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Nashville Super Speedway Track Trials
Short story:          
Experienced a great new format for the Track Trials (nee: Solo I) program, set two new track records, renewed our enthusiasm for the 2009 season. Next event will be the GTA National Tour event at Summit Point, WV, the weekend of May 30-31. Those who don’t want to travel QUITE that far are invited to Road Atlanta for the Atlanta Region National/ECR/Pro-IT/PDX that same weekend.
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Longer story:
Over the weekend of May 16-17 Data (Eric Bartel) and I took Cuervo up to Nashville SuperSpeedway (NSS) to run Chattanooga Region’s annual Track Trial event. The idea was to blow out some cobwebs and make sure things were running right prior to getting into the heart of our 2009 racing season, plus Data was itching to get back behind the steering wheel and this was my chance to reward him for the help he’s given me through the years. NSS is less than four hours from the house and we gain an hour getting there, so we left around 5:00 Saturday morning and still made it to the track in plenty of time for the 8:30 drivers’ meeting. I know a lot of people complain about the transitions from the oval to the infield (they ARE bad if you hit the banking at a ninety-degree angle – ask me how I know that!) and the track IS tight in spots (it’s the same for everyone), but you can see everything from just about anywhere inside the track and we still get to run over 150 mph on the front straight. All in all, I’ve been going there since 2005 and it’s a fun little racetrack.
If you haven’t run a Track Trials lately, believe me when I say (write) the format has undergone a MAJOR positive change in 2009! The advent of transponders plus expecting a little bit of common sense on the part of the drivers has allowed us to put multiple cars on the track with controlled passing allowed. The old cycle of “three cars to a pod, run three hot laps, and then wait two hours for your next session” has been replaced by ten to fifteen minute sessions with up to ten cars on the track at a time. The old format worked well for a long time, but this new format should bring a tremendous growth of the program once word gets out. Not only is it a LOT more seat time (and fun) for the full-time Track Trials competitor, it’s also a great venue for the road racer wanting to do some testing. Chattanooga Region offered eight total sessions (about two hours) of track time for each entrant, and even though Data skipped two of them (one for rain and the second because the poor little feller was just plain tuckered out <g>) he still got a total of 49 timed laps over the two days. Because other groups were interspersed it allowed at least 30 minutes between our two sessions so the format is still perfect for two-driver cars. Between two drivers (I skipped a lot of my sessions because I’m too old to learn anything new) we got almost 70 timed laps over the two days plus we also introduced a third driver (more on that later) to the charms of GTA as well. A very busy yet productive weekend!
As far as the competition aspect of the weekend, back in 2005 we set the GT-1 Track Trials record at a 1:06.151 and it had not been broken since. Labor Day weekend of 2006 we set the GTA race record at a 1:06.070 and that has not been broken since either. Those two events were “B.C.” (Before Curbing), which helps explain why those records have/had not fallen. There have been no GTA cars run the Track Trials events, so we entered Data in GTA and I entered GT-1 (Cuervo is legal in both classes) with the hope of holding two TT records when the weekend was over.
We broke an intake rocker stud on Data’s second Qualifying session but even though I thought the engine sounded funny I couldn’t find anything wrong and chalked it up to the exhaust echo off the banking. On my first timed session I knew immediately we were running on seven cylinders, so I came in after three laps, found the problem and we made repairs before Data’s first timed session. He went out just before Saturday’s storms hit and ran a 1:09.460, which was six seconds better than he’d run back in 2005. Over dinner and copious adult beverages Saturday night I quietly expressed my confidence the old records were in jeopardy. And in my shy and retiring manner I also explained to (series sponsor) Cool Shirt’s Rich Shafer that he’d better be ready to bolt a new set of tires on his SPO Camaro because that weak 1:06.495 he turned on Saturday wasn’t going to hold up on Sunday!
Now running on all eight cylinders, I went out first on Sunday morning and ran a 1:06.551, then Rich ran a 1:06.150 and Data ran a best of 1:09.752. Knowing that we were struggling on tires that were a year and well over ten heat cycles old, we bolted on a set of Hoosier 3035s that we’d “previously enjoyed” at the 2008 ARRC by GRM. My next session I dropped the GT-1 record to a 1:05.520, then brought the car in early to help Data get ready. At the same time I looked over to see Rich and his crew chief Dave busily changing tires as well. <g> It ends up Data skipped right over the 1:08’s and ran three laps in the 1:07’s before finally setting the new GTA Track Trials record at a 1:07.514. Rich demonstrated the value of new tires by dropping over two seconds off his best lap to end up a 1:04.067 and thus won the battle of the V-8s, but we all congratulated each other on our new track records. Data did go out one more time but the track was getting hotter (and he was getting tired) so he “only” turned some 1:08’s.
We’ve been talking to new T-1 driver Tres Childs about the benefits of the GTA class so we arranged for him to take one session in Cuervo to see if he was comfortable in a car without all the modern conveniences of a C-6 Corvette. Tres started out very cautiously but got progressively faster and ended up with 1:09.438 on the tenth and final lap of the session. He was very impressed with the way the car performed and was disappointed when the checker came out, but a new GTA racer is definitely in the works! (Update to the Update: the Wednesday after driving Cuervo Tres closed the deal to buy Jeff Bailey’s LS-1 GTA car.)
Things went well and there were no major glitches, so the next event on the BK Racing calendar is Round Four of the GTA National Tour at Summit Point Raceway the weekend of May 30-31. I’ve never driven (or even seen) Summit Point, so this will definitely be a new experience for me. This is also the same weekend as Atlanta Region’s National/ECR/Pro-IT/PDX at Road Atlanta, so after sampling a “Fletcher-free” weekend in February our racers and workers will get to experience a “Butch-Be-Gone” weekend. You guys will have to tell me how much more enjoyable it is when I’m not there! <g>
See y’all at the track…