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Author Topic: Great Lakes Race of Champions Hoosier Super Tour, June 1 -3  (Read 401 times)
Rich Grunenwald
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Stirring the pot...


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« on: June 04, 2018, 11:04:15 AM »

We've had a busy spring, with all sorts of business and personal stuff going on.  Original plans were to hit the Super Tour at VIR in April, but it was not to be with other things happening, unless I wanted to thrash into the late nights to get the car ready.  And, personally, I am done with thrashing!

For 2018, we got a few competition breaks for the Mustang in the form of a bigger restrictor (55mm new plate vs. 50 mm old plate), suspension (allowances on springs, shocks, and bars), and minimum weight (3325 lbs. vs 3375 lbs.). I took 50 lbs out of the car, and had Backstreet Performance in Medina do the new restrictor and tune, plus some exhaust work, and picked up HP and torque across the entire powerband. Nice.   But, I've not figured out what to do suspension-wise yet, so that's next.

Even without suspension work, I figured this would be a good year over year comparison as to the progress we've made, so I was really looking forward to improvement as well as judging the gap to the leaders.

We decided the MidOhio Super Tour would be our first race, and got up to the track around 3p on Thursday to get a good paddock space where Stella could hang out in the grass and shade.  Our preferred spot was taken, but we were able to get The Greg Amy Memorial Paddock Spot in the grass and shade just below the upper paddock.



Talked to Dan Hardison and met Ken Hibbitt who was testing out his new (to him) ITA CRX.  Registration and tech was a breeze thanks to the great volunteers from OVR and other regions. Talked to Racer Phil a bit while changing my front sway bar setting. Quick dinner and back to the hotel (LaQuinta - decent lodging but lousy breakfast - all carbs) for the night.  

There was a lot of talk about rain during the weekend, but the weather was generally perfect.  Only one brief ran mid day on Sunday, and the rest of the weekend in the 70's and low 80's.  At the track for our first session Friday morning it was cool enough to warrant a light jacket.  Decided to go out on some well used Ho-Ho's and used front pads since it was my first time in the car this year and I wouldn't be pushing it.  I am always a little anxious the first time out during the year, as I don't completely trust my personal wrenching ability!    

Our practice session was uneventful.  Track was a bit slick but weather was very good - sunny, breezy, 70's.  The session went fine, but I was slower than anticipated in the low 1:49's (I ran 1:47's last year). The car was good, no bad habits, and I was happy that it all went smooth though I was admittedly conservative.  There were 7 cars in my class, including three yellow Mustangs (me, Matt Murray, and John Heinricy) with Heinricy as the fastest Mustang at a low 1:46. Indy's Richard Dickey (RX8) was second in the low 1:45's.  OVR's James Coughlin (Civic Si) was in there at a low 1:46 also.  However, Wagner crashed fairly hard into the tire wall outside the carousel just past pit in, tearing up the driver's side and losing a wheel.

We all got called to impound at the end of the session for the lecture about 115% rule, "any contact, see a steward", and how the "Hoosier Super Tour represents the best in SCCA racers so act like it".  Of course, I questioned what I was doing there, but then again, it may be a low bar to jump. After impound, I headed back to the paddock for lunch, and to check over the car.  

For Friday afternoon in Q1, I was looking at stepping up the pace a bit. The brakes on the Mustang are not confidence inspiring due to the long pedal travel, so putting on fresh front pads helps the feel and confidence.  Went out on the old tires again - at least 10 heat cycles by this time - and did a new personal best (1:46.4) which I was very pleased with. But, everyone else got faster, so I was qualified fifth at that point.  

Back at paddock, checked the car over and swapped the fresher tires on to prep for Q2 on Saturday.  The region put on a very nice party with a Mexican theme, serving appetizers, Margarita's, and beer.  We visited for awhile and took Stella to the hotel.  Kathy and I went to the Black Dog Tavern, a restaurant at a golf course nearby, and it was excellent. Ihad some sort of sweet and spicy steak and pasta. It was good, but the steak was a bit too heavily marinated for me.  Kathy had a Reuben, and said it was about the best Reuben she ever had. They even had live entertainment which we enjoyed.

Saturday morning at the track by 9a for Q2 scheduled at 11a.  For this session, we decided I would do four or five laps, come in to the pits, so Kathy could let me know my times, then go out again.  This worked great as I had good track (only 27 cars in my group), and it gave a chance to cool the tires.  The first flying lap after checking with Kathy was my best ever, a 1:45.5, and then I ran into some traffic.  This placed me 5th on the T4 grid, and 24th or so overall.

A quick check over the car back at the paddock, lunch, and then rest up for the race at 4p. Matt Downing stopped by and wished us luck, and said the car looked good out there. Much appreciated. We went and watched the Spec Miata race from Madness and it was a good one.  The two leaders who raced hard and clean the whole race got into each other at the end of the straight, handing the win to the gent in third.  

Things were running a little late, and I think our race started at 4:30p. The fast cars in our group were STU and STL cars in the 1:36 to 1:38 range.   We got a good clean start, even though I bobbled a shift.  First few laps were clean and solid as the T4 field (all at the back of the grid) spread out. I maintained 5th, with Wagner and Heinricy duking it out up front, Dickey patiently in third waiting for them to err, and then Coughlin and me.  Matt Murray was about half the back straight behind me so I figured that I'd end up there in 5th.

However, around lap 8 or 9, the tires started to go away, and it was particularly noticeable in the Carousel and Keyhole.  I couldn't get around either to save my life, and Matt started to close in.  He passed me around lap 12, and I tried to keep up but couldn't.  So, finished in 6th.  



Photo courtesy of Carol Burger.

In impound, one of the OVR folks (Deb Hamilton or Susan Downs, I think) gave me a cold water and wet towel to cool down. Much appreciated. I talked to Matt about racing with him and what happened.  Checking lap times, he didn't get faster; I got slower. Pressures?  Sway bar settings? Over driving?  Wagner  ended up winning, but there was some sort of incident that caused Heinricy to go off, and so Dickey slipped into third, with Coughlin 4th.

Back at the paddock, cleaned up a bit and  went to the OVR party for awhile.  Had a few beers, visited with a bunch of folks, and headed to Buck's for dinner.  Gotta hit Buck's when in Lexington.  Kathy had a Philly Steak Sandwich, and I had the ribs - sweet barbecue sauce (probably Sweet Baby Ray's), but very meaty, so I was happy. We both had leftovers for the next day. Back to the hotel to check weather radar and for a good night sleep.

Sunday started mostly cloudy with threat of rain mid-day, and didn't disappoint.  We went to watch the Group 3 race (faster open wheel and sports racers) as our friend Clemens Burger was in it.  The race began dry, but early on the clouds got heavier, and the rain came down around lap 12.  We were watching from Turn 1, and one by one cars started spinning off the turn as the rain came down.   This turned out to be good fortune for Clemens who had been running 6th in FE as it enabled him to move all the way up to the podium and finish 3rd!  The checker was thrown early, and we headed back to the paddock under our awning while it really poured.  



So, then the question became "Dry's or Rain's"? We set the rains out and had the jack and impact positioned for a quick change if needed. The plan was to go ahead and put on the drivers suit and such, and then make a decision early in the Group 6 race whether to swap for rains.  But, we got lucky and the sun came out mid way through the Group 5 race, and the weather radar looked clear, so we were good to go.

Our neighbor's showed up for the race with their kids which was great.  Their first time to MidOhio and they really seemed to enjoy it. Hopefully it made an impression on one of the kids and we see them behind the wheel someday!

We were gridded 24th again, 5th in class, on the strength of Saturday qualifying.  On False Grid, I went back to wish fellow Mustang driver Matt Murray good luck, and he told me he didn't think he had enough gas to finish the race.  Turns out the pumps weren't working when he stopped by, so I told his crew guy to head back to my paddock and take what I had left.  This would play out later.

The start was about the same as Saturday.  Good, clean, pulled out from Matt.  First 8 or 9 laps were uneventful, then the tires started to go away.  Again, a half of a straight in front of Matt and he started to pull in.  Passed me on lap 12 or so.  Then, the fast cars in the field were catching up to lap me.  



Headed under the bridge before Thunder Valley, a train of STU and T2 cars were coming so I hugged the left to give them space. Stupid me, this put me on the wrong line for the braking zone before Thunder Valley, and sent me right to the gravel pit.  Made it through into the grass but almost hit the tire wall.  Re-entered the track another 45 seconds down.  Arrgh!  The next lap back on track, I see Matt's Mustang parked outside the chicane by the keyhole, out of gas.

The rest of the race was uneventful.  The T4 leaders, Wagner and Heinricy, came by to lap me around lap 18 or 19.  Nothing like being lapped by the SAME CAR YOU ARE DRIVING. But it was good to follow him for awhile to see what he was doing.  Checkers came a couple laps later, and we all went to impound again for trophies, waters, and cool towels.  

SUMMARY:

Many thoughts and notes from the weekend.

  • Any weekend you don't wrench on the car and don't have incidents is a good one. No new marks on the car, or any mechanical things I can see.  But, I have to say I was disappointed. Though I turned my fastest laps, I was quite frustrated by the handling challenges.  These could be setup or driver induced (tire management), and are quite likely a bit of both.  I can be a bit of a heathen behind the wheel at times, and I notice the faster I try and go, the more abusive I am with the car.  So, some work to do there.

  • Unfortunately, things did not go as well for everyone.  There was a promise of an epic battle in STL with very likely the three fastest drivers - all OVR members - in the field.  Eric Kutil in his new HPD Civic Si (8th Gen K20), Tom O'Gorman in Eric's EG  Civic hatch (B18C5), and Adam Roberts in his EF CRX (B16).  Adam won the Runoffs last year, Eric was runner up in his EG, and Tom is, well, just Tom.  But the racing gods did not smile on Eric as his motor blew in a big way during Friday practice, putting a big hole in the block.  Adam had his share of misfortune on Saturday...

  • So, how did the STL battle between Adam and Tom go?  You can read about it on social media and the interwebz, and I believe video was posted.  On the Saturday race, Adam and Tom were side by side Lap 1 entering the chicane, with Adam to the left and Tom to the right.  Generally not a place where two cars share very well. Whether they touched, I am not sure, but Adam went in strong (euphemism for "hot") and pushed slightly in the left hander which caused Tom to go off track to save the car (Eric's car). A racing incident. So, Adam won on Saturday and Tom came from way back to finish second. BUT, Adam's motor expired by the end of the race, so there was no chance for a rematch on Sunday. Adam came up to Tom to talk to him in impound, and they had a gentlemanly conversation as both are looking for a rematch.

  • Ohio Valley Region did a great job hosting the event.  While I am sure there was drama behind the scenes, from this competitor's perspective, it all went well. Registration was a breeze, the only delays were due to on track incidents, and the parties were good. Another great event.

Kathy and I want to thank all the folks that made things a little easier for us.  Orgainzers, friends, fellow racers. Even the Gate Guy who gave Stella some Milk Bones every time we entered.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2018, 03:12:52 PM by Rich Grunenwald » Logged

I have two big heavy 'Murican race cars. Must be an old guy thing.
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