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

2020 Porsche 992 (911) Details

Unlike the new 2019 3-series that was officially revealed by BMW, the anticipated 2020 Porsche 992 (911) has not been officially revealed yet. But that doesn't mean a lot about it isn't known already. In a recent prototype drive by Car and Driver, Porsche discussed a lot of the changes. This update is very important in my opinion because the next 911 may have its work cut out for it judging by what we know about the upcoming mid-engine Corvette. The 911 vs Corvette rivalry is nothing new, spanning decades. While there has been very significant and revolutionary changes to the 911 - including switching from air-cooled to water-cooled engines, losing hydraulic power steering, and recently an all turbocharged lineup (short of the GT3) - none have been as revolutionary as the Corvette's planned change to switch from front engine to mid engine layout. So what is the next 911 coming going to be armed with? There are a bunch of changes, although most are just incremental but one…

Chevrolet 1LE & Grand Sport - How do they do it? Part 3

In Parts 1 and 2 (Links: +Chevrolet 1LE & Grand Sport - How do they do it? Part 1 & Part 2), I concluded that grip is where Chevys excel and decided to try and figure out how they do that by looking at test data from Car and Driver's Lightning Lap features. The first thing that stood out to me when the 5th generation Camaro 1LE came out was the wider tires compared to the Mustang Track Pack of the time and even the Boss 302. The tires on the ZL1 and Z/28 stood out as much.. only on those, they stood out compared to just about anything that isn't a supercar. So I decided to start looking there; tire sizes.

To evaluate tire sizes, I calculated a weight-to-tire-section ratio for each car. Similar to the idea of power to weight ratio, where the number tells you how much weight each hp is burdened with, this tells you how much weight each mm of tire section is burdened with, so to speak. For example, a BMW M235i weighs 3,490 lb, as tested during the LL feature. It has 225/…

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…

Street vs. Track Driving Tips

I haven’t done a post like this in quite a while so I figured it’s time to do one. I have someone helping me for this one, though. Meet Bridget Rebecca. Bridget is a bit more sensible than you'd have to be to waste as much on track driving as I do, but why would you need two track rats working on one post? You've got the best one right here (Kidding!). She's a real gear head, though. If you don't believe me, she's got a pretty good rap sheet. She owns a manual car. That car has a V8 in the front and sends power to the back. Manual, front engine, V8, and RWD, right out of the sports car gospel. She also drives that car in the winter. Did I mention that the car is an Aston Martin V8 Vantage? The same car that won the 2005 Top Gear Award for Best Noise of the Year. Told you she's a gear head.

This isn't her first gig. She's got her own Tribe under her name on DriveTribe and they recently sent her down to SEMA 2018 to provide coverage for the show. She…

Focus RS vs Rallycross

If you've read my last post - The Ram's Eye is going Rallycross - you already know that I'm starting rallycross this season for the first time. I started high performance driving 7 years ago in 2011 but have never strayed away from tarmac/asphalt. Living in Canada - which rightfully earns the name 'The Great White North' - means that I had to suffer serious speed withdrawals during the track off-season; that typically lasts from the middle of October to the middle of May. But there is a treatment for people with my condition and it has been available locally for nearly 20 years.

I went to my first event this past Sunday and spoke to a few of the seasoned rallycross veterans. I was told that local speed freaks started organizing rallycross events for that very reason around 1999; to get their speed fix during the winter. It took off a few years later around the 2001-2002 winter season and nobody looked back. I found out about those local rallycross events a couple …

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…