Monday, December 24, 2012
Chumpcar "Chumpionship" Nationals - Day #1
Ah, the smell of exhaust early in the morning; it's a distinct smell that means RACE DAY!
When I arrived at the track early Saturday, everyone was moving their gear into the pit area. I got a better look at all the other cars with some having some pretty exotic paintjobs or 'styling'. lol. Welcome to Chumpcar...
There were about 40-50 cars altogether at the start. Most were in the same class, with a few running in a higher 'EX' class and not in the actual competition. This might sound like a lot, but I knew there would be a lot of attrition; especially so when you factor in Chumpcar's by rule need to start out as a $500 car. There were several BMW E30's, a few fast BMW E36 models, some Civics, a Taurus, a few Neon's, etc.
During the driver's meeting all the rules were explained. Pretty basic really. I realized pretty quick with my NASA background that I was one of the more qualified drivers out there (more on this during my stint). Shortly thereafter we were off and racing! Our car was running laptimes around 2:04 with the leaders running about 2:00 flat in the early going. We settled in around the top 10; ranging from 8th-11th due to an early pitstop to fix our radio as the connection fell out. The general thought was if we could finish top 10; it'd be a victory as we knew the car didn't have the ability for the overall.
We were holding around 11th when the first of our fuel pickup issues started. Apparently the fuelcell in the car had some issues with the foam getting sucked up and clogging the in the fuel filter. We ended up pitting periodically to fix this issue and it became a routine 5min stop! We were losing a few spots and laps with the unscheduled pitstops, but not too bad.
Our 2nd driver was in and running around 2:07's as the tires were pretty tortured during the first stint; along with the brakes. The overall leaders were around 1:58. A complaint of a vibration under braking brought our car in so switch out a rotor and rotate the right-side tires. The vibration improved but never went away the rest of the day. I think it was collateral damage from the hard laps from the first stint.
As I was up next, I grabbed a little food around noon and got suited up. My stint was to be 2 hours like the others; from around 1pm - 3pm.