Monday, May 19, 2008

Roebling Road Raceway BeerTech #380

RRR? Yeah…I was there. IFU2?...done.

I hated this track 4 years ago. I was there once for a DE during my first or second year of chasing the coveted HPDE championship. I was in my E36 M3 and this was before the track was resurfaced. I never did get comfortable on track and being new to HP driving didn’t like the various amounts of grip or lack thereof provided by the different surfaces.

I was excited to get back and try the new surface in my raze car. I kept hearing about what a great track it was to race on and after missing last years IFU I was chomping at the bit to try it out again.

I felt great once on track and after taking almost all of 2007 off from driving/racing, I felt like I was getting back to the level of confidence and comfort that I was used to.

Saturday- Practice was great, took it easy learning the line again and feeling out the track. Thanks to Mike Skeen for lots of good tips while we were walking the track on Friday, I was paying attention and able to remember what he said and apply it. That really sped up the process for me. I also learned quite a bit following R Patton around, nice work Robert, we had a lot of very close racing that was a hell of a lot of fun.

Qualifying was good, I qualified 9th and finished 9th in the sprint race. I was extremely happy with that performance. Had some great racing with Al Taylor and was able to hold him off at the end.

IFU. I started in the last spot of the 4th group and was moving up pretty quick, I caught lots of people and was running great until the restart. At the start stand it was Pantas, Lear, Skeen, Damion and I at the front. I had a good start and was holding my own coming out of 2 when Skeen and I had to quickly split Scott Lear, me to the inside Skeen to the outside.

Having successfully negotiated that situation, I promptly went wide in 4 and off track trying to keep the fast guys behind me. Oops. Oh well, I had good racing with Foushee for several laps and had great runs on him out of 9 but the car was starting to starve. I was getting starvation after turns 2 and 9 consistently with about ½ tank of fuel. I had a great run on Steve coming out of 9 on the last lap and would have passed him for the position but the car fell on its face and he was able to hold me off for 19th place.

Sunday: Wow, I thought I was feeling good during qualifying and my suspicions were confirmed when the times came out. 7th place. Uh oh, this means someone will be coming up quick! JP was right behind me as well as Travis and Geegar. I knew this was going to mean no mistakes to keep my hard earned spot. Oh yeah, Sasha was back there too but he was my whipping boy all weekend so he was more of a chicane for the others. Thanks for the help buddy.

I was holding my own for most of the race up front. I think I was up there until lap 2 or 3 when I went off for the first of my 3 offs. (Turns 6,7 and a good one in 9) I managed to turn my 7th position start into a solid 18th spot finish. Get some. I was bummed about not keeping it on track but I was still happy overall. I knew my comfort level was going to be pushed a little further and I needed that. Don’t worry, I’m coming. Give me some time to work on my race craft and consistency and chumps like Geiger and Wilson will be back where they belong…with Jim Robinson behind Beertech. That’s right, you just read that. ;)

Unfortunately I screwed up the AV portion of my weekend pretty good. I have no IFU footage, bummer, ½ of Sundays race and I think all of Saturdays race. I also didn’t have the image stabilizer on so the videos aren’t very good. Ill post what I have, hopefully some of it is good.

Thanks for reading teh blog. -Brian Jones BTR #380

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again!!!

This was officially my second race weekend ever and first with the NASA South East group. I did run the 3 hour enduro at RA with Scott Mc but not the sprint races. I now have my four races (2 from last year at VIR) in my rookie booklet and off it goes for an actual comp license. Now on with the recap….

Friday: was going to be nice and relaxed. A leisurely ride to CMP, unload, hang out and crew for the enduro boys. I had been itching to do the enduro myself, as I have only been to CMP once and that was 3 or 4 years ago and I wanted the seat time. In the weeks leading up to the event I couldn’t find a driver willing to drive my non ABS car nor could I find anyone dumb enough to let me drive their car….and then there was Geeger.

JP and I talked Craig into doing the enduro with little effort as he already wanted to do it anyway. It was fun until we retired early so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings by winning the whole thing. It would have been awkward for the rest of the weekend you know? I’m pretty sure we were leading when we had to pull it behind the wall. We had a slow leak in the left rear tire that was getting worse every lap and shaking the car apart.

I drove the first stint and a couple of laps in I swore I flat spotted the front tires in one of the braking zones. This was the first time I’ve experienced a tire going down at speed on the track. It feels just like having a flat spotted tire that keeps getting worse.

Weather was great all day until the evening when the storm rolled in. We had a great lightning show for about an hour and then Al said….”Hey, I think it may start to rain soon.” And then a split second later the skies opened up and absolutely poured on us until Saturday night. Awesome. This meant that Casey, JP’s brother, would be sleeping in the BeerTech Motor Home with us instead of his tent. I can still hear the snoring. That was remedied for Sat night.

Saturday: Since I got zero sleep thanks to the Snore-a-saurus, I was wide awake as the rain poured down and filled my race car full of water. I enjoy driving in the rain but having a car with no ABS and no rain tires makes for interesting sessions. Practice, Q and race were all very wet and slippery. I changed tires three times for three sessions that day. talk about soaking wet. I Qualified 13th then finished 15th and a big thanks goes to Steve Foushee for selling me some rain tires that I had mounted for the race.

We had a rolling start and I didn’t start well. I dropped two spots right off the bat. I was running well besides the fact that I could not stop the car in any of the braking zones. I would start to brake, lock up, release, lock up, release, turn in, at every corner. It was interesting and manageable for a while until I went off in 14 once and lost two spots, oops. I got those two back but in 15th is where I stayed. It was a lot of fun though. Scott Gress and I had a great run for a while and I managed a last turn pass for 15th!

Sunday: Beautiful day once the sun came out. Qualifying was wet at 8:50 AM. Nice. Back to shaved tires I went and managed to qualify 10th. I had a decent start and a good race. Steve Foushee and I had a great race together for several laps, should be good video. Thanks to Steve for the clean, fun racing. I managed to finish 8th.

Over all a very good weekend for me on the track and as always, the Spec E30 community is amazing. What a great group of people and a fantastic bunch of racers as well. Its great to finally have all three Beer Tech cars back on track. Thanks to NASA-SE as well for again dealing with the weather and keeping things on schedule. I cant wait for Roebling and the IFU2. Maybe Canterbury can bring some chicken to cook up?

Brian Jones car #380