VIDEO: Saturday Race
VIDEO: Sunday Race
Right around August 30th, Dad and I drove down to Atlanta (From Colorado), and picked up the Stohr, which left about six weeks to prepare the car. Other than the bodywork, not a lot of preparation to do – the car was in pretty darn good condition.
Everything came together with a few days to spare, including a new oil cooler and newly prepared and painted bodywork. RockySoft was kind enough to sponsor the paint
job and graphics, and the car is absolutely *stunning*.
The only slight delay was in getting the seat ready for the car. We did an initial shakedown
at the local kart track to break in the motor, and the only issue was a loose connection
to the fuel pump relay. In regards to the seat, despite some initial tension, a bit of cheapo foam was enough to secure the seat enough to drive the car.
Thursday night, we headed down to Colorado Springs to stay with Pat for the night. We made
one last-ditch attempt to add some foam to the seat Friday morning, but no dice. We packed up everything, and hit the track by about 12:00.
Friday was lots of good fun. I warmed up the car and got everything sorted out with some more foam, and the fit was good enough to go. Must offer a nod to my trusty crew chief, Angela, who helped buckle me in after I learned that it’s a lot harder to get yourself secured in the car when you can’t use your elbows!
But, the initial laps were great. No issues with the car, easy shifting, reasonable balance. The
only fixes were trying to get fit into the car a bit better, and changing the angle of my helmet a bit to get out of the wind. Either I sit a bit higher, or there is a lot more airflow off of the Stohr’s nose, but until I got myself a bit lower in the car, I felt like my head was going to lift off!
My best lap for the day was a 1:30.5, about a second quicker than I’d ever gone in the Radical. Not bad for an unknown setup, whatchamatires that came with the car, and first time out. So far, so good. Paul and I spent a few laps chasing eachother around, he in his Radical, and it tons of fun. Paul turned a new best of 1:32 trying to keep up with me, so he was stoked. Of course, we’re light years off of the 1:24 record that JR has set. I’m hoping there’s another 2 seconds in the car/driver combo, but we’ll see.
The only issues to mention were that it seemed like the car was rubbing a decent amount on the track, despite what seemed like fairly high ride heights, and that the car wasn’t handling the enormous bumps in T10 anywhere near as well as the Radical did. I suppose that’s to be expected, with nearly double the wheel rates…
In all, howerver, a very successful first outing.
Saturday went smoothly for practice and qualifying. Fantastic weather, about 75* – far better than our near freezing temps for last year’s Miller Time race. I ran the entire practice session for fun, and to start getting better acquainted with my car. I threw the second set of whatchamatires on to see if they were any better, and they seemed about the same, I did another few mid 1:30’s. Qualifying was about the same, I did one 1:30 lap to make sure I had the pole, and came in.
As it turns out, good that I had, too, since Rob and Paul had both thrown down with 1:31 laps. Rob was loving his new Rilltech 1400cc – he was even getting wheelspin in 1st and 2nd gear at the starts…wow.
The start of the race was a good one. Me on pole, Rob outside Pole, and Paul right behind. We all knew Rob was going to murder us at the start, so I was trying to figure out ultimately how I might get back by. However, as we came around T10, Rob was *way* back for some reason.
The green flew. As it turns out, it didn’t matter even a bit how far back Rob was, he went flying by by the end of the straight. However, he didn’t quite get himself whoa’d down for T1, so I ducked inside, and Paul followed me through.
I spent the next few laps with my head down, running as quickly as I could. I gapped Paul before too long, and dialed back just a bit to click off the laps.
Everything was looking good, with about 4 laps left, and I started to come through traffic. Coming into T1, in retrospect, the front of the car felt just a tad strange. I went through 2 and 3 – left handers – with no problem. Up ahead, I saw Joe going slowly in the SR4, off line. I turned through 4 – another right hander- although barely missed Joe – felt like there was no grip on track. I assumed he’d had a motor problem and had oil down. I came up to 5
at full chat, turned in and….nothing. I’m a passenger. Straight off into the kitty litter, race over.
Verdict was a flat tire from a failed valve stem. Damn. Paul went on to win the Race, having gotten past Rob during the race at some point. He was extremely excited, to put it mildly!
After the race, we got my car back to paddock on the hook. I have to thank all the friends that helped me get the car ready – vacuuming it out, removing the bodywork to clean up, repairing the front undertray, and all sorts of other assistance. I can’t thank everybody enough.
Since this was our last race of the year, and we had an Enduro to run the afternoon, the Wings-and-Things races had their starting order based on the finishing position from the race. Since I was the 3rd car out, although did not DNF, that meant I started 11th out of 13 cars. Pat had pulled off with overheating problems, which was to be the theme for his weekend. I didn’t figure I was going to win the race, but thought I’d have plenty of fun making my way up through the field.
The start was indeed lots of fun. I ended up behind several FE’s and FC’s. The starter threw a late green, and I nailed it, along with the FC in front of me. I actually broke the wheels loose just a bit at the start, and followed the FC through. I had to back off just a bit and figured my start was ruined, but he tucked back in after passing a car, and I was able to slingshot through. Amazingly, I turned into T1, already into third position!
I quickly attached myself to Paul’s rear wing, and kept close as possible. Lap 2 I was able to sneak down inside him in T9, and went about catching Rob. I was able to get Rob just half a lap later when he went wide in T7 – it looked like he got a bit loose putting power down.
So again, I was in a great position, thinking I was going to win this race easily. However, again around lap 12, disaster. Suddenly the brake pedal began to go soft. What the heck? that never happens in these cars!? I began to back off all of my braking points, but the pedal was down so much, even downshifting properly was getting challenging. It wasn’t long before Paul reappeared in my mirrors, and I spent 4 laps trying to hold him at bay. Finally, the combination of slippy tires and no brakes caused me to go wide at T8, and rather than
shut the door, I let stayed even on the outside of 8 to see how we’d do into T9. He managed to wiggle through, got a fantastic exit out of T10, and I wasn’t able to close up enough on the last lap to get back around.
So, 2 for 2 wins for Paul, but unbelievable fun racing him for those few laps. As for the brake pedal, I’m not sure what the cause is quite yet – will bleed the brakes for sure, but there’s some discussion that perhaps it is a wheel bearing going bad, or even something as simple as a loose wheel nut? I’ll check everything this winter and hopefully find a definitive cause. In retrospect, I think I remember the pedal also being affected on Friday or Saturday at the end of a session, but can’t be sure.
In summary for the season, what incredible racing with the group of guys that have come and joined in CSR and DSR. Between the close racing at La Junta with Joe, the opening laps with Pat last time at Pueblo, and all three days with Paul at Pueblo, what unbelievable close, fun, and clean racing it has been this year. I can’t wait for more. Thanks guys, see you next year!