Wedge Racing in 2015
Sebring - January (MAJORS) - skipped it this year due to HORRIBLE class grouping. The only way I can express my displeasure is with my entry and wallet!
NOLA - second trip here. Several 'top dog' FV's entered. Should be a good show.
An additional circuit is planned to mirror below the existing track.
That's a Kart track at the top right. The paddock area is the large paved area just right of center. Track length is 2.75 miles.
The tow down was pretty good. A little mist and sprinkles on the windshield but the most noticeable issue was .. we left home @ 67 degrees... about 11 hours later, we arrived at NOLA at some THIRTY FOUR DEGREES !! CRAP... THIS year was supposed to be different!? The Wx channel said mid 60's to 70's all three days. Well... guess what? THEY MISSED IT (again). It was 34 degrees with about a 25 MPH wind with gusts higher => something around 20 degrees w/chill factor. We nearly froze our butts off just getting through registration! The wind was almost as bad on Friday, so we spent most of our time inside the RV.. occasionally going outside to watch the 3 vees that were testing.
A pretty good field (13 Vees!) signed up for the event this year. Charlie Hearn, Donnie Isley, Laura Hayes and (hopefully) me expected to be the 'front runners' with a couple of others that could make some noise if things turned out right for them. Only one qualifying session on Saturday morning before the first race.. the true trends will be shown then.
Qualifying - The sun was at least 'around' a bit on Saturday and the track was dry, though you certainly did NOT want to get off the paved parts. The temp was COOL and the wind had dropped down to something reasonable finally. I went out LAST since I was on some old tires and wanted to come up to speed slowly. After several warmup laps, I was beginning to remember where the braking and turn in points were, so I started to turn up the wick a bit. Linda called out the times and I was in 3rd.. then 2nd and then, finally FIRST (in class). I never caught any of the other top cars, but I ended up as the only car in the '57's .. with a 1:57.995. Hey. it's a 57 and the pole!
Race1 - I didn't bring any NEW tires for this weekend, so it was a bit disconcerting to watch ALL of my close competitors strap on sticker tires. I rolled out my 'best' set - already with 2 sessions on them. I was hoping that my 'aged' tires would hold up better over the "long haul" of the race(s). Time would tell. There were an F5 and an older FF qualified in the middle of the vees, so I went to talk to the Chief Steward and convinced him that we would all be better off if those higher horsepower cars were NOT in the middle of the vees at the start. There wasn't any question that they would beat us to T1 .. it was just a question of whether they would CRASH a couple of vees trying to get past us all. The Steward agreed and allowed all the vees to start in the back. I toured the paddock and confirmed with all the other vee drivers that they AGREED with the change - thankfully they did.
As the pole sitter, I backed the vees off a few car lengths behind the rest of the field .. hoping to allow everyone in front to get through T1 before we arrived. Everything looked really good as the green came out, but seems the guys in front didn't get the message at the same time we did and we were ALL OVER them going into T1. I held the lead and got past the FF as we hit the 6,7,8 complex for the first time. It sure looked to me (in my mirrors) like I had an insurmountable lead and would run away with the race (HA!). Alas, the pack also got by the FF and they were on top of me before we even completed the first lap . The only 2 F5's in the race were gradually pulling away and the vees were racing alone .. the way we like it .
I lost my video of the race due to camera failure so I can't provide a 'blow by blow', but Charlie had a flat tire about the time the FF cars started lapping us and Laura got split off - leaving Donnie and I to fight it out for the win. I led most of the early laps and Donnie led most of the later laps. I was in second coming to the white flag and was able to make the pass for the lead into T1. From there, I stretched it a bit to the checker taking the win by some 5 or 6 car lengths. As we went through post race Tech, all Donnie could say was that 'something happened' to his engine. Later he found that 2 of the four exhaust pipes were cracked .. one of them COMPLETELY around and almost FELL OFF on that last lap. I got out my welding kit and repaired both of his pipes for the Sunday race... wondering if I really wanted to make his car any faster , but we want a 'heads up' race when we can get it.
Race2 - Donnie had fast lap in the Sat race (but didn't break Charlie's lap record from last year) so started on the pole with me on the outside. The pace lap speed was quite high compared to Sat's so we were all spread out trying to keep up once we realized how fast the pace car was going. Donnie and I were FLAT OUT from T13 all the way to S/F and the green was waving before we got onto the front straight. Donnie had some 10 car lengths on me with similar distance behind me .. but there wasn't much we could do - we were RACIN'!
I managed to JUST catch Donnie as we exited T1 - it looked like a good opportunity to make it a 2 car race, so I stayed close behind and didn't threaten him to give us the best speed. However, the draft still works pretty well and both Charlie and Laura caught us before we cleared the esses and ... yep .. we were a FOUR CAR PACK again. One more lap and Charlie came flying by to take the lead. We ran like that for a little over half the race with Donnie and I swapping places a couple of times. When the FF cars started lapping us I got shuffled back to 4th and Charlie got a great break and pulled out a 15 car length lead. As the other FF cars kept coming, we gradually reeled Charlie in and .. there we were, back to a FOUR CAR PACK again. Donnie passed Charlie and then Laura passed both of them taking the lead. With still several laps to go, I was content to stay in touch and wait to see if any of those guys would crash each other out, but they are pretty good at it, so no contact that I saw, even with several instances of 'side by side' through multiple turns. Finally, we had 3 laps to go and I figured I better start thinking about moving up. I got a good run onto the front straight and started a pass on Donnie. Just after I made my move, Laura pulled out to pass Charlie and I got a new draft that pulled me on past Charlie as we approached T1. I stayed to the inside to 'control' 2nd place, but then Laura braked earlier than I expected and suddenly I HAD to turn in .. and moved from 2nd to 1st. As I took the lead, I wondered .. "did Laura do that on purpose"?? With another lap yet to go, the lead wasn't exactly where I wanted to be. I TRIED to shake them with little result and as we came down the front straight to take the while flag, Charlie made the pass for the lead. I was thankful to see that neither Donnie nor Laura were close enough to follow him by as I followed Charlie through T1. As I did that, I also noticed a lapped car up ahead - one that we were sure to catch .. it was just a question of WHERE would that happen. I 'selected' a good place for that to happen and was determined to get a good run on Charlie across the T6,7,8 run toward the esses. I did just that and was closing on Charlie at about the time he drifted off the track a skosh (no doubt wondering what the lapped car was going to do) and I was able to get beside him JUST before we caught the lapper. I was able to hold my position at the top of the esses and effectively use the lapper as a 'pick' on Charlie. With that pass made, I then had to make "picture perfect" turns down the esses .. just ENOUGH, but for sure NOT TOO MUCH!!.. once thru there, T13 was under yellow and no passing was allowed. I made a good T13 and got a good run through the double apexes onto the front straight .. it looked (to me) like I had it easy .. but Charlie started closing in the draft... I moved right a bit to "lessen" his draft, but of course he followed.... the S/F line was coming ... and so was Charlie.. the line.. Charlie.. the line.. CHECKER!! I won with Charlie along side, but just about 1/2 car length short at the line. SUPER!! I was fortunate enough to win BOTH of the NOLA races. I never had expected to be able to pull that off with this competitive field. Laura finished 3rd with Donnie right behind her.
On the tow home, we overnighted in a rest stop and finished up early afternoon Monday (nice to be RETIRED ). Fortunately, Bullet seems nearly perfect so I probably won't even unload him before we head to Road Atlanta where we will try again for TWO WINS!
Road Atlanta (#1) - March - MAJORS weekend
The tow to the track was nice. Left home and was pulling into registration 45 minutes later . Not quite the greatest ever, however, since it was raining and stayed that way pretty much all day. Just left Bullet in the trailer - no sense in getting everything wet, so I pulled the bodywork off and did a nut/bolt check inside since all should be ready.
It rained off and on all night and was still misting Friday morning but the track was just dry enough to be able to scrub in some tires. My plan was to scrub in two sets today - 1 set for this weekend, and a 2nd set for VIR. It was pretty messy in the first session but since it was damp I could stay out for the entire session. I qualified third or forth but it really didn't matter because there were going to be some dry sessions ahead. I strapped on the second set for the second qualifier and the track was now dry. I set myself a scrub limit of 3 laps max, and went out and got a decent one on the third lap, cooled it and came on in. When the grid was posted I was once again 3rd but this time very close time wise. considering that we had eight cars that could potentially win the race I felt that was a pretty good starting point and our day was done. Interestingly, an hour later I received a text requesting that I go play a tennis match or my team would have to forfeit. Since everything seemed OK and it was only a little over an hour to the tennis courts I decided to accept and go. In the end we won the match - so far so good for the weekend .
For the 15 minute Saturday morning qualifier, the track was dry but cool. I went out on older tires with the primary goal of bringing Bullet back in one piece. I ran only about four laps, with no times as good as Friday afternoon's. Seemed the track was not that good so I came on in. When the grid came out I noted that a few people had gone slightly faster than yesterday but none of the grid positions actually changed, so I stayed in third.
Race 1 - At race time, the
track seem to be in great condition. Nice and dry with
clean fresh rubber on it from the afternoon and morning qualifying sessions.
T&S had separated the Vee's from the (potentially) faster FF and F5 cars.
Mitch had the Vee
pole but didn't drop back any from the cars in front
of us. At the green, the start was near disaster as we mixed
it up in the middle of the slower
cars going to turn 1. Charlie Rogers dove
through the middle of the Vees and took the lead. Mitch
grabbed second, then Greg
and I slotted into 3rd and 4th. Things were pretty mixed up for
a couple laps as we struggled with
the slower cars from the front pack. Finally, things
sorted out and we had a Vee pack of 8
cars. The bad news was that I had gotten shuffled back and was now
the seventh car in that pack.
With the draft everyone was flying
down the back straight!
I tried to move up but the
top speed with 6 cars drafting in
front of me made it tough. There's still plenty
of time in the race but I really need to figure out a
way. After about 3 more laps, I was finally able to
get in position to pass Gary and Laura
and pulled out to make my move
as we came into T10A.
I was past Gary and holding my position on the inside beside Laura
while watching the brake markers come
at me -- trying to figure out where I would slot in.
Just before I reached the point were I was going to have to hit the brakes,
the line to my right shot backwards and I was able to move past, Laura,
Charlie Hearn and Charlie Rogers all at once to drop into 3rd.
WOW .. FOUR cars at once ... That worked
out rather well I thought
. I considered
the, now, front 3 cars - Donnie,
Mitch, and myself and thought ... hmmmm,
this just might be an opportunity to break off
a 3 car pack if we treat other nice for a
couple of laps. 2 laps later we were indeed a
3 car lead pack,
with seconds in hand over the rest of the field. The 3 of us
swapped the lead several times until the 2 leading FF
cars started lapping us. As always seems to be the
case I happened to be in third as they
bulled their way past us and I got split off quite a number
of car lengths from Donnie
& Mitch. They played EXTREMELY nicely with each other,
trying to drop ME off that pack. Linda was updating me on the
fast cars coming through and they had already spread out quite a bit ,leaving
no large packs of cars to worry about. So now it was
up to me to make up the distance to the 2 cars ahead. It took about 3
laps to reel them in
but I got it done and retook the
lead... but not for long. As the last lap approached
(this was a 25 minute timed race)
the 4th and 5th FF cars came
through us and then a lap later had contact and took each other out at the exit
of 10B. I was able to pass and take the lead going into 10A
on that lap as I surmised there might be a chance the race would
be checkered early because of those
cars just off the track to the left. Unfortunately
(for me) the stewards decided to
leave them alone and let the race finish. Linda
was watching for the lead FF behind
us and predicted that he would catch us on the last
lap. That would shorten our race by 1 lap so I tried to
position myself to take advantage
if possible. I was in the lead as one of the F5's came up to pass us and was
happy to see that he got between me and Donny &
Mitch and I gained about a two or 3 second advantage
as we started the last lap. It looked like I might
just be able to hold it, however that same car closed
the gap to me and passed me going into turn 6 where he cost me about one and a
half seconds and then another 2 seconds at T7.
(Giveth and Taketh away) .... So here we are -
they are back on my tail, we're on the last lap and
I'm a sitting duck. As I arrive at T9,
Donnie pulls to the inside
to pass as we head down toward the brake markers for T10A. He's
doesn't get completely by but he does have the inside position. I'm watching the
brake markers approach
- pondering what I might do just as Mitch
dives down the inside of Donnie at the last instant
to put me into 3rd. Fortunately for
me, he goes a little deep and runs off track allowing
Donnie to duck inside him and I find JUST enough room to
follow Donnie through. Mitch
recovers for 3rd as we head for the finish line and
that's the way it ends. A pretty great race and a fun
time - and no contact between any of the three of us.
Later, in impound,
I am greeted by someone who hands me the provisional results with a note at the
bottom that says I just set a New Lap
Record with a 1:42.809
After all the years I spent trying to get that record back,
it certainly helps to soften the blow of finishing
only second! That would also mean I have the pole for tomorrow's race.
I was awakened about 4 a.m. by rain on the roof of the RV - we DID have a forecast for rain all day. I lay there and pondered the issues around the rain race and the possibility of one of those iffy situations between rains and dries. I also pondered the issues of being behind the FF & F 5 cars and their historical INability to be able to get through turn one on a damp track without crashing. Before I went back to sleep I decided I needed to talk to the chief steward first thing in the morning to see about dropping the Vees back far enough to get a separate green from the first pack.
Race 2 - At wake up time it was indeed raining and the track was soaked. we broke out the rain tires, made sure they were aired and ready, and I set off to find the chief steward. I found him in the media room and expressed my concerns to him. Thankfully, he agreed with my assessment and also agreed that giving us a separate green was a viable and acceptable option. I then went upstairs and found our operating steward who also agreed. It would OK for me (as the Vee pole) to drop the the Vee pack back far enough to allow the front cars to get through turn one before we would see the green. That way the option would also be available to show us a simultaneous yellow should there be a melee in t1. Fortunately, both starts went great and no one crashed - at least right away. (Linda says the start was amazing because she could see NO INDIVIDUAL CARS! Just a hazy spray down the front straight.) I got a good start and took the lead in to turn 1 and stretched it immediately. I gradually pulled away to about a 5 second lead over Mitch in 2nd place and had the race well in hand. Then an FF lost it coming out of 10b and high sided himself on the bumpers. The stewards immediately called for double yellows and a safety car. ArrrGG - The big gap I had built up was going to go away . Doing my best to maintain the gap, I didn't slow much - until I caught the car ahead of me and I could not pass. It was quite frustrating to see my lead evaporating quickly .. and on top of that, the FF in question cleared himself and the safety car was never dispatched - the yellow flags just suddenly disappearing .. however, Mitch was now on my tail. At least it was just ONE car and not the entire pack. After a couple laps, he passed and took the lead .. then I found out what he had been dealing with up till now...the spray in close wake was unbelievable! I followed as closely as I could while I measured him for a pass on the last lap. I decided I could get it done ... but I would have to be CLOSE. Finally, Linda gives me "last lap" as we pass under the waving white - it's now or never. I set my distance as best I could as we came toward T6. Gotta make a good T7 this time or all is lost. Down the back straight and I'm in position .. actually a little TOO close .. so I pause a microsecond or 2 and start closing .. Mitch moves to the left to block but I'm already ahead of his rear tire. It's getting pretty narrow over here ... Ok.. he's leaving me enough (JUST enough) room and I have the inside as well as position. Just have to make the turn into T10A clean.. braking .. feeling good... car is stable ...then ... SOMETHING happens .. not sure just what, but suddenly Bullet SKATES forward about 6 or 8 feet... and I'm in the dirt! I catch it with just my rf wheel in mud and correct .. is it enough? .. maybe?.. yes... NO!, Mitch is getting by. I gather it up and pour all I got into it, but it's just not enough and I'm following him to the Checker . I don't know what happened. Pretty sure Mitch didn't hit me .. didn't FEEL any contact.. we just SLIPPED a bit .. a spot of deeper water I guess, but what's done is done. I'm miffed to have gotten so much of it right, but still lost the race, but it was still a good race. Even though Mitch and I had side to side contact more than once out there, it was REALLY messy, slippery and quite difficult to SEE exactly where your opponent was. Neither car was measurably hampered that I could tell, so .. no harm, no foul so the saying goes. At impound, the Operating Steward tells me that the corner workers thought Mitch might have hit me after I completed my pass, but I don't think so.. at least I didn't FEEL anything like that, so they let it go and we're done.
A pretty good weekend, even though we managed to lose both races in the last 2 turns, but the lap record is still mine and it lasted the entire weekend this time . AND Bullet is in one piece and running well. Time to start looking towards VIR in 4 weeks. (Sorry.. again, no pix - just can't seem to figure out how to take my phone out of my pocket and SNAP a couple during each weekend .. I'm working on it )
VIR (Virginia International Raceway)- April - MAJORS event
The tow was uneventful and we arrived a little after noon on Thursday... to find the paddock COMPLETELY FULL. Wow... We had to get with the paddock marshal who finally found us a place to park and get power .. although the power was 3 paddock spots away from the parking spot. Fortunately, I have a long cord . Bullet was ready to go and all we had to do was select exactly which tires to use for the first session. The entry was good with some 12 vees entered and at least half of them potential winners.
Q1 - The session went fine, but Bullet seemed to be down on power .. or everyone else was suddenly UP on power. I couldn't pass any of the "fast cars" - it was pretty disappointing. I worked to set up a decent lap, but spun at T4 to start what was going to be my best. I ended up 5th on the grid - still not too bad considering the old tires. After the session, we started checking everything again and found a bent jackscrew on the left trailing arm. It wasn't 'bad', but I replaced it anyway. We also found the rear to be slightly 'askew' from the front - also corrected, but I didn't expect any big improvements from either. We ALSO found a slightly dragging brake on the rf - I did hope that THAT fix would make things better.
Q2 - I put on some better tires, but still could barely keep up. I ran a couple of laps with Jonathan and was still losing ground to him on the straights.. not good, but with that great draft, I did manage to pop off a little better time and move myself to 3rd behind Jonathan and Mitch. Back in the paddock, we found another dragging brake shoe too. It doesn't take much to make quite a difference.
Race 1 - I had major concerns about what might happen at the green - I might get
dropkicked to the back - however, I was quite surprised and pleased to actually
be the first car to T1. It appeared that the dragging brake was worse than I had
thought and we were again competitive at the front. Jonathan passed me
back on exit from T1 and I tucked in behind him. I drafted by on the back
straight and led lap 1. Bullet was handling great and we had no trouble
keeping up and passing. We had a 5 or 6 car lead pack and Laura passed for
the lead to start lap 4. I retook the lead with Jonathan on my tail as we
passed S/F and headed for T1 again. Counting the brake markers down 5, 4,
3 BRAKE...downshift... tur...**WHAM**!! Jonathan PLOWED into me -
broke my rear trailing arm - spun me into Donnie's path and Donnie
CLOBBERED me again in the right rear. I ended up facing counter race near
the apex, but I could tell I had significant damage - the least
of it being a flat rr tire. I grabbed a gear and found that I COULD move -
drove it across the track after the last car came through and kept doing until I
was far enough away from the track that no FCY would be required. After
getting out and signaling to the corner workers that I would need a HOOK, I
looked around and noticed Donnie also pulled off a couple hundred yards further up the track.
At that moment, I was not yet really sure WHO had hit me, but my video resolved
that later. At that time, I just knew that I had a LOT of work to do. I watched the
rest of the race, but could not figure out who was leading for sure. I saw Laura and
Gary nose to tail, then lots of space, then Ray and Chris. More
space, then Dale.. more space and then Mitch... more space, then Bill. No
Jonathan. I later found out the sequence.
1) Jonathan hits me, spinning me into Donnie's path
2) Donnie hits me
3) Mitch climbs over Donnie's rear tire, launching him completely into the air over Donnie
4) Laura is trying to find a place to go when Dale hits her on the lr tire, causing him a bent tie rod and a spin to the outside.
5) Jonathan gets by clean on the outside and takes the lead
6) Laura is undamaged and Gary follows her through after Jonathan
7) The rest of the field is now slow enough to weave through the carnage of Donnie and I and the racing resumes.
2 laps later Jonathan lost an engine leaving Laura and Gary to fight for the win. A lapping FF or F5 broke them apart on the last lap, leaving Laura with a solid win.... and Donnie and I with LOTS of work ahead.
About NINE hours and many parts later, we had Bullet back close to race shape . I would get *ONE* hardship lap in the morning to see how we had done. We ended up having to replace the right side wheel, brake drum, axle, axle tube, side gear, and both trailing arm jack screws as well as a number of fasteners and other minor hardware items.
On my single hardship lap, I could tell that things were NOT right - braking was bad and I had no top end at all. Back in the paddock, the right rear was almost totally locked up. Apparently, the replacement drum had studs that were too long inside - destroying most of the braking components on that side. I had to go borrow some parts, but we got that fixed and waited for grid time - hoping that we found all the problems.
Race 2 - At the green, I was VERY happy to find that Bullet was up to the task. We led most of the laps and eventually pared the front pack down to 3 cars - Mitch, Dale and myself. Linda is counting laps as we get near the end. She tells me that the overall leader is taking the waving white LAST LAP indicator behind us as we exit T2. It would seem a pretty sure thing that he will lap us and this will be our last lap. I set myself up and take the lead on the back straight - pull a near perfect hog pen and lead to S/F .... only to see the waving white rather than the checker I expected .. the leader had stayed behind us so as to not interfere with our race ... RATS!! Now I'm in the lead and a sitting duck again. Trying to decide whether I want to lead into the top of hog pen or not... Mitch and Dale challenge, but do NOT pass. I know I have to make a pretty perfect exit onto the front straight to have a chance of holding it to S/F .. I hit it as hard as I dare .. and **ALMOST** make it perfect .. but it wasn't. I dropped a tire off the outside and knew I was DONE. Out into the grass - a couple of spins before I can get slowed down enough to head back toward the track. I see Mitch and Dale as I spin around and Laura just gets by as I get back to the black part. I have turned a near win into a distant 4th place finish . What a DUMMIE I am!
At least, Bullet is in good shape again and just needs a better driver. I
wasn't planning to go to Summit Point, but now things are different. I
NEED to go. There will be good competition there and I NEED the practice.
Let's go get 'em!!
Summit Point - May - Majors (out of my conference but COUNTS just like NOLA - a 'crossover event')
The first segment of the drive up went pretty well with no issues other than sitting STOPPED on I85 for 2 hours while officials cleared a semi rig and its cargo from the roadway.
It was carrying large equipment racks like those in Home Depot. I heard on the CB that the driver was not injured, but he sure left a mess on the road. About 7 hours after we finally started rolling again, we pulled into a rest stop to spend the night about 2 hours from the track. Our trip came to a stumbling block the next morning when I tried to crank the engine and got nothing. After a few minutes, I realized that my transmission control panel was DEAD. Some 2 hours of futzing around and several phone calls later, I finally managed to get the engine cranked and the transmission into gear and we continued our trip to the track. Even thought we got there just fine, I had no degree of confidence that the transmission module (TCU) was actually fixed so I tested it several times during the weekend with mixed results. (I also thanked my lucky stars that the TCU had NOT failed while we were sitting in the middle of I85 yesterday!)
During the troubleshooting process I came to realize that temperature might be part of the problem so I experimented by heating the ECU with a hair dryer and that did seem to help. We would not know for sure though, until it was time to leave on Sunday afternoon. The prospect of spending several more days in the paddock waiting for parts to arrive was not attractive at all.
In the Friday morning qualifier I had one major goal and that was to not crash like I did last year. I controlled my aggression and still managed to qualify 8th with a time about equal to my best lap last year after the crash. Everything felt good. We had over 20 vees registered for this event. A couple of TOUGH races were in store.
For the second qualifier I bolted on some slightly better tires with intentions of working my way down to a semi-decent lap time. I ended up with a group of pretty fast cars and managed to pull off a late break maneuver at T1 that led to a pretty good lap that put me on the pole. Quite a surprise but I was pleased with the results and it bode well for the race. At least I was confident that I could keep up .. maybe.
The Saturday morning qualifier was only 15 minutes and I had no expectations of
going any faster so I put my oldest tires back on and just worked on my lines.
No one eclipsed my time so I remained on the pole. After we came in, Linda
told me we had a bit of a problem. A SKUNK problem.
One was wandering around our paddock area .. stumbling erratically in circles. I made a small (but safe) attempt to capture him under a garbage can, but gave up. Linda was confident that the skunk was rabid and quite dangerous, even though he was moving quite slowly and not showing any signs of true aggression. We contacted the race director and they took over - brought in the big guns (a pellet gun) and shot the animal out of its misery. Job done.
Race 1- Having the pole is nice but rarely does it lead to being the first car
in to T1, especially with such a long front straight and the great competition
at this event. True to form, even though I got what I thought was a pretty good
start, I still ended up 4th into T1. Rick Shields got by to take the lead and
extended that lead quite quickly. The second pack settled into five cars but we
couldn't decide who should lead to try to go after Rick. Rick got close enough
to a couple of the slower F5s to get a nice draft and in a couple of laps, we
were racing for second. Bullet was running and handling well but I had trouble
passing with the 5 car draft - that left me near the back of the pack most of
the time. On the 13th lap I finally got into a passing position inside of Dale
and Gary coming to the braking point. I hit the brakes and the car slowed
for about a millisecond and then suddenly my pedal went to the floor...
110 MPH and NO BRAKES!!!! I knew Dale was outside of me on my left with
Gary right on his gearbox but I was out of control! I managed to get just a
little bit of turn, but all I could really do was HOPE that Dale would recognize
my situation and leave me enough room to get off the track without climbing over
the top of anyone. Fortunately he did and I exited the track at a pretty high
rate of speed but managed to get slowed and make my way back to the track after
the pack was gone. I slowly drove back to the pits and then my paddock spot. As
I pulled up next to the RV, I could see brake fluid all over the right front
wheel so I had a pretty good idea of what had happened.
When I took the hub off, I found the blown wheel cylinder that I expected but also found something I did not expect. Somehow the end of the brake shoe had gotten out of the slot on the end of the wheel cylinder. I have to assume that it was that way the entire weekend at VIR and it's truly amazing that it ran as many sessions as it did before that failure. The end of the shoe was riding on a small lip on the edge of the 'wheel cylinder thingie that comes out the ends' (whatever that's called). The fix was relatively easy - just reassemble it properly, stupid! However, there was brake fluid everywhere and the shoes were saturated. These special racing shoes are extremely expensive so I did not want to just replace them, so I cleaned them as best I could with lacquer thinner and drove around the paddock trying to heat the shoes with no success. After reinspection I found no other issues and eventually decided that shoes would just need to be baked out more than I could do meandering around the paddock area. Fortunately there would be a 10 minute warm up session Sunday morning before the race where I could work much harder to get the shoes heated up.
In the warm up I was hitting the brakes hard every chance I got, fighting the SIGNIFICANT pull to the left each time. It took forever for the shoes to get heated and I was about ready to give up when... finally I could feel some improvement. By the end of the session, I was relieved to be able to go flat out into T1 and get the car slowed and turn in under control. I think we're ready for the race.
Rick turned the fastest lap in the Saturday race but he missed topping my poll time by 0.002 secs, so I still had the pole for the Sunday race.
At the green I got another good start but this time amazingly I actually was the first car out of t1 - however, Rick got a good run and passed me going into T3. I was determined that he was not going to drive away and leave me in the dust this time. I hung close as did the train behind me. When we got to the front straight, I realized that I was actually able to PASS today.. I guess the brake was dragging a little yesterday before it gave up the ghost. A lap later, Dale got into T1 a little hot and tagged the back of Roger .. throwing his nose into the air behind us. He was in front of me at the time, so I watched Roger and Rick slip away with me behind the wounded Dale. I followed him to the front and then drafted by, bringing Gary and Mitch with me. On the next lap, Gary and Mitch drafted by me and then Mitch was able to pass Gary before T3. We were still 'in touch' with Rick and Roger, but some 7 or so car lengths back. I passed Gary and closed on Mitch a bit as he closed on the 2 leaders. A lap or so later, the lead F5 and FF lapped us ... splitting Rick and Roger and breaking me off again. Another couple of laps go by and we are a 4 car pack again.. another lapping car and suddenly Roger and Mitch are out front and Rick and I are trailing. Rick and I swap positions once, but then I decided that my best decision would be to follow closely behind Rick and see if we could close the gap to R&M. In 3 laps we had closed to within 2 car lengths.. then another lapping car split us off again .. back to 7 or 8 lengths. At it again.. we're closing - slowly, but still closing. We are now only about 2 lengths back and I can see that Roger is having issues at T5. On the next lap, Mitch makes a move at T5 and spins off ... and Roger opens another 4 car lengths on us, but we eat it up quickly. Now we are a THREE CAR PACK.. and I'm in it. Bullet seems to be getting better and better - I can stay REALLY close in the turns and could pass for the lead ... but what's the point? There's still some 6 laps to go. I think I'll just stay here .. never can tell what might happen and I'm remembering my mistake at VIR on the last lap. NO MISTAKES!! Worst case, finish 3rd .. but maybe 2nd or 1st if I do things right. Bullet is feeling better and better at T10 coming onto the front straight. Roger is still having issues at T5.. and he takes the lead from Rick with 3 to go. I'm glued to Rick's gearbox as we come out of T3 down the chute. I see smoke off Roger's tires... he's loose.. he's going around .. Rick is looking for a place to go, but he's on Roger's right for the left turn.. Roger's blocking Rick into the grass and *I* have JUST enough time to tuck in under Roger's nose and get cleanly through the turn. I'M IN THE LEAD ! OK.. remember **NO MISTAKES**. My job now is to make SURE that I don't take myself out of this win. If they catch me again, then so be it. CONTROLLED aggression .. GOOD LAPS. Don't have to be GREAT .. just really good. Coming around to the waving white .. last lap. I can see Roger and Rick in my mirrors, but they are still several seconds behind me. NO MISTAKES!! ...CRAP.. an F5 ahead of me ... what's he going to do? Yes.. I'm going to catch him RIGHT at T1... where's he going? Does he see me? no 'point', but I'm going by on the inside.. PLEASE just stay on the outside .. HE DOES!! I'm clear .. through T3 .. the chute, the carousel.. coming out, I can see R&R back there .. still plenty of room ... NO MISTAKES!! A great run through T10 onto the front straight and I'm HOME FREE. The CHECKER is waving .. for ME!
Most likely our last Major for 2015, but I do plan to come back here (to hopefully repeat my win) at the Formula Fest event in August. Thanks to all that help me compete at this level in such a thrilling sport -- Dietmar at QuixoteRacing.com, JR at RoxannesHeaders.com, Rolling at ButlerEngines.com, Rodney at Racetire.com and, of course LINDA as well as a host of others. Also, congrats to Laura Hayes who did not attend this event, but had already clinched the SEDIV Conference for 2015. A great accomplishment. We ended up 4th in the conference and 5th in the nationwide points as a result of my 2 DNF's. Unfortunate, but it's really only the WINNER that matters anyway :).
Thanks as always to Rollin at ButlerEngines.com, JR at RoxannesHeaders.com and ... Rodney, Tim and Bruce at Hoosier tires (RaceTire.com) and Dietmar at QuixoteRacing.com . Not to forget my wife, Linda, who travels with me to almost every race, and suffers me the joy of racing for all these years!
Regular Season team stats (EC races in yellow)
|Atlanta MAJOR#1||3rd||2nd||21||LAP RECORD!|
|VIR MAJOR #1||3rd||DNF||-||got crashed out on L4|
|VIR MAJOR #2||3rd||4th||17||screwed up on last lap|
|Summit Point MAJOR #1||1st||15||6||lost brakes|
|Summit Point MAJOR #2||1st||1st||25|
|Season Total SEDIV Conference||140||count best 8 races
(4th in conference)
Runoffs/Divisional Finishes for the Wedge Racing Team
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