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July 3-5 - Roebling Road Double SARRC 

(image by www.clarkmcinnisphotography.com)

Executive Summary:

It was one of those weekends that reminds you of the old saying, “If it was easy then everybody would be doing it!” Jay qualified second in class for Saturday’s race and got a great start to lead the class thru Turns 1 & 2, but broke an axle when shifting to third gear and coasted to a stop between Turns 4 & 5. On Sunday we toyed with the idea of going out when it was “slightly” raining (even though we had no rain tires), but tossed that idea when the bottom fell out before we even got to Grid. Bottom line – no finishes and no points, “But it was running real good until it wasn’t!” <g>

Longer version:

As reported in the last BK Racing Update, we had a fairly long list of items on the “ToDo” list after the Mother’s Day weekend at VIR. With the help of neighbors Allan Kosloski and Jon Genger we got the rear end out and sent it to be repaired/rebuilt, I sent the shocks back to RE Suspension to be checked and re-valved (and it ends up the shaft on the RF shock was bent), we cleaned up the oil from where the transmission fill plug came out (and safety-wired the new one), replaced three tie rod ends and eliminated the slop from the steering rack, and also finished a number of minor maintenance chores that had been nagging over the last three months. We didn’t get the new RF fender installed to replace the one damaged during my Joey Chitwood audition at the Road Atlanta Majors, but we did get a new one painted and it’s sitting in the shop. While rebuilding the rear end John Egbert found we had 2.5 degrees of negative camber in the rear end (which is a good number for radials but is WAY too much for our bias-ply GTA tires) so he replaced both axle tubes and a rear bell. He also ordered two new axles but they didn’t come in, so we re-installed the old ones – the remaining survivor of the Road Atlanta fiasco and the old spare we put back in after breaking the survivor’s sister at VIR. In short, I felt we took the best-prepared car we’ve had in two years to the annual July Double SARRC at Roebling Road in Savannah.

The first time Jay ever drove Cuervo was last year during the same weekend at Roebling Road, so it was going to be interesting to see how things might have improved in a year. In 2014 he was running in SPO and qualified at a 1:16.7 and ran race laps in the 1:18’s, so even though the car weighs 100 pounds more this year (to make it compliant with the GTA rules with him driving) we felt he should be even faster. That was further supported during the test day on Friday as he ran consistent 1:18’s despite being on used tires, so it was a pretty enthusiastic team that dined at the world-famous Lovezzola’s Pizza in Pooler that evening.

Since we were Group 5 (of 7) we waited until Saturday morning to bleed the brakes and bolt on a new set of Hoosier 3045’s, then I spent some time counseling Jay on the importance of getting a clean lap during Qualifying. Roebling Road is a fun (and challenging) track to drive by oneself, but if you get caught behind a slower car going into Turn 1 it can take almost a full lap before you get a chance to pass them cleanly. All that strategy went out the window, however, when Jay radioed in his first hot lap saying, “the hood is bowing up!” He came into the pits where I saw the three middle hood pins (of five) were broken, so I sent him back out because there was nothing I could do about it then. He managed to work traffic pretty well and despite an obvious concern the two remaining pins might break (and looking like a Pro Stock drag car going down the front straight – talk about aero drag!) he turned a 1:17.500 to qualify second in GTA, seventh overall. Had we not had the hood problem I felt a low 16 or even a 15 was possible, but it was not to be on this day.

After Qualifying we used some tie-wraps to secure the hood and otherwise did the standard prep to get ready for the race, plus we also found out the first-place GTA car, Jarod Lovett, was still experiencing the oil pressure problems that had plagued him on Friday. Rather than take a chance on blowing up (another) engine, Jarod loaded up and elevated us to sixth on the grid, first in class. During lunch Jay & I discussed the need to get a good start and try and put some other cars between himself and the remaining GTA cars (BJ Holley, Vern Smith, and Jim Matheson), then settle down and run consistent laps.

We hit a minor SNAFU when the clutch failed to disengage as the cars were rolling off the grid, so Jay alertly re-cranked it in gear while Johnny Miller and his son (Johnny V) helped me “encourage” Cuervo off the line. That action caused some consternation on the part of one grid worker, but technically the car was running at the 1-minute warning and stalled while leaving so in my estimation we were okay per the GCR – at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! <g>

Jay timed the start perfectly and managed to put an 800 hp GT1 stock car between himself and BJ getting into Turn 1. He concentrated on getting through 1 & 2 cleanly because wanted to create a gap to the GT1 car, but when he shifted from second to third heading into Turn 3 the engine immediately free-wheeled and hit the rev limiter. It took him a few seconds to figure out that engine was running but he had no forward drive while the field stacked up behind him, but he quickly got off line, coasted to a stop in a safe spot off driver’s right between Turns 4 & 5, and dismounted the vehicle. Erin, Grace, & I soon joined him to watch the rest of the race, so we had a good view of BJ (now the GTA leader) getting into the back of the GT1 car exiting Turn 5 and both of them ending up in the sand trap. BJ was able to rejoin behind Vern & Jim, but the GT1 car was stuck for the rest of the 13 lap race. Vern was pulling away from Jim, but there was an apparent miscommunication on the flags or the officials somehow missed some of his laps. Whatever happened, the official results showed Jim getting his first-ever SARRC win followed by BJ, then Vern. Granted there’s a reason they run the race, but we REALLY felt like we had a win or at least a podium finish snatched away from us due to a mechanical issue.

After Cuervo got towed back in I sent Jay off to commiserate and tell lies with the guys in Impound while I checked the rear axles and found the one remaining from the Road Atlanta incident had sheared off just like its counterpart had at VIR. We ended up borrowing Vern’s spare axle to get Cuervo ready for Sunday (Vern said we could use it as long as we didn’t outrun him <g>), then Jay & family headed to downtown Savannah to watch Fourth of July fireworks while Court Dowis & I toured the outskirts of South Savannah in search of dinner and a DVD player for Court’s motorhome.

Since the problems with the clutch would require we push-start Cuervo from the back of the pack regardless of our qualifying time, we decided to skip the Sunday morning qualifying session to save wear & tear on the car. Group 1 completed their race before lunch in dry weather, but after lunch near the end of the Group 2 race the predicted rain started falling heavily. It stopped pretty quickly and the track started drying during Group 3’s race, so we started hoping we MIGHT be able to finish the day without further problems. Unfortunately it started raining (heavily) again during the Group 4 race so Jay decided discretion was the better part of valor (particularly since we had no rain tires!) and we started packing up. During a brief lull in the rain we decided he could just trundle around at the back and complete enough laps to get a finish (and points), so I started warming Cuervo up while Jay changed into his driving suit. About five minutes later the bottom dropped out and Jay stuck his head out of the trailer giving me the “cut” sign just as I was shutting the engine off anyway, so we finished loading up in a POURING rain – I’m sure I’ve been that wet before when not swimming but I can’t remember where or when it happened!

Bottom line is we got no finishes and zero points despite a promising start to the weekend. After discussion we decided to run the Road Atlanta & Charlotte Double SARRCs as we originally planned, then based on where we are in SARRC points make a decision on the rest of the season. I still plan to run the 2015 Runoffs ® at Daytona in September and Jay will run the ARRC by GRM at Road Atlanta in November, but anything between Charlotte and Daytona is up in the air.

Current BK Racing plans for the rest of 2015:

  • July 25-26 – Road Atlanta Double SARRC (Jay)
  • August 15-16 – Charlotte Double SARRC (Jay)
  • August 22-23 (possibly) – Michigan International Speedway Majors (Butch)
  • August 29-30 (possibly) – Barber Double SARRC (Jay)
  • September 21-27 – SCCA Runoffs ® at Daytona (Butch)
  • October 10-11 – SARRC Invitational Challenge at Roebling Road (Jay)
  • November 6-8 – ARRC at Road Atlanta (TBD)

As always, let me know if you want further information about any of these weekends.

See y’all at the track…