Welcome to BK Racing
Powered by Squarespace

Mid-Ohio National - Aug 24-26, 2001

August 25 of last year marked my first lap ever at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course located near the thriving metropolis of Mansfield, OH. I remember thinking that it was a beautiful facility from a spectator standpoint but that it was a rinky-dink racetrack for anything larger than a Honda Civic and a ridiculous place to determine the GT-1 National Champion. I’m sure it’s only coincidental that as my lap times have dropped in the past year my evaluation has also softened somewhat (but we still need another passing zone - drop the chicane for the Runoffs!).

Since we had the TransAm and ALMS series as support races for the usual National program (that’s a joke, Don), the schedule was spread over three days instead of the normal two. Besides the draw of running with the Pro teams this was also the last Mid-Ohio National before the Runoffs, so a lot of high-powered machinery was there as a final tune-up for the big show in three weeks. 17 GT-1 cars were registered but only thirteen recorded times during the Saturday morning qualifying session with the following results:

CP

QA

Name

Car

Best Lap

1

1

Jeff Ervin

Mustang

1.29.701

2

2

Tim Cowen

Mustang

1.30.148

3

3

Rob Giorgi

Mustang

1.30.319

4

4

Bret Moyer

Corvette

1.30.528

5

5

Thomas Wallace

Camaro

1.30.707

6

6

Dick Greer

Corvette

1.30.963

7

8

Butch Kummer

Corvette

1.34.073

8

9

Tom Sloe

Corvette

1.34.411

9

10

Richard Grant

Camaro

1.34.764

10

12

David Fershtand

Mustang

1.36.285

11

14

Bob Hofmann

Cutlass

1.37.026

12

19

Stephen Scannell

Camaro

1.40.080

13

21

Ralph Maltby

Panoz GTS

1.41.757

 

The B.K. Racing crew and I walked the entire course during the ALMS race Saturday afternoon and that’s when I realized just how spectator friendly Mid-Ohio really is. Not only can you get to almost every corner, but you can also get up high enough on the spectator mounds to get an idea of the various lines that each of the drivers take. I learned a lot watching that race, but particularly so from James Weaver in the Dyson car - he was using EVERY inch of available pavement and then some in a furious attempt to remain in the hunt. It was a tremendous show.

For the TransAm race we retired to the stands on the outside of the track at the end of the back (only) straight. Justin Bell put on some major outbraking demonstrations as he passed four times for position on his way to a second place finish. No one appeared to have anything for the #3 "Ford-uar", but the battles for the 2-7 positions were often heated. A couple of the full course yellows were uncalled for (Steve Beck and Kerry Alexander both were well off the track) and may have made the race less rather than more exciting. Had they not thrown the last yellow, the leaders would have been in traffic for the last five laps and some positions might have changed.

Even though it extended our weekend, I enjoyed the chance to run with the Pro teams. A lot of the crowd stayed for our races on Sunday, we got to "rub shoulders" with some serious racers and we got a chance to practice the Runoffs-like schedule. Seeing Quinn, A.J., Tom, Julie & Johnny (most of the old Miller Racing gang) was a bonus.

The forecast called for rain on Sunday (raceday) and the skies were threatening, but the entire field arrived on the grid with slicks. Multi-time GT-2 National Champion David Finch was starting alongside me in his Porsche 944 (1:33.256), so I introduced myself and explained that I had nothing to gain by taking him out. Although I felt we’d found a second or two watching on Saturday, I knew we had nothing for the front six and just wanted treat the race as a 20-lap test session. I neglected to mention that to the guys behind me, however.

I’m not sure if he was in the wrong gear or was looking for the Wendy’s drive-thru, but Dick Greer was WAY slow at the green and I put the two right-side tires in the grass staying off his rear bumper. That allowed both Tom Sloe and Richard Grant to get by as well as Finch, so I’m tenth going into Turn One. The GT-1 train (Tom, Richard, Dick & I) got by the Porsche on the straight, then on subsequent laps I got Richard then Tom under braking at Five. I understand that Jeff pretty much checked out, so at the end of lap four the order was the way we’d qualified and Mike (my crew chief) suggested I find out what Greer had for us. Oops.

One of the things I wanted to work on was carrying speed through Thirteen (I had parked the car in the "China Beach" gravel trap there last year so I was pretty tentative). Carrying more speed in the corner means more speed on the short chute into the Carousel, which means a longer braking zone, which means, etc. Bottom line is I left my braking too late going into the Carousel at the end of lap 5, did a nice slow spin and lost about 30 seconds and eight positions before rejoining the fray. The worst thing is it was right in front of the crew so I can’t even lie about what happened ("well, a lapped car didn’t see me…"). The best spin (pun intended) I can put on it is that "I wanted to work on my traffic management skills". Whatever.

At any rate, I got back to the racing surface, passed Bob Hofmann and David Fershtand on the track, then moved up further when Sloe and Wallace pulled off in Five and One respectively. Jeff lapped me around lap 15 or so, then I waved Tim by in Nine on lap 18 (his lap 19) and chased him to the checker a lap and a half later. We started getting some moisture on the windshield the last coupla laps, but it never really was dangerous. The final results:

 

CP

QA

Name

Car

Best Lap

 

1

1

Jeff Ervin

Mustang

1.29.419

 

2

2

Tim Cowen

Mustang

1.30.051

 

3

3

Rob Giorgi

Mustang

1.31.308

 

4

4

Bret Moyer

Corvette

1.31.439

 

5

5

Dick Greer

Corvette

1.32.132

 

6

6

Richard Grant

Camaro

1.33.986

 

7

7

Butch Kummer

Corvette

1.33.762

 

8

9

Bob Hofmann

Cutlass

1.36.945

 

9

15

Ralph Maltby

Panoz GTS

1.42.899

 

10

20

Thomas Wallace

Camaro

1.31.271

 

11

21

David Fershtand

Mustang

1.36.548

 

12

26

Stephen Scannell

Camaro

1.38.338

 

dnf

-

Tom Sloe

Corvette

1.34.327

 

 

I was disappointed that I spun, but it probably cost me only one finishing position (and getting lapped by the leader). I ran five laps faster than I’d qualified, plus the CDS software says I’m capable of a "theoretical" mid-1:31 if I can put all the individual segments together on one lap. Seat time, seat time, seat time.

I was also torn as to whether or not to attend the Runoffs in three weeks (my entry had been accepted and this race qualified me), but instead we’re gonna put that money toward getting ready for the 2002 season. The plan right now is to start freshening the car, permanently repair the crash damage from VIR, run some test days and work on the 311 engine program. Don’t know that the big dogs are watching their mirrors just yet, but hopefully we’ll have a red Corvette chomping at their Yankee heels next year!

See y’all at the track…