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Executive Summary:

Although we finished second (in a class of two - the competition finished next to last) and were 6-8 seconds off what we SHOULD have been running, the October 15-16 weekend at VIR was very successful. The weather was perfect, the host club (North Carolina Region SCCA) went out of their way to welcome the thirteen V8RRS drivers attending, we put on a great show (which I got to watch on Sunday), we'll probably sign up ten new V8RRS members for 2017 because they're excited about what we're doing, and we loaded a running race car in the trailer on Sunday afternoon. As a bonus, when I unloaded Cuervo on Monday evening I'm pretty sure I figured out why I was not running as quickly as I should have been so it's not QUITE time to post an ad on the internet looking for a new driver! 

Longer Version:

You can see almost 300 photos Dinah Thompson took of the 2016 V8RRS season Finale on the V8RRS Facebook page. I also posted a series-oriented report of the weekend on our forum to supplement reports, videos, and pictures by others, so this will be a recounting of the weekend from BK Racing's perspective.

Crew chief Allan Kosloski and I left Atlanta around 3:00 on Thursday, October 13, and arrived at our motel in Danville VA about 10:30 that evening. Never once on the trip did I have to threaten to leave him on the side of the road, but then we never talked politics, how much either of us liked (or didn't like) driving at Barber Motorsports Park, or the NFC South (Allan's a Panthers fan and I'm decidedly not). Although we had a drivers' meeting scheduled for 8:30 Friday morning our first session on track was not until 10:00, so there would be plenty of time set up our paddock and finish prepping the O'Brian Express Monte Cuervo for the day.

There were four 30-minute sessions scheduled throughout the day, so during the first session the goals were to refresh my memory on which way the track goes, bed the new G-Loc front brake pads, and make sure the rebuilt shifter was working correctly. With those goals in mind we didn't even bother timing any of the laps, and after Allan reminded me leaving Pit Road that Turn One indeed is a right-hander we were successful on all counts. I ran an out lap to warm everything (including the driver) up, a "3/4 lap" to slowly build heat in the brakes, two laps with hard braking, then a complete lap without using the brakes at all to allow them to cool. Through it all the shifter worked flawlessly for each of eighteen shifts per lap.

Although I drove VIR in April 2015, we only needed to "turn a wheel" in order to earn a Runoffs invitation so I never pushed very hard all weekend. My best lap ever at VIR was a 2:04.8 back in 2010, but that was before at least two round of re-paving and course modifications. The GTA class record is a 1:57.7 set by Randy Sampson in May 2015, a competitive GTA time is around 2:00, and since Jay (Gomer) ran a 2:02.8 there last year in a "wounded" Cuervo I figured anything in the 2:01-2:02 range on old tires would be okay. I thought I turned the wick up pretty well during the day's second session, so I was SEVERELY bummed to be running in the 2:10-2:11 range with a best lap of 2:09.6 - maybe old age was finally taking its toll and I really HAD forgotten how to drive!

During lunch Allan & I reviewed the in-car video and discussed the situation. We did confirm I was hitting the 7000 rev limiter for about a five-count at the end of the back straight (right at 159 mph) so we skipped the day's third session while changing to a taller rear gear. In the day's last session I avoided getting in anyone's way and still ran two laps in the low 2:06's, so changing the rear gear certainly helped. After that session we checked things out, bled the brakes, and bolted on a sticker set of Hoosier 3045's to be ready for Saturday morning's qualifying session. We then circulated amongst our current and future V8RRS members in the paddock before heading to Aunt Milly's in downtown Milton, NC, for beer and pizza that's ALMOST as good as what Wayne makes for us at Johnny's in Hickory Flat! <g>

There was a bit of dew on the grass for our 8:30 qualifying session, but the track was dry and the weather cool. After warming things up on the out lap I ran a 2:14.0 while working to find a gap in traffic, and felt I'd found a pretty good spot coming out of Hog Pen to start lap 3. Unfortunately I tried to go too fast too early in the right-hander after Turn Four and decided to park over by Worker Station #5 to see how other people were taking that section of the track (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!). Even on the damp grass I managed to get stopped without hitting anything, but I was decidedly gunshy for the next couple of laps. On my sixth lap I found a nice gap in traffic and put down what I thought was a solid if not spectacular lap, so I was incredulous when Allan called out "two-twelve-oh" on the radio - I had somehow managed to go six seconds slower on sticker tires than I had on used tires!!! That best lap ended up being a 2:11.967, which was good for 23rd of the 32 cars in the field. About the only good news is I would line up right behind Mike Attaway, my competition for the V8RRS GT2 championship. Mike could secure the title just by starting the race regardless of how I did, but at least I would have someone to judge my progress (or lack thereof) against.

Our Saturday race effort was notable only for it's lack of notability. I got a decent start and hung with Mike for a couple of laps while we both moved up a couple of spots, and ended up turning my best race lap of a 2:08.429 on lap three. Despite my best efforts, however, Mike slowly pulled away and my lap times dropped off. From about lap six on I tried not to get in anyone's way and ended up having a pretty good race with Gene Ratchford in his GTA Late Model. I could put 5-6 car lengths on Gene on the two straights (I just bumped the rev limiter on a couple of laps on the back straight, which is right at 163 mph with the taller gear), but he'd be all over my rear bumper by the time we got through the twisties and made it back to the "corner formerly known as Oak Tree". I talked to Gene after the race and apologized if I had been holding him up, but he said I never really impeded him so all was good. I asked if Cuervo looked twitchy or whopper-jawed on the track and he said he didn't really notice anything, but he did suggest a Cool Shirt might help my consistency. Gene has a pretty good eye because it ends up I had forgotten to turn mine on at the beginning of the race but realized it about halfway thru. Looking at my lap times they DID improve from 12's & 13's to pretty consistent 9's & 10's over the last four laps! Bottom line is we finished 16th overall and second of five in GT2, so that evening at the V8RRS party I awarded Mike his championship trophy and gave myself the second place award.

In post-race discussions Allan and I decided to soften up the rebound three sweeps and for Sunday's race I'd concentrate on (1) making a wider entry into Three, (2) carrying more speed at the far end, and (3) trail-braking better into the left-hander at the end of the back straight. We also decided to definitely run the ARRC by GRM at Road Atlanta (my home track) to find out if there was a problem with the car or if I was just scared of VIR - if I could run 1:32's at Atlanta we needed to work on the driver, but if the best I could do was a 1:35 then there was something wrong with the car. During that conversation there was NEVER any discussion about the shifter because it had worked perfectly all day Friday and Saturday.

We did not run the optional qualifying session first thing Sunday morning and in retrospect probably should have. I don't remember where we lined up for Sunday's race, but on the pace lap (after remembering to turn on the Cool Shirt) I focused on three areas - entry to Turn Three, far end, end of the back straight. Again, there was never any thought about the shifter, BECAUSE IT HAD WORKED PERFECTLY TO THAT POINT!

At the green flag I got a decent start and shifted to second, then on the shift the third the lever stuck in neutral just like it had at Watkins Glen. I completed that lap in second gear, came into the pits, proceeded to Impound, shut the car down, and then joined Allan, Mark & Amy Mercurio, and V8RRS Series Administrator Jim Creighton in front of the Tower to watch the race. When Jim asked what happened I said, "I knew this was going to be a great race and I wasn't going to be a part of it, so I decided to spectate instead of drive". As I wrote earlier in this report, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! <g>

And a great race it was! The top seven GTA cars ran nose-to-tail during the early laps and four different drivers ended up leading during the 16 laps of the race. At the checkers Tyler Wilson ended up taking both the race win and the 2016 GTA Championship with Bobby Reuse and Andy Trought finishing second and third respectively in the points. The weekend was an excellent conclusion to the first year of the V8 Road Racing Series and we're all looking forward to even better success in 2017.

While loading Cuervo up Sunday after noon we noticed he was "rolling funny" as we winched him into the trailer and I figured out why when I went to unload on Tuesday night. It ends up we had installed different sized "trailering wheels" on the left and right sides, and that's why the car wouldn't roll straight. After I jacked the rear up to help straighten things up while backing it out, however, I realized the larger tire (which was still on the ground) would not free-wheel like it normally would/should. When we replaced the Benson rear end with the Tiger unit after Charlotte I had noticed the new center section was about an inch narrower, but I didn't think anything about it and used one (31.5") axle from the Benson and a new 30" one to get the proper end play on the axles. It ends up the 31.5" axle was actually engaging both drive plate in the rear end, which means I was effectively racing with a solid (spool) differential. Obviously I was adjusting my driving to the conditions rather than being smart enough to figure out the car was pushing like a bulldozer on corner entry, but then I never DID say I was all that smart! I've since ordered new (shorter) axles and now we'll find out at Road Atlanta whether or not I almost look like I know what I'm doing.

In other news, the SCCA Board of Directors will conclude their second round of meetings regarding the SCCA presidency the same weekend as the ARRC by GRM. Based on those meetings we should expect formal announcement of the job opening will be posted mid-November, so until then my official position on the matter still remains:

"I continue to monitor the situation with a great deal of interest".

Final event on the 2016 BK Racing schedule:

· Nov 4-6 - The ARRC by GRM at Road Atlanta (Braselton GA)

. Nov 19-20 - Roebling Road Track Trials (Savannah GA)

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

See y'all at the track…