WDMS    -    Chapter 208    -    2008-2012

GARY ROBERTSON

** IRONMAN **

NASA CMC RECORD HOLDER

 

John Force has 15 championships, 133 wins, 395 consecutive race starts.
Valentino Rossi has 9 championships, 105 wins, 230 consecutive race starts.
Sebastian Loeb has 9 championships, 77 wins, 146 consecutive race starts.
Richard Petty has 7 championships, 200 wins, 513 consecutive race starts.
Michael Schumacher has 7 championships, 91 wins, 165 consecutive race starts.
And Ricky Rudd has 0 championships, 23 wins and 788 consecutive race starts.

I’m the Ricky Rudd of NASA’s Camaro-Mustang Challenge. 

Gary Robertson - 0 Championships (best 2nd), 1* win, but 111 consecutive starts.



Don’t get me wrong, it’s a statistic that I’m proud of, just not exactly one you’ll hear Shuey boasting about. The guys listed above were all paid to do what they did. Most of them broke their streak by missing a race due to a penalty or injury or retirement. At the club racing level, it’s difficult enough to get time off our real jobs, budget some cash to allow us to go to events, and to build a car on our own that will be reliable throughout the weekend. 

In Texas, there were guys that had some pretty good consecutive starts streaks. The CMC points system gives points for merely taking the green flag. These streaks, like most others, ended due to wrecks or failed parts before the last race of the weekend, or because of driver injury from unrelated events, like mountain bike riding.

NASA Texas events have 4 races, sometimes 3, per class, per event weekend. From 2008 to 2012, they’ve held 6 events a year. I was still in the process of HPDE and getting my license at the first event of 2008, so the second event at MSR-Cresson was my first wheel to wheel race. 


Since that time, CMC went thru the TOYO R888 debacle, the CMC1 / CMC2 merge, change in NASA Texas ownership, a whole lot of new drivers entering, and old drivers leaving the series. My ’86 Camaro, aka Knocker, went thru some upgrades itself. Some cage bars got redone, exhaust was reworked multiple times, 5.0L TPI was swapped out for a 5.7L LT1 with the change of class to CMC2, and new stickers…. not to mention a new front fender.

 

 

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however. I had my fair share of gremlins and pushing the car onto the trailer at the conclusion of an event. Fortunately, nothing major, even with the omg-you’re-running-a-T5-it’s-gonna-go-boom! Failures were mostly electrical stuff. My very first race event I had the nut to the back of the alternator fall off. I had a frayed fuel pump wire that would ground out in left turns. Spark plug wire was being eaten by serpentine belt or not fully on the plug. Fuel lines tightened by ‘crew’ ended up leaking big time on grid. All these were either during practice or qual, or were easily fixable between races.

The saying “all good things must come to an end” is an unfortunate reality. Our last event of the 2012 season was at a new track, NOLA Motorsports Park. The wifey and I made a weekend out of it hanging out in New Orleans on the Friday since the track Test and Tune price was a touch out of my price range. Saturday went well learning the new track and running with the usual mid-pack slackers. Saturday night, a group of us, once again, returned to Bourbon Street.

Sunday morning was a foreshadowing of what was to come. I was in pain, not due to any hangover, but from lifting a four gallon fuel jug into the back of my truck at a gas station. It wasn’t particularly heavy or anything, or something I haven’t done many times in the past, but this time, something audibly popped in my back. I arrived at the track and skipped Sunday practice (I usually do that anyways to conserve tires), and decided to forgo qualifying as well to give my back some time to let the *ahem* medication set in. (Thanks Wade!)

I felt good ‘nuff to run in R3 of the four races scheduled. I started at the back, but ahead of the others who missed qual due to the festivities of the previous night. A good start, some passing of cars, and I was soon reeling in Jerry, whom I’d had some close racing with the previous races. And then Knocker started to lay down. I backed it down, not giving it full throttle and thought it’d be a good time to practice carrying speed thru the corners. I figured another plug wire had fallen off or a sensor was going bad. I was well ahead of the guys behind me and thought I’d just stay out ‘til they started to catch me, then come in early. Another lap, and another lap, and I see the guys closing in. I’ll come in this lap to get out of their way. Well, the 101k+ mile ’97 LT1 decided it just didn’t want to play anymore and went boom.

Video Link here: https://vimeo.com/54739481

 


After getting towed back to the paddock, it was obvious it was done for. It was suggested that since it still barely ran, that I take the green for R4 to continue my streak. The starter still engaged, so I could start from hot pits and ‘take’ the green. I elected not to, as it just didn't seem right.

Here are the damage pics to #5 & #6. Couldn’t find a definite cause of the failure. No dropped valves, all rod bolts were still intact, sorta points to a rod bearing failure. Knocker, go figure.



Going to take a break and skip most of the 2013 season, do a few things I’ve been putting off, save some money for upgrades, but I’ll be back. I’ll quit for good once it stops being fun.