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Nashville Super Speedway Double SARRC

Short story – fourth overall both races, but we got first place SARRC points in both. That gives us five wins and a second in out best six SARRC races, which means we now have a 15 point lead going into the SARRC Invitational Challenge at Roebling Road Sept. 22 & 23.

And now the slightly (this time at least) longer version...

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Based on promising results last year, the BK Racing Monte Carlo (aka – Cuervo) returned to the Nashville SuperSpeedway over Labor Day weekend 2007 with confidence. These were the last two chances for anyone to earn SARRC points prior to the Championship race later this month, and our time on the track from running both races and Track Trials events in years past gave us a leg up on most of our competitors. The fact that long-time Florida Corvette buddies David & Linda Goebel (who I hadn’t seen in over twenty years) were coming over from Knoxville to help out for the weekend only made it better.

Five of the twenty-two cars entered in the Big Bore (that relates to engine size, NOT excitement level) race group were GTA cars, and even though we only made two laps in Saturday’s qualifying we still ended up fourth overall and first in GTA followed by Wayne Quick, Steve Magowen, and Don Snyder. Zach Monette was also entered in their Monte Carlo but didn’t make the qualifying session (still chasing new car gremlins) so he would start from the back of the pack. Our session was cut short when Cuervo started missing badly, and we quickly found the number four exhaust rocker stud had broken. My next two hours were spent chasing parts in Murphreeboro, TN, while Dennis (McClintock) and Dave continued to prep the car for the race. I finally found a stud that would work at a NAPA store, so Cuervo was running on all eight again as we lined up to take the green Saturday afternoon.

I got a pretty good start and ran as high as second for the first three laps, then messed up and nailed the curbing pretty hard coming onto the back straight. The car immediately went sideways and I thought maybe I’d knocked the air out of the RR, so I cruised for a couple of laps while verifying everything was still attached. David & Dennis were ready with an extra tire on pit road (we needed to finish to get our sixth race in) but the car was still driveable so I carried on. In the meantime Wayne and Steve were having a heckuva a battle until Steve apparently lost a cylinder on lap 20 (of 22). At the same time Zach was working his way up from the back of the pack and had passed both Wayne and Steve, so we ended up first in GTA (fourth overall) with Zach about 15 seconds back and Wayne another 20 seconds behind Zach. In his drive from the back Zach had also set the fastest GTA race lap, so I figured we’d have our hands full on Sunday. Even though Zach had waived SARRC points for the weekend (to keep from messing with the points chase), I knew I was going to have to work harder for that coveted chrome “SARRC Winner” decal on Sunday.

As we were doing end-of-day maintenance, we found the RF brake duct was destroyed, then while I was at the Safequip trailer procuring new ducting, Dave found that the RF shock absorber was no longer connected to the lower a-frame. Obviously I’d pulled the rod end loose from the main shaft when I whacked the curbing! I’m no suspension engineer, but I was pretty sure that was the reason the car was so unpredictable the last 19 laps of the race. <g> Dennis and Dave cleaned up the threads, applied copious amounts of JB Weld to lock it down, then let it sit while we retired to the Outback Steakhouse to ingest copious amounts of adult beverages and swap sordid tales of misspent youth back in Florida.

We got everything back together in plenty of time for Sunday’s qualifying session, but I still went out at the back of the pack rather than sit in the heat on the false grid. Harriett got my first flying lap at a high 1:06, then I chilled for a lap to work through traffic, then Harriett called “1:05.5” over the radio for the third lap. That was half a second under our GTA track record so I felt pretty good about where we were, but I stayed out a couple more laps anyway. When we got back to the garage, Ed Conway (in the Tower) was calling out lap times and announced Zach was on the GTA pole with a 1:07 and change. Not only was I not the fastest GTA qualifier, but according to Ed I hadn’t even been on the track! Harriett is new to the timing thing and is serious about doing a good job, so she wanted me to know that she could have missed it by a tenth or so, but she sure as hell didn’t miss it by over a second! [Y’all know I think Harriett is gorgeous anyway and I’m honored she chooses to be with me, but she’s REALLY good-looking when she gets animated!] I got changed and we went to the Media Center to check on the times, and sure enough there was #57 on the GTA pole (second overall beside Saturday’s overall winner, Bob Mayer) with a 1:05.634 with Zach second in GTA (fifth overall) with a 1:07.057. Harriett’s response – “I guess their clocks are pretty close after all.” <g>

In Sunday’s race I got a pretty good jump and was side-by-side with Bob as we headed off the banking toward Turn One, then followed him for the first lap while we tried to separate ourselves from the rest of the field. I noticed some smoke coming off Bob’s left front as we went through the tri-oval to complete the first lap, then Bob spun as we entered the back straight chicane halfway around lap two. I’m jumping ahead here, but after the race I found out there were those (including Bob) that thought I had hit him on the green and forced him into the grass on the inside of the tri-oval. The corner workers called in a metal-to-metal contact between us as well, but there were no marks on my car indicating contact. It was not until we reviewed Tom Wilson’s tape (he was behind the two of us), that we realized something must have broken in Bob’s rear suspension and that “clunk” made him think I’d hit him. Bottom line on that issue is we’ve talked, we’re cool, and we’re both ready to run wheel-to-wheel again in the future.

Back to the race report, I’m now suddenly in first overall with a freight train of snarling Big Iron trying to remove the paint from my rear bumper. First Jeff Bailey was second with Zach in third, then Jeff realized he was a GT-1 car messing with the race for first in GTA. It IS good racing etiquette to not mess with another class’s race when you’re not involved in one yourself, but I sure did like having Jeffrey as a buffer between me and the #99 car! <g> And while Tom’s video DOES show that I didn’t touch or pinch Bob at the start, it ALSO clearly shows that I was holding up the freight train, not pulling it. Bottom line is Zach got a good launch onto the front straight and pulled inside me as we finished lap seven, so I had to give him the lead into Turn One starting lap eight. I hung as close as I could for a lap, but it was obvious I had nothing for him this day. And since he had waived the SARRC points I’d still get first place points as long as I finished ahead of Wayne, so rather than risk tearing the car up I cruised home to fourth overall, second in GTA. Ends up Jeff DID get by Zach for the overall lead with a great move into Turn One as they started lap seventeen, so we ended up having four different leaders in a 22-lap race! When’s the last time you’ve seen THAT happen at an SCCA event?

As always, racing is a team effort and not just about one person. Dennis & Harriett did their usual great job all weekend, and it was great to have Dave & Linda there as well. Dave provided an experienced set of eyes and hands while prepping the car, and Linda was our “eye in the sky” from the spotter’s stand atop the Control Tower. More than once she was able to tell me about incidents ahead of me on the track, which is invaluable on a track as busy as Nashville. We also figured out that we hadn’t seen each other since early in 1984. When pressed on the issue, Dave reckoned that I’d mellowed a LOT in that time...

We (Atlanta Region) still struggle to attract the numbers necessary to make the Nashville event financially viable. Part of it is that Nashville is on the very fringe of the Southeast Division, part of it is the course configuration inside a concrete oval (I like it but then I’m driving a car built for an oval), and part of it is the Labor Day weekend’s chronological proximity to the SIC. There are certainly a lot of items on the plus side of the ledger (the track management is EXTREMELY accommodating, it’s an excellent spectator venue, the racing is great, it’s a new market for SCCA road racing, etc.), and while I’m not sure if it’s possible to attract enough racers to make the event a “must attend” event on the SCCA calendar I’m still not ready to give up on it yet.

Next event is the SARRC Invitational Challenge at Roebling Road (Savannah) on Sept. 22 & 23. We’re leading the GTA chase with 140 points, Wayne Quick is second with 125, Tony Amico is third at 115, Steve Magowen fourth at 104, and Tom Graham is fifth with 96. Since the SIC is a double points event with 48 points going to the winner, any of the five of us could ultimately end up 2007 GTA Champion. Throw in the others that will be there because it’s a V8 Stock Car points event as well, and you’ve got all the makings of a barn-burner you won’t want to miss! As usual, let me know if you need more information.

See y’all at the track…