Friday, March 20, 2009

I Hate being wet…Did I mention that?

80 degrees and sunny for four days. That was the weather we had right up until Friday, March 13th 2009. Then it turned to 30’s and 40’s with constant rain. Just in time for a race weekend at Road Atlanta. Yes, the same Road Atlanta that I wrote about in previous blogs with lots of concrete walls very close to the tracks edges. It sounds like a great combination: a wet slippery track, race cars and concrete walls. What could possibly go wrong!!??
I hate being wet all weekend. Wet clothes, wet gear, wet food and worst of all; wet feet all weekend. I do not like those things. In fact, it’s miserable. Last year at CMP when it monsooned, I was ill prepared and was wet and cold all weekend. Not this time. I bought a full rain suit and brought my waterproof boots. Quite possibly the best investment in clothing I have ever made. Not to mention, the sexy “I know what you did last summer” killer’s outfit really gets the attention of the ladies…as Boogie pointed out to me.
This weekend I wasn’t wet and cold except when I was in the race car since we have to race with the windows down. You don’t notice that when racing though, you’re kind of busy. You do however notice that you can’t see 10 feet in front of your car because of the spray from the other cars as well as your completely fogged up windshield, which is nice. Those things make it interesting. Oh yeah and my ABS went out in Saturday’s practice session. More on that later.
Turnip, Rankin and Boogie brought the RV to the track again thanks to Tom Johnson. This was great because I planned on camping in my tent for the weekend and they had an extra spot in the RV just for me! I’m glad they offered too because Friday night brought the wind and the rain. I would have been miserable in my tent on top of the hill under the shelter. I’m pretty sure I would have blown away. The rain was hard enough to wake me up in the RV that night. From then on it rained non-stop day and night, all weekend. It was miserable and lots of cars were wrecked. Mine thankfully came out unscathed. I did get stuck once…more on that a little later as well.


I took Friday off of work so I could take my time making the three hour drive to the track and get there with plenty of time to help out for the three hour enduro that started at 2:00. I got to the track around 12:30 and we set up the pits to help out a few fellow racers. Fortunately the rain missed us all day Friday and it was a good day. Steve Foushee, fellow Spec E30 racer took first in E2 until his NASCAR style celebration efforts earned him a DQ and the Title “Donut king of Augusta.” He stopped on the front straight and did donuts on the track. This is generally frowned upon by NASA officials and this time was no different. I didn’t get to see them but I heard the donuts were pretty sweet. Sorry Steve!
Friday night a few of us went out for Mexican food and some beers. I smelled like Mexican food all night. Some of the others went to the baby shower that was being held in the timing and scoring tower. That’s right, I said baby shower. I suspect they went for the free pizza and cake but with those guys, you can never be sure.


As Skid Row used to sing “I woke up to the sound of pouring rain.” Well, I was actually woken up by Rankin who had to go meet his student first thing in the morning. I’m pretty sure it was about 4 AM. It seemed that early anyway. And it was cold and pouring rain…all day. Our practice was at 9:30, qualifying at 11:10 and the race at 2:00. Surely the rain would let up later in the day for the race right? Not a chance. I left my dry setup on the car but luckily I had a fresh set of full depth R888’s mounted by Sasco the day before. This made the wet track a little more tolerable but I was still loose all over the track. I felt pretty good in practice and in qualifying I was able to be quick enough for 5th out of our 17 Spec E30’s. Sweet!
Because of the conditions the race director decided to grid us in one big group for the race. This meant we were classified by our overall time, not just our class. This meant I was starting 10th out of about 60 cars. This was done to keep cars at similar pace near each other to hopefully avoid a lot of carnage on the start. It worked but it’s not as fun as grouping all of the Spec E30’s together and having split starts. Maybe it was for the better.

I ended up finishing 6th. Not bad and I got the sweet 6th place trophy that Geegar made, a T-Shirt, a set of free brake pads from Bimmerworld and I didn’t crash the car. All in all, a good day on track for me.
Saturday night we had our awards banquet and again, it was raining and cold. But I was dry and warm thanks to my sweet rain suit. I hate being wet. The bad thing about the rain at the track is it sends people in early for the night and it kills a lot of the partying we usually do. We took it easy that night. After dinner we took showers and went back to the RV to watch Role Models. Pretty funny movie. I recommend it.

Al, Travis and Scott decided the weather was too much for them and they went and got a hotel room. Dave White was also there and he had a hotel room. At around 9:00 we get a phone call from Travis, hammered drunk, announcing that they are going to the Wal-Mart to raise some hell. This should be good. We tell them we will wait for the call from jail later that night and we went back to watching our movie in the money RV. Dry and warm.


Again I awoke to the sound of…Rankin, getting ready to meet “the talker” at 8:00. I quickly fell back asleep only to have Travis wake me up with a phone call. “Hey, are you gonna qualify?” I said “when is it?” “9:00AM.” he replied. I said “probably not, well, I guess I might. We’ll see.” Guess who was there for qualifying with me?

Some of the guys were trying different setups for the wet. Some seemed to work, some didn’t. I changed mine on Sunday by disconnecting the rear sway bar as my car was very loose all day Saturday. This has worked before while racing in the rain so I thought I would try it out and it worked great. I was able to get the power down a lot sooner getting out of the turns and I qualified 3rd.

We again had a full group start and this meant I was 9th overall starting the race. I had a decent start but was soon passed by three cars in my class. The track was very wet and with the ABS not working I was getting lock up in a few braking zones. I backed off a bit from the cars in these areas just in case but I was managing it well for the most part. I went too hot into turn 10A on the fourth lap and the front tires locked up and I was sliding toward the Spec E30 in front of me. This was not good. It’s usually not a big deal when this happens, you just get out of the brakes to regain traction and apply them again. Smoothly. If you are still running out of braking room at this point but your speed is okay you can “throw” the car into the turn and still make the corner.
This time I was quickly running out of room and if I tried to throw the car into the turn I would have run the risk of hitting the car in front of me. Instead of doing this I opted to go straight off into the gravel trap. I was stuck on the beach, my race was over but the car wasn’t damaged. I sat there for a few laps watching the race and then the tow truck came, pulled me out and I drove into the pits. Sucks to end the race like that but it was the right call.

Overall it was a good weekend. I had a great time seeing everyone and like I said, I hate being wet but I like driving in the rain. A big thanks goes to Aaron, Warren, Lauren and the G-Man for letting me crash in the RV.

1. A rain suit is an absolute necessity.
2. 6th place is better than 2nd thru 5th.
3. Wal-Mart in Braselton GA will tolerate a lot of jack-assery.
4. The 10A gravel trap is a great spot to watch a race.
5. Do not drive on any of the painted surfaces at Road Atlanta when wet.
6. ABS is a good thing to have in the rain. (gotta get that fixed)

I haven’t sent out an update in a while so the two posts below may also be new to you. Stay tuned for our next event: The 24 hours of LeMons returns! Will we get the car ready in time? What’s the theme? Did Ian get that rash cleared up? All of these questions and more will hopefully be answered in my next post. Until then, stay dry and keep the car off of the walls.

-Brian Jones, BeerTech Racing #380-

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