Monday, September 19, 2011

2011 NASA Nationals - Day 3 - Saturday

Entering Saturday (Day 3 of 4) I was in 3rd of 14.  The biggest factor looked to be the weather.  It'd been foggy every morning, but we were out earlier this morning and the fog was worse!  Couple that with the forecast for 50% chance of rain the entire weekend and it was hard to know if/when we'd have a good session.

So for the morning session I had already decided to push and push hard.  The first hotlap yielded one car with an ABS failure (huge lockup) on the course and a car in the middle of the track for me.  On the 2nd lap I actually had a 100% clean lap with no traffic or yellows.  I made the most of it with a personal best of 1:32.834

I have no idea what my pressures were as I didn't have anyone to take them for me.  And we weren't allowed to touch the cars in the tech area.  I can tell you that they either started too low and I pushed too hard to quickly.  Or I just plain overdrove them.  Check out the pic of the LF, this was after just 3 total sessions too!

For our 2nd session of the day around 1:40pm it was threatening rain.  I had already decided to sit it out so I could watch the Group D race, as I had several friends racing in ST2 (/Ryan, David, Whit & Justin).  I'd missed their 2 qualifying races on Thurs/Fri as I was always being impounded after our afternoon session.  I was being weighed every time, and/or teched and later GPS'd (100% legal).  Our 2nd session was wet and the start of the ST2 race was wet, but dried up quickly.  Then as soon as they got done it started to pour!  Our 3rd session would definitely be screwed - so I started drinking... lol.

I ended day #3 in 1st place out of 14 cars but it was insanely close.  The top 3 spots were 1:32.8, 1:32.9, 1:33.1.

Here's vid from the only session I ran on Saturday.  It was in the morning fog; pretty eerie stuff!  This was my only 100% clean lap of the session too, the other 4 had yellow flags and/or other cars off that I had to slow down for.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

NASA Nationals - Day 2 - Friday

Entering Friday (Day 2 of 4) I was in 2nd of 14, but there was a long way to go.  After the politics from the previous day with the rear of the grid, the front of the grid returned the favor with an insanely slow outlap.  I was actually going about 20mph into the carousel as the front guys were trying to get the cars in the rear to bunch up tight.  Needless to say that screwed everyone's first lap.

Finally when we got up to speed, on the quick R-L transition between T9 and T10 I actually had my Traqmate come off the windshield suction cup and fly out my passenger window!  Actually this wasn't the first time this had happened, as last year it happened in T7 at Autobahn; only it flew out the drivers side window there!

Friday also brought about probably one of the top 5 scariest moments of my short racing career.  I had let a TTS Lotus past me on the outlap, knowing him from Regional events in that he was slightly faster than me I figured I'd be nice and not hold him up - the car in front of me did the same.  Well, he didn't return the favor so well!  On the first flying lap, the Lotus went into a corner too hot and lost it, spinning and staying on the track.  If you're familiar with Mid Ohio, you know how many blind corners and hills are there and how dangerous a situation like this can be.  This occurred at the top of 'Thunder Valley' which is T12.  This is a corner I usually pitch the car into sideways and drift all the way to the exit on the right - which is coincidentally where the Lotus was still spinning when I came up the hill.  Now fortunately for both of us, I overbraked the entry so I was well under control and not drifting or sideways and I was able to react!  Only I had no idea which way to swerve as he was still spinning!  Changing my mind from R to L; I swerved Left to avoid and the Lotus actually rolled backwards towards the middle of the track just as I'm trying to scoot by.  Whew; by unscathed!

Once the session was over the Lotus was moved onto his racegroup, so we'd have to catch up on dramatics and apologies later to be sure!  I did have an official come over and deliver my Traqmate to me!  I'm thankful I label stuff...  And yeah; it still works...

Best lap of the day for me was a 1:33.9.  I'd end the day in 3rd place of 14.  Once the grid worked its way out from fast to slow, things were a little better in the afternoon session.  I still had a difficult time setting tire pressures.  They kept coming up way higher than I'm used to.  Perhaps I was overdriving the car; or the fact I was doing all 100% hot laps for 6 laps - but that's not entirely uncommon.

Here's a pic of the gridding area for one of the GTS (German Tourning Series) qualifying races as seen from our paddock area -->

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NASA Nationals Day 1 - Afternoon/Evening

9/8/2011 - Thursday Afternoon/Evening

After piloting through the rain to a 2:13 I started 2nd in grid.  The track wasn't perfect, but it was nearly dry for the afternoon session.  I knew there'd be some very impatient high HP cars wanting around the 12 or so of us that had gridspots because we braved the rain in the morning.

And sure enough, it was an absolute mess.  I had cars dive-bombing me on the backstraight nearly every lap.  Some were safe passes; others not as much.  The worse part was when they would then hold me up through the next several turns after dive-bombing me!
In addition to the crazyiness at the front, there was some politics in the back.  A few of the high HP guys that didn't go out and were gridded in the back decided to gap themselves way back behind the field in order to get themselves open track - even though it's against the rules and was expressly mentioned NOT to do that.  So all kinds of fun stuff.  Oh, and still several offs and yellow flags to work around.  Ended the day with a 1:35.7; 2nd of 14 in class.  Good enough to slot myself into the #12 spot on grid of the 34 cars; pretty much where I thought I'd be.

That night... we got to tour Mansfield Correctional Facility!  This is where they filmed nearly all of ShawShank Redemption, as well as parts of Air Force One and Tango and Cash.  Attached is a shot of the room where Warden Norton shot himself!  Creepy...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

NASA Nationals - Day 3 overview

Sorry for the lack of updates. 

It's been a fun event, but a bit difficult to dial in the 'perfect' lap as is needed for TT.  We've got 13 cars in TTA including last years National Champion so it's going to take the 'perfect' lap to win.  Up to this point, I've been slower than my pace in August.  I've been fighting some grid issues, politics, traffic, bad luck, etc. Some of it expected, some of it just bad luck. I have a host of 1:33.9 laps which slotted me into 2nd or 3rd (not sure because of DQ's) after the first 2 days.

But today I slammed down a 1:32.8 in the fog! Leapfrogging into 1st.........

It's still insanely tight, but I'm sitting on top currently!  Wish me luck...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

NASA Nationals - Day 1 morning

So the drive Wed afternoon/evening/night was fortunately uneventful.  I made the 450 miles in just 2 stops.  Think about that... 7+ hours with 2 chances to pee.  And into that I was exhausted for some reason, so pushing the water, caffeine and coffee.  I was pretty much a zombie the last 45min.
Got to the track at 7:50; just in time to register.  Unloaded; got food, 10min at the pool to relax; bed.  Oh yeah.... it was raining already.

Day 1... 
Thursday Morning...
So today was... slow!  Only 2 sessions today, when I'm used to 5!  Our initial TT meeting was a full hour long!  Lots of regulations and rules to go over.  Fortunately I have an annual tech, so all good there.  But you have to get your 'tamper proof tape', and all your class & NASA stickers (all good there too) and all your additional contingency stickers straightened out.  Difficult to do with humidity and rain.

Speaking of rain; rained all night, into the morning; and through the morning.  It was obviously going to be a wet day.  I came on my Dunlop street tires, so I was planning on using those the first session.  So I went out in the rain; 1 of only 12 in our group of ~34 that braved the bad weather.  And it was slick obviously.  I piloted the car to a 2:13; earning myself 2nd in grid and 1st in class.  The 20 or so cars that didn't go out... they'd all be stuck lining up in back; first come; first served!

More later...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2011 NASA National Championships - Sept 8-11th

It's here!  The primary goal for this year and the culmination of the entire year's worth of effort.  The 2011 NASA National Championships kick off at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course on Thursday Sept 8th and flow for 4 days.  For the Time Trials groups, we get 1 practice and 8 timed sessions scattered over those 4 days to set our fastest lap.  It's not a great deal of tracktime, so prepping the car with the right setup is critical.

The #929 Evo is currently loaded up and ready to rock. As the forecast shows chances for rain daily, part in thanks to Tropical Storm 'Lee', we decided to leave the rain/street tires on in prep for our first session Thursday @ 11am. I figure I have plenty of time to (happily) switch to Hoosiers if the weather is good. BUT, if it's wet, I need to throwdown an official lap to start working the grid strategy. My group consists of my class (TTA) and the 3 classes above me, TTS, TTU, & TTR respectively. Should be around 30-35 of us including 13 in my class!

I hope to make some pretty regular updates on the blog.  Possibly nightly even!  But I promise lots of small updates via twitter:!/boomn29
I'll leave you with one of my favorite pictures of 2011...