eliot come up to watch us race. Kevin & Carrie’s friends Kyle & Kendra also were there to watch.
On Sunday they switched over to the Pro course which removes the chicane before the keyhole turn. This course is normally a couple seconds faster and favors the “power” cars more than the “handling” cars. Kevin owns the track record on the Pro course for ITA with a 1:40.847. The Sunday morning sessions were a 10 lap qualifying race rather than just a qualifying session. The finishing order of this race would determine the starting order of the afternoon 13 lap main race. Kevin got caught up in a sort of mess at the start and decided to stay back and see how it all sorted out. He emerged in 7th place overall and began fighting his way back to the front. The two fast cars were still out in front but Kevin managed to pick off the rest to get to 1st in class and 3rd overall after just 3 laps. On the 8th lap Kevin felt the vibration of a broken half shaft that he was all too familiar with. The spare that we had put on the passenger side had broken and put Kevin out of the race. That meant that he would have to start last if we could find another shaft to put back in. We knew we had good Raxle shafts on the FP Integra but they were back at the shop. Kevin jumped in the CR-V and drove back to Delaware to get the shafts he needed while Dick & Bob ran their qualifying race.
Dick fell back to let the ITC guys have a good race and finished 10th while Bob did well and finished 13 with a lap of 1:51.320.
That afternoon Kevin’s mother Diane and friend Sheryl came up to watch the race on another beautiful day. Kevin went out and ran away from the ITA field with awesome lap times. Unfortunately the driver side shaft which was the other questionable spare gave up the ghost on the 11th lap which once again put Kevin out of the race. We should have brought both shafts from the FP car instead of just the one.
Dick & Bob did very well again and both finished 5th in their class.
|2011 National Champion Runoffs||Wednesday, September 21, 2011|
|Kevin had to attend the OVR special race at Mid Ohio on Saturday because he was the Regional Executive of the club. He was going to race in it too but because they moved his first qualifying session to Monday morning of the Runoffs, he had to drive to Wisconsin on Sunday. Meanwhile Dick, Diane & Sheryl drove the race rig up to the Lake House in Oshkosh on the Thursday before. On Saturday Dick & Lyle drove the rig over to Road America to set up paddock on Championship Row since we were last years FP National Champion. On Sunday after the Packer game Dede & Sheryl drove Dick back to Road America.
We woke up to the alarm this morning at 6:30 and it was still pouring, (You can tell pretty easy if its raining when sleeping in the RV) so we said no thanks and did not go out. No sense taking a chance with the car when there is virtually no chance of it raining for the race on Friday - not that we would mind. With our front wheel drive car with rear brake bias, brand new H2O Hoosiers and a mudder driver like Kevin it would be game over. Anyway, we will go out tomorrow and see how she goes. Kev, Carrie & I went to Elkahrt Lake to the welcome dinner at the Osthoff Hotel. This is always an awesome event and it did not disapoint.
Today was a beautiful day, sunny and hovering around 72 degrees. We took the car out for our first qualifying session at 10:40 am. The HP cars went out first because they had the fastest time in the rain on Monday. We held back and went last to try to find some open track. After some warm up laps the car sputtered in the corners and it kept getting worse and worse. The best Kevin could do was a 2:37.568 for 7th place. The pole had Sargis at a 2:32.171. When we pumped out the remaining fuel it had only a few cups left in the tank. Apparently when we pumped out the non-Road America fuel we took out much more than we usually do and introduced air in the system and didn't put enough back in for the session. We inspected inside the fuel cell and everything else on the fuel system and refilled the car. Then we pumped out any air in the system and took a sample down to tech. We bled the brakes, changed tires, added some oil, vacuumed it out, and covered her for the night. Then Kevin, Carrie & I drove to Fond du lac to meet family for my birthday dinner at Blanck's Lake Aire.
Today the weather was cool but nice. We took the car out just after lunch for our qualifying session to see if we had the stumbling fixed. We did. The car ran fine and Kevin took 3 seconds off his best time (2:34.254) to put himself in 3rd place behind Sargis (2:33.077) on pole and Prill (2:33.318) in second. Kevin actually had an even better lap going just as they black flagged the session due to a car off in turn eight. If we can't be on pole, third is right where we like to be for the start of the race – on the inside just behind Sargis where we were last year. Kevin doesn’t really shoot for one fast lap qualifying to put him on pole. He almost always runs faster lap in the race and actually runs faster as the race goes on – just the opposite of most drivers. The new Hoosier radials are partly responsible for that. Tomorrow we will run our last qualifying session before Friday’s race. We attended the production party and had some great food donated by Johnsonville Sausage.
Again the weather was cool but nice. We didn’t have to go out for our last session until 4:10pm so it was an easy day. We took the car to the flat slab and checked her for toe in and corner weights and everything was fine. In the last session we just couldn’t get a clear lap without a HP car in the way and a yellow flag there to keep us from passing. Then, when the track started to clear up, the car started sputtering low on fuel. Anyway we fell to 4th place when Ken Kannard ran a slightly faster lap that our previous best. That’s really no big deal as long as you are in the first two rows where less bad things happen in the first couple of laps. We went to the Worker of the Year awards party for dinner and then spent some time at Chris Childs paddock later on.
Finally race day. After qualifying on Thursday we installed new brake rotors and pads on the front of the car so we got permission to run in the hardship practice at 7:45 am just to bed in the new pads. After that we checked out as much as we could on the car, fueled her up and watched some of the other races. Diane, Sheryl & Lyle came up from Oshkosh to watch the race with us. We made it down to the grid earlier this year so we could talk a bit with the other competitors. Sargis was 1st, Prill was 2nd, Kennard was 3rd and we were 4th. On the first lap Kevin bumped Prill past Sargis for the lead but it didn’t take long for Sargis to motor past him and put a comfortable lead on the rest of the group. He maintained that lead just enough so no one could touch him. Many people think he held back and think he could have run 2 seconds a lap faster like he did the year before, but he didn’t want to attract any more lead rewards. Anyway, Prill, Kennard & Kevin traded places for the first 6 laps until Ken Kannard broke his throttle plate shaft on his Miata and pulled off. That left Kevin and Prill to fight for 2nd place. Both were running very well. Kevin couldn’t manage a lap better than 2:34.211 in qualifying but in the first 8 laps of the race he ran 6 of them in the low 33s, and he expected his laps to get faster towards the end as the race went on. On lap 9 Kevin’s Integra was coming up the hill to the start-finish with a mid 2:32 lap when it started to sputter. It then continued to get worse and worse. He drove it in to the pits on the 11th lap. Eventually Charlie Campbell in his Miata came around to claim 3rd place and 4th fell to Sam Henry in another Miata. After a few quick checks on the car we believed the problem was a shorted coil pack but the actual problem we found out months later was a shorted injector on #4 cylinder. It was this bad injector that was stealing power all year long. The car ran great for 9 races all year and waited until there were 4 laps left in the championship race to give up the ghost. We’re not happy about the issue with the car but we know you have to take the good with the bad. That’s racing.
We were happy to see Scott Lunder finish 7th in just his first Runoffs appearance in FP. Kevin, Carrie & I had a great week and we learned a lot as usual. We can’t wait to do it all again next year with a brand new Ruck Racing engine.
Our family left Friday night so Kevin and I had a leisurely day just talking to people and to fans that kept stopping by. We watched the T3, F500, SM, SSB/SSC race before lunch. After lunch we finally packed up everything and put the car in the trailer. Then we got to watch GTL, STU and some of the FF race. We attended the banquet Saturday night where we got to talk with a bunch of friends.
About 6am we were woke up to hard rain again. We watched Greg Gauper win the HP race in the rain after several faster cars drove off the track. The AS rain was a bit dryer. Then we watched Chad Gilsinger from Honda in thier all wheel drive TL take 3rd in T2. We packed up everything and managed to get the trailer out of the paddock space in the pouring rain. Before we drove the rig back to Oshkosh we watched an entertaining EP race in wet.
It was a disapointing week to cap off an great year. For the second year in a row Kevin ended the year winning the National Points for F Production with 137 points over Kannard in 2nd with 100, and Prill in 3rd with 87.
|Three More Wins at Mid Ohio||Monday, September 5, 2011|
|It was unfinished business. We have been very successful in all our cars. The ITB Civic is the reigning ARRC National Champion, the ITA Integra is the 2008 and 2009 ARRC National Champion, and the FP Integra is the reigning National Champion and Super Sweep winner. Our ITC Civic in which we started racing has won a lot of races but it has never dominated the way our other cars have, so we decided to go back to that car and see if we could remedy that. We made modifications to the car based on our knowledge of what worked on the other cars and took her out to Mid Ohio last weekend. Although the 1985 Civic has many similar aspects of our other cars, it's the only one with a carburetor. It also has very limited suspension adjustments.
On Friday evening we took the FP Integra for testing some modifications we added for the upcoming runoffs, and we ran the ITC Civic for one session just to see if it would be any better than we remembered. It ran fairly well but it did not have the throttle response we expected out of the Weber DMTR carb that we needed to get good lap times. Also in the turns it ran lean, according to our wide band O2 sensor, which indicated a low float level. Saturday morning we adjusted the fuel pressure from 3psi to 5.5 psi to try to increase the effective float level. For our qualifying session at 8am the car definitely ran better but it was still not right. The lap time of 1:53.460 left us 5th in ITC and 12th overall for the afternoons race. We started behind Shearer in his CRX (1:51.102), Royal in his Renault (1:51.888), Holbrook in his Renault (1:52.859), and Hardesty in his Civic (1:53.204).
Before the race we had to make some adjustments. We physically increased the float level to reduce leaning out of the mixture in the corners, we reduced the size of the secondary correction jet to richen out the mixture at full throttle, and we found the idle air mixture needle valve completely closed and adjusted it so it would idle nicely. Kevin claimed to notice the difference on the drive down to the false grid. After the first lap when Kevin emerged in 2nd place in ITC and 6th overall he announced that he finally had throttle response – not perfect but much better. We knew it was going to be a good race because we had forgotten to install an in-car camera. Kevin followed Jim Royal for 7 laps watching him battle with an ITB Honda Accord. The Accord was faster in the straights but could not break as deep and was slower in the corners. Unfortunately the driver kept driving into Royal in the corners. I can never understand how a driver that would never force another car off the track while driving down a straightaway, has no problem driving right into them in a corner like it is “their space”. The Accord and Renault made contact 6 times before they banged pretty hard in turn two which damaged the Renault enough to force him out of the race. All this time Kevin was watching and knew it was going to happen sooner or later. While following Royal, Kevin turned in a 1:51.67 which was almost 2 seconds faster than qualifying. After Kevin got past them both he ran the next 5 laps faster each time with a 1:50.62 as his best. That was nearly 3 seconds faster than qualifying and nearly 3 ½ seconds faster than Kevin had run in the ITC Civic nine years ago.
On Sunday we had plans to make more adjustments to the car to try get just the last little bit. Unfortunately it started raining Saturday night and was still wet and occasional sprinkling Sunday morning. For our 8am 9 lap qualifying race we decided on the dry tires and we didn’t really have any adjustments that we could make to the cars suspension for a damp race. Looking around we found about half of the cars had rains and half dries. Kevin started 4th overall and 1st in ITC. After the first lap he was in 2nd overall and 1st in ITC behind Dan Hardison in his ITB Civic. When Hardison spun his Civic and Kevin was trying to avoid hitting him, Bill Shearer pasted them both for the overall lead so Kevin was now in 2nd overall and 2nd in ITC. In the 6th of this 9 lap race Kevin got past Bill for the lead on the back straight as they approached a lapped car. Bill followed close behind for the next 3 laps and fell back about 4 seconds. Just then in the last lap Kevin was passing lappers in the carousel who all moved over to give Kevin the inside line - the line he did not want because it was the slipperiest. He nearly looped it but gathered back for the win.
For the Sunday main 13 lap race we once again were torn between rains and dries but decided on the dries since it was not raining at the time we had to go down to grid. Kevin started on the overall pole and never relinquished it. He had pulled away by 8 seconds when the full course yellow came out because Chuck Ednie in his VW had somehow ended up on its top just before the keyhole turn. They ran 4 full course yellow laps before they checkered it under yellow on the 7th lap to give Kevin the final win of the weekend.
It felt great to know that what we learned in our other cars we could translate back to our very first car of 10 years ago. We just might take the ITC Civic to the ARRC to take a run at the ARRC Championship in ITC.
Thanks to Carrie Troesh, her father, brother and sister, along with Sheryl and Kevin’s mother for coming up to see us race.
|Mission Accomplished at School Bus Race||Tuesday, August 16, 2011|
|Kevin raced his first school bus 2 years ago at the Columbus Motor Speedway. That was a relatively uneventful night where Kevin came from behind to catch the leader and was punted off the track by a female driver driving a lapped vehicle. He finished fourth and not one bus left its feet. Last year we were all prepared for the bus race and we got rained out.
The fans must have known it was going to be different this year as there were over 50 people that came just to see Kevin drive "The Bus". Maybe it was because he made the statement days before the race "I'm either going to win or roll the bus trying". Luckily he didn't say which bus.
The race started with a bang when in the first lap one of the 10 buses that started flipped over all by himself and another bus hit him while he was down and ripped the entire front axle off his own bus. Although he started 3rd, Kevin was now in 2nd for the restart. He quickly passed into first and was pulling away when he reached the crossover (did I mention this race was run on a figure eight track?) just as another bus was going through which forced him to brake so he wouldn't hit him. That left two other busses pass right by him for the lead. Kevin caught the two leaders just as they were catching two other lapped buses. Kevin dove to the outside of one turn which put him to the inside of the next turn and he passed all four of the busses. Just after he got in the lead two of the busses hit hard flipping another bus on its side. While they were cleaning up the mess the driver of the flipped bus decided it was Kevin who hit him and flipped him over. He screamed, yelled and swore at Kevin until Kevin finally told him to look at his bus - it didn't have a scratch on it - it was someone else who hit him. He appologized and went on his quest to find the real culprit.
On the final restart there were only 5 busses left and Kevin was in the lead with a fast bus not far behind. Unfortunately the other three busses were not so fast. As Kevin was pulling away from his competition he saw a slow bus going through the X. Kevin knew he could not lift like he did before so he timed it just right to miss the bus. Just then the bus in the X hit his brakes and there was no stopping the inevitable. Kevin T-boned him at full throttle and rolled him over to his side, then to his top and finally back onto his wheels before it came to rest. Most people said that couldn't be done......
Well Kevin didn't win but he did what he said he was going to do. Kevin's bus was mega-totalled. The front of the bus was crushed nearly back to the firewall. Fortunately we had installed a professional race seat, 6 point harnesses, a fire extinguisher, and a head-and-neck restraint before the race to protect Kevin. Since the back of Kevin's bus was facing the grandstands, he went to the back of his bus and stood in the open escape door with his arms in the air to acknowledge the crowd. Everyone in attendance said it was the most exciting race they had ever seen. We have plenty of video from the stands and from Kevin's helmet cam so I will try to get some posted in the next few weeks.
|Published in http://hondaracinghpd.blogspot.com||Thursday, August 4, 2011|
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I RACE AN ACURA: KEVIN RUCK
My name’s Kevin Ruck and I’m currently in my 12th season of SCCA Club Racing. And in all of that time, I’ve never raced anything other than a Honda or an Acura.
I began in Improved Touring C (ITC) with a Honda Civic, followed by several years of racing an Improved Touring A (ITA) Acura Integra, and eventually moving up to an F Production Integra and setting my sights on winning a Runoffs National Championship. I can proudly say that I’ve accomplished that goal, having become the 2010 SCCA F Production Runoffs National Champion.
I suppose that makes the journey sound a little easier than it really was. Going back a bit, I guess it started when my Dad brought home his first Honda Civic in 1978. Ever since then, our family brought home Honda after Honda as our cars of choice. Even though my Dad’s passion lay in old British roadsters, he obviously valued products that were reliable, innovative, well-engineered and safe for his family.
As I grew up, Dad and I would restore an occasional vintage car or motorcycle, but as a teenager in the ’90s, it was Integras and Civics and the budding “sport compact craze” that bit me hard. I learned quickly that you could swap parts around from car to car to create a unique ride. The cars were easy to work on and grasp, and only your imagination limited what you could build.
I quickly found myself looking for a safe and legal environment to see what my Hondas could do. I initially found autocross and track days, but those just fueled my next desire to race on-track, wheel-to-wheel against others. My move to club racing came soon thereafter in 2000, with the purchase of my first Improved Touring C Civic.
SCCA Improved Touring race cars are lightly modified road cars. Intakes and exhausts can be changed; springs, swaybars and shocks can be replaced; and interiors can be removed for the installation of required safety equipment. It’s a Regional Club Racing class, making it ineligible for the Runoffs National Championships, but each fall, the American Road Race of Champions (ARRC) is held at Road Atlanta, where the IT community crowns its own national champions. I competed in my first ARRC in 2004 with my ITA Integra, finishing a respectable seventh. A string of podium finishes began the following year, before my Integra and I were finally able to stand atop the box in 2008 as the ARRC ITA Champion.
The year 2009 brought a desire to attempt a new challenge, as I moved up to National Club Racing in F Production. Production cars are typically much more heavily modified than IT cars, having extensively stripped chassis, heavily modified engines, and completely re-engineered suspensions.
However, in recent years the SCCA has introduced some newer, later-model cars to the Production classes that meet the desired performance parameters of the classes, but at a more limited level of modification, preparation and cost. The Acura Integra falls into this category, and it created a simple, natural transition for me into a higher level of modification and speed, without a huge change in rule-set, philosophy, or cost from what I was used to.
That first season of National Racing brought a new learning curve, but overall, it went well. I finished fifth at the Runoffs National Championship, and was presented the Jim Fitzgerald Award as the National Racing Rookie of the Year. To top it off, I took my old ITA Integra back to the ARRC and successfully defended my ITA Championship.
In 2010, it all came together in a dream season. I won the F Production Runoffs National Championship in just my second try; won the nationwide points championship; and won my third consecutive ARRC Championship in an ITB Civic.
Defending these championships in 2011 may be my hardest challenge to date. My Integra is running well, though, and I’m currently first in nationwide points and looking forward to another F Production race at the Runoffs National Championship.
There are a couple of things that make all this possible. The first is the dependability and reliability of these Hondas. At one point this year, I ran five National races in 21 days, and you’d have a hard time trying to do that in a lot of other cars. Having to perform minimal maintenance on my car allows this, so I can be maximizing my time on track doing development. On occasion, I’ve also tried improving my car with aftermarket or custom parts, only to revert to the factory Honda pieces, as the sacrifice in reliability didn’t prove worthwhile for, at best, very marginal improvements.
The support of Honda Performance Development and its Honda Racing Line program has been another large part of my success. Being an amateur racer, I am immensely thankful for HPD’s generous contingency, and the available parts associates have proven invaluable. Finding OEM replacement parts for older Hondas can occasionally be tricky, but the guys at HPD do whatever they can to find them for you, wherever they may be in the world. Without help like that, what do you do?
The well-thought-out engineering and solid reliability of Honda and Acura automobiles, with the help of Honda Performance Development and its Honda Racing Line program, keeps me out on the racetrack. With that combination, I am confident that wins and championships will continue well into the future.
Look for Kevin Ruck at the 2011 SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America on Sept.19-25.
And if you’re a racer in a Honda or with Honda Power, don’t forget to register for the Honda Racing Line program at www.hondaracingline.com.
Honda Racing Line is proud to offer original equipment replacement parts, performance parts and crate engines to Honda and Acura grassroots racers in the entry-level through professional ranks.
|The ITA Integra was not ready||Monday, August 1, 2011|
|We took the ITA Integra to Mid Ohio last weekend for the IT-Spectacular. We had a lot of fun with our old IT friends, both Hufmasters and Mosers were there.
Kevin had to load everything and transport the race rig to Mid Ohio by himself since Dick was in Oshkosh all week helping move his mother into a new apartment and attending the Green Bay Packers shareholders meeting in Lambeau field. Dick drove directly to the track from Wisconsin on Friday. By the time he arrived Kevin and Carrie had everything unloaded into garage #23 and were ready to go. We did not do the test sessions Friday night because we thought everything was OK. Since we had transportation at the track we all went in to town to the Mexican restaurant for dinner.
In the Saturday morning qualifying session Kevin went out to temper a set of 14" Hoosiers that he would use on Sunday. The new Hoosiers were mounted on a set of Panasport wheels that we had never used before. The wheel offset was different enough to force us to install spacers on the front wheels in order to clear the brake calipers. Kevin only had two hot laps and turned in a 1:43.693 which is 3 seconds slower than his track record for the Pro course at Mid Ohio. That time left him in 3rd behind Joey & Bob Moser. We were happy to see that in 4th place in the 17 ITA car field was a Ruck Racing built CRX owned by Sam Myers and driven by Bradley Allen. By the time the race came around it was over 90 degrees - which meant 3 bags of ice for inside Kevin's race suit. For the race we bolted on a slightly used set of Hoosiers DOTs on 15" wheels from the FP car. Since the car is set up for 14" wheels these did not work optimally. Although Kevin got by Bob a couple times he finished 3rd like he started and turned in a 1:42.796 as his best lap. Joey turned in a 1:42.xxx, still 2 seconds slower than Kevin’s lap record of 1:40.6. The Ruck Racing CRX had an issue with a front hub which is common on CRX's. Kevin’s mother and friend Sheryl came up from Columbus to watch the race on a warm but beautiful day.
Saturday night Kevin and Carrie had to go back to Columbus to attend a wedding of some friends. That left Dick to go to the Roadhouse with the Mosers and Huffmasters for some great ribs. That was especially good since the provided food was Mid Ohio pizza.
Sunday morning we put on the tempered 14” Hoosiers and went out for the 8 lap qualifying race about 10am. The grid was based on your fastest lap of the Saturday race which again put Kevin 3rd behind the Mosers. The car was definitely a bit better with the 14 inch wheels but it was still off of where is should be. Again Kevin passed into 2nd for several laps but could not stay there. He finished 3rd again. Getting a “feel” for the car is difficult after driving the FP Integra all year. Compared to the FP, the ITA car has over 300 more pounds, 50 less horsepower, power steering, and mushy power assisted brakes. Kevin also noticed the tachometer jumping and claimed to feel the rear end “wiggle” so we inspected the car carefully. We replaced the igniter in the distributor, replaced the front brake pads, bled the brakes, found and was ready to replace a bad rear wheel bearing/hub when we found a cracked rear trailing arm on the left side. Although it may have held on for one more race, if we crashed the car due to an issue that we had full knowledge of for a race that meant nothing, it would have been real high on the stupid scale. We decided not to take the chance and loaded the car on the trailer.
We stuck around to watch our race to see who would step up to take 3rd place. The Ruck Racing CRX started 3rd but spun real early in the race and fell all the way back to last in ITA. He ran at the back for a while and then seemed to pour it on. He methodically passed off every other ITA car on his way back to 3rd place – quite a feat.
We will replace the rear trailing arm and get the ITA Integra all ready for the big race on the weekend before the runoffs back at Mid Ohio.
|Two Wins and Track Record at Watkins Glen||Monday, July 11, 2011|
|We had no reason to go to Watkins Glen other than just for fun. We had already locked up the National Points Championship, the Division Championship, qualified for the runoffs, and we had already won a Super Sweep Event. We just wanted to go to this wonderful track that we had not been to in seven years – and it was a double event!
It had been so long since we had been to the Glen it looked very different. They had built a bunch of new grandstands and tore down the old timing & scoring building. It still amazes me how big this place is, and how nice it is. And the view of the countryside from atop the highest grandstands is breathtaking.
Our first session on track was group one Friday morning at 8am along with EP, FP, HP, and GTL. Fortunately they had moved STU to another group. We put some old tires on the National Champion Integra and Kevin went out to re-familiarize himself with the 11 turns and many elevation changes which is the Glen. He was just going to take it easy the first time out. Yeah, he took it easy, he put it on the overall pole just a few tenths slower than the FP track record set by Harold Flescher in 2003 of 2:12.0. This was the first qualifying session for Saturday’s race. Later on Friday we went out for our second session which was the first qualifying for the Sunday race. There were actually a few sprinkles in the first few laps but it dried up very quickly. Kevin turned in a track record time of 2:11.568 for first in FP but second overall behind Rick Kavitsky in his brand new EP Miata. Friday night they provided a very nice spaghetti dinner under the grandstands with wine, beer and desert. Not many people were there – probably because they couldn’t find it.
Saturday morning Kevin went out to temper some tires for Sunday’s race and to check out some more changes we had made to the Video4 data and video recording system. It was the second qualifying for Saturdays race and he was already on the FP pole but managed to go faster and turn in a 2:11.616. At race time at 10:45 am it was gorgeous - maybe 75 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze. The final grid was Kavitsky(EP Miata), Kevin, Moore(EP BMW), Dowie(GTL 200SX), Hinkle(FP Lotus) & Campbell(FP Miata). Kevin got jumped at the start by Sam Moore in his BMW M3 who is extremely fast in the straights but holds Kevin up in the corners. Rick Kavitski missed a shift and fell way back at the green flag. The 2nd & 3rd FP cars Hinkle and Campbell were close behind. Kevin managed to pull out a slight lead until a full course yellow came out for 4 laps which put everyone back together. The Lotus tried to late break past Kevin several times but ended up washing out so Kevin just drove right back past him. At one point they both got around Kevin to put him in third place. It was the next lap when Kevin surged back to take the lead and set a new track record of 2:10.703, 1.3 seconds faster than the track record. Actually both Campbell and Hinkle drove laps under the old FP record but no where near Kevin’s fastest. By the end of the race the other car’s tires were going away while our tires were still getting better. Moore took the EP win and the overall win, Kevin was next and Hinkle and Campbell were 2nd & 3rd in FP. Kavitsky ended up breaking the EP track record with a 2:11.331 before falling out due to a loose oil fitting which oiled down a lot of the track and the front of Kevin’s car. Saturday night they provided a Mexican dinner of make your own tacos and burritos and plenty of beer.
Sunday was the Super Sweep event. Once again we went out for our second qualifying for Sunday’s race at 8am but not much changed. Sunday’s race lineup was Kavitsky, Kevin, Moore, Hinkle. Once again Kavitsky had problems and Moore and Kevin blasted out to a good lead. After another short full course yellow, Moore and Kevin blasted out away from the pack again. However, on the last lap Kevin got a great run up the back straight into the bus stop and made a great pass on Moore to take overall first place and the checker flag. He also turned in the fastest lap of the run group of 2:12.047. It was a great weekend with awesome weather, and its always nice to see an FProd car beat all the EProd cars.
|A 2nd at the June Sprints Again||Sunday, June 19, 2011|
|We drove the race rig to Oshkosh on Wednesday so we could spend the night at the Lake House in Oshkosh and drop Kevin’s mom before we headed on to the track on Thursday. When we got to the track we found they had huge tents up all over the place and in places where many people were planning to paddock. It turns out the tents were for the NASCAR race next weekend but the tent installer guys were too busy next week to put them up so they had to go up this week. As it turns out it wasn’t that crowded so we found a great spot down in turn five right along the bleachers. We even found power so we could plug in the RV.
Friday morning at 8am we had our first practice session. The Integra was near perfect the weekend before at Mid Ohio but Mid Ohio is a very different track than this one. This track is not very technical but is very high speed and you need to be driving well and confident in your car to turn your best laps. Kevin, Eric Prill and Ken Kannard all turned in laps in the 1:35s. Of course Steve Sargis did not go out.
Friday afternoon was our first qualifying session. Sargis went out late and turned in a 1:32.9 in his first hot lap. His second lap was about a half second slower and he just came in. He only did two hot laps and grabbed the pole in his first lap on track. Kevin was building his confidence in his driving and ib the car so he turned in a time of 2:34.970. That left him 3rd in FP and 5th overall. We made some adjustments to camber and toe in and put her in the trailer just in case it would rain overnight.
Of course the Chicago Region of SCCA could not afford to provide a dinner for the drivers & crew because they only make a profit of over $100,000 on this weekend. It’s funny that this is the only race we have ever gone to where a dinner is not provided for the racers to get together and talk about the weekend competition. It is also by far the race that the most money is made. In any case we went into town to our favorite little restaurant for Bluegill fish.
Saturday morning at 8 am again we went out for our last qualifying session. It was supposed to rain over night, and off and on all day on Saturday but it never developed. Finally Kevin clicked off a 1:44.0 but his position on grid did not improve. He ended up fourth in FP behind Steve in his Triumph Spifire, Ken in his Miata, and Eric in his Miata, and he was 8th overall.
Kevin’s mother came up from Oshkosh to watch the race on a beautiful day. It had been sunny most of the day but at race time it was maybe 75 degrees and the clouds had taken over the sky. When the green flag flew Steve and Ken stayed out in front of the pack while Kevin and Eric got caught up in the gaggle of EP cars that were very fast in the straights but slower than shit in the corners. For the first 6 laps Kevin and Eric were running laps 4 or 5 seconds slower than they should have because of the EP cars. By then Steve was about 8 seconds in front of Ken who was about 20 seconds in front of Kevin & Eric when a full course yellow flag came out. Lee Feinegle in his MG Midget blew an engine and oiled down the track from turn five all the way past turn eight before pulling off the track. The yellow allowed everyone to catch back up into a tight bunch behind the pace car while the emergency crews pulled a car or two out of the sand traps. As the cars approached the start/finish the order was EP, Steve, Ken, EP, Kevin, Eric, EP, EP. When the course went green Steve decided to pull over to the side because his brakes were hot??? By turn one the order was EP, EP, Ken, Kev, EP, Eric, EP, Steve. The first EP car took off. The second EP car was fast in the straights and not too bad in the corners so both Kevin and Ken pulled away from the rest of the pack getting some monster tows from the EP car in the straights. They were hitting 128mph at the end of the front straight, 129mph before turn five, and 132mph at the end of the back straight. Because of the draft the EP car was giving Ken, Kevin could not pull out and pass Ken. As the laps went by Steve Sargis’ brakes must have cooled because he was catching Ken & Kevin by 1.5 seconds per lap. On the last lap Steve motored past Kevin on the front straight and passed him in turn one. He motored past Ken in the next straight but Ken re-passed him in turn five with a late brake maneuver. Ken’s car was very fast in turns 5, 6, and 7 all day so he actually pulled away from Steve until he got to turn eight. In the braking zone for turn eight Ken locked up the brakes and spun the car a complete 360 degrees while both Steve and Kevin passed him by. He did a great job keeping the car on the track and managed to get back in line right behind Kevin. By this time Eric had given up and was too far back to get by Ken for 3rd place.
For the third year in a row Kevin had finished 2nd at the June Sprints - each time behind a different driver. Second place is not bad when there is a great FP field like the one we had this weekend. Plus the second place netted Kevin enough National points to all but insure a National Points championship again this year. In 2010 Kevin won the championship with 117 points. This year he now has 124 points.
UPDATE: Kevin ended the year with 137 points for the win over Kannard in 2nd with 100, and Prill in 3rd with 87.
|Two Wins and and New Track Record||Sunday, June 12, 2011|
|Yes, this was the race we were looking forward to all year. It was a double race; it had a huge entry field with the majority of the best FProd racers in the country; we were the defending FP champions from last year; and it was our home track. Well, we didn't dissappoint.
We loaded the trailer and drove to Mid Ohio Thursday afternoon to get a good parking spot. We ended up parking in the lower paddock right next to the Hoosier guys. Of course it rained that night as it always does when we take out the RV.
Friday morning we went out for our first qualifying session at 10:00 am. It looked like rain but everyone went out on a dry setup. By the time we made it out it was already sprinkling. We were also bedding in some new front brake pads so we only ran 4 laps and our best lap was 1:57.189 which left us 3rd in FP and 7th overall. By our 2nd session at 2:00pm the sun was popping out and the track was drying. We again only ran 4 laps and turned in a 1:40.824. That put us 2nd behind Joe Walker in his Lotus Super 7 and just in front of David Strittmatter in his Lancia Scorpian. Eric Prill and his new Miata didn’t make it to the track in time for qualifying and Peter Morton had issues with his Lotus Super 7 transmission so both of them started at the back of the pack for Saturday’s race.
The last session on Friday was the first qualifying for Sunday’s race. By then the track was dry and ready for some fast laps. Kevin turned in a 1:39.330 which was under the track record. The car was fast but it was smoking on most turns from a leak that has been there all year that we have not been able to find. Saturday morning we even removed the oil pan and replaced the gasket in an attempt to stop the leak. At race time we found that it didn’t help – it was still leaking and smoking.
When the green flag flew on Saturday’s race Kevin and Joe raced side by side to turn one. Kevin’s Integra loves the outside of turn one so he drove around the outside and emerged in first place going up to the keyhole. By the time he popped out at the end of the back straight he had 5 car lengths on Joe. The EP and GTL cars were split start in front of the FP and HP cars. Kevin pulled away from the FP field while passing EP back markers until he caught up to an EP Mazda RX7 that was running lap times 4.5 seconds slower than Kevin. Most cars like that see the leader of a “slower” class coming and get out of the way. This guy did his very best to block Kevin for two laps which allowed Joe to catch back up and pass both of them while the Mazda was blocking Kevin. Finally Kevin tapped the Mazda as he was swinging across the track to block Kevin again. As the Mazda spun off into the grass Kevin took off after Joe. In the next five laps Kevin and Joe traded positions at least five times. In the last four laps with less traffic to deal with, Kevin pulled away from Joe. In the final lap Joe got caught up with a GTL car which nearly put him off the track and allowed Kevin to cruise to a victory. After the race Kevin’s name had a star next to it on the time sheet indicating a new track record. Kevin had taken down Joe’s record lap time of 1:39.450 with a 1:39.197. Mason Workman finished 3rd in his Miata just in front of David Strittmatter.
Sunday morning was the second qualifying session for Sunday’s race. Since Kevin was already on pole with a record breaking time he didn’t bother to go out – especially since we were still trying to find the oil leak. By Sunday afternoon the weather was gorgeous the grid had been set. Kevin on Pole, Peter in 2nd, Eric in 3rd, Joe in 4th, David in 5th. Mason in 6th, and 9 other FP cars. WOW what a field.
Since Kevin was on the pole for the second group of cars he decided to slow the pace to widen the gap to the EP/GTL cars. He thought that might reduce the amount of EP cars he would have to drive through. In the first two or three laps of Sunday’s race the tires on the Integra had not come up to temperature yet. That kept Eric, Joe & Peter close enough to strike at any time. However, by the fourth lap the tires were perfect and pretty much everything else on the Integra was perfect as Kevin drove away from the rest of the pack. He also was happy to see the slow ass Mazda had driven off the track before Kevin caught up to him – how nice. The race time sheet again showed a star next to Kevin’s name. Kevin turned in a 1:38.518 to beat his track record from the day before. And just in case you don’t think this was a great field of FP cars – 3 others had turned in laps under the previous track record and finished in this order behind Kevin, Joe, Eric & Peter.
The Sunday race was not only the Super Sweep event but it was also the Goodrich tires Super Tour event. That meant that Carrie Troesch got to do her very first victory lap with Kevin, and that he got doused on the podium with Champaign.
|Kevins take on the Grattan race||Friday, June 3, 2011|
|Whew, that was a wild weekend! Got all extremes of weather, short of it snowing. The new pavement is awesome, really making what was a great track into a fantastic track! Like usual, the hospitality of the hosting regions workers were second to none, and the two BBQ dinners were phenomenal. The Prod field was a good one, and it was great to see all my GLDiv Prod friends again, and all of the CenDiv guys who made the trip around the pond.
As for me personally, it was an up and down weekend. In a cool & cloudy first race qualifying, I took the overall pole while turning my best ever Grattan lap by .6 seconds. Bob Doernberg (EP 7) and I had a lot of fun swapping the lead a couple of times in the race before he got a little deep into Turn 3 and had an off. After that I pulled out a pretty good lead, but kept my eye on the Volt meter, which was dropping and dropping. By three to go, I had turned off everything in my car I could that didn't make the car run, but I had already dropped below 11 Volts. Coming out of Turn 8 and then again in Turn 10, I could tell the car wasn't pulling like it usually did. As I crossed the S/F line with two to go, it finally started cutting out and dying. At that point, I had a 45 second lead in FP and just hoped I could make it to the finish. I gimped and gimped around, until the car finally lost all power through the 11 & 12 chicane onto the front straightaway on the last lap. I dropped from 1st to 10th overall (and 4th in FP) in the last corner, in view of the checker flag. That sucked, but the car at the very least kept on idling, so I decided to keep it rolling, letting it take the checker flag.
Then it poured rain for three hours and completely changed the track. The following morning was second race qualifying, and the car went wicked loose on the green and kindy dirty, dusty track. I qualified five seconds slower, and 11th overall. In the race later that afternoon (in about 85 degree, super sunny heat!), I hoped the track would've got better by then, so I didn't change much on the car for it. Right on the pace lap, I could tell the car was still going to be really loose and off the start, it was just that. I had to just try and hold onto it while I chugged around in about 10th (4th in FP), waiting and hoping the car would come in as the race went on. Luckily for me, that's exactly what happened. I steadily picked up time, passed some cars, and with the help of a couple DNF's & spins, I found myself in 2nd overall (1st in FP) by the checker flag, and with the fastest lap of the race. I had cutout the video system and the O2 heater from the previous race, and that was just enough to get me to the finish without issue. I still have some issues to work out in that regard, but we'll get it licked. Looking forward to Mid Ohio.
|A Heartbreaking Loss and Finally a Win||Tuesday, May 31, 2011|
|Grattan Cheap Points Double National
Dick was in Canada on vacation so Kevin and Carrie did final preparations on the FP Integra, loaded her up and drove the race rig to Grattan Raceway on Friday afternoon. Dick returned home Friday night and drove the CR-V up to Grattan on Saturday morning.
Saturday morning Kevin took the car out for a practice session and the car ran well. He was still trying to get the Race Technology system to display what he wanted, and to know where the start-finish line was but he was very pleased with the system so far. He turned in a 1:27.10, just a tenth or so slower than his last years best without really trying, Saturday afternoon he went out and turned a 1:26.32 (just a half second slower than the track record) while he was in traffic. That gave him the overall pole for the third year in a row. Next to him on the outside pole was Joe Walker with a 1:26.803. Steve Sargis was the only other car in the 1:26’s in his GTL Triumph Spitfire.
Sunday morning Joe Walker withdrew his car from the race due to a loose rear axle that he didn’t think was safe to drive. At the start of the race Kevin was passed by a very fast EP Caterham 7 down the straight but re-passed it quickly and pulled away. He was out to a roughly 45 second lead on second place FP car of Mason Workman and was threatening to lap the rest of the field when the cars electrical system showed signs of a low battery. Kevin turned off all electrical items except the ignition and the fuel pump and short shifted the engine to try to get through the 23 laps. The car started to cough on lap 22 but limped its way around the track. It finally stopped about 500 feet in front of the checker flag. Kevin sat and watched as cars finally caught up to him and passed. First in FP was Mason in his Miata, 2nd was Gerald Lamb in his MGB, and 3rd was Dieter Griesinger in his Triumph Spitfire. Kevin had finished 4th because he had lapped the rest of the FP field.
Kevin was obviously not happy when we all got back to the RV. Fortunately we had the TV on and the Indy 500 was just finishing. We saw the rookie JR Hildebrand lose concentration and hit the wall in the very last turn to lose the race. He actually slid across the finish line for 2nd. Later that night, Dale Jr. was ready to win his first NASCAR race in a long time when he ran out of fuel right in front of the checker flag. Kevin said he didn’t feel so bad after all………
On Sunday afternoon the skies opened up and it rained for hours, canceling most of the afternoon sessions. It was decided to complete the qualifying sessions Monday morning as 20 minute sessions and run each race only 30 minutes long. That probably helped our cause since we still didn’t know why the car was draining the battery even though we had won the National Runoffs that way last year. For the qualifying session we had installed some new rotors and new Hawk front brake pads that we had never run before. After heating the pads up slowly and then letting them cool for a couple laps we only had time for one fast lap that wasn’t very fast. We ended up in 3rd place in FP and 11th on the grid.
For the race we turned off the cameras and data logging and disconnected the O2 sensor heater. That seemed to help as the car finished 20 laps without an electrical problem. The handling of the car was another matter however. By the end of the first lap we thought Kevin would be in 5th or 6th place but he had fallen back to 12th. The car was very loose but it continued to get faster as the tires heated up. By the end of the race Kevin was the fastest car on the track and passing everything in site. He had finally won a National race at Grattan.
For our next race at Mid Ohio in June we have decided to re-install the OEM alternator on the car but to allow the driver to switch it off when the extra power is needed during the race.
|Test Day at Mid Ohio||Saturday, April 23, 2011|
|On Thursday the 21st of April Kevin took the ITA Integra to Mid Ohio for an evening test & tune. He ran three 20 minute sessions with 20 minutes in between each. The Integra had not been run since we had to scratch it at the ARRC last November. Since then we had fixed the brakes with it's new front rotors, and a new servo. We had also installed sphericals in the front upper control arms. But the reason for the test was mostly to test the car with new 15" Hoosiers on a set of 15" Enkie wheels from the FP Integra. Our plan this year is to convert the ITA Integra to the same wheels as the FP car so we would only have one wheel size and wheel type to worry about. We already have 4 sets and will get another 2 sets exactly the same. With six sets of wheels and a single set of radial rain tires to cover both cars, we will have much greater flexibility when managing tire changes.
The 15" versus 14" tires had shorter side walls and as expected the shorter side walls rolled over less in the turns and required less camber. The tires were getting too much wear on the inside and virtually none on the outside. Changing camber in the ITA car is not easy but we'll find a way to reduce the camber by about half.
The brakes came in nicely and the car ran well, but Kevin noticed a stumble in the engine that correlated with a jumping tachometer which may indicate an igniter going bad in the distributer. Kevin did manage to turn a 1:45.2 on the club course which is not too bad since all the drivers indicated that the track was very slow probably due to the huge amount of rain in the last few weeks.
Dick was entertaining his mother and mother-in-law that night so Kevin was lucky to have the capable assistance of Carrie Troesch as his Crew Chief.
Also this week we picked up another Integra for parts. It is a 1993 Integra LS in pretty good shape but with aquite a bit of rust. The engine is leaking but its a virgin so it will be a great candidate for a new FP engine later this year. We also need the front knuckles, the fenders, the doors, etc. so we will be stripping it soon. Rather than sending the chassis to the junk yard we are going to keep this one out back of the shop for miscellaneous parts as we need them.
|Complete Rebuild of a National Champion||Saturday, April 9, 2011|
|After an electrical problem with the car cost us a win at Atlanta we decided to go through the reigning National Champion Integra and fix all of the systems that we had not previously brought up to Ruck Racing standards. That only included the Electrical System and the Fuel System but those were two big jobs.
As soon as we got home we tore into the car by removing every wire and gutting the fuel cell. After 4 or 5 days of understanding what was there we started to re-install the systems back on the car. We fabricated a complete new dash control pod with all new switches, replaced all of the wires and harnesses on the car except those on the DTA ECU system, and decided to install a complete Race Technology system including a Dash2 display, DL1/MkIII data logger, and a 2 camera Video4 system to record all the action. We had received a pretty good discount for them by winning the Runoffs last year.
We also found several problems with the fuel system including a second fuel pump in the cell that we didn't know was even there, a check valve that was installed in the wrong line and didn't even have the check ball in it, and the cell vent hose that was not secure and tight on the cell. It was a typical Mechanics Shop North car - a collection of excellant parts not put together very well.
Just 2 weeks later we fired up the car and programmed the new dash display. Here is a list of all the improvements we made to the car to get it ready for Virginia International Raceway.
- all new chassis wiring with a better grounding system
- a new control pod with all new switches
- a new dash display system with new pressure & temp sensors
- a new video system with 2 cameras with integrated telemetry
- a more reliable and safer fuel cell installation
- replaced last four suspension bushings with spherical bearings
- prepared a set of spare knuckles with new bearings & wheel studs
- replaced both rear wheel bearings & hubs
- received new Brembo brake rotors and new compound Hawk brake pads
We are hoping to have Kevin's new National Champion Red Line custom race suit arrive before the race so we can take it to VIR.
UPDATE: The day before we were to leave for VIR while setting up the car we found ripped welds on the left rear of the car. This was due to a poor repair from a previous problem and was probably re-damaged when Kevin had a slight off in turn one at Road Atlanta, We decided to withdraw from VIR and order a new subframe to fix the problem correctly this time.
|A Win and 2nd at Road Atlanta||Monday, March 21, 2011|
|Kevin, Carrie, Laddie & I left early Wednesday morning in order to get though the Atlanta outer belt before the traffic got too bad. We did that and arrived at Road Atlanta at about 5:30 in the afternoon. Of course we got at the end of a long line of race rigs waiting to go in and get situated. It took our old friend Fletcher, who can’t remember our names, over three hours to get to the end of the line. We ended up going down on the skid pad because there were so many huge rigs there – most of them carrying 2 Miatas.
Thursday morning we relished in the warm temperature while we unloaded the car and got ready for the 2 afternoon test sessions. We had done quite a bit of work to the car since the National Runoffs win so we were anxious to see how she would run. In the first session we ran the same tires we came off the track on at the Runoffs. We had used them for qualifying and the race and they were still in great shape. Kevin just checked out the car after all of our winter work and cleaned out some of his own cob webs. The car ran well but showed a small oil leak behind the engine.
In the second session we tried some of the new wider radial slicks. The track record last year was a 1:39.0 which we beat then, but Carpenter turned in a 1:38.3 at the ARRC in November. In this session Kevin turned in a 1:37.87 without really trying too hard. The car ran very well but the oil leak was still there after tightening fittings.
At 5pm the registration opened for the weekend and we were there right on time – just in time to get at the end of a long line. We tried to go back in to our paddock and come back to register later but they would not let us back in the track, even though we still had our arm bands and the test day was still going on. Yes, the Atlanta Region still wins the prize for the worst registration process of them all. When we finally got up to the window with our membership cards and photo IDs in hand it took the nice lady 5 minutes to fill out cards and give us all of our stuff – something that should have taken 30 seconds.
Friday morning we went out for the 1st qualifying session for the Saturday race. It was very cool but the sun was out and warming quickly. After just a couple warm up laps Kevin noticed the Race Energy had cut out and the battery was near dead. He managed to limp the car back to our paddock. His slow lap time still put us in 2nd in FP and 10th overall. We noticed that we had an older battery in the car so we went to Advance Auto and got a new one. By the afternoon session, which was the 1st qualifying for Sunday’s race, the car was ready to go. Kevin took the car out and promptly grabbed the FP pole and 2nd overall behind a fast EP car. Further tightening of fittings did not slow the oil leak.
Friday evening we learned that the Atlanta region of SCCA was not going to have any dinners for the participants which we remembered as the same as last year, so we borrowed a car from a good friend and went in to town for a great Mexican dinner.
Saturday morning at 8am was our second qualifying session for the Saturday race so Kevin jumped in the car to take her down to grid only to find it was completely dead. We scrambled and found two blown fuses in the Race Energy but it was too late to make it out for the only 10 minute session. That meant we would have to start 2nd in class behind Ken Kannard and 10th overall for that days race.
At race time we replaced the 20 amp fuses with the 30 amp fuses that were supposed to be there and went down to grid. We had resituated the oil hoses to try to eliminate the leak, and we were back on the narrow tires from the Runoffs for the race. It’s always a little nerve racking to start back in the 5th row. That seems to be where mishaps begin on the first turn. The start went fine and by the end of the 2nd lap Kevin was 2nd overall and 1st in classs. As the race progressed Kannard stayed right behind Kevin and continued to drive better lines and get faster. Also there were several EP cars that were very fast in the straights but slow in the corners and holding Kevin and Ken up. Kevin would pass them in the corners when he could but they would just motor back past him on the straights. Kannrd got around Kevin once or twice but Kevin re-passed usually on the same lap. At the end of the race Kevin had won FP, finished 3rd overall, and turned in 3 laps under the track record. In impound we were told that Ken Kannard had broke the track record by the most while chasing Kevin.
After the race we enjoyed the great weather while watching other races and we had a cookout at the RV for dinner. After dinner we went to the Paddock Grill where Atlanta Region actually was providing some free beer. We sat with some old friends the Doyles who used to drive TR8 Triumphs in ITS and had a great time. We even watched a dozen or so Miatas that drove across the street to the circle track and were having fun.
Sunday morning at 8am was our second qualifying (10 min) session for the Sunday race. Since we were already on the FP pole and 2nd overall we didn’t bother going out for that session and got ready for the race which was right after lunch at 12:15. By this time we had even tried to Teflon tape the threads on the AN fittings to see if that would help the annoying oil leak – it didn’t. Kevin had a great start and followed Sam Moore in his BMW M3 EP car. Sam was the only fairly fast EP car there that weekend that drove away from Kevin and Ken as they should. The others were just fast enough to stay in front of Kevin and hold him and Ken up in the corners. Throughout the race Kevin and Ken traded the lead several times as the other cars inserted themselves in their race. On the last lap Kevin let Ken pass him in turn one knowing he could motor past him on the back straight to take the win. Unfortunately it was then when the car developed electrical problems again. The Race energy tripped out and the battery voltage was very low which made the engine start to sputter. There was no way Kevin could catch Ken for the win. We were not happy to lose a race that we should have won easily, but over the years we have learned to take the good with the bad. We were just happy the car ran long enough to finish and take second. Now we will replace the last system on the car still there from the previous owner - the electrical system - and find out what is going on so it never happens again.
|Winter Work is Progressing||Saturday, March 12, 2011|
|The ITA Integra is finished. After figuring out the brake problems from the ARRC this car is full of new parts and ready to win races.
The Prelude is finished and has gone to a new home. We replaced the transmission, installed a new seat, new transponder, new fire system, new brake rotors, fresh oil and brake fluid, an accusump system, and a Hondata System with a new tune. WE ADDED 13HP TO THIS ALREADY TRACK RECORD HOLDING CAR!
We finally pulled the engine on the FP Integra to inspect the inside. We have installed new bearings, seals, rings, a new rear window and side windows, and did a valve job. We did not have time to improve some of the crappy fuel piping done by the previous owner or do the re-wiring we want to do - we'll do those later. With a new tune and more horses than we have ever made before we think she might just break track records at Atlanta, Mid Ohio, and Watkins Glen this year before we take her back to Road America to defend her National Championship.
Then we have a few improvements to add to our ARRC Champion ITB Civic to get ready for the summer. We will fix a small oil leak, add more camber to the front left wheel, replace the clutch with a new OEM unit, and replace both doors and front fenders to make her look pretty. This car is also poised to take on some track records after we unlocked a little more horsepower and handling just before the ARRC. This car has got to be the easiest car to work on and drive there is. I'm actually kind of scared someone will come along and want to buy this car. We can't justify keeping it since we have too many cars, but it will kill me to see it go now that it is really ready to win races anywhere we take her.
We also have a new car in the stable - an ITA Honda CRX. We built this car last year for a customer and we took it back in trade for the ITS Prelude. It has since been sold to Myers Racing where it will be a very fast car and win a bunch of races.