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Author Topic: VIR Goblins GO!...er, OVR Autumn Classic - October 13 & 14, 2008  (Read 724 times)
Rich Grunenwald
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« on: October 16, 2018, 07:36:17 PM »

Since we've not done a lot of racing this year, and plan on hitting the Runoffs at VIR in 2019, we were thinking about running the North Carolina "Goblins GO!" event at VIR.   When NCR member Steve Strickland organized a T4 invitational as part of the event, and attracted 12 entrants, we said "Hell yes!"

With that in mind, we decided to make the fall trip to Virginia International Raceway, about 20 minutes from Danville VA.  I was thinking about running the test day on Friday, but given it's the end of the year and this was going to be essentially a practice event, I figured saving the $350 test fee plus another $300 or so of expendables was probably a wise move.  I did spend a lot of time watching video and reading to get somewhat of an imprint of the track in my head.  
We decided to try out the Hoosier A7's this weekend vs. the R7's we've been running. Folks in lighter cars (ie, pretty much the rest of T4) run them with good results.  Discussion with a few folks that have tried them on heavy cars like mine reflect good results, so I figured what the heck.  

Thursday, October 11

Loaded up and got out of the 614 around 3p on Thursday, with plans of staying overnight somewhere and getting to the track around noon or so.  Smooth and easy travels through southeast Ohio into Kentucky and West Virginia.  We were made aware of a significant accident and road closure on I-77 south of Beckley WV but figured it would be cleared once we got that far.   However, it was MAJOR accident and 9 hours after it occured the freeway was still closed, routing traffic on to two lane roads, indicating a delay of an hour to an hour and a half.  Rather than suffer a delay, we decided to stop and stay in Beckley with plans to get up early and make the rest of the trip.

Friday, October 12

Had a nice overnight stay, and got up early Friday around 7a.  Checked online and info from VIR indicated the event might be cancelled.  The area had been soaked by a hurricane a few weeks ago (Emily?) and was again impacted by the recent Hurricane Michael.  The ground was already saturated and the waters just continued to rise.  At about 9:15a, they decided to cancel the event.   Photos show the Dan River encroaching sections of the track, and Steve Strickland told me turns 1, 2, and 17 were under water.  

So, what do we do?  Send a note to Race Registrar Peggy Dietz, and head north to MidOhio!

We drove straight through from Beckley, about 4.5 hours, and got to MidOhio around 3p.  Got paddocked in our usual spot in the middle paddock, and got things set up. Went to Tech and got another logbook (original was  filled up!) and went up to registration which was a breeze.  Had a couple beers, and headed to Buck's for dinner before turning in for the night. Kathy managed to get a room at the Travelodge near I-71, which was cheap and clean.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 08:33:09 PM by Rich Grunenwald » Logged

I have two big heavy 'Murican race cars. Must be an old guy thing.
Rich Grunenwald
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2018, 08:44:05 PM »

The following is from my feeble memory.  I don't have the grid / results sheets handy, and haven't looked at video yet.  Apologies for potential factual errors and omissions!

Saturday, October 13

The temps took a turn into the high 30's, and combined with rain overnight and wind, it was C-O-L-D (37 degrees) and damp when we got to the track at 7:30a.  We were in Group 3, scheduled to go out around 8:50 or so. Group 3 had about 41 entries, with The Northend Wrench Mustang in T4 with three other cars, along with ITA, ITB, ITC, IT7, B-Spec, and T3. ITA had a big field with 20 cars, including my old autocross nemesis Jeff Mabrey, and the former owner of my Mustang Greg Vandersluis, both in EF Civics.  Finally, all of us racing together!  I just wanted to stay close to them!

Qualifying

Got everything ready with the car, and got down to grid early, about third or fourth to go out.  This turned out to be a strategic move as there were ITC cars in front of me, and it enabled me to get out by myself and have clear track.  Though the track looked mostly dry, in fact it was slippery like I had never experienced when not raining.  The racing line was almost treacherous; the line for most turns was somewhere between the normal dry line and full rain line.  Most turns seemed to be good about 4 feet off the apex.  

The session went well for me, and I was surprised to see my car number at the top of the scoring pylon during the first half of the session.  However, by the end of the session, I had dropped to 4th overall, behind ITA Neon of John Rogers, and the ITA Civics of Greg and Jeff. OVR racer Matt Downing was just behind me.   Matt and I had similar times, and the others in front of me were about .5 to 2 seconds ahead.  

The car was actually really good during the session. Though the track was slippery, the A7's were the perfect tire for the condition, and the slides were predictable and controllable, along with brake modulation.  I was really happy to qualify where I did, and was looking forward for better conditions for the race.

Race

By race time rolled around about 2:00p, the skies were sunny and temps improved to around 48, so it was MUCH nicer!  Lined up  4th, outside row 2, with Greg in front of me, and Jeff to my left, with Matt behind me to the left.  It's nice gridding up front as it is a heck of a lot easier to see the flag!  Got a reasonable start but trapped behind Greg.  Followed into 1 where Greg and Jeff started to get away, and I believe Matt got by me by the carousel. I passed him back going down the back straight, and we all started to settle into a race pace.

Matt continued to dog me the next lap or so, while polesetter John Rogers, and Greg and Jeff pulled away a bit.  The Neon of John Rogers spun in the chicane entering the key hole, and then Greg and Jeff settled into their own race. Matt continued to dog me - typical IT vs. Touring scenario where the IT car is faster from 7 to Thunder Valley, and the Touring car can pull away on the straights.  Not sure what exactly happened, but Matt started to drop back and mid race the pink Miata of Charles Boehly started to get closer in my mirrors.  For the last 5 laps of the race, Charles and I diced with each other.  He would get close in the twisties and I would pull him in Thunder Valley, from the Carousel to the Keyhole, and then again down the back straight.  

Charles pulled a couple of aggressive braking moves into 7 to close in, and on the last lap, got beside me entering 7.  We were side by side up to the turn into Thunder Valley, where he had the edge and I relinquished the corner. Good clean racing; we talked after and relived those laps. Finished 4th overall, and 1st in T4 - pretty happy with that.



Got the car prepped for the Sunday morning qualifying race, and hung out with the OVR faithful at the party, swapping stories and sharing some beers.   All in all, a good day!
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 10:12:37 PM by Rich Grunenwald » Logged

I have two big heavy 'Murican race cars. Must be an old guy thing.
Rich Grunenwald
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« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2018, 09:15:51 PM »

Sunday, October 14

Slept well Saturday night, and got to the track a little before 8a.  Again, cold at 38 degrees, overcast, and windy.  However, it was NOT damp like it was on Saturday, so much better conditions.  Suited up, and headed to grid for the qualifying race.

Qualifying

Qualifying for the afternoon race was a 10 lap qualifying race, gridded according to where you finished Saturday's race.  So, we were again gridded outside Row 2, with ITA Civics of Greg Vandersluis and Jeff Mabrey on the front row, with the pink Miata of Charles Boehly to my left.  I can't remember who was behind me, and don't have the grid sheet handy!

Out for the pace lap, we could all tell the conditions were good, and we could push our cars.   I got a great start and had the right line into the keyhole, moving up to 2nd headed down the back straight.  



Greg had the best start of all and pulled out on the back straight. I was hoping Charles in the Miata would keep Jeff Mabrey occupied for a few laps so I could gap him adequately.  Managed to pull out a three or four second lead over Jeff, but he broke free of the Miata and started to track me down.





Mid way through lap 5, Jeff caught me and passed going into Madness.



He was clearly faster and so it didn't make much sense to race him harder.  I planned on settling in and working to finish in 3rd which I would have been delighted with.   However, it was not to be.

On lap 6, turning into 7 at the end of the straight, the rear stepped out, like the car was on ice.  A second later, I saw smoke coming from under the hood, indicating something was very wrong.  Pulled off the track to the left, and rode the top of the hill through 8, and pulled in to park it.  Jumped out to open the hood and coolant was all over - fortunately just coolant.

In the meantime, all hell broke loose behind me. Charles in the Miata and Matt Downing in his ITA Civic were racing each other, and hit my spillage, both spinning and narrowly missing each other.  Not sure who else might have spun but Steve Linn (red Sentra) and Tom Lamb (ITA CRX) both hit it, and went off into China Beach.  Tom went of sideways, and was lucky he didn't roll it.  

I feel terrible, being "that guy" and messing up the race for several of my pals.  Fortunately for everyone, nobody hit each other or anything, and nobody was hurt.



Got a rope tow back to the paddock (thanks workers!), and started assessing things.  It was clearly coolant, and the dipstick didn't indicate any change in oil level (or color).  So, obviously coolant came out.  But  from where?  Jacked up the car, started looking at things.  Cody Wollenslagel stopped by - I didn't recognize him as I hadn't seen him in maybe 10 years or so - and started looking at it with me.  Noticed the serpentine belt was loose, and ultimately we found the tensioner was bad.  Kathy found an Autozone with the part, and off to Mansfield we went! |

Got back to the paddock and installed the new tensioner, filled it with coolant, and brought it to temp. Everything looked good.  Revved it for 5 minutes or so, with no bad symptoms, so was optimistic we'd be good for the race.  OVR member Gordon Kinney stopped by, and we got caught up - it was good to see him.  We should expect to see him autocrossing a crazy 2006 Mustang next year in CAM - 600+ hp!

Relaxed for a little and got ready for the race.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 09:37:15 PM by Rich Grunenwald » Logged

I have two big heavy 'Murican race cars. Must be an old guy thing.
Rich Grunenwald
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2018, 10:02:21 PM »

RACE

For the race, the sun came out and the temps came up.  By 2p or so, it was about 57 degrees, 20 or so warmer than the morning session.  Why is this important?   Well, we'll find out shortly!

I was gridded in 38th, just in front of Steve Linn and Tom Lamb who had their qualifying ruined by my misfortune.  I was in front of them by the luck of retiring about 100 yards beyond where they were beached!   As I gridded, I said to Steve, "It seems so unjust, doesn't it?" In front of us where a gaggle of ITC, ITB, and assorted others.  OVR ITB Volvo driver Duane Ward gave me the tip that the field was notorious for not staying tight back in the pack, so assume green when you are exiting Thunder Valley.  

Heading out on the pace lap, I realized we didn't reset the tire pressures.  This meant that the A7's - sensitive to overheating to begin with - were likely starting the race at least 5 lbs higher than they should.  It also meant they would start to fall off after 8 or 9 laps.  Stupid me - in the hustle of fixing the cooling issue, I didn't follow my check list.

This turned out to be great advice as I looked at the flag stand as soon as it became visible and saw the green come out.  I got  a good jump and pass four or five cars before the start, and another four or five going up to the keyhole.  Steve followed me through the mayhem and by the end of Lap 1, I am pretty sure we both moved up at least 12 spots.  From there, it was continuing to pick off cars.  Great fun, and by Lap 4, I was P2 in T4.  

I figured I wouldn't close on Matt Miller's Mustang in my class as I had qualified 9th, and was close to my times.  But, I had him in my sights by lap 7, and figured something must have happened at the start.  Well, apparently something did as Matt Downing's  ITA Civic had a big chunk of plastic hanging off the back, dragging it down the track with him. Raced with Miller a lap  or so, and got by him. Up to P1 in T4!  Steve Linn followed me, and we were close to Downing.  



Steve got by me later the lap in the above photo, and then passed Downing under braking into 7, only to spin off a the exit.  Downing was  a little faster than me at this point, and started to pull away.  I could also feel the car sliding more, and was my tires started to feel slippery.

The last three laps were tense.  Lap 10, Matt Miller was clearly closing in on me, gaining as I exited the carousel.  Lap 11  he closed the gap some more, and I was happy to see the white flag at the beginning of Lap 12.  However, by now, he was only a few car lengths behind, and I knew would get me if I didn't protect.  

We were running the Pro Course for this race, and I decided to take a defensive line into the keyhole to prevent Matt from getting under me while braking.  This turned out to be the wrong move as I had no exit speed due to my tight line, and he was able to exit the keyhole virtually side by side to me.   We went down the straight together, through Madness and up to the entrance to Thunder Valley.  At that point, he had maybe a half of fender on me, and was on the inside to enter Thunder Valley.  He did a good job of blocking my entry to the turn, killing my speed, and pulled away, winning by a car length.

Ouch. Nothing like losing on the last lap.   But congrats to Matt for smart driving.
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Rich Grunenwald
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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2018, 10:10:58 PM »

Epilogue

I haven't watched the in car video yet, so there may be some discrepancies in the above account. But, it makes a decent story.

Losing on Sunday the way I did sucks, and it's my own fault. Lots of things going through my mind:

  • Maybe tensioners are a maintenance item, and should be replaced annually.
  • Why didn't I follow the checklist?
  • Maybe I should not have been as defensive entering the keyhole, and therefore had gotten a better exit.
  • Perhaps I could have set up differently entering Thunder Valley, and gotten inside of him through the turn

No matter.  The weekend was loads of fun. OVR put on a great event as usual, and we had a bunch of fun with folks. 

See you all next year!
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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2018, 09:05:41 AM »

quite the series of events, first getting all the way to vir and then just coming back home!
glad the car issues with coolant weren't detrimental to you or anyone else!
and sounds like a very fun finish for you

thanks for sharing Rich!
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Rich Grunenwald
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« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2018, 12:03:59 PM »

quite the series of events, first getting all the way to vir and then just coming back home!
glad the car issues with coolant weren't detrimental to you or anyone else!
and sounds like a very fun finish for you

thanks for sharing Rich!
Thanks. 

Actually, we didn't get all the way there.  We got to Beckley WV - about half way - and then checked social media Friday morning to find out conditions didn't look good.  I texted the Registrar who confirmed activities were cancelled. There were some photos floating (no pun) around showing the flooding.

These were before the Dan River crested, taken Friday. 


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