Round 5 Recap: Autobahn

Posted: July 13, 2011 in Racing

Round 5 race at Autobahn in the July heat in the Midwest.  With ambient temperatures in the 90s with 60%+ humidity – the goal for most of us was to stay in the shade and drink plenty of cold water.  At least at night the temps got down to the low 70’s.

This weekend was dedicated to the late Tommy Stein #444.  Eric and Linda had several stickers printed up and we applied them to all our cars even the trailers.  RIP Tommy.

Friday Enduro

Friday evening was Round 2 in the Midwest Enduro series with a 3 hour race.  Sid and I co-drove again in E3 and Eric and Neal in E2.  I drove the first stint however, Sid’s car had a yet undiagnosed issue with his car.  The drivers rear wheel bearing was damaged ovalizing the race the bearing sits in, and the CV was also damaged giving the car a strange vibration at all speeds.  I immediately gave up many positions in concern if the car would last.  After a while the vibration did not get any worse so I was able to push harder and start making up some positions.  I drove my half race with little drama to the half way point where the tank was so low that it the engine was cutting out under certain hard corners.

I pulled into the pits to turn the car over to Sid and refuel it.  Upon Sid attempting to leave the car sputtered, stalled and would not restart.  We were not sure what was wrong but they were able to diagnose that the fuel system had vapor lock and a quick bleed of the fuel system and Sid was back underway.  Eric & Neal had several issues with overheating during the first half of the race.  To add further insult to injury, the hood pin broke and the hood flew up but Eric was able to pull the car back into the pits (there was visibility underneath the hood).  A quick hood removal and Eric was back out to race and any cooling issues were now alleviated (go figure).  The last lap Sid pulled into the pits with the vibration issue getting worse – but the checkered flag was out so we were able to get him to pull past the finish line in pit row (timing loop crosses both the track and pit row).  We finished Mid Pack in E3 and the top finishing n/a 944.  Eric & Neal finished in first in E2 but it was mainly a race of attrition.

Saturday – Race 1

Saturday the heat really turned up as humidity was much higher.  Sid was having trouble with his car – getting anti sway bar and shocks readjusted (they were too soft).  Eric missed warmup and Neal was untouchable running the fastest laps.  Ray, Angel and I were very close in time.  Ken was still working out his newly built car.

Qualifying was quite excitable for me.  I was trying to run some hot laps following Kyle in his Spec Miata.  We miscommunicated whether he was waving me past him and we went two wide into 11-12 complex.  I had to straight line the curve and he later waived me by.  Little did I know the drivers front lower control arm bolt was slowly backing its way out, then in Turn 8 (high speed entry) I stepped on the brakes and my car immediately swerved to the left and took me immediately off track headed towards the guard rail.  I was able to slow the car enough to turn it away from the guard rail but was still going very fast towards the tire wall.  I’m not sure how it happened but I was able to slow the car down enough to turn and just very slightly rubbed the tire wall with my front bumper when I made the turn to avoid hitting it.  Kyle was behind me the whole time and saw the entire incident (he almost missed turn 8 watching me off track – car will go where you look).

It turned out the low control arm bracket bent allowing the lower control arm bushing mount to bend making the left front wheel toe out (reason why under braking the car would veer to the left).  Dennis and Corey were able to swap out my lower control arm and rebend my mount and it was fixed in time for my race.  The race was a battle with Angel, Zack and I.  Neal, Ken and Ray got a great start, and I lost position to Angel in turn 2.  Angel and Zack battled for many laps with Zack slowly losing speed until I was able to get past him and try to chase down Angel (to no avail).  However during the race, Eric broke a cv joint when he hit a curb and Neal’s engine temp spiked as he lost all coolant (bad luck for him).  Ray won the race with Angel and I finishing up the podium.

Joel taking Zach Hillman in T1 at ACC

Sunday – Race 2

I decided not to go out in warmup as my clutch return spring was no longer working giving me a 2″ clutch travel and I was worried of driving it too much like that weakening the clutch and making problems for the race later in the day.  Sid and Eric traded cars and Neal was able to take the rental 944-Spec car that Nick keeps for the day and finish the weekend.  Good thing as Eric was able to provide the feedback to diagnose a bad drivers side wheel bearing (was not easy to find as the wheel did not have play).  After sourcing a new rear control arm Sid was able to make the final race.

I was able to make qualifying and ran some competitive laps.  The race was exciting as I qualified 5th but Ray’s car would not start so he did not make grid in time.  I got a great start and was able to get a great run on Angel and even Neal so that by turn 4 I was alongside Neal.  He was able to keep his position on me and I was able to keep Angle behind me.  While Neal went after Eric I was following Neal onto the start/finish straight the drivers rear wheel on the green machine suddenly broke going to a 45 degree camber causing Neal to crab down the straight and Neal tried to make Turn 1 and spun right in front of me.  Seems the axle nut fell off and the bearing vacated the wheel causing the issue.  After the craziness I was slowly catching Eric wondering if his car was having a problem.  I got a good run off a corner and passed him on the inside.  Wouldn’t you know it but I led a race for the very first time in my racing career.  Well – the euphoria was over quickly as Eric was bored and toying with me.  He was able to get back by me and pull away.  I kept him in sight and was 5 seconds behind for the finish and finish I did in 2nd place – my highest finish I’ve ever had in NASA 944-Spec (I did finish second in my first PCA race in SP1 at HPT last year).

Me Leading a Lap!

On the Lighter Side

Anyone want to have a Caption Contest?

Corkscrew? Nah - drywall screw and pliers

Video of Start of Races from Dan Pina

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