issue we discussed Reed’s opportunity to return to the SCCA National Championships
- the Run-Offs. We reported how the program came about during the month
of July, and the results of his first three races. The fourth event was
to be held at Mid-Ohio on Labor Day weekend. Reed needed only to start
the race to receive his invitation to the Run-Offs. We will start this
newsletter at that point in time.
This was the fourth and final race needed to meet the minimum requirements to receive an invitation to the SCCA Run-Offs. To qualify a driver must finish in the top ten in class points in their division, start a minimum of four National races, and be classified a finisher in at least three of those races. With a win, a fourth, and a sixth in his initial three races Reed had enough points to easily finish in the top ten in points and the “three finishes” portion of the requirements was completed. Only the fourth “start” requirement remained. The Mid-Ohio National on Labor Day weekend was one of only two Nationals remaining on the 2003 schedule. The other was on the same weekend and located in Topeka. Since Mid-Ohio is 70 miles from home versus Heartland Park (Topeka) being 900 miles away, the choice of where to race was easy.
We arrived on Friday evening, registered, unloaded, and went through tech. Sandi was also working at Registration during the evening. On Saturday we had two sessions on track. There was a large field of T-1 cars since the Run-Offs were to be held at the same track and a lot of the “heavy-hitters” were getting some extra track time in order to practice and improve their set-ups.
Since this was Reed’s first time at Mid-Ohio with the Corvette we didn’t know what to expect as far as lap times were concerned. We had found all the times from the previous year’s Run-Offs and were using them as a yardstick. Our first session times would have put us in the top ten on last year’s grid, so we were happy with the initial laps. When the day was over, Reed had qualified fifth in T-1and seventh overall. Row three, located directly in front of him was filled with the top two qualifiers in the American Sedan class. This was the first time an AS car had out-qualified Reed, but the two cars were both being driven by National Champions.
Apparently these AS drivers did not want to wait for the Run-Offs to settle the question as to who was the best in class. They banged into each other immediately after we received the green flag. For this race we started on the pit straight and as we approached the first turn braking zone the two AS cars started fighting over the same piece of pavement. Reed and several of the other T-1 cars were battling each other while dodging these “bumper cars”. After the initial action the race settled down to four T-1 cars, the lead AS car (one of them did not survive the start), another T-1 car and Reed. As the race progressed Reed passed the AS car and caught one of the T-1 cars. They exchanged positions a couple of times before Reed established dominance. At the end of the race Reed was in fifth overall and in class.
were pleased with our progress over the weekend. During the previous three
races we had worked on getting used to the car. All of the basic set-up
items such as alignment and tire pressures were unchanged for those three
races. At Mid-Ohio we started to experiment. The changes we made after
the Saturday sessions resulted in over a second improvement in lap-times
on Sunday. Not only did our outlook for the Run-Offs improve, but the faster
laps meant we should never have to worry about AS drivers being in front
of us on a grid again.
The Run-Offs is definitely not a weekend affair. Officially it runs for seven days, from Monday to Sunday. In actuality, it runs much longer for many people. There is an entire week of practice sessions available prior to the official sessions. If a competitor lives on the west coast there is travel time to be considered. Many people dedicate two weeks to the event. If you lived out West you could be looking at close to a month if you did all your own towing and took advantage of all the extra track sessions. Our involvement lasted twelve days.
Sept 11 (Thursday)
Sandi had volunteered to work the morning session at registration. We used the trip as an opportunity to bring one of our Regional cars home. The way things work, you can pick your paddock space and set up for the Run-Offs if you compete at the SCCA Regional held two weeks prior to the event. There were several Kryderacing assisted competitors at the Regional and three of their cars were left behind with our enclosed trailers.
Sept 12 (Friday)
We joined with Bill Pintaric to rent a motor home for the week. Lodging in the Mid-Ohio area is at a premium and commuting one and a half hours (for Bill it was two and a half hours) each way every day gets boring. We picked up the motor home mid-afternoon and headed for the track. The trip was interesting since this particular motor home was large and the roads we traveled were narrow, twisty, and went through numerous small towns. One of the towns was having their annual fair in the downtown area and we were forced to detour through side streets. It took about half an hour to cover ten blocks. Sandi did all the motor home driving while Reed followed in the dually. When we finally arrived at the track the T1 class Corvette was waiting for us. The owner, David Pintaric, had taken the car to the Corvette factory for a special function. Sandi set up the motor home while Reed unloaded the Corvette. We stayed at the track that evening.
Sept 13 (Saturday)
Sandi worked at Registration in the morning while Reed handled technical inspection and arranging things around our paddock area. Reed also arranged for the mounting of dry and rain sets of Goodyear Eagle’s. We took another Regional car home that evening and slept in our own beds.
Sept 14 (Sunday)
We were up early and Sandi was back at morning Registration for her final volunteer day. Bill Pintaric’s GT-4 class Datsun 510 arrived and Bill handled the tech activities. A set of new rain tires were mounted and numerous other details were handled during the day. We had been at Mid-Ohio four days and had yet to drive on the track. We towed the remaining Regional car home that evening and slept in our own bed for the last time until the Run-Offs were completed.
Sept 15 (Monday)
Finally we got on the race track. Each day during the week there is a 20-minute session for each class. Usually you are combined with another class, but one day during the week you run with just your class. The T1 class was combined with T2 for Reed’s Monday session. The T1 class was almost entirely Corvette while T2 has a little more variety (Camaro‘s, Nissan 350Z‘s, Porsche Boxter‘s, etc). The session was black-flagged on the second lap for a car stuck in the first turn’s gravel trap. We had been told in the driver’s meeting that because of the very full daily schedule the 20-minute clock for any session would continue to run even if the session was stopped for an incident like this one. Reed was one of three cars pulled over by the officials when he pitted. Seems all three of them missed the black flag. The three were all together on the track and probably were the first three to get the flag. We wonder if the flag wasn’t totally out at the time they went by. When the session restarted, Reed was near the end on the line of cars. By the time the initial cars out on track completed their first lap the checker flag was out. Reed turned the seventh quickest time but due to the short periods actually spent on track, none of the times were indicative of what was possible.
Bill’s GT4 session was combined with the GT5 cars. It rained shortly before his session. Bill has many laps on this track in the rain and he could have sat out the session, but the engine had been freshly rebuilt and the new rain tires needed to be checked.
Bill ran the session and everything checked out okay.
A couple of additional items. First, the track was slightly different from the configuration we have used in the past. In the keyhole area, we historically have used the twisty portion. Years ago Mid-Ohio installed a straight piece of pavement which bypasses the twists. The idea is to create another passing zone. This year’s Run-Off’s used this newer lay-out. It accomplishes its objective, but isn’t as much of a challenge to the drivers. Many of the spectators we talked with in the keyhole also preferred the older layout.
The other item of interest on Monday was the evening party. Richland County loves having all of the competitors in their county and they show their appreciation by having a gigantic cook-out at the fairgrounds. Everyone (drivers, crews, workers) are invited and the food is spectacular in both quantity and quality.
Sept 16 (Tuesday)
Bill was able to run on a dry track on Tuesday. This was the first day of qualifying (Monday was considered practice). Our original plan was to run old tires on Bill on Monday and switch to a new compound and size for him on Tuesday since this session was his only solo session (no GT5 cars). Monday’s rain ruined those plans and Bill was on the older tires for the session. The good news was he was faster than in the past, even when the track reconfiguration was considered. Reed’s session was T1 and T2 combined. This time the entire 20-minutes was spent on the track. No black flags were displayed. Reed finished ninth in class. But Reed was once again pulled over by the officials, this time for undersize numbers on the front of the car.
Sept 17 (Wednesday)
Reed’s was out early on Wednesday and no T2 cars were on the track with T1. Reed had a new set of tires on and was a second faster than Tuesday. Unfortunately, everyone else was quicker than Tuesday and Reed dropped to 11th on the grid. Bill tried the new tires and also improved his times, but he was mired far in the back of his class. His old Datsun 510 runs very well but this “tub” car is no competition for the current “tube-frame” cars which dominate the class. That evening there was a “Competitors Dinner” at the track. It was relaxing, but we heard the food was a noticeable step down from past feasts.
Sept 18 (Thursday)
Thursday was the last chance to qualify. Bill improved his times, but not his position. Reed slowed but held onto his qualifying position. Actually, none of the top fifteen T1 cars improved their times and Reed’s was one of the smaller drops. That evening the Nissan dinner was held at the track and the Mazda dinner off-track. Reed, Sandi, and Bill went to the Nissan affair. The food was a big improvement over the previous evening. Both Matt Miller and Matt Carson went to the Mazda dinner and reported a good time.
Sept 19 (Friday)
On Friday the races started. Each of the next three days would see eight classes run their own races. There are ten-minute warm-up sessions early in the morning. The GT4 race was mid-afternoon and Bill was pumped. Even though he was back in the pack, this race is known for lots of attrition. Unfortunately, Bill was part of the attrition this year. Shortly after the race started he was hit by another competitor. He continued but radioed he had a vibration. A short stop in the pits revealed a toe-in problem due to a bent tie-rod but no other damage. Bill returned to the track and soldiered on to the finish. He wasn’t too happy and no one faulted him for his feelings.
Sept 20 (Saturday)
All week Matt Miller and Matt Carson had been tweaking both cars. Between Thursday’s T1 qualifying session and Saturday’s warm-up a couple of suspension adjustments had been done to the Corvette. Reed was first in line for the warm-up because he wanted to have a chance to test the changes without traffic interference in the short session. The first lap was slow due to the cold weather and track. The second and third laps went quicker but in both cases Reed wasn’t trying to set any speed records. The shock was the third lap time. It was close to a half a second faster than his qualifying lap. Reed walked around with a big grin on his face the rest of the morning. He had no doubt he could compete with the fastest cars in the field.
The T1 race was the first event after the lunch break. Reed’s start was a good one and he was battling for eighth as the field went through the second turn. What happened next is open to discussion, but as Reed told the officials (yes he was pulled over a third time) the car on the inside of him moved over and knocked him off of the track. He then spun back across the track in the middle of traffic and ended up sitting in the grass with a flat tire. After the field passed he got going, but a couple of turns later the flat, and flapping, tire locked up the steering and caused another off-course trip. This time the back of the car was stuck in a gravel trap. Quick work by the great SCCA corner workers got him going again. By the time he reached the pits, changed two tires, and returned to the track he was almost three laps down. The car also handled funny. Reed now had his own bent tie-rod. I think we finished 18th. Everyone was very upset. The way the race went there was little doubt Reed would have been on the podium.
Sept 21 (Sunday)
Sunday was a time to relax. One of the wonderful things about the Run-Offs is visiting with friends. Rod Whelan dropped by for Reed’s race, Dave Deen was up from Florida for several days, Tim Walton and his son were at the track (thanks to Tim for letting the crew use your motor home), the Schauer’s were providing a campfire for evenings, and numerous other friends stopped by to visit.
One of the Sunday races of great interest to Kryderacing was E-Production. Gary Martz’s Mazda RX7 was the third car at the event displaying a big Kryderacing logo across the hood. After Bill was hit on the right side and Reed was slammed on the left side, Gary considered removing the decal. Maybe he should have. Gary’s week at the Run-Offs had been typical of past years. This class is very competitive and so is Gary. He usually is trying new things and is constantly changing and adjusting. All of this activity sometimes adversely affects his qualifying times, but by race time he is ready and usually buts on a good show.
But this year the engine failed early in the race. In the past Kryderacing has had exceptionally good Run-Offs experiences, including a win. But 2003 was not our year.
One last Sunday item. While walking around the paddock on Sunday Reed and Sandi found a couple of used cars for sale. One of them was the winner in GT4. We talked with the owner and then called Bill Pintaric. A few days and several calls later Bill bought the car. Next year already is looking a lot better.
Sept 22 (Monday)
Monday was spent unpacking and returning the motor home. We also had planned on picking up one of the trailers we had left at the track, but heavy rains delayed that trip until Wednesday.
A lot of people contributed to our efforts at the Run-Offs but one person in particular needs a special thank you. The offer from David Pintaric to use his newly purchased T1 Corvette was greatly appreciated. The car is an outstanding one and next year will be David’s opportunity to experience the joy of racing it and the trip to the Run-Offs.
All 24 of the races will be telecast on Speed. Each is an hour program. Because of our difficulties we don‘t know how much, if any, airtime we might receive. The times for our events are: T1 - Sunday November 30 at 2:00pm. GT4 - Sunday November 23 at 2:00pm. EP - Saturday December 13 at 2:00pm