Friday, July 10, 2009

Time for the NASA All Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway...or something like that.

Our normal events are Saturday and Sunday, racing both days. This race at Lowe’s was a little different. Since this was July 4th weekend, we ran a one day event, Friday July 3rd only. This meant we would cram a weekends worth of track time into on day. Sounds like fun right? I enjoyed it, except for one small mechanical problem.

Much like Rockingham, we run the Roval. 3/4 of the oval and the infield road course. See track map here:

This was my first time at Lowe's and I was really looking forward to it. You could tell from the time sheets in practice that it was also the first time for many others as well. I was surprised to see the times drop so dramatically and consistently all the way thru the grid. Not that the track is overly technical or anything but there are a few tricky spots. I am always amazed at the skill level in Spec E30, we really don’t have any "bad" drivers amongst us. Fortunately we were also very clean this "weekend" too, which is nice.

I was feeling lost on track in practice but qualifying was much better. I qualified 7th for the first race with tires that I knew were on their last leg. I had almost zero tread pattern showing on my 888's before the first race. As I headed toward pre-grid I heard an awful, unmistakable sound of a completely toasted wheel bearing on my left front. It sounded like ball bearings in a blender...hmmm, probably shouldn’t rip around the banking at 130MPH like this. I turned the car around and watched the first race from turn one with Al Taylor who had toasted his motor on the first hot lap in practice.

Robert Patton had a wheel bearing (Robert, by the way, please send me your address and Ill pay you back immediately, thank you very much) that he graciously gave me and told me to "get to work" fixing it. As always, Jim Levie was nearby and with his help, I had the wheel bearing changed in no time flat, ready for the afternoon race. Big thanks to Jim for the help and Fred for a couple of tools.

As I have said before, its the people in NASA SE and Spec E30 in particular that make this hobby of ours so much more than just driving on track for a few hours a day. I feel lucky to have met such a great group of people, even if the ones ahead of me are all dirty, dirty cheaters.

The grid for both races was a combined group start, not done by separate classes. The grid was set for the second race by times from the first. This meant I was starting dead last, in 33rd spot since I did not turn a wheel on track in race #1. As you can see from the video below, I got a great start and had lots of close racing in the first 1/2 of the race. I made my way up to 7th in Spec E30 where I would eventually finish. I ended the video before lots of open laps where I eventually caught the blue and white Miata on the last lap to finish 18th overall. Not bad for having two corded tires on the right side and one on the left. They weren’t too bad but certainly explained the lack of grip in the infield. You can see in the video that people were certainly eating my lunch there but man, was it fun!

I really liked the format of squeezing almost a whole weekend's worth of track time into one day but you really do miss out on a lot of the off track fun that is the SE. It was great seeing everyone once again. I hope you enjoy the video. Have fun at RA in August; I will miss that race due to work.

Looks like my next event will be The 24 Hours of LeMons South Fall event on September 12th and 13th. BeerTech Racing was accepted again! This time the car will run more than an hour or so. Stay tuned for updates!

-BeerTech racing #380, Brian Jones

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