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|2012 Was A Great Year||Wednesday, September 26, 2012|
|We had numerous problems with the car and with moron drivers this year, more than ever before, but it was still an excellant year.
We finished the new engine and started it for the first time on March 6th. On March 9th we discovered the engine was 25hp less than the old engine even though we had used the very best parts available. The engine is also smoking badly. On March 12th we took her back to the dyno with the old cams installed, and it's down even more horsepower. Because we have no idea what the problem is, and we are still not sure why the engine quit running at the Runoffs last September, we decided to replace the old DTA engine management system with an AEM EMS4 system with coil-on-plugs and an Engine Position Module. This is something we wanted to do anyway. On March 28 the engine is running with the new EMS but we start to have problems with AEM locking up communication with the laptop. By this time we have missed the race at Road Atlanta. We try numerous things to no avail. On April 3rd we are trying to make it work when it stops running all together and AEM is no help. On April 6th we purchase and try a new coil driver and it gets the car running. We re-route wiring and try several more things and take her back to SloMo for tuning on April 9th - running but still running poorly and smoking. On April 18th we install a wide band O2 sensor on the car for diagnosing purposes and continue to try to make the tachometer work on the Race Technology with a signal from the AEM system. On April 22 we install the old intake and exhaust manifolds on the new engine and discover the injector connectors are different. After much investigation we finally find that the old #4 injector is shorted and leaking - the problem at the runoffs. We install the new injectors on the old intake and it seems to run better but not great. On April 26 we pull out the cams and find all 16 valve seals are loose and distorted - defective seals or installed wrong by the machine shop. We replace the seals with FelPro, re-install the Brian Crower cams and take the car to Mid Ohio for testing that same day. The smoking is gone and the car runs well for the first session. On the second session it starts to miss. On the third session it will hardly run at all above an idle. We download the data log and send it to AEM but they are not much help claiming it can't be a problem with their product and it must be wiring. On Apr 30 we finally order a complete spare EPM and EMS4 to help us troubleshoot the problem. By this time we have missed the double National races at VIR. On May 1st the new EPM gets the car running and it runs pretty good on the dyno but is still down from it's best of last year. On May 2nd with the help of an oscilloscope we finally get the tachometer display working on the Race Techology. On May 3rd we take the chance that it will run and drive the car all the way to Summit Point Raceway for its first race - a track we have never been to before. In the first qualifying session it runs OK. We go to start it for the second session and it will not start and the EMS is locked up. We swap out the EMS with the spare and it runs long enough to finish the race. We win and set a new track record. The day after we get back from Summit Kevin starts his new job at TRC. That is great for Kevin but it limits the amount of effort we can collectively put into the car. On May 21st we re-install the new intake and exhaust manifolds, and new fuel rail on the car.
On June 1st we take the car to Mid Ohio for the double national races. We win on Saturday fairly easily even though the car is not up to last years horsepower numbers. On Sunday an EP driver decides he does not want to be passed by an FP car even though he is over two seconds per lap slower. He can stay in front of us with his EP horsepower on the straights and by blocking in the corners. When Kevin finally goes to pass him he turns into Kevin and sends him off the track. Kevin gets back on track in 3rd and charges back to the lead only to go off again due to debris on the tires. We take second in a race that we are clearly the best car and turn in the fastest FP lap by far.
After improving and running the ITA Integra at Mid Ohio we load up the FP car on the Featherlite and take it to Wisconsin for the June Sprints. We hate the Sprints but we have finished 2nd there 3 times in a row so we give it another try. The car is just to slow to match with Ken Kannard and we take 2nd again. The car is still not up to par and is running 3 seconds slower than the previous year. On July 5th we steal the rear trailing arms from the ITA Integra to increase the track on the FP car along with some spacers. We also install a cool shirt system that Kevin designed that we always wanted. We load up the car and take it to Gingerman for a very hot July 7 weekend. Even though the car would not start several times, when it started it ran well. The cool shirt kept Kevin cool even though the Onan generator decided to quit again so we had no air conditioning in the RV. Although qualified second Kevin won the Saturday race. In Sunday's race Kevin was passed at the start by Walker in his Super 7 but regained the lead and set a new track record while doing it. Earlier that day Kevin actually qualified 1.6 seconds faster than the new track record he set during the race.
By August we were pretty much done with racing except for the runoffs when we noticed we were only a few points off first place in the National Points race for FP. Since we had won this the previous two years and we had not yet ran our 7th race in a best of seven context, we decided to go to Grattan to take the points lead. During the race while firmly in the lead, Kevin hit a patch of oil from a blown engine of an EP car. That sent him off track and back to 3rd place. He got back on track and was about to pass back into first when he hit more of the oil in a different part of the track which sent him off again. He charged to regain the lead but could not and finished second. It didn't matter since even second place put us in the lead for the National Points Championship.
The next weekend we noticed that the second place person in points raced his 10th and 11th races of the year to try to regain the lead. He now knew exactly how many points he needed to beat us. We knew it would be very difficult for him to improve his points standing that late in the year but to our surprise, he did it. He exactly tied us in points and he took the tie breaker which put him in first place. Two days before Labor day weekend we decided to go to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham AL for a double rational race. It was our opportunity to go to an awesome track that we had never been to before, and to possibly regain the points lead. On Saturday we won the race in a pouring rain, and on Sunday we won the race and broke the track record by over three seconds to win the Points Championship.
After all that, all that was left was the runoffs, but we knew the car was still not up to the power it made with the previous engine. As a last ditch effort we decided to combine last years engine with parts from this years engine to make a the best of both. Three days later we were back at the dyno to find the lost horsepower that we needed. We also finally got a software fix from AEM for the not starting problem, and we built a new air damn for the car to improve its aerodynamics. The car was finally better than it had ever been just in time for the runoffs. Unfortunately your finish at the runoffs is not only about your car and driver, it's also a lot about luck. Qualifying with the HP cars it was difficult to get a good lap in without coming up on an HP to screw it up. And all three of our qualifying sessions were cut short due to blown engines or stalled cars on the track. That left us qualified in 6th place. The third row is not a good place to start one of these races because it means you are back among the cars and drivers that are more likely to have or create problems. Sure enough on the first lap we were dive bombed in turn 6 and forced off the track by a slower car trying to make a superman move. It pushed us all the way back to 12th place. Kevin did an excellant job of not crashing into the other car, and of passing cars to try to catch back up with the leaders, but the best he could do was 4th place. He did however, turn in laps faster than we had ever run there before. Oh well, with all the problems we had this year 4th place at the runoffs felt OK.
We have to thank our many excellant sponsors without which we could not have had the great year we did. We received lots of help from Jeremy Lucas at Race Technology to get the data logger and in-car video working the way it should. We got the best race bearings made from ACL Race bearings for both of our engines. We got an extremely strong and lightweight race clutch from Exeddy. We received contingency brake pads from Cobalt Friction this year, but we would have used them even if we had to pay full price because they are that good. We got a huge amount of help from our tuner magician Corey at Slow Motion Motorsports. We received contingency money and discount parts from Honda Performance Development. And most of all we received the best race tires made from Hoosier Tire. We were approached by other tire companies who wanted us to tun their tires but there is no way we are racing without the best - Hoosier.
|National Championship Runoffs||Thursday, September 20, 2012|
|Monday - I drove the race rig over to Road America to get it set up in space 627 in turn five. I'm glad I did because I had to make people on both sides of me move to get out of our and Gallagher's spaces. I was also able to get plugged in before the one and only power outlet was taken. Diane picked me up and I went back to the Lake House for the night.
Tuesday - Lyle & I drove over to the track in the early afternoon, checked out the RV and toured the track. After the qualifying sessions were completed we went to the Osthoff Hotel for the welcoming party. We had a great meal and great time talking with Butch Kummer, Jesse Prather, the Huffmasters, and other racers. Lyle stayed in the RV overnight and drove the Fit back to Oshkosh Wednesday morning.
Wednesday - Kevin and Carrie hit the road about 11am and made it to the track at 5pm, just in time for registration to be closed. We all went to the Prod Party for dinner and beers, and more race talk with friends. It started raining so we went back to the RV and called it a night.
Thursday - Today we finished fabrication of the new air damn for the car and got it installed. While waiting for our qualifying session to start at 5:45pm we watched fellow OVR racers Corey Fergus win the S2000 race and Patrick Gallagher win the FE race. Luke Wilwert, a third Ohio Valley Region member won the SSB class as well.
We finally got to go out on track at 5:45. Since Kevin won the National Points championship he was placed first on grid to out. An honor, but not a great place to go out when you are trying to temper new tires. Kevin got in two laps and then got punted off the track by Charlie Campbell in turn eight. Car contact in a qualifying session is inexcusable. When he got back on the track they black flagged the session due to Mason Workman blowing his engine on the back straight and coming to a halt in the middle of Canada corner. By the time they cleaned it up the session was over. We ended up with a 2:38.916 which put us in 5th overall.
It was supposed to rain all day but didn't, although it was chilly & windy all day. We went out for our 5pm session late so we could get some open track. It worked somewhat but everyone was trying to find open track so it didn't last long. We did manage to turn in a 1:34.775 which was better and left us in 4th place. Since it was my birthday we took a group over to the Lincoln St bar for Friday fish. Some of the Huffmasters crew, the Walkers, and the Lunder crew came with us, and Diane & Sheryl drove over from Oshkosh.
Our last session was at 8:40 in the morning so it was pretty cold. We put new pads & rotors on the front and tried to do the hardship to bed them in but they wouldn't let us. We had to bed the new brakes during our session which again was tough to get open track. We improved with a 2:35.417 but got jumped in the standings by two other cars which left us in 6th. We got the car all ready for the race and joined the Huffmaster crew for another dinner at the xx Supper Club for prime rib.
It was a cool but beautiful sunny day for racing. We watched Rob and Ray Huffmaster both win their races before lunch. Robs race was a bit boring but Ray's was awesome with maybe a dozen lead changes. Diane, Sheryl, Lyle & Connie all came to watch Kevin's race. We got to grid in plenty of time and Kevin felt confident in the car. Unfortunately on the first lap he got forced off the track in turn six by a divebombing Lancia and was passed by a bunch of cars which left him in 12th place. If not for Kevin's driving abilities to avoid the Lancia, there would have been two balled up cars in turn six. After the tires cleaned off he got back on the gas and passed car after car to get all the way back to 5th. While chasing the leaders he turned in a continuous lap of 1:32.7. When Prill ran it off on the 12th lap, it left Kevin in 4th behind Sargis in his Triumph, Henry in his Miata, & Wessel in his Datsun. Way behind Kevin were Stritmatter in his Lancia, and Hingston in his Miata. Of the 26 FP cars entered, 23 started the race, only 15 were running at the end of the race, and only 11 were on the lead lap.
It was a great week at a great track. The car was excellant and Kevin drove extremely well. We should have finished easily second if we had not been pushed off the track. Oh well, that's racing. At least we have a car that is finally up to horsepower, handling well, and not leaking any oil. Kevin said it best when he said "I could jump in the car and run the race again tomorrow." I wonder how many FP racers could say that?
|Two More Wins and a Track Record||Monday, September 3, 2012|
|We received special motivation to do just one more National race this year from a friend. I asked Kevin what he thought of Barber Motorsports Park as a race track since we had never been there before. He said it was number one on his list tracks he wanted to go to. I told him there was a double National there this weekend to which he replied “No, that’s a regional race”. Turns out we were both right. It was a double Rational. That is where they have a regional race and a national race at the same time, and you can register for either or both. We had already registered Kevin in the ITB Civic for Mid Ohio but we decided to take a trip to Alabama instead.
Of course we had to check out the FP Integra to see if it was race ready. It should have been since we had just completed a race at Grattan a few weeks earlier with no issues other than the usual AEM issue and a small oil leak. After a close inspection of the car we found a very bad front left wheel bearing, and a fairly bad left rear wheel bearing. We installed the spares in no time and were ready to go. We also found the oil leak which was a small crack in the aluminum oil pan. We left after Kevin and Carrie finished work on Thursday so we could get there for Fridays practice and 2 qualifying sessions. The trip down was not too bad even with a flat tire on the trailer. It was only the first Carlisle trailer tire that we lost after getting rid of the Goodyear tires. We pulled into a wayside about 2 am and slept until about 6 am when Kevin finished the drive to Barber just West of Birmingham Alabama. We registered at the window with no late entry fee. We did however have to pay $25 for camping, and $75 for a power hookup – which we were very glad to have. We ending up parking down on the bottom level right next to the pits and track. We took power from the pit wall but couldn’t reach the 50 amp plug since our main RV cord wasn’t long enough. That meant we had power but could not run the AC – NOT GOOD, especially with two women along. Fortunately we received some Southern hospitality from Steve Patterson who lent us his extension so we could plug in and run both A/C units in the RV – HEAVEN. Actually the locals said it wasn’t that hot, but high 80s, with high 80s humidity felt hot to us.
We took the car out Friday morning on some old Hoosiers for the practice session at 9:45 and ran 10 hot laps while Kevin got used to the track. On just his 5th lap ever at Barber he was under the FP track record of 1:46.395 set back in 2008. He ran two more laps under the record by about a second. The FP track record was not very low since there had never been a National race run here before. At 2:10 we took her back out for our first qualifying session for Saturday’s race on better used Hoosier tires. When we went to start the car on grid at the 5 minute it would not start. I quickly ran back to the trailer and grabbed the spare AEM EMS4, plugged it in and taped it to the roll bar and it ran just fine. We only got in four laps but managed a 1:44.801 for second overall and well in front of the 2nd place FP car. We went to impound to weigh after the session and the car would not start again. After sitting 20 minutes it started fine. The last session on Friday was the first qualifying session for Sunday’s race. It rained right before the session so we decided not to bother going out since we wanted to temper some new tires and the wet track would not build enough heat to do the job.
Saturday morning we took the car out for the 2nd qualifying session for Saturday’s race and to temper the new Hoosiers. Kevin ran just 4 successively faster laps with a fastest of 1:44.032 which kept him in 2nd overall just behind a very fast Lotus Exige. We were the 5th race of the day and as luck would have it the rain waited for us. We bolted on the Hoosier H2O tires and set up the car for rain and went out. We are pretty fast in the rain but we were surprised to see how fast the Lotus’ and Porsches were. Kevin backed off to stay out of their race and to protect the car. He finished first in FP and 4th overall after a shortened wet race. With this win we were now the F Production National points champion for the third year in a row, but we had not set a new track record due to the wet conditions.
Sunday morning I got up very early to try to fix the AEM problem by re-wring the power feed to the unit. After successful modifications and extensive testing it seemed fixed. At 9:30 we went to the false grid for the second qualifying session for Sunday’s race. We did not have a time yet since we skipped the 1st session for Sunday’s race on Friday. When we went to start the car it once again would not run. Once again I got the spare, plugged it in, and taped it to the roll bar and off we went. In Kevin’s first hot lap after the out lap he turned in a 1:43.630 which was on the overall pole by 2 seconds. He ran one more lap and brought her in. Now all we had to do was hope for no rain and hope the car would run a race time so we could set a new track record.
It was supposed to rain that afternoon, and it looked like it was going to rain, but it held off. Kevin was on overall pole and could run faster laps than the cars in SPU and STU but he had to try to beat them to the first corner to keep them behind him. He did just that and then checked out. He pulled out to about a 20 second lead before he backed off and cruised home for the win. Before backing off, he turned in 7 laps under the track record with the fastest being a 1:43.741. The only issue we had during the race was the cool suit. It usually doesn’t start pumping until the car starts sloshing the ice around on the pace lap, but this day it never started. That meant Kevin got overheated since it was a 19 lap race on a hot humid day, and the cool suit is worse than nothing when it is not working. It turns out one of the fittings was dislodged so it was blocking the flow. In impound we got it flowing and cooled Kevin down before he got out of the car.
Now a little bit about Barber Motorsports Park and the attached Barber Museum. It is awesome! The entire place is manicured, super clean, and designed to be a great race track for the racers and for the spectators. All around the track there are sculptures that you have to keep an eye out for. The paddocks are tiered so everyone can see the track no matter what lot you are in. Probably half of the paddock spots have power available. The spectator areas are amazing with plenty of shade to sit in, and the ability to see most of the track no matter where you are. There is even an RV parking lot so high up that you can see almost the entire track and all of the paddock lots. Then there is the museum. It is mostly a motorcycle museum but they have some cars as well. It is by far the best collection of vintage and race motorcycles anywhere. And the museum itself is as interesting as the motorcycles. The unique style of displaying the bikes along with an awesome view of the race track is worth the price of admission. The best feature of the track may have been the “tower”. The entire second floor of the tower (at least 200 feet long and 50 feet wide was for people to view the race. About half of it was open to the outside, and the other half was enclosed totally by glass and fully air conditioned. The enclosed area had 14 very large screen TVs for watching football, racing or whatever while watching the race outside the window. This is the room where they hold the Saturday night banquet for all the racers and workers. There was even an elevator to reach all three floors of the tower and it was a scenic elevator (all glass) so you could even watch the race while going up. If course there were also showers, bathroom, concessions, and automated race fuel pumps. And here is something you Mid Ohio people would appreciate – Public Address systems that you could actually hear, and if you were somewhere where you couldn’t hear it, you could tune to 106.3 FM to listen as well. (very nice for in the air conditioned RV).
As you can tell we enjoyed ourselves. We won both days to clinch the championship, set a new track record, and enjoyed a great new track. Kevin, Carrie, Diane, Laddie and I had a great time. Oh yeah, we found out dogs were not allowed but no one gave us grief about Laddie.
|2nd at Grattan||Tuesday, August 14, 2012|
|We only went to Grattan so we could add a 7th race to our National points total to try to win the National Points Championship for the third year in a row. Only two other FP cars were entered but one of them was the very fast Lotus Super 7 owned by Joe Walker but driven this time by his son John. John was trying to get his fourth finish to qualify for the Runoffs. We were only 7 points behind Eric Prill who had already ran 9 races. That meant we needed to finish better than 3rd place in this race.
We left for Grattan on Friday afternoon after Kevin got home from work. Carrie couldn't come with us because she had a cousins wedding to go to in Indianapolis. We arrived at Grattan just 5 minutes before registration closed in the pouring rain. It had been raining in Michigan for over a day and some cites received over eight inches of rain which was sorely needed. With that much rain we were not about to drive the Fleetwood in the grass so we found a area where there were no cars and parked on the road at the end. It worked well since there were only about 80 cars entered that weekend anyway.
It had quit raining early Saturday morning but the track was still pretty damp for our first qualifying session. Kevin kept going faster and faster as the track dried and then came in with a fair time for the damp track (1:28.618). John stayed out longer and turned in a faster lap than Kevin by a few tenths (1:28.165) but they were both well in front of everyone else. I found out later that Kevin did not feel well at all. He had a very nasty flu-like virus that had been dragging him down for several days that got progressively worse all weekend.
In the second session later that day the track had dried up but it was still cloudy and certainly cool for August. We had put on a new set of Hoosiers to temper for the race on Sunday. Kevin did is usual excellent job of starting out slow and gradually increasing his speed to build heat in the tires. On his last lap he came up on several very slow HP cars in the back of the track where there is no place to pass. Since the temper session was completed he came in with a time of 1:27.335 which was almost 2 seconds slower than he had done here before. Once again John stayed out longer and turned in a 1:27.035 for the overall pole. Halkias was between Kevin and John in his EP Triumph, and Jason Albright was just behind Kevin in his EP RX-7.
Saturday night we went to the traditional feast that Grattan always puts on. Actually we were downwind of the huge Bar-B-Q grill where they were cooking the beef & chicken for our dinner. It was great weather with nearly no bugs and we had a great time talking with all the other racers.
A week before we left for Grattan I had re-installed the spare EPM that we had received back from AEM. I wanted to make sure it was a good spare after we had sent it back to them for repair. It ran well for the first session but the car started to sputter a bit in the second session. This is just what this unit did before just before it failed completely so I wasn’t going to take the chance of it crapping out in the middle of the race. I put the good EPM back in the car before the race and it ran just fine.
Sunday was a gorgeous day, sunny in the mid 70’s, perfect for racing. We were in group 2 so our race was at 11:00 am just before lunch. At the start the two EP cars of Halkias & Albright took the lead and Kevin followed them. As usual the EP cars held up Kevin in the corners and then Martz in his EP Mazda powered past him in the straight. John passed Kevin in lap 4 for the lead. Martz eventually spun off the track and on the 10th lap. Kevin re-passed John for the FP lead and was going after Halkias. Just then Rob Coffey blew the engine in is EP Prelude in turn one and then proceeded to drive it to the pits while oiling down the entire track. Kevin hit the huge oil patch in turn one and did an excellent job of not spinning and hitting the wall. He came back on the track and proceeded to reel John back in. Just as he had about caught him he hit another oil patch in turn x which took him off track again, and once again did an excellent job of controlling the car to get back on the track. For the rest of the race Kevin had a clear track between him and John and he kept going faster as he found where the oil wasn't. At one point Kevin was 15 seconds behind John, but by the end of the race had cut it to only 1.5 seconds. Kevin turned in the fastest lap of all cars in the run group of 1:26.219. Second was John with a 1:27.470. The 1st place EP car was Halkias who finished 3rd overall and turned in a 1:28.156. To make things worse Kevin could barely walk when he finished the race. He slept all the way home in the RV and took the next two days off work.
With all that went wrong we still had accomplished what we wanted to. We finished our 7th race and took 10 points for the National Championship which put us in the lead by 3. We found out later that Prill had run a 10th and 11th race the next weekend to try to get more points and beat us. He then knew exactly how many points he needed to win. He needed to win both days and beat at least 5 cars to get enough points to tie us. Because he had more wins racing against just a few average cars in all of his races, he would win the tie breaker. Winning both days would be no problem for him. He has a car that is professionally prepared by a shop that knows exactly how to take advantage of all the help Mazda gets to win races. Even so, having that many cars to beat in a race this late in the season would be almost impossible, and having all the cars start on Sunday that race on Saturday is unheard of – we have never seen that happen. But, Kevin and I both agreed that if he did it, we would congratulate him on a job well done.
A week later we were shocked to see that he had done just that, had just enough cars entered in the race and they all started both days. Pretty amazing……..or was it? We found out that he had paid for an ITB car to enter as a FP car and run just one lap of both races so that he could get the extra two points. And some how he thought that was perfectly fair. Sure, we have all tried to convince other cars to enter our races to have enough cars to make contingencies or to get more points, but to pay for a car to enter and run one lap so that he has absolutely no chance of beating you???? Wow, I have to wonder what other things he has done that he considers legal……….. Many years ago Kevin and I decided that if we needed to cheat to win then we would quit racing because our self respect is worth more than a trophy.
|Two Wins and another Track Record||Tuesday, July 10, 2012|
|Three weeks before the race there was not one FP car signed up. At race time there were eight cars on the list. We decided to do Gingerman probably for the same reason others did. It was a double race, in just two days, late in the season, and not too far to go. We had a lot to do to the car in just one week before the race – we wanted to install a new cool suit system for the driver, we needed new brake pads & rotors on all four corners; we needed to do something about the oil leak; we needed to get and re-install DA Integra rear trailing arms and have special sleeves made to accommodate the spherical bearings; and we wanted new spacers made to increase the track off the car. We also wanted to move the new transmission from the ITA car to the FP car to see how it would work, and we wanted to optimize the engine compression ratio to get back some more horsepower, but there wasn’t time for these. We did get the brakes done and the DA arms installed but not new ones – we stole the ones off the ITA Integra. We also didn’t get the spacers in time.
Kevin & I finished everything, including setup, Thursday night and loaded everything onto the trailer. Friday afternoon Carrie & I drove the race rig to TRC and picked Kevin up at work. That saved us about an hour and allowed us to get to Gingerman before 9pm when registration closed. We get to registration and there is the usual long line taking way more time than it should. They decided that we couldn’t pay for the event on line so everyone needed to pay at the window. They also told us we were on the hook for a late fee of $50 and an additional 5% if we used a credit card. Not a real big deal but enough to piss everyone off. They also give you 4 free crew passes but only 2 dinner passes. Then they charge you $15 for additional dinner passes. Once again not a real big deal, but enough just to piss you off. I am sure next year they will all be sitting around the table at the region board meeting and all wondering why there numbers have fallen off ……. again.
Friday was a horribly hot day – over 100 degrees. So when we get there at 9pm it’s still 95ish. We get set up, and of course there is nowhere to plug in, so we try our very expensive American made quality Onan generator. And of course it does not work. Remember, this is a $15,000 generator that just took $3500 to repair and it maybe has 100 hours on it. It will be replaced by a Honda very soon. Fortunately I had just replaced the house batteries so we ran off the inverter for the night using the ceiling fans to pull in fresh air. It worked pretty well. We also thought it would be very refreshing to take the scooter for a quick ride and cool off. No, we had forgotten the key for the scooter since we had taken it to the June Sprints on the Featherlite and left the key in the van – not smart.
Saturday morning we got ready for the first session on track which was a practice session. We used the narrow Hoosiers that ran every session at the June Sprints. Kevin turned in the fastest lap of the run group with a 1:44.1. Since this was out first time on the extended track we didn’t know if this was very good or not. Certainly not everyone when out for this session. We did manage to try out the new cool suit system that circulates cool water through a shirt that Kevin was wearing. It worked very well and Kevin was quite glad to have it. Later that afternoon we went out for our only qualifying session for Saturday’s race. We put on some sticker wide Hoosiers and went out late to temper them and try to get one last fast lap. Fifteen minutes into a 25 minute session they threw the checker flag. When Kevin heard that, he stepped on it for the last half of the lap to turn in a 1:49.56 which left him 11th in the non-SRF cars but still second in FP. In the race after one lap he was in 6th and after 4 laps he was in 4trh overall and 1st in FP. He continued in 1st for the rest of the race and finished in 3rd overall behind 2 fast EP cars. His best lap was a respectable 1:43.808 very close to a track record. Once again Kevin was quite glad to have the cool suit system. That evening we had planned on going out to dinner with the Huffmaster clan but things dragged on until about 8 pm so we finally went to the track dinner of Polish fare – sausages, noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans and chicken with a ton of different pies for dessert. It was very good but they ran out of beer very early. Saturday night we borrowed a small generator from Huffmasters to recharge our batteries. It was a lot milder day and night, and it actually rained very hard about midnight for about an hour.
Sunday was much cooler with a nice breeze. I was still missing my scooter but had figured a way to ride down to grid with Kevin in the back of the race car. Because it was cooler we didn’t run the cool suit system which saved us about 25 pounds. The qualifying session was about 9am and it was a lot cooler – about 75 degrees. The car liked the cooler temps and the changes Kevin made to the rear suspension. In his first hot lap he turned in a 1:42.5. In his second lap he turned in a 1:41.5 nearly two seconds under the track record so he came in on the overall pole.
At race time about 2pm it was a bit warmer but still pretty nice. Of course the two fast EP cars jumped Kevin at the start but to our surprise Joe Walker in his Lotus Super 7 also scooted past Kevin for the FP lead. It took Kevin until the fourth lap to set up for the pass and regain the lead. He then proceeded to run away for the rest of the pack. He won with a 52 second lead over Joe and another 32 seconds back to Larry Funk in his Honda CRX. He took the win and set a new track record of 1:43.137.
With these two wins added to our two earlier wins and two 2nds, we added 36 points to our national points total. With only 6 races our total was now 104. That would have been first but Eric Prill posted his 7th win to give him 109 points. At this time we do not know if we complete a 7th race to win the Points Championship. We won the points championship for the last two years but honestly it really doesn’t have much meaning. SCCA does not give any award for the championship, although you must win it to be eligible for the Super Sweep award.
We had a great time in spite of the heat, in spite of the hassles from the South Bend and Detroit Regions, and in spite of having no scooter or generator. Two wins, a track record and being able to drive the car onto the trailer unscaved is always a good thing.
|Silver at June Sprints Again||Monday, June 18, 2012|
|We have finished 2nd in the last three years at the June Sprints to three different drivers. We really wanted to go back and finally win this race. Realistically, however, we knew our FP Integra was probably not up to the task just yet. We finally have it running well but it has not yet been optimized for horsepower.
We decided to take the car on the Featherlite trailer behind the Ford van rather than with the Fleetwood RV since we wanted to sleep at the Lake House in Oshkosh and the van costs about half as much to drive. We picked a subset of tools and spares and loaded up the van on Monday night so Mom & I could drive the car to Oshkosh on Tuesday before the race. Kevin and Carrie drove the CR-V to Oshkosh after work on Thursday evening.
On Friday morning Kevin, Carrie & I took the car over to the track and set up paddock under some shady trees. We went out for the practice session at 10:30 in the morning. The car ran well as Kevin got used to the track and tempered a new set of the narrow Hoosier radial slicks. Actually there were not many cars there for the session. Our first qualifying session wasn’t until 5:15 that afternoon. We tried to go out last to get some open track but that was difficult with 45 cars in the run group. We actually had the FP pole for most of the session until right at the end when Ken Kannard took a whole second off his best lap. We packed up everything, covered the car and drove the CR-V back to the Lake House in Oshkosh.
On Saturday our second session was at 1:30 in the afternoon but we didn’t bother to go back to the track since we didn’t think we could go much faster, and since it was kind of a rainy day anyway. We went on line and found that we were not in second as we expected, but in third in FP, and 11th overall behind EP and GTL cars. The car in 2nd was a car that was resurrected after many years of not being run. It was a 1975 VW Sirocco that used to be a GP car. They took some weight off it and reclassified it in FP after GP was eliminated. Also it was driven by Chuck Mathis, a past national champion and a very good driver. It was not pretty but it was fast at only 1600 pounds with a 1.6L engine.
On Sunday Kevin, Carrie, Bob Meissen & I went back to the track early so we could gas up the car and check it out as much as we could before the race. It was a beautiful day after some much needed rain on Saturday. The race before ours was delayed due to several crashes and shortened to 7 laps. Then they decided to shorten all the races to 10 laps.
At the start of the race Kevin motored past the VW and several EP and GTL cars all the way into 6th place. For the rest of the race those cars motored back past Kevin and Kannard pulled out a big lead. Mathis worked his way back up to Kevin after a full course yellow came out. In the last lap the VW passed Kevin in turn one and tried to pull away. Kevin stayed closed and drafted him on the back straight, pulled out and passed him in Canada corner for the second spot on the podium. In addition to the engine being down on horsepower, the transmission popped out of 4th gear several times during the race. No question we have some work to do on the car to make it a contender for the National Championship Runoffs in September, but we know what to do and how to do it.
Finishing second for the 4th time in a row isn’t ideal but it beats finishing third. We had a great time with Carrie, Diane, and Bob & Linda Meissen on a beautiful day. It was very nice to see my room mate from College Jim Streblow at the race too. Maybe we’ll try it again next year and finally get it right.
We actually kind of hate coming to this race since it is so very expensive compared to other National Races and they don't even give you a hamburger on Friday or Saturday night. We had other relatives come to the track on Sunday only to be told it would be $30 each to watch the race as overcrew - compared to the $10 everyone else charges. This race is put on by the Obama Region of SCCA (Chicago). That should tell you why it is so expensive.
|Three more WINS at Mid Ohio||Monday, June 11, 2012|
|Even though we knew there would be no competition in ITA since the Mosers had sold their cars, we wanted to drive the ITA Integra to test out a new transmission that we had installed only two days earlier. The new tranny was outfitted with a new final drive with straight cut gears, and a new Kaaz limited slip differential just like our FP car has. We even had to break in the new trans in a local park by doing figure eights for a half hour.
I took up the race rig to Mid Ohio on Thursday night and set up paddock East of the upper paddock along with all the IT-Miata Shootout competitors. It was tough to find level ground but I managed to be in a spot that was shaded early and later in the day. There was no electrical hookup but the generator on automatic along with the new house batteries worked excellent. With the inverter on constantly, the generator only came on Friday evening and Saturday evening for about 3 hours each. We were right next to Mat & Mark Downing, and Steve Sancricca.
Kevin & Carrie arrived about 4:30 Friday evening just in time for Kevin to help with final preparations of the car and to attend a drivers meeting before jumping in the car for our first qualifying session at 5:15pm. Kevin took the car out with new Hoosiers and tempered the tires by going successively faster on each lap. He ran a 2:15, 2:05, 1:55, and then laid back until he was about to be passed and took off. He timed it just right and turned in a 1:45.xxx for the overall pole position. With 65 cars on track at the same time it was difficult to find an open lap to get a good qualifying time.
On Saturday we only had one session on track which was supposed to be a 10 lap qualifying race. Kevin started on the pole with a quick ITS Mazda RX7 driven by Mark Keefer right next to him. Of course at the start the ITS car motored past him for the lead. For the rest of the race Kevin could not get by even though he was being held up by as much as two seconds a lap. Fortunately there was no other cars that could stay with Kevin and Keefer as Willie Church was way back due to a timing and scoring error. They threw the checkered flag after just 7 laps. The rest of Saturday we enjoyed watching the professional races at the esses.
On Sunday our first time on track was another qualifying session. Kevin went out and once again took the overall pole position with the RX7 right behind. The next session was another 10 lap qualifying race with Kevin starting on pole and Keefer right next to him. This time however, Keefer appeared to let Kevin take the lead at the start. He then proceeded to follow Kevin for the next 5 laps. On each lap he was learning how to get around Mid Ohio from an expert. He got better and better and finally used his big ITS motor to drive past Kevin and take the lead. Then he proceeded to pull away from Kevin like a good ITS car should now that he knew how to drive the course.
The last session was a 19 lap race for the trophies. Kevin started on the outside pole this time. Keefer now took the lead and pulled out a comfortable lead as he should. In about 4 laps however, they both caught the slower cars in the run group and spent the rest of the race carefully passing cars. Kevin stayed close to Keefer for the whole race as Kevin is quite good at passing lappers. Meanwhile Willy had worked his way up into 3rd place overall just 15 seconds behind the leaders. Second in ITA was Matt Downing, and third was Greg Vanderslus who were both way back.
Even though we had not driven the ITA Integra since the ARRC last November, and we had made substantial changes to it just days before the race, it ran exceptionally well. The new trans was extremely smooth, the new final drive put the rpms in the power band much more than before, and the Kaaz LSD made the car pull through corners like the FP car does.
|A Win and a Second at Mid Ohio||Wednesday, June 6, 2012|
|The car was just coming off a win at Summit Point and was running pretty good but there was still much on the car that needed continued testing. Before the weekend we re-installed the new intake manifold that was better port matched, had less crap on it, and used a Teflon gasket that Kevin fabricated; the new HyTech exhaust manifold with a different muffler; and the plastic composite fuel rail with the same new injectors and new pressure regulator. We were hoping it would run without problems and would come close to last years performance numbers as it has not yet been optimized for horsepower.
Friday was a wet one. The first session was pouring rain but we went out anyway since it looked like the second session for Saturdays race would be wet as well. We used the new H2O Hoosiers that we got last year and never put on the car. They were awesome. Between the new H2Os, the full rear brake bias, a front wheel drive car, and a driver that has been a real "mudder" throughout his career, this car was as good as it gets in Production racing in the rain. However, seeing through the windshield was a bigger problem. We did install our custom designed window defroster which wasn't too bad but not great. Kevin stayed out long enough until just he and Greg Gauper (another front wheel drive Honda) were the only ones left on track. He turned in a time 10 seconds faster than anyone else in the group for the overall pole. The in-car video is great fun to watch of that session.
Later that day we went out for the second qualifying session for Saturday’s race. The track was still wet but it was not raining at the time. We decided to try our brand new never used intermediate tires that we had made for the Runoffs last year. They are a set of R80 radial slicks that have had grooves cut in them manually to handle puddles. Kevin went a bit faster but didn’t stay out long since it was still pretty horrible. Kevin stayed on pole in FP but the overall pole was taken by Sam Halkis in his EP Triumph.
Kevin started the race in front of several EP cars which passed him at the start with their higher horsepower cars. He then was held up in the corners and could not get past them. Fortunately Strittmatter and Workman who were the next fastest FP cars were not fast enough to catch Kevin even though he was being held up. Kevin finished 4th overall and won FP with a 30 second margin back to Strittmatter. First overall was Schmidt in his Prelude, 2nd was Halkias in his Triumph, and 3rd was Martz in his RX-7. Kevin's fastest lap was a 1:40.455, nearly 2 seconds slower than the track record he set last year at this race.
For Sunday’s race Kevin once again qualified on the FP pole in front of several fast EP cars. At the start he was passed by the EP cars and was held up in the corners. On the 4th lap he was trying to get by Gary Martz in his RX-7 as Strittmatter and Workman were not far behind. By this time the leaders in EP were well out in front so Martz had no reason to continue to block Kevin and keep him behind him and screw up the FP race. In turn eleven Martz swung wide so Kevin took the inside line to pass. In the middle of the corner Martz darted across the corner and hit Kevin, spun around and hit him again and went off. By the time Kevin got restarted and back in the race he had fallen behind Strittmatter and Workman and behind Sam Moore’s EP BMW. Kevin charged back to catch Strittmatter. When he got up to Moore, Sam let him go by even though he could have kept him behind the way Martz had. Kevin caught Strittmatter but could not get by. Strittmatter has a very fast car in the straights and he made no mistakes and drove an excellent line in the corners to keep Kevin behind him. Finally on the last lap Kevin drove around the outside of turn 6 which put him and the inside of turn 7 where he finally completed the pass. Finally back in the lead Kevin knew he had to put some distance on Strittmatter to keep him behind him. When he got in the middle of turn 11 the car snapped around, probably due to a build up of marbles on the rear tires from driving so much off the race line. Kevin went through the gravel trap and tapped the tire wall. He was able to re-fire the car and get back on track to finish second in FP. Kevin turned in the fastest FP lap by about a second.
After the race Mr. Martz actually decided to protest Kevin for the contact in turn eleven. While Kevin was on the podium and in impound I moved the in car video to Kevin’s computer and gave it to Kevin to take to the inquiry. Apparently after the judges saw the video, they relinquished Kevin of any wrongdoing and told Martz he was the one who caused the accident. It’s a shame that two cars had to get banged up and Kevin lost a race he should have won just because one guy couldn’t stand being passed by a slower class car. Surprisingly Martz did contact Kevin several days later to apologize.
It was great weekend even though Kevin ran into the same problem we always run into with EP cars. Maybe we should build an EP car just so we don’t have to deal with faster class cars holding us up. In the meantime we certainly know we have some work to do to get the FP Integra optimized for horsepower but we have no time to do it before the June Sprints.
|New Race Experience at Summit Point||Sunday, May 6, 2012|
|We hadn’t planned on racing at Summit Point this year but circumstances forced us to have to get a race in before our big race at Mid Ohio in June. The tow wasn’t too bad at about 7 hours and we haven’t been to a new track since 2008. The track isn't too far off the Interstate and the countryside area around the track was beautiful and quaint. We have heard that the track was fun but not very nice. Well they were half right, it was fun, but it is very nice. Best of all we were glad to run into nice people. The first guy we met was an old guy at the guard shack at nearly midnight. When we told him it was our first time there he welecomed us and gave us as much information about the track as he could. When we pulled into the paddock we found most of the paved spaces (very small spaces) to be already taken. That really didn’t bother us since we need a lot more room and we actually prefer the grass when we have the dog with us as long as it is not muddy or uneven, which this wasn’t. We picked a spot right next to the false grid, just down from the bathrooms and showers. Actually everything is fairly close together so you are never too far from where you need to go. Actually we found a bunch of paddock spaces back in the wooded areas that we didn't know existed until the next day.
We were shocked to find power boxes EVERYWHERE. Literally there had to be 150 to 200 boxes, each with a 30 amp outlet and a 20 amp GFI outlet with the breakers right in the box in case you trip one. They are all labeled so you just go to the guard shack and tell them what number you want, give them $30, and they give you the key. When you leave just give back the key and they give you $10 back – much preferred to running a generator. I wish other tracks would take a look at this and do the same - especially Mid Ohio.
The track itself is nice and smooth with only a few bumpy spots. It has new elevated “gazebos” around the track for the corner workers and flaggers to stand in which makes them very easy to see. The track is a bit narrow with only a couple good passing zones and it is fast. Our little four cylinder made it around the 2 mile track in 82.292 seconds – of course that was a new track record. One drawback is the runoff zones, they may be a bit lacking. Rookie drivers may find themselves kissing a wall of tires or Armco if they panic when they drop a wheel off the pavement.
The bathrooms are brand new and beautiful. They are not huge and they only have one shower, but that appears to be adequate. They also have porta-potties located around the paddock as well. They have a car washing area with hoses and sprayers right near the spent oil depot. Also very convenient is an automated gas pump with 93, 100, and 110 octane fuel. They have a nice little cafe and food area and a very nice parts/supplies/merchandise store.
The only cranky people we encountered were in impound, one guy directing traffic was a bit exciteable and the lady at the scales was also a bit tense. She made me wait a half hour to get our weight number. I even offerred her a drink of our champaign but she said no. Finally she got sick of me hovering around, looked it up and gave it to me. It took at least 2 seconds so I can see why she didn't have time to do it...... Most tracks hand the driver a slip with the weight on it as they drive off the scale. Some of them even give all four corner weights rather than just a total.
We were also surprised to see Jeff Dahnert, President of SCCA there to mingle with members and hand out trophies. He understands what makes a club work.
The food at the track on Saturday night was very good - Mexican in honor of Cinco de Mayo. They even had wine and Dos Equis amber which didn't last long, but there was plenty of regular beer too.
All in all we were very happy with Summit Point and the Washington DC Region of SCCA. We will definitely be back.
|Win and Track Record at Summit Point||Sunday, May 6, 2012|
|Because we had problems with all the modifications we did to FP Integra we could not attend the March race at Road Atlanta or the April race at Virginia International Raceway. We had to get a race in before Mid Ohio, so we decided to make the tow to Summit Point.
We left Thursday evening so we could do the test day on Friday. We needed test time with the car, and Kevin needed to learn the track before he had to race on it. We arrived at the gate at about 11pm and met a very nice older gentleman who welcomed us to the track and gave us directions where to go and how to get power for our paddock area. We rolled in to find all the paved areas already taken but plenty of gravel/grassy areas left. We would not have fit in the paved spots and Laddie the race puppy likes the grass anyway.
Friday morning we woke up to a beautiful sunny day, got registered, and readied the car for its first session. We were on the narrow Hoosier tires from last year that we used at the runoffs. The first session went well as the clouds moved in. Our best of 9 laps was a 1:25.05, not bad for Kevin’s first time on track. The FP track record is a 1:22.80.
Before the first session we downloaded the ECU log from the new AEM EMS-4 so it would be empty. After the session we downloaded the log again and then had a problem – the EMS would not connect to the laptop, and the car would not run! After several tries of rebooting the laptop and the EMS the car started once but would not start again. We decided to get out the spare EMS-4, plug it in and try it. It worked, so we dismounted the EMS and mounted the spare. When we tried to connect and run the car now the new EMS would not work. Then we plugged in the old EMS and it started, then re-plugged in the new EMS and it started. By this time we had missed the second session and had to wait until after lunch for the 3rd session. Later, after talking with a tech at AEM we decided to feed the tach driver to the RaceTechnology dash with a different voltage source, but we did not touch the EMS again until after the race was finished – just in case.
In the third session we thought it might be wet but the rain held off. We ran well and after 11 laps we turned in a best of 1:23.89. We made minor changes to the setup and carefully monitored our fuel usage so we would know how much fuel we would need for the race on Sunday.
In the fourth session it was still cloudy but dry. We completed 8 laps and turned in a 1:22.95 just about a tenth off the track record on front tires that had seen 44 hot laps. In the last session we bolted on a pair of new tires on the front and just ran a few laps to temper them for the next day. The only other problem we had with the car was oil leaking into the #3 and #4 spark plug tubes from the valve cover. That was probably due to the fact that we installed a coil hold down to the middle bolt and couldn’t put as much pressure to hold down the cover. We sopped out the oil between sessions with a paper towel so it wouldn’t get too bad.
Saturday morning we woke to another beautiful sunny day for our fist qualifying session at 8:30. We turned in a 1:22.857 very close to the track record. It was only good enough for second as Jerry Hinkle in his Lotus Super 7 turned in a 1:22.738. Jerry has a very fast car and is very experienced with the track but his time would not count as a track record unless it is run in a race – not qualifying. Four other FP cars turned in times in the session as well.
After the morning session I jumped on the Honda Elite and went to a local NAPA to get a new valve cover gasket to try to eliminate the oil leak into the spark plug tubes. When the first place didn’t have it and I had to go to another NAPA I had put on nearly 40 miles. It was a perfect day for a ride in the rolling hills of West Virginia and Virginia so I was just enjoying the ride.
For the second session we didn’t expect to go faster as the air and track were hotter in the afternoon, but we went out anyway to give Kevin more seat time on the track. With the old tires back on the car to save the good ones for the race, Kevin turned in the third fastest lap of the session behind 2 E Prod cars with a 1:22.894 - just a bit slower than the morning session. After the car cooled we re-wired the EMS, installed the new valve cover and tubes seals, fueled her up, bolted on the best tires, and got her ready for the early race of the next day. We made to the track dinner in time for some Cinco de Mayo Mexican food and to hear the drawings for door prises. We had a great time talking with old friends and making some new friends at the dinner.
On Sunday morning we were a little surprised to see a cloudy sky and just a touch of mist in the air but not enough to dampen the track. We were sad to see Jerry Hinkle did not make it to grid. Apparantly he had an engine problem from the first qualifying session. That eliminated all competition as the next FP car back was over 4 seconds slower than us. I also thought that we would have a tough time getting the track record with no one to push us to go faster. I was wrong. Kevin found his groove by the 4th lap and set a new track record with a 1:22.292 and turned in 4 other laps under the previous track record. With someone to race with, I am sure the Integra could have accomplished a lap under 1:22.
It was a great weekend. We fully expected to have more problems with the brand new drive train and electrical system than we did. And the two problems we did have with the car we believe we had fixed before we left the track. We are not sure if the car has hit the horsepower numbers that we hoped for, but we still have some things to do to the engine which could make a difference. We also have some plans to modify the suspension and aerodynamics to improve the cars cornering but haven't had time to implement them yet.
Kevin, Carrie, Laddie & I all had a great time at a very nice track. I am sure we will be back to Summit Point again.
|A Very Long Off Season||Wednesday, April 25, 2012|
|Not much has gone right so far this year with the National F Production Integra. We spent a ton of money and time on a complete new engine, new race clutch, new transaxles, a new Engine Management System, and a coil-on-plug system. And it has run poorly and smoked ever since we started it up despite the highest compression numbers and leakdown numbers we have ever seen. Making that many changes at once is a great way to make huge development gains quickly but it is also a great way to make it nearly impossible to find out what is cauing your problems. Finally after months of fiddling around we found all 16 valve seals loose and leaking - one of the few things we did not install. Hopefully we can get her back on track and go win some races and set some more track records.|
|Winter work progressing well.||Friday, March 16, 2012|
|Before the end of last year we had the ITA Integra, the ITB Civic and the ITC Civic all completed and ready for next season. The two Civics are for sale.
Work has been completed on the rebuild of the FP Integra engine. We did not get the F Production Integra ready in time for Road Atlanta. The new engine was done but it still had a problem that we could not diagnose. Actually we believe it was the same problem that put us out of the Runoffs race the last time the car was on track. We have decided to replace the old obsolete DTA engine management system. We will have the new system completely installed and tested within a couple weeks. The car will be outfitted with a new EMS, a new optical crank and cam sensor, and even a new coil-on-plug ignition system. The new system should make more power, be more reliable, and allow us to diagnose problems without having to call someone in England that doesn't care. The redesign and testing of the suspension will be done throughout the year as time permits.
We have also completed the rebuilding of the engine for the 1993 Prelude Si. We will reinstall the engine and finish it up when we have time. This was a parts car before we sold the Prelude race car but now it will be a beautiful daily driver for Kevin and Carrie.