Welcome to BK Racing
Powered by Squarespace

February 27-28, 2015 – NOLA V8RRS Weekend

Executive Summary:

To quote my longtime friend Mike Eakin (aka - "Purple Frog"), "If it was easy, everybody would be doing it!"

Due to (self-inflicted) mechanical problems I drove almost twenty hours to get a total of four competition laps during the weekend, but I got to see a bunch a friends I haven't seen in a year. As I wrote in the quick note I sent to the team on Monday morning, I'd fire the Chief Mechanic except Harriett has grown somewhat fond of him over the years.

Longer Version:

The Feb 27-28 SCCA weekend at NOLA Motorsports Park was the second event on the 2016 V8RRS calendar and figured to be a decent test of the off-season work we'd done on Cuervo. Harriett was working that weekend and Mike Eakin cancelled at the last moment with a 102-degree fever, so I ended up making the trip myself just like I did in the "Good Old Days". I left Woodstock at 0600 EST Friday morning and arrived at the track outside Avondale LA around 1430 CST that afternoon, so I figure about 9.5 hours of travel time to get there. After checking in at the gate and finding out the V8RRS drivers were scattered throughout the paddock (so much for the "V8RRS Compound" idea - we'll work on that for future weekends) I found a spot somewhat close to the V8RRS meeting point and unloaded the rig. After watching the last session of the Friday test day and catching up with various folks, some of whom I've not seen since March 2015, I headed towards the Candlewood Suites in Avondale for the evening. Being by myself I opted to simply find a fast food joint for dinner but ended up walking out of two of them (a Wendy's and a Burger King) because the service was so slow! That's the same experience we had last year and I'm not sure why a lack of service is endimic to that area, but I ended up eating along with fellow V8RRS competitor Vern Smith at the Waffle House next to the motel.

Saturday's schedule called for a 15-minute practice session, a 20-minute qualifier, then a 25-minute timed race to end the day. We had five GTA cars in attendance (entered in GT2 because this was an SCCA Majors weekend), so we figured to have some decent competition. I had planned on using the practice session to shake things down and remember which way the track went, so I bolted on a set of tires we used last July at Road Atlanta. I had no idea what kind of times I was turning, but the car pulled strong on the straights and felt solid in the corners so I came in after three laps to start getting ready for the qualifying session. I did check at the Tower and found my best lap was a 1:56 and change, which considering the circumstances compared favorably with the 1:53.215 we ran last year. I bolted on a sticker set of Hoosier 3045's and was ready to see what we had.

I went out near the end of our group trying to maximize my chances to get a fairly clean lap, and after a warm-up lap one of the front-runners came up behind me on my first "medium" lap while I continued to get the tires up to temperature. I slowed to let him by and there was a pretty decent gap behind him, so coming onto the front straight to start my second full lap I got on it. When I shifted from second to third, however, the shift lever moved to neutral but the transmission stayed in second! Knowing there was absolutely no chance to go faster and not wanting to get in anyone's way I pulled off in one of the cut-thrus and waited until the end of the session to drive back to the paddock. That one lap was a 1:58.045, and while I wasn't DFL in the group of 29 Big Bore cars I definitely was closer to the back than I was the front. "Oh well", I said to myself, "It's always more fun to start at the back and pass people anyway." During the lunch break I jacked Cuervo up, popped the transmission out of gear, looked things over, and vowed to be more patient shifting gears during the race.

There was not a cloud in the sky all weekend, but I really didn't pay attention to what that meant until I was driving to the grid for our race late Saturday afternoon. The glare on the windshield was pretty bad, which meant we'd be pretty much running blind (at over 150 mph) the entire length of the front stretch. It ends up the field got pretty stretched out on the pace lap and the green flag was already in the air by the time I came around the last corner, then as I started to accelerate I noticed a LOT of dust in the air around start/finish. One of the first lessons in any kind of racing is you can't win the race in the first corner but you certainly can lose it there. In this case one of the mid-pack runners apparently decided to try and win the race before even getting to the starter's stand, put two wheels in the dirt trying to get around the folks in front of him, then spun back across the track in SCCA's version of the "Big One". All I know for sure is I threaded my way through about six cars that had spun and/or were damaged before we got to Turn 1. The good news is the shifter worked fine on that one lap.

As expected the officials black-flagged the race and as I was coming down Pit Road to re-grid I realized (a) it was going to take quite a while to clean up the carnage on the front straight and (b) once they got that done the glare on the windshield would be even worse. Call me a wuss if you want to, but given that Roger Penske wasn't going to call even if I went last to first and set a new overall track record in the process I pulled Cuervo back to my paddock spot, got out, and watched Roger Reuse, Bobby Reuse, Randy Walker, and Vern Smith finish the GTA race in that order. My total number of timed laps on Saturday? One.

Under the new-for-2016 Majors format for two-day events we had another 20-minute qualifying session late Sunday morning that I had initially not planned to run, but my poor showing on Saturday changed those plans. There were fewer cars than Saturday so I did a better job of creating a gap on my out lap, then as I was coming up the front straight on my second lap the transmission once again hung up in second gear! That one lap was somewhat better at a 1:55.625 but I was still near the back of the pack and fourth of the four remaining GTA cars in the show (Vern had packed up after breaking a trailing arm bracket during Saturday's race). This time I jacked the car up far enough that I could crawl under to actually adjust the shift linkage rather than hoping it would somehow "heal itself" as I'd done on Saturday. And though we'd be racing earlier on Sunday than we had on Saturday, I also cleaned the windshield inside and out to improve visibility.

I was right behind Randy Walker as we came around to take the green around 4:10 Sunday afternoon, and when the flag waved we dropped the GT3 cars that had qualified ahead of us like sixth period French. I stayed with Randy for a couple of laps while traffic sorted itself out and the faster GT1 cars got their tires up to temp, then as I came down the front straight to start our third lap THE SHIFTER HUNG UP AGAIN!!! My Chief Mechanic (which would be me) obviously has no frigging clue what he's doing, so I once again cussed him out while I completed that lap and retired (again!) to the paddock area. I was joined on the pit wall by Roger Reuse (broken axle) while we watched Bobby and Randy finish 1-2 in GTA, then I finished loading up and started the 8.5 hour ride home. My total number of timed laps for the weekend? Four.

Despite the frustration, there were a number of positives about the weekend. In no particular order:

  • We had nine V8RRS drivers participating, which is double the number we had two weeks earlier at Sebring. And five of those drivers (all of the GTA cars) would not have made the trip had it not been a V8RRS weekend.
  • The freshened engine pulled strong all the way to redline (I just didn't get to do it as often as I wanted to).
  • I don't have to buy tires for Road Atlanta in a couple of weeks. I also don't have to buy as much racing fuel for Road Atlanta as I would have.
  • Getting into Atlanta at 2:30 in the morning means there's a LOT less traffic and cuts about 45 minutes off the trip.
  • I got to catch up with many of my friends from SWDiv, many of whom I'd not seen in a year - good people who put on a good show.
  • And though we didn't get to spend as much time as we wanted, I got to see my old Corvette buddies John Centanni and the Pouparts.

And we WILL figure out the shifter problems (even if I have to actually read the directions!) and be ready for the next V8RRS event at Road Atlanta the weekend of March 18-20.

Remaining (proposed) 2016 BK Racing schedule:

  • Mar 18-20 - Road Atlanta (Braselton GA)
  • Apr 8-10 - Summit Point Motorsports Park (Summit Point WV)
  • May 6-8 - Daytona International Speedway (Daytona Beach FL)
  • Jun 11-12 - Chase the Dragon Hillclimb (Robbinsville NC)
  • Jul 8-10 - Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix at PittRace (Wampum PA)
  • Jul 29-31 - Road America (Elkhart Lake WI)
  • Aug 12-13 - Charlotte Motor Speedway (Concord NC) - also includes TT sessions on Friday, Aug 11
  • Aug 27-28 - Barber TT (Birmingham AL)
  • Sep 16-18 - Watkins Glen International (Watkins Glen NY)
  • Oct 1-2 - Little Talladega TT (Munford AL)
  • Oct 14-16 - VIRginia International Raceway (Danville VA)
  • Nov 4-6 - The ARRC by GRM at Road Atlanta (Braselton GA)
  • Nov 19-20 - Roebling Road TT (Savannah GA)

As always, let me know if you'd like more information about any of these events.

See y'all at the track…