Saturday, November 14, 2015

The 2015 Season Through the Camera.

Ready for the dyno.

At ProFunction.

At Gateway.
I can go racing now!
Two bad valve stems on the van.
Broken oil pan baffle. Knock, knock.
Motor swap at GridLife.
The reason for the motor swap.
Seeing Mikey, again!!


Road America.

Great shot by Nate!

A break, the Bahamas.
ITR Expo.
Fredo Photo.

Rain at Autobahn.
Car got hot, but passed a good amount of cars before the double yellow.

Race three start from Jer Myers' view.
Last race of the season, Mid Ohio.

Bai waving as I take the checkered.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

ITR Expo15 at Gingerman Raceway.

Finally a DE weekend to just relax!

I didn't get to attend Expo '14 because Brandy was due at anytime with Bryson, so I was pumped for '15. We had just gotten back from the Bahamas, so we didn't want to take Bailynn out of school. That put us on the road a bit later than when we'd like and it sure kicked us in the butts. Our normal 3.5 hour drive took almost 5 hours!! We unloaded then headed to the campgrounds.

I got to the track early on Saturday to get the car ready for the morning session. The weather was weird with off and on rain, even though it wasn't in the forecast before we left. The radar showed a storm rolling in before the first session. I wasn't going to put the rain tires on for one session, but I just wanted a few laps to "wake up". It started raining as I got out on track. Andy Meek was behind me, so I figured that I'd do the nice thing and show him around. I ran the two laps, then came in to not risk anything. The rest of the day was good, yet a bit busy. I decided, somewhat last minute, to officially help Steve Thomsen get up to pace around Gingerman. That is what kept me "on my toes" and not be lazy all day. I did get a bit of lazy in with Christian Shipp while eating his wife's glorious peanut butter cookies.

Saturday night, I stayed after the banquet and did the podcast with Austin and Adam from SlipAngleShow. Holy cow, long night, a three hour podcast!! I didn't get back to the campground until a bit after 1am!

Sunday came quick and I planned on taking it easy during the first session. But, Adam Jabaay followed me out and he'd just been out the session before. So, I "took it easy" until T3 which gave me one straight of relax time. haha. His tires were hot and I knew that he'd be ready to play right off the bat. It actually worked out really well, I had a fun time running from him. I played around later in the day, but nothing to thrilling. ha!

Video from the Sunday morning warm up.

Some South Haven ice cream tore my stomach up, so Monday morning was pretty sketchy. I let the track earlier on Sunday night, so when I got back, it was sad to see that Christian had left. I mean, who else was going to throw amazing pick up lines at me?! Monday mornings warm up was a time to hammer down, go a bit past 9/10s and see if I could sniff out a 1:44. The second hot lap, I pushed so bad into T2, the state of Michigan sent me an informal contract to plow for them this winter. Even with the plow, I ran a 45.09. The next lap was faster, I knew that I just had to keep it clean. I come out of T7 and about to shift into 4th gear. The keyword is about, with all the load in that transition, a lot of B series guys have the issue of getting the car into 4th back there. Needless to say, I didn't get a 44, but I learned a ton in the minimal laps that I turned over the weekend. I ran a session later, again, 3 hot laps, and each lap was within .11 of each other. In two of those laps, I passed a car into T10 and out of T10, those two laps were .02 apart. I was really happy with the consistency!!

After the session, I picked the family up at the campground and got the loading process started. On the way home, I see a Miata off on the shoulder. It was Alex, I was hoping that he was just out of gas because I had 5 gallons on the trailer. I get the van slowed down, but about a quarter mile ahead of him. I start walking back there and he's running to me. "What's up." "HEY, can you give me a ride back to Indy?!" Bummer, but "Yeah, let's roll!" Apparently he broke something, big time, in the rear of the car. Luckily, Ian Crawford was still in the Indy area, so he waited at Erik's until we got into town. 

To top off the hassles of the commutes, when we got home, we had to break it to Bailynn that Ace, our dog, passed away while we were gone. :(

Thanks to Expo staff, attendees, and sponsors. I can't wait for next year!!

Friday, August 7, 2015

NASA Racing at the National Corvette Museum track and Road America.

I haven't had much spare time as of late and these two events were within a three week span, so I'm going to group them together.


I had a crazy work week going into NCM weekend and didn't have any spare time before hand to sort that "early rev" issue since Gingerman. I head south and the farther that I got, the hotter it got. Nick Zabo had already warned me about it, but I really didn't believe him fully. He wasn't kidding, it was ridiculously muggy down there too.

I get down there in time to unload and do the track walk or bike in my case. I took it slow because Brian was walking. All that I have to say is what a cool frickin' track it is!! It has fast sweepers, a tight hairpin, and 'The Sinkhole'. I was glad that I had done the track walk because I'd never been there before and you couldn't see much of the track from the paddock.

Come Saturday morning, it's already HOT and MUGGY; something like 83 degrees at 7am. I go out for practice and yep, it's doing the "weird" tach thing again. So, I sit out qualifying, mind you that I only ran 2 or 3 timed laps in practice, and get a hold of Tom Creen. I make sure that the whole datalogging thing is set up right, etc. 

I go out for race one on Saturday and try to learn the track while keeping up with class cars. I stayed close to Kevin for a bit, but couldn't make any headway. So, I let some cars go to see if that'd help me. No, it backfired with some 944 traffic mixing with some fast SM traffic and the race was "shot" from there. P4.

Video of race 1 start.

I pull the datalogs and send them to Tom, he looks over them and says the car is revving to 7900-8200 even though the OE tach will show from 5000-7000. The rev limiter is set to 8600, so he said that he'd turn the CEL shift light on at 8200. So, I noted that for the next day.

I go out the next morning for qualifying to get a "handle" on the car. As soon as the CEL shift light comes on, the rev limiter comes on. So, I have to mentally note when to shift. The problem with this is, over the course of a session, that OE tach point will move up from, say, 6000 to 6500, then to 7000. The small margin that I have with the shift light mad it tough to not hit limiter.

I start P4 in class for race 2 on Sunday. This race went a lot better, I felt like I knew the track better, more speed through T5 and T16. I was a bit faster than Kevin from T6 to the hairpin, but that didn't do much good overall. I was quicker than him out of the Sinkhole complex which helped me on the front straight. I'd get by him, then he'd get me on the two long "straights". We get the white flag lap and I tell myself to stay close for the Sinkhole. Sure enough, we get to the Sinkhole and I'm within reach, plus there is a Spec944 lapper in front of us. I could sit back and wait, but I wouldn't have a run on him come the front straight. So, I took "action" coming out of the Sinkhole. He stayed in the middle of the track, great move. So, I threw it into the outside of him in T21, we ran side by side through that whole complex. Then at the exit of T23, the Porsche tracked out across my nose, so I had to check up. Jeremy went off at T1b earlier in the race, so I ended up P3. Kevin and I shared a fist bump and a laugh after a well fought race.

I was feeling a lot better about myself and the car after race 2. The heat was still tremendous, but I feel like my body was accustomed to it. A few buddies made their way down to NCM from IA, so we went over to the Corvette Museum. The place was pretty awesome, but I had to hustle through it to have time to get ready for race 3.

Race 3 went pretty much as race 2 did. I end up behind Kevin on the last lap and I felt that I had been over-driving the hairpin the whole race. We are heading to the hairpin and I tell myself, "be easy." Well, guess what, Kevin pushed too hard and went off. It took him a bit to "recover", so I took it easy and came home in third. 

Video of race 3 on Sunday.

It was a hot, but great weekend. I didn't have anything for Rob or Jeremy, but learned a lot while battling it out with Kevin. NCM is such a blast, so many different intricacies that makes it fun, yet challenging.  

Road America

Road America, wow, it's pretty out there! The surrounding area reminds me a bit of Mid Ohio or VIR, but you're out in the middle of nowhere. When I got there, I hurried to unload, then removed the aftermarket shift light hoping that it would help with the odd tach signal/reading. I got that done, then drove around the track a bit to check it out. Once Crystal and Rob were done with their NASA commitments, I headed to dinner with them out in Sheboygan. A decent meal with a great setting and excellent company. When we got back to the track, I was out!

Lightning was the early race group for the weekend, so practice began at 8am!! I was anxious to see the track and to see if the rpm madness is solved. Nope, still the odd reading, but kept using the CEL shift light. The track was gnarly and HUGE! I made it around one lap and guess what, an engine miss at high rpms. haha! Seriously, are the racing gods checking my dedication to the sport or what! So, the car is missing horribly, it sounds like an IndyCar on it's pit limiter while barfing up breakfast.

Again, in typical fashion, I miss qualifying while I look over stuff and the data. Nothing majorly stands out, so I just check all leads, etc. I do open up the distributor to make sure the cap is tight, it is. 

I decide to go out for the race. We come up the hill, I'm waiting for the green and I get a decent jump, then stumble, mumble, fall all over your face, I'm not going ANYWHERE fast. I get against the inside wall and hug it until the first wave goes by, then I huge the outside of T1 while the second wave goes by. While coming out of the carousel, we are double yellow and before I make it to Canada Corner, we are full black. While sitting in pit lane, I decided that I'd pull over and let everyone go so that I wasn't a rolling chicane come the green flag. Once the green fell, I ran around the track at a cruising pace with the intent to stay out of anyone's way once they came around. P3.

A quick story from Saturday, we had our racer meeting at 12:45pm and had to be on grid with engines off by 1:05pm. As I was making my way back to the car after the meeting, there were two dads with three daughters, I'm assuming. I still had to do tire pressures along with getting suited and in the car. We engaged in a small chat and one of the girls asked if she could see the car, of course. They said good luck, I said thanks because I need it and to enjoy the race. After the black flag, I come down towards T5 and here is this dad literally jumping up and down. I wave to him and carry on while pondering why that guy is so excited for me, but how cool that was to see!!

That night, I swap tires because it's supposed to rain and decide to open up the distributor, again, while I'm at it. I had my old internals with me, so I intended on swapping everything back over. Well, when I get the rotor off, I notice that one of the weatherproof sleeves on the igniter is burnt. So, I swap the coil and the igniter. I hope for the best come Sunday. 

We don't have practice on Sunday because it is a three race weekend. So, Sunday is qualifying and two races. I go out for qualifying and guess what, the high rpm miss is gone!! Sweet, now I've got to learn the track "at speed". I qualify with a 2:51, not bad for two laps at that pace after a 3:13 the day before. Plus, I was only behind Jeremy by .07, so I knew that I would be in the chase for the race even though we were still behind Helen by a mile.

I start P3 for the race and I'm behind Helen. She blocks my inside attempt and is gone, but Jeremy is held up by a Thunder Roadster so I move into P2. With my lack of time on the track, I decide to go deeper into T5 than I have before and I know that I'm not making the corner. So, I keep it straight, basically take a "rain line" and Jeremy gets the spot back. He gets a bit of a gap on me from T7 through the Kink. But, I get close into Canada Corner and on his bumper by Bill Mitchell bend. He stays inside, so I go outside. He blocks that, so I go back inside. He pushes too deep into T14 and blows the corner. At that point, I basically paced him since Helen was gone. I about blew it in T8, one lap, when I got on the brakes and there wasn't much of a pedal. He ended up going off again, so it was "smooth sailing" to the finish. P2.

Video of race 2 at Road America.

The third race, Jeremy didn't run, so I just wanted to make sure that I got a good start. I did that, kept close to the leaders for a bit, then was basically by myself for several laps. I burnt the front tires off, so I toned it down to bring it home. P2.

Video of the start of race 3.

Video of me out cruising in race 3.

I can't wait to go back and get some more pace. I know it isn't the best of "strategies", but I enjoy having to learn these tracks on such short time, basically while racing.