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Barber Double SARRC

My first reaction is that I'm glad I ran Barber but I have no desire to ever go back and race there again.  The facility is magnificent beyond description - manicured lawns and landscaping, automatic flush toilets in the bathrooms (and the ones in the tower are air conditioned according to Harriett and Annette), great spectator areas, plenty of track personnel with complimentary "coasters" to keep one from inadvertently placing an exposed awning support post on the paddock asphalt, excellent concession stands with good food, and the list goes on.  Joe Hooker heard they use 1 million gallons of water a week (or is it a month?) to keep everything so green, to which Pete replied, "Just like a golf course".  I didn't make it over to the museum, but Bob Monette said THAT is the place to watch a race from - A/C, best view of all the important turns.  The track is George Barber's personal playpen and it's very, VERY nice!

All that said, racing there simply wasn't a lot of fun, at least in a big car.  As Hearn said, we're about 2100# too heavy and have two too many wheels.  It was designed first and foremost as a motorcycle track and Mr. Barber "allows" cars to race there on occasion.

A recap of our results:

Saturday I qualified fifth but moved up to fourth when Joe Freda was late getting to the grid and had to start from the back.  Bill Smith was in front of me and pulled about 150 feet in front of pole-sitter Joe Hooker as we came up to the green while George Kirchner and I held our proper stations on the second row.  About the time Bill realized he was way ahead (the pole car determines the pace) and started backing up to us, the green flag came out.  I went inside Bill and was alongside Joe going into Turn 1 (a left-hander).  Joe had picked the right side of the track to be on the inside of the long right-handed complex that followed, but Lucifer stuck on the outside and I pulled ahead on the next (sorta) straight going into the hairpin.  For the next two laps Joe got up to my door as we exited the hairpin, but Meredith was up to the task and we'd pull away on the following straight.  Joe eventually faded and later retired with a flat left rear tire, so through lap nine (of ten) I built about a 6-8 second lead over the changing cast of characters behind me.  Coming out of the hairpin on the last lap I caught two AS Mustangs and, not wanting to affect their race, I tried to pass both of them on the short straight (but ALL the straights at Barber are short!) going into the Corkscrew.  There was some discussion about oil in the corner, but the bottom line is I carried too much speed into the braking zone (particulary being off-line), ran out of talent as the back end came around (Dainton Brooks in the #91 Mustang says he has excellent videotape of the spin) and ended up facing uphill on the inside of the right-hander onto the back section (I'd hate to call it a straight).  I refired the engine, but had to back all the way down the grass while the field streamed by before I could turn the thing turned around and rejoin the race.  I got back on track just as Joe Freda came by (remember he had started at the back of the pack) and I foolishly tried to keep up with him with trash on the tires.  Coming out of the "Alabama Roller Coaster" the car went off again and I impacted the left-side tire wall pretty hard.  Thinking I was leaving a trail of debris and broken bodyparts I opted to come down pit road to take the checker, but the damage wasn't nearly as bad as I thought.  Bottom line is I finished fourth in GT-1 (third in SARRC points since Richard Grant isn't running SARRC) and no longer have to worry about keeping my mathematical chances of winning the GT-1 championship.

Data, Jesse, Graham and Mike Hearn formulated a plan to fix the car while I went off to lick my wounds (I would have won the race even if I'd followed both Mustangs all the way around to the checker - trying to pass both of them at once was stupid, stoopid, STUPID!!!).  Unfortunately tire set #19 was now flat-spotted with cord showing so we had to revert back to set #18 (merely blistered) for Sunday.  I was ready to just start from the back and just cruise around to get a finish to qualify for the SIC, then bring everything home and concentrate on getting ready for that race in October, but the guys wouldn't hear of that ("we didn't come here to finish second").  Eventually the plan was to fix the car, run just enough laps in qualifying to be able to see the green and save everything we had left for the race.

So Sunday morning we (they) put everything back together and we turned a 1:38.2 on the second lap of qualifying (which would have put us on the front row on Saturday) so I pulled into the paddock to save the car.  I was pretty shocked I found that we'd qualified NINTH - it seems that everyone else was changing their set-ups and bolting on new tires while we were putting the car back together.  We also found a slow leak in the LF, so we plugged it since we had no other tires to run (even though the guys talked about "borrowing" Will's BFG's).

Coming from fourth to first at the start is do-able, but we figured coming from ninth we'd be looking at MAYBE fifth going into Turn One.  We're hoping we can get tape from the local TV station that was there to report on the event, but I again got lucky on the green and timed the flag just right, then everyone crowded to the outside and started braking at the "normal" spot (the "3" marker) so stayed in it later, used my half of the track and emerged from T-1 in second place behind Richard Grant!  I stayed with Richard for two laps (of fifteen), but it quickly became apparent that set #18 was worn out as Richard pulled away and Joe Freda was all over me.  Joe got by clean in the downhill just before the front straight, then a couple of laps later I started waving folks by since I was holding them up and affecting their race(s).  Ends up I finished eighth overall (Bill Smith looped the Goo-Goo Clusters car in the hairpin just after I waved him by - that was a familiar sight over the weekend) and fifth in GT-1, so we loaded up and came home with a reasonably sound car.

In impound Joe Hooker said somebody had tagged him at the start and the driver of the yellow #77 car said it was the "idiot in the red Corvette that just about wiped out the front half of the field'.  He then asked who I was and when I replied I was the idiot in the red Corvette he started backing down on his statements.  I apologized to both, then looked at Joe's car and mine and there are NO marks on either one that indicate we made contact.  I'll admit I made a bold move, but I only took what was there, left half the track and didn't hit anyone.  I also talked to Joe Freda (who started second, won the race and had the best seat for the start) and he said "Hell, it was the start of the race!".

We haven't looked at the in-car of the start, but it WILL be interesting.

At any rate, I'm now working at selling Cool Shirts, supporting customer cars and making a plan to be ready for the SIC (October 9,10) and the ARRC a month later.  Hell, we might even have a wing for those events.

And by the time we stopped for dinner in Anniston last night, I figured I might make one more trip to Barber.  Show up with a set of stickers, gear the car for 145 mph instead of 155, show 'em what we can REALLY do, then leave it to the weenie cars and motorsickles.