Wedge Racing in 2018
Sebring - January (MAJORS Hoosier Super Tour)
The Sebring race this year conflicted with our previously planned ski vacation, so we missed the race.
NOLA - March (MAJORS Hoosier Super Tour) - First weekend in the Month
An additional circuit is planned to mirror below the existing track.
That's a Kart track at the top right. The paddock area is the large paved area just right of center. Track length is 2.75 miles.
Thankfully, the repairs I made from last year's fiasco are still holding up and we made the trip without incident (tow wise, anyway). Arrival, registration and parking also went reasonably well. This year, though, we ran the Friday test day for a couple of reasons. Seemed like a good idea since I hadn't been in the car since the previous August *and* I had been asked to test a new tire/wheel combination for a possible 'Spec Tire Series' that was in development. This was a treaded street tire on an aluminum wheel with the same size, weight and offset as our current stock rims. The testing went quite well, although I did feel that I put more wear on those tires in 2 sessions than they had received in the previous 12 or so. Times were significantly off from our regular slicks, but that was to be expected. Two cars were testing the new combination. I put 3 sessions on the new set and Mitchell put 2 sessions on before swapping over to regular slicks.
Q1 - Sat morning. The weather was nice and the session was decent. Mitchell took the pole and I was second about 0.3 secs back with Charlie and Sherman filling out the small 4 car vee field. I ran some pretty old tires and was thinking I was in good shape for the races.
Race 1 - Still good weather with all vees at the back of the group. At the start, everyone stayed pretty much together, but at the beginning of the second lap, Sherman made a bonzai move down the inside, trying to move from 4th to 1st in one fell swoop. We all dodged him as he went well past his braking point and off the turn to the outside. When he tried to come back on track, he nearly crashed into me and I had to move well off line to avoid him at T2. Amazingly (to me), he made a nearly identical move at T3, trying to take the lead from WAY too far back and nearly took all 4 cars out again as he slid across all of us to be well off line again. He was 4th again entering T4 and once again tried to make a move from an impossible position and managed to put his right front tire between my left front and rear. This was a right hand turn and I was unable to move right, but he kept coming until his right side tires climbed over my left side tires and launched him into the sky above me. I looked up to see the complete bottom of his car and dove left (which was now clear for me since he was in the air) and into the grass so that he would not come down on top of me. I'm told he spun around and over in the air, bounced and rolled over, then rolled over again back onto his tires. I was busy trying to get back to the track and, unfortunately hit the OUTSIDE of the rumble strips as I came back to the track (they weren't visible from where I was) which practically DESTROYED Bullet's nose.
Somehow, Sherman was still running at this point and as I came back onto the track, he dove inside of me and started blocking SERIOUSLY to keep me behind him. As we got into the esses, he was still trying to hold me off as he slid off track to the right and I was finally able to clear him. He went into the pits at the end of that lap, leaving me to continue though I was now some 30 or more seconds back. The rest of the race was uneventful until I came in after I had completed over half the laps.. all I needed to achieve 3rd place.
The worst part of all of this was that my camera failed to record and I had no video to back up my version of what happened. Even more amazing was that NOT ONE CORNER WORKER from Turns 1,2,3,4,5,6, or 7 saw ANYTHING according to the Series Chief Steward. Although I wanted badly to file a protest, with no 'admissible' evidence, I had no basis and had to let it go. I spent the next several hours working on Bullet trying to find and repair all of the damage. We were not able to finish in time for the 2nd qualifier on Sunday morning and so missed that as well.
Race 2 - Needless to say, it was with some concern that I started the 2nd race ... next to Sherman since both Mitchell and Charlie had turned really good times in the Saturday race. Thankfully, Sherman played 'nice' this time and we filed into T1 in order and stayed that way till we made it around to the front straight. I was still in a quite close 3rd position when Sherman passed me into T1 on the second lap. I wasn't going to take any chances trying to pass him again until we finished that lap. I retook the position (3rd) going into T1 easily; starting the 2nd lap and was pleased to see him spinning on his own behind me. From there on, I was 'almost' able to keep pace with the leaders .. but I had already lost about 10 seconds having to follow Sherman for that one lap. So... relegated to 3rd once again. I did feel that the engine wasn't winding up quite as well as it should but that was possibly simply due to running with NO draft. I passed Sherman with no problem on the front straight, so it's probably nothing. 2 weeks to Atlanta, so I'll find out more then.
Road Atlanta (#1) - March - MAJORS weekend
The Road Atlanta event was quite unusual that it was a 2 day event with no Friday practice day. Someone (with $BIG BUCKS$) had purchased that day and blocked the Region from access until the end of their day. So, the 'land rush' was ON. About 75 rigs sitting outside a good portion of the day waiting to try to find a decent paddock spot as we were all let in at once. Although it took some time, it turned out to be 'not as bad' as I had feared and we got a half way decent spot ... though no A/C power available other than our generator.
Saturday - I had decided to go ahead and change to my other engine .. old #7 just didn't seem quite right, so time to test out #6 again. I'll send #7 to the Butler 'hospital' later. The first session was a practice .. and it was almost raining .. just enough to keep the track wet and mess up my shield .. and plenty wet enough to create some serious car damage if one got too 'frisky'. So .. I just took it easy. We had worked on a few things .. and changed the engine... since NOLA. I went out just to make sure everything seemed to work OK and came in after a couple of laps.
Q1 - The second session was our only qualifier and .. guess what?.... it was STILL raining, though just barely. I've reached the point where FIXING MY CAR is getting on my nerves a LOT more than being qualified poorly, so I again took it easy despite the fact that the rain was almost non-existent by the end of the session and the 'line' was beginning to form. I got in a decent lap and was looking for a considerably better one on the next lap when we got a BlackFlagAll due to 2 cars in the gravel at T1. Considering that the session was almost over, I went directly to my paddock spot rather than wait for the official 'call' of the session.. which came just about the time I got to the trailer. Later I found out that I had qualified 3rd of 5 cars and that Megan Gilkes was on the pole - Congrats, Megan!
Race 1 - By now, the rain had passed through and the track was dry. I talked with Megan and then proposed to the Chief Steward that all the vees be put to the back of the group - a 'split grid'. There were 3 cars qualified either among or even behind the vees that were only there due to the rainy Q session and it's never good to have cars that are ~20 seconds faster trying to pass all the the vees at once on the start. MUCH better to just put them in front to begin with and save a really dangerous condition for everyone .. and the Stewards have finally started to agree with this idea. Megan was on the pole, but it didn't last long. Donnie got the drop on her and I was in position to make a move at T1, but opted to hold off. It was Megan's first start from the pole and I was in no hurry to end it in T1. Donnie also managed to get by the slowest F5 and put him between us and him.. then proceeded to put considerable distance on all of us as I struggled to get by Megan and then the F5. It took most of the 2nd lap to get by the F5 and set out for Donnie. Mitchell had also gotten past Megan and then Laura made it too. It took me about 5 laps to catch Donnie (seemed like an eternity), but I finally did and took the lead (with a little help from Mitchell). At the end of that lap, Donnie came back by and brought Laura with him. On the next lap, I repassed both of them for the lead .. just before the F5 came back onto the track (after having come into the pits) RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. This guy was a total disaster! He was all over the track .. and being in an F5, was CONSIDERABLY faster in a straight line, so there was certainly no profit to trying to pass him in a turn (a VERY dangerous move to say the least... I watched an FF plow through all the vees and then take him going into T7.... only to have that same F5 drop the FF like a stone on the back straight). Finally, after about 3 laps of following him around, he spun in front of all of the vees going into T7. At that point, Laura had suspension problems and dropped out. Leaving Me, Mitchell, Donnie and Megan to fight it out. Megan did an excellent job of hanging onto the back of the pack and NOT doing anything 'bad' during the race. Very impressive for a relatively new racer .. at least new to the lead of a vee pack. She was close the whole way. Donnie and Mitchell, were content to sit back and let me lead till the very last lap .. as soon as the LAST LAP flag was shown, they were going to blow me away on the back straight. Down towards the end... Linda calls me on the radio and says 'WHITE FLAG'.. followed a few seconds later with CHECKER FLAG.. repeated .. CHECKER IS OUT *NOW*. I look in the mirror coming down the back straight and see Mitchell and Donnie "a ways back" and wonder . can I make it? Coming into T10A.. I see Donnie attempting a 'move', but I don't think he can make it. I take the turn as I normally would and hope Donnie handles it properly.. HE DOES.. I clear the turn, and then see Mitchell making the move back past Donnie coming into T11. FINISH!!... ME, Mitchell, Donnie, Megan .. all pretty close together.
Race 2 - A beautiful day for a race. We had a 10 minute warmup and I opted to use it to scrub in a set of new tires for VIR and then changed back to my set from the Saturday race. They still looked like they could finish another race. I'm on the pole today since I set fast lap of the weekend in yesterday's race and I went to the stewards and confirmed that the Vees could once again start from the back without other class cars behind us. At the start we were fairly close .. too close actually. That F5 that caused us grief yesterday had gotten 'a talking to' from the Stewards and assured that he would stay out of our way this time. He pointed everyone by during the pace lap and stayed behind on the start, but the cars in front didn't pick up the pace like I expected and we were "amongst them" going into T1. Fortunately, nothing untoward happened and they pulled away almost immediately, leaving us to 'race on'. At the end of the back straight, Donnie and Laura both passed me - I tried to get them back at T1, but they held on until I got the lead back at T10. A couple laps later, Mitchell joins the fray and takes the lead - still a 5 car lead pack though, so anyone's race so far. Now, Donnie's back in front, then me, Mitchell, Laura and Megan, but Laura and Megan are just a tad off the pace. Donnie's dropping oil, clouding my visor and camera. Finally I get around him again, but not for long .. and this time he brings Laura along with him.. back to 3rd again. Now Laura is dropping oil .. a good bit of it coming out of her left side valve cover in right hand turns. Between the 2 of them, I'm being drowned in oil... I see the lead FF pack coming up behind me.. going to be a string of cars.. I get by Donnie and Laura, then let the lead FF through at T10A and jump in behind him.... then another 5 cars go by in T1 and Mitchell tags along with them. Finally, it seems it's only Mitchell and myself.. although I can still see Donnie back there .. then, here Donnie comes again to take the lead.. back to 3rd again. Laura is missing now, but Megan is still holding on. Tough to find enough time to wipe my shield of Donnie's oil. I pass Mitchell to take the lead again into 10A. WOO.. almost lost it there.. and Mitchell takes it back at T1 with Donnie on my tail. Now Donnie seems content to hold position and wait until the last lap again. An FF spins in front of us at T5 but spins clear, then 2nd and 3rd place F5's come through. I have a small gap to Mitchell.. gotta keep the pressure on. Nope.. he closes up and makes the pass into 10A again.. and I retake him into T1. WOW .. lotsa passing goin' on. Gotta be getting pretty close to the end now. Here comes the lead FF again.. and then 3 more cars... THEY BLOCK off Mitchell and Donnie at T12 .. now Mitchell is about 6 car lengths back as another pack of FF comes through . now my gap is bigger and we've GOT to be near the end. I have a gap.. make CERTAIN that you don't make a mistake.. .. but KEEP THE GAP! Another FF, then another and 3 more.. USE THEIR DRAFT! I've got him.. through T10A/B and out - 2 more FF go by into T1 and one of them goes off .. I still have the gap to Mitchell. T5.. I can see him back there.. I still have the gap.. NO MISTAKES! A clean 10A/B ..now I see the white.. ONE MORE LAP... give up some ground if need be to avoid error. This will be it. Another FF passes into 10A and Mitchell closes .. but not enough.. I hold it and TAKE THE WIN! Then Mitchell, Donnie .. not sure where Laura and Megan are .. ahhh, there's Megan coming into pit lane behind us for another good finish.
FANTASTIC! Two great wins at Road Atlanta .. and fast lap in both as well. I hope we can hold onto this momentum for a couple more races .
VIR (Virginia International Raceway)- April - MAJORS Hoosier Super Tour event
Missed this one - ended up going to a funeral instead.
Decided to try for PIRC - but missed it also due to another funeral... it's THAT time of our lives .
Finally, we made it to a race ... at Mid Ohio....
This event would be a long tow but had the advantage that Linda's Aunt Jean (her late Mother's twin sister) lives nearby and we could sneak in a visit to her assisted living center. We set up to go see her after the racing was over, when we were on the way home, so.... racing first!
We did encounter a couple of minor issues on the trip.. the dash A/C wasn't quite effective enough to handle 90+ degree outside temps, and my rear view camera (out the back of the trailer) died about half way up. However, we arrived anyway mid afternoon and were surprised that we were able to sign a release and continue on into the paddock area to get set up before registration opened. We were also VERY surprised to find a decent spot ON THE ASPHALT. Attendance was relatively light, but mostly we just got there early enough to find a great spot! After we got set up, we went up and got ourselves registered and then watched the few cars that were testing that day until suppertime. Watching was nice because I realized that we were running the keyhole CHICANE for the first time in many years.
Friday morning practice - it rained overnight and was misting lightly prior to the session (we were GROUP *ONE* - my first time in that slot in some number of years). Being first, means WE (my group) gets to discover any 'tricks' that mother nature might have decided to set out for us overnight. Considering that I hadn't been there in over a year and that I hadn't driven ANYTHING since March, and I was on old tires, it wasn't too bad. I felt 'down on power' (aren't I always?) and that Bullet was not 'handling right' although I couldn't put a finger on the problem. That said, I was pretty surprised to finish that session with the 4th fastest time (of 14 registered vees). I wasn't happy with my TIME, but still.. 4th isn't all that bad. I looked at my data and it showed a change in WBO2 reading that indicated I was running too lean. I couldn't see why the conditions would cause that, but decided to richen the carb a little to see if it helped.
Fri afternoon Q1 - We went a LITTLE faster, but still dropped one spot to 5th on the grid. After the session, we were checking all kinds of things and I noticed a LOT of exhaust air coming from beneath the exhaust collector at idle. On closer inspection, I found a significant exhaust leak in the collector.
Bottom of collector (normally out of view).
Well... that should cause a measurable loss of power ... *AND* likely had something to do with the (probably erroneous) WBO2 readings. SO.. I returned the carb jet back to the original and fortunately had a spare collector (the old one was going on 10 years old) to install and hopefully fix both problems. We also changed to the 'new' (just scrubbed) set of tires that I bought during the NOLA weekend and scrubbed in on the test day there. They were GOING to be for VIR .. then for PIRC... but I hadn't made those events. So.. these were now 4 months after scrubbing .. about a month is what I LIKE to have.... but that's what we had to work with for the race.
Saturday Race 1 - I didn't get a great start and lost a couple places straight away. Bullet seemed to be handling even worse than before on the 'new' tires. Still, I hung tough .. as tough as I could manage anyway, and finally started holding position at 7th place. After a few more laps, I started to 'get in the groove' with the handling and figure out just WHERE I needed to be at the breaking and turn-in points on the track.. and I improved.. a bit. I got one position back and held that position for several laps. Then Brandon Abbot slid off the turn at the end of the back straight in OIL (which I just barely escaped myself)... and then another car broke.. now I'm in 4th... and then with 2 laps to go, Alex Bertolucci (who had passed me earlier) spun in front of me coming out of T11 into Thunder Valley. I was able to avoid him and proceed on to finish 3rd in the race. The 2 leaders, racing each other hard, were far ahead of me. NOT where I hoped to be, but still a 3rd place finish in a pretty good field.
After the race (we had LOTS of time since we were Group 1), I went over Bullet again ... and again. And *FOUND* that the rear camber limiter was BROKEN! That allowed the rear end to go positive in the turns, causing some pretty horrendous handling issues. When I just glanced at the cable, it seemed fine, but backing away I could SEE that the rear tires were in positive camber (tilted outward). Seems the strands of the limiter were breaking, one by one, and therefore gradually the whole cable was getting longer and longer....allowing more and more positive rear camber as the race progressed. This was FANTASTIC news to me. THERE REALLY WAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE CAR!!
So.. we replaced the limiter cable and then checked the rear shock rebound and found it to be 'marginal' as well. I tightened the rebound adjustment 4 'flats' and it seemed to start working as it should. That left me with some pretty good hopes for the upcoming Sunday race. The engine seemed fine.. just needed some handling improvements. Checking my data also showed that the WBO2 reading was back where it was supposed to be.
Sunday morning, we were up just after 2 warmup sessions (first closed wheel, and then open wheel). At least we (Group 1) wouldn't be the FIRST cars on the track this time. The day was nice and it looked to be a great morning for racing, although there were scattered thunderstorms forecast for the afternoon (not my problem .. this time :-) ). I got a GREAT start and moved from my 5th grid spot up to 3rd going into T1. My Butler engine was feeling great and I was thinking maybe I 'had something' for the leaders. By the time we got to the keyhole, it was pretty obvious to me that I did NOT have anything for those 2 guys. The handling was still 'not quite right' (tires, maybe?) and they were putting distance on me in every turn. Wasn't too long before I had pressure from behind. First Adam Jennerjahn went by and then a couple laps later Alex Bertolucci went by (yep.. the one that spun in front of me yesterday). Alex was able to run down Jennerjahn and 'hound' him... while all I could do was hang on and WATCH that classic battle. I had more pressure from behind from Jeff Loughead and Brandon Abbot, but gradually pulled away from both of them. Still I couldn't close on the Jennerjahn/Bertolucci pair in front of me. Then, with 5 laps to go, Bertolucci SPUN coming out of the keyhole chicane and I cruised by him. He recovered relatively quickly and I expected him to come right back by .. but he didn't I started to put distance on him, but still couldn't close on Jennerjahn. A lap later, Alex spun a second time behind me coming out of T1 and I was alone. A distant 4th in the race... which is where I finished. A small bit of excitement with 3 laps to go, as F5 driver Cal Stewart spun in the carousel in front of Loughead and Abbot ..Loughead going outside and Abbot going inside of Stewart's stalled car. Apparently, at the last instant, Cal's car moved forward causing Abbot to climb over him ... WAY over him, cleaning off his extended engine oil sump and dumping an entire crankcase of VEE OIL on top of Cal's head (and car). The checker was thrown on the next lap, ending the race .. with me in 4th. Fortunately, only WALLETS were injured in the accident.
All in all.. I was pretty happy with the weekend. I hadn't been in the car in almost 4 months and was still able ... even with issues.. to finish in the top 4 both races with some good competition. We also had a great visit with Linda's Aunt Jean on the way home. The problem now was that our next race .. only a few days away was at a track that pretty much REQUIRED a 'long box' transaxle and we had our 'short box' transaxle installed for Mid Ohio. It would be a quick turnaround to make that change in time.
And shortly after that, we made it to a race at the newly modified ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway!
Thanks to Linda, we got the transaxle changed over. Wow.. it is WONDERFUL to have a lovely wife that actually knows most of the tools I use and where they are .. and can hand them to me when I need them :-).
The tow up was fine (we ran the genset and used the overhead A/C since I hadn't had time to address the dash air yet) and we were settled into our paddock spot by about 4P on Friday. I opted to NOT test even though it had been about 20 years since I ran the track.. and it was a somewhat different configuration with a longer oval section and different approach onto the oval.. and a slightly wider path through the infield (I heard that it was widened to allow NASCAR CUP cars to use this new configuration later this year). There were only 5 vees registered but all were highly competitive, and all but me were testing. I hoped that was not a big mistake. To add to that, there was only a single qualifying session before the Saturday race1. Man was it !HOT HOT! too. I went out on a new set of tires.. to scrub them in and familiarize myself with the new configuration. The turn coming back out of the infield onto the oval banking was quite intimidating (i.e. SCARED ME TO DEATH!). The outside wall comes at you basically HEAD ON -- VERY FAST. To conserve my fresh tires, I turned only 4 laps.. a warmup, a 'medium speed' to get a little closer, then ONE lap at the best I could do under the circumstances, and then a cool off. I was amazed to find out later that I was ON THE POLE. Not by a whole lot, but still .. FIRST . Happy to be there, though. Back in our paddock, I was also quite surprised to find a dragging left rear brake. Closer inspection turned up a broken brake shoe hold down spring. Fortunately not a BIG problem and I caught it before it could do more damage. 45 minutes later it was fixed - time to RACE. Laura had blown her motor on about the 2nd lap of qualifying, and they were thrashing to get her spare installed before race time. They made it, but with not much time to spare.
Saturday, Race 1 - Our group was small .. only 7 cars. 2 F5's and the 5 vees. I set the pace behind the F5's and was a bit too close when the green came out. We (all 5 vees) were all over the F5's for the first 2 laps. Mitchell took the lead into T1 and did his best to put the F5's between himself and the rest of us, but we sorted it all out about lap 3 and they were gone and we were RACING. Laura had had car issues the entire test day and qualifier and unfortunately they continued into the race. On lap 3 .. or maybe 4, the primary wire to the coil shorted out to the frame and almost set her car on FIRE. She stopped on the oval back straight and we went under double yellows for 3 laps while the EV crew removed her car. Back to racing, we again had the F5's JUST in front of the vees and we were all over them again on the restart. Mitchell managed to get past one of them in the infield and then made a move to get the second one just before getting back to the oval. That upset the 2nd F5, and he did a 'half spin' DIRECTLY in front of ME. I lightly tagged him and he, thankfully, spun off away from me. We continued on. I thought that F5 was GONE, but 2 laps later he went flying by all of the vees on the back straight. (Glad that he wasn't too badly hindered.) After that, it took about 4 more laps (20 minute race) for Mitchell and I to pull away from the rest. Not by MILES, but we had a clear advantage .. so it was down to the 2 of us for the win (unless we screwed up). He tried passing me in NASCAR 3 and 4 several times both inside and outside. He never made it stick at the finish line. At the ONE LAP TO GO, Mitchell made an outside pass into T1 - a bit scary, but we made it. I stayed close paying special attention to that last turn onto the oval... he then slowed up a little to force me to pass early - I pondered for a moment then decided I could hold him off, so I got a good run and passed him. I could see him behind me - closing in my draft. I made to to NASCAR 3 and took the bottom line and held it, giving him the only option of passing on the outside .. it was going to be close ... but YES! I led him by about 6 inches at the line. I also turned the fastest lap of the race, which also turns out to be the FV LAP RECORD (1:28.426) for this new configuration. As we came into pit lane, I was handed a sheet of paper from a steward and told to proceed to tech to speak with another steward .. oh.. yeah.. guess he wants to talk about my contact with Walbran's F5. I asked the steward before me WHERE is impound? There were no signs. He just looked at me blankly and said .. "over there" (pointing in the general direction of the paddock). That didn't help me much and it seemed that no one else knew where it was either. So we all wandered around for a while till I finally found a guy that said "the other end of the second big garage building". Turns out I could have seen it from where I got the piece of paper .. if I had just looked in the right direction. Well.. the stewards were pretty aggravated that I (we) didn't proceed DIRECTLY to impound, but they softened a little when I explained we were 'lost'. We had our chat about the on track incident and my version agreed almost word for word with the corner worker report (thankfully), so we were done. Finally, we were released from impound. I was inside the building (in the shade) talking to someone and when I came out, Bullet was the only car left. I climbed in and hit the starter ... click.... click....... click. Got out, rocked the car in gear and tried again .. click. . I looked around ... no one... so I PUSHED Bullet up a slight incline where I could coast down the other side and kicked him off rolling. (Something else to do during the afternoon sessions.) Got back to my paddock and checked all the wiring and the switches - found nothing awry. Still click...click. Finally decided to try tapping on the starter with a hammer (maybe a stuck brush?) .. PRESTO. Started right up. Geeez.
CCR Region had a cookout dinner (burgers & dogs) for us in the media center and then we were entertained, first by the 2nd race for Group 1 cars (ground pounders) followed by a 90 minute enduro which ended 'under the lights'. Then it was back to the motorhome to watch my video of the race - then it was bedtime.
Overnight, I decided that I really needed to do more than accept that my starter worked after the hammer tap.. it could fail again at any moment, so I took the time to remove it (as Group 5, we would be up first after lunch), remove the covers and at least take a LOOK at it. I found the solenoid contacts considerably more 'burned' than I thought they should be, so I sanded and filed them all clean and felt much better about it. Installed again, it works like a champ. I also used that time to bend a dzus mount panel so that it didn't interfere with the exhaust system - minor stuff, but still stuff that needed to be done. We would be first up after lunch for Race 2.. it was going to be another HOT ONE! After repairing the wiring in her car last evening, Laura had had yet MORE engine trouble on her morning hardship lap, so she and her crew borrowed Greg's spare engine for the race.
Race 2 started a lot like Race 1 except that I queued up a good bit further back this time. It worked a lot better as the F5's made it through the infield before we caught them and they left us in the dust on the back straight. I took the lead again through the infield and all 5 vees were pretty close together .. but I had a gap that looked pretty decent to me .. for one lap.. then they were all there again. They were shuffling around behind me swapping positions for about half the race .. then Laura started to show up at the front of that pack behind me. She and Mitchell tagged up and were able to run me down in the draft. With only 3 laps left to go, I was trying to figure out where I wanted to be on the last lap. I dove into NASCAR 3, but stayed just off the bottom line to discourage either she or Mitchell from passing .. well they ignored that - Mitchell went low and Laura went high, leaving me in a formula vee SANDWICH. Pretty scary there between them... looking at the wall beyond Laura and how HARD we would hit if any of us touched at 115 MPH. Whew.. we made it and Laura took the lead into the infield. Back out on the oval, I passed her and set out to build a gap if I could .. then the 2 F5's went flying by lapping us and suddenly we were on the LAST LAP. I gave it everything I had through the infield, but tapped out when I came back to that last turn onto the oval.. I gave up maybe 5 car lengths.. and they were stalking me... closing down the back straight .. looking at it I THOUGHT I had it made, but suddenly between NASCAR 3 and 4, here came Laura on the outside. I took the tight line again and noted that Mitchell was still behind me as we raced through NASCAR 4. Laura was gaining, then stalled out right beside me. As we came to the line, it was too close for either of us to be sure who had won .. a PHOTO finish to be sure. She stayed behind me on the cool off lap.. maybe she's pretty sure I won ?? We got back to pit lane and made our way to impound (now that we KNOW where it is ). Rolled across the scales and into the impound area. As we got out, Linda told me the PA had announced that Laura had won. Laura was thrilled.. especially after all the troubles she had during the weekend. I was resigned to second, but I sure did wonder .. I really THOUGHT I had held her off, but there was no way either of us could see the noses of our cars at the line. I wondered how good a look START had gotten, since one of the F5's had gone into the tire wall at T1 and they (2 guys at START) were busy waving both the checker and yellow at the same time.
As I was cooling off in the shade, one of the stewards came over and congratulated me on another win. I said, "thanks, but I'm afraid I was second this time." He said "No, NO. YOU WON! I just talked to the tower about it and they confirmed YOU WON!" Wow...terrific! wonderful! I don't guess we'll ever know by just how much. Laura took the news pretty well, but was disappointed, as anyone would be. We stood around and chatted for a few minutes and then Chief of Tech said we could go .. it was too hot to keep us standing out there in the sun for any longer. Fortunately, Bullet STARTED RIGHT UP this time. BTW .. my data system said it was 105 F in the car during the race. Yep.. pretty toasty.
Great weekend - 2 poles and 2 wins.. and my Saturday time held up for the NEW LAP RECORD since we were all a tick slower on Sunday (probably because it was 10 degrees HOTTER!). Interestingly, on Sunday all five cars were within 0.5 seconds of each other's fastest laps - with Laura taking that top lap time. Strangely, though.. I never saw a trophy. I even went back to tech after we left impound. They had no idea about trophies ... there were NO trophies at all for anyone that I could find. I guess it's not that important, but I've never seen that before at any race in all my 41 years of racing. [OH.. I just found out that there were some trophies .. somewhere .. in a trailer .. somewhere .. with a sign that said 'Pick up Trophies HERE' .. but it must not have been very big.] Not that it matters that much, but it would seem that there should have been a sign (or person) somewhere like IMPOUND to mention where the trophies were .. Like there SHOULD have been a sign (or person) telling us just where IMPOUND was on the first day... I guess we should just "KNOW" ... somehow.
What next? I'll consider that, some time after I get a million things done around here that have fallen by the wayside for the last 3 weeks .
I should also mention that Rollin's (ButlerEngines.com) engine was TERRIFIC! We always want "MORE POWER", but this one is working pretty well right now...
Sadly, the day after we got back, I walked out of the shop and noticed something 'odd' about the back of the trailer.. specifically, the right rear tire. Closer inspection revealed that the tire was shredded pretty badly .. showing steel cords ALL THE WAY AROUND. MAN! Did we dodge a bullet or what!? Looking at the other side, revealed a similar, but not quite as severe problem there. Looking underneath to see if the rear axle mount was coming loose, I discovered that the MAIN FRAME TUBE was, once again, BROKEN. Just last year, I had found it broken and offset by about 3/8 inch.. but NOW it was at least a full INCH out of alignment. I remembered a 'pop' in the floor during the weekend as I walked around in the trailer. Now I know why. Considering that the trailer is now some 45 years old, I decided that I have probably gotten all of the 'goodie' out of it and it's time to buy a new one. After a few days of internet searching, I finally decided to order up a new one. It should be finished shortly AFTER the Roebling Road Majors race at Savannah... looks like I'll now miss that race too .
Roebling Road Majors - No trailer available to tow to race.. so, missed another one.
Barber 'Regional' Races - August? .. or maybe Summit Point instead to race DZC against Challenge Cup?
we decided to NOT go to either. Instead we're going to do a test day at
Carolina Motorsports Park and then another one where we'll have RACES for the
DriverzCup Championship at Roebling the day before the 55th FV Anniversary event
with VDCA (VintageDrive.com)
Test Day for DZC (short for
I finally got my new trailer and after working our tails off for over a month converting from the old to the new trailer, Linda and I thought it would be a good shakedown trip to go to CMP for the DZC test day before taking off to someplace "more important". So.. we towed over there (about 5 hours), thankfully without incident and set up for testing the next day (really NICE to be retired and be able to take travel days without other considerations). The day turned out to be pretty fantastic weather wise. We were scheduled for 5 sessions - 1 of 4 groups in a track day atmosphere. Donnie and Laura were still in Europe from their trip to the Nurburgring, so they didn't make it, but 5 other DZC cars did. Mitchell went out the first 2 sessions on his SLICKS, while I was trying to break in my brand new Toyo T1R tires. The first session was ... interesting. The tires were .. well, squirrelly! It didn't feel really BAD .. just STRANGE. Bullet seemed to handle reasonably well, but with nothing to compare to, I had no idea if I was turning 'decent' DZC times or not.
Finally, Mitchell came out in the 3rd session on DZC tires. He cleaned my clock.. but I was still breaking in my tires (yeah... right). We never actually got together on the track, so I still had little to compare to. When the 4th session time came around, I made a concerted effort to get 'near' to Mitchell to see how we compared. I led a few laps and slowed to let him catch up, then we went at it for a few more laps. Seemed we were pretty comparable. In the end, I'm pretty sure I came up with the fastest lap, but it was only due to having a nice draft off of him and getting by at the right time. The basic idea of DZC seems solid. The tires held up in some really HOT temps and I felt little, if any, degradation as the tires heated .. and wore more and more. It actually seemed that they were getting BETTER. Unfortunately, Greg, who conceived and started this DriverzCup series had a minor suspension failure in the FIRST session and was unable to turn any more laps. He spent the rest of the day helping the other 3 DZC drivers that were there - keeping their cars on track and getting them some serious track time.
We decided to head home after the 4th session ... actually, Linda was heading to Ohio to visit her Aunt Jean and I headed back home. A pretty decent test day under our (and the trailer's) belts.
Formula Vee 55th Anniversary races with VDCA - Sept 7- 9 with DZC cup championship on Sept 6
All at Roebling Road Raceway
Sept 6 - DZC first official 'event'.
There would be 6 sessions for the DZC cars... a practice, then 4 heat races and finally a battle for the 2018 Championship. Grids for the races would be determined by best average finish from all previous races that day.
I had 4 sessions on my tires from the CMP test day, but some of the cars were starting on brand new tires, so the practice was a chance for everyone to get 'adapted' to the change from slicks to the treaded street tire.
The next 3 heat races went pretty well for us. I won them handily as there always seemed to be something happening behind me to break me off from the pack. Donnie and Laura had started the day on NEW tires, but were getting closer and closer to me in each race. In the 4th race, it came down to Donnie and I and I opted to NOT pass him into T1 and wait for the last pass coming to the line. Coming thru T9 on the last lap I was in pretty good position. Donnie pulled up tight to the inside coming onto the front straight and I hesitated a half sec before opting to make my pass on the outside. I was closing pretty fast and got alongside his left rear tire when he suddenly decided to 'track out' to the left and nerf me off the track.. So I had to recover with 2 wheels in the dirt, finishing second by about a car length. This was the last of the heat races, but would determine the grid for the final race. I sat on the pole due to my 3 wins and 2nd finish.
The championship race started much the same as the previous heats, with Donnie, Mitchell, Laura and I breaking away a bit .. but not as far this time. About half way through, Donnie made the pass for the lead into T1, but slightly overcalculated his talent and dropped off the outside of the track at T2. I'm not sure whether he spun or not, but he was not in contention for the lead after that. Mitchell, Laura and I swapped the lead several times.
We ran the Driverzcup races on Thursday (using the Greg Bruns designed
wheel/tire combo - Street tire Toyo T1R on an EMPI aluminum rim) and she JUST
beat me to the line in that finale race. I got the better end on Sunday in the
Brundage Cup race.
FV 55th Weekend -
Sanctioned by VDCA
Brundage Cup FV55th Celebration Race - We had a spirited battle at the front for the entire race. First a 4 car battle between Mitchell Ferguson, Laura Hayes, Donnie Isley and myself. We split off from the second pack by the second lap, then Donnie gradually fell off the pace, leaving the 3 of us in our own pack and a second 3 or 4 car battle with Engler, Bruns, Rogers, and Donnie. I think both those packs stayed pretty much together to the end except for Donnie who came in early, but not certain.
In the lead pack we all took turns 'testing' each other and taking our turn in the lead. We weren't sure how many LAPS there would be since it was a TIMED race, and I was beginning to sweat whether I had enough gas in the car to make the finish. As the time got to about 20 (of scheduled 25) minutes Laura decided to 'hang back' and wait for the last lap so Mitchell and I swapped the lead a couple more times .. neither of us knowing when the last lap to go white would come out. When that flag waved, Mitchell was leading and I had to decide what I wanted to do.. I took the lead into T1 with a bit of trepidation since my rear tires were on their last legs. It was quite difficult to keep Bullet pointed forward and keep Mitchell behind me. Laura made her move coming into T5 to get by Mitchell and I needed to be VERY careful in the carousel to not throw the race away. Laura closed up behind me coming out of T6 and was right on my butt coming onto the front straight. She was too close to get really good run at me but got alongside and closer and closer ... and closer, but we reached the finish line with her coming up some few inches short, thankfully.
|Me with the take home trophy.
|| The full size one has the names of all the
Brundage Cup Winners on it and stays with the Brundage Family and the Nardi.
I'll be the first name on the next row.
Good racing all up & down the line in both series .. the
Driverzcup and the VDCA FV55th weekend races.
Runoffs - Sonoma (California) - October - I have a LITTLE more information that makes it look POSSIBLE this year. I'll keep watching and asking questions...Waiting to hear more from SCCA.
OK.. I have more information and WE ARE GOING ... or at least LEAVING to head that way (Hey... it's a LONG trip .. anything could happen). I'll have another update after we get back, but it'll be A WHILE. About 3 weeks turn around to get back home.
Well... we're BACK and it could have been a lot worse . The tow out was going to be LONG .. and we knew it. Still ... it was a LONG trip! We left home on Monday morning, planning for a Friday arrival at Sonoma. It was, maybe, 65 degrees when we pulled out of the driveway, but by noon it was 80.. by 2p it was 90, and by 4 it was 98.. and the dash air quit working at about 85, so the inside temp was now about ...95. No problem.. we'll just fire up the generator and run the roof air until it cools off a bit .. uh.. NO. The generator refused to crank (hey, it worked just fine last time I tried it). Anyway, we SWELTERED for another 4 hours or so till we got past Memphis and found a campground that could accommodate our length (63 feet).
First order of business, of course, was to figure out WHY the generator wouldn't
crank. Didn't take too long to figure out that the ignition wasn't getting
12 volts from the battery... WHY? After looking around a bit, I found
Melted fuse holder. I cut the 2 wires at the bottom - the fuse is at the top... melded into the plastic housing.
The fuse for the 12 volts was burned to a crisp. For how long? I'll never know. I had some spare fuses and fabricated a 'fuse holder' from spade lugs and 'voila', we had a functioning generator again. However, the next morning when we continued our trip, the temps had dropped from near 100 degrees to near 40, so HEAT was the order of the day as we traveled across Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. That evening, we stopped for fuel near the Arizona line... pulled up to the pump and shut off the engine. Then found that THAT particular pump was OUT OF SERVICE. So.. attempted to start the RV to move ..and NO CRANKIE !! (here we go again). Well.. I am FAR from a diesel mechanic, but the only other time I had a failure like this was at the Road America Runoffs where it turned out to be the fuel shutoff solenoid. SO.. maybe I should check that first. Again... VOILA! I found the problem..BUT, this time it wasn't just a loose connection. The entire solenoid assembly had fallen apart. Hmmm... what to do?? After a few minutes of study, I deduced that the FUNCTION of the solenoid was to PULL a lever to activate the fuel flow and RELEASE that same lever to SHUT OFF the fuel flow. More hmmm.... Into the closet to find a coat hanger ... into the tool box to get some wire cutters and pliers.. fabricate a HOOK to grab that lever to pull ON the fuel flow (we'll worry about shutting it off later). Hooked onto the lever and hung the rest of the wire out the side (underneath the bed-engine access cover) and closed the cover and bed back down on it to hold it. The engine CRANKED right up and we could then move. (of course, to shut down the engine, I had to get out of the driver's seat, go lift the bed, then lift the engine access cover and release the coat hanger, but at least it WORKED.) Got some fuel and headed on towards Arizona while thinking about HOW to fix this problem properly. While I was driving, Linda got on her phone and searched (with a little help from me for just WHAT she was searching for) for a fuel shutoff valve that would fit our coach... that was available for immediate pickup.. along our path of I40 westbound. About 10 calls later we established that the NAPA Autoparts in Flagstaff AZ could GET that part by 2:30 that very day .. and we were about 4 hours away from there at 11:30 in the morning.. NEAT .. that could work! We placed the order and got there about the time the part arrived. Of course, the part was NOT an exact fit - the electrical connector was a newer model so I had to splice in the old connector to make it work.. but it did and some 2 hours later, we were on the road again.. after removing my coat hanger fix .
<- Old one New one->>
After I got the new part, I realized that the ONLY thing that held all those parts together (the ones on the left) was the grey rubberized covering. Over the 24 years
our motorhome has existed, that covering had deteriorated until it was just a pile of 'ugly stuff' that fell apart allowing the assembly to become DISassembled.
Anyway, that got us the rest of the way to Sonoma.. and for the foreseeable future. Across AZ and on into CA.. now only another full day of driving to go. We would be LATE arriving on Thursday night and couldn't get inside the track anyway, so we stopped in Lodi, CA and spent the night at a campground. Registration wouldn't open until noon on Friday and we had only about an hour of driving left. We also topped off with diesel and propane .. just in case.
The track off in the distance. The PROOF!
Next up was finding our paddock spot and getting into it. Took some doing,
but we finally made it ... without even damaging any other vehicles.
Fortunately, the spots on each side of us were still vacant. Getting OUT
might be a problem ... for another time.
Looking down our our spot from the grandstands.
It got a little tighter the next day...
Tight, but acceptable...
We had allowed 2 extra days for the trip .. just in case.... so we had some time to get acquainted with the track facilities and watch some testing. During our trip, Bullet had 'gotten loose' from his bindings in the trailer .. twice .. due to the rough roads and the new e-track tie downs in our new trailer. (more things to learn about). Fortunately no damage, but it was clear that a better tie down method was needed. The straps had slid off the top of the tires, so tie nets or similar were going to be required. I ordered some nets from Amazon and had them delivered to the track. Unfortunately they turned out to be about 4 times too big to be of any use. We stopped a lot more often on the way back and I checked the car EVERY time we stopped. THIS time, however, I had strapped down the car while the tires were still quite warm from the race.. and the straps were STUCK to the tires. I had to peel the straps off when we unloaded at home. Since then, I think I have come up with a good solution using lifting slings. Of course, I FORGOT to take a picture while Bullet was in the trailer. Maybe next report...
On to the racing....
We had three 20 minute sessions scheduled for the Monday test day. Although I had watched a couple of videos and had turned 20 or so laps on my racing simulator, I was NOT prepared for what I found. The turns are WAY tighter than I expected and the elevation change was unbelievable. Almost every turn is totally blind for the apex and track out points. I just couldn't seem to get a handle on the track . and neither could Bullet. The 3rd session was shortened by a couple of laps due to the delays encountered earlier in the day. What a way to start off. This was one time that I really needed another test day. Still, I didn't spin (although I felt like I was going to almost every lap) and I didn't crash.. so, it could have been worse.
Q1 - Tuesday. I had a really good grid spot from my season points total and I had some good cars to run with... and had good expectation. Unfortunately, Mitchell Ferguson had a rear trailing arm failure just in front of me (I have video of it) on lap 2 (first timed lap) at T7, launched over Andrade, came down onto A Whitston, and then crashed into the concrete wall heavily...and was out.. then Hearn went straight into the tires at the entry to the carousel and another car spun in the kink and they called a BFA after 2 and a half laps. The cleanup killed the rest of our session. I think I was 12th. Mitchell's car was a wreck. I went up to help but it didn't look very promising. Still, we were a LONG WAY FROM HOME and he had made that LONG trip .. and there were still 2 more days of qualifying .. so why not try to fix it? I scavenged my trailer for parts and took up most of the spares that I had brought. We had to WELD lots of stuff back on, so he set about stripping the car down to the chassis so we could bring it down to my paddock spot to use my tig welder for repairs.
Q2 - Wednesday. OK.. now we're gridded based on previous times so I'm a bit further back this time. Still not too bad though .. until we got going. CRAP... again BFA after 2 laps, then we sit in the pits for another 6 minutes before we get back out... 2 more laps and we're done. 6 laps total for 2 days of qualifying. I went about 1.5 seconds faster, but still dropped 3 spots on the grid. Mitchell was working away on his car and by mid afternoon, we moved it down to my spot and welded up all of the stuff that needed it (we hoped). Amazingly, it went back together and he was able to make a hardship lap the next morning about an hour before our last qualifying session. Thankfully, Bullet was holding up - the primary problem appeared to be my driver.
Q3 - Thursday. We finally got a full qualifying session, but I managed to get myself into the WRONG position on the track and was not smart enough to get out of it. I didn't spin or crash, but I also didn't get any good laps. I just couldn't get going without being blocked off going into the most critical turns. I lost another spot on the grid .. to start 15th. On the good side, Mitchell's car performed really well and he qualified just out of the top 10 (11th or 12th) having had only 7 timed qualifying laps total.
Race Day - Friday. Our race was the last one before lunch break. (I'm trying to sort out my incar video, but at least for now, it's not ready for prime time.) Things started off just fine (the engine cranked!) until the green came out. It was JUST out of my view I guess 'cos I got jumped by 4 cars .. but I got one back at T2. From there it was a TRAIN of cars. There are only 2 or 3 real passing spots on the track so, if you miss one, it's a while before another one might present itself. NONE presented themselves to me for quite some time. As a matter of fact, it was way worse than that. On the 4th lap, the car 2 in front of me lost his engine going through the carousel (T5/T6) - that caused him to almost spin and the car next to him also had quite a moment. There I was .. just not quite far enough back to have time to avoid the entire process... the 2nd car was on my outside right at the point where I (desperately) needed to 'track out' from the turn. I had to pull up tighter than normal to avoid contact and that took me into a snap spin... directly into the path of the car who's engine had died .. but was still moving quite rapidly. He ran over Bullet's nose and flattened it pretty good, while I locked up everything I had and spun to a complete stop... engine dead and facing the wrong way. With the sudden engine stop, it took MANY seconds to get the engine to fire again.. and then more to find 1st gear and get turned around.. during which time THE ENTIRE FIELD passed me by. I was some 30 seconds behind LAST PLACE .. well, I WAS last place.. by a pretty fair margin. I finally got going again and took off after them (EVERYONE). It took me about 3 laps to get within sight of anyone and another lap to get close enough to start thinking about passing. I finally caught up and started picking off cars one at a time. I made my way past 5 or 6 cars before catching one at the WRONG time. We were out of T1, headed into T2... I was closing rapidly and he made a 'left feint' - leading me to think he was letting me by on the inside (right turn) .. but NO. At the last instant, he turned back right and I slammed on brakes to avoid contact, causing me to spin again. I made a much quicker recovery this time - kept the engine running, but still went all the way back to LAST PLACE AGAIN. Being much closer, it only took me another lap to start passing cars (the very SAME cars) again. By this time we were 2/3 of the way through the race and I was starting to wonder where the leaders were. Linda noticed the same thing and started to give me position relative to the leaders by turns. I made it back (again) past all the cars I had already passed and then continued on to pass 3 more cars .. with the next one in sight, before I ran out of laps and the checker came out leaving me in 16th place - but I didn't get lapped! My crushed nose added some 2 seconds per lap to my times after the first spin, but I was finally starting to get a bead on the track by the time it was over.... just in time to load up and come home. As per my usual, I didn't think to snap a pic of my damaged nose before repairing it .. RATS!
Maybe we'll go back out that way some day. Not likely, but I would like another shot at the track if it works out .. before I'm too old to do this any more. All in all, I consider it an 'acceptable' effort. We got to travel ..and travel.. and travel all the way to CA and back and didn't have any really serious issues to deal with. Bullet came home in one piece (although ONE part of that piece was pretty smashed) and we were able to help Mitchell get going... and he managed a super 5th place finish in impound! Congrats to him (we're from the same division/conference). For any readers that would like to view a decent incar video of the race, I uploaded it to YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwskTp1pKhA . (The VIDEO is decent.. my DRIVING, not so much ).
We got loaded up pretty quickly after the race so we could use the lunch break
to extract the motorhome and trailer from our paddock spot before the race car
traffic picked up too much. We got out of the track by about 2P (PDT) and
got about 7 hours on the road towards home. We stopped off near
Albuquerque to visit with Linda's sister (where the post/trailer incident
occurred) and saw some nice views alongside the road .. maybe the best was a
nice view of Humphries Peak as we passed through Flagstaff.
Our picture through the RV windshield doesn't do it justice.. It's really much prettier . It was somewhat interesting - on the way West, we 'gained' about an hour each day as we crossed the time zones... but we PAID it back traveling East since we LOST those hours instead.
That pretty much wraps 2018 for us. There MIGHT be a DZC event at Road
Atlanta if the stars align correctly. Since it's so close, we'll probably
do that if it happens.
WELL..there WAS A DZC event held at the VDCA Veteran's Day event.
We could only get 4 vees together for this one, but it was still a good event. The weather was great .. except that it was pretty cold (high 30's overnight and low 50's for highs during the day). But we survived. Greg Bruns (series founder) set the new Road Atlanta DZC track record on Saturday with a 1:50.061, but *I* managed to win both races with Mitchell Ferguson finishing 2nd in both races. All in all, a good weekend for DZC with no car/car contact after some really close racing.
Ken Patterson, Mitchell Ferguson, Stevan Davis, Greg Bruns
For any of you that are on facebook and want to see the finish of the Sunday race, Lee was there and made a video from the bridge to the finish line. You can see it at
2018 is done for sure this time.. I
think - at least as far as racing is concerned. See you next year -
possibly the 2nd weekend of the new year at Sebring.
Thanks as always to Rollin at ButlerEngines.com, JR at RoxannesHeaders.com and ... Mike, John, Tim and Bruce at Hoosier tires (RaceTire.com) and Dietmar at QuixoteRacing.com . Not to forget my wife, Linda, who travels with me to almost every race, and suffers me the joy of racing for all these years!
Regular Season team stats(EC races in yellow)
|NOLA MAJOR#1||2nd||3rd||18||Crash on lap2
But continued to finish... slowly
|NOLA MAJOR#2||3rd||3rd||18||Just not quite fast enough|
|Atlanta MAJOR#1||3rd||1st||25||JUST fast enough|
|Atlanta MAJOR#2||1st||1st||25||Fast enough|
|Mid Ohio #1||5th||3rd||-18-||MO points don't count in SEDIV|
|Mid Ohio #2||6th||4th||-17-|
|CMS Roval #1||1st||1st||25||TOUGH Battle amongst 5 Vees|
|CMS Roval #2||1st||1st||25||ditto (less than 1 ft margin both races combined)|
|Season Total SouthEast||136||3rd in conference|
|Season Total Nationwide||171||Not scored this year...|
Runoffs/Divisional Finishes for the Wedge Racing Team
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