Things keep improving. In the past we have helped several clients at the SCCA National Championship (known as the Run-Offs). The was the second year for the event in Topeka, Kansa on Heartland Park Raceway. There were a couple of changes made to the track from 2006, both of which received favorable comments from just about everyone. The weather was also a great improvement over 2006.
We were helping six competitors this year, four of them with complete support and two with partial assistance. In the previous Kryderacing Newsletter I mentioned the omission of all six of these competitors from “SportsCar” magazines “Who Will Win” picks. We didn’t win any, but we sure were competitive. Read on.
Buttermore - T1 Corvette
John qualified second and finished second driving his family’s C6 Corvette. John was competitive all week. At the start of the race there was a three-car breakaway from the rest of the field. John was never able to seriously challenge for the lead, but after the third place car dropped out with ABS problems, he never saw another challenger in his mirrors. His second place was well deserved after a very good season. Kryderacing mechanic Matt Carson worked closely with John on both his cars throughout the week.
Pintaric - GTL Nissan
Bill qualified fifth and finished fifth driving his tube-frame Nissan 200SX. Last year Bill finished fifth (in the rain) and was happy with it. This year was a different story. Monday was the first day of qualifying and Bill positioned the car fourth on the grid. Unfortunately the engine was slowly developing a cracked cylinder wall. Bill pitted after only a few laps with the car running on only three of four cylinders. The engine could not be repaired at the track and we had to resort to the back-up engine. The back-up is thought to be 1-2 seconds a lap slower at Heartland than the prime engine. Through three more qualifying sessions Bill never equaled the lap he turned in that first session with the prime engine. We also chased a handling problem which turned out to be shocks. Seems matched adjustment settings don’t always give matching shock damping. Joe Stimola tested and adjusted the shocks to make the sides match. New ones will be installed in the Winter. Bill ran a great race to finish fifth, but everyone felt he would have been challenging for a podium spot, if not the win, if the prime engine had been in the car. Kryderacing’s Matt Miller spearheaded the work on Bill’s car.
Buttermore - T2 Cadillac CTS-V
John qualified sixth and finished sixth driving his family’s Cadillac. This race was a little bit tougher than the T-1 race had been in his Corvette. First of all, the top three qualifiers were all Solstice's, and they were the car to have if you wanted to win (they finished first, second, third). John faded to ninth early in the race but regained sixth by the finish. As with the Corvette, Matt Carson wrenched the Cadillac for John.
Pintaric - T1 Viper
David qualified sixth in the highly competitive T1 race. Unfortunately, he and another car tried to share the same space partway through the race. The pitstop to check the damage dropped him a lap behind the leader. Prior to then, he looked as if he was going to have a great race. He had moved to fourth early in the race. At one point he was ahead of the eventual third place finisher. Jerry Palmer was the Kryderacing mechanic helping David with the Viper.
Martz - EP Mazda RX7
Gary qualified 22nd and finished 13th in his Mazda. This was Gary’s first competition at Heartland Park and he, like many others, struggled learning the track. Matt Miller discovered an alignment problem and a cracked exhaust flange shortly before the race. Gary’s charge through the field was one position short of earning him the Hard Charger award.
Rob Piekarcyzk - T3 Mazda RX8
Rob qualified 21st and everyone was looking forward to a repeat of last year when he moved through the field and collected the Hard Charger award. Unfortunately Rob didn’t feel comfortable with his wet tires in the rain and he “survived” for a finish.
Huffmaster - T3 Mazda RX8
Rob qualified third and WON T3 in his Mazda. Kryderacing had nothing to do with it. So why mention it here? Because earlier this year we started discussions with Huffmaster’s (father and son) regarding Kryderacing trackside services for their 2008 programs. During the week of the Run-Offs we reached agreements to work with them at amateur events in 2008. The agreements stayed in placed after the win, but the confusion of what to run may have increased. Rob is now in contention for the Mazda MX5 Cup car and pro series support/sponsorship awarded one Mazda driver each year.
I don’t know the dates yet, but probably sometime in mid-November the Speed TV coverage of the Run-Offs will begin. Check out these races if you get a chance. They are some of the best races you will ever see.
VIR - KONI SERIES
On the weekend prior to the official start of the Run-Offs Matt Carson and Reed traveled to Virginia International Raceway to assist Phoenix Promotions with the running of their Team Sahlen Mazda RX8 in the Street Tuner class six-hour event. Reed and Matt were joined by five “race mechanics in training” from the University of Northwestern Ohio. RJ LeClair and Jordan Perez already had some experience with Team Sahlen, but Justin Longacre, Justin Putnam, and Danny Hitchcock were rookies. John Schmitt and Troy Miller were also regular Team Sahlen team members in attendance. The overall race experience of the crew was minimal. What happened during Friday and Saturday turned everyone into “old pros“.
Reed had never seen this car prior to arriving at the track. Matt had slightly more experience with it, having seen it at the Phoenix shop facility prior to loading. SpeedSource had delivered and maintained the car at the previous race. Up until that point Will Nonnamaker and Joe Sahlen had campaigned a Dodge Neon SRT4. The Dodge was sold and the RX8 bought with idea of running it in the 2008 season.
Will did some testing of the car on Thursday to make sure everything was okay. Friday was the start of official testing and everything went okay for about twenty laps. Then a seal or bearing on the engine started leaking oil into the combustion chambers. The engine wasn’t destroyed, but it was done for the weekend.
The rookie crew had been told early Friday we didn’t expect them to be experts or fast at what they did, but we did expect them to be thorough. One example was: an 80% grade might be passing on a school test, but tightening only 4 of 5 lug nuts would not be okay. After Troy had found another engine locally, the question put forth to the crew was “do you want to attempt an engine change on a car which is totally new to you?” They all glanced at each other before saying yes. During the next several hours they swapped engines. The “ be thorough” talk must have had an affect because the freshly installed engine started on the first attempt. We even made it back out on the track for a few laps at the end of the day. It was an impressive effort.
On Saturday the car qualified 30th in the large ST class. Joe Sahlen started the race and was working his way through the field. A couple of full course cautions helped move us further up the standings. At one point after Will returned to driving we found ourselves cracking into the top ten. Shortly after the three hour mark Joe was back in the car and we were actually the front running of three SpeedSource (the other two were still running under SpeedSource supervision) cars. But then we got hit in the left rear. The damage was repairable, but would take a considerable amount of time. This, combined with a transmission starting to have shifting problems, lead to the decision to retire the car. By now the crew was really into working on the car and I think most of them would have preferred repairing and returning to competition, even if it was for the last lap or two. But their efforts will probably get them more chances in the future. They not only were thorough, they performed like a team. The pitstops looked as if they had done them many times before.
Next stop for the Koni Mazda RX8 will be Daytona in 2008.
Next up on the Kryderacing calendar are two weekends of racing to complete the 2007 Kryderacing Regional Championship Series at Nelson Ledges, the Kryderacing Series Banquet, trips to the SEMA and PRI Shows, a fun-day program at the “Streets of Willow”, and getting prepared for the 2008 season.
www.kryderacing.com for weekly updates.