Welcome to BK Racing
Powered by Squarespace

Barber Double SARRC

Short story – second (of two) in GTA on Saturday, first on Sunday. Next race is the Road Atlanta SARRC the weekend of July 21-22 (qualify on Saturday, race first thing after lunch on Sunday). Let me know if you need more information about that weekend.

And now (with apologies to Paul Harvey), the BEST of the story...

= = = = = = = = =

We last ran Barber Motorsports Park in July of 2004, and I swore then that I’d never race there again. It’s an absolutely gorgeous facility, the sightlines and spectator amenities are world-class, and the Alabama Region does an excellent job of preserving the tradition of southern hospitality, but the track just isn’t much fun to race on with a big car. The straights are short (125 mph max) and uphill, the braking zones are downhill, and although the pavement is sixty feet wide, the racing line is really little more than a car width wide. For those of you that have been there, think Mid-Ohio (or Roebling with hills!) without the long straight. Even if you’re a second a lap faster than the guy in front of you, s/he either needs to make a mistake or you need to hit ‘em to get by. That was my opinion after running the GT-1 Corvette back in 2004, yet we took the BK Racing Monte Carlo this year because (1) it’s a “local” event (2) I need the SARRC points and (3) I thought maybe the straights would be longer with Cuervo than they were with Lucifer. Nope!

The plan was to meet Dennis McClintock on Friday on the west side of town and we’d caravan over to Birmingham. I rolled out of town just after noon, got up to speed on GA 400, then noticed a “gator” being kicked up by the trailer in my mirrors. That seemed funny since I hadn’t remembered running over anything on the road, but I kept on going anyway. Just as I was merging onto 285 I noticed another piece of rubber flying off, and this time I KNEW I hadn’t run over anything, so I called Dennis and let him know what was going on. He was running a bit late, but we figured out a rendezvous point where I could change the trailer tire and he’d meet me, then we’d continue on west. Sure enough, I had just finished changing the tire when Dennis rolled up, so naturally I accused him of waiting just out of sight until I got done! <g> At any rate, we got to the track and were set up by 5:00, just as the rains started Friday evening.

The forecast for Saturday was a 30% chance of rain, and if that was accurate then the entire thirty per cent fell at the track. I don’t know that the rain ever really stopped all day, but it would let up between sessions and then start again when cars hit the track. We were the only stock car to turn a lap in qualifying, so we lined up fourth on the grid, first (and last) in GTA. Because of the weather the stewards shortened all the races to eleven laps (from fourteen), so we were figuring I would run the necessary five laps to get a complete race and come in.

Those plans went down the drain (pun intended) when Gregg Rodgers showed up on the grid in his Texas-based GTA car. Visibility was poor, but I slotted into third place overall shortly after getting the green and was actually challenging for second when the engine started running rough about halfway through lap 2. This was the first time we’d ever run Cuervo in the rain, and we were VERY successful in finding most of the leaks in the electrical system. The engine kept dropping cylinders and we were probably down to four when Gregg went by on the fourth lap, so I finished that lap and the next one to get credit for finishing. As we climbed the hill to Impound, it sounded like we had two cylinders firing.  NOT a lot of fun, but we earned second place SARRC points and we confirmed that Hoosier Dirt Trackers are pretty decent rain tires.

The rest of the afternoon and the next morning Dennis & Mike Hearn worked at replacing the distributor cap, building “water shields”, and generally sealing things up. So wouldn’t you know it, threatening skies but no rain the entire day!

A lot more cars qualified on Sunday morning and we still had a slight miss, so we ended up tenth on the grid, third in GTA, with a best lap of 1:42.112. Gregg and Randy Gay were both in the 1:39’s, so that’s where I needed to be to contend for the GTA win. Bob Mayer went home early after finding an oil leak and Gregg was suffering fuel pressure problems on the grid, so we rolled onto the track in eighth place, still four cars behind Randy. At the green I moved up to sixth with Jerry Onks in his T-1 car between Randy and myself, so as I followed Jerry into the Hairpin (Turn Six) the first time I was looking for a way by so I could see if I had anything for Randy. As we turned into Six I saw the corner station had the Double Yellow up (which means there’s a full course caution and no passing), so I backed off and confirmed Turn Seven had the Double Yellow out as well. About that time the next five cars go blowing by me, so now instead of having one car between myself and the competition there are SIX! Dennis came on the radio to tell me the cause of the FCY was a wreck on Turn One, and I replied that he and Mike needed to get the numbers of the five cars immediately in front of me.

[I’m going to get on my soapbox here for a minute…]

The “big car” race group has gotten a reputation in the past couple of years for rough driving, blocking, and disregarding things like yellow flags. I’ve personally heard more than one official refer to “those damn stock cars” when talking about our group, and being a sensitive person I’m somewhat angered by that label (I’d much prefer to be known as a “taxi-cab driver”). I’ve written articles about the need to respect each other on the track and pay attention to the flags, and I’ve provided Witness Statements when I’ve seen folks pass under the yellow. Yes, the corner workers can call in passes under yellow, but the whole thing was captured on my in-car camera so I have a built-in witness to the rules infraction. Perhaps some people think a pass under yellow is no big deal, but what if a car was sideways in the track and a worker was responding? Better yet, what if YOU were in your car sitting sideways in the track and the worker couldn’t respond because the other cars were still racing at full speed? As racers, it’s our responsibility to see the flags and drive accordingly. It’s also our responsibility to help the stewards enforce the rules, and the primary method for that is filing a protest against those that are driving in an unsafe manner. What’s interesting in this case is that it was two GT-2 cars, a GT-1, an SPO car, and an American Sedan that passed me – not ONE of them was “one of those damn stock cars”.

[…stepping down off soapbox and strapping into car again]

Once they got the mess in Turn One cleaned up (and no stock cars involved there, either), we came up for the green flag but it was not displayed. BJ Holley (in the third place GTA car) went by me before Turn One, but realized his error and waved me back by before we got to Turn Two. Everyone behaved themselves and we got the green the next time around, so I quickly disposed of three of the five cars that had passed me. Before I could get everything spooled up for a charge toward Randy’s position, however, he slowed with what ended up being a flat tire so I was now leading GTA and seventh overall. I was running just about the same pace (best lap of 1:41.4) as the two cars immediately in front of me and MIGHT have been able to get by them if I’d had to, but I also may have ended up in the tire wall somewhere if I’d tried. I was extending my lead over BJ by about two seconds a lap, so I concentrated on not making any mistakes and brought the car home in seventh overall, first in GTA.

After Impound I headed to the Control Tower to file my protest. It made no difference in the points and I didn’t want anyone disqualified or moved back any positions, but folks need to be held accountable for paying attention to what’s going on when they’re racing. Ends up the SOM upheld my protest and issued a reprimand to all five drivers, which is all I really wanted to have happen. If you pass someone under yellow, you need to expect repercussions. In short, PAY ATTENTION TO THE FLAGS!!!

In fairness, when I saw the Double Yellow I did quit accelerating and stuck my hand out the window to warn those behind me. At least one of those that passed me (the fifth one) said he thought I was having trouble and was waving him by. Yes, I should have kept my speed up more and shouldn’t have stuck my hand out the window, but the bottom line is none of the five saw the double yellow flags in either Six or Seven. See the last line of the previous paragraph.

So heading into the July 21-22 SARRC weekend at Road Atlanta we’ve got two wins (Barber and Road Atlanta), a second (Barber) and a third (CMP) so far this year. You get to count your best six finishes prior to the SARRC Invitational in September, so we’re still in control of our own destiny regarding defending the GTA SARRC Championship. The class is building numbers, and we could have four or five drivers capable of taking the whole enchilada at Savannah.

Thanks to the Alabama Region and MANY people from across the division for a great event, plus heartfelt gratitude to Dennis McClintock, Mike Hearn, and Harriett Kummer for their help this weekend as well. We came out pretty well considering.

See y’all at the track…