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Barber Motorsports Park Double SARRC

2010 was Alabama and Atlanta Regions’ third year of co-sanctioning the Labor Day Double SARRC at Barber Motorsports Park and the event just keeps on getting better. The overall attendance continues to climb, we’ve worked out a lot of the operational procedures with both the track and Alabama Region, and there’s an excellent chance we’ll host the weekend again in 2011. And even though the track is STILL not among my favorites I found it more attractive than the last time I ran there in 2007.

Short story – second (of five) in GTA and ninth overall on Saturday, first in GTA (fourth overall) and our best laps ever on Sunday, and we extended our lead in the 2010 SARRC GTA points battle. We also loaded a running race car in the trailer at the end of the weekend which means we have a minimum amount of prep work to be ready for Watkins Glen the weekend of Sept 17-19. Despite all those successes, however, the major theme of this story can best be summarized as “New Beginnings”.

And, as always, here’s the longer story:

Both of you that were paying attention may remember that we broke something in the drive train on Sunday morning during the July 16-18 weekend at Road Atlanta. I pulled the transmission out and found a number of broken and missing teeth on the input shaft, so naturally I ass-u-me-d that was the cause of our problems. I installed the spare transmission (which is geared better for the Roebling Road anyway) and figured we were good to go, but just to be sure we attended a private test day at Little Talladega with the Monette Racing Group on Aug. 27. It’s a good thing we did; because we THEN found out we had a clutch problem as well. I don’t know if there was a cause-effect relationship or just coincidence, but the center of one of the (two) clutch disks was stripped out as well. We found it by running the test day and had barely enough time to get it fixed prior to the Barber weekend.

The South Atlantic Road Racing Championship (SARRC) rules allow us to count our best six finishes going into the SARRC Invitation Challenge event at Roebling Road. Our two worst finishes prior to Barber were a sixth at Sebring in February and a third at VIR in May (we had already rolled off the eighth-place finish at Road Atlanta), so finishing either first or second each day at Barber would allow us to improve our point total. Bobby Reuse was only racing on Saturday at Barber (he had a wedding to attend on Sunday) so the plan going into the weekend was to race him hard but not burn the car down or throw it into the wall trying to outrun him. Tres Childs and John Goodson both had problems during Friday’s test day, so we were down to five GTA cars before the weekend began.

We qualified the BK Racing Monte Cuervo a second behind Bobby on Saturday, ran hard for a couple of laps to build a bit of a cushion over the next three GTA cars, then maintained second in class while trying to keep a car under us for Sunday. At the checkers the order in GTA was:

PIC

OA

Car No.

Color

Name

Best Lap

1

5

89

Silver

Bobby Reuse

1.37.841 *

2

9

57

Red

Butch Kummer

1.40.497

3

10

72

Blue

Steve Magowen

1.42.574

4

11

95

Red/White

Jim Matheson

1.43.418

dnf

 

39

Black

Gene Copeland

1.47.486

 Bobby set a new GTA track record, Steve and Jim had a heckuva battle for multiple laps, and Gene ended up having power steering issues caused by a loose radiator cap letting coolant get on the power steering pump belt. Bobby packed to leave which left us with four GTA cars of the sixteen in the Big Noise race group.

It was pretty cool (and extremely dry – VERY low humidity) during Sunday morning’s qualifier, so we ran two pretty hard laps and ended up fifth overall and first in GTA with a 1.38.881 (also the fastest lap I’ve ever turned with Cuervo at Barber). Steve was ninth with a 1.42.130, Chris Matheson (sharing the #95 with his dad) was tenth with a 1.42.384, and Gene got his steering issues resolved and was eleventh overall with a 1.46.101. We felt pretty good about things and the car required little work, so I spent the next two-three hours preaching the gospel to the assembled masses. <g>

I kid about that, but a number of folks came by our paddock spot to talk about what we’re doing with the class. Curt Jones and Andy Vann have an ex-Busch car that Curt planned to run in HSR with a crate motor, but once they heard it is legal in GTA they are planning to run with us instead. Hayes Flynn, who I “met” via the V8StockCar forums stopped by for a chat and he, too, has a car that would fit very nicely into the GTA class once he gets things sorted out. Brian & Nick Gill are running a Mustang in STO but are also very interested in road racing stock cars, and Vince Coker took a break from his Asst. Race Chair duties to check things out as well. I don’t know if it’s the GRM video we did at Road Atlanta in July or the plans to allow the 2010 Camaro & Mustang bodies starting in October, but there seems to be a LOT of new interest in GTA right now!

 

Bob Mayer gave me grief all weekend about our race being the last one on Sunday afternoon, and even though he didn’t seem to accept my explanation that we were saving the best for last it sure did turn out that way. I got a good start and slotted into third overall into Turn One behind Bob’s Corvette and Bill Smith’s former short-track Camaro (at least I THINK that’s what it is <g>). I probably could have stayed ahead of Bob Humphreys’ Porsche GT-3 by running on the ragged edge, but we’re in different classes so I waved him by halfway through lap two. I was running consistent 1:41-1:42 laps and was pulling away from the STO battle between Nick Gill and Rob Leopard, so I just worked on being smooth and not missing any shifts. 

So I’m feeling pretty good about where we are then about lap seven (of fifteen) Data comes on the radio to tell me that Chris (Matheson) is “working his way through the STO cars”. The next lap by he asks Harriett (over the radio since Harriett’s spotting for me in Turn Two) if she has a clock on Chris and the answer comes back, “his last lap was a 1:40”. It was time to get serious again so I stepped things up a bit and turned a 1:40 of my own on lap ten, then had Data keep track of the interval between myself and Chris for the last five laps. At the end Chris was just under five seconds back and was still closing but ran out of laps. Chris and his dad were Atlanta Region’s joint Rookie-Drivers-of-the-Year in 2009, and Chris has definitely stepped up the game! When Jim was leaving after loading up Sunday evening he DID mention something about having fired one of his drivers that weekend! <g>

I also heard after the race that Bob Mayer & Bill Smith had put on a great show. They swapped the lead at least five times at Start/Finish (and no telling how many times at other places on the track) and the final order was only resolved when Bill spun while trying to out-brake Bob into the hairpin at Turn Five. That’s well within the view of both the Tower and the spectators lining the back straight, so naturally Bill did a burn out that would make any NASCAR driver proud as he re-joined the race without losing a position.

At any rate, the GTA finishing order for Sunday’s race: 

PIC

OA

Car No.

Color

Name

Best Lap

On Lap

1

4

57

Red

Butch Kummer

1.40.615

10

2

5

95

Red/White

Chris Matheson

1.40.741

9

3

9

72

Blue

Steve Magowen

1.44.249

3

4

10

39

Black

Gene Copeland

1.45.836

4

The win gives us four wins and two seconds going into the SIC in October, which means we control our own destiny at the Championship event regardless of who does or doesn’t run the last SARRC weekend at Homestead the weekend of Sept 17-19. And that’s a good thing since we’ll be at Watkins Glen those days. I’ve never even SEEN a race at WGI, so driving one of the top five road courses in the US will be a thrill.

Finally, one of the team traditions at BK Racing is applying the chrome “SARRC Winner” decal to the car after we win. In keeping with the “New Beginnings” theme of the weekend, our newest team member Denise Woods was given the honor and, despite rookie jitters, did an excellent job. All in all it was a great weekend.

As always, if you want any information about our upcoming events just let me know.

Remaining Events on our 2010 Schedule:

  • Sep 17-19     Watkins Glen Double Regional, Watkins Glen NY
  • Oct 9-10        SARRC Invitation Challenge, Savannah GA
  • Nov 5-7         ARRC by GRM, Gainesville GA
  • Nov 13-14     Roebling Track Trials, Savannah GA

See y’all at the track…