We lost a great champion today. Always a class act and represented the USA in international motorsports in a way rarely seen these days.
Raced with VARA at Buttonwillow Raceway in my Datsun this weekend, even got to have my brother along as crew. We had a great weekend, cool weather for May, good parties in the pits, the 710 running well. I started at the back of the pack for Sunday’s Flag race to have some fun with my mid-pack comrades as we didn’t have what it took to battle up front this weekend. Teams Rose and Blasko have really upped the ante in BS while I’ve been off racing my Van Diemen! About half way through the Sunday race, the throttle return spring on my rear carb broke and it jammed wide open, my day was done…
This weekend I raced in the Pacific F2000 series at Buttonwillow Raceway Park near Bakersfield, CA. This entry-level pro series was running with the Cal Club SCCA Hoosier Super Tour Majors event for races 5 and 6 of their twelve race season. For the first time in this series’ history they ran a separate “National” class (Pinto-powered) for early F2000/FC cars. We only had three early cars in attendance, but hope to have the class grow as racers find there is a competitive place to run their old FCs once again. While the National class guys are mostly privateers, the modern F2000 class seems to be dominated by national level drivers with full team support. These guys are serious: sticker tires everyday, mechanics, transporters, etc. Both fun and a little intimidating to race against them…
I’ve got all the big issues sorted out with my RF93, and was able to enjoy just racing as hard as I could this weekend. A fresh motor this winter, a fresh set-up and new tires this week, the right gearing, and a pit crew of one (me), it was now indeed ‘go time’. I enjoyed good dicing with some P2 and F2000 cars this weekend, and ran my best times ever on the CW25 full track configuration. I earned a Class win and took home my first cash winnings as a race car driver, who’d of thought I’d be going pro at 54 😉
One of the series I race in, TABS 2.5 West, has a great sponsor in ANPlumbing.com. Not only do they race with us, they supply the parts I need in a fairly priced and quickly shipped manner. Lots of good race car plumbing advice is just a call or an email away. I got a deal on a new set of AN wrenches from them, nice product at a great price.
VARA and SVRA co-hosted a great event at Willow Spring Raceway this weekend. We had 150 vintage car entries running in 7 Groups, and the Trans-Am West pro series ran with us as well. Good fun to see the giant tractor-trailers and pit carts these pro teams use. The weather cooperated with sunny skies, temps in the 50s-60s, and the usual spring winds.
I’m glad to report that my RF93 ran well and finished every session! After its frustrating start and a winter teardown, I was sure hoping for a good outing. I had the wrong gearing for Willow, I didn’t expect to run the speeds I was getting, so I was out of gear by T7 on the back straight and Start/Finish on the front straight, but she sure hauled the mail in the corners 😉 Since we basically just had to add fuel all weekend, we had time to enjoy doing the little things on the car. So now I’ve got some good data for gearing, ride height, tire pressures, etc.
This weekend was VARA’s 2017 season opener at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, NV. Wonderful facility, but we had lousy weather. Friday’s test day and Saturday’s practice/qualifiers saw lots of rain, wind, and even snow in the local foothills. Luckily Sunday’s races were dry and everyone finally got the chance to enjoy the 3.4 mile Mansell course. Our Club’s usual Pace Car driver is taking a temporary medical leave of absence (we wish him well), so I was drafted into service since my car is still in winter rehab. Driving the Pace/Safety Car was a busy task this weekend, and it was a tougher job to do well than I anticipated. I really appreciate all the help I received from my fellow club members during my rookie pacing weekend. Since I wasn’t wrenching and racing this weekend, I had some time to shoot a few pictures of Racing in the Rain.
In recognition of Formula Ford’s 50th Anniversary, VARA hosted a special FF race with more than twenty competitors. Watching these guys race in the rain sure made you realize how spirited this group really is.
For the 2017 season, all clubs have ended their temporary extension that allowed SA2005 helmets due to the lack of supply of SA2015 helmets. So now SA2010 or SA2015 helmets are required for competition. I’ve been shopping, and started out at my local retail shop, Wine Country Motorsports at Sonoma Raceway. They’re a great source for safety gear, i.e. helmets, seats, fire suits, gloves, as well as lots of other race merchandise, and a knowledgeable staff. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a helmet that fit my oval shaped head very well. I tried on everything from budget to high-end helmets – Racequip, Zamp, OMP, Sparco, Bell, Arai, even Stilo. The Arai and Stilo were the closest fit but still not quite right. So I contacted my favorite online retailer, Racer Parts Wholesale, and they recommended the Simpson and Impact helmet lines for an oval fit. I ordered a Simpson Speedway Shark and an Impact Vapor, both about $800. They both are geared towards open-wheel racing with a duckbill chin spoiler, lift-reducing ripples over the top, a narrow eye port, and various small air vents. They both fit very comfortably, no hot spots on my forehead and a supportive fit from my ears to my jawline. Visors were of excellent quality on both, with the Simpson having a better seal with the visor closed. The Simpson also had a slightly higher quality soft foam and liner material in it. The Impact definitely used a smaller and narrower shell for their Large helmet, it made it seem like the Simpson just used an XL shell and used more inner material to make it fit. The Impact came with a simple cloth drawstring bag while the Simpson came with a heavy-duty denier travel bag. And for the win, both the Impact and Simpson helmets are made in the USA.
The Impact Vapor fit me just a bit better, and I preferred the narrower shell for better ease of use within the driver compartment, so I ended up keeping the Impact. I’ll update after I have a chance to try it on the track. (Ed. update – great helmet.)