My First Race
Pikes Peak International Raceway, June 14, 1997
My shiny new car, ready to go racing.
The LaRue pit crew readjusting my brake bias before the race.
I'm ready to go.....
Being directed to my starting place on the grid.
Waiting on the grid, putting on my arm restraints.
22 cars, heading for one-car-wide turn one.
My Excellent Adventure:
I survived my first race at Pikes Peak International Raceway!!!! and so did my car.
Exciting... but actually a bit of a mental overload. By halfway thru the race my brain was tired, I started getting very confused and just could not think clearly. I slowed down a few seconds a lap 'cause I didn't wanna do anything too stupid.
Pikes Peak is small, but it was fun. Only 1.3 miles, using about 1/4 of the 1 mile oval and the rest was a 40' wide road course with no elevation changes in the infield of the oval.
I qualified 13th, but got stuck behind a wreck at the start (better to stop for it than be in it I suppose). I got passed by 3 or 4 cars during the time it took to get around the wreck in front of me. For the first 10 or 15 laps I was pretty happy with my driving. Then while trying to get around a guy that I had been chasing for 5 or 6 laps, I banged doorhandles with a DSR in the esses. He was on the outside of me and I guess he didn't think I would be going quite so wide.
Gees, what a shock. Earlier he was behind me, then ka-bammm. Same sort of surprise as hitting your head on an unseen door frame or something. Ka-bammm. He motored away with a big black circle on his shiny red car and I got some nifty new red trim on my otherwise white car. Very elegant decoration.
After that, I got paranoid that something was wrong with my car. His fender was bent into his tire and there was smoke pouring out of the wheelwell.
I worried that mine might be worse. At about 100 mph in one of the big sweeping curves the rear end end of my car started getting very loose. I was almost sideways on the track in a curve at 100 mph. Very exciting. I just kept the pedal to the metal, steered where I wanted the car to go and eventually it scrubbed off enough speed sliding sideways that the rear end grabbed ahold again and everything was fine, although I was a bit off my normal line by then.
In retrospect, it seems that after about 15 laps in qualifying and in the race, the rear end got loose in the high speed turns and in the right-hand low speed turns. Of course the most excitement was the high speed drifting with the tail of the car hanging out at 100 mph.
I learned a lot. I know I could have been much better on Sunday when they were having the Nationals, so I tried to get a special dispensation from the pope of licensing, but he said " NO". Oh well.
My car ran great. It is strong. Sometimes I would screw up in the low speed corners and get 3 car lengths behind the guy I was trying to pass... but after the long sweeping high speed turn (5800 in 4 th) I would catch him, but I couldn't pass him.
I gotta learn this drafting stuff. And I forgot to try left foot braking... they put a little chicane in the middle of the high speed part of the track to slow everybody down. I forgot to left foot brake, and every time I lifted to brake, the rear end would get loose and start to slide. I'm sure I could have save 1/2 a second or more with left foot braking... although rumor has it that the really fast guys didn't lift or brake for the chicane.
Gees... just too much to remember. But at least I finished my first race with no damage to the car or my ego.
The next morning I thought of a dozen things I should have tried
or should have done differently. I'm starting a notebook with
a section for each track. Notes, maps, car setup, etc. I'll
get it figured out. This was great fun...