WDMS Chapter 136

NASA TEXAS ROUND 3 - TEXAS WORLD SPEEDAY

Gary and Nick run CMC!!

April 2009

Nick and Gary negotiate the carousel

SWEET reports from Gary and Nick....this time we hear from Gary first:

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I'm all wet, it must be the water!

Weather forecast... rain and more rainÖ makes for a miserable journey to the track.  Thankfully the drive was relatively short.  NASATx Round 3 was at Texas World Speedway in College Station.  The drive took us a little longer than normal; saw the aftermath of two incidents where a car had skidded into the median grass as well as quite a few deep ruts in the median at various places where other unfortunate people had already done the same.  I was sooo glad to have the HD and no longer forced to tow in the Ranger.  On the bright less cloudy side, as Laura and I reached about 10 miles out from TWS, the rain lessened.  Nick called and informed us to use the back way to get into the track as the tunnels were flooded... whoa, thatís a lotta rain. 

We make our way to the back entrance of the track property, sign the waiver and get waved on thru the gate... and right onto T6.  It sure gives you a different and fun perspective driving a truck and loaded trailer around the track!      Some of the corner stations were completely submerged underwater.  With the rain at a near stop, we quickly unload and get set up in our pit stall next to Nick.  The entire garage is filled wik AI & CMC cars.  Along wik Nick and Wade, we grab a bite to eat at Wings-n-More.  We get a dude waitress waiterÖ WTF?  Wade is mas disappointed.  After our bellies are full, we head to our hotel (Wadeís Garage) and kill the lights for the night.

Saturday morning, itís misty, but not really raining at the house. Sweet! Maybe the weatherdudes are wrong.  Head out to the track and as weíre about to reach the exit sign for TWS, down comes the rainÖ and it doesnít stop.  Lightning and more rain.  We later find out that lightning has struck the track in a few places and actually created large divots in the racing surface.  Saturdayís races are a wash, but the 8 hour enduro that is scheduled for the afternoon is able to be run after being delayed about an hour.  Once we are informed that our races are cancelled for the day, Nick heads out to meet up wik Wade to fetch a newly acquired mustang in Houston and Laura and I head out to some shops.

Wade collects wayward foxes...

The plus side of all the rain is it gave Laura and I an opportunity to stop by Petsmart where we adopted a kitten, Megan.  We were able to make arrangements with the agency, BFCA [http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/TX271.html] to pick her up at her fosters home after the races on Sunday.  A new playmate for our other cat, Mindy. 

Megan

Laura and I went back to the track to watch a bit of the enduro.  We later all meet back at Wadeís house, check out his new CMC ride ;) and head to Texas Roadhouse where we get a proper College Station waitress who (according to Nick) with her smile could sell sand to an Arab :) 

Sunday morning and Nick and I are anxious to get some racing in.  We are informed at the track that they will be combining sessions to maximize the track time everyone gets.  This means that AI/CMC will qualify and race on track wik Group 7.  The track looks damp and the waiting game begins. The plan is to have a makeup race for Saturday wik the starting order based on season points, a qual session, then two races, all combined wik group 7.

I start R1 in P4.  No, Iím not that good, I simply have good attendance.  For the seasons standings, you drop the points off your lowest scoring 20% of total races.  Drops are done at the end of the season and since I havenít missed any races yet, Iím doing good in the standings. 

Getting ready to head out to grid, I have Laura turn on the cameras and get an unexpected *whack* on the side of my helmet!  WTH? Itís not Laura, itís just Cody saying Hi!  Cody and Costas have arrived to hang out for the races.

The grid girl sends out Group 7 and then waits forever and a day to send us out.  Itís a split start but by the time we take the green, the leaders of group 7 are only 1/3 of a lap behind us.  The track is still fairly damp and I definitely am not running 10/10ths as I do NOT want to go off into the mud.  A line of G7 cars run me down and I give them plenty of room.  Gary Hood latches onto the end of the little train and I ALMOST gave him the easy pass before I realize he ainít no G7 car!  We have a good battle going until I get a bad exit off the last corner.  He pulls on me down the front straight and stays in front of me the rest of the race.  I know Iím faster than him thru T1, but a G7 car that is off in the mud for most of the race creates a local caution at S/F.  I finish in my usual comfortable 6th of 9.

Qual for R2 was a cluster****.  Qualifying has always been GREEN as soon as you get on track.  Apparently the few G7 cars in front of me didnít get that memo.  Two Porsches start weaving slightly back and forth to get some heat in their tires.  I pass them gingerly all the while thinking of this videoÖ http://www.914world.com/videos/Racetrack/Runoffs_ChrisFoley_QualifyingIncident.wmv

They werenít weaving nearly as bad as that miata and wise up after the first 4-5 corners. When we make it around to S/F they were throwing a red flag. Uh-oh.  Apparently a G7 car had gone off T1/T2 where the corner workers lost sight of it and instead only saw the mud, grass, and body panels in the air, and assumed it was a roll-over.  I stopped on the front stretch with a few other cars just past the starter stand.  A few moments later the pace car came out at the end of pit road and stopped.  We crept up behind him and waited.  The car that had gone off was pulled clear (fortunately didnít have any major damage) and the pace car started cruising around the course.  Well, everyone else who was beyond T2 (when the incident occurred) by this time had gotten the black flag and were went to the hot pits.  There were about three cars in front of me, and as we approached T4, the pace car pulled off to the inner course and the lead car put the hammer down.  I couldnít see any signals from the pace car from my vantage point and the corner stations werenít displaying any flags.  Ok, so I guess the qual session has resumed.  We came back to the S/F line only to see the black flag displayed there. 

Unknown to us, we were at full throttle as the rest of the field were still sitting on pit road.  They had gotten the black flag to proceed to pit road while we were stopped behind the pace car.  Well, next time around, myself and Greg H (who was behind me) ducked onto pit road and down to the race directors Ďyouíve been badí area.  No other race cars were there.  Todd asks why I pulled in and I told him of the black flag.  He says oh, well, go back out if you want, should have time for another lap or so.  Ugh.  Head back out, end up getting no full speed lap times and qual at near the back.  Not a huge loss since itís only a spot or two back where I would normally be.

R2 had a bit better spacing between us and G7.  It gave us a lap or two more before the faster cars worked their way thru the AI/CMC field.  At the start, Nick was gridded directly behind me since, as a rookie, he has to start his first 4 races at the very back.  In his video, my line for the first few corners was very defensive.  No way was I going to let this new guy pass me that early!  Once again, the caution flag flew at S/F for a G7 car that had gone off at T2.  I probably let off too much going past the incident, but I donít want to get yelled at for not being 100% in control.  Gary Hood (who eventually got around Nick) was closing the gap behind me.  Going into T8, Hood goes wide to allow a G7 vette by and spins off into the grass.  The rest of the race, Nick and I have a good lead-follow, fortunately me leading him! I finish in my comfortable 6th of 10.

VID: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1msLj7zvoE

Two CMC cars lead a G7 car

After a bit of lobbying, Race 3 has us (AI/CMC/CMC2) in our own run group, yay!  Itís an invert of the finish of R2, but Nick still has to start at the back.  Rookies Greg Hughes and Gary Hood start in front of me, Chuck P. alongside.  I get a good jump on the green and ease up in front of Chuck.  Get around Hughes on the outside of T2Ö then itís back to normal as the usual gang of fast guys pass me in the remainder of that first lap.  Coming onto the banking on the front stretch, Hood has also suffered the same fate and is directly in front of me.  We both dive off into T1 and Hood dives off OF T2, spinning into the grass and mud.  Not much more action for that race.  For this race, Glenn has loaned his car out to Nick Runyon who is back playing wik Nick V and Chuck P.  What this means is I have a best Ďcareerí finish of 5th of 10!

Even wik the shortened track time, I still enjoy running at TWS.  Running wik against a good friend like Nick is even more fun.  Hurry up Wade / Cody and get up on the top tier of the PoS!  Next up is Hallet and itís gonna be a HUGE field.  There will be cars from other regions showing up to play.  30+ AI/CMC/CMC2 cars and some damn good BBQ.

 

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And now we hear from Nick:

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat!

The weekend was nearing.  My paperwork was in.  My HPDE book was signed.  I had the approval of the Comp Licensing instructor.  I had a nifty suit and a really expensive carbon fiber neck pillow.  I was ready for my tech inspection, ready to go wheel-to-wheel.  Goodbye point-to-pass, I knew ye well.  A little over a year ago I started my journey in a little town called Cresson (http://www.witchdoctormotorsports.com/ch94.htm).  It took a lot of track days, a lot of cussing at my car, and a lot of wrenching (big thanks to all who have helped, especially Costas, Gary & Fertitta) to get to this point.

Fast foward to a few days before the event.  I kept checking the weather report, as I do, and it kept saying a chance of rain.  We all know how accurate weather reports can be, how much CAN it rain, I mean, REALLY?  Friday arrives, it's raining in San Antonio.  Hmmm.  A break in the clouds, and I go grab the trailer and load the car up.  I figured I'd wait a few to leave the house, arrive in CS after the rain passes.  Heh.  The drive up to CS was dry, but you could tell it had been raining just a bit earlier.  When I arrived at TWS, the rain was sideways, upside down, and swaying left to right.  I'm pretty sure I could see Lieutenant Dan up on top of the control tower yelling to the sky "IS THAT ALL YOU GOT?".  The main tunnels were flooded, so the back entrance was to be used.  It puts you out in the middle of turn 6, and you get to drive around the track to the pits.  Weeee.  I unloaded the car (in the rain), unloaded the trailer (in the rain), and proceeded to sit in the garage waiting around for Gary to arrive (I hope he has cookies!).  Did I mention it was raining?  Gary arrived, unloaded his car and trailer (in the rain).  We waited around for Al to do our tech, and for me to get a logbook.  Yessir, you heard it here, Alamo is a bonafide, certified, hydromatic, burro-licious CMC car.  I get to RACE tomorrow!....if it stops raining.

 

Saturday morning.  The skies were angry that day, my friends.  Like an old man trying to send back soup at a deli.  ("Is that a Titleist?")  But enough with the Seinfeld quotes, we're here to race....or at least sit around and BS for 5 hours.  Yeah.  Woo.

Driver's meeting.  Clifton informs us that lightning puts a halt to all race activities.  After a lightning strike is seen, a certain period of time has to pass before they resume or beging anything.  Yeah...the lightning didn't stop.  We sat in the garage for the rest of the morning, watching the rain engulf the entire TWS paddock and pit area.  Our trailers were in a lake.  Our cars were in a lake.  Our lake was in a....wait, what?  Stop raining already!  GOSH!

A few cookies (okay a lot of cookies) later, they called it.  Day was over, and the enduro, which was scheduled for the afternoon, was TBA depending on what the weather decided to do.  Thankfully for those guys, they got to run.  And CMC drivers took the crown.  Suck it, spec Miata!

With the day shot, we (Gary, Laura, and I) consoled ourselves with a lunch trip to Layne's.  Oh, glorious Layne's.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday.  The clouds, they were gone!  The ground, it was (mostly) dry!  Gasp!  It's on, bitches!

To make up for lost time Saturday, they had scheduled 3 races (!!!).  The first race was a make-up race, and the other two would be as normal.  Oh, did I mentioned they combined us with Group 7.  Group 7...full-on race slicks, spare-no-expense cars.  Group 7...I've heard "things" about Group 7's on-track antics.  There's always a few bad apples that will ruin anyone's day.  Ferrari's, Porsches, and Corvettes, OH MY!  This should be interesting! (EVERY group talks about other groups like that....it's SOP!!! heh heh ~Costas)

We had our driver's meeting and as a rookie-biatch, I start at the back.  No, the back-back.  Behind everyone.  No problemo!  Keep my nose clean, and have fun! 

We were getting ready, and to my shagrin, I see two familar faces appear.  It's the Cody and Costas show! (Now in High-Def!)  I was happy they came out to see some good ol' CMC racing. 

Alamo starts, I pull up to the grid area, which is unfortunately a mess.  CMC, CMC2, AI and Group 7 cars were everywhere!  I skillfully take my place in the back-back, and get ready for launch.  We roll out, and it's on!  Warm-up lap is done, and we go green.  Race 1 is sort of a blur.  The track was still soiled in spots, and I had A LOT of processing to do in my head.  Keep it on track, and watch out for the inevitably faster Super Unlimited cars.  Oh here they come.  There was a lot of (clean) passing by SU cars, and it was crazy being passed in the middle of a corner.  I kept it clean, watched my mirrors, and everything turned out OK.  Thankfully everyone remembered that CMC isn't racing SU, and SU isn't racing CMC.

Group 7 attacks!!

GasGasGas!!!

Pulled in to the garage afterward and got ready for practice/qualy coming up next.  Practice/Qualy was used as some more open track time for myself (as I'd be starting at the back no matter what) remembering to hit my marks on track and keep a good pace.  Costas and Cody took tire temps after a few laps and gave me some advice on PSI.

Race 2.  Here we go!  Started from the back again, but I ended up going out in front of Hood, who didn't get a qualy time.  Gary the Alien was a few cars in front of me as well.  This could be fun!  From the back, it was Hood, me, Greg (other white 3rd gen), and Chuck (black Moostang).  We gridded up, waited for the whistle, and went out on track.  Warm-up lap was over quick, and it was in to the Essessessess before the front straight.  Wait for it, wait for it, GREENGREENGREEN.  I got an incredible launch, and managed to overtake both Chuck and Greg on the front straight.  I almost caught the Alien, but turn 1 got in the way.  I had Hood creeping up on my rear bumper.  It stayed Alien, Me, and then Hood for quite a few laps, and I managed to keep Hood at bay.  Halfway through he got a good run on me in the back straight and edged me out near turn 8.  A few laps later we were still close together, and a ST/SU Corvette got up in between us in the same area on the back straight.  He passed me and went to pass Hood right before the turn downhill, and Hood ended up going off and doing a nice Spinny-McSpin (tm) in to the dirt.  His car wouldn't re-fire, and he'd have to sit in that spot for the remainder of the race.  I finished the last few laps clean, and pulled off in to the garages.  Man, I was giddier than Costas at a Roxette concert!

Race 2 In-Car Video (thanks for the camera loaner, Costas!) http://vimeo.com/4285040

Me - Gary Hood - Gary Robertson (l-r) - 3rd Gens FTW!!!!

Break time.  Cody and Costas were gracious enough to go get Laaaaaaaaaaaaaayne's (!!!) for us all. (Layne's FTW!! ~ Costas)

Race 3 was approaching.  I was even more stoked than before.  I had my first taste, and I wanted more.  So much more.  Grid-up.  Rev the engine.  Whistle blow, and we're off!  My launch was nowhere near as good as Race 2.  I kept pace with the cars in front, but could not catch them.  Nick Runyon borrowed Glenn Landrum's 4th gen, and started the race behind me, as he had no qualy time from the day.  After a lap or two, the running order in the back was Greg, Chuck, Me, and Nick R.  Runyon was on my bumper like white on toast.  I was furiously trying to get past Chuck and Greg, all the meanwhile keeping Runyon at bay.  GEEZ!  Laps went by, and I got past Chuck, then the next lap I got past Greg.  RUnyon was still there, clawing at me.  Another lap and he got past.  I stayed up with him for the next few laps once again running as hard as I could push the car to try to get past him.  He was quicker on half the corners, I was quicker on the other half.  It was a damn close race.  I was giving it all she had, Captain!  And then....tragedy.  Just a few laps before the end of the race, Runyon and I were coming down the hill in to T10.  A slight crest, the car goes light, I (foolishly) hit the brakes at the top of the hill, and WHABAMWHAMWHAM goes my rear differential.  Axle hop.  Mutha-freakin' axle hop.  It was so bad (how bad was it?) the whole car shook like a bowlful of jelly, and I knew instantly from the noise something broke.  Quick check of oil pressure indicated the motor was still OK (PHEW!).  So I limped it back to the garage.  I was so angry because I didn't get to finish the race thanks to a silly mistake. *sigh*.  Costas and Cody came down from their perch above the track and I quickly displayed the audio track of what turned out to be a broken transmission.  I'm hoping Runyon comes out to Hallett, because I wanted to talk to him and tell him how much fun I had going at it with him on-track before I was wisked away to head home.

Runyon got me in the carousel with a great inside pass.  Doesn't my car look hawt though?

Took Alamo home and roped a friend in to coming over to help push the car off the trailer and in to the garage (had to rope a neighbor in to, my driveway sucks!).  On the bright side, I had a spare transmission from the previous owner (I guess he was a psychic) that I have swapped in since then, and the car is running great and almost ready for Hallett in June.  Bring it on!!  But hold the rain, please!