The schedule for the VIR race weekend is
- Wednesday April 19 - Race
rigs parked at the track
- Thursday April 20 - Optional
Promoter test day - 3 test sessions
- Friday April 21 - 2 practice
- Saturday April 22 -
Qualifying and Race
Monday, April 10th (1
1/2 weeks before the race)
Since I crashed the car yesterday at VIR
during testing, Danny has to immediately go into
overdrive to get everything lined up in time for
the race. The plan is for Jon at German
Speed Merchants to have the car Monday-Wednesday
of this week, so he can use that time to check
over the car, then take it to the body shop on
Thursday. The body shop guy can't work us
in until then - he's got a pretty big backlog,
and he won't be able to finish the work until
the parts come in (the two passenger doors, the
front fender and the side skirts).
April 15th (1 week before the race)
Danny went over to the body shop
today, and saw that the car was progressing
nicely. He expects it will be finished
today, except for the paint. It will be
painted on Monday. Danny had to pay
for some serious overtime to get the job done
over Easter weekend. Or actually, I had
to pay serious overtime, since it was my
accident. But that's ok, that's only
reasonable, and at least its getting done.
I phoned Sylvain Tremblay at SpeedSource. Sylvain had sent me an email
saying that 6 weeks ago Doc had asked Sylvain to
modify a gas tank for our car, to try to fix our
fuel delivery issues. Sylvain said he took
a stock tank, and modified the tank's fuel
system so that it can draw down to the last cup
of fuel. But he couldn't get ahold of Doc,
and he didn't know what to do with the gas tank.
I explain that Danny now owns the car, and I'll
have Danny call him. Danny calls Sylvain
immediately, and asks him to overnight the fuel
tank to Wilmington. Wow, I wonder what
that cost!? Jiminy Crickets, to overnight
an 8 ounce letter costs $20, what about a bulky
50lb gas tank?
wants that tank in our car in time for the race,
because right now we have a real problem with
range. Our calculations show that with our
current gas tank, we can only go about 72 miles
between pit stops. This modified tank
would extend our range to about 90 miles.
With a little luck that can be stretched to over
100 miles (if the race has a few caution laps
thrown in), which is how far we need to go in a
200 mile race so that we only stop once for
The car is supposed to be at the track on
Wednesday afternoon - Rig parking is from 2-5pm,
which means it would have to leave Wilmington by
around 8:30am tomorrow morning. The gas
tank has to be swapped by then. Danny
picks up the car from the body shop and takes it
back to Jon at GSM. The bill is about
As always, Sylvain was true to
his word, and SpeedSource shipped the new tank
out on Monday, and it arrives Tuesday evening.
In the meanwhile, Jon busied himself by
installing a fluid cooler on the rear
Danny calls and says his
tractor trailer / race rig won't start, and now
he needs to line a mechanic up to figure that
out - one that will do house calls.
Nothing is ever easy...
Danny and I confer Wednesday morning and its a
mixture of good news/bad news. The good
news is that Danny's Rig has been fixed, and it
was minor - the bad news is that the RX-8 won't
be ready to load onto the Rig until about 6:00pm,
so it won't be at the track until almost
Midnight, well beyond the 5:00pm deadline for
arrival. This is not good, because the paddock
at VIR is barely big enough to hold all of the
race rigs that will be there, and only then if
they are parked carefully and with a lot of
organization. Its even remotely
possible that if everybody packs extra "toys",
and you arrive late, you may not have a place to
put your rig. Sort of like a game of
So Danny asks me to go up to
the track with my own trailer, so that we can
hold a space for his when he arrives. Kind
of like saving a seat in a movie theater.
Well, since my crashing the car probably put us
in this mess, and he has been working his tail
off to get the car ready, I feel that's the
least I can do.
I hitch my own trailer up to my
trusty F250, and I figure that if I'm going to
haul this thing up there, I ought to
plan to leave it there, just in case we need it.
I pack it with all my tools (you can never have
too many tools), and load it with my street car
so I can leave the truck and the trailer at the
track, and have a car to get around with.
When I get to the track, I have
to park in a temporary staging area. I
feel pretty silly with my relatively small truck
and trailer, lost in a sea of 18 wheelers.
All of these trailers are waiting to be parked in
the Paddock. The way this works is that
the Rolex teams get to park first, then the
Grand Am Cup teams are parked. As I learn,
teams are parked in order, based on your current
team's points in the standings. Since we
split with the Roar Team, our new team,
Silverback Racing, has no points - our finish at
Daytona means nothing since we are now a new
team. That means we will be among the
last to park - hopefully there will be some
I wasn't parked far from the
Synergy race team, which brought two tractor
trailers and a smaller trailer only a little
larger than my own. These guys have their
race shop onsite at VIR, so they had to drive a
whopping 1/2 mile to get here (if that far).
They support 4 Rolex cars and 1 Grand Am Cup GS
Porsche, so actually 3 rigs is not too many.
For this race they can leave a lot of spare
parts in their shop, since its so close, but I
wouldn't be surprised if they take more than
this for other races.
These Rolex guys have bigger
budgets than the Grand Am Cup racers.
Which is why their rigs are both longer and
taller than the rest. Did you ever notice
how boating guys are always looking to get a
bigger boat? Its the same way with race
trailers - your trailer can NEVER be too big.
Rig parking was supposed to be
from 2-5pm. At 6pm, there are still 20-30
trailers to park. When its time to
park my trailer, I explain to the official that
I really need to hold some space for a much
larger rig, so when they park me, I will need
more room than for just this trailer --- our
REAL Rig will be here later tonight.
With an accusing stare -- the
kind of stare they teach to police officers and
traffic court judges (not that I know anything
about that) -- the official demands, "Why isn't
the Rig here?"
"I, uh, I crashed the race car
2 weeks ago..." I manage to stammer out, not
quite looking at him eye-to-eye. I always
have this problem when talking to folks in
authority - especially when I feel guilty.
His eyes soften immediately -
"Say no more - don't worry about it - it looks
like we'll have plenty of room to park you in
So it looks like we didn't
need to worry about me holding a space for the
rig. But of course the officials wouldn't
have been able to determine this until they were
close to parking all the rigs. While it feels
like I hauled my trailer up here for nothing,
there was no way to know ahead of time. In any
event, now I have all of my tools up here, and
you never know when an extra trailer will come
in handy. You hope not to need it, but it
always pays to be prepared.
I unload my street car and head
for home, 1 hour and 20 minutes away.
Around 9:30pm I get a call from Danny - "Hey can
you help me find someone that can change a truck
tire?" Danny's in the Rig with the RX-8,
somewhere on I-40, but he had a tire blow out on
the tractor/cab part of the Rig. You need
some pretty special equipment to do that kind of
tire change, so Danny can't do it by himself.
I do some searching on the internet, and manage
to produce a phone number for a guy that will
come out and take care of it. Danny
manages to roll into VIR before midnight, and
has to park in the staging field until morning.
But after a week and a half of scrambling, we
April 20th (Promoter Practice Day)
Today is what they call a
"promoter practice day". Generally before
each race, there is an extra day tacked on the
beginning so you can test your car. Its
supposed to be optional, but they require your
rig to be parked the day before, and the car's
technical inspection is scheduled for the
afternoon, so everyone has to show up anyway.
We have two 45 minute practices in the morning,
and a 1 hour practice in the afternoon.
Then we have to get the car through technical
inspection. Its run a little more
loosely than the official practice day, and
there aren't any official lap times posted from
As the RX-8 is unloaded, I get my first
look at it - I haven't seen it since Danny
put the new graphics on. There is so
much vinyl covering the car now, its hard to tell what
color it is under it all, which is probably a
James Posig (on the left), owner
JMT Trackcars, will be our chief mechanic
this weekend. Jon Lewis from GSM (on the
right in this photo) has to attend a wedding on
Saturday (race day), so James and his crew will
be supporting us this weekend instead of the GSM
folks. Since Jon prepared the car,
he came up today just to make sure everything
was ok, before he "handed it off" to James.
L-R in this photo - Scott Smith
(Crew Chief), James Posig (Chief Mechanic), Jon
Behrns (Mechanic / Crew) and Angel Faz (Mechanic
/ Crew). Scott
happened to be in town, so he was enlisted at
the last moment to be Crew Chief. That way
James could concentrate on the details of
getting the car ready. This turned out to
be a really good move because we kept James and
his crew EXTREMELY busy this weekend.
Never a dull moment - more on that later!
Angel and Danny (foreground) are working on
some last minute preparations, while Doc and
James (background) discuss some details on the car's
preparation. As the original builder
of the car, Doc is here to provide engineering
support for us, and direct support for his newly
built RX-8 for Mike Smellie and Andrew Lewis
(Car #118). Mike and Andrew did very
well in the #118 car this weekend considering
they had a newly built car with the normal
teething problems, plus Mike had never driven VIR
before, and its a very difficult track to learn.
Danny and I
agree that he will take the first 45 minute
practice session, I'll take the second 45 minute
one, and we'll split the afternoon session which
is 1 hour long.
goes out, and has a pretty uneventful session.
He's taking it pretty easy, working himself up,
and he's not altogether happy with the way its
handling. The car is still oversteering
pretty badly in certain turns, and Danny insists
it wasn't that way the last time he drove it on
the full course a month and a half ago.
This is an uninteresting view of
the back of Scott's head, as he prepares the
race radios. Scott suggested we re-program
Danny's radios to match mine and Scott's own, so
now we have 7-8 radios and 4-5 headsets, all
programmed to the same frequencies. LONO
RACING (seen on his headset) is Scott's
trademark - he's a huge
Hunter S. Thompson fan, and the name comes
from one of Hunter's books
"The Curse of LONO". Ok, that's a bit
obscure and has nothing to do with racing, but I thought you might want to know
what to get Scott for Christmas.
I drive the second session, and I
find the car is handling HORRIBLY in the uphill
esses. On the second lap, at a speed the
car should have been able to handle easily, the
back end snaps around on me in the middle of the
first ess - I countersteer and catch it -
avoiding a spin, and drive off in the grass
under control, at 100 mph. What the heck
was that? I get back on track, and drive
for another 1/2 hour, probing the limits of the
car, and generally having my hands full,
especially in the esses and in turns 9 and 10 -- the fastest turns on the track. Plus
in turn 3 under braking, the car would dart to
the left unexpectedly. It was both
twitchy in transition, and had some terrible
high speed oversteer.
I came in 10 minutes early - I
was cooked mentally. It took all my energy
to keep it on track - and this was in practice -
I couldn't imagine racing it in this condition.
I have a lot of experience in
other cars at VIR, but have never driven the
RX-8 on the "full course". Basically, I told James and
Danny, this was the slowest racecar through the
uphill esses that I have ever driven.
Actually, I was really P.O.'d and I didn't hide
it too much - I couldn't believe how bad
the car was, and I was frustrated that we really
didn't have the ability to make any suspension
adjustments that could correct it. We
weren't running a rear sway bar, so we couldn't
adjust that. The front sway bar was set at
full stiff, so we couldn't adjust that to help.
We had no springs to swap out - all we could do
was change tire pressures and shock settings to
see if that would help. And I felt
the problems with this car were WAY beyond what
we could do by adjusting tire pressures and
shock absorbers. Plus, the seat position
had been reworked, so I could barely see out of
the car - if I looked straight ahead, I was
looking at the dash board (I'm a short guy) - I
had to crane my neck to see out, and I was on
tiptoes to reach the pedals, meaning I was
sometimes grinding the gears because I couldn't
extend the clutch pedal enough. I was
NOT a happy camper - we've been working with the
car for 4 months now, and I couldn't understand
how it could be so bloody awful.
After I calmed down a bit, I
discussed the problems with James, and he
suggested we soften up the shocks to try to get
rid of the twitchiness, and adjust the tire
pressures to help get rid of at least some of
the oversteer. I thought that was a good
idea, so James put the shocks almost on full
soft. Danny adjusted the rear of the seat
up a notch, and moved it forward one notch,
which made a world of difference for me (but I'm
afraid it made him feel a bit cramped).
After lunch, we had the 1 hour
practice. Danny suggested that I take the
first half, and he take the second half of the
session. The plan was for me to run the
car until I ran out of gas or detected fuel
starvation - we had filled it up for my first
session, and didn't refill it for this one.
This way we could calculate our fuel range with
the new tank. So I hopped in the car and
circled the track for about 20 minutes or so,
before it started coughing for more fuel.
The twitchiness was mostly gone, and I could go
much faster through the esses than this morning
(but still not as fast as I thought I should
be). It still had a bad case of oversteer, especially in turn 9 at the top of
the esses. I was having to countersteer
significantly through 9 at 120mph, which is not
something you want to have to do on every lap.
But I must admit, it was at least easier to drive, which was a good
I pulled it into
the paddock with about 30 minutes to go in the
practice session, we refueled it, and Danny took the
wheel. As he got in the car, I warned Danny
that it was oversteering in the
high speed turns. Danny was out there for
a few laps when we got a message over the radio
from Danny - "I totaled it" was all I
heard. For several anxious minutes we awaited
the return of the car to the paddock.
Fortunately it wasn't that bad, but when you are
sitting in the car during an impact, it sometimes
seems much worse from inside the
car than it really is.
Danny said the back end of the
car stepped out in Turn 10 and he got wheels in
the dirt on the exit. He caught it once,
but it got away from him again and he went
backwards into the tire wall on the outside of
the track between turns 10 and 11.
Typically you are doing about 90-100mph at that
point, and the tire wall is very close.
Scott got under the car and
inspected the suspension, and he found that a
rear control arm was bent. Was this the
cause of the cars bad handling, or was it bent
in the accident? We wouldn't know until we
got the car apart and examined it more closely.
James and his crew, Jon B. and
Angel, declare optimistically - "We can fix
this!" It turns out Jon B. and Angel are
both experienced with body shop repair as well,
and they know this can be fixed with about a
days work - if not perfectly, at least well
enough to race.
Since James lives near the track, he knew a
local body shop that could get right on it.
The crew took a quick
inventory of the parts we needed to get the
car fixed - rear bumper cover (we have that),
rear hatch glass, rear control arm, rear deck
lid, rear spoiler, rear tail-lights, and a few
miscellaneous fasteners and plastic bits here
Then we loaded
the car up on my trailer (now I know why I hauled it
all the way up here!), and James and I drove up to
the body shop on the north side of Danville, about
30 minutes from the track.
Meanwhile Danny started hitting the phones - he
calls Mazda and gets them to overnight all the
needed parts. He can get all of the
critical ones, but a few of the minor cosmetic
pieces aren't available. He then lined up
an auto glass repair shop to come in and replace
the rear window.
and I drop off the car at
Maaco of Danville, where Brian, who runs the
shop, has been doing repairs for James' racing
customers. Brian is familiar with the
racecar repair "drill" - you show up at the last
minute, and need absolute-immediate turn around
on the car. Brian agrees to work an
all-nighter to get the wounded RX-8 ready for
the parts (decklid, bumper cover, glass,
tail-lights etc) - that way they can be bolted
on as soon as they arrive (which should
be by 11:00am the next day - Friday, which is a
designated practice day). Today is still
Thursday, and the actual race is on Saturday, so
we just might be in good shape to make it.
All we will miss are the practice sessions on
James and I
head back to the track. We plan to return
tomorrow morning to Maaco with James' crew to
help speed up the final re-assembly. In
the meanwhile, Crew Chief Scott makes a trip to
the "tech shed" to talk to the Grand Am technical
inspectors. We were supposed to get the
car inspected this afternoon (required for all
cars), but obviously we can't make that.
Scott got permission for a last minute
inspection on Saturday morning.
It was late in the day by the
time we returned. The day is pretty much
shot - our car is in good hands at Maaco, so
Scott and I decide to go visit with the guys on
Rehagen Racing team, a team made up largely
of volunteer Ford employees.
This is Brian Phillips, shown in
front of one of 3 Rehagen Racing GS Class
Mustangs. The Mustang shown here is of the
newest body style, while the other two Mustangs
(shown in the next photo), are of previous generation race
cars. Brian said they use the Ford factory
crate motor (buy it and drop it in - no fuss, no
muss) in the newer car. Without the required
restrictor plate it makes just over 400hp to the rear
wheels, not quite twice what our little RX-8
has. With the restrictor plate, which of
course they run, it makes somewhat less, but he
wasn't sure how much less.
All three cars look great,
showing the attention to detail that you expect
from a top quality team. This is no small
feat, since Scott Whitehead (Crew Chief for
Rehagen) said all three of these cars sustained
serious damage at the Daytona race. (Note
to VIR Officials: The beer bottle in Scott
Smith's hand was an empty one that we found on
the pavement, and being good citizens, we picked
it up because we didn't want any children to get
hurt. No, we were not drinking beer in the
paddock, as far as you know.)
In September 2004, The Rehagen team was featured on
a Discovery Channel TV show,
"Extreme Mustang : Back to the
Track". Here is a
brief 1 minute clip:
<= Click picture for video
April 21st (Practice Day)
We won't be practicing today -
instead we will be spending the entire day
getting the car repaired.
We arrive at Maaco in the
morning, to find that the guys there had been
working through the night to get it ready to
At 10:00 the parts had not
yet arrived at the dealer, so Jon and Angel went
to work replacing the bent control arm. We
had gotten a spare from SpeedSource (Sylvain
comes through again).
THE MYSTERY OF THE
RUSTY NOTCHED CONTOL ARM
Examination of the bent control
arm revealed it had a notch in it, and quite a
bit of surface rust on that area. It was
actually a lot more bent than this photo
reveals, because it's bent in a vertical plane
which isn't fully revealed in this photo.
But it certainly wasn't bent in THIS accident,
and it was most likely the reason the car had such
evil handling characteristics. Poor Danny
- you hate to do so much damage to your car due
to a mechanical oversight like this. The
remaining question is - did this bent control
arm contribute to my accident 10 days ago as
well? Or was this a result of my accident?
The consensus amongst the
mechanics was that this notch in the control arm
was probably not the result of my impact with a tire wall 10 days ago. My accident could
have bent a control arm, but it wouldn't notch
it like this. Plus there is the matter of
the rust - it looks a bit more than 10 days old.
Unfortunately I only drove the car for a few
laps that weekend before I crashed, and that was
on the North Course. I was surprised at
how quickly it went into an oversteer condition
when I crashed, but I just chalked it up to
My friend Grover later theorized that this looks like the
result of an accident while the car was being
jacked up or put on a lift - the car
slipped off its support, and the control arm
landed on the jacking surface. Its
just a theory, but it does seem to fit with the
So this bent control arm may have
contributed to my accident (10 days ago) as
well. Or it may have been caused by it.
Unfortunately I don't think we'll ever know for
On with the story...
The glass guy arrived and put in
the new rear glass. Around noon the parts
arrived at the dealership, and Danny rushed down
to snag them.
Jon and Angel start helping out
the Maaco guys with the hanging of the bumper
cover, the tail lights, etc. The car starts looking whole
Jon and Angel decide to just bang
out the existing tail lid because the new
replacement tail lid probably wouldn't mate up
to the banged fender very well - and they did a
great job. At least this way they could
hammer the old lid to match the line of the
banged up rear fender. When Danny gets the
car back to Wilmington after the race, he can
get the car finished up with the new lid he
we load the car back on my trailer. We
decide to take the car back to Posig's JMT
Trackcars shop near the track, because we still
had a lot of work to do before it would once
again become race ready. James shop is
very well equipped, and a more pleasant work
environment than the paddock.
Danny felt the car was down on
power with the stock ECU, and Doc wanted us to
try out some new programming maps he put
together for Smellie's #118 car. So Doc
came by James' shop and reinstalled the Greddy
piggy-back unit - this involved re-soldering
something like 64 tiny wires correctly. I
must admit, he did an admirable job.
Scott worked with Jon and Angel
to re-install the fuel filler tube.
Fortunately the filler support had not been
damaged in the accident - it has some
flexibility that allows it to move without
breaking in the case of an accident, but it had to be removed in order for
the Maaco guys to do their job. Jon and
Angel also did an incredible job patching up the
spoiler. Danny worked on putting together
a new seat bracket - the existing one was bent
somewhat in the accident. I mostly
kept busy staying out of the real mechanics way,
helping by cleaning up the car, vacuuming all
the glass out of the car, putting decals back
on, redoing a bracket for one of the oil coolers
- simple stuff.
By 8:00pm all the "hard stuff"
was done, and it was time to reset the
suspension back to spec. James and Doc worked on
re-setting the ride height - I had complained
that the car was bottoming
the left rear tire in turn 17, so the rear of
the car was
set too low. Then they corner-balanced the
car, and reset the alignment.
It was a long day - we didn't
get the car back to the track until
midnight. We hadn't eaten anything since
lunchtime, so Danny heated some meatballs and
pasta that his wife had cooked for us, and it
tasted pretty darn good.
We went to bed around 1:00am
or so. Normally when I race at VIR, I would drive home and
sleep in my own bed. When it became
evident we were going to finish up so late, I decided
to sleep in Danny's trailer - he has several
inflatable mattresses which are reasonably
comfortable. I just hate sleeping in the
same room with anybody but my wife, because I
tend to snore - she somehow puts up with it, but
most people won't. I was so keyed up and
restless, that I doubt that I slept
for more than 2 hours total.
SATURDAY, APRIL 22ND
- RACE DAY ARRIVES!
I started looking at my watch
around 4:45am. Finally, a little before
6:00am I decided to just get up.
The schedule for us today
looks like this:
- 8:00 - Take the car
through technical inspection
- 10:00-10:15 - Qualifying
- 11:00 or so - Drivers
meeting (I can't remember the exact
- 3:00 -- Grid for the
Race, track inspection lap
- 3:15 - 5:45 -- Race
Most of our team will be
arriving at the track around 7:00am, and I want the car to
be unloaded by then, ready for final
The paddock is quiet at
6:00am - I don't see anyone else stirring -
so I roll the car out of the trailer without
starting it. I can hear thunder in the
distance - its going to be a wet day.
Danny and Doc roll out of bed around 6:45,
and Danny helps me set up another EZ-UP
canopy, so we can work on the car with some
protection from the rain.
Grover McNair and Mark
Vitacco arrive around 7:00am.
Grover is going to act as a spotter during
the race, as well as a driver coach. Mark Vitacco is going to
assist as part of the fueling team.
Scott, James, Jon and Angel
arrive around 7:45am. Jon and Doc take
the car to the Tech Shed for its inspection.
It passes except for some minor things - the
numbers on the side need to be larger, and
we are missing a couple of other decals.
I had warned Danny about the numbers, so he
had brought some extra ones to put on that
met the spec's.
driver nominations were due at 8:15, so
Scott went and turned in the form.
Grand Am makes you declare who will qualify
the car, and the person that qualifies the
car must start the race. Its really a
safety issue, since this will keep teams
from qualifying with their faster driver, and
starting the race with their slower one.
If teams did that, the starts would be
pretty messy, because you could potentially
end up with slower drivers up front.
Since I did the start for Daytona, Danny and I agreed we
would take turns, and he would qualify and
Here is a nice photo that
Victor took that shows off the hood of the
car. You can't tell the hood is red
under this. Heck why even bother to
paint a car at all? Just cover it in
vinyl. I think we need more vinyl to
cover up the red roof and the red trunk lid.
It's 9:45 and the car is
being prepared for qualifying, and we have
to make a decision on tires - do we go out
with slicks (dry weather tires), or use the
rain tires? Right now its only
drizzling and the track surface is still
mostly dry. The sky has a uniform
gray overcast look to it, and it could start
raining harder any minute - or it may stop
altogether. I try to check the weather
forecast with my laptop, but I can't get
connected to the VIR wireless network - it
seems to work quite intermittently, and
right now it won't work at all, at least for
At that moment a Grand Am
official comes through the paddock, and
stops to tell us that qualifying has been
called off - the teams will be gridded based
on points. They were afraid the
session would turn into massive carnage,
because they feared the track conditions
might get worse.
That means this 15 minute session is only
going to be a practice session - it means
James, Danny and I talk it
over, and we decide to leave the dry tires
on, as do most of the other teams.
Danny goes out on track, and Scott and I and
a few others head down to the pits to watch
the action, and provide support for Danny.
Then, almost immediately, the heavens open
up - the drizzle turns to a steady downpour
in a matter of seconds. Scott
and I watch Danny go down the straightaway,
completing his first lap. Although we
don't have a very good view of the track
surface (actually we can't see it at all
from where we stand), the track is becoming
rapidly undriveable on slick tires.
Several cars immediately
pull into the pits for tire changes.
Several more simply pull into the pits and
call it quits, since they, like us, didn't
haul all of their tools and gear down with
them, so a tire change in the pits was out
of the question. Its only a 15 minute
session anyway, and since its no longer a
qualifying session, why risk the car?
Scott and I talk it
over, and Scott radios Danny to bring the
car in. Then we hear over the radio
that there has been a bad crash in turn 14,
at the end of the long back straight.
A few moments pass, and we get some more
info - there are two cars that have gone off
- Will Turner's BMW, and our RX-8. But
we don't hear from Danny, so we don't know
what happened, we can only wait. I
decide to get on the 4-wheeler and see if I
can get close to the crash site, to see what
out Will Turner went off at the end of the
back straight, blew through two rows of tire
walls, and settled on top of the third row
of tires, held from going further by the fence.
Danny was a bit behind Will, and went off in
exactly the same spot. He said he
pirouetted with multiple 360's through the
exact hole in the tire walls that Will
opened up, and came to a rest against the rear
bumper of Will's car. Danny had hopped out of
the RX-8 to assist Will, which was why we couldn't
reach him on the radio.
A1Fotos.com happened to be stationed with camera
ready inside turn 14 as all of this was unfolding,
and he took these unbelievable action photo's.
Check these photos Jim took:
Here comes Danny!!!
The RX-8 comes to a rest right next
to Turner's BMW.
This is potentially a
bad situation for Will - he can't easily get out -
it looks like he's trapped by the tires blocking the
driver's door of his BMW. Plus we don't
know if he's been injured in the crash.
Should the BMW catch fire (not unheard of after a bad accident), he could be in
Danny's Army Ranger
training kicks into high gear. Like the
super-hero he is, he leaps from the RX-8, sweeps
aside the tires blocking Will's exit, and pulls him
from the burning wreckage of the Turner Motorsport
BMW. Ok, maybe I'm laying it on a bit thick -
the car's not on fire, that's just some steam from
the broken radiator. And Danny's not a super
hero. But you have to admit what he did was
That's the kind of guy he is - he doesn't panic, and
he thinks of others first.
Danny waves to his adoring
fans - "Aw shucks, it was nuttin..."
These are only a few of the
great pictures that Jim took. You can
view a complete slideshow by clicking on
this link of the entire accident sequence.
A1Fotos.com sells beautiful 8x10's for
only $6.95, or you can hire him to come to
your event. You can see he does
outstanding work. So check him out!
You can see in the above
photo that they had just used the back-end loader
to lift Will's yellow BMW off the third row
of tires. Note the bend in the fence
where Will's car came to a stop.
As I was watching all of
this, I was expecting to see the RX-8 get
towed back, but instead they pulled Danny
back onto the track, out of the wet grass
and mud. Then they unhooked him, and
he drove it back into the pits. That
was a pretty good sign that maybe it
wouldn't be too bad.
Back in the pits we surveyed
the damage. The newly replaced rear
bumper cover was crumpled, the passenger
side mirror was dangling, the passenger side
door was rumpled (hard to see in this
photo). But the car looked very
drive-able. We dodged a bullet on that
one. In the matter of 5 minutes, the
track had become completely undriveable on
slicks - track conditions can change very
over the car, making sure everything was ok,
checking the wheel alignment, etc. The
team made final preparations for the race -
there was still quite a bit to do.
- Go to the drivers
- Setup the fuel rig in
- Get the fuel rig
- Haul all the tools,
spare tires, etc down to the pits
- Deploy the spotters
- Install the correct
tires (rains or wets?)
Here you see my buddy
Bill Gratton working on some of the
final race preparations. I think
he's putting together the protective
cage for the high pressure nitrogen gas
cylinder we will use to run our air
tools in the pits (for faster tire
changes). The cage keeps
someone from accidentally breaking the
valve off of a fully charged cylinder -
if someone did this, the cylinder would
take off like a rocket (literally), so
its a safety precaution.
Danny, Scott, Grover
and I went to the final pre-race
meeting. It was the normal
discussion - they went over race
procedure, and warned everyone to stay
safe. After the meeting, I ran
into Will Turner - he leaned way over
(Will towers over me - he's
over 6' tall) and said to me "I met your
co-driver!", referring to Danny helping
him out of the car in the accident.
I told him I was sorry about what
happened, and asked him about it.
"I was just going too fast," said Will.
"But we'll probably make the race."
Holy cow, I had a hard time believing
the car could be fixed so quickly -
usually going through two tire walls and
landing on a third means major
Turner Motorsport has a crack team of
mechanics, and sure enough, Will was on
the race grid just a few hours later. Amazing.
Meanwhile back at the
We had to get our new
fuel rig set up in the pits, and it had
to be inspected as well. The fuel
rig is just a 35 gallon (or so) drum
which sits on 5' high supports, and
during a pit stop you fuel your car
from it. By suspending the fuel
above the height of the car, gravity
helps to fuel the car faster, so you
don't need a pump.
Jon and Angel hauled the
rig down to the pits on the golf
cart, and set it up. That was when
we ran into a little snag - our rig, as
we purchased it, would not pass
inspection. There had been a technical
bulletin issued that the standard fuel
rig required reinforcement where the
hose attached to it - it seems that this
area was determined to be a weakness in
the design, and that if a car drove off
with the fuel hose attached, it might
break and spill all the remaining fuel
in the rig.
This made us a little bit
upset - we just bought this brand new
fuel rig, which was supposedly built to
Grand Am specifications, and it
immediately required major modifications
in order to make it safe. And we
weren't the only one in this boat -
several other teams were discovering the
same issue with their brand new fuel
Scott came to the rescue. One of
the things that Scott does so well is
network with the other crew chiefs, so
he had an inkling that this might be a
problem, and was already working on a solution.
Some of the teams had developed a temporary
workaround by bracing the piping with a network of straps. Even
this looked kind of cheesy, but it was
better than not racing - well I guess we
could have raced, we just wouldn't have
made it very far without being able to refuel.
Using this solution, Scott was able to negotiate a one-race
About an hour before race
time, I was able to get my wireless
internet connection back up, so we could
view the weather radar from
weatherunderground.com. There were
storms moving across the area, but right
now it wasn't raining at the track.
If you went outside and looked at the
sky, you saw clouds everywhere, but you
had no idea if rain was coming unless
you had access to the
radar. The storm
flow was from the southwest, and that
area currently looked rain-free on the
3:00pm - 15 minutes to race
We decided to stay with
the dry tires - it seems almost all the
other teams did as well. Danny
strapped himself in, and I accompanied
him to the false grid area, where they
were staging the cars. The rest of
the team went down to the pits to await
the start of the race, except for our
two spotters, Grover (near turn 7), and
Karl Kaufman (near Oak Tree). Karl
had shown up to see the race, and we
drafted him at the last minute.
The car is on the false
grid, I'm leaning in the window
talking to Danny, when Doc runs up -
"Did you remember the video camera?", he
yells over the sound of race engines.
Holy crap, I forgot all about that.
We've been so busy this weekend, I
haven't had a chance to mess with the
camera. I ran back to the
trailer, quickly grabbed it, ran back to
grid, and strapped it in.
Unfortunately I could only find a 1 hour
tape to put in - this would mean by the
time I got in the car (an hour or so
into the race), the tape would already
be at end. At
least we will get some video of Danny's
driving in the first half of the race.
I gave Danny a little pep
<== Click for the
...then I went
back to the trailer to put on my drivers
suit, as Danny headed onto the track.
Our pit area was quite
crowded - ideally, only two teams were
to share each pit stall, but for some
reason we had three teams sharing ours.
This would complicate matters quite a
bit. You can see that we had very
little room to maneuver. This also
meant that if one of the other two cars
was in the pits for fuel or tires, we
couldn't bring our car in. From
our team alone we had in the pit box:
- Scott - Crew Chief
- James - Chief Mechanic / Tire
- Victor - Timing and Scoring
- Bill - Fueling team
- Mark V. - Fueling team
- Jon B. - Mechanic / Tire
- Angel - Mechanic / Tire
- Doc - Car Engineer
- Danny or Me
And we were sharing this area
with 2 other teams with a similar number of
Since there was no
qualifying session, the cars were
gridded based on team points.
Because we split from the Roar team (we
were now entered as "Silverback Racing"),
we had zero team points, even though we
had run at Daytona. Several teams
were new as well, and they were in the
same situation, but we also had one
other disadvantage - we did not have any
recorded practice times from Friday,
which I suspect were used as a "tie
breaker" for those of us with no points.
That meant we were starting dead last
in the field!
I remembered to bring
my laptop with me to the pits.
This turned out to be our own little
unfair advantage, as we seemed to be one
of the few teams that had real-time
access to the weather radar.
We could see the size, speed and
intensity of the storms as they headed
across the sky, and this allowed us to
gauge if and when we needed to swap to
and from rain tires.
The race had been delayed
about 15 minutes for some reason, and in
that additional time, I could see a
small but powerful rain cell forming and
heading our way. It was hard to
judge what its impact would be at this
point, and it was still dry by the time
they started the race at around 3:30pm.
The cars finally left the
grid and made their way around the 3.27
mile track, led by a pace car. The
GS cars were grouped together, then
followed a second pace car about 20
seconds back, leading the ST cars
around. By the time the ST cars
took the green flag, they were so strung
out that our poor Silverback racing car
was already 25 seconds behind the ST
leaders when they crossed start-finish.
And Danny couldn't do anything about it -
passing isn't allowed on the start until
you cross the start-finish line, even if
the green flag has flown. You
are at the mercy of the cars in front of
you - if they fall behind because they
fail to keep up, so do you.
On the opening lap it
starts to rain. There had been a
dry line on the track, but it was
starting to become slick.
About 30 seconds after the start, Danny
is on the inside of the Sahlen's Neon in
Turn 2, hugging the edge of the track.
The Sahlen's Neon attempts to move back
in front of Danny, but the Neon driver
doesn't realize that he isn't quite
clear of Danny's front bumper. The
result is disastrous for the Neon!
<=Click to view
Lap 1, the field goes to yellow so the
Sahlen's Neon can be extracted from the
infield near turn 2. The Neon hit
the jersey barrier that separates the track between
turn 1 and 2, and the barrier had to be moved back
into place before the race could proceed. Thus begins
the first of many long full course
yellows. And many hard decisions
Here's where things
get a little complicated - the way the
Grand Am rules work, during the first 2
laps of any caution, only GS cars are
allowed to pit. The next 2 laps of
caution are for ST cars. This is
because the pit stalls are being shared
(there aren't enough of them to accommodate the 90 or so cars), and all the cars don't come in at once.
(Sidenote: The bad part about this
is that every full course caution is at
least 4-5 laps long, even if the
obstruction is cleared within the first
lap. That is why the cautions are
We decide that we
ought to come in and just change to rain
tires right away - beat the rush so to
speak. But when it comes
time for our car to take its pit on the
third caution lap, our
stall is blocked by another car.
We get ready to bring it in on the 4th
caution lap, but its the same situation
- our stall is blocked again. So during the first
caution, we never get an opportunity to
change to rain tires.
Poor Danny, he is caught
out on the track with slicks, and the
rain is coming down pretty hard.
When its time to restart, we tell him to
hang in there, because it probably won't
be too long until another yellow is
<==Click to view Wet
enough, another yellow has been called.
So far there has been only a couple of
laps of live race action. We have
been watching the radar, and we can see
that the storm is moving pretty rapidly.
We figure in another 15 minutes or so,
almost all of it will have passed.
That should just about take us to the
end of this caution period.
make a decision, and tell Danny to hang
in there on the dry tires.
By this time word has
spread down pit row that we have a live
weather radar feed. Heck, we would
have thought everyone had one,
but it seems only a few do at best.
Other teams are sending crew members to
peek over our shoulders - some asking
nicely, others trying to get a sly
glance. I decide I don't want to share
this type of intelligence, so I turn the
laptop away so it can't be easily seen.
During the caution
period, not one team comes in for dry
tires. Its still pretty wet out
there, and the rain hasn't stopped yet,
but it has slowed to a trickle.
We know from the radar that the rain is
practically over, and it probably won't be
coming back, but you can't tell that
from looking at the sky, which is still
littered with puffy grey clouds. Scott is
encouraging Danny to just hang in there,
its going to dry up.
After several laps, the
yellow lifts, and the race resumes.
Its barely sprinkling now, and the track
condition slowly, painfully, improves.
For a while rain tires are the way to
go, but then with every lap, Danny's able to push the
car a little harder, go a little faster.
Eventually a dry line starts to develop,
and in the few green flag laps that are
available, Danny makes the most of them
and starts moving up through the pack.
He's actually starting to have some fun
as he slowly gains the upper hand.
Somewhere along the way,
Danny is called for passing under a
yellow flag, and has to come into the
pits for a penalty. There are so
many penalties being called, the Grand
Am cup officials can't keep up, and
Scott can't get an explanation of where
it happened. In this case the
penalty is to drive through the pits at
45mph - not quite as bad as a "stop and
go" penalty. I did a quick
calculation, and figured a "drive
through" probably costs about 30 seconds
of time. There are so many
cars having to perform "drive throughs",
that pit lane starts to look like a
A Grand Am Cup race is
either 200 miles (about 57 laps), or 2.5
hours, whichever comes first.
Scott and I guess that since there are
so many full course yellows, the race
will be called on time and not distance.
We start planning for a 2.5 hour race
and plan our driver change accordingly.
There is one danger though - if Danny
were to pit at 1 hour 15 minutes (the
halfway point), we may not be able to
complete the second half of the race
without another pit stop if it dries up
and there aren't many cautions. We
know we can't go that length of time on
a single tank of gas under dry race conditions.
decide to keep Danny out as long as
possible, to insure that I can make the
final leg without having to stop again
Another great race
A1Fotos.com - the car is sporting a bit more
duct tape than we like - we will have some work to
do after this race.
During one of the
yellows, right around the halfway point,
Danny is calling over the radio to come
in - he wants to make sure I get my fair
share of drive time. Danny's
arguing with Scott to let him come in.
But I'm standing next to Scott telling
him to keep Danny out. I'm
not sure Danny understands our potential dilemma,
but he does listen to Scott, and stays
Finally with a
little over an hour to go we bring Danny in for the
driver change during yet another full
course yellow. At this point a
definite dry line is developing on the
track, but the surface is still somewhat
slick. Some teams are coming in
for dry tires, but I think most are
still out on their rain tires, thinking
it might rain some more. We are
pretty confident now that no more rain
is on the way (based on the radar), so
we keep the dry tires on. The car
is refueled as Danny and I switch
As I go down pit lane,
I'm watching my pit speed to keep it
under the mandated 45mph.
There is a little bend in pit lane right
around the start finish line, and
normally you can start your acceleration
just after you go by the start finish
tower. So I do, and I make a
terrible mistake - Grand Am had extended
the Pit Lane so there are more pit
stalls setup on the other side of the
Timing Tower, to accommodate all of the
Yep, there was an
official with a radar gun standing
almost right in front of me when I did
this - I was busted for going 49mph (in
the 45mph zone). I had raced VIR
several times before, and I had never
seen pit lane extended like this, so I
was caught completely off guard.
If we had practiced yesterday, I
probably would have seen this, but we
were too busy fixing the car. And
I didn't get to drive in the practice
this morning, because it was so short.
Excuses, excuses - the bottom line is
that I should have known better.
I circled around under
the yellow conditions (it hadn't ended
yet), and drove as fast as I could to
catch up with the tail of the field.
Scott radio's to me that he's heard over
the scanner that I've been busted for
speeding on pit lane. He doesn't
have word yet on whether I'll have to do
a drive through penalty when the field
goes green - he's waiting for an
official to walk up and tell him
"officially." During the yellow,
cars are driving through the small
puddles to keep their rain tires nice
and cool. I'm purposely driving
through the puddles trying to dry off
Finally the track goes
green and then the fun begins.
Although the track is still slick, there
is very little standing water, so I have
a definite advantage over cars still on
their wet tires (which is most of them).
It seems like I'm passing cars
everywhere - ST cars and even a few GS
cars, and having a ball. I'm
passing cars under braking into turn 1,
passing cars on the sweeper between 2
and 3, passing cars on the bridge
straight (before the uphill essess), and
especially passing cars between 9 and 10
at the top of the uphill esses (my
At one point I dive bomb
the Smellie / Lewis silver RX-8 (the
other car Doc just built) going into the
tight right hander, turn 11, immediately
before Oak Tree. I'm on the inside
of him in the really short section
between turns 11 and 12, and as we round
the tightest turn on the track (Oak
Tree), I look in the mirrors and see
their Silver RX-8 go off in the dirt on
the outside. Oh my gosh, did
I knock him off the track? I
didn't feel any contact.
(Sidenote: It turns out after the race I
talked to Doc about it and he said we
didn't make contact, and it was a clean
I still don't have word
yet from Scott on if and when I needed
to "drive through the pits" as a penalty
for the 49mph infraction in the pit
lane. Scott says the
officials are a bit behind because they
are sooo busy issuing penalties. Maybe
they are like real cops and will let
4mph over slide? Naahhh. I
just keep driving and try not to think
For 3 or so green flag
laps I feel like superman in the car.
Its handling pretty well, and I seem to
be able to pass cars at will. An
Acura ST car is stalking me and we are
nose to tail for a lap or two.
Then, coming out of Oak Tree, I can't
seem to find 4th gear - when I go to
shift, it just won't go in. The
Acura passes me easily as I struggle
with the transmission, and finally I get
it in gear and resume the race, having
lost a few seconds and a position.
As with most endurance
races, because of the pit stops,
penalties, yellow flags, etc, I have no
idea where I am in the standings.
I decide I don't want to know, I just
want to drive. I'm thinking if we
get enough green flag laps, I can
probably improve our position a bit,
since everyone else is caught on wet
tires. Then I make another
mistake, although I have no idea how I
could have avoided it.
As I'm coming down the
hill for Hogpen (turn 17), I see the
flagman furiously waving a yellow flag.
I'm going at a pretty darn good clip in
the turn, around 90mph, but in front of
me on the inside of the turn are 3 slow
moving cars. Two of the cars are
stacked behind another car which *I
think* is pitting, which is why they are
going so slow - probably only doing
50mph. I can't slow down in
time - if I hit the brakes, I will
surely go off into the muddy wet grass
on the outside of the track (and maybe
get stuck). So I end up
completing the pass - under yellow, of
all three cars. My only hope is
that maybe all three were pitting
(doubtful), and that they won't give me
a penalty because of that. Way up
ahead I can see a Porsche re-entering
the track on the left from the grassy
area where he went off (the reason for
the local yellow). I easily
avoid him and proceed down the straight.
I radio Scott and say
that I passed under yellow, but the
conditions were that I had no choice -
will they penalize me? He doesn't
know yet. Then I lose radio
contact with Scott, and with all of my
spotters - as I'm driving around, I
can't communicate with any of them.
Is the battery dead in the radio?
Did a wire come lose? I can't
fiddle with it too much as I'm racing,
it'll have to wait until we go yellow.
Geez Louise, I'm in a real pickle.
I have potentially two penalties (the
speed limit and the yellow) that I have
to come in for, but I don't know for
sure about either one.
Then we get a full course
yellow. The cars start to form up
behind the pace car. As we round
the track at a reduced pace, the field
develops an inchworm type flow - fast
then slow in places. I'm trying to
fix the radio, which isn't helping
things a lot. Coming into turn 11, there
is suddenly a huge bottleneck at Oak
Tree (turn 12), and we come to a
complete stop. I'm facing uphill
and I have to put the clutch in and hit
the brakes - then the car dies!
The engine won't hold an idle when its
hot, and I failed to keep my foot on the
gas to keep it running. I cranked
and cranked the starter, but it wouldn't
restart. The line of cars starts
to move again, and I'm still stopped on
the track and holding up the rest of the
field. The cars behind me get frustrated
and start passing me - I get passed by
15 or 20 cars. Finally the RX-8
fires back to life and I rejoin the
field, having lost several positions,
under yellow! Probably every
car I had just passed in the previous
green laps, was now back in front of me.
I can't imagine what the team is
thinking back in the pits - I'm sure
they are looking at the computerized
iCard timing system (which tells us our
race position), wondering how I could
have lost so many positions under
yellow. It just doesn't
By this time a few more
cars have pitted for dry tires.
Just as the field goes green, I get a
nice run on the GS Porsche in front of
me, and time a perfect pass at the top
of the esses between turns 9 and 10.
That felt good - its ALWAYS fun when you
pass a car that is supposed to be
faster! Grover was spotting for us
in the grandstands at the base of the
uphill esses, so I'm hoping he got to
see that one.
(Sidenote: At one
point Scott sent Bill Gratton across Pit
Lane and over the guardrail (on the
front straight), to signal me to come in
for my drive through. I never saw
him even though he was out there waving
for me. In the replay of the race
on TV, you could see him crossing pit
lane to do this - he was on TV more than
Then, a lap or two later,
we get ANOTHER full course
yellow. I still don't have radio
communications with my team, and I take
advantage of the slow pace during yellow
to try to figure it out.
With the helmet and Hans Device on, I
can't move my head more than a couple of
degrees, and the gloves aren't helping
much. Plus I'm fully belted in the
seat - my mobility is severely limited.
But I grope around, and eventually I
find a loose connection in the wire that
goes to my helmet earbuds, and I snug it
in the connector - it had come partially
out. At last, I'm back in
Scott says I need to come
in and serve my penalties - there will
be no reprieve - I'll need to do my pit
"drive throughs" for the exceeding the
speed limit, and the pass under yellow.
The rules say I can't do it until the
field goes green again, so I fume in
silence. Most of the cars
have pitted for dry tires, so I've
probably gained a few positions.
The field goes green, and
I start to pass some cars again, and it
feels pretty good. The pace is
picking up, since most of the cars are
now on dry tires. Amazingly, there
are still a few cars on rain tires, and
they are easy pickings. At one
point I spot Sylvain Tremblay's RX-8 in
a pack up ahead, and I can see he
doesn't seem to be going any faster than
me, at least not at this point in the
race - and that gives me some hope.
Then Scott calls me and says its time
for me to do my "drive through"
penalties, so I do. That sinks our
chances of a good finish - all I can do
at this point is drive the best that I
can. I really feel like I have let
down my team.
At this point there are
only about 20 minutes or so left in the
race - a handful of laps. The
track is drying up nicely, so now is the
time to lay down some really fast times.
I make few more fun passes - an
especially memorable one on another GS
Porsche while coming down the
"rollercoaster" in turn 15.
And then, of course, it
happens. I'm stalking an Audi ST
car, coming out of turn 17 / Hogpen -
I'm right on his butt - planning
to draft and pass him down the front
straight. Before I can reach down
to shift to 5th gear, the transmission
just pops out of 4th on its own.
No friggen' way! This is bad.
The car bled off some speed, and I try
to stick it back into 4th, but it won't
go, no dice. I do the only thing I
can - I put it in 5th gear, and I'm
rewarded with the sound of parts going
the transmission as I motor down the
straight. I put it in 6th to see
if that's any better, but it isn't -
Entering turn 1, I shift into third -
and it goes in, but not without
considerable force on the lever.
Our time is near end - can we finish the
Here is the situation.
I've lost 4th gear, and I can hear metal
bouncing around the tranny.
3rd gear is not feeling too good either,
and sometimes it won't go into that.
We have 15-20 minutes to go. The
track is drying out, so everyone else is
getting faster and faster, and I'm
getting slower - right now I should be
setting my fastest laps, but I can't.
I'm driving the track
with mostly 5th and 6th gear, and
occasionally 3rd, when it will go into
that. As I go up the esses, I spot 2
white GS Mustangs closing in my rear
view mirror. We round turn 10,
then I point to the right to let them
know I'm giving them the inside pass
into turn 11. The first Mustang
blows by and starts to negotiate the
right hander for turn 11 - the second
Mustang also blows by, and plows into
the rear quarter panel of the first
Mustang as it is turning.
The second Mustang rotates the first
Mustang completely sideways, shoves it
out of the way on the right/inside of
the track - and we both go through the
hole where the first Mustang once was.
From where I sat, it seemed to be a
brutal move, or a terrible mistake, I
don't know which.
Then, with not much time
to think about it, I lose 6th gear - I'm
down to 5th and every now and then, 3rd.
I've radioed Scott of the situation, but
Danny is not in the pits, so he can't
talk it over with him. Scott is
afraid that the tranny will seize up, or
explode or who-knows-what, and then I'll
have a bad accident. I want to
stay out and try to finish the race, but
I don't know how far we have to go.
Scott decides to order me
in, and as I'm pulling into the pits -
I'm right at the entrance - he says over
the radio, there are 5 minutes to go.
What? I make a quick decision and
dart back onto track. I'm staying
out no matter what.
Then I lose 3rd gear
completely - no way its going into gear.
I'm down to just 5th gear, with around 2
laps to complete. This makes
negotiating the Oak Tree turn (some cars
take it in 2nd), pretty difficult, but I
manage. A large pack of GS
cars rapidly overtakes me - probably the
race leaders. I'm caught in the
middle of their fire-fight going into
turn 14, down through roller-coaster,
and through hog-pen. I just try to
hold a predictable line, stay out of
their way, and not get taken out like
the Mustang did a few laps earlier -
this is a blood-sport!
Coming down the front
straight, I see the white flag being
waved from the start/finish tower, and
it doesn't mean surrender - it indicates
the final lap! Once more around I
go, and then I see the checker flag - a
wave of relief sweeps over me.
After the "cool down" lap, I enter the
pits for the final time, and all of the
cars come to a stop - a traffic jam in
the pits. I coast to a stop, not
quite in pit lane. I never get it
going again - all of the gears are now
gone, including 5th, and we are forced
to push the car back to the paddock.
But at least we didn't come in on a tow
Here is the car as it
finished the race.
additional body damage is from a small
dent in the front fender where we made
contact with Sahlen's Neon. You
can see a little rubber from the Neon's
rear tire on the side of the front
Jon did a lot of the heavy lifting and
cleanup, of which there was quite a bit
to do (about 3 hours worth).
We did take
a few moments to enjoy our "success."
Actually, I was feeling somewhat low
about our finish (18th in class).
But the rest of the crew actually felt
pretty darn good about it, so they
cheered me up. I think all things
considered (the multiple penalties, the
car stalling during yellow, the tranny
failure, etc), 18th isn't the worst
finish in the world - heck we improved
16 positions during the race.
We have to remember that 41 ST cars
started the weekend, and in the end, we
did better than most.
like our next race will be Lime Rock.
We've got a few wounds to lick, and
encountered some unexpected expenses
these last few weeks. So we
are going to take off from the two West
Coast races (Laguna Seca, and Phoenix),
then rejoin the fray the end of May.
Between now and then, I may have another
update, we'll see!