Brief Reviews of Races... my racing diary
Jul 25, 2000
The following race summaries are in chronological order. There
is a wealth of information contained in these reviews, it cost me
a lot of time and money to learn the lessons that I describe on
this page. If you're new to racing, you'll find a lot of
tips and tricks in these race descriptions....
Racing taught me a couple of very important lessons that apply
not only to racing, but are equally valid for all aspects of life:
First, in order to excel, you must participate totally,
not as an observer chatting with yourself and analyzing during the
activity, but with total focus and concentration solely on the task
at hand, literally becoming at one with the activity.
Second, in order to excel, you must push yourself beyond
comfort, into the region of challenge, staying within your limits
of competent performance, but pushing the envelope as far as it
will go, as far beyond comfort as you can withstand without recklessness.
My First Race - Pikes Peak June 14, 1997:
I survived my first race at Pikes Peak International Raceway!!!!
and so did my car.
My shiny new car, at Pikes Peak, my first race, June 1997..
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 at the start I got stuck behind a minor
wreck (better to stop for it than be in it I suppose) and I was
passed by 3 or 4 cars during the time it took to get going full
speed again. For the first 10 or 15 laps I was pretty happy with
my driving. Then while trying to get setup to pass 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.
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 (5600
in 4th gear) I would catch him, but I couldn't ever pass him.
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.
All in all, it was a great learning experience and good fun.
My Second Race-- Second Creek Raceway, Near Denver, July , 1997:
Qualified 13th and dropped to last place by the time we got to
turn one. Ooops. Seems as though it takes a lot of adrenaline at
the start. Maybe I need to start drinking coffee.
So, I spent the entire race trying to find some way to pass the
car in front of me, but I never found any way to get around Nicole.
Very tricky these women.
This racing stuff is not as easy as it looks.
My Third and Fourth Races-- Pueblo Colorado, July 19-20, 1997:
Three days at the Pueblo track and no major damage... Friday
was practice all day. I locked up the rears whilst just barely starting
to turn into turn 7... spun off the track at 80 mph and into the
dirt (no grass, just some sagebrush and fine powdery dirt) after
flying over a 2 foot berm (a nasty drop off actually) at the edge
of the track. Broke some fiberglass, and damaged my ego. It was
late in the day so I didn't bother to go back out on the track
after they came and helped me get unstuck.
Wheeee..... my third race, at Pueblo.
Saturday morning the car just didn't feel right in practice.
After qualifying nearly last in the field, rather than in the middle
where I thought I should be, I knew something was wrong. I told
Ray, but he just didn't believe me. Seems that every racecar
driver always says he needs more power.... I started that race and
the problem got even worse... at the end of the straight where I
should have 6000 in 4th, I could only get 4900... no stinking power.
After the regional race, in which I finished last, Ray came over
and confirmed that he could hear that there actually was something
wrong with my car... turns out the timing belt had slipped a tooth
and was advanced by one tooth. He had seen that happen before, but
it is rare. Probably in my off road excursion a rock got inside
the timing belt housing and got wedged into the timing belt (there
was what looked like a puncture hole through the belt) and caused
it to slip.
So, Saturday was pretty much a complete waste of time, since
I couldn't go fast enough to even get good practice.
After Ray found the problem, I went and asked the lord of licensing
if I could get a waiver to run in Sunday's National... and he
So, Sunday was my first National. Joe Bunton from Ft Collins
and Cameron Earnshaw from Phoenix were the really hot drivers. I
qualified 13th. (So far, every weekend I have been 13th in qualifying....
what does that mean???)
I got a great start, passed 4 cars before turn one and started
pulling up tighter to the 8th place car... he kept blocking me through
turns 3 and 4.... I pulled up wheel to wheel just before a sharp
( 90 degree) right hander and realized that I had no idea of whether
or not I could actually take the corner on that tight inside line
at that speed.... I backed off to drop in behind him, but by then
another car had taken my former place behind him and I went through
the corner side by side with her. Approaching the next turn I knew
we could not stay side by side through the next turn, so I let off
the throttle and spun off the track.
So, what did I learn???? I recalled (after that silly mistake)
reading in Alan Johnson's Driving in Competition book, that
he said to get the best possible start and then settle down while
the field spreads out a little and some mistakes happen. Protect
your position, and plan a strategy. I just got so excited about
getting such a great start and being able to catch the 8th place
car so easily, that I got too over zealous for my experience...
Gees.... there is so much to learn. It looks so easy, so effortless
from the grandstands......
Second Creek - Denver, Colorado, August 16-17, 1997:
Hey this is getting to be really great fun. I am losing some
of the nervousness from doing something so new, and I can pay more
attention whilst being more relaxed.
On Friday I hired Danny Collins to work with me as a coach and
mentor... and I think that I learned quite a bit from Danny. The
Friday practice was great fun and I was much more relaxed while
Saturday's regional race was great fun. I kept my position
at the start and managed to pass a couple of cars, but then the
pack in front just kept going away and the pack behind just kept
falling back... I was left all alone just going 'round and 'round
and 'round without any playmates. Good fun. I got to race some
and didn't fall off the track. I started 13th out of 16 cars
and finished 9th. Best lap time was 118.45 sec, a new personal best.
Sunday's regional race was good fun too. I qualified 12th
out of 15 cars and finished 10th. Passing is really, really tough
when you are with several other cars that are all running the same
speed. Basically, you have to wait for, or cause, a momentary lapse
of concentration by the driver in front of you and then you must
capitalize on his (or her) mistake before the opportunity is lost.
Sort of a 100 mph chess game. Good fun... Great fun, but often a
bit frustrating. I fell off the racetrack twice, once while watching
in my mirrors I missed a corner and drove off the track, into the
weeds and back onto the track again... then a lap later I was daydreaming
about another possible line through the corner called the boot when
I spun and then had to go off the track in order to get the car
pointed in the right direction and rejoin the race.
Stapleton Airport - Denver, Colorado, August 30-31, 1997:
Well, that one was quite an adventure for me.
I qualified 8th out of 15 Spec Racer Fords for the National race
on Saturday. Qualifying time of 1:56.7 put me in 8th on the grid,
1:53:9 was the pole qualifying time. Slowest car was 2:01. The start
was screwed up, the two cars ahead of me should have been side by
side, but lined up single-file instead. As the confusion became
evident to some behind me, they made a scramble to fill in the empty
holes and the green flag came out.
I think two cars got past me at the start, I really pressured
one of them down the front straight at 110 to 115 mph. I stayed
within inches and it made him nervous. He went into the turn at
the end of the straight a bit out of control and spun at about 100
mph right in front of me. I thought I could get around, but he hit
me whilst he was spinning. The impact was in the side of my car,
where the door would be in an ordinary car. Very loud thump, but
I didn't see pieces that looked like any of my car flying in
the air so I just maintained speed, around 90 mph through the incident,
and headed for the next turn.
Entering the next turn I overtook and passed a slower car that
was on a very slow, very tight line into the corner. He apparently
did not see me overtake him and he bashed me in the right rear,
sending a shower of fiberglass and spinning me at about 80 mph.
As soon as I got pointed in the right direction, I took off in chase
of the cars that had just passed. The car that hit me was out of
the race with badly mangled front end and a very leaky radiator.
Gees, what a messy first lap that was. I got hit in turn 3 and
then again in turn 5 of the very first lap. But, that's racing.
So off I went in pursuit of the cars that had passed me while I
was spinning about. I caught and passed a couple of cars, but spun
due to my own lack of attention and had to go off again in pursuit
of all those pesky other cars that I had just passed. Again I passed
a few, but the race ended with me in 10th position.
But strangely, even with the accidents, it was great fun.
Sunday's National race was less eventful. I qualified
13th out of 15 cars. My qualifying time was 1:55.8, the pole time
was 1:52.6. most of the cars were in the 154.3 to 155.6 range. I
cut a second off my previous best lap time, but so did everybody
else. The start was uneventful for me, off into the first turn we
went, going from 3 wide to single file. We made it through 5 turns
before a car up ahead spun and clogged up the turn, the car in front
of me hit him and knocked off the entire fiberglass tail of the
car. I barely missed the wreck and was running about 8th or 9th
place for a couple of laps.
Then, while going through a corner at about 80 mph I foolishly
decided to count the number of cars ahead of me to see what my position
was at that point.... well, that stupid lack of focus led to a spin
and I fell back to last place. I re-passed a few cars and ended
up in 11th, but I never really had any fun racing against anybody
that was my same sort of speed. No damage to the car in this race,
but it still wasn't as much fun as yesterday.
Las Vegas, Nevada -- November 8-9, 1997:
What a strange town this Las Vegas is. And what a busy weekend
they picked for this race. The NASCAR trucks are running at the
big speedway this weekend and there are a couple of large conventions
in town. I had trouble getting a room and ended up in a really run-down
Super 8 over on the Boulder highway.
Nonetheless, the two days of racing were another good learning
experience. It took most of the first day for me to get the track
memorized and find decent lines to drive. I qualified 9th out of
15 and managed to finish the race in 8th. Overall I was happy with
my driving and excited to be learning a new track fairly quickly.
It was also a good experience to have the AS cars in our group.
They are really fast on the straight, but we catch them in every
corner. For me, that was good practice at getting the inside line
in corners. Sometimes it was frustrating to have to pass them several
times in a single lap, but I definitely learned from the experience.
It was fun that some of the other SRF drivers had not raced at
Las Vegas before, so I had some people to race with in the middle
of the pack. On Sunday, I qualified 10th out of 15 and finished
9th. Larry Ferguson chased me around and around and around until
I fell off the racetrack exiting turn six. He passed me whilst I
was off driving in the gravel, but I got back on course only a couple
of feet behind him. I chased him for a lap until he drove off the
course at exactly the same spot that I had in the previous lap.
So I passed him while he was out in the gravel and held on to my
position for the remainder of the race.
Very nice little racetrack, it is a real pity that they do not
hold any National races there.
Phoenix International-- Phoenix, Arizona --November 15-16,
This turned out to be a very expensive weekend.... also known
as the weekend that I met Bill Thompson, the owner of Winspec Racing.
I had never been to Phoenix International (PIR) before, so the
first step was to gradually learn the race course. Saturday was
very disappointing to me, since I simply was not going into turn
one fast enough to get any decent lap times. By race time on Saturday,
it was less that an hour before sunset and the sun was shining directly
into our eyes heading into turn one. Unfortunately I had not learned
any landmarks for the entry into turn one, which is sort of a blind
turn behind a concrete wall. So, with the sun in my eyes, I could
not even see where the wall was or where the track turned. Gees,
that was frustrating. I drove very conservatively, that is,
very slowly, and got really mad at myself for not learning landmarks.
I started 16th out of 19 cars, and I finished 16th. Oh well.
That evening I called my friend Irene and she just told me to
stop being ruled by my expectations. That was a breakthrough...
such a simple comment, but it was right on target.
Thanks to Irene's comment, Sunday was a much better day,
although it turned out to be very expensive. I improved my lap times
from the high 1:13's down into the mid 1:12's and was learning
to go into turn one at full throttle. The fastest guys were in the
1:10's, but for my first time at that track, and only the 12th
race of my entire life, I was happy with the progress.
During qualifying, I was largely working on establishing landmarks
for turn-in points and trying different lines through the corners.
I was having good fun, and I saw Greg Mayer catching up with me.
As Greg passed me, I decided to try to follow him for a lap or two
to watch his corner lines. After a lap or two following Greg but
unable to keep up with him , I saw Bill Thompson catching up to
me. Bill pulled inside of me as we exited turn nine of the road
course and entered the oval. Bill and I stayed side-by-side through
the oval turns three and four.
As we exited turn four of the oval, Bill just kept getting closer
and closer to the side of my car. I tried to give him all the room
possible, but I was only a couple of feet from the wall as we started
down the straightaway. Abruptly and very forcefully, Bill Thompson
in car number 2 simply turned into the side of my car. I just couldn't
believe how hard he hit me. Not just a bump or a nudge, but
a really hard hit.
The black marks near the SCCA decal show where Bill Thompson
hit my car with his front tire as we exited turn four of the PIR
oval and headed down the straightaway. I was in 4th gear, almost
ready to shift to fifth when he hit me.
The impact drove me into the concrete wall, causing quite a bit
of damage, since we were at about 100 mph when he hit me.
I simply cannot understand what he was trying to do. He hit me
really hard, not just a bump or a nudge. We had been side-by-side
all the way through turns three and four of the oval. How could
he forget I was there???
The abruptness of his sudden turn into the side of my car seems
inexplicable. It was not a tap, it was a very sudden and seemingly
deliberate turn. I can only imagine two possible explanations: 1)
He thought that I was behind him and was trying to break the draft,
or 2) he was trying to run me into the wall.
In either case, it shows a driver who apparently cannot be trusted.
My car hit the wall, rebounded slightly and then hit the wall
again. The nice red and white paint of the PIR concrete wall received
two long stripes of black from my front tire and pieces of fiberglass
were scattered for a couple of hundred feet along the track. I stayed
buckled in my car until the safety workers appeared on the scene.
As I got out of my crumpled car I was very thankful to have no
injuries. My left foot hurt a little from impact against the rest
pedal and my hand hurt a little from the whipping of the steering
wheel. In the paddock, I put ice on my foot and the swelling stopped,
and the ice also seemed to help my hand.
Mike and Gilbert, along with Ray LaRue, worked for a little over
an hour to get me into the race after the nasty wreck. They replaced
the steering knuckles, both tie rods, all the heim joints, put on
a new suspension rocker arm, and a new A-arm, replaced two tires
and wheels, then they realigned the car and had me ready in time
to race. I borrowed another fiberglass nose for the race, since
mine was a bit shattered.
It was hard to believe. The crew of LaRue Motor Sports had managed
to get me back into the race.
I started 13th out of 18 cars and managed to finish 12th. The
car handled fairly well, but the steering box was a bit bent and
that made the steering very heavy.
But most importantly, I had some great fun.
Firebird Raceway-- Phoenix, Arizona --December 13-14, 1997:
This was the most fun I have had racing. I think I am starting
to get the idea of how to drive a racecar. It sounds so easy, but
it really is very difficult to learn to stay right at the edge,
lap after lap after lap. If you don't get to the edge, you will
be too slow. And if you go past the edge, you'll fall off of
the racetrack. I had my car setup a bit too tight, so it was understeering
too much. The car is much more fun and quite a bit faster when it
is just a little bit loose. This weekend we finally got the car
handling pretty neutral or slightly loose. It was much more fun
to drive that way.
Saturday was uneventful. I spent most of the day learning another
new race course. By the end of the day I was feeling pretty good
about the car's setup and I finally knew my way around the track.
Toward the end of the race, one of the novice drivers (Charlotte
Bondurant, wife of Bob Bondurant) who had been in an earlier accident
knocking a lot of fiberglass off of the nose of her car, turned
into me as I passed her. Rather than hit her very hard, I chose
to let off the throttle and spin my car to avoid any nasty accident.
It has only been a few months since my first race and I know how
busy and how very tiring that first race can be. I lost one position
in the race due to that spin, but it was better than hitting her.
Sunday the car was even looser, and after the race we found that
the check valve in the fuel cell vent was stuck open and fuel was
spilling onto my rear tire during hard cornering. That made it like
driving on wet pavement but it was still more fun than having the
car set up too tight. The race was slightly marred by a major timing
screwup that put two slow cars at the start of the pack. Their qualifying
times were in error by some two to four seconds. The more experienced
drivers quickly found ways around those two slower cars, but the
rest of us spent the entire 20 laps trying to get around them. All
in all it was good fun.
Phoenix International Raceway (PIR)-- Phoenix, Arizona
--January 16-20, 1998
weekend before the Phoenix race, another sports car club, called
NASA, was running at PIR. I decided that it would be very much to
my advantage to get some more PIR tracktime prior to the double
national races. So, I signed up for the NASA race weekend and headed
off to sunny Phoenix. That annoying el nino storm pattern has been
making Arizona wetter than normal, and during the NASA club weekend
we got about an inch of rain.
NASA is the acronym for the National Auto Sports Association,
headquartered in Richmond CA. Their web site is
I was very impressed by the level of professionalism, the use of
transponders for timing and scoring, the excellent safety crews
and the excellent corner workers. Despite being a relatively young
organization, they have put together an very fine program.
The track is fast and fun. About half of the track uses the banked
tri-oval, and the other part is a narrow twisty road course built
in the infield. There is a nasty concrete wall all along the outside
of the tri-oval, but there is nothing much to hit in most of the
infield. The track is 1.51 miles long.
The high temps were in the 50's for the NASA weekend and
it was not much fun trying to race in the rain. There was standing
water all over the road course, in some areas over an inch deep,
making for thrilling hydroplaning. Basically, the weekend sucked
and I never got to run at any decent speed to get ready for the
double nationals. My fuel vent leaked and poured gas on my wet rear
tire, leading to a spin into a concrete wall and the end of
a cold, wet, weekend with some smashed fiberglass and bent aluminum.
On Jan 16, there was an SCCA test day at PIR, so I decided to
go to that to get some more track time. The weather was very good,
sunny and temps in the low 70's. I felt really good and was
going pretty fast. I had four 20-minute sessions on the track, and
felt that I was ready for the weekend of racing. I was passing a
lot of the other cars, so I thought I would probably fit in the
middle of the pack.
There were 50 Spec Racer Fords registered for the race, and most
of them went faster in qualifying, but I went a lot slower. Oh well.
The fast qualifying time was Lee Fleming at 1:09.795. The first
12 cars were all in the 1:09's and 1:10's. Positions 13
through 33 were all in the 1:11's. I had turned laps around
1:12.5 but was listed as 1:13.17. With a 1:12 I would have grided
In the first race, I started 47th out of 49 cars. I passed about
6 or 8 cars on the straightaway after start, but then one of the
cars swerved, hit my front tire and spun me just before turn one.
By the time I got the car going again, all of the other cars were
out of sight. I chased them, caught them, and started passing the
slower cars. I was moving up through the field when I spun in turn
nine and everybody drove past me again. Gees. So I chased them again,
caught them again and started passing the slower cars again. At
the end of the 30 lap race, I finished 37th. I suppose it was fortunate
that I started at the back of the pack, so that I could work on
passing technique. It is not easy to get past the other cars since
we all have the same horsepower and everybody is always going as
fast as they can all the time.
For the second race, my qualifying time was still terrible. I
started 45th out of 46 cars. As the green flag was waved, I passed
several cars on the straightaway after the start, and kept passing
cars all through the race. I learned a lot about how to get into
position to make a pass, and how to make sure that the other car
knows he is being passed. At the end of the the 30 laps, I finished
Phoenix International Raceway (PIR)-- Phoenix, Arizona
--Feb 28 - March 1, 1998
Gees, the competition is really tough in the SCCA Southern Pacific
Division. The top ten cars were within one second of each other
in qualifying. The top 19 cars were all within two seconds of each
other. Way in the back of the pack, I was 2.4 sec behind the
car on the pole which put me 21st out of 24 cars in the National
race. I was a bit depressed. I really wanted to qualify in the middle
of the pack and run hard enough to get a national point. Oh well.
On my first visit to PIR last November, my best qualifying
time was 1:13.6. Then on my second trip to PIR in January, my qualifying
time was 1:13.1, and now on my third trip to PIR I qualified at
1:11.9. So, even though my times suck, it is easy to see that there
is somewhat of an improvement in lap times with each visit. So,
if I go there for about 136 more race, maybe I'll be competitive.
The pole time for the National was 1:09.5, so I just need to trim
a mere 2.4 seconds off of my lap time. Gees, that is s huge amount
of time. I know I can do... I just don't know when.
This was my third event at PIR and I am beginning to understand
how to drive this track. All weekend I had problems with my transmission.
At times, I just couldn't get it to go into gear, any gear.
With this level of competition and my limited driving skills, losing
one or two seconds due to a problem is a huge amount of time. There's
just no way for me to make up the lost time. I managed to work my
way up from starting 20th to finishing 12th on Saturday. So, even
though I didn't qualify in the middle of the pack, that is where
I finished. The weather was in low 70's and it was a great weekend
to be in Arizona.
The silliest thing that I did was in the last lap of the regional
race. I had been battling with the 44 car of Dan Harris for several
laps and cleverly decided to stay behind him until the last lap.
I got inside of him after turn 9 and we ran side by side full throttle
into the oval. Just a drag race at his point. I was spending so
much time watching his car, trying to figure out if he knew that
I was alongside of him, that I forgot to shift out of third gear.
I over-revved the engine to 6500 rpm and he started pulling away
from me. Aww, gees. He was ahead of me by a foot or two at the finish
Firebird Raceway-- Phoenix, Arizona --March 14-15, 1998:
knew?? How could it be pouring rain in mid-March in phoenix??? Ray
softened the shocks, put on new tires and off I went. This was my
first race in the rain. I'd done a little bit of very conservative
practicing in the rain at PIR in January, but this was a race. My
brain just doesn't take practice very seriously, but the start
of a race really gets my attention.
After about two laps in the rainy Regional race, my glasses fogged
up, despite two coats of Rain-X anti-fog stuff right before the
race. That stuff just doesn't work. So I tried raising my visor
just a little bit to let in some more fresh air. That worked until
I got right behind another car and the intense spray got inside
my helmet, all over the inside of my visor and all over my glasses.
ooops. So, I went into the pits, got a rag, and cleaned off enough
of the mess that I could sort of see where I was going. And off
again into the fray.
I finished 10th despite the pit stop. I think I could have run
about 5th or 6th if I wouldn't have wasted all that time going
into the pits to clean the water out of the inside of my helmet.
Dear Diary....next time I race in the rain I need to have some soft
contacts instead of glasses and carry a clean rag to wipe off the
visor. It just takes time to learn these tricks...
rain stopped before the National race in the afternoon and the track
was essentially dry by the time our race started. I got off to a
terrible start, trapped next to the wall, headed straight for the
pit lane tire wall, and very nervous. I hit the brakes and lost
several positions. I was amazed that the guy behind me, Adam Gelbart,
didn't hit me when I hit the brakes. He had an in-car video
camera, and my stupidity has now been preserved on video tape for
The race was great fun, I really started having more fun on this
course, but near the end of the 30 lap race, as the leaders were
catching me, I accidentally waved by some other cars that were behind
me and lost several positions that I should have been able to defend.
Then another car got inside of me in turn one, and I couldn't
find him in my mirrors. So I stayed very wide, almost fell off the
track and he passed me.
These mirrors are real junk, they have flat lenses, but they
really really need to be convex to reduce the huge blind spots
that we end up with. Oh well. Lessons learned.
Second Creek Raceway-- Denver, Colorado --April 5, 1998:
This was the worst day of my 10 months of racing. Absolutely
terrible. In practice, my front brakes faded very badly, I had to
pump the brakes before every corner or the pedal would just go to
the floor. Ray bled the brakes after practice, but the problem was
my exuberance to finish in the top ten, I was staying very close
behind Steve Stansfield. I guess he must have missed a shift coming
out of spectator corner and the nose of my car hit his rear tire.
Then a lap later I rubbed doors with Tom Barbour.
I qualified 7th out of 16 spec racers. The first 6 or 7 laps
were great fun. I was moving up and felt that I might be able to
finish in 4th or 5th. Then the brake fade started again. Essentially,
I had no front brakes and was locking up the rear brakes at the
end of the high speed sections, particularly on the back straightaway.
As the brake fade got worse and worse, I adjusted the brake bias
forward but the front brakes just got hotter and the problem got
worse and worse. Finally I entered a corner with the back tires
still locked up and went off course. Way, way far off course. I
only lost a couple of places, but it was very frustrating.
after about 4 or 5 more laps, I locked up the rear brakes going
into the same corner, called 88th, and spun in the corner
entry. While spinning, I hit a car, Larry Bolin, that I had just
passed. Broke the fiberglass tails of both of our cars. Whilst sitting
on the track, trying to get my car restarted, all but one car passed
me, dropping me down to 15th place. By the end of the 18 lap race
I had worked my way back up to 12th. Terrible, terrible, terrible.
So, what did I learn from all this frustration ?? Glad you asked.
As I reflect on this disappointing race day, I realize that I learned
First, I learned that I can run with the guys that last summer
were light years ahead of me. Last summer I was in the 1:20 range,
today I was in the 1:18 range of lap times. Now I know I can be
competitive at this track.
Second, I learned that I should have gone to the test day to
make certain that my car was running good before the race day. I
think that what may have happened, was due to adjustments
that I made in my previous race in rainy Phoenix last month. I now
recall that I really cranked the brake bias toward the to the rear
when running in the rain but then I never really got the bias reset
properly for running in the dry. So, perhaps, I left the car with
the brake bias cranked too far forward. Second Creek is always very
hard on brakes, but if I started off with the bias too far forward,
then on this tight little course, it would overheat the front brakes
and then as I fed in more front bias, I just overheated them worse
and worse until I had no brakes.
I had some fun, but a lot of frustration. But after a few hundred
dollars of fiberglass repairs, I'll be ready for racing at Pueblo
at the end of the month.
Pueblo Motorsports -- Pueblo, Colorado --April 26, 1998:
Oh my, there is so much to learn. Gees, I hate to be so dumb.
It doesn't rain much here in Colorado during the racing season,
but it sure did this weekend. On Sunday morning it was raining and
by noon the temperature was an abysmal 39 degrees. Fortunately it
wasn't snowing. Since this was just a regional, I didn't
want to buy any new tires. That was probably mistake number one.
My old tires just didn't have any grip in the wet.
Because it was raining so hard at practice time, I skipped practice,
hoping that the rain would stop and then life would be good. That
was mistake number two. Without the rain practice time, I never
did get the brake bias set right and spent the rest of the day locking
up the rear tires and spinning around in the corners.
Many people had the good sense to skip this event. Some just
didn't show up when they saw the weather, and then there were
trailers loaded with cars leaving the track during practice time.
But not me. I started the race 8th out of 8 cars and made it up
to 4th place going into the first turn. I tried to stay inside into
turn one, but it was very wet down there and I locked up the brakes,
slid and banged doors with the third place car. Basically, he kept
me from sliding off the track. By the time I collected my
car and my wits, I was back in 7th place. Then, near the end of
the first lap, I locked up the rear brakes and spun. Next thing
ya know I was back in 8th place. And I just stayed there, trying
to learn to drive in the wet without destroying anything.
So what was the big lesson out of all of that??? It is very,
very important to make certain that you adjust the brake bias such
that the rear brakes will never lock up. Not under any conditions.
Never ever. The mistake that I made, was to neglect the effects
of engine compression. The engine compression braking at high
rpm is very significant. If you set the brake bias at 4500 rpm and
then later try braking from 6000 rpm you will lock up the rear brakes.
Thou shalt not lock up the rears. There is very little
clue in the wet that the rears are locked... it all seems fine until
you start to turn in and then you spin very quickly.
I have to go write that on the blackboard 500 times... I will
set the brake bias very carefully and make certain that I will not
lock up the rear brakes, I will set the brake bias very carefully
and make certain that I will not lock up the rear brakes,
I will set the brake bias very carefully and make certain that I
will not lock up the rear brakes, I will set the brake bias
very, very, very carefully and make certain that I will never ever
lock up the rear brakes...
Stapleton -- Denver, Colorado --May 2-3, 1998:
no rain this time. Wonderful.
Stapleton is a high speed airport course with a couple of third
gear turns, but mostly fourth and fifth gear. I went to an open
track test day on Friday to learn the course. I slid sideways into
a stack of tires in the new chicane and kinda shattered the tail,
bent the rear upright and flat spotted a formerly good set of tires.
Ooops. There went $1200....
For the regional race of Saturday, I qualified 13th out of 20
spec racers. The race was great fun. Tom Shonka kept trying to find
a way past me me for lap after lap and I really enjoyed racing with
him. Tom got stuck behind Wells Dickson after I passed Wells going
into turn three. I headed off to try to catch the next car, but
couldn't catch Adam before the end of the race, so I finished
For the National race on Sunday, I just could not get it through
my thick skull that they had decided to change the racecourse. Overnight,
the "powers that be" had decided to alter three of the
turns, so they simply moved the cones and presto it was a different
racecourse. My brain just kept on driving the old course, which
had tighter, and therefore slower, turns. The new course was
two or three seconds faster, but I qualified at my same old speed.
Gees, what a creature of habit...
I qualified 17th out of 20 spec racers and knew I could eventually
learn to drive the new course at a reasonable speed. But it took
half of the race for me to catch on to those new turns. I managed
to work my way up to 10th by the end of the race.
Early in the race, right after Kim Knapp spun in the chicane,
the traffic was three abreast heading down the back straightaway.
Robert Funk was sandwiched between my car and a red car. I was almost
into the cones on the right side of the track, so I couldn't
give him any more room without mowing down the cones. We banged
doorhandles and it felt for a moment like our cars were hooked together
somehow. Weird feeling at 90 mph. It crossed my mind that the corner
workers might have to hose down our cars like two dogs stuck together
out in the front yard.
Dear Diary:.. I've just gotta learn to qualify better.
Pikes Peak Raceway - - May 30-31, 1998:
Well, the short version of my story is that I had a crappy weekend
and am thinking about selling the car.
The regional on Saturday did not go well. I knew I could run
much faster than my qualifying time, and set out to work up thru
the pack. I had worked my way past three cars and was setting up
Ron Jacobs for a nice clean pass when we had a little problem.
At about 5200 rpm in 4th gear I was overtaking him on the back straightaway.
I really thought that I had him setup for the pass and I was gaining
on him at a tremendous rate. He was staying on a normal line into
the next turn and I had just enough room to get by on the outside.
Then, he unexpectedly changed his line and hit the brakes. In an
instant I was driving over his right rear tire with my left front.
It was one of those racing incidents... I didn't think he'd
change his line so drastically as we entered the corner, I didn't
think he would brake so early and he didn't look in his mirrors.
I went airborne... they say I was about 5 feet in the air.
I may have set a new spec racer record for "getting air".
It was a very bad landing. Not like an airplane... no stick
to pull back on... it was a very hard landing. The landing bent
the right front heim and bent the left front suspension rocker
arm. And quite a bit of fiberglass fell off too...
race, I finished 12th of 18, but the car still was not handling
right and I couldn't get any speed on the straightaways. On
Sunday the understeer was so severe that I simply could not get
through the right-hand turns with any reasonable speed. The two
left turns were fine, but the right turns were all but impossible.
I tried all sorts of different lines to try to find a way to gain
some speed, but I never found any way to overcome the understeer.
I found several new ways to go slower... but never did find any
that were faster. Oh well.
Second Creek -- July 4-5, 1998;
Another crappy weekend. So far, the entire Colorado racing season
has been a real disappointing and frustrating experience.
On Saturday, I kept trying to get by without buying new tires,
and just couldn't get any grip on the track. I qualified poorly
and started near the back of the pack. After only a few laps
of the race, the car ahead of me spun in the kamikaze turn. As she
was spinning, I hit her left front with my left front at about 80
mph. Pretty much sheared off the left front corners of both cars.
That was my first ever DNF. Oh well.
On Sunday, I bought a new set of tires and they really gripped
the track. I felt like I could go thru the corners much faster,
but something was gradually reducing my engine's power. Every
lap I was going slower and slower. Ordinarily, we are in 4th gear
on the front and back straightaways, but my car was accelerating
so slowly that I never got out of 3rd gear. Needless to say, motoring
along in 3rd gear whilst everyone else is in 4th gear is a significant
disadvantage. I started 14th of 17 and finished 14th.
I had noticed in pre-grid that the car would hardly idle, it
kept dropping down to almost zero rpm and then revving itself up,
so I just held it at 2000 rpm and assumed that the problem would
clear itself.... but apparently not. At the end of the race, my
exhaust pipe was almost white inside, instead of the dark chocolate
brown/black that it normally runs. Looks like some sort of lean
mixture problem. Maybe something happened in Saturday's accident
to clog the fuel filter or maybe something damaged the fuel pump.
Rats. My times fell to 4 seconds off the race pace, with the best
I could do being 1:21 and 1:22 laps. Terrible.
I went down to Second Creek for a test day during the week after
the race, and drove one of LaRue's rent-a-racers for five or
six laps, getting down to 1:18 by the third lap... so, I have regained
some faith that I can drive the car, and am further convinced that
my terrible race lap times were due to something wrong with my car.
Finally, later in the week after the race, we found that the
mass airflow sensor for the fuel injection system had failed. It
may well be the cause for my terrible times at both Pikes Peak and
Second Creek -- Aug 15-16, 1998;
Well this really, really sucks.
Up at 5 AM, quick shower,
good breakfast and off to Denver I go. Went thru registration, went
to tech, put the hot lap timer back on my car... and it was 8 AM,
time to go practice.
I hopped into the car , started it
up and headed for the pre-grid area... but my engine (or is a motor?)
well, whatever it should be, it was neither. It was just missing
terribly, no power, maybe 30 or 40 horsepower, maybe not that much.
Sounded like an ignition problem... sounded like a car with the
distributor put in wrong.
The car idled fine. Hold it at
2000 rpm and it is just as smooth as can be. But try to blip the
throttle and it just stumbles, and misfires. Try to drive the car
and it stumbles and misfires at any rpm ( it ran so poorly I probably
never went over 4000).
After that terrible Second Creek race
last month, Ray LaRue put on a new set of plug wires and then hooked
up his fancy Snap-On computer tester and we went thru all of the
tests. The tester said there was a bad MAF and we replaced it, but
my car had very poor throttle response, it just sounded terrible.
Blipping the throttle just got hesitation and misfiring. Ray said
he'd look into it... but obviously he never found the problem..
or forgot to hunt for the problem.
Ray was not at Second
Creek, he was down at the Pikes Peak Pro race, so my car just sat
there all day whilst the other boys and girls had a great race.
This is terrible. Ray had a substitute mechanic for at the track
for us, but Ron never did find the problem
We pulled the
recently replaced sparkplugs to see if I cracked an insulator...
nope...Plug wires and sparkplugs seemed ok on the ohmmeter.
Replaced the EEC module. Nope.
Replaced the coil pack. Nope...
Replaced the module the drives the coil... Nope.
on a new MAF sensor, since the problem started after replacing a
MAF about 3 weeks ago. Nope.
Put a pressure gauge on the
fuel manifold. Nope... Missing terrible with 39 psi.
Drained the gas tank and refilled it. Nope.
Replaced both of those little relays. Nope.
Gees.... it must be something.....
P.S. Sept 1,
1998. Ray found the problem a week or so after the race; the new
spark plug wires were defective. He put on yet another new set of
plug wires and the engine is back to normal now. We ran the car
on a DynoJet chassis dyno today and the engine is running great.
Stapleton, Double National -- September 5-6, 1998;
Well , the good news is that my car is running well. We dyno'd
the car during the week and the engine is running great. I did three
practice sessions on Friday and was ready to race.
first National on Saturday, I finally managed to qualify in a reasonable
position... 8th out of 24. Early in the race I managed to get past
two of the cars ahead of me and then one of the front pack dropped
out, so I ended up 5th. I spent most of my time racing with Craig
Reeder and Ray Curry. In retrospect, we probably wasted too much
time passing and re-passing each other, letting the three front
runners get away from us. But it was good fun.
Cool. My first
National points, in a race with a lot of very tough competition.
That was really, really good fun.
The bad news is that on
Saturday night I could hardly sleep, still so full of adreneline.
Woke up drowsy and not feeling sharp on Sunday morning. And I never
felt sharp all day. Just not connected, not really present. Qualified
poorly for Sunday's National , back at 17th out of 23. I managed
to pass a couple of people, but finished 12th. The harder I tried,
the slower I got. I was just going too slow in the corners, way
I really need to find a way to motivate myself to qualify better.
Being back so far in the field increases the probability of being
involved in somebody else's accident and makes it very difficult
to ever catch up with the lead pack. So, I've just gotta qualify
On the first lap of Sunday's race, I just missed being backed
into by a car spinning in turn 5. It all looks so distant and placid
in these two frames of video, but in real time, at about 80 mph
it all happens very, very quickly. Here are a couple of frames of
my in-car video, negotiating turn 5 whilst Hutch pirouettes so gracefully
and cars scatter from side to side (the vertical bars on the left
side of the video are reflections from the late afternoon sun getting
into the camera lens) :
On Saturday I was having great fun, not really concerned
with the outcome, just having fun. On Sunday I was tired, trying
too hard and never really in sync with the car. Oh well. At least
I finally got my first National points... that alone is a breakthrough.
And I got to race with some very good drivers. That's progress.
My data aquisition system says that I was exiting turn one 3
mph slower and exiting turn nine 6 mph slower on Sunday, as compared
to my better performance on Saturday. I was not even close to being
on the edge on Sunday and my results showed it. I was two seconds
a lap slower on Sunday... that's an average speed difference
of just 1.8 mph... Gees...I just needed to get my average speed
up 1.8 mph and I would have been back in there with the front runners.
Oh well.... next year.
Phoenix PIR, Double Regional -- November 14-15, 1998;
At Phoenix International, my best lap time only improved from
1:11.5 last spring to 1:11.3 this trip. Not enough improvement to
be very satisfying. I was far more consistent in my lap times on
this trip, I could run those times lap after lap, but I never really
improved. Never got any really hot laps.
I was very disappointed
in my inability to drive anywhere close to the edge. I was consistently
too safe, too far from the edge, too comfortable. Rats. The leaders
were in the low 1:10's and the back of the pack in the 1:19's.
And I was just stuck in my mediocre 1:11's .
I started 12th out of 29 cars and got passed by about 5 cars
on the start. I managed to work my way back up to 13th by the end
of the race. I had some really great racing with Mark Brenden, we
passed each other back and forth quite a few times. It was great
fun, but I really, really wanted to be up front racing with the
guys like Javier, Ron, Mike and Craig.
I started 16th on
Sunday, then was attacked from the rear by Dan Harris after about
2 laps. He knocked us both out of the race. It was just one of those
racing deals. I was waiting patiently, following Wiersma slowly
thru the infield, waiting to get him on the next lap between turns
one and two where I felt I could get a good clean pass. But I guess
Dan got bored with my plan.
Dan tried to dive inside me in
turn 9. I saw him, and felt I left him plenty of room to race, but
he was just going way too fast to enter the turn. So he basically
went straight and hit me very hard in the left rear and I spun.
I tried to continue, but my car had so much rear toe out that it
was too scary to drive on the oval. So I parked it.
the fun of racing...
Phoenix Firebird, Double Regional -- December 12-13, 1998;
Not much of an improvement in my lap times at Firebird. This
is my third weekend at Firebird, and I thought that I would do pretty
good. My first goal was to qualify and race in the 1:06's. I
achieved that goal with a qualifying time of 1:06.7 and a race lap
of 1:06.9 on Saturday. The pole time was 1:05.2, so although my
goal was realistic and achievable, it was only good enough to be
gridded in 9th and finish in 10th out of 24 spec racers.
my next goal was to get into the low 1:06's on Sunday. However,
I simply drove terribly on Sunday. The car was very loose and I
did not have enough sense to soften the rear bar or reduce the rear
tire pressures. it just didn't make sense, the car handled so
nicely on Saturday, but on Sunday it was sliding all over the racetrack.
My brain was overwhelmed and I failed to take any usefiul action
to solve the problem. So, my Sunday qualifying time dropped back
to a 1:07.4 and I was stuck back in 14th place for the start.
I never saw a race start that was so messed up. The first episode
of flying fiberglass occurred on the front straight only a few seconds
after the green flag. Apparently third place Ed Raby hit the rear
of second place Darren Pritt and sent Darren sliding sideways in
the middle of the dash into turn one. Cars scattered in every direction
trying to avoid each other.
In all the confusion, I went along the outside wall and got past
several cars. I considered crowding past Jeff Smith, but decided
to fall in behind him and be ready to take advantage of the any
other situations. At that point, I was ahead of Ron Blake and alongside
Raby going into turn one.
As we went into turn one, I could see smoke, and then saw Mac
Busby sliding backwards across the track. Jeff Smith, who was right
in front of me, T-boned Mac and their two cars slid off the track
together into the gravel. It was a pretty hard hit.
In the first of the following two video frames, you can just
barely see that there is a white car sideways across the track,
and Jeff has locked up his brakes. In the second video frame, Jeff
has thumped Mac and the two slid off the side of the track together.
The impact was probably at only about 40 mph, and neither driver
was injured, although they were both out of the race. (I forgot
to clean the dirt off of the video camera lens after practice and
qualifying, so these pictures are looking thru a lot of dust and
dirt... The data superimposed on the video is from my homemade data
To keep out of that wreck, I hit the brakes and turned to avoid
them. From the data superimposed on my video, I was cornering at
about 0.7 g's and braking at 0.9 g's to keep from joining
them. Unfortunately, I slowed down so much that virtually
the entire field got past me on the inside while I was getting past
the wreck. So, one instant I had worked up to about 8th or 9th,
and in the next instant I was in about 15 or 16th place. Oh well.
The next two or three laps were under caution, following the
pace car whlst they cleaned up the fiberglass shards and checked
out the drivers. After that I drove terribly. Very tentative, much
too cautious to be competetive. I was trying to work my way back
up when a car spun in front of me in the tower turn, I was forced
to stop to avoid him and three or four more cars got past me. Rats.
It could have been worse... it could have been better.
Phoenix International Raceway -- April 10- 11, 1999;
This was my first race on the puzzling, slippery, short-lived
BFG tires. I had a terrible time. The rear tires quickly overheated
and got extremely slippery. I found that the BFG tires require very,
very smooth driving, sort of like driving in the rain. If you are
super smooth and don't overheat the rear tires, then the lap
times are almost as good as we got on Yokohama tires, but if you
are not super smooth you will be rewarded with spins and slow lap
On Saturday my race ended early with a DNF when the throttle
On Sunday on qualified a terrible 20th out of 22 cars.
I spun twice during the race. In a spin that began under braking
after turn one, the engine died, vapor locked, and would not
restart until the entire field had driven past me. I worked my way
up, and spun again. By the end, I managed to work my way up to a
pathetic 16 place finish.
I found that I need to learn to be a much, much smoother driver
in order to finish well on these BFG tires. Maybe these crappy tires
will actually force me to become a better driver.
Pikes Peak International Raceway -- May 29-30, 1999 -- Double
picture at the right is the dumb road sign at the exit to Pikes
Peak International Raceway... I guess the state signmakers are not
It was here at Pikes Peak Raceway in June of 1997 that I was
in my first race. Now, after two seasons of racing, I am certainly
a better driver, but not nearly as good as I expected to be. Like
most every other driver, I was sure that I could make a car go as
fast as anyone else. But, it's not quite that easy.
This was the first time that the SCCA has been able to schedule
a practice day before the race weekend at Pikes Peak Raceway. But,
I decided not to do the practice day, partly because of the the
costs and partly because I thought that I would do better without
being so tired from running three days in a row. Bad mistake. It
turned out that the track actually did not require new tires, so
the costs were not as high as I feared, and I really needed the
practice no matter how tired I would have been. Oh well.
I really needed the practice session Saturday morning. However,
the drive pin fell out of the rear u-joint in my shift linkage after
only three or four laps, leaving me sitting along the track watching
everyone else practice. La Rue had just replaced the shifter u-joint,
but apparently whoever did the work didn't put in the drive
pin properly and it cost me an entire practice session. That sucked.
I really needed the practice on these BFGs.
I put on sticker tires for Saturday qualifying and promptly slid
off the track several times on laps 4 and 5. The sticker tires were
much slipperier than the old, used tires on this track. After 8
or ten laps they were starting to get as good as the used tires.
The pole sitter and race winner Darren Pritt did not run sticker
tires, because he found that his lap times were so good on old tires.
This is bizarre, but true. It seems that some tracks such as Phoenix
Firebird require new BFGs to go fast and that after a few
heat cycles the tires are useless on that track. But now we've
found that other tracks, like Pikes Peak, are not so fussy and that
tires with 5 or 6 heat cycles are just as fast as sticker tires.
Strange. I qualified 11th out of 18 cars.
the Saturday National race, the cars were quickly strung out. Entering
turn three two cars spun in front of me and Gary Vogel slipped by
on the inside. I then spent most of the race trying to find a way
to get around him. We were very close to the same speed, but I was
a few tenths faster and wanted to get past him. I passed him and
thought I was pulling a good lead on him. I glanced in my mirrors
and saw a purple car that I thought was Gary a hundred yards behind
me as I was entering turn three. My front brakes were getting hot
so I decided to brake early and try to let them cool down a little
bit.Well, the purple car that I had seen was not Gary. Rats, he
was right on my tail, and when I started braking early he blew past
me into turn three. We had a nice little battle whilst the rest
of the field drove away from us. I finally got past him again and
On Sunday I qualified a bit better at 8th out of 17 cars. I screwed
up on the start and let a couple of cars get past me. I finally
caught Carl Wells and tried for lap after lap after lap to get around
him. The field bunched up slightly when Darren Pritt lost it in
turn one and spun like a top out of turn one and into the outer
wall. Finally on the 34th out of 35 laps I got around him entering
turn one and finished in 7th.
For me, the good news is that in this, my third racing season,
I have finally managed to start off the Colorado racing season season
with a few National points in each of the races. That is promising.
The bad news is that I am still much too passive at the start
and I am not pushing hard enough in the early laps. Gotta work on
In retrospect, I think that I was a bit intimidated by some of
the guys that I was racing with. In 1997 when I started racing,
I was in awe of the speed of some of these guys and now I'm
racing in the middle of them. It overwhelmed me a bit... but now
that experience is over and I can get on with racing to beat them...
not just riding around out there.
Pueblo -- June 19-20, 1999 -- Double Regional
For this double regional at Pueblo, which I think is Colorado's
best racetrack, we only had 9 spec racers. It was warm, just around
90 deg, mostly sunny. Great weekend for racing. We started nearly
two hours late on Saturday because there were not enough corner
workers to start the racing.
I didn't go to the practice
day on Friday, but started on the pole on Saturday and finshed second
behind Ray LaRue... gees he's fast. This was my first pole start
and my first podium finish. We were running laps about 2 sec off
of the old record. Ray used to have the lap record there, so he
does know the track. I couldn't quite keep up with Ray, but
by the finish of the race, the third place car was over 1/2 mile
behind me. My first trophy!
Santo-Spiritos showed up on Sunday to get some seat-time to get
ready for the pro race on the Pikes Peak oval next weekend. He followed
me for lap after lap in qualifying and then took a bonzai shot at
a bettter lap time on the final lap and got a qualifying lap time
.3 sec faster than me. Rats. I started 4th and finished 4th on Sunday.
And I was disappointed!
the start on Sunday, I hit the throttle just a bit late and Ray
started pulling away like I was tied to a stump. I drafted up on
him, as you see in the picture at the right, and wanted to try to
bump draft him down the front straight, but I was afraid that I
was closing in much too fast, so I backed off a hair... oops, way
too much backing off... I went backwards like an elevator with no
cable. shit. No guts, no glory. And after that I had my hands full
just driving consistently enough to protect my 4th place.
high plains dust at Pueblo gets really thick whenever anybody gets
off track. The picture to the left was my view as I headed
downhill from turn 4 into turn 5. All I could see ahead was a brown
cloud. I kept my foot in it and fortunately for me the formula Ford
that made the cloud was safely perched on top of a hill, out of
my way, about 100 feet off the course when I went by.
the good news is that I'm finally catching on to getting better
qualifying times, and on this particular weekend I managed to beat
the guys who were running mid pack two years ago when I started.
There were times that I thought I could never be as fast as they
were. Maybe I can.
I went there to win, and while I didn't
quite reach that goal (yet) I came pretty close.
My car had
been idling at 2500 rpm and the inside of the exhaust pipe was white.
The idle valve was not the source of the idle problem, so I asked
Ray to loan me a new "brain box" and it cured both problems.
But it caused a new problem... guess how much that computer costs...???
I knew it would be ridiculous, so I figured that it might be $300
or $400 dollars.... well, that is not even close. For the magic
touch of Roush, that "brain box" sells for fourteen hundred
dollars! What crooks !
Pueblo -- July 3-4, 1999 -- Regional/National
Wow it was hot at Pueblo for our Regional/National on July 3-4.
Temps in the low 100's each day. I managed to qualify on the
outside pole with a time 0.05 sec off of the pole sitter, Steve
Stansfield's, time for the race on Saturday. I was pleased
On the start, I was easily pulling past Steve
heading towards turn one when he mysteriously got a sudden burst
of acceleration and blew by me. Closely followed by Ray LaRue....
turns out that Ray was bump drafting Steve to get past me...ohhhh
rats. I was running second with Ray LaRue hot on my tail.
There was one corner that I was locking up the brakes and the
tail of the car was very loose. Ray would pull up on me every
lap in that corner and then I'd pull away in the next two corners
to keep him behind me. I thought that if I could brake deeper in
that turn 7, then he could not catch me. So I cranked in some
front brake bias. But the next lap it was not any better. So I cranked
in some more front bias. But the next lap it was not any better
so I cranked in some more front bias.... lap after lap I cranked
in more front bias, probably about 3/4 or maybe a full turn total,
and finally I spun and killed the engine.... I ended up 6th out
of 17 cars.
On Sunday I just could not get in the groove. I qualified 5th
and got a terrible start. Everybody but me went to full throttle
before the green flag, so the front bunch drove away from me and
I got passed by the two rows behind me. oops.
One of the
guys that got past me on the start was a complete idiot all weekend
and spun right in front of me in turn 3, I went off course thru
the weeds to avoid him and partially clogged up the radiator with
grass. The water temp was high but I kept on going. Later, that
same idiot was trying to race with the people who were lapping him,
doing nothing but screwing up their races.
made it back up to 5th place and was lapping a back-marker who ran
me into the weeds again. I got enough more crap into the radiator
screen to pretty much end all air flow. This time the engine temp
headed for 260 or 270 and the car had no power, it sounded like
it was running on 3 cylinders and would not rev above 4000. I ran
one lap that way but the temp was continuing to increase. So, on
the last lap, while running in 5th place, I pulled off the track
and shut it down. Rats.
When the engine was restarted later, there was anitfreeze smell
in the exhaust and bubbles in the coolant bottle. Looks like I've
blown the head gasket.
Pueblo -- July 16, 1999 -- Friday -- Practice before
Well, that practice didn't work out exactly the way I had
planned. It was just an open track day at Pueblo, not an SCCA practice,
so the were no corner workers, no flags, no emergency crews.
I had really studied my data logger graphs and decided that
I was not braking hard enough when going straight and that I was
not using hard enough braking whilst trail braking. So I went to
the practice day at Pueblo on Friday to fix those problems. Within
a few laps I had cut nearly a full second off of my lap times. I
was turning lap times that nobody else was able to match that morning.
That part went exactly as planned. I was being a better
driver and was rewarded with better lap times. I was sure that I
could shave off another few tenths, so I headed back out for another
session just after noon. On my third lap, just as I was going for
a really fast lap, I crested the hill after turn 5, drove to my
turn-in point, and then looked to my right, into turn 6 ...and there
was Ray Curry in his Formula Mazda, sitting sideways in the middle
of the corner.
My first thought was that I would kill him
if I hit him broadside in the corner, so I decided in that instant
that I had to go into the grass and somehow go behind him. But,
as soon as I lifted at about 4200 rpm in 4th gear entering turn
6, the rear end came out and I went spinning into the weeds. I almost
missed him.... almost, but not quite.
Once I started spinning,
the prairie dust was so thick that I could not see anything . I
was just along for the ride. Then came the sudden, "thwack"
and I knew just where I was. As the dust settled, fiberglass was
scattered all over, and Ray's right rear wheel and tire were
obviously destroyed. and my car was quite a mess, but it was still
running. So, I put my car in gear and drove slowly toward the pits
with pan dragging, antifreeze spewing and left front wheel wobbling
so badly I thought it might fall off before I could get into the
entire "fender" was gone, the radiator and pan were wadded
up, tie rod and ball joints destroyed. And then, to add injury to
insult, my left foot hurt, and my right shin was bleeding and swollen.
I put ice on every place that hurt while the LaRue crew spent nearly
4 hours repairing the car.
But when I went back out, my heart nearly pounded right out of
my chest every time I crested that hill after that. After the wreck,
my lap times instantly got 2 seconds worse and my foot was really
getting painful. My poor innocent left foot must have gotten folded
in half as the impact of the crash jammed it under the rest pedal.
When I woke up Saturday morning after a restless night due to
the pain from my foot, I found that my neck was sore, both of my
shoulders had black and blue marks from the shoulder harness, both
of my hands hurt from the steering wheel whipping, my abdomen was
sore and my foot was very painful, very swollen and turning an ugly
So, after turning my best-ever lap times at
Pueblo, I decided that I did not want to risk any further injury
to my apparently broken foot, and I headed home to get my foot x-rayed.
Great fun, this racing stuff..... sometimes.
Pikes Peak -- August 21-22, 1999
I thought this was gonna but my big weekend. I had SCCA Enterprises
do a top rebuilt on my engine and the power was excellent. And Ray
LaRue had just done a complete $1000+ rebuild on my tranny. I now
had 103 HP on the DynoJet chassis dyno, which was a full 3 HP gain
over the best my engine had ever been. I was ready to go. But right
before Saturday morning's practice session I asked LaRue to
change my tranny fluid to 2 quarts of B&M Trick Shift. After
the ATF was changed, I headed for the track... ready to put in some
The transmission lasted only one lap before an oil filler retaining
screw which someone had dropped inside the tranny came flying out
thru the side of the tranny. ATF everywhere. Quite a mess. So, I
missed practice and qualifying whilst they pulled the engine and
put in a shiny new transmission. I started the regional race from
last position, and didn't finish too much better. I needed the
seat time that I had missed in practice and qualifying. Everybody
else was getting considerably faster each session as they learned
the track, but I was two sessions behind, since I missed practice
On Sunday I managed to qualify 8th out of 14. Considering I had
missed two track sessions on Saturday, my times were pretty good,
but I just couldn't learn all the tricks fast enough to get
up front. Oh well. The Sunday National was a 35 lap race, so I'd
have plenty of time to catch people.
I got a terrible start. I got on the throttle just a hair early,
had to back off, then the flag came out and everybody drove away
from me. It took a few laps to work my way past Steve Ott and get
back up to 8th place. I was gaining about 1/2 sec a lap on Ray LaRue
and John Brumder, so I thought I'd catch them and do battle
in about 6 or 8 laps. Then, with no warning, the engine just quit.
Dead quiet. The engine just quit! Awww gees.... this
poor old car is so unreliable. I don't know if these problems
are due to poor maintenance, or just racing luck.
A couple of weeks later I sold the car.