Chapter 185 03 September 2011
North American Road Race Association
HPDE & WHELEN USTT SERIES
TEXAS WORLD SPEEDWAY
***Links at the bottom of the page***
NOTE: This WDMS Chapter is covering one event that has three separate stories. First up is Ron driving his new Viper, second is me entering Scratcher in the USTT (Time Trial) event and third is the general NARRA event itself. I do this just to keep it all straight and keep the stories simple. Enjoy!!
Left: Ron's first time with the Viper on track. Right: First Viper ride!!
First up is Ron taking his Copperhead Edition Viper for some exercise. He had been looking at high performance two-seaters for a while and we had discussed the merits of corvettes vs vipers and he kept doing research and chatting with folks who had owned both. Finally he found a great car at a great price and a few weeks later a big truck brought him a REALLY cool present!! Not long after that we chatted again about the upcoming event at TWS by the old 'ViperDays' folks. He said I needed to register also and let them know I'd be instructing him. We had climbed the speed ladder together in his Challenger at TWS years ago and Ron was anxious to get the Viper out there. I called the organizers and made the plans (more about that in the next part of the story) and showed up Friday as planned. We got a pit spot staked out, Scratcher tech'd and our basics done. Dinner capped it off and then in short order we were back at the track bright and early. Ron went through tech and I went to the instructor meeting and soon enough we were sitting on grid with a lot of very stout cars. Viper comp coupes, ACR, ACR-X, plus the usual GTRs, R8, a few Vette's and such.
Long story short, Ron did as expected, which is awesome. We did four long sessions in that car and quickly became the wolf among the sheep. There was one other car, a white/black viper ACR that was driven pretty well and he could actually hang with us for a bit, but he always faded in the fast corners (T1, T7, T11) and Ron just walked away despite a LOT less HP. We had good flaggers who threw passing flags pretty well for us and as the day wore on the run group got a bit smaller and our track time was much less busy. Ron never dropped a tire, but we did find the limits in the medium speed corners and Ron's control just got better and better. The car was rock solid, the temps stayed in the green despite a very warm day and we had a great time. By the end of the day we'd never been passed and were typically passing most folks twice in our session. Great Job Ron!!
Above: Ron and the Copperhead ! !
PART TWO: So when I called the very nice Event Organizer, she told me about NARRA and how they took over the old ViperDays and turned it into an honest-to-goodness series. I checked the website and was duly impressed with how they have organized everything and had a good traveling schedule. Road Atlanta, Sebring, VIR, Daytona (and more) are some great tracks! She checked on me and got me signed up to instruct and said if I had a 'real race-car' then I could run the Whelen USTT (time trial) or the USGT (w2w racing) that they sanction. They also have (of course) HPDE Student and HPDE Solo/Instructor run groups as well as the ViperRacing group. Looked to be a great weekend and while she wasn't sure if Scratcher would fit into the rules, I was welcome to drive her in my Instructor/Solo group since I was instructing. Fun. I even got mentioned in the pre-event Press Release! I prepped Scratcher, relocated the IR temp sensors for the right front and headed down. At tech, the very nice guy (I know...'nice guy' and 'tech' typically don't work, but here they do!!) said I'd fit into the Unlimited class. I had skimmed the rules and didn't know if Scratcher fit 'production based' or not. The only thing with GM production part numbers are the tail lights, but I was welcomed with open arms as some CompCoupes and a lone Grand-Am Spec Corvette (Hoerr chassis) was there too. I breezed through tech and slid her back in the trailer for the night.
Above and below : Paddock pics!
Above middle: At NARRA, wristbands are SRSBZNS! Had I run GT, I'd have had another one!!
So after a great session with Ron, I slid into Scratcher for a quick lap or two just to shake off the dust and to check data and vid. The chasecam used to be inside the car and looking through lexan angled that much it really makes it not-so-good. So I took a chance and mounted the cam on the nose, just on the top of the radiator opening. No clue if it would be stable or not (it's not...but it's fun vid for sure!) but it would give me a chance to check that also. Nick and Ron (huge thanks guys!!) checked things over and I scooted out. As soon as I got to T4 I was enthusiastically black flagged. "What the....I just got here!!"...then there was blacks at ALL the stations and I figured someone went way off. They ended up not letting us back out so my 'quick check' was indeed a really quick check and we looked over the car after that and all seemed fine. The vid worked, but at certain speeds it was pretty shaky. I was anxious to see how it would do when the oil got hot and I really spun the motor up and got some speed going. Lunchtime had Anna bring us all Layne's (wh00p) to eat with the glass-bottle Cokes. Mmmmm. HUGE THANKS!
Finally went out for a longer shakedown after another few sessions with Ron, and I dug in the spurs pretty well. Sadly, after two hard laps the oil breather belched again and I came in. It ran fine at the last event so I'm not totally sure what the issue is, but I wasn't going to risk anything out here. Both my laps had pretty good traffic where I lost multiple seconds each time I hit traffic and my lap time was fully 5-6 seconds slower than I'd run here before on clear track but it was enough today to take the top spot today. One of the CompCoupes took second with the GA Corvette very close in third. The Vette redeemed itself on Sunday, winning the class. All the TTU cars were out there with TT1 and TT2 cars and the speed differential was pretty interesting as you can see on the video, but all the drivers did great and the flaggers were very heads-up. I was happy that it all went so smooth. I got great data with the DL1 and the camera, while shaky, has some cool video too! With the temp sensors tucked in the RF wheel well, I was running the ride height in the front a bit higher than normal and also took a less aggressive line in T1 but it all worked out.
On the plus side, they had INSANELY COOL trophies. Aluminum cut out (plasma? water-jet?) with beveled edges and brushed gorgeous. We had pictures taken in front of the NARRA trailer and flags, got interviewed and then the PR guy came over and took pics of the car, pics of me with the car and then group shots.
While the oil vent deal is a bummer, I can't let that get me down. Earlier in the year we went to a big import meet and battled GTRs, Supras and more and came out on top, and now we did it again with the domestic vipers and corvettes. Wh00p!
Above: Bringing home the hardware!!! Below: The Grand-Am tube corvette on Michelin slicks....nice!!
THE THIRD Part of the event is simply the event itself. The organizers, tech, registration and all the officials we came into contact with were really great. No issues, no attitudes and no problems. Everyone was simply great to deal with. Having run with most sanctioning bodies out there this was really a wonderful surprise. The event had a LOT to offer and I'll be looking at their 2012 schedule when it comes out. Sadly, the next event is Daytona (OMG!) and while I'd love to run there I've got some schedule conflicts. Argh. Below are some of the cars that attended. The 'constitution' viper had a very cool wrap with lots of great quotes. There was nearly every color viper there and it was nice to hear them air those things out on the front straight! They kept to the time schedule, the meetings were quick and efficient and every official I spoke with was polite. This was an awesome experience and if you get the chance to run with them, then by all means do.
Above right: Ron and I on grid. Below: One freaking GORGEOUS blue viper. DO WANT
So this carbon-fiber viper is supposed to have 1800hp. He is going to lap the big 2 mile oval a few times then really rip it down the front straight and then pull the chute. Sounded cool. Sadly, it didn't happen. He went around the oval a few times and we watched from on top of the trailer, but he went painfully slow in the turns. Like, dodge neon slow. Not SRT-4 turbo. Not even 5 speed. We're talking NA 4cyl automatic. With the AC on. And four really large people on board. Down the straights he kinda got on it, but he wasn't going anywhere near the speeds the compcoupes or I were doing. Checking the car out later, the carbon-fiber is a wrap. That is peeling off in a lot of places. No clue if the car is really fast or a dyno queen or what.
Which brings me to another point. As I've said, pretty much everyone was very cool. All the NARRA folks were and most all the competitors were too. But...as always, there are the dyno folks who make big power but somehow that never translates to good lap times or results. It is very common for folks to ask me what Scratcher weighs and what she has for rwhp. I'll allude to the former, but don't discuss the latter. I simply don't share that number. It's my money and my choice. Most folks respect that. A few folks came up and were adamant to tell me how much power they had, quote dyno figures only to not be seen on the track. Or seen lapping slowly. Dyno queens...Go figure. All power, little skill. It takes all types I guess...and thankfully that type was not common here. :-)
Above: Vanity plates were in abundance. Below: They killed some tires and HRE's on a Z06. Sweet!!
Above: The only other F-body I saw. On 17" Ronal R15s no less!!
Above left: Kiddos in the paddock. Right: There is no more blue tape at Home Depot in College Station. Srsly.
Below: ZR1s never took to the track in anger, just for the lunch-time parade laps. Sad.
Above: Yes. Below: Scratcher as the sun goes down. Nice.
NARRA LINK HERE
NARRA PRE-RACE PRESS RELEASE
NARRA POST-RACE PRESS RELEASE (with quotes and pictures)
ON-BOARD VIDEO FROM SCRATCHER <--- wheeeeee
ON-BOARD VIDEO FROM SCRATCHER WITH DATA OVERLAY <-- Real Time tire temp sensors on the right front tire