Skip to main content

Racing again.. and #61 almost catches fire!


Last year, I joined the ranks of amateur wheel-to-wheel racers and went to race with the fantastic Vantage Motorsports racing team (to read more, go to The Ram's Eye Goes Racing). It was just as much fun and rewarding as I imagined it would be so I was really looking forward to this (2017) season. Unfortunately, life has a habit of getting in the way of things you want to do so that's exactly what happened this year. I missed all but the last round of the race season, which was on Sunday September 17. It seems, though, that I had a full season's worth of racing experience in one day..

For starters, I missed the early morning call, which meant I had to start from the back of the pack in every race. No problem, I liked that I'd have more racing to do. I went out in the practice session and I found out I was very rusty.. My first hot lap was a 1:27.x, about 5 seconds off the pace of the car on the Toyo R888's that were on it. Second dropped to 1:26.x, then I settled into a rut of high 1:25's. By the end of the session, I got low 1:25's with a best of 1:25.2. Much better, but still a good 3 seconds off the pace of the car and 2.4 off my personal best - a 1:22.8. Disappointed, I found myself a good race car driver excuse: I haven't raced or driven the car for darn near one full year since last fall. Good enough! It'll come down with more time in the car as the day progresses, right?


Yes, trouble is, "more time in the car" turned out to be far too optimistic. Jay - my team mate for the #61 car that I race - went out for the first qualifying session. The session got red flagged due to an incident and ended prematurely.. which turned out to set the tone for the rest of the day. I didn't go out in the second qualifying session to save gas and tires, since I was starting from the back anyway. Fast forward a couple of hours to when we were being gridded for my first race of the day, adrenaline is high, excitement level even higher, and all you can think about is the race. Starting from the back, I was excited to try and make my way through traffic. I'm in the slowest class - GT6 - and my class is only 4 cars so there wasn't much traffic, but it was still fun. I made my way to 2nd place, but by that time, 1st was a good ways ahead. It seemed hopeless.. until yellow flag dropped due to an incident and safety car came out.. just the opportunity I needed!

I caught up to the rest of the pack and pushed hard to try and pass a Spec Miata that was between me and 1st place in GT6 (for the record, Spec Miatas are actually faster than GT6 on our track). I had no chance in the straights, but I actually seemed a little quicker in the corners. Unfortunately, one lap is all I got, before yellow flag came out again and safety car came back out.. Due to my experience level (or lack thereof), a couple of passing attempts were misplaced and resulted in me actually losing some time so I didn't even get a full lap's worth of corners to make a pass. It was disappointing - having lost half the race - but on the bright side, I got 2nd place and dropped to a best of 1:24.9. And I still had the 1 hour Atlantic Challenge to look forward to, where I would drive the car for around 40 minutes and then Jay would switch with me during a mandatory 5 minute pit stop. 40 minutes of racing! Or not..


Another early ending, although this time, our car was the incident. I was coming out of turn 2 when  the car just fell on its face. I downshifted to 1st and tried to go but the car just kept sputtering while barely moving. I tried to limp it back to avoid another caution with safety car and tow truck.. but it was not happening. Then, I started smelling gas.. I pulled to the side on the grass and waited for a tow. Fast forward a few minutes to getting towed to the paddock, we pop the hood, and the damage is clear. The car is done for the day. The front cross member had snapped, moving the engine out of place far enough to pull the fuel lines. The engine and transmission were hanging lower in the car, the car was running on fumes in the fuel line and rail, and the pump was pumping gas in the engine bay.. It's a miracle the car didn't catch on fire, or it'd have been done for probably and I would have found out how quick I can unbuckle, release the window net, and jump out of the car under pressure, or perhaps on fire.

At the end of the day, I was still glad I came out. Sure, it was a disappointing day and no one wants to be part of breaking Old Faithful (the #61 car) or almost set the car on fire. But with the season being over, it was nice to get at least one race day in this season and the little that I raced was a lot of fun, as usual. The experience is just part of the racing. Plus, 2nd place (albeit in a class of 4) is not bad, and I was able to drop my best lap to 1:23.9. I know I'll have a lot of work to do next season to shake off even more rust but that's part of the fun! There's also the no-points, Jack Canfield Memorial (JCM) 3 hour race coming up in a week, which I hope I can make it to.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Michelin Pilot Super Sports vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 - Street Review

I've been a huge fan of Michelin PSS tires and exclusively bought them for the Mustang over the last four years. So how did I end up here? This year, I was hugely interested in trying an "R-comp" tire. I had my eyes set on Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's for two simple reasons: price and reputation. They seem like they're easily the most affordable (from a big brand) R-comp tire and combine that with a reputation for having tons of grip, it was an easy top contender. I had my concerns, though. For one, I'm told and have read that they are an autox tire, not really designed for high speed, pressure, and temps associated with open track. For another, the Mustang is a heavy car (as far as track cars are concerned) being roughly 3,800 lb. (including driver), which will amplify the unwanted open track loads. Combine that with the fact that I drive a good amount on the street during the summer, and I was very worried that they wouldn't last more than a handful of…

Michelin PSS vs Firestone Indy 500 - Track Review

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my first impressions of Michelin's PSS vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires. I've run PSS's for several years on the Boss, but I'm trying the Indy 500's for the first time. In short, I was worried about the narrower tires (I was running 285/35/18 PSS but could only find the Indy 500 in 275/35/18) and tread squirm, but I was happy with them up to that point just driving on the street. I had the chance to drive on them for three track days now. So what were they like? After my first session, they made an impression that basically persisted for the rest of track sessions on them. Phenomenal, unmatched value. Now, if value is something that stands out above all else, it typically means the compromise between qualities you want and those you don't is less than ideal, but the value is attractive. This is no different. I'll start with the bad, which really boil down to two: ultimate grip and grip longevity.

Grip is noticeably lowe…

Watch The Best Valentine's Day Inspiration: Wife & Husband Track Battle

Wife (R32) vs husband (Mk1 Golf) playing a bit of tag at Atlantic Motorsport Park in Shubie, NS. Both cars are turbocharged, both built by them for them to enjoy on a track. Oh, and the R32 shoots flames on the overrun. Every. Single. Time. This is the best couples bonding activity I've ever seen.



Follow Ram's Eye The Track Guy on Facebook and Instagram!





View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mike R (@ramseyethetrackguy) on Oct 18, 2018 at 5:03pm PDT

2014 BMW 335i xDrive M Sport Review

Post-refresh 2015 F30 3-series pictured. 
Which is better, an F30 3-series or an E46? The F30 has certainly taken its fair share of heat. But if you thought I was going to say the E46, you'd be dead wrong. The F30 3-series is better. Far better. It is quicker, faster, safer, more practical, more efficient, more refined, quieter.. the list goes on. A lot of reviews and people I talk to consider the F30 to be an abomination. Frankly, I don't see it. You'd have to be mad to think the E46 is better. Completely out to lunch. I don't know who in their right mind would prefer the E46..  Trouble is, since when were people buying sports cars in their right minds? Here, lies the real problem.

"Raw rather than refined in its noises, pounding ride, heavy clutch, 50 grand and cloth seats?"
".. and not at all shy about its performance compromises. It always acts like the automotive jock it is, every mile of every day."
"Raw and quite loud.. And sometimes ru…

Dad's Supercar - A great mid-engine build

I came across this home build on a forum (Cobaltss.net) and thought it was really cool. It's a mid-engine build with an engine out of a Cobalt SS (appears to be an LSJ) with a dry sump oiling system. The goal, according to the page, is to have 450 hp on gas to drive to the strip and switch to methanol, change injectors and tune and run with ~ 1,000 hp.






Rear suspension:


Front suspension:



Check it out the (little) details on the build here: Dad's Home-built mid-engine Supercar


Snow/Ice Rallycross in the Rabbit

FWD cars don't win the WRC anymore and they haven't in decades. In fact, all two wheel drive (2WD) cars have been rendered entirely obsolete on the world stage by the original legendary Audi Quattro. That's because 4 driven wheels are obviously far better at putting power down than just 2 and when you are on a loose surface such as mud, gravel, or snow, traction is in SERIOUS short supply. Thankfully, I'm not on the world rally stage or competing for the world title, so I'm happy with my little FWD rallycross car (for now anyway...).

I have already been to one event this season (which is my first rallycross season) in this car. You can read more about it here where I nearly caught air going over one of the bumps. Last time was on gravel, though. This time, it was a snow covered course and what I didn't know was that snow wasn't covering gravel. It was covering ice. What could possibly go wrong?

In what I seriously fear will turn into a tradition, I once ag…

Contact Me

Name

Email *

Message *