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Road Atlanta SARRC / Track Trials 

or

"Brian & Dave Try On Big Boy Pants"

Short version:  Qualified second of five in GTA but mechanical issues kept me from taking the green for Sunday’s race. We did, however, manage to recruit some new disciples for the First Church of GTA. <g> 

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And for those with nothing better to do, here’s the longer version:

Even though most of their participants run IT cars and/or Solo events, one of my favorite internet forums can be found at RoadRaceAutox.com. A lot of the folks there are very much grassroots racers who remind me of when I first started out in this sport, plus there’s an irreverence toward authority reminiscent of Car & Driver magazine back in the 70’s when Brock Yates was still heavily involved. And while I seldom participate on it, they also have a “Political Playground” forum that I can use to stay abreast of current issues without asking Harriett to highlight key phrases in our local newspaper. It’s certainly not for everyone, but I enjoy the site.

Every April the founders of the site have a raffle to help raise funds to keep it going and last year I offered a ride in Cuervo as one of the prizes (besides generating funds for RRAX.com I also intended to use the opportunity to spread the Gospel According to GTA among the unwashed masses). Longtime readers will remember I kept running into things in 2011, but now that Cuervo is reliable again I made him available for the Track Trials sessions at Road Atlanta on May 19. The raffle winner was Tom Hoppe but he had previous commitments and wasn’t available that weekend. Dave Hardy won a secondary contest to share the ride (it was given to the contributor who submitted the best haiku explaining why s/he deserved to drive Cuervo) so I set about finding someone to take Tom’s place. I ended up offering the ride to six different people before I found someone willing to take me up on it – our 2012 Atlanta Region Regional Executive, Brian Cembor.

Instead of repeating what’s already been posted about that adventure I’ll simply reference the post that details it: http://roadraceautox.com/showthread.php?t=39789. Suffice it to say, however, that both Brian & Dave (a) enjoyed themselves immensely and (b) are now believers in the concept of stock car road racing in general and GTA in particular. In short, I accomplished my mission.

As far as my personal racing activities, we had a plan for the first 20-minute qualifying session on Saturday and it worked to perfection. I went out with everyone else and turned a “solid” 1:33.8 lap early in the session, then I pulled in and waited on Pit Road until the “big dog” National drivers came in. With about eight minutes left in the session I went back out with pretty much an open track and knocked off laps of 1:33.369, 1:32.682, and 1:32.739. At the time it was good enough for pole position in GTA (Ricky Sanders was second in GTA with a 1:33.755) so in this case it was the right thing to do, but then you also run the risk of someone lunching an engine and oiling the track down, ruining the session.

We didn’t bother going out for the afternoon qualifying session because we thought the track would slow down as it heated up and I wanted to focus on Brian & Dave’s Track Trials sessions. It ends up Ricky DID go out and turned a 1:32.402 to knock us off the GTA pole, but we’d be lined up right beside him on the grid so we’d be able to see each other at the green. When I stopped by to congratulate Ricky ten minutes after his run his hands were still shaking from the adrenaline rush, so I figured if a guy with his experience (he ran 27 Craftsman Truck races from 2000-2003) had to work that hard to outrun me I was in pretty good company. Robby Boyett was third in class with a 1:34.7 followed by Randy Haney and Mike Attaway in the 1:37s.

We had been chasing the source of brake fluid on the floorboard of Cuervo by tightening fittings and replacing the master cylinder gaskets, then on Brian’s last TT session he parked Cuervo in the gravel trap at 10-A when he overshot the braking zone at 158 mph. Even after bleeding the brakes and replacing the front pads the pedal was still spongy, so we set about looking for the real source of the leakage. It ends up the seals in the master cylinders had been leaking for some time and while I’d been driving around the issue for a couple of events Brian’s panic stop helped us uncover the real issue. 

Ricky stopped by Summit Racing on Sunday morning to bring some new master cylinders before heading to the track (you know the saying about racers helping their competition get their cars on the track? – it’s alive and well in SCCA Club Racing!) and Dave installed them while I was playing Safety Steward for the morning’s PDX sessions. We got everything buttoned up as they were calling our cars to the grid. but when I cranked the engine to check things out there was a ringing noise coming from the bell housing. Since I was under the car when I should have been in my driving suit and heading to the grid we opted to sit out the race rather than taking a chance on it being something major. As I said to Dave & Harriett, “If we won overall it would pay exactly the same as if we put the car in the trailer so let’s not do something stupid!”

Ends up Ricky & Robby had a helluva race with Ricky taking the GTA victory by just about a car length (0.265 seconds) at the checkers. We probably would have been right there with them, but we also could have been looking at major repairs if we’d tried to run the race. If we’d had another thirty minutes we probably could have figured out the problem (ends up there wasn’t enough clearance between the starter gear and the flex plate) and effected a solution, so it was just “one of them racing deals.” Bottom line, however, is we learned a lot, we fixed a problem that I’d been driving around for a while, and they knew we were there. 

For those that like such things, we DID have video and data from a couple of our sessions. For those that are more visual than verbal, HERE is Brian’s “trip to the Beach”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaVtGlpzTe4&feature=relmfu  

And here’s the last few laps of my qualifying session: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b43mtO5CqDM&feature=youtu.be

Subject to the whims of the racing gods, here’s our remaining schedule for 2012: 

Dates

Track/Location

Reason

June 9-10

Atlanta Motorsports Park

Track Trials (officiating only)

June 23-24

Robbinsville, NC

“Chase the Dragon” Hill Climb

July 14-15

Road Atlanta

Double SARRC

Aug 4-5

Atlanta Motorsports Park

Single SARRC (depends on muffler)

Aug 18 (Sat)

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Double SARRC (both on Saturday)

Aug 31-Sep 2

Barber Motorsports Park

Double SARRC

Oct 6-7

Roebling Road

SARRC Invitational

Nov 2-4

Road Atlanta

ARRC by GRM

??

a local drag strip

Run the quarter, just to see

Depending on how things go we might skip some of these events or we might add some others.  As always, if you’d like more information about any of them just let me know.

See y’all at the track…