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Road America- last race of the year for me.

October 8, 2012

Friday morning i packed up the truck and the car and headed for Indy to meet up with Sam on our way to Road America. RA is a great track, way up in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin and has been host to years of racing from many famous racers from NASCAR to ChampCar. We visited RA alittle over a year ago with our former Chumpcar racer the “Dragon”, but this time it was slightly warmer and no snow. Our trip up took forever since we went through Chicago traffic at 4pm and then stopped a few times for gas, but we finally arrived in the dark at the track and dropped the cars off and headed to our hotel over in Sheboigan. Saturday morning, 7:15 drivers meeting was followed by cold tires and a cold track. I miscalculated how much heat my tires would gain and practice was pretty slow with the car sliding around pretty bad. I swapped on my other set of track rubber for the qualifying session but once again, still didn’t bump the pressures up quite enough, but still managed to qualify sixth out of eleven cars. Unfortunately in the morning two more of the cars had oil issues, one with a leaking pan gasket and the other with a blown oil cooler, dousing the side of the car with a healthy coat of race oil. Sid had loaned his car to Neal Agran for the first race as an attempt to hold his points position for the championship, so the car needed to be back up for race number one. After some scubbing and rerouting the car was back on the track, making ten for the start of the first race. My start was pretty bad and i didn’t get a jump on anyone, but i stayed in my position until Sid’s car with Neal driving decided that the lack of oil earlier compromised the rod bearings and the engine let loose after Canada corner. I finished the race in fifth position which was pretty decent, but then went straight to my paddock instead of checking the impound board for my number. This decision cost me my fifth place and DQ’d me for that race. A DQ meant that i would have to start last position for the next race as well, and i wouldn’t have enough races this weekend to get my provisional book signed off….ugh. Race two was a few hours later and i started dead last. As we inched up to the start line for the rolling start i tried to think of a way to gain positions right away, but as luck would have it I didn’t need to do much. Angel missed a shift in the other lane, causing three cars to slow just after the start and i jumped ahead of all three immediately. Eventually i chased down Brad Raum for a pass, but Angel caught me and passed, using the long straights to draft me. In corner 5 just after the long back straight, Sam spun on the exit and i passed him, only to be stuck behind some Miatas that although fast, were slowing me down enough for Sam to eventually catch up and pass. This pass was interesting, i saw Sam behind me on the front straight, i set in for turn one and then he is gone. I look to my left-on the outside of the corner and there is Sam in the marbles just off my driver’s door! We had a slight bump then he managed to get past on the outside, a very risky but evidently effective move.  If i remember correctly Ray Freundt’s car died and i passed him after this. The chase after Sam was on. I spent a fair amount of time behind the Miatas but once i found a way to draft both of them down the front straight, i made an awesome pass and was right on Sam’s back bumper. We had a few close laps before the finish but Sam held me off. I may have been able to draft him on the front straight but a fudged downshift to third before the last corner sent me off into the grass for a moment, along with my chances for fourth place. Awesome race and i managed to get the whole thing on video, i’ll post it once i figure out how to compress it enough. After Saturday’s dust settled we headed for Siebken’s bar in Elkhart Lake for a few beers, a bar located on the location of the original Road America that has seen many famous racers stop in over the years. Great experience and a great time with friends.

Sunday was an array of fun races and enduros, so i figured i would use up my gas and go out a couple times. The first was started slowest cars first with about every different class on the field at one time. Sam and I lost track of time and got out late but managed to get some quick laps in, he was scrubbing in some new Toyo RR tires for Dan Pina. I was pulling away from Sam the first few laps but once the new tires gained some temp he was moving pretty well and caught back up. Once again the long straights worked for him to  draft me and he made the pass, but i stayed surprisingly close for many laps. I had noticed that he was going pretty hot into turn five every lap and getting very loose and sliding out pretty far each lap, and eventually this cost him when the car snapped back and ended up nose first into the concrete barrier at the inside of turn 5. He was ok, but the car needs the front frame rails pulled back out and a fender and some body work. I managed to keep the shiney side up for the remainder and turned probably my fastest lap at 2:48 around the long track. I went out one last time for a 4/10ths race which required you to run each lap withing 4/10ths of a second of each other. I kept pretty consistant and turned some smooth clean laps but i never did see the race results. After some Angel cooked burgers we headed back home, only a 7 hour drive this time. Interesting weekend and i’m wiped but it was an awesome time at the track-for me- and i met alot of new friends and got some decent track time in. I think after Sams car is back together i’m pulling the head off my car for a rebuild and refresh.

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