WDMS Chapter 157
NASA TEXAS ROUND 1 @ MSRH
Nick, Gary and Wade all drove in the CMC races at this event. Nick got his story in first so here we go!
The forecast was looking good for the weekend. It was going to be cold
and miserable, but at least there was no rain! Car was loaded up, heading
east on I-10 to Gary's house to meet up and caravan down to the track.
Wade was already en-route by the time I left San Antonio, so he could save us
some spots together (good job, Rookie!). Pulled in, unloaded, life was
Saturday morning came around and it was cold, polar bear cold. Practice, then qualification were up first. This was my first time driving MSR-Houston. I had visited on many occasions but only as pit crew for others (Lemonswhat?) Practice time. First runs on the track. My initial impression of the track was not the greatest. I had higher expectations for it being a "country club" track similar to Cresson, which has a very nice driving surface. This one, notsomuch. Oh well. Let's hope the 20 year old car doesn't shake itself apart (needs more AST!). I got my runs in, learned a bit by watching others, and the session ended. I decided to head over to the scales to see where my car ended up after a session of running. Turns out, it was a bit light! Ack! Not good. A quick search of the pits turned up a big ol' chunk of lead that I graciously borrowed from Sam (thanks Sam!). Hunter helped with the bolt-down, and with my Aggie math, I would be right where I needed to be after a session of harder running (or so I thought...). Headed out to qualification and tried to turn some fast laps.
Race 1 (video: http://vimeo.com/9451103 ) I qualified behind the two Garys. Standing start for this one. We line up, launch, and gasgasgas! I miss my 1-2 shift (silly me) but continue to try to keep pace with Gary R. Hood falls behind, as he says he is having some motor problems with his car. I turn a few laps keeping up on Gary's bumper, and finally I catch a break. He locks them up going in to Diamond's Edge and I manage to sneak by. We run around a few more laps, him right on my bumper, and we end up coming up on Greg Hughes (another fellow 3rd gen driver) going in to Gut Check. Well, he checked, I checked, and Gary just flew right by (note the 'WAHOO!' in his video link). It was a beeeeeatiful pass, I will give him that :-D I followed him for a while, and managed to get him back on the back straight. After that we rode it out and I ended up just in front of him.
So, after race procedure is the top 3 finishers pull in to impound for weighing to make sure you are over minimum weight. CMC minimum weight is 3200lbs, so long as you are not making over the horsepower or torque limits. Wirtz finished first, Francis second, and I managed a 3rd. So we all three pull in to weigh, and I crawl on to the scales. "3198" she yells. Oh crap. Glenn says "another DQ". Another?, I say to myself. He tells me to pull around and re-weigh if I want. Well, YEAH I do. So I pull around, and lo and behold, Wirtz and Francis are in line again. Wirtz was a few pounds under, and Francis was 10 or 15 under. Geez. Wirtz pulls up first, and magically, his car now weighs 3204. That at least tells you how off the scales can be within 10 minutes, and he is sent on his way. Francis pulls through, still underweight. I pull up, still underweight, by the same margin. Oh crap. Apparently my math of the added ballast was no match for finnicky scales. So we pull back in to our pit spots, and it turns out a CMC2 driver was underweight as well. So he, Francis, and I all have a pow-wow with Glenn and Al, our CMC directors. Basically we get a talking-to about how the scales can be off, and you should account for it, etc etc, there's no excuse. OK, fine. Lesson learned. They decide that instead of DQ'ing all three of us, they give us 0 points for that race (which allows us to still drop it at the end of the year), and for race #2, we have do to a stop and go in the hot pits while everyone else takes the green flag. Well, OK.
Previously I had added a 35 pound block of lead, bolted down to the passenger side floor pan. OK, what else do I have that I can put a bolt through that weighs quite a bit? I remember Wade loading some brake rotors in to his truck. Oh Wade, can I borrow those? A few minutes later Hunter and I bolt them down with the lead underneath. Ahh, Aggie engineering. Added some extra fuel and away we go!
Race 2, we do a warm-up lap and at the end of gut check we head in to the pits for our penalty. Chug down pit lane, Glenn waves at us to slow it down, ok, ok, ok, go. And so we go. It was just me and the CMC2 driver. He checked out, and I had an uneventful race. Basically I took it as open track time to work on my line and learn the track. I managed to catch up to Greg, my fellow 3rd-gen-in-white-CMC-racer, and was able to get around him to at least score a few extra points at the end of the race. I took the opportunity at the end of the race to head to impound and re-weigh my car with the new ballast, just to make damn sure I was racing legit this time, and I ended up at around 3220. Whooop!
Saturday night dinnertime was upon us, and we all head to Texas Roadhouse for the eating-of-the-chicken-fried-ballast..err, steak.
Sunday morning, even colder than Saturday. Yeesh! Qualifying up first, time to run some quick laps. I felt more confident about the track as I've had some time to run it and go over in my head what I'm doing wrong and what I need to work on. I end up running pretty well in qualifying, and I end up just a bit ahead of Gary, and we are right next to each other on grid. First race, standing start. Green flag, gasgasgas! I got a pretty good launch and manage to jump ahead and get a pretty good run down the front straight. I was running a good race, keeping a good pace, until about halfway through, I came up on a CMC2 car and another CMC car. The CMC car was a black 3rd gen that was running his first race weekend with us. We all met up coming off the pit straight and in to the carousel. As we headed around the curve, I was right next to Randy in the CMC2 car and behind the black CMC car, and in an instant, there was a huge cloud of smoke (see also in-car vid from Gary). My initial thought was he locked up the brakes (but why is he braking in the sweeper?), until the cloud grew huge instantaneously. His motor had let go, and he immediately pulled off driver's left (quick thinking!). We all managed to check up and avoid any contact, and kept right on hammering down the front straight. This got Gary right up on my bumper again, and made it a very fun race until the end. I managed to snag a 3rd place finish that time, and came in about 40 pounds over the minimum weight. ;-) Suckit, finnicky impound scales! OMGHI2TOYOBUCKS!!
Race 4. Inverted rolling start. I got a good launch and lined up right behind Wirtz trying to follow his line. He evaded me, but I was able to get up behind Gary and follow him for a few laps trying anything I could to get by him. I managed to get a good run on him going in to the carousel, and was able to hold it inside to get a clean pass. Wooo! From then on he was on me like gravy on mashed potatoes. Mmmm...potatoes. Err where was I? Out of the wild blue (and orange) yonder comes Dave Francis up behind us. Now this was some fun racing. He managed to sneak past Gary and was running in between us for a few laps. I'm pretty sure he got a run on me going down in to Diamond's edge and made the pass. We all followed each other from then on to the end of the race, throwing everything we could to gain a spot. It ended up with Dave in 3rd, me in 4th, and Gary in 5th. We had some great laughs in the paddock afterwards. It was some extremely fun, clean, racing. The best thing about AI/CMC is getting out of your car afterwards and chatting and laughing with the folks you were just running bumper to bumper with.
We chatted for a while, helped Hood push his car on to his trailer, and loaded up our own hoopties. It was a damn fine weekend, and I wouldn't want to spend it any other way!
Huge thanks to Hunter for helping with the ballast installs, Ron for helping with the brake light problems, and Tilton for turning on the camera! And thanks to Paul for answering the 3rd gen tech support line once again ;-)
There's really only two seasons... the racing season and the off season. In the few weeks before the first race, I did my 'prep' for the racing season. Removed the passenger seat that was installed for Rookie day, put in a new drivers side harness, gave everything a good once over, give Knocker a bath, and got a dyno cert. I'm a bit down of power from last year @ 212hp/274ft*lbs.
NASATx Round 1 at MSR-Houston is the start of our racing season for 2010. This will be my third season in CMC, Nick's second, and Wade's first. To say I'm looking forward to it is an understatement. What I wasn't looking forward to was the cold that greeted us at MSRH! I've learned from the previous times at that track, it's not the cold that gets ya, it's the wind. I was prepared tho with a dozen or so layers of clothes.
Nick gets into town and he and I head down to the track. Not much point getting there early. We need to get our annual tech done, but would have to wait til 6 to register. We arrive, find Wade, tech, Laura arrives, then we all head to the CLOSEST Chili's in Angleton with Sam and Darcie. Order, eat, chat and notice a few of the other CMC guys have just been seated. Al comes over to tell us some of the other guys commented that we were sitting at the CMC kids table. Wade, without missing a beat, tells Al he didn't need to come over to tell us that, we heard him all the way over here! Seeing as we have Wade, the resident dirtbike expert, with us, We head out and meet up with some dude to check out a 50cc bike he has for sale. Wade thankfully talks us out of that one. We ended up picking up a much better Yamaha 50cc on the way home on Sunday.
Saturday morning and it's still cold. Cold track, cold tires, cold brakes means taking it pretty easy for practice and qual. I'm on the 6 race weekend old R888's that I need me to last throughout today. Slot up in 3rd for the standing start. Green flag clutch out... spin tires... then finally GO! Wirtz and Dave Francis check out which leaves me with Nick right behind me. A few laps in going into Diamond's Edge, I lock up big time. Nick takes the opportunity to go right on by. Eventually catch back up and start to work on a plan to get back by. I get a run into the first corner and get inside on the carousel. By the time I get back on the gas, I know what's going to happen. Sure enough, Nick ducks back under and passes me on the straight. Next couple of laps I figure where he's faster and what corners I'm faster. Then I see it. Coming into the long left hander, I see Greg Hughs up ahead and we're closing on him at a pretty good rate. I HAVE to get on Nick's bumper NOW. I know I'm a touch faster thru gut check and that's about where we should catch Greg. I push and the stars align as I'm able to use Greg as a pick as I go on the outside of them both going into the last pair of corners. Unfortunately, my lead is short lived. Going into Diamond's Edge on the very next lap, I carry a bit too much speed and the car gets a touch loose on the slight right bend. I have to gather it up before I hammer the brakes. By then it's too late and I go way way wide (again). Nick gets a run on the next straight and gets by. Nick is trying everything to stay ahead including throwing gasoline on my windshield. Tricky bassa. We finish 3rd and 4th.
Back in the paddock, Dave tells me to go weigh. I'm confused but do as he says. Since he and Nick were underweight, I end up in 2nd for some good Toyo Bucks. Not quite the way I want to do it, but I'll take it.
Race 2 is inverted and I'm supposed to start directly behind Greg Hughs. Before the race, he tells me his trans is acting up and will be starting in 3rd so to expect him not to go right away. Somehow, between Dave Francis not starting due to a broken torque arm mount and people starting on pit lane, I end up with Wirtz beside me Hmm... My bet is Wirtz doesn't know about Greg's problems. The vid makes it look like I get awesome start. Good for Hollywood! It doesn't take Wirtz more than 2 corners to go motoring by me. With Nick starting on pit road, I’m starting to think I won't have anyone to play with. Then, a really really loud blue fox flys by on the next straight. Wade's come to play! I dog him and try to put pressure on where I can and try to keep up with his stroker motor. The sun is coming down as I take the checker in 3rd place.
I swap tires to my 6 race weekend old RA1's. I just need these to last thru tomorrow. One of the R888's is down to the cord. We head out to Road House with our trunk monkeys that came out to help us for the weekend. Mucho thanks to Hunter, Ron, Tilton, and Kent.
Sunday Nick removes his rookie Rrrrrr's. Rookie no mo'! A new gas cap arrives for him via Hunter's delivery service. I take it easy during qual as these tires have even less tread left than the R888's. In the race I fall back after the start. It takes a few laps to catch back up to Gary Hood. He's down on 7 cylinders. I get past and see Nick way ahead. I doubt I'll have enough laps to catch him, but I'm sure as hell gonna try. Coming onto the front stretch, he's going into one along with a group of 2 lapped cars and a slowed CMC2 car. Hmmm. I should gain time here in traffic. As we are going around carousel, one of the lapped cars motor lets go in dramatic fashion immediately infront of Nick. I'm on the same line as them and EASE to the inside line hoping not to be slipping and sliding on oil. Back hard on the gas and start to close on Nick. A few laps later, once again, I see Greg Hughs up ahead. As we approach gut check, there's a caution flag out for David Love who’s coming right at us! He had went off and was coming back on track up the pit entrance. I get a view of all three white Third Gens in one shot. It's like playing Where's Waldo. Nick gets around Greg as do I as we pass under the white flag. I do a quick check, with David Love behind us, Wirtz should be leading with Dave Francis in second, that means we're fighting for 3rd. It’s ON. I can get right on Nick's bumper once again but can't get by on that last lap.
Last race of the weekend. On the 2nd lap, Nick skoots by on the inside of carousel. I'm starting to not like that corner (never have actually). It's back to more of the same of me chasing Nick. Mundane and boring? I think not! Going into the 1st turn, Nick gets a bit squirly and I take the inside line again. Deja Vu, and he passes me right back on the next straight. But he's offline going into Diamond's Edge and I might have a chance. It's hard fought, but he maintains the position. We fight... we fight... We fight fight fight fight fight! Laura said later, from the grandstands it reminded her of Itchy and Scratchy every lap. In the closing laps, Dave Francis has caught us (from starting on pit road) and passed me putting him between myself and Nick. I stay close with the hope that if he opens a hole to get by, I'll be able to follow him thru. With 1/2 lap to going into Diamond's Edge, he gets around Nick, but I'm too far back to do anything. I get back on Nick's bumper thru the back section. Wade has come out of NOWHERE and is closing on us. I try fill Nick's mirrors but he's having none of it. Thru gut check, I'm hoping Wade doesn't try anything brave on me as he's a good few car lengths back. Nick makes his car really wide thru the last corners and leaves me nothing. On the front stretch to take the checker, Wade has literally disappeared. Where'd he go?
Best. Racing. Weekend. EVAR. Yeah, this weekend topped last year at Hallet. Racing that close with good friends (who you happen to have spare body panels etc for in case you mess up) is the best.
Motorsports Ranch Houston, CMC2 #17 Race 1, Jan 30/31, 2010
A picture is worth a thousand words right? Here’s my story.
First wheel to wheel race weekend ever. Rookie. Green. Nervous. Cold.
Moving on up the pyramid of speed.
Nick, Gary and Wade. Only time all weekend that we weren’t wearing hats and gloves! Gary starting his third season, Nick his second, and me the rookie.
Huge thanks to my “sponsors” Rami and Anna. They graciously offered up the use of a nice GoPro HD wide angle video camera to document my first ever race weekend, along with a HANS device. Of course Anna was happy to provide sticker power for my rear (end!). Thanks Guys!!
It sure is hard to find good help :-p Thanks Hunter!
For the record, I finished all four races for the weekend, and was not last in any of them. Of course I was not running with the pack either. I was having trouble keeping up with the CMC cars, not to mention the CMC2 cars. I had a great time and learned a lot about what it means to go racing. Consistency is key and it’s all about the fun!