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2010 ARRC by GRM

I apologize for the delay but first I had to get over feeling sorry for myself and then I wanted to verify what caused the wreck before sending out an “official” Update. Then last Tuesday I got a note that an NCCC buddy lost ten (uninsured) vintage Corvettes after lightning started a fire in the shop where they were stored – that kinda makes my problems minor in comparison!

I sent out the short version earlier (that I ran out of talent and smacked the wall), so I’ll just dive right into the longer story:

Back in November 1971 I made my first ever trip to Road Atlanta to watch an event called the American Road Race of Champions. It was a winner-take-all race to determine the SCCA National Champion in each nationally-contested class. The event changed names over the years (the Champion Spark Plug Road Racing Classic and the Valvoline Runoffs immediately come to mind), but every year I was hanging on the fence watching some of the best racers in the country go at it to see who was best. When the Runoffs moved to Mid-Ohio in 1994 the Atlanta Region and Road Atlanta resurrected the ARRC name and invited regional-only classes to attend as THEIR National Championship event. Grassroots Motorsports magazine was involved in those early years and a couple of years ago signed on as the presenting sponsor of what has arguably become one of the top three events on the SCCA road racing calendar. Granted I’m somewhat biased, but the 2010 version of the ARRC by GRM was one of the best ever.

While I have a passion for both the track and the event, I cannot say with certainty that affection has been reciprocated. We first ran the event in 2001 with our GT-1 Corvette (Lucifer) running in the SPO class, qualified on the pole in the Big Noise race, led every lap, and lapped all but the second place car. Since then we’ve had “spotty” success:

Car

Year

Qualified

Finished

Comments

Lucifer

2001

1st OA

1st OA

“This ain’t so hard!”

 

2002

DNR

 

Wrecked car during Runoffs testing at Mid-Ohio

 

2003

1st OA

1st OA

Infamous“Spin & Win” (details available on request)

 

2004

3rd OA

2nd OA

More big dogs were starting to show up

 

 

 

 

 

Cuervo

2005

DFL

3rd GTA

Problems in qualifying, but great race from the back

 

2006

2nd GTA

DNF

Rear end problems on lap 3

 

2007

DNS

 

Wrecked in qualifying

 

2008

5th GTA

11th GTA

Alternator problems; 21 GTA cars total

 

2009

DNR

 

Wrecked car at Mid-Ohio

(have I mentioned I hate that place?)

(Hmmm – after creating that table I realized my performance at the ARRC started downhill right after I became Atlanta Region Competition Director in 2006. I wonder if that’s a cause/effect relationship or just a coincidence, but I guess we’ll find out in 2012!)

So really except for 2005, I haven’t done worth a crap at the ARRC by GRM in Cuervo. But 2010 has been pretty good to us so we felt pretty good going into Friday’s qualifying. Despite being called to visit the Tower thirty minutes before we went out we still found a gap in traffic, turned the fastest lap we’ve ever turned in a GTA car at Road Atlanta, and ended up third in class.  Here’s how GTA ended up after the first session:

 

PIC

 

OA

Car

No.

 

Color

 

Name

Best

Lap

1

7

18

yellow

Kurt Roehrig

1.28.281

2

10

88

black

Rob Morris

1.30.050

3

12

57

red

Butch Kummer

1.30.602

4

15

89

silver

Bobby Reuse

1.32.656

5

16

21

red

Randy Walker

1.33.023

6

17

77

black

Tony Amico

1.33.344

7

19

07

white

Randy Gay

1.34.426

8

20

36

red

Ricky Sanders

1.35.758

9

22

35

black

B.J. Holley

1.37.508

10

23

12

green/white

Steve Wiles

1.39.105

11

25

98

silver

Roger Reuse

1.40.077

12

29

7

black/yel/red

Hollywood Graham

no time

13

30

34

yellow

Preston Fowler

no time

 

Preston had to work on Friday so he would be starting from the back on Saturday, but Hollywood (who watched the morning session from his exclusive seat outside the Turn One gravel trap) would be coming from the back during the afternoon’s six lap qualifying race. I normally don’t run that race because the results only matter if you turn a faster lap in the afternoon than you did in the morning (which we seldom do), but this year we ran it just to get some additional track time. A number of people DID go faster than they had in the morning, however, so here’s how we lined up for the split-start in Saturday’s Championship race: 

 

PIC

Car

No.

 

Color

 

Name

AM

Qual

PM

Race

1

18

Yellow

Kurt Roehrig

1.28.281

1.28.879

2

88

Black

Rob Morris

1.30.050

1.30.380

3

57

Red

Butch Kummer

1.30.602

1.31.935

4

7

black/yel/red

Hollywood Graham

no time

1.32.177

5

89

Silver

Bobby Reuse

1.32.656

1.32.499

6

21

Red

Randy Walker

1.33.023

1.32.793

7

77

Black

Tony Amico

1.33.344

dnr

8

07

White

Randy Gay

1.34.426

1.36.241

9

36

Red

Ricky Sanders

1.35.758

1.34.953

10

35

Black

B.J. Holley

1.37.508

1.35.296

11

98

Silver

Roger Reuse

1.40.077

1.36.856

12

12

green/white

Steve Wiles

1.39.105

2.08.597

13

34

Yellow

Preston Fowler

no time

no time

 

As I walked around the paddock area Saturday morning I noticed that Steve’s #12 was missing and Roger’s #98 was in the trailer. Roger’s son had fallen ill so he was on his way back to Alabama and it ends up Steve had a close encounter with the wall during Friday’s race. Rather than pack up and head back to Kansas, however, Steve and his crew took the car to a local race shop to effect repairs and were back in their paddock spot before the lunch break. Preston had also shown up so we had 12 GTA cars to take the green Saturday afternoon.

We ended up with a split start for GTA, so Kurt and Rob were on the front row, Hollywood was outside me on the second row, then Bobby Reuse and Randy Walker were the row behind us. My hopes for getting a good start and maybe beating Kurt and/or Rob into Turn One were thwarted when Kurt hesitated at the green and slowed up the inside line. Not only did Hollywood soundly beat me to Turn One, but Randy Walker came by as well. As in July, I had gone from third in class to fifth before the first corner!

I got a run on the red #21 between Five and Six but opted not to push the issue there. Cuervo hooked up well coming out of Seven, however, and I was able to get by Randy cleanly on the back straight and closed up on Hollywood under braking for Turn Ten. As we finished the first lap it was Rob and Kurt nose-to-tail, then a (very) small gap to Hollywood, myself, Randy Walker, Bobby, Tony, Ricky, Randy Gay, BJ, Preston, and Steve. Then Kurt got by Rob going into Turn One and was never seen again! <g>

For two laps I could close on Hollywood in the corners and down through the Esses but never was close to make a move (particularly that early in the race), then the Ford would pull me two car lengths on the back straight. I was also putting the same amount of space between myself and Randy but the accordion would compress again and we’d all be nose-to-tail as we got to Turn Six. In the meantime Rob was growing smaller and smaller in my windshield.

As we finished lap three I drove Cuervo hard in the Turn One and closed the gap to Hollywood once again, then as we got to the braking zone of Turn Three I spun counter-clockwise to the outside of the track and smacked the concrete barriers pretty damn hard. I tried to restart Cuervo to continue, but then the helpful F&C worker (Monica Shaw from Wisconsin) appeared at my window and indicated I should perhaps disembark from my vehicle. Since she has a better view of the damage than I did, I shut everything down and climbed through the window. Yet again my dreams of glory had been dashed upon the rocks!

One lap after I (fell out / drove off / ran out of talent) Bobby got by Randy Walker and then came by on lap seven (of twenty) in front of Hollywood as well. Two laps later, however, Bobby failed to come by and Hollywood was much farther back in the pack. Apparently the #7 had drafted a faster SPO car by Bobby on the back straight, then spun entering 10-A and left Bobby with no place to go. The Safety Car came out so they could pull Bobby’s wrecked Monte Carlo to a safe spot, but that split the GTA field with Kurt as the last car on the lead lap. Not that anyone had anything for Kurt anyway, but that IS one of the negatives of multi-class run groups.

I didn’t check with everyone after the race (I went to Medical and then we had to load a wrecked race car in the trailer), but reportedly Tony had a flat tire on lap 16 while running fourth then BJ broke the driveshaft and Steve’s car quit on the same lap. I do know that a lot of folks ran their best lap ever at Road Atlanta, and I feel confident we would have as well had the driver not screwed the pooch. After the dust settled the overall finishing order in GTA was: 

 

PIC

 

OA

Car

No.

 

Color

 

Name

Best

Lap

1

12

18

yellow

Kurt Roehrig

1.28.805

2

13

88

black

Rob Morris

1.29.711

3

14

21

red

Randy Walker

1.31.223

4

15

34

yellow

Preston Fowler

1.34.255

5

19

36

red

Ricky Sanders

1.34.831

6

20

7

black/yel/red

Hollywood Graham

1.31.256

7

21

12

green/white

Steve Wiles

1.38.493

8

22

77

black

Tony Amico

1.30.681

9

23

35

black

B.J. Holley

1.32.560

dnf

--

89

silver

Bobby Reuse

1.31.283

dnf

--

07

white

Randy Gay

1.34.304

dnf

--

57

red

Butch Kummer

1.31.862

dns

--

98

silver

Roger Reuse

--

 

Our in-car video shut down just before I hit the brakes for Turn Three (maybe it knew what was coming?) but Randy Walker sent me his video of the incident. We’ve posted it to YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZjN2wpi52c

After looking at Randy’s video multiple times (still hoping in vain that at least once I’d make the corner and keep going) and checking Cuervo over carefully we’re pretty much convinced the bracket for the RR control arm has been failing for a while (which accounts for the multiple “bobbles” in Turn One) then failed completely as I hit the brakes for Turn Three. That allowed the rear axle to steer the car to the left (i.e. - we had qualified a fork lift at over 100 mph!) and the sign on the dashboard flipped from “driver” to “passenger” at that point. That also explains the twitchiness I’ve felt in the car since the Sebring race in February but prior to this we were able to make it better with sway bar and shock settings. We might very well be wrong, but as Mike Eakin says, “That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.”

It certainly was disappointing to wreck the car when it was running so well but we had planned to rebuild it over the winter to get ready for running selected Trans-Am events in 2011, so now we just need to do a little more work than we’d originally planned. The biggest downer is that yet again I wrecked Cuervo the weekend before Larry Pulliam was due to drive him at a Time Trial event. I won’t be surprised if Larry doesn’t insist on a performance clause in any contract we have for next year! <g>

All in all 2010 has been a good year for BK Racing.  We met and raced with a lot of great people, backed into a couple of race wins, recaptured the SARRC GTA Championship, raced on two tracks I’ve never driven before (Sebring 12-Hour and Watkins Glen), visited the famous Pacific Raceways in Seattle, and the GTA class continues to thrive despite the recession. As always I couldn’t do it without a LOT of help from:

  • Eric Bartel (“Data”)
  • Mike Eakin (“Purple Frog Racing”)
  • Dennis McClintock
  • Lee Schwartz (“the Professor”) of FlowTech Engines: 828-650-6606
  • BJ Holley of BJ Holley Race Cars: 404-379-9200
  • Steve Boettcher
  • Chris Ingle (my brother of different parents)
  • Harriett Kummer (and yes, a number of people wonder why she puts up with me)

Plans for 2011 are still up in the air pending the announcement of the Trans-Am schedule. GTA will be part of the new TA-2 class, so we’ll most likely pick out 3-5 of the Pro weekends to craft a schedule around and then fill in with other events as time allows. As things come together I’ll certainly let y’all know in future editions of the BK Racing Update.

See y’all at the track…