WDMS - Chapter 295 - October 2021
TRANS-AM at COTA with GSpeed's SCRAPS
"So, what do you think about running Scraps next weekend with Trans-Am??"
Awesome snap by Chris Clark!
It always starts pretty innocently, right? Louis and I were already talking about next year and what sanctioning bodies to run with, tracks we wanted to visit, GSpeed customers we could meet and support, the usual end-of-year stuff we've done the past few years when Louis asked about running TA at COTA in 10 days. As usual, my reply was "I'm in!!!!"
GSpeed already had Justin running SGT (he locked up the championship at the last race) and Weathers was going to run 480 (errr...48) in the top XGT class and we'd slot Scraps into "GT", the slowest class since it would basically fit right in and only needed a restrictor and the correct tires (it is the PIRELLI Trans-Am series...no HooHoos here!!) along with a few other small mods and we'd be good to go. In just the few minutes we chatted, I was already fired up and looking up who to contact in TA to get credentialed and registered.
To get our weight right, we did a TON of de-fueling and scaling. On the right is our restrictor. Ooof.
Fast forward 9 days and I'm pulling into COTA well before the sun comes up. I had asked MFW to crew and he arrived during load-in and got his RV spotted right next to the GSpeed circus and it all worked our swimmingly. Rivas shows up as well and while I'd get access to some other GSpeed crew folks, those two were primary on Scraps and kept it ready for battle. Huge HUGE thank you to MFW and Rivas as well as all the GSpeed folks for all the help along the way. Despite the finish, it was a great weekend.
Above snap by Chris Clark
But let's start with the finish. On one hand, I finished second....but on the other had there were only two in class (doh!). On one hand I took the lead with 2.5 laps to go, but on the other hand, I only had 2.0 laps of fuel left. Bittersweet, but in the end we swung the best bat we could and honestly I'm happy with how well we did. We were fighting a motor that was allergic to motor oil, as well as a factory fuel capacity that we simply didn't have time to increase. We knew it would be close and with two decent yellows we figured we could make it. Problem was: while we DID get two decent yellows, only one allowed me to slow down and save fuel. As we say in racing sometimes: "Thems the breaks!"
Sadly, while all three GSpeed cars were leading their classes, we all had misfortune strike. Justin had the ring terminal at his alternator fail (?!?!?!?) and he retired from the lead. Weathers had been scuba diving in Mexico the previous week and fought an ear infection that flared up so on Sunday he put Hart in the car! Hart started last, clawed his way to the lead only to have shifter issues screw him up and he fell back to 2nd place. I, of course, ran out of fuel on the last lap from the lead. It was a tough weekend all around, but it happens and we push forward.
On the left, flare differences. On the right MFW and Rivas angle Scraps to absolutely top it off.
Below: Us putting on the big GSpeed wing decal, and Lee (GSpeed engineer) making changes.
On to the good parts: We had a really good time hanging with the GSpeed team and the TA officials were a freaking dream to work with. Complete transparency, over-the-top communication and a "we want to work with you" attitude that we also saw at ChampCar a few weeks back but sadly not at the NASA Nats back in Florida. I tell you, club racers all think pro racing is full of attitude and cold shoulders, but that is not at all what we experienced. We took a basic club-leval car and dang near snuck onto the top step...but still had a fantastic time. These approaches are certainly factoring in to what our plans will be for upcoming seasons as well as the customer base of GSpeed.
Above snap by Chris Clark
Practice and qualifying went well as we learned the new tires. We were about 5 seconds back from the Ginetta (driven by Sean Young with support from our buddy Chris Taylor Motorsports) at the start of the weekend and by the time qualy rolled around we were only 0.2 back. For the race, our best times were separated by only ~0.5 seconds so I'd say the Trans-Am leveling surely did it right!!
Above: My family and my racing family.....good times indeed!
Below: Cory and his dad helped me get onto post-race scales....THANKS!!!
The race itself was a ton of fun, Scraps was a LOT heavier than the Ginetta in our class, but with it being power-to-weight that Ginetta would be awfully fast in the tight stuff. For the first half of the race we were rarely more than a second or two apart. I was using every single bit of car I had and told Louis that I could keep up the pace, but I was pushing hard and not doing the typical endurance pace where you back off a few percent to save the car. In all my years of racing, I've never pushed a car this hard for this long and it is a huge testament to Louis' build and the Pirelli tires that they didn't give up. We didn't get the setup as perfect as we'd like, but the tires took the abuse and stayed consistent the entire time. After a late race restart we were all bunched up and a car spun or died at the exit of T9 and the Ginetta spun trying to avoid and I shot the gap into the lead. I backed off a touch and took the white flag the next lap and then heartbreak on the backstretch as I ran completely dry and no amount of swerving to get fuel would help. I was less than a mile from the checker. In a 100 mile race. Ooof. After sitting for about a minute, the Ginetta flies by and takes the win. I've been blessed with an incredibly long win streak in the past and lots of things fell my way to make that happen....so occasionally things don't go my way and that's okay too. It's why we run the race to see whose best that day.
Above: Staged for that pefect shot, plus oil issues....
Below: Driver got out but car burned before rescue could get it extinguished. Wow!!!
Above: The GSpeed supported trio, and below, the crescent moon with the tower!
Sean (below) said it was his first time to win with champagne so I'm glad some good pics were taken!!