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Sorry to be so long getting this out, but my first priority was getting the V8RRS by WCIParts.com report done, then Harriett & I spent a long weekend in St. Mary's (we're looking to relocate there), then I was in Virginia Beach, VA, for work (I hate it when work gets in the way of having a good time), and THEN I was under the weather from some kind of virus. I seem to have recovered now, and I'll do my best to not be so slow in the future…

Executive Summary:

We've actually had two events since my last Update - the SCCA/SVRA Drivers' School at Roebling Road and the Majors event at Road Atlanta. My racing partner Allan Kosloski managed to survive the Roebling school without knocking down any walls and was signed off on his Full Competition license, so that helps solidify our plans for the rest of 2017. I too survived the Majors event at Road Atlanta with a second-place finish on Saturday and a third on Sunday, I started down the path towards qualifying for the 2017 SCCA Runoffs at Indy, and we loaded an intact race car into the trailer at the end of the weekend. The current plan is we'll share Cuervo (Allan on Saturday, me on Sunday) at the Double SARRC/SECS weekend at Roebling Road.

Longer Version:

I wrote a quick "Series Report" about the Atlanta weekend and posted it here on the V8RRS by WCIParts.com website shortly after the event. In that report I neglected to recognize Atlanta Region SCCA as our event hosts so I'll rectify that now - THANKS, ATLANTA REGION! This 2017 version of their Majors weekend was a pretty radical departure from years past as they shortened it to a two-day event with a 25-minute qualifying session Saturday morning, a 25-minute timed race Saturday afternoon, then a 20-lap feature race on Sunday afternoon. Some people liked the compressed schedule while others didn't, so if you have thoughts one way or the other be sure to let the Atlanta Region leadership know what you think.

Over the winter Allan & I had upgraded Cuervo's brakes (all new Wilwood calipers plus front rotors accompanied by new G-Loc pads) and with only one qualifying session we used the Friday test day to first bed the new brakes and then scuff in the weekend's set of race tires. There was no point in taking times for the "bedding" session, but others apparently were because we got a couple of questions about why my times were so erratic (to bed them I did a "slow" lap, a "medium" lap, a lap with 1-2 "at the limit" stops, then a full cool-down lap without using the brakes at all). To scuff the tires I ran an out lap followed by a "medium" lap to build up tire temps, then ran "95%" for two laps before coming in. The two hard laps were a 1:35.1 with traffic followed by a 1:34.1, so we felt pretty decent about where we were. Friday evening we bled the brakes and mounted the second set of sticker Hoosier 3045's that we'd scuff during the Saturday morning qualifying session (and yes, Vern, that's two sets of stickers but we won't race on the second set until Roebling Road in April).

Saturday's single 25-minute qualifying session is about ten minutes too long, so we devised a plan where I'd set a "decent" lap early while warming everything up, then I'd come down pit road and sit for about ten minutes while the big dogs finished their hot laps and came in. I went out with the entire group and turned a 1:33.673 on my second hot lap, then came down pit road where Allan checked tire pressures. Our buddy and sponsor Mark O'Brien (of O'Brien Express) kept track of the time left in the session and sent me back out with ten minutes left. The plan worked to perfection as the track was nearly empty, so I ran a 1:33.183 before the tires started getting a little greasy and we slipped back to a 1:34.009. That best lap ended up placing us 15th (of 28) overall and first in GTA ahead of BJ Holley (1:35.8) and Randy Walker (1:35.9). It ends up BJ was struggling with handling issues while Randy was still running on seven cylinders as he had at NOLA the previous weekend, so I figured they'd be coming during the race.

My oldest granddaughter Ashley and her boyfriend Dan Cohen had stayed with us Friday night and came to track to watch GrandPa Butch race on Saturday. We briefly thought about gaining a weight advantage by having Ashley drive in the race (I'm SURE no one on the grid would be able tell the difference) but our plans were thwarted when all the booster chairs at the local Burger King were in use when we stopped by. :-)

 

 Harriett, Ashley (she's 4'10" and weighs < 100 pounds), BK, Dan

It had threatened to rain all Saturday afternoon (see the clouds in the background?) and we actually had drops on the windshield as I drove to Grid for the last race of the day. Allan and Mark were on pit road while Harriett was positioned overlooking Turn 10 to warn me if anything was amiss as I came over Turn 9 at 160 mph. We had a wave-off the first time down the hill, then I got a pretty good start second time by and moved up a couple of spots on the first lap. Things quickly settled out and I let the two GT3 Mazdas by since I was holding them up in the twisties, then about lap seven Harriett came over the radio to tell me the #78 (Randy) had passed BJ and was coming up quickly. Even though he was again running on eight cylinders I could hold him off on the long back straight, but he carried better speed through Turn 12, got by me into Turn 1, and then stretched out a big enough lead that I couldn't get back by half a lap later. That put BJ on my rear bumper as he had been at the ARRC in November.

The outcome was different this time, though (as the saying goes, "It's true I was born at night, but I wasn't born LAST night!"). We were running about the same lap times and BJ actually made a bold move to get under me in Turn 7, but the early apex killed his exit speed and I was able to drive back around him on the back straight. From there the gap between us fluctuated based on traffic and sprinkles of rain, but whenever I felt BJ was close enough to make an attempt I would commit early to the next corner to make him have to pass me on the outside if he was going to get by. Some people might say I was blocking and I'd certainly agree I was watching my mirrors, but since I never altered my line after committing early to the corner I'd argue I was taking a "defensive line". Bottom line, however, is I got to the checkers .264 seconds ahead of BJ for second in GTA, 14th overall. My best race lap was only a 1:34.675, but given the dampness I was okay with that.

Sunday's race was much less dramatic. With about five laps left in Saturday's race the power steering had quit working (Tom O - remember when you asked me if was "normal" for Cuervo to turn to the right easier than turn left at Roebling in November?) and after the race we found the power steering reservoir was dry. We decided to add fluid and hope for the best, but on Sunday's pace lap it quickly became apparent the problem was not fixed. Since I didn't want to ruin anyone else's race I pulled over at Turn 7 and let the rest of the field go by, then rejoined at the back of the grid while I figured out if I could handle the beast. I did have a bit of moment when I thought Sam Moore saw me coming and I put the two right-side tires in the grass at Turn 9 (at almost 160 mph) to avoid him, then I ended up having a pretty good race with Brent Bernath in his ex-Busch Ford Fusion for the rest of the race (Brent & I ended up with identical best laps of 1:35.548). We're in different classes, however, so it had not near the intensity of Saturday's race.

In other news, longtime readers may remember I submitted my application for the President of SCCA position shortly after the job description was posted in late 2016. On January 25, despite support from at least two of you that thought I might do a good job, I found out that not only I was not among those chosen for face-to-face interviews, I also was not among the subset from which the finalists were selected. We'll certainly have a better idea what the Board is looking for when they finally get around to hiring someone, but obviously they felt my skillset and experience did not warrant their consideration. Perhaps my mindset will change once I see who they hire, but for now I can say the BoD has taken a 37-year member with a record of success at multiple levels/programs within the organization and transformed him into a dispassionate customer whose primary concern is evaluating how well each sanctioning organization meets his own personal needs. That decision was already made based on the 2017 V8RRS schedule, but beyond that it's very much TBD. The good news is I have direction and I'm not bored! :-)

Finally I had hoped to make the March 24-26 event the Circuit of The Americas, but the power steering issues (ends up the rack, pump, AND servo were all shot have since been rebuild by Sweet Engineering) and the trip to Virginia Beach put the kibosh on that idea. As of right now Allan & I plan to share Cuervo at Roebling Road (which is where he did his drivers' school) with him racing on Saturday and me on Sunday. To that end, here are the current plans for 2017 BK Racing season:

  • Apr 22,23 - Roebling Road (Regional/V8)
  • Jun 16-18 - Summit Point (Regional/V8)
  • Jul 6-9 - Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (V8)
  • Jul 28-30 - Road America (Majors/V8)
  • Aug 11,12 - Charlotte Motor Speedway (Regional/V8)
  • Aug 26,27 - Barber Motorsports Park (Regional/V8)
  • Sep 15-Oct 1 - SCCA Runoffs (also V8)
  • Oct 13-15 - VIRginia International Raceway (Regional/V8 Finale)
  • Nov 3-5 - ARRC (Road Atlanta)

See y'all at the track…