Al Fairer SARRC/MARRS Challenge VIR 5/09

This was the first time out with the car since CMP in March.  I made a few changes with the intake setup and added a nice lightweight underdrive crank pulley to reduce rotating mass, so I was eager to test the car and see how those improvements may have helped.


Saturday started out with a nice surprise.  I managed to qualify both first in class (out of 16 cars) and first overall for the entire run group.  There were nine Showroom Spec Miatas between myself and the nearest competitor.  The Miata guys talked to me before the race and made sure that I would not race them and mess up their own race in class.  I gladly agreed to work with them depending on how the start went.  At the start of the race I got off well and led into turn 1 and was able to maintain this lead to the back straight.  One car broke away and was able to hang on pretty close.  Eventually, he would draft by before the end of the long VIR back straight.  I bump drafted him down the front straight hoping he and I could break away and leave the others behind.  Unfortunately, he made a mistake going into Turn 1 that held us both up.  That allowed the rest of the pack to catch us up by Turn 3, where one of them dove to the inside of me, to my surprise, causing me to have to slow down.  From there I got freight trained by the pack and several cars got by.  Once they were done with me...I settled in at the back of the pack and decided to ride it out there.  My nearest class competitor was not even in sight, so I just needed to follow the Miatas and cruise home for a win.  I was faster than them in some places, but did not want to mess up their race and just laid back.  If one fell behind from the pack, I would encourage them to get back up there. :)  Attrition took it's toll on them during the course of the race, and I ended up finishing 4th overall, and solidly won ITB.  It was a good feeling.  Here is the video from that race.  The Miata race is pretty fun to watch.

Saturday Race



Sunday started off well.  Even better than Saturday, actually.  In qualifying I captured poll again for both my class (out of 12 cars) and overall for the group.  Even better than that, was the fact that the qualifying lap was 8 tenths of a second under the existing track record.  A lap record has to be set during the race, but I was optimistic that I could be done.  Here is a video of the qualifying lap.  2:21.8

Sunday Qualifying


I honestly wish I would not have run such a good lap in qualifying. I couldn't get that stupid lap record off my mind. I planned my race around it...

So, here is how it went down. I start the race on overall pole again, and do exactly the same as I did yesterday. I guess I broke too early for T1, and left too much room on the inside...next thing I know, the SSM cars split me and we go three wide into 1. Nice. The damage was not too bad as only 3 or 4 of them got by. I tried to be a little defensive into 3, but one of them still stuck his nose in there hanging me out. We go 2 wide into 4 and another one tries to come up inside there and nearly spins himself beside me. At this point I have had enough and want to stop the bleeding. I claim my piece of track between 5a and 5b and get a little rub on the bumper from the guy who wanted by. I figure I should be good until the back straight from there...and then promptly do a money shift when trying to go from 3rd to 4th between 5a and 5b.  So I loose all my drive and three more get by before the esses. Actually I let 1.5 of them go since going up the esses two wide with them was not on my "to do" list.

So now I am stuck behind the secondary pack of SSMs and being held up badly, but have plenty of cars behind.  I need to get through them in order to get clear track and try for the record.  I get by four of them over the course of a lap and have plenty of clear track ahead after that.

Well, I haven't even got back around to start the flyer when I locked up the front end going into the turn before Oak Tree. I just can't get it moving and gripping again, and end up driving off the track...right into the stinking tire wall, nose first. I collect myself for a few seconds and decide that staying there was not the outcome that I wanted as I watched the cars stream by. Found reverse, and started heading back for the track and rejoined at the entrance to south paddock. I am now 3rd in ITB and who knows where overall. I take a lap or so to feel the car out and make sure I can start pushing again. I smell a tire rub, but it goes away after a lap or so, and I keep an eye on my temps closely to make sure the radiator is OK. The car is driving straight.

There is a lot of damage to be undone, so I get to work. I get by 2nd place in class fairly quickly, and notice that the leader (Matt Douglas) is the full back straight ahead. I just drive, and drive, and pass as many cars as I can. doing it dirty, and AJ Nealey Grand Tourismo style. Next thing I know, he is getting closer and closer and battling with some SSM cars. If I had a lap or two more, I might could have won this thing to spite myself. Coulda, shoulda...

In the end, I only managed a 2:22.9 race lap which was better than yesterday but a couple tenths shy of the record.  I had fun trying to work back up to Matt. Congrats to him for finishing 2nd yesterday and winning today. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

The car had some damage from the tire wall, but not quite as bad as I figured it would  Should be a fairly easy repair.

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If you want to see all the action, I have video from the Sunday race as well:

Sunday Race