This weekend was the annual “Dream Machines” show at the Half Moon Bay airport. It’s kind of a ‘planes, trains, and automobiles’ type of gathering, with everything from WWII fighters and bombers, hot rods and muscle cars, steam powered machinery, bicycles, live music, unicycle racing (no, the ones with motors), monster truck rides, a Hell’s Angels t-shirt booth (really), basically just a gearhead’s paradise!
Archives for April 2012
Every racer needs a transponder to compete on the track these days, and AMB seems to be the transponder of choice by most organizations. Problem is, they aren’t cheap! The $450 expense is equal to entry fees plus race gas for most weekends. So what are you gonna do when your rechargeable unit stops charging, or some race damage cracks your case? No reason to plunk down another $450 like the they’ll try to talk you into because nobody locally does repairs. A racing partner of mine has had good service from Transponder Services in Australia. His rechargeable unit’s battery died, and he had it replaced with a new one for about $100 including shipping. Give them a try and save some big bucks over a new one!
One of the great things about racing is that you learn something every time out. Sometimes you learn something about your car, like the chatter I was experincing in a high-speed corner got worst when I increased rebound dampening when I expected the opposite (the shocks were packing up, not pogo-ing). Sometimes you learn something about your fellow competitors, like this guy always get a great start but fades mid-race. Sometimes it’s about yourself, like how you react to the heat if you haven’t stayed hydrated, or how you get faster after you’ve been passed. And sometimes you learn something about the rules of racing when you thought you knew them well. This weekend I learned that you can pass (or get passed) under the ‘White Flag with Red Cross’. I had always thought of it like the Yellow Flag, ie no passing until passing the incident, but it is just an advisory flag unless a yellow flag is flown with it (as it often is). Some clubs will only fly the Emergency Vehicle flag at the start/finish station.
White Flag With A Red Stripe Or Cross – This is an advisory flag. The white and red flag means there is a vehicle (or vehicles) on the track at non-racing speed. This could be a slow moving race car or emergency equipment (ambulance or tow truck). Should a driver approach emergency equipment on track they will be advised by emergency personnel on how and where to proceed. This flag may also be displayed at start/finish to denote that emergency vehicles are on the course.
Seems like everyone has a camera these days 😉
Here’s a great opportunity to get some summer track time at Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway – Your Private Track Days still has some slots available for their event on Wednesday, June 20th. Most tracks are sweltering this time of year, but Laguna Seca is usually cool and foggy in the morning, and sunny and 70 degrees in the afternoon, can’t beat that! But do keep in mind that LSR’s midweek trackdays have a 90db restriction, most aftermarket exhausts will trip the sound meters, and if you get sent home there are no refunds, so be prepared. Phillip Holmes runs a friendly and professional club, so come on out and enjoy some laps.
This weekend we went to Willow Springs Int’l Raceway to race with VARA at their annual High Desert Challenge. My buddy Tim Arnett came along to play, and so did the Zephyrs! The winds blew 20 mph, gusting 30+ on Saturday, and 30, gusting 40+ all day Sunday. It made for some pretty interesting racing, as holding a tight line in a gusty crosswind is quite the challenge. On Sunday the outhouses were blowing over and the cornerworkers were wearing goggles! Every VARA event has a special Challenge Race and this weekend was the All Triumph race sponsored by Chequered Flag Racing and hosted by Kas Kastner, as well as the Saturday evening two-hour Twilight Enduro. Tim Arnett not only drove with me, but did the job as my guest writer. Here’s what he had to say…
“Just got back from a weekend of racing with my friend Troy and his Datsun 510 Station Wagon. I got to play crew, and even drive his timed practice session on Saturday morning. Fortunately I did not embarrass myself and put him in second place on the grid for his qualifying race. This was to be my practice session for the evening enduro two-hour race that I was invited to co-drive with him. Once a year this club runs an evening enduro as sort of a reward to members to get more track time at a great price. The event is supposed to go from 4:45 to 6:45 in the evening so you race into the sunset. Due to track incidents and other delays the start did not take place until about 5:15. So the race was going til 7:15. Sunset was at 7:05, so it would be dark but you should still be able to see.
“Troy decided to run the first session and have me close out the race. So we had the fuel set and ready to refill during the mandatory 10 min pit stop at which time we would do a driver change. Troy started in third place based on car classification. First and second were a couple of really beautiful and monsterfully fast Porsche 911RS and RSR’s from about ’73 or ’74. He had a great start and had three cars on his tail for about twenty minutes. Then he let a BMW go by that had been tailing him and he figured he would follow him for awhile as there was plenty of time to run. A Lotus 23 sports racer got thru too though when he let up, which he did not plan to let by. So after a lap or few he decided to try and retake the two cars that had gotten ahead of him. After a few laps he was back in second place as one of the Porsches went into the pits.
“At about the forty minute mark, one of the BMW drivers got a little zealous and tried to make an inside pass going into turn three, a tight left uphill turn. Unfortunately he locked the brakes and slid into the left rear of Troy’s car spinning them both around. Since this race organization does not allow contact the drivers have to report to the Black Flag station immediately. The black flag workers told Troy he had to put the car on the trailer and that he was done for that race for causing an incident. The reports from the corner workers were conflicting, with one saying Troy initiated the incident, and the other saying the BMW hit Troy. Troy pointed out the damage was to the rear of his car, and the front of the other car, so he should not be penalized. They sent him to the Chief Steward of the race, who at first said that he was done, but then there were those conflicting reports from the corner workers. Then the BMW driver came up and admitted he was at fault, so they told him that he was done, but his co-driver could continue on. They then told Troy he could go back out. Troy decided to add fuel, and put me in the car so he could calm down a bit. Sadly the mayhem and confusion cost us fifteen minutes in the pits so we were five minutes down to the mandatory 10 minute pit stop, and we would have to come in again for a few more gallons to finish out the race which would cost another five minutes or so as their rules are the Driver has to be out of the car for re-fueling.
“So our race strategy was now shot and I was pretty much just driving for fun, but figured I would try to do well anyways in case something happened on track to other cars. I was able to run about about one hour and twenty minutes, less the next pit stop. I stopped at the half way point time wise for fuel and to break up my drive. Once back on track the leader in the Porsche eventually caught me and then slowly pulled away building about a half lap lead. During my stint behind the wheel I lapped a Sports racer about four times, and another Porsche 911 and a 356 about five or six times. So I was thinking at least I was making up some of the laps lost in the pits which might help us move up the finishing order overall. Well at about 7:00 it was getting very dark as the sky was cloudy on top of the sun going down. Then by 7:05 it was raining up on the hill from turn two to turn six. I was thinking with 10 minutes to go maybe we would get lucky and they would just finish the race early as racing on slick tires in the rain is usually interesting to say the least. The white one-lap-to-go flag just did not come out… Then I noticed I was catching up to the 911, so I figured what the heck I would keep my pace up and hope to catch him just for the fun of it. Well the flag still did not come out, so I figured they were going to just run til the full two hours at 7:15. Without trying to go crazy, I just kept my pace and hoped to hunt down the leading 911. After a few more laps I managed to catch him at the entrance of turn two, a long 180 degree sweeping high speed turn.
“The big thrill of the weekend for me was that I managed to catch up to the leader, and then pass him around the outside of turn nine in the dark in the rain. Woo Hoo great fun!!! Well then the white flag still did not come out… So I just tried to keep the car on track to the end. Then the storm moved enough that we were getting rain in turn eight and nine at the other end of the track. Wow, it just keeps getting better and the race is not ending. There was a clock in the car I was watching and the race ran until 7:20 when they finally threw the checkered flag. Whew, I stayed on track and finished the race! On Sunday we picked up the results for the Enduro Race and we managed a class win and a fifth overall, so at least I worked my way back up to a respectable result with all the time lost in the pits.
“On Sunday morning we were busy going over the car and changed the seat to a smaller seat for Troy, did some suspension adjustments, changed tires, added oil, and inspected the car. Troy ran a morning practice, and around noon, started the final race in second place. He ran a nice clean race and finished first in class and second overall, which put him in the points lead for his class. He drove the car into the trailer, so nothing broke, the car ran great, and we had an amazing time, so a very successful weekend overall. Tim”