Welcome to BK Racing
Powered by Squarespace

Still Racing After All These Years (Vol. II, Part 3)     by Butch Kummer

Charlie Johnson and I left the house at around 6:30 on Thursday, March 9, for the SCCA National points race at Roebling Road in Savannah. Short story: I didn’t win, but we had a helluva lot better weekend than the #20 Home Depot Pontiac did.

After talking to Goodyear’s John Taube (another long-time NCCC participant) at Sebring, we had changed the front end alignment significantly. I ran the test day on Friday mainly to see if the car was still drivable. It stopped and steered (actually, it was MUCH more stable under braking), so we packed up at noon and went to the beach.

We had a practice and two qualifying sessions on Saturday (which, unlike Atlanta, was still warm and slightly overcast). During the first qualifying session I tried to convince myself (against Charlie’s advice) that going to second gear for the "back side" was the right choice, went slower than I had on Friday and ended up fourth (of five) in GT-1 and sixth overall in the group of 21 cars. Time to buckle down.

For my second qualifier we changed the weight bias, bolted on a new(er) set of tires, adjusted the pressures slightly and chastised the driver for screwing up the first session. Ended up going almost a second faster at a 1:16.126, which moved me up only one spot on the grid but, more importantly, put me on the inside rather than the outside of the third row (more on this later). The first two cars were still 4 seconds faster, but I thought we might have something for the third and fourth place cars.

We were the second race after lunch on Sunday and, based on the previous races, I was anticipating an early green for our race. I also figured the outside pole Toyota wouldn’t get as good a start as our honkin’ V-8’s, so I was looking at maybe being third into Turn 1. Ends up the starter held the green until we were almost under the flag stand, which caught everyone but the pole-sitting Oldsmobile (and yours truly) by surprise. In other words, I wasn’t third into the first corner, I was SECOND with the #13 Olds on my bumper, the #05 Mustang in fourth and the Toyota in fifth. Hang on baby, Poppa’s comin’ home happy tonight!!!

Talent has a way of evening things out, so when the #13 car stuck his nose in as we entered the Turn Three left-hander at over 120 mph, I had to give way. Unbeknownst to me, the Mustang tried to follow the #13 car thru, tapped my left rear with his right front and sent me into a quick 360 degree spin with the rest of the pack bearing down. I don’t know what it looked like from outside the car, but when everything stopped spinning I was pointing the right direction and still in third gear, so I nailed the gas and only lost one spot (to the Mustang). Spectators said it was one of the most spectacular moves they’d ever seen and I wish I could take credit, but if given a choice I’ll take being lucky over being good every time.

As you might suspect, the rest of the race was somewhat boring after that. I waved the Toyota by as we started the third lap (he was faster and in a different class anyway), then settled into cruise mode and dealt with traffic as I got to it. The Mustang moved up to second, but then broke an exhaust header and spent multiple laps in the pits, moving me up to fourth overall, third in GT-1. My crew told me I was working lap 21 (of 23) when the leader came up behind me entering the last corner, so I let him by just as the starter threw the checkered flag. Ends up Charlie had missed the first lap (because of the late green) and I’d really run 22 laps, so basically I was the first car one lap down (but the action photos show me right on the leader’s bumper!).

When we got to impound (the top four cars in each class get checked), the Mustang driver met me as I got out the car and apologized for hitting me. Minimal damage to the car and he’s a class act, so there’s no problem there. "Just one of them racin’ deals".

Overall a pretty decent weekend. I earned seven more National points, moved up to fourth in the division and the car is still in one piece for the next race (April 1,2 at Road Atlanta). For those that might want to attend, tickets are $15 each for the weekend (or $10 for Sunday only), which gets you into the paddock area as well as all spectator venues.

See you at the track...