September 4, 2014

Motorsport, she's a cruel mistress.

It was the culmination of a year of planning.  A new motor was built,   140 gallons of diesel burned for the 15 hour tow from New Jersey to compete for the NASA Eastern National championship at Road Atlanta and things were looking good.

It would be fair to say Peter Thibault is the most naturally talented racer among our Team Axis group, speed comes easy to him.   An amazing mechanic with seemingly endless knowledge of how to get things fixed, one way or another, Pete spent countless hours making sure the Axis of
Oversteer Spec E30 was,  if not exactly pretty, as quick and reliable as possible while staying within the rules.

The NASA Championship consists  of a qualifying session and two qualifying races leading up to the big final on the Sunday.   Positions on the  earlier races determine the grid for the final.

Pete qualified 10th for the first race out of almost 40 cars, he finished the race in fourth.  Race two he started fourth and finished third insuring a row two starting spot for the final.

If front, top dogs in SpecE30,  Robert Grace and Eric Palacio, winners of the qualifying races respectively.  Sharing row two, Steven Lako.

Unlike most other classes, Spec E30 feature a standing start.    The cars are off climbing though Turn One,  up and over the roller coaster of  the Road Atlanta "esses"  and on to the the back side of the track.

Thibault holds his third place position behind Grace and Palacio as the cars start down the long back straight.

In racing,  especially in spec racing,  so much is about that opening lap.   You need to get it done and set the tone for the rest of the race, after that it becomes about managing the car.    Pete got it done.

It was a brilliant move:  as Grace and Palacio were fighting it out for first into the T10a and 10b chicane, Thibault laid back a little thinking
Photos Matt Russell/Axis of Overster
the two  would end up compromising their exit speed on the climb towards the bridge.

I worked perfectly, Pete took the inside line and swooped past on the plunge towards the start finish line, he was first at the end of lap one.

Lap two saw Thibault stretch out his lead while others fought for position.   It would be a long race but the hard work was done, from there it would be a matter of managing the tires and not making any mistakes...

but it was not to be...

At some point in lap three, the shifter starts feeling stiff and then, approaching turn 10 the transmission just fails, Pete left with a box of neutrals and understandably upset...

A small part inside the transmission, a piece that had never failed before decided to pick that very moment to do so.

And that's motorsport in a nutshell for you, a cruel mistress to be sure but one hard to resist.

Congratulations to all of this year's National Champions, see you next year!


  1. That tantrum looks very familiar. I've done the same thing.

  2. She gave up the ghost in a similar fashion at Sears point Karting (gearbox). I was livid!

  3. Was it the bitch clip?

    Brutal time for that to happen. Impressive as hell results up to that point.

  4. Unfortunate end to your year, but bravo on the racing strategy played to perfection ...
    Now to get ready for next year!

  5. That sucks Pete! That Championship will eventually come your way.
    I know the feeling: ALMS Sebring 12Hrs 2013. Forced to pit while on the lead due to non working stop light we couldn't fix in less than 10mins. Lost the lead with only 2hrs to go..


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