August 18, 2006

First Club Race - NASA @ LRP

On August 5, I ran a 30-min sprint with NASA Northeast at Lime Rock Park. The event was partnered vintage racers who kindly sprayed oil on the track during each session, “somewhat” compromising the grip.

I went out for Practice and realized I had a tire-pressure problem.
It took me forever to get the Hoosiers warmed up and when they warmed up, my normally-innocent 325i began switching between severe understeer(screeching and bouncing) and snap-oversteer.
Furthermore, Lime Rock’s surface is the roughest it’s ever been, making it, um, more challenging. This was the first video that's ever shown me going through both the Uphill and Downhill with opposite lock! If I didn’t turn-in early, it would NEVER turn in, which was just as dangerous as an early apex! So I was walking a fine line.
Braking while turning was just dumb on a surface like this (but I did it anyway :)).

I came in, made a tire pressure adjustment (in the WRONG direction,
unfortunately) and went back out qualify. The handling was more of the same but now I was prepared for it. My rear brake pads were history, but I qualified on them anyway. So I was able to set a new personal-best time of 104.454, qualifying me 19/41 in the field, and giving me an inside grid position for the start. Truth be told, if I had set up the Hoosiers correctly, I believe a 1:04 flat was reasonable.

I came in, changed rear pads (the old Hawk Blues were polished to a nice mirror shine!), made another tire pressure adjustment (better, but still a whopping 5psi low I believe) and got ready for the race. NASA Northeast ran this event well and we were 30 minutes ahead of schedule! The warmup lap began perfectly on-time, and you have NEVER seen a group of racers trying to warm their tires like we were! Unbelievable swerving and dodging… I was NOT alone in my fear of No Grip At Lime Rock. So anyways we did a rolling start and believe me Brother, you want an inside line for the start at Lime Rock! At first I forgot to “shut the door” in front of me, so 1 car from the outside got in front of me in the Big Bend (rookie mistake).
But it was no biggie because of the incidental traffic. So the first couple of laps were pure survival-mode, but then I slammed the front- door so hard the corner workers started watching to make sure I wasn’t pushing/shoving the Cobra kit car in front (funny how you can see them). Things spread out, and I entered a battle with a Sentra SE- R and a 944. The 3 of us had a great battle going, driving as hard as we could without touching. At one point the Sentra put me in the grass on NoName Straight, and the 944 snuck by too, but I re-passed them both within a lap! Anyways, after that pass, while jumping curbs, my window net popped out in NoName, forcing me to make a pit stop. Bummer. I think I was up to 14th or 15th when this happened. I rolled in, re-latched the window net, and took off. It was 33 seconds of wheels-stopped time, and cost me about 10-12 positions in the finishing order. What a mind-bender. Anyways we raced for several more laps, but I was really just tire testing now because I had nobody to race (other than passing slower traffic). I was able to get really crazy on the Uphill and Downhill a few times. A guy hung his Mustang on the wall and we finished under yellow behind the pace car.
I finished 27/41 thanks to my window net.

My only casualties were the window net, my shifter broke again, and the two left-side Hoosiers showed horrible shoulder-wear after the race. I think they were badly under-inflated (running about 32-35psi and needed higher). Next event is 2-days of racing with NASA Mid- Atlantic at Summit Point, August 26-27.

Click on the movie window below for the 22 minute complete race clip

With special thanks to:

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