Witchdoctor Motorsports

Chapter 84

NASA Racing at TWS with the Allison Legacy Cars

3-5 August, 2007

A PAIR OF FIVES AINT TOO BAD...COULD BE WORSE!

 

It was a dark and stormy nigh…err….scratch that. It was a brutally hot and sunny day. Yeah, that’s more like it!

It was Friday the 3rd of August and we were at TWS. Rege and his son Eric along with JP (who rented the 33 car for the circle track season which includes this one road race weekend) took the rig to TWS in the wee hours of the morning and I was a bit behind them in the B4C2 with a set of race tires for company. The nice thing about a third gen Camaro is that you can haul four mounted race tires and have room for a bag of your racing gear, a bag with overnight clothes and a laptop case with room to spare! I even took some tools and such just in case.

B4C2 in front of the XPEL Motorsports rig. 

Anyway, on Friday we spent the day learning and testing. Eric’s car, the #88 was duly changed to #38 due to a number conflict and as Rege and JP setup the awning and got the cars prepped I changed tires on 2. With some decent GSCS’ on her, she was ready for the track and I took turns taking Eric and then JP around the 2.9 mile roadcourse taking it easy to show them the line that I run and the visual cues I use to stay on that line. While less than 15 turns it doesn’t sound like much, but proper car placement is critical to good lap times and so we went around quite a few times to get it all straight.

Rege putting the finishing touches on the 88...er...38 before a practice session. 

Out of the box the 33 car flat smoked the 38 and the gearing was wrong in the 38. With a quick change of gears (thanks for quick change rear ends!) the 38 was back in the powerband of the engine but was handling much worse. We had set the alignments the same but found a different spring setup in the back of the 38 than the 33 and that was rectified along with a trip to the scales. I was easily 2+ seconds faster in the 33 than the 38 but kept working on the 38 as the day wore on. The 38 would start out okay but 2-3 laps in would begin to get progressively looser and thus slow the lap times down. Near the end of the day we got the 38 closer but it was still no match for the 33 and as the last half hour of track time saw Eric and JP lapping together I took out 2 for one last spin. JP’s wife had arrived with Rege’s wife and she said she’d like a ride around the track so with Rege’s helmet on she hopped in 2 for a quick ride. As I came onto the track I split JP (in front) and Eric and ran with them down to 3 and up through 4, 5 and 6. At this point we were hanging with JP pretty well (and had Eric right behind us) and flew up through 7 and she decided she had about had enough. I backed off as we let Eric by and then we took another very easy lap and I pointed out the turn in points, the apexes and track out points as well as the visual cues to find them. She absolutely loved the ride and talked about it a good bit, and now has seen the track from the going-fast side. And we didn’t have to get Rege’s helmet cleaned either!

The Legacy cars ready to go for a practice session.

Friday night we had some great beef for dinner and then I scooted over to Todd’s shop and we checked out the AC on the 2. Sure enough, the compressor was seeping out the front and so Todd quickly hung another one and recharged the system. With ice-cold air I headed to Wade’s and met up with Gary who was sleeping there also. It is good to know folks near racetracks as it saves on hotel bills! Saturday dawned as Gary and I headed down to TWS after a quick stop so Gary could fill his fuel jugs and I could grab some cases of water.

Knocker and Gary doing the HPDE thing on Saturday.

The plan was for me to drive the 38 for the two races on Saturday and then Eric would drive the car for the two races on Sunday. I only needed one more race to ‘qualify’ for the NASA Nationals so I only had to finish one of the two races. We head out for practice and while the 38 did get more and more loose, JP and I did pretty well moving up through the pack. After practice we find that the timing strip is not picking up folks that run on the apron and we both only got one timed lap when we both went high around a slower car. With a few quick setup changes and fuel we go out for qualifying and after one hot lap my J-bar (panhard rod) broke. At speed. In turn 1. I was doing a WHOLE lot of steering to try and keep the car out of the grass and did manage to keep it on the track. I limped back in the pits, changed clothes, and got to work. After the session Rege picked up another J-bar and we got it installed.

Above: Yeeeaaaahhhh. When a j-bar (panhard bar) breaks things can get a bit busy behind the wheel. 

With only one semi-decent lap in qualifying (I was still getting up to speed and trying to get a clear lap) I gridded in 10th (out of 20). Decidedly mid-pack. JP was a couple of spots up and we put the cars on the hotpits for the opening ceremonies. Being a ‘Thanks Veterans’ weekend there were some Army guys who parachuted onto the hot pits as well as a color guard and the star-spangled banner. It was very nice and well orchestrated and being the headliner group, the Legacy’s were in the middle of it.

Above: The cones to get us off the apron so the timing strip records correctly.

 

Driver / Lap

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 - Dillon Spreen (81)

81

67

67

67

81

81

67

67

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 - Kirby Caldwell (67)

67

81

81

81

67

67

81

81

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 - Shawn Cannon (45)

45

45

88

88

88

88

88

88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 - Jay Carley (88)

88

88

71

71

71

33

45

45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 - Jake Kruger (71)

71

33

33

33

33

45

38

38

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 - Todd Brady (20)

20

71

45

45

45

71

33

89

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 - John Riley (69)

69

20

20

20

38

20

89

33

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 - Richard Tyra (89)

89

38

38

38

20

38

32

32

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 - Paul Costas (38)

38

58

89

89

89

89

58

58

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 - John Martin (58)

58

89

58

58

58

58

7

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 - J P Karpowicz (33)

33

7

4

4

32

32

20

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 - Taylor Brandes (3)

3

4

7

7

7

7

71

71

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 - Levi Krauss (32)

32

32

32

32

3

3

3

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 - Thomas Murray (4)

4

14

14

14

14

14

14

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lap chart for Race 1. 

So we launch for Race 1 and on the warmup lap I'm getting heat in the brakes and tires and I'm on the inside due to someone not starting ahead of me and JP is right behind me. The green drops and we all hammer it down the front straight and down the hill into T1. Everyone gets through fairly well and JP goes wide and scoops up a few spots. At the end of the first lap JP has moved all the way up to 5th and I moved up to 8th. I spend the next two laps running hard and closing on the 20 car. On lap 4 I catch him as he runs T1/2 horribly and I've got a nice speed margin and catch him as we exit T2. He stays right as I fade back left for the right-hand T3 and JUST as I get almost on his bumper he swerves directly in front of me and I have no choice but to slam the brakes to avoid hitting him. Talk about some seriously crappy driving and something that roadracers as a whole just DON'T do. I understand that is the norm for other race types, but I was so mad I almost chewed through my helmet. I ran him down and passed him and then he pulled a low percentage move in the carousel and I backed off to not hit him. A prime example of a person I don't enjoy racing with as their unpredictability and unsportsmanlike driving mean unhappy times on the track. I followed him as we were staying a few seconds behind the cars in 4th (JP), 5th and 6th. On the second to last lap I was again closing on the 20 coming out of T2 and as I was planning my pass I looked up to see the three cars in T3 all sideways and smoke. Everyone was just getting sorted as we came upon them and I ducked way inside, passed everyone but the 45 car (that inherited 4th) and locked onto his tail. Karma being what it is, the 20 car spun badly and dropped back to 11th. For the last lap I was holding 5th just fine and JP got going and lost a last minute fight with the 89 to finish 7th. The 20 car picked up 1 spot and finished 10th. Thanks karma.

During the race I fought the same problem as qualifying in that the car would transition to very loose as the laps wore on. In the beginning I could run 1,7 and 12 flat out. As the laps piled on, I'd have to lift a bit to keep the car on the track. I set my fastest lap on lap 2 and they got slower from there. That blows. In talking with Kirby (who started second, drove exceptionally well and won the race!) he gave me some ideas and I made some changes for Race 2 which was only a few hours away. There would be no qualifying and we'd start the race where we finished the last one. In the back of my mind, I wondered if the j-bar would not give us any issues and Rege, JP and I gave the cars a pretty thorough going-over, topped the cars off with fuel and waited. 

Headed out to grid.

Ready to go for Race 2.

Driver / Lap

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

 

1 - Kirby Caldwell (67)

67

81

81

81

81

81

81

 

2 - Dillon Spreen (81)

81

67

67

67

67

67

67

 

3 - Jay Carley (88)

88

88

88

88

88

88

88

 

4 - Shawn Cannon (45)

45

45

45

45

45

45

45

 

5 - Richard Tyra (89)

89

38

38

38

38

38

38

 

6 - Paul Costas (38)

38

33

33

33

33

33

33

 

7 - J P Karpowicz (33)

33

32

3

20

20

20

20

 

8 - Levi Krauss (32)

32

3

32

3

3

3

3

 

9 - Todd Brady (20)

20

20

20

58

58

58

58

 

10 - John Martin (58)

58

58

58

89

89

89

89

 

11 - Jake Kruger (71)

71

7

69

32

32

32

32

 

12 - Taylor Brandes (3)

3

71

89

7

7

7

7

 

13 - Sammy May (7)

7

69

4

4

4

4

69

 

14 - John Riley (69)

69

89

7

69

69

69

71

 

15 - Wayne Harwell Jr (14)

14

4

24

14

71

71

4

 

16 - Kristopher Kerr (24)

24

24

14

24

24

24

14

 

17 - Thomas Murray (4)

4

14

71

71

14

14

24

 

18 - Jack Murray (86)

86

86

86

86

86

86

 

 

Lap chart for Race 2. Not sure why it shows me starting in 6th, but oh well...

Race 2. I start 5th which is inside again and JP is 7th, right behind me. JP is going for the series championship and needs all the points he can get, but can't risk NOT finishing either. We do the normal warm-up thing on the out-lap and then get tight for the start. I know my motor is down on power a bit, but I get a decent start and hold my spot through turn 1. JP goes wide and I thought he was going to get me but he has to back off a bit for 2 and I stay in the gas and keep the spot. We stay 5th and he takes 6th and we stay like that for several laps. He is quicker in the faster corners but I seem to brake deeper and get on the gas sooner in the slower stuff. As we start the final lap it gets interesting. We are catching some lap traffic and I am just hoping that the car sees us and moves over. Nope. We go into 5 and split the guy and JP has the inside down the long back stretch. As we drag race from 6 all the way down to 7 he is next to the grass on the left and I'm in the middle of the road not letting him up. We stayed neck and neck and as we were getting to the brake zone he was beginning to pull ahead and I was sure he could no longer see me. I was stepping back to the right and thinking if he didn't slow down soon there was no way he was going to make the corner. Then again, if he braked deep he could block me a bit and take the corner and it'd be a drag race up the hill to 8 and I was sure he'd win it. Fortunately for me he lifted a moment early and I shot by on the quick line across his nose and he had to slow a bit more to make the corner. I had a bit of a comfy pad then and I nursed the car back to the line for another 5th place finish. Considering the car, I was very happy with that. 

Me and JP exiting T2 on the final lap of Race 2.

Huge thanks to Rege and Eric for letting me drive the 88...err..38 that day and for JP not getting ornery in T7! After another circle track race Rege pulled the motor in the 88/38 and it was found to be down on power. Part of me wishes I'd have been in the 33 for the weekend as I think I could have battled for the wins instead of the 'decent-finishes', but beggars can't be choosers and I'm extremely happy for the chance to drive at all! THANKS GUYS!!