In-Car DSR Race
Four competitors focused grimly on the target, eyes narrowed with concentration, brows shiny with beads of sweat despite the raw autumn air. Hands flexed over grips, nerves alight and sinews tensed along the length of their bodies, concentration focused to an infintesimal laser’s point, waiting for the hammer to fall.
Because, of course, ’tis not the start of the 2010 DSR Runoffs championship I describe, but a hearty round of Hammerschlagen between Lawrence Loshak, Chris Farrell, Dave Knaack, and myself. But, of course, I’m getting ahead of myself, yes?
The picture of four guys standing around a stump, beers in hand, competing to see who can most quickly drive a nail into said stump with the wrong end of a claw hammer does indeed illustrate what seems to be the very dual nature of this year’s Runoffs: Intense competition that brings so many of us to the sport, and with the occasional acrimony that breeds,
but at the same time, an everpresent friendly undertone of cameraderie of a shared passion that brings us together every September.
My thread to the story that is the 2010 Runoffs goes something like this:
Our trip started somewhat inauspiciously, discovering the night before we were to leave that we had a flat LR outer tire on Dad’s new disel dually. Heading off to I-80 on Saturday morning, signs continued to look poor, as at our first stop, my side trailer door came off in my hand as I opened it to inspect the car. We made a hasty repair, banging the door back into its frame, and strapping it in place from the inside. Shades of our trip to MAM, with two flat trailer tires began echoing through my head, and I figured we must be haunted by the ghost of Bob Stream. This notion became stronger when we arrived at Road America with a flat right-rear trailer tire. Woe is he who manages to be haunted by the irascible spirit of a yet-living Colorado Region corner worker!
We were well and truly welcomed into the silliness of “That’s Runoffs!” with a phone call from Critter asking if we had a spare ’08 stock engine. Yep, Sure do. So, as I rolled up, Critter
appeared with Victor, and we unloaded the engine in haste. They were off, back up to Critter’s tent, to install that engine in Bob Wheless’ car, whose engine had packed it in.
Rumors of insane-o speed were there to greet us as well, with stories of Garrett in the :02 range in Thursday’s testing, as well as word of Scully, Lawrence, and Jason Barfield doing the same. With nothing much to do until Monday, I wandered around to figure out where everybody was pitted, saying hello to Chris, Garrett, Jason, Doc, Tom, Brian, Mat, Dave, and anybody else I could find with “DSR” on the side of their car.
Some other minor issues were reported – Chris with a broken TPS wire causing some weird issues, and Doc having to swap a motor from a failed push-loc (don’t use these!) oil fitting. Also present were some failed headers, both Ti and Stainless, causing some head-scratching around the paddock.
Other talking points were wondering if anybody had brought a turbo (Yes, Bootz had his), and that Hoosier had slightly shorted their R35 order, leaving many without the generally preferred R35 compound tire, including Jason Barfield completely bereft of the several sets he thought would be waiting for him. As it turned out, that was more or less OK for the very cool race, but a hot race day could have made that a different matter altogether.
Finally, what was to become a big question mark for the whole weekend was the weather Not a single day went by without lots of upturned faces looking at the sky, wondering if the forecasted chance of rain would become reality or not. At least for us in DSR, we were blessed with completely dry running each session.
Monday – Q1
Monday, DSR was one of the first groups out. I hit the grid early, extremely eager to see what my much-improved car from June Sprints would be able to do. Hiding in the back was my first ever built engine, a half-way rods-and-pistons only affair that had about 10hp over a stocker. Wow…what a 10 hp! Even just cracking the throttle on the pit-out road was quite a difference to what I’m accustomed to. The difference in low-end across the rev range is tremendous compared to the stock ’08 engine.
I told myself that I’d work up to speed slowly, making sure I didn’t make a costly mistake on the first few laps on cold tires. Starting lap 3, I began to turn up my effort a bit, but alas, as I
picked up the throttle exiting turn 3, the engine note went completely sour. I looked in the mirror, saw smoke, and shut off the motor, coasting to some corner workers on the outside of the straight. Motor done, dropped intake valve. A brief life for my first ever race engine, but hopefully it will rise again for another race next year.
Soooooooo, that meant I got to spend the day changing an engine. In a wonderful display of symmetry and sportsmanship, Bob Wheless, the erstwhile recipient of my stock engine, graciously volunteered to give me his brand-spankin-new stock motor that was making its way up from Virginia, fresh out of a motorcycle. It arrived late afternoon, and with a bit of swapping parts around, we sunk it into the car, and worked until it was too dark to see.
Very noteworthy updates around the paddock were a swoopy HRP single, low-mount rear wing on Lawrence Loshak’s car, and lots and lots of space-age looking pieces on Mike Scully’s Dauntless development car. General rumor had it that his corner speeds and downforce were quite high, but still slightly off on the top-end. Particularly interesting was the carbon side plates on the spar of Garrett Kletjian’s West, which he claimed saves 6-8 pounds or so. Very cool. At the end of Q1, there was a large debate over fire bottles in the tech shed, as there were evidently some questions about some cars rumored to be running with an empty bottle. Ultimately, nothing came of it.
Tuesday – Q2
Tuesday’s Q2 session was mid-day, and was about 20* warmer than Monday, with high humidity. That said, everybody among the front was having no issue with their cooling, despite several cars running special Runoffs-weather-only half-size oil coolers.
We finished up our engine install and brought it to life early morning, and got the car all ready to go for the afternoon. Returning to a personal note, I remain so pleased and grateful for the competitive spirit and camaraderie that seems to be the rule in this class, at least 5 different folks lent me tools or supplies so I could complete my engine change and be able to compete this weekend, even going as far as to offer spare built engines, etc. Chris, Garrett, Lawrence, Critter, Brian, thanks, guys.
I was confident that I’d be able to turn some good laps, as everybody seemed to be going very quickly, and the car was still feeling remarkably settled. I went out for the session, feeling as giddy as always, and gradually clicked my times down as I refamiliarized myself with the track, going from 13 to 11 to several 10’s, and finally a nice 2:09 at the end of the session, about which I was feeling very happy. I ran the session on R25’s, as I only had one
set of R35’s, which I intended to save for the race. These I scrubbed on Monday, thinking I’d get a good session in, but as it turns out, my brief 2-lap Q1 was all I’d get to scrub that set.
None of the front runners went any faster than before, owing likely to the warmer weather. My time put me 8th on the grid, as Dempsey and Barfield, in particular, were still having issues with their cars. One was a faulty wheel bearing, and Doc had an issue with one of his axles.
Wednesday – Q1
Q3 was really my big WAHOO! for the weekend.
Conditions for the qualy session this evening were ideal, with very cool air temp, and still a warm track from the day’s heat. Even still, it took a good 3 laps for my R25’s to really get the heat into them to the point where I could really lean on the car’s rear end. That really should have been a hint to me that I should have run those tires for the race, instead of the R35’s. Live and learn!
Henry Botkin and I went out with the goal of beating eachother, as we were only .004 apart after Q2, me juuuust barely pipping him in the standings. I was lucky enough to have clear track nearly the whole session, and was able to do an :08, then some :07’s, and finally a leave-it-all-out-there 2:06.3 on the final lap. Scared myself silly, but somehow held it together. Wahoo!
In other news, looks like Garrett had a failure on his “A+” motor, (a dropped valve like my engine) so he’ll return to the other built motor he used earlier in the week. Doc pulled off with some sort of gearbox or clutch issue, so he’ll change engines as well. Farrell said he couldn’t get any clean laps and went no faster. Lawrence evidently put in a helluva show, hanging the ass end out everywhere en route to his 2:02.9, but in the end came up just a few hundreths short, though he reported a 2:01 predicted on the dash during a lap in which he spun at T14.
Only 14 laps to go…eep!
Friday – Race
We awoke Friday to some frightening, unsettled weather. Overnight, several EZ-Ups and canopies had been destroyed by the fierce winds. 40-50mph winds whipped throughout the paddock, and in an intermediate time when we were hooking up our truck, both of our EZ-Ups went for a ride, and were destroyed. Such was a similar story throughout much of the paddock.
Our race was at about 2:30 in the afternoon, and there was a vicious crosswind – enough that some laps I couldn’t even reach 6th gear.
For the front runners, at this point you’ve all seen the video: Chris led up to the start, with Lawrence next to him. Scully 3rd, Garrett 4th, Jason 5th, Bootz 6th, and me 7th, with Doc in 8th next to me. At the flag, the first 5 cars took off. Oddly, Tom Bootz was next to me, rather than being next to Jason where he should have been. Jason made a large move around the outside in T1, but was collected by Garrett as he spun. There was talk (and video) of fluid/fuel/fire from Lawrence’s car on the first lap, which Garrett thinks may have contributed to his spin.
So between Garrett’s spin collecting Jason, and Tom’s poor start, I was 4th by T3, and had Henry Botkin right on my tail, with Doc Dempsey right behind him. With both of those guys
running built engines, I knew I had to run as fast as I could to try and make sure they didn’t motor by on the straight. I drove very defensively into T5 and T6, hoping I could gap just a bit
into 8 and down to Canada. I drove very defensively into Canada as well, where I believe Doc must have gotten by Henry, as all of a sudden, I had clear mirrors.
For the next several laps, I ran as hard as I could, which wasn’t tremendously hard, as getting temperature into the tires was proving difficult. Ambient temperature was in the 40’s, and
the R35 compound took until about lap 4 to really get completely up to temp. Looking at the laptimes and speeds posted from other Hoosier vs Goodyear running, that seems to have been fairly consistent.
Before too long, I saw Doc looming large in my mirrors, and began edging inward going into T1, as he would pull up very close by then. Doc chose not to make the outside pass, but eventually motored by on the exit of T3. I tucked into his draft as much as possible, and then re-passed him as we broke for T5. I held the lead for another two laps, before coming up on Tom Bootz in Canada Corner. Tom had pitted to check on the motor, and was completing his race. I had to check up slightly, losing my gap to Dempsey, who then passed me easily on the hill out of T14.
As we came into T3, I saw that we were coming up to lap Downing in the red DSR. I thought I might be able to stick my nose in and use DOwning to get back by Doc. I got most of the way up to even with Doc, but perhaps not quite enough, and we touched slightly, my LF tire hitting a foot or so behind his RF, making a small mark on his floor. Doc motored away after that by about a second a lap, and I settled in to complete the last 4-5 laps of the race. My best lap of the race turned out to 2:07.3 in bizarre conditions, and my top speeds were actually quite competitive, in the 149-150mph range, versus the 151, 152, and 153 of the front-running built motor guys.
After the drama, I came home in 6th place, enough to be stuck in impound for an hour or so, getting to talk with the top 5 finishers, who were Lawrence, Chris, Scully, Barfield, Doc, and finally, li’l ol’ me.
Runoffs Car Analysis
The SCCA posted trap speeds for all classes, including DSR, which are available Here.
Top speeds for the race are interesting for all, though we have to get Garrett Kletjian’s speeds from qualifying, as he wasn’t able to complete a lap during the race. All but one of these cars is a Stohr WF-1, but there are several different aero packages. First, some weights summarized:
- Jake Latham: ~1020 with ~180# driver = 840# car
- Mike Scully: ~985 with ~165?# driver = 820?# car?
- Jason Barfield: ~980 with ~220# driver = 780# car
- Chris Farrell: ~975 with ~155# driver = 820# car
- Garrett Kletjian: ~960 with ~170# driver = 790#
- Lawrence Loshak: ~965 with ~155# driver = 810# car
- Doc Dempsey: ~920 with ~120# driver = 800# car
I’ll summarize my take on the top speeds here, of the same top 7 cars, with very non-scientific outliers thrown out, based on my eyeballing:
- Lawrence Loshak: Average Top Speed: 153.4, Avg T1-T5: 36.0, Avg T5-S/F: 1:28.3: Lawrence was running a WF-1, with the Stohr splitter, and an HRP rear wing. At 965,
he was the second-lightest of the top running cars. Paddock talk says he was as much as 7 hp up on the nearest car (Garrett or Scully), based on his exhaustive dyno work, with a Moon’s 2008 GSX-R. First 3 lap speeds and times show that his 9″/10″ Goodyears came up very quickly, whereas looking at Chris’s speeds (and mine too), the R35 Hoosier took 3-4 laps to really come up to temp on the cold day, which made a huge difference in the initial laps.
- Chris Farrell: Average Top Speed: 151.50, Avg T1-T5: 36.1, Avg T5-S/F: 1:28.5: Chris was running a standard WF-1, with the flap installed, and a small gurney. Chris was running a latest spec GDRE 2008 GSX-R. Speed-wise, he seemed to be among the fastest in the T8-T12 section of the track, particularly the carousel. His laptimes remained very consistent in the 2:04ish range over the course of the race, in contrast to Lawrence, who went from 3’s, to 4’s to 5’s to 6’s over the course of the race. More likely that is due to Lawrence easing off to manage the gap, however.
- Mike Scully: Average Top Speed: 150.8, Avg T1-T5: 36.1, Avg T5-S/F: 1:28.3: Scully was running a WF-1, but with Dauntless’s aero bits – including a Dauntless splitter, floor,
and rear wing, without the second flap installed. Scully’s top speeds are hard to average, as they steadily increased over the course of the race, from the 148-149 range, to 151’s and into the 152’s. It’s noteworthy that he spent most of the race in Chris’s draft, as they ran very closely together, especially down into the T5 speed trap area. Scully runs 2005-2006 engines, which may produce another 2-3 hp over the best 2008’s, but these data would seem to indicate that the Dauntless guys have addressed some of the previous (perceived or actual) drag deficit. His car was particularly good in the T5-T8 section, catching Chris quickly there, but he seemed to fall back in the higher speed sections, T8-T12, and T1 to T5, indicating that if he is suffering a drag penalty, the car does seem to have excellent downforce – in my view, it will be interesting to see the Dauntless car on tighter tracks throughout the 2011 season, it looks very promising.
- Garrett Kletjian: Average Top Speed: 156.0, Avg T1-T5: 36.2, Avg T5-S/F: 1:28.7: Garrett’s car is a West WX-10, with the standard West aero package, and a Dauntless rear wing, with flap installed at minimum angle. The West is known to generally make less drag than the WF-1, but does not seem to make the same downforce. This is borne out in Garrett being the easly the fastest car, by nearly 3mph, but being slightly down in the curvier T5-S/F trap section, than the WF-1’s are. Garrett’s car no longer has the West signature dry-sump system, removed in favor of weight reduction, putting him at the second or third lightest car in the field. Garrett’s motors are GDRE engines, 2005-2006, and purportedly the best in the field behind Loshak’s. One small tidbit that escaped the notice of most was that Garrett was running F1-style wheel covers on his rear wheels for the race, in an apparent effort to reduce drag.
- Jason Barfield: Average Top Speed: 149.9, Avg T1-T5: 36.3, Avg T5-S/F: 1:28.3: Jason spent the entire race with a muffler rattling around the sidepod of his car, causing some loss of torque and horsepower, which is borne out somewhat in his lower top speed numbers. It can be said that he was definitely driving the wheels off, as his section and laptimes were steadily in the 4’s and 5’s, like Chris and Scully ahead of him. Note Jason was running on R25 Hoosiers due to availability shortage, and his laptimes were immediately
in the range that he would run the entire race, again, in contrast with the R35 runners. I believe Jason was running without the flap on his WF-1. Given the cold temps, the R25’s
were probably the correct (if unwilling!) choice.
- Doc Dempsey: Average Top Speed: 152.6, Avg T1-T5: 36.6, Avg T5-S/F: 1:30.2: Doc spent a decent portion of the race stuck behind yours truly, so his laptimes don’t bear out his speed until he gets by on lap 8, and sets sail with 5’s and 6’s. Doc was running a KWS motor, no flap, and was the lightest car in the field, and Goodyear 8’s and 10’s.
- Jake Latham: Average Top Speed: 149.7, Avg T1-T5: 37.3, Avg T5-S/F: 1:30.5: As the only car in the top group without a built motor, I expected to be quite a bit down according to the top speed numbers, but the difference is smaller than I suspected – 2-4mph or so. I ran on Hoosier R35’s, with standard Stohr WF-1 aero, and the rear flap at the lowest
position, with its integral gurney in place. My race pace was primarily 7’s and 8’s, around 3-4 seconds off of the pace of the lead cars. The difference appears to be relatively uniform throughout the track, as both T1-T5 and T5-S/F section times sum to about 3-4 seconds off of the lead car’s paces.
These data do back up the notion that horsepower and drag are much larger factors to top speed than is weight, (thank you Carroll Smith), though I can tell from experience, and my video, that how quickly one gets to their top speed is certainly a function of power-to-weight ratio, and that’s a big part of where the low weight comes into play. I’d pose that’s a lot of the gain made in the built engines versus not, and in the lighter versus heavier cars. Naturally the lighter cars do everything else better as well – watching Doc Dempsey’s car LEAP off of T8 into the carousel versus mine was quite an eye opener.