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2007 ARRC by GRM

Some of you know that I’ve been sending out BK Racing Updates for quite some time now, but unless you’ve been around since early 2000 you probably don’t realize this is the end of my seventh year as the self-appointed chronicler (that means “reporter” for you folks from Florida <g>) of our efforts. If you’re really curious and/or a masochist, you can find all my musings elsewhere here on our website. Feel free to browse the site and tell us what you think, but one common denominator in all those articles is they focus primarily about how BK Racing did at various events.

For a number of reasons, this article will be different. First of all, my role in the Fourteenth American Road Race of Champions Presented by Grassroots Motorsports (the ARRC by GRM) was much bigger than just driving. Second, via the magic of the online registration system I will be sending this report to all participants at the 2007 ARRC by GRM as well as my regular distribution list (so some of you will get multiple copies). Third (and most important), our racing weekend sucked!

Bad news first.  During Friday morning’s first qualifying session I’d run back-to-back 1:34’s (which was decent considering we were still using the tires we’d run at Roebling Road a month earlier) and was coming down the back straight on my fourth hot lap. As I came over the rise at Turn Nine at almost 160 mph I was greeted by a cloud of dust and what seemed like a parking lot full of race cars. Ends up a car had just broken a transmission, which caused those following him to scatter and check up at the fastest part of the race track. When I arrived maybe three seconds later (probably just as the yellow flags were coming out at Nine) at a closing speed of about 100 miles per hour (imagine driving into your garage at 80), I nailed the brakes and steered to the only open spot on the track I could see. Unfortunately a faster car following me ALSO committed to the same spot, tagged me in the left rear, and then I spun into the concrete wall on driver’s left. The impact shortened Cuervo’s rear end by about two feet, but after the dust cleared I re-cranked the engine, drove back to our paddock space, surveyed the damage, said some REALLY nasty words, and threw the car cover over it.

I know it’s a euphemism that’s overused on TV, but it really was “just one of them racin’ deals.” We’re covering almost a football field each second at 155 mph, and the whole thing from start to finish lasted maybe four seconds. Later that afternoon I talked to the guys at Turn Ten and they still weren’t even sure what all had happened – “a car came slowly over the hill, there was a big cloud of dust with cars spinning everywhere, then when the dust finally settled all the cars had driven off!” We probably could have gotten Cuervo back together and there were MANY offers of assistance, but with everything else I had going on over the weekend I decided my driving activities were over. What I HAVE learned, however, is that when we have extra crew available (like we did this weekend) we’ll put a person at Turn Ten with a radio.

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And now from the Atlanta Region Competition Director’s point of view:

In 1994, after twenty-four years at Road Atlanta, the SCCA’s National Championship event (the Runoffs) was usurped by Yankee carpet-baggers and moved to Mid-Ohio. To fill the gap on the track’s calendar the Atlanta Region resurrected an historic name, the American Road Race of Champions, and invited most of the regional-only classes to a single event to determine the champions in each of those classes. Grassroots Motorsports magazine was involved in those early versions of the event, and I’m very pleased they have agreed to partner with us again.

Although the event primarily consisted of Improved Touring cars in the early years, we’ve added other regional-only classes like ASR, SPO/U, CF, and CFC over the years. We were also among the first to recognize Spec Miata, so when that class became eligible for the Runoffs we modified our rules to include regional-only Spec Miatas as well. And when the BoD decided to recognize thirty classes for National competition yet only invite the top twenty-four to participate at the Runoffs, the concept of the ARRC by GRM changed to “the National Championship event for those classes not invited to race at the Runoffs.”

The results are out on MyLaps.com (http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=265565) and the various forums are filled with comments on the event, so I’m not going to go into detail with individual race results. We were also the topic of discussions on the weekly radio show, Shifting Gears (go to http://www.racinboys.com/home/video_list and click on the 11/14/07 segments) and I thought they presented a balanced view of the weekend. In the early years of the event we had about 150 total participants and this year 294 cars turned a wheel in competition for the ARRC by GRM Championship races. Add in the 110+ cars for Friday afternoon’s Pro-IT and the Three Hour Enduro on Sunday, and we had over 400 hundred cars on track over the weekend. The racing was intense throughout the entire field in almost all the races, and this event has truly become one of the top destination events on the SCCA calendar. Our goal is to say to those that will be heading to Topeka next year for the Runoffs, “Don’t you wish you’d finished outside the top twenty-four so you could come back to Road Atlanta?” <g>

As well as this event went overall, I’m expecting the revived partnership with Grassroots Motorsports to increase visibility of the event even more in the future. And just as there is no perfect lap in racing, there also is no perfect event. The items on my short list of things to improve for 2008:

  •  arrange to use the Pro Paddock as well as the Club Paddock
  •  arrange to start parking rigs earlier on Wednesday afternoon
  •  add an extra run group to Thursday’s Test Day
  •  do everything possible to ensure all groups get to run all their laps
  •  increase available manpower on Friday
  •  provide scrutiny in the Tech Shed for all classes
  •  make sure we have enough to feed everyone at the evening parties
  •  bring Scott Conway and Greg Creamer back, plus add a Victory Circle announcer

After all is said and done, I’ve EXTREMELY proud of the job done by the Atlanta Region SCCA & friends. I’m just honored they allow me to be a part of it.

See y’all at the track…