The racing season is over for some. Others still pursue championships. And plans are afoot for next year.
We have been to the annual SCCA Run-Offs many times. Often we have been spectators, viewing what are unquestionably some of the best races of the year. Sometimes we are involved in fringe activities, such as when Reed was designing race tires for Goodyear. Occasionally we are offering limited assistance to friends or customers. Once upon a time we have even competed. In 1981 Reed raced in the event at Road Atlanta. In 1999 we helped Dan Minkler win his National Championship in GT5. This year we were there in several capacities. We were helping two Kryderacing clients, Bill Pintaric in GT4 and Gary Martz in EP. We were also working with Baer Brake Systems, providing technical assistance and parts support to their American Sedan customers.
Readers of this newsletter know of the year long efforts of drivers Bill and Gary. Gary had a great early season and a mechanical problem filled second half on his way to another in a series of Run-Offs appearances. Bill was in his first year of racing the GT4 Datsun 510 and, while he originally intended on running only Regional level events, he ran several Nationals and acquired enough points to qualify. The game plan prior to the event was for Sandi to spearhead the Baer program while Matt handled all the work on Bill’s car and assisted Gary with his. Reed was originally scheduled to be at Pike’s Peak International Raceway and would miss the entire week. But then the terrible tragedies of September 11th occurred. His first flight change delayed his departure to the Tuesday of the Run-Offs. Further flight delays would result in his being trackside for most of the week.
Monday: Reed used this unexpected day to visit old friends and discuss next year’s Daytona plans with various people. Gary started his week off fighting rear-end problems with his RX-7. This wasn’t totally unexpected since it was an experimental unit. Bill’s first session with the Datsun resulted in a personal best lap time for the Mid-Ohio circuit. Bill’s time put him near the back of the field, but the purpose for being at the Run-Offs was to eliminate the "rookie year jinx" we have observed so many times. Rookie drivers usually come to the Run-Offs fully prepped for what they expect to be their toughest race of the year. They usually put new pieces on their cars and performed what they believe are performance enhancing changes. What they are usually unprepared for is the mental attitude needed for the Run-Offs. It is very different. The week long combination of one-a-day practice sessions, technical meetings, and evening activities continually remind them of the importance of the activity in which they are immersed. The mental stress can be enormous and often results in mistakes on and off the track. Returning participants are usually better focused on the job at hand and minimize the numerous distractions.
Tuesday: While all the sessions of Monday were practice, today’s sessions were the first of three qualifying attempts. Bill’s lap times improved thanks to more track experience and some carb modifications. Gary lost the engine in his RX-7.
Wednesday: New tires helped Bill improve his times again. Gary not only went slower, but ran afoul of the tech inspectors when the fitment of his hood was judged too sloppy. There had been no changes to the car’s bodywork for three years. Gary was not happy. Reed, Sandi, Bill, Matt, Dave and Michelle Deen all attended a driver’s dinner that evening before additional "relaxation" at Deen’s motorhome.
Thursday: The last chance to qualify. Bill‘s time was slower, but that was because we were running the old tires and trying something experimental which failed. Bill found himself nineteenth on the GT4 grid. Not as high as he was hoping, but we kept reminding him this was his first run-offs. Gary managed to finish the session, but ended up 21st on the E-Production Grid. Considering he held the class lap record coming into this week, he wasn‘t extremely happy.
We met the new head of Nissan’s Competition Department that day. Ron Stukenberg seemed to be getting a feel for the Run-Offs and its Nissan competitors. Bill, Sandi, and Reed all attended the Nissan dinner that evening. Matt and the Deens went to the Mazda dinner with Gary. At least no one was starving.
Friday: The GT4 race was the eighth and final event of the first day of racing. We continued testing (just a small item) during morning warm-ups and waited for the race. Rain came and went all day long. The decision to run the dry tires was made shortly before the race and fortunately, Mother Nature cooperated. Remember the "rookie year jinx" mentioned above? It struck during the race. The "510" has a gearshift lockout bar which needs to be operated by the driver. It is very simple and effectively locks out reverse and first gear once the driver positions the bar. Somehow, right after the start, Bill moved the bar too far and locked out not only reverse and first, but also second and third gear. He had made a great start, improving several positions, but when it came time to downshift, he found it impossible and had to accelerate out of several turns in fourth gear. Needless to say, his lack of acceleration allowed several competitors to repass him. He didn’t realize he had forced the lockout to move too far, He thought the gearbox was broken and drove on, using only fourth and fifth gear. For several laps he compensated the best he could and actually was within a couple of seconds of his qualifying time. But then he relaxed and started to be aware of his surroundings. Then he noticed the incorrectly positioned lockout. He quickly fixed it and started to run faster than his qualifying speed. Unfortunately he had fallen too far behind to make up many positions. Eventually he came back to finish 12th. Everyone was happy, but also a little frustrated by what could have been if the lockout problem had not happened. Bill blames himself. But just in case, we intend on redesigning the lockout so the problem doesn’t happen again.
Saturday: Reed and Sandi were unable to attend the events on Saturday due to family obligations (a niece was getting married). Matt was there and continued the work he and Sandi had been doing all week with Baer Brake Systems and the American GT cars. Matt and Sandi are putting together a summary of our Baer involvement for the past year and suggestions for 2002. Baer has already told us they want the program to continue.
Sunday: Reed was finally flying to Pike’s Peak. Matt and Sandi were at the track. And Gary finished 13th in E-Production. Normally, that wouldn‘t have been considered too good. But considering the way Gary‘s last few National races and the proceeding week had gone, it was very satisfying.
Daytona 2002 Update
During the week of the Run-Offs our plans on entering a Corvette in the 2002 Rolex 24 at Daytona derailed. This was to be a partnership between the car owner and Kryderacing. We felt the partnership should have a well defined structure. We had offered two widely varied possibilities on how the partnership could be set up. Both were rejected. We asked for alternative suggestions and none have been forthcoming. We still like the car and hope something might happen, but in the meantime we have resumed our search for a suitable vehicle to buy. Later this week, Matt will be examining what was one of our leading possibilities prior to the Corvette detour.
2001 Kryderacing Regional Championship Series at Nelson Ledges Road Course
Two weekends of racing are left. October
20-21 will see Mahoning Valley Region run their Golden Harvest Double Regional
and the following weekend Western New York will hold the annual Great Pumpkin
Affair. Don’t forget, the Great Pumpkin may be a single event, but it counts
for double points. The Awards Banquet is scheduled for November 17. Call
Sandi for details and reservations.