Round 6 Recap: Mid-Ohio

Posted: August 18, 2011 in Racing

I’ve driven and have had rides on several tracks in my short lived career.  From VIR, Summit Point, Watkins Glen, and Road America – but I’ve never had a chance to drive a track that resembles a roller coaster.  That is until last weekend.  This was a track I’ve always wanted to drive from watching numerous races on TV – it combines highly technical corners, rhythm sections, and high speed straights.  It also adds the element of unpredictable weather (like Spa Francorchamps).

Friday

Friday was a test n tune day however I was not able to make it early enough to sign up to drive the track.  Instead Neal took me out in my to show my way around the track – quite a feat as Neal knows this track very well with over 8 track weekends of driving various 944s.  I was very glad to be able to do this and see how the car handled.  Considering a 150hp car passed Caymans, Vettes, M3s, etc. was telling me how well Neal knows this track and can drive.  Sid also took me along for some laps as he was running in the test n tune too.  I was able to get out on track in my own car as NASA was having a Competition School today and they needed cars for the Practice races so I was much obliged to get out there.

Saturday

The day started off bad for a fellow racer.  Ray came off the worse for wear with the initial issue of a bent stub axle and bad bearing – but it was worse as it ovalized the inner race of the passenger rear trailing arm.  As Ray was about to pack it in, Nick was able to contact John Zemon (a 944-Spec sponsor) from A Part Above (who also happened to be traveling up to Cleveland that day – wrong side of the state) but he was able to get us access to his parts stash (as there was a Lemons racer working on his car at his shop) and get a couple good rear trailing arms.  Ray was able to be repaired and up and running for Sunday.

I started out running some of my first timed laps and found that I was quite slow.  Being conservative as to not drive outside my limits – I don’t push too hard until I get comfortable (ask Nick how he likes my approach as he has to do little work on my car compared to others).  Though I do need to channel my inner Senna.

Warmup I was slow running a 1:53.4 laptime and 6th out of 10 944-Spec cars.  I knew I had a lot of time to make up and knew where I could be faster – just taking it safe and slow to get up to speed.  Onto qualifying I was able to cut down 5 seconds per lap and run a 1:48.286 and 4th out of 10.  We also had 60+ cars in our group running including a full GTS field with cars running 50mph top speed difference at the end of the back straight (GT3 Cup cars were running).

During lunch I was able to take my Dad out for some parade laps so he could see what it was like out on the track and the elevation.  We even got some video – a lot of his feet though.  You can also see the track if you can see past the big white truck.

The race start didn’t go so well as I did not get a good start as we could not even see the flag stand when the green flew (GTS1 and Spec E30 were head of us and the bulk of the field).  In fact by lap 3 we were starting to get caught up with the faster GTS crowd who started earlier in a split start.  I was passed by Dan immediately and lost the position.  Angel was balked by two Spec E30s running side by side for most of the race.  I was able to get past Dan and was following Angel but could not get a good run on him to try to get past the Spec E30s.  Several laps in the race I was slowed by Angel in the carousel and was tapped in the rear by Dan who had a better drive on the straight.  I lost the position but was not happy about losing a position immediately after contact (I would have given the position back).  Dan then got around Angel and eventually a Spec E30.  I was able to get past Angel and that Spec E30 and chase down Dan.  I caught back up to him about mid race and had two great runs to pass but each time there was a yellow flag in the corner.  Two GTS2 cars had a major wreck in China Beach including one car flipping end over end.  This lead to a full course yellow and eventually blag flagging the race to end early with me in 4th place.  My best lap time was a 1:48:169 about a second and a half faster than Dan.  I did protest the finish due to the contact and have yet to hear back from NASA on a final decision.  I will update when that happens.  But as it stands I finished off the podium.  My in-laws also stopped by for the race as they live a couple hours south of Mid-Ohio.  It was the first time they’ve ever been to a race and was sitting at China Beach and was able to see a good show including the wreck that ended the race early.

Sunday

Sunday I was in conservation mode as it was wet and rainy off and on most of the race.  Plus, any major damage from off track excursions may put me out from our National Championship race in mid September (also at Mid-Ohio!).  Sunday morning was dry and I ran a nice 1:48.389 and 4th in class.  However, Qualifying was in the wet and Mid-Ohio is not a track to take lightly in inclement weather.   I ran an embarrassingly low 2:37 lap time qualifying me in 7th.  Ray was penalized for a pass under yellow in qualifying so started at the back of the grid.

Between sessions we would go over track maps, traqmate data and video to discuss driving.  Though we are racing – our group would rather help all drivers up their game so everyone can compete.  It is just more fun that way and raises the game of even the fastest guys out there.  The purpose of 944-Spec is a low budget Porsche racing series but also for driver development as it removes the big spenders from being able to spend their way to faster lap times.  When the break in the weather came we all were able to get a photo shoot of the various cars.

However at the start of the race I was able to get a great jump and get past Sid, Shannon and Angel moving me up to 4th place.  The rain was coming on and off most of the race with each lap being different – the start of the race was more dry but I was on full wet tires so wasn’t as fast in the beginning as the tires didn’t have dry traction the slicks give.  Ray was able to catch and pass me and chase after Dan.  By mid race the rain was hitting much harder and in certain corners making the line fine on one lap but more slippery on the next.  I was chasing down Ray and Dan (could see them on the next straight getting close to me) but wasn’t able to catch them before the end of the race.  Ray was slowed down by someone doing a parade lap through a corner with a yellow flag which happened to be Sid who spun and stalled his car and could not get it restarted.

Click here for even more Pics from Friend’s.

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