WDMS - Chapter 208 - February 2013

NARRA AT TWS

It was Wednesday the 13th and I was due to take Scratcher to the track the day after tomorrow. Funny thing is, I had not touched the car since it came off the track for the last NARRA event last September. Life has been going full speed and Scratcher has sat waiting. I ordered six tires a few weeks back, three fronts and three rears. They are used, but fairly fresh and were in VERY much better shape than the last tires I ran, so I was hopeful.

Regardless, I pulled the cover and took a good look at everything. Anna helped me check things over, wipe the car down and make sure it was ready. I ran the valves, checked plugs and Scratcher seemed ready to go.  After sitting five months she barked to life quickly and easily and seemed anxious to get on track. Good.

Friday morning I got up well before the sun and took the trailer on the long 15 minute drive to TWS (heh) and dropped it off in our usual corner spot and was back home before 7:30. I went back down at lunch and rolled Scratcher out and got her through tech inspection and she passed with flying colors and got her tech sticker. I chatted with a few folks and put her back in the trailer and went and finished my day. Nick came in town Friday night and we got a few odds and ends ready. This weekend kinda snuck up on me quickly so I hoped everything was ready. The last several outings have been incredibly simple, I was just hoping this one would be too!

Above: Early prep work, Cool looking GTR (actually was in TT2), and another GTR eyeing Scratcher

Saturday dawned very cold and the sun cresting the horizon found us at the track unloading the car and setting up our spot. It was cold. As you know, I hate cold. In the 8am driverís meeting, NARRA announced that they had just inked a deal with Pirelli and regardless of the tires you were on, you could win tires. With three of more finishers, the winner got a pair. With five or more finishers the winner got a pair and the second place entrant got one. Not bad at all. If I could manage to win both days I might just score some tires. Pirelli makes nothing that would fit Scratcher, but there are plenty of horses home in the stable that could use new shoes! 

The usual serious suspects showed up, but overall the turnout was a bit light. My guess is that the recent track days at the new Austin F1 track pulled some of the usual entrants play money (the F1 track event entry was STEEP!!!) and so they didnít have funds to come win new tires. Heh. Once again, the #LoneCamaro was truly the lone camaro. There were Vipers and Corvettes galore with a few GTRs thrown in, and again our little team would try and punch above our weight and see where weíd come out at. Last event Troy Messerís TT1 Corvette snagged top time and I was hoping that my new-to-me tires along with some small chassis changes (thanks Neil@ThinkFastEngineering!) would allow me to close the gap.

 

This event was creating a little extra buzz as SPEED channel has a new show "R U Faster than a Redneck" and being a reality show, it pushes drama and uses the old import car vs domestic car as the agenda. One of the show's contestants brought his sky camo GTR to the event this weekend and it was played up in the pre-event press releases and created chatter on Facebook and Twitter. The press release (I get a short mention) is here: http://myemail.constantcontact.com/No-lone-star-in-Texas-this-weekend-.html?soid=1102405988180&aid=ZrEnYnW5ZPg

 

 

For TT, we get four sessions a day, and each day is its own event. Only your one single fastest lap counts, so I didnít see going out the first session when the track was so green (lots of rain recently, including a slow drizzle Friday night). The session times showed I was right and nobody was particularly fast.  I was guessing it was going to take a 1:46 or maybe a 1:45 to win today and then nobody even broke the 1:50 barrier, with Messer fastest at a 1:50.3. Yup, it was that cold and green! One car spun on the outlap and came in to clean off the mud/muck!

I played instructor this event also, and my student Dennis had a new-to-him c5z with diff/trans coolers, T1 bars and brake ducts and was riding on new R6s. Motor was stock, but it handled like a dream. This was his first driving event and we improved all day long and he was starting to really Ďget ití at the end of the day.

Above: Dennis and I making laps, an early oops and a grid full of serious horsepower. Below: First laps on Saturday felt good, passing on the high line splitter still intact!

For the second TT session Scratcher was ready. Messer and his stable-mate Weathers (TT2 C6) went to grid with their same older hoosiers (the three of us paddocked close and were chatting) and the green flag dropped on us. Weathers only did two laps but laid down a 1:48.0 a few ticks quicker than Messerís 1:48.7. Scratcher felt good, but I started to hear a tin-scraping noise and although I laid down a session-quickest 1:46.9, the car was struggling a bit for forward bite. Coming in, Nick saw the splitter had been chewed up. I had added a touch of rake, but it should not have been enough to cause thisÖ.so we got to fixing! The rivet heads had been shaved clean off and the splitter then dropped down and was just chipped away. New holes were drilled, more rivets added and I added a touch of compression to the front shocks as well as more negative angle on the wing. It was the most rear angle Iíve run. I knew we were giving up a good bit of time the first session and hoped these changes would be in the right direction. My closest TTU competitors were hovering at the 1:50 mark and so I had a bit of a gap, but I still was pushing for the overall P1.

Above: Splitter damage and some play time! 

Above: Initial splitter repair in progress....and coloring....and tire cleaning....it's a family thing in our paddock 

After Layneís and glass-bottle cokes for lunch (yes!) it was about time to go out again. Weathers chose to skip the third session but Messer (on fresh hoosiersÖ.ruh roh!) and I headed out with a gaggle onto a warming track to see what we could do. On my first hot lap I heard light scraping again, but stayed out for a second lap for a bit more clear traffic and to really throw one down. It was far from perfect, but I figured it would do. I came in to see Messer drop all the way to a 1:45.9, while I stopped the clocks at a 1:45.4. My closest TTU competitor was now under 1:50 with a 1:49.0! Coming in, we found the splitter chewed up and more repairs needed. I decided to skip the fourth session and stand on my 45.4, and we quickly pulled the nose off and put it in the back of the truck to take home for repairs at the end of the day and waited to see what the last session would bring. Thankfully, nobody went faster and I not only won TTU with overall fastest time of the event, but I also reset the TTU lap record also. The icing was a free pair of Pirelli tires! Hopefully we could do it all over again tomorrow!

At home we had a great meal and took about 45 minutes to trim out the splitter and resecure it. We trimmed out the very middle section and then resecured the rest. While not perfect, it should be okay until I can pull apart the lower nose and put in a fresh complete splitter panel. 

 

Above: Nick and I making repairs, and then a closeup of the splitter panel separating from the car and feeding the wire mesh grill aluminum chips!

Sunday morning again dawned pretty cold and Nick headed back to San Antonio with things to do and Anna, Ros and I had a car to reassemble, a trophy to collect and another day of racing to do. Nick and I had cleaned up the nose, pulled the center part of the splitter and fixed the rest. When putting the nose back on Anna and I figured out that the lower spacers on the frame were gone(eek!)  allowing the nose to droop a bit too much so we re-spaced the nose and put it all back together.  And crossed our fingers.

  

Above: TTU Camaro (some assembly required!) and a clean Corvette.  Below: NO NOSE!!!, and then Anna getting connections done

Up on the podium I got our trophy and said a few words to the camera and then we all broke to get ready for the day. We still had to burp the cooling system and such so we again skipped the first session and instead watched live timing on our phones. Again it was still pretty cold but with no rain the track wasnít so green. Still, it was first session and folks were taking it easy and only three folks ran in the 49s, with the rest higher. The second session would again likely yield the fast times, with still good chances in the third. 

 

Sunday session two was coming upon us and I looked over to see Weathersí C6z putting on fresh hoosier A6s. 315s in the front and 345 in the rear. Whoah. Messer was also on fresh tires. Ruh-Roh. I simply cleaned a few of the rocks off my tires and dumped in a bit more fuel to help the rears bite a bit more and slid into my nomex. Our gaggle of cars thundered out onto track and I went to work. There was a big break between the front group and the back group and I was in the middle of the back group. I scooted through the traffic on the first two laps and caught that big gap starting lap 3 and knew that now was the time to make it count. The lap was really good, I had the shifter hang up a bit on one shift and I left a little on the table in two of the corners and ended up catching a car at the end of the lap but I felt good about it and the car was better than yesterday. I decided to save the tires and box now, knowing I had more sessions if I needed them. I cooled it down and once in my pit spot I grabbed the phone to check the timing for the still-going-on session. Weathers had put down a 1:45.9 in basically a street car on sticker A6s! Yes, it has lots of LG go fast parts (aero hood, big splitter, wing, skirts, suspension, etc), but it still has an inspection sticker!! Messer went even faster at a 1:45.5 to keep TT1 in front of TT2. Thankfully, I slipped ahead of them with a 1:45.3 to keep TTU in front of both of them. My closest TTU competitor was easily in the 1:49s, so I had a little cushion. Messer, Weathers and I all had a great chat after that session!

Above: Chasing Messer in the carousel. Below: Putting in Sunday laps!

The nose didnít really scrape and everything seemed fine. I dug some track rubber out of the shifter area and so I guess I need to build a guard under the car to keep debris from reaching the shiter/rods assembly. Sadly, with a 7 hour drive home, the Messerís loaded up and headed out. Weathers put his on the trailer but stuck around, saving the tires and wear-n-tear for another event. I knew there was a :44 out there for me that day, but the smart thing would be to put it back in the trailer. The only reason to NOT do that would be if I needed to take anyone out for a spin. Later that afternoon Make showed up with his helmet and I got to run a passenger in the final session. Make teaches the formula SAE kids at TAMU (mechanical engineering) and has been around racing machinery his whole life but he said heíd not been around TWS Ďvery fastí although heíd been out there quite a bit. The session sheets were out and it was REALLY nice to again be at the top of the time sheets in P1. That's a really really good feeling, makes the work and effort worth it and the feeling that much sweeter. 

So the last session of the day rolls around, Make and I slide in Scratcher, put in some earplugs and strap on our helmets, belt in, and go for a cruise. Traffic was light, but we still passed a few and I made a few 97% laps and when I looked over, each time Make gave me the thumbs up and so I kept going. After a handful of laps I brought it in and Make seemed to really enjoy the ride, smiling a bit bigger than when he got to the speedway (heh). The track was getting better and without even 'risking it' we put down a 1:46.6 with clear track. Sharing the experience of Scratcher is a huge benefit and I enjoy taking folks when I can. 

  

Above: Before and After...Make said it was a 'fun ride'...  <grin>

After that, it was time for the final podium ceremony, another first place trophy, another pair of Pirelli tires, another track record and a few more words for the camera. I donít mean to sound mundane, Iím very excited to do so well against vastly more expensive cars, but the goal this year was to win overall and we worked and achieved that goal. YAY! #LoneCamaro strikes again! Huge thanks to Neil at ThinkFastEngineering.com, Louis at LG Motorsports, Nick for crewing and, of course, Anna for helping out so much and supporting this endeavor!  Also, the NARRA team makes it so nice! The format of a NARRA weekend is really simple and the organization and officials are transparent and communication is fantastic. Iíve not detected any politics, no officials with questionable agendas or any unbalanced playing fields. THAT is a welcome feeling for sure!

Above: Hanging out, and the wind was a constant 20+mph straight on your nose for the front straight both days! 

Final NARRA event press release with a picture of Scratcher right up top! http://myemail.constantcontact.com/-Rednecks--win-Texas-rounds-of-Whelen-USTTC-.html?soid=1102405988180&aid=tiu5nrMP9PQ

NARRA noted in the press release that I've done 5 days with them at TWS. I have five first place trophies and have reset the track record five times. Yay! Go Scratcher! #LoneCamaro

 

yup, got that shirt for Christmas...

Getting home and firing up the data analysis software and looking at videos I can begin to dissect the effects of the changes and Scratcher is going in the right direction. Back in the early days with no vented hood (less df), no front splitter (less df), a VERY trimmed wing (very little rear df), Iíd easily hit over 170 on the front straight. Now, with even a bit more power I am hitting mid 160s and with the huge (20++) headwind this weekend I was in the low 160s. Still, Iím pulling more lateral than I ever have and my lap times are the quickest Iíve had. I used to struggle to pull a mid 1.6 lateral on T7 (the touch of banking helps) and then mid to high 1.5s on the flat T11. Now, Iím going well over 1.7 on T7 and high 1.6s and touching low 1.7s on T11. Both these are high speed corners with the slowest speed  in T7 being over 100 and the slowest in T11 being over 90. Thank you Neil!

Next up is TX2K13 in a few weeks. I'll put on the newer right side tires and see if I can do well again on my home track! Stay tuned...