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2009 Summary

2009 was definitely a year of “challenges” for the BK Racing Team, but as my buddy Joe Hooker once said, “If you want to amuse the racing gods, plan your racing season a year in advance.”

I should have had a clue when I walked out of the house to go to work in early January and noticed something looked different. The sky seemed brighter somehow, and as I got closer to where we park the enclosed trailer I realized there was a tree stuck out of the top of it! One of the trees in the back yard had fallen over and the top half of it had speared right through the top of the trailer. NOT a good way to start the year.

While the trailer was being repaired we used my 25-year old open trailer to get Cuervo to the Feb 21-22 SARRC event at Road Atlanta. We ended up celebrating my 59th birthday with a first (and also last) place finish in GTA that weekend, but the better news is we turned the fastest laps we’ve ever run there in a GTA car (1:31.983 in qualifying, 1:32.8 in the race). Things were looking better.

In May Data (Eric Bartel) & I took Cuervo to the Chattanooga Region’s Track Trial event at Nashville Superspeedway. Both of us went faster than we’d ever gone there, both of us set Track Trial class records (me in GT-1 at 1:05.5 and Data in GTA at 1:07.5) and also convinced Tres Childs to buy a GTA car by letting him drive Cuervo for one session. On that trip the transmission in the dually started acting up, so a rebuild was in order before the next trip. And we obviously didn’t know it at the time, but Nashville was the last weekend we would race with our buddy Rich Shafer.

The last weekend in May Data & I made the trip to Summit Point WV to help spread the gospel according to GTA and run Round 4 of the 2009 GTA National Tour. We ran representative GTA times on Friday’s test day even though we were learning a new track, then I slowed down almost a second on Saturday.  It ends up the engine was starting to go as we dropped a valve and created a LARGE cloud of smoke on lap two of Sunday’s feature race. The good news is I met Rob Morris and spent Sunday night at their place while waiting to fly from DC to Orlando to visit with my ailing mother, but Monday morning I got a call from my brother that she had passed away earlier that morning. She was 86 and had been in declining health for a couple of years so it wasn’t totally unexpected, but it made a blown engine seem minor in comparison. It IS fitting that my brother and our cousin had the highlights from the Dover NASCAR race playing on TV when Mother took her last breath. <g>

After I returned to Atlanta we worked with Lee Schwartz of FlowTech (828-650-6606) to build another engine and got it installed in time for the June 27-28 Double SARRC at Nashville SuperSpeedway. Lee drove over from Asheville to support us that weekend and earned his “Professor” nickname while we chased a high-speed miss. We did manage to get two more SARRC wins and found the problem (the new air box was shorting out the plug wires), and on Sunday we came within two seconds of lapping the entire field. Again, things were looking up.

Based on the NSS results we were pumped for the Road Atlanta Double SARRC the weekend of July 18-19. We were right on the GTA pole sitter’s rear bumper early in Saturday’s race when the engine starting missing again and we ended up with a DNF. It ends up we had a bad set of spark plugs so we replaced them and qualified first in class for Sunday’s race with a 1:31.381 (again setting a PR at Road Atlanta). We were holding our own in a great race with Greg and Randy Walker when I zigged instead of zagged coming out of Turn 10-B on lap 8 and acquired a BMW as a hood ornament. I continued on to a fifth place finish, but it definitely was a “woulda, coulda, shoulda” weekend.

Two weeks later Dennis McClintock & I made the long trip to Mid-Ohio to run Round Six of the GTA National Tour and yes, continue to preach to the unwashed masses. Mid-Ohio has never been my favorite race track and this trip did nothing to change my mind. We had qualified seventh overall, sixth (of ten) in GTA, but at Turn One on Lap One of Saturday afternoon’s race we tried to fit three cars where no more than two can fit IF they work together. It was déjà vu all over again (long time readers may recall that we returned from a 2002 trip to Mid-Ohio missing the RF corner of our GT-1 Corvette) as we removed Cuervo’s RF corner and ended our 2009 racing season. After a large pitcher of margaritas on Saturday night we left Mansfield, OH, (in the rain) at 4:00 AM Sunday and pulled into the driveway at the house around 6:00 that evening.

The first weekend in October Rich Shafer passed away from complications after an incident at the Crow Mountain Hill Climb in Alabama. That still is a major bummer to all who knew him.

We didn’t get Cuervo back together in time for the ARRC by GRM the weekend of Nov 6-8, so instead we ran the Time Trials portion of a NASA event at Road Atlanta the first weekend in December. It was cold, we were on old tires, it was the first time back in the car in four months, and I never really got a clean lap in either of our sessions we ran but we still ended up with a best lap of 1:33.4. Not a world-beater lap, but it did convince me that I haven’t forgotten how to drive and that MAYBE it’s not time to turn in my helmet just yet. It was also interesting to see how NASA conducts their events and it generated some ideas we can incorporate into our SCCA weekends. If you’d like to see my thoughts about that weekend (some of you won’t have a choice <g>) let me know and I’ll send them along.

So it definitely was an up-and-down year. At the risk of continuing to entertain the racing gods, here is what we’re thinking about for 2010:

 

  • Feb 6-7          SEDIV Annual Convention at Jekyll Island
  • Feb 20-21      SARRC / GTA National Tour at Sebring
  • Apr 17-18      Track Trials Drivers’ School at Little Talladega
  • May 7-9         Double SARRC / GTA National Tour at VIR
  • May 22          Track Trials at Road Atlanta
  • Jun 19-20      Double SARRC at Nashville SuperSpeedway
  • Jul 17-18       Double SARRC / GTA National Tour at Road Atlanta
  • Aug 7-8         Double SARRC / GTA National Tour at Daytona
  • Sep 4-5         Double SARRC at Barber Motorsports Park
  • Sep 18-19     Double Regional at Watkins Glen (tentative)
  • Oct 9-10        SARRC Championship / GTA National Tour at Roebling Road
  • Nov 5-7         RRC by GRM / GTA National Tour Championship Race at Road Atlanta

 See y’all at the track…