Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
definitely the best weekend ever at VIR; by far the nicest weather i can remember — not too hot, no real rain, not too sunny, not too cold. just right for the racecars and just right for the humans, too!!!! i made alot of changes to the old Probenstien the week prior to this VIR race; i changed the ride height, the camber, and the toe. i built a custom ‘ReidSpeed’ cold air intake system and changed to a much colder range sparkplug. after loading up the car, i said a prayer and hoped the changes would help and not hurt…. i had a pair of clients to coach on friday, and i never drove it any further than out of the trailer and into it’s paddock space (boy i wanted to take it out for 10 mins and see if it was going to GO !!).
saturday dawned very overcast and with a bit of sprinkley rain during our qualifying session (which was the qualifying to count for all three races). i almost put on my rains, but decided to stick with the RA-1s. i was second in line behind wade (who told me just to go around him immediately — thanks wade! ). i took off at the drop of the green and scott followed along with me; i laid down 2 laps and it started to sprinkle harder; i was watching in my rear view, and i thought that perhaps i’d been a touch faster than scott (if i was, it wasn’t by a whole lot, though). i decided to save my brakepads and tires and came in on the third lap — of course it stopped raining immediately, and i was worried to death back in my paddock spot as i watched everyone circulate around (it was a 20 min qualifying instead of the usual 15 mins). i was hoping that it wouldn’t dry up very much!!!! as it turned out, i qualified first in PTE, second overall behind a very well driven, fast sports racer (peter krause). wade was right behind me (.2 behind, i think, and scott was right behind him, .1 slower. harper was a couple secs back, but he’d been bedding in tires and brakes, i believe).
by race #1 time, it was totally dry and the track was good. so, i was on the front row, on the outside next to the sports racer. scott and wade were right behind me in the 2nd row. i got a good start, and the sports racer flew away (he was about 15 secs a lap faster than us!). i slotted into first in PTE and scott was right behind me. we battled for a few laps, and then scott started to slip back (he was on older hoosiers for race #1). i gapped out a fairly comfortable margin, and the race ended with me in first place — turned a best lap (and a new record) of 2:17.8. 2nd was scott, 3rd was wade, and 4th was harper. here’s the race video (not particularly super interesting: http://www.vimeo.com/7023109
(BTW, i was an idiot and never checked the ‘zoom setting’ all weekend on the vid camera; it is about half way zoomed in, so you can’t see much of the interior of the car, and the outside view is constricted somewhat)
the starting grid for race #2 was identical; pretty much got the same start, and it was me, scott, and wade and harper as the front running PTE’ers. this time, though, scott had installed his new hoosiers, and was ready to go! he got a good run on me on the first lap coming out of oak tree, and slowly inched past me up the hill on the back straight. we both braked late, but he had the edge and i left room and he slipped by me at the top. i followed him CLOSELY (lol) into hog pen and got a pretty good exit; then caught a draft and drove by on the outside. i outbroke him a bit, and stayed on the ‘rimshot’ for T1/T2. i had the line for T3 and he had to submit. from there we battled a bit, but my RA-1s had come in and i started to pull away little by little. eventually i had a nice lead (and i think scott’s axle started fail, too; i can’t remember if it was race #1 or race #2 that his CV joint started to shake real bad). i came home first again with a really nice laptime of 2:17.6; scott was 2nd, and i believe harper was 3rd and wade 4th. here’s the vid of that one (a much more fun vid!): http://www.vimeo.com/7024135
sunday’s race was scheduled to be a full hour long race; i inspected the Probenstien after the awards banquet on sat night; the tires looked good (those RA-1s last L-O-N-G time! i put them on the beginning of the year, and rotated them before this weekend; they still have 3 weekends worth of tread left on them!). i had installed new front brake pads at the beginning of the year, too, and sat’s #2 race had finished the passenger side front pads; they were thinner than 1/32nd inch. the driver side still had 1/8″ remaining (i can’t for the life of me figure out why the passenger side ALWAYS wears out before the driver side?); anyway, i had some spare used driver side fronts from last year so i did a ‘passenger side only’ brake change. the angles were worn wrong, so i knew that the first few laps of the race i’d have a real low pedal, til the angles wore flat against the rotor, and then it would be OK. the disturbing thing i found was that i had spewed grease all over the driver side front wheel — there was a tear in the outer boot, and i’d estimate that at least half or more of the grease had flown out. it was late at night (and our race was early on sun morning); i was feeling lazy, and after all it was a ‘fun race’, so i cleaned up the grease and put the wheel back on. the probe axles are strong, and this one was an Advance axle, which i put on in 2006, and it was guaranteed for life, so i reasoned that if i was going to return it, i wanted to return it grenaded, not just with a lil cut in the boot!
for the 1 hour fun race, the sports racer decided not to attend. therefore, i was on the pole, with wade next to me (who had switched to worn out toyos), and scott right behind me (who had switched back onto his worn out hoosiers), and harper (on worn old tires) next to him (right guys? i’m pretty sure it was wade next to me, and not scott?). anyway, since i was setting the pace speed to the flag, i ran my 2nd gear up pretty high, so that the SE-Rs would be in between 2nd and third gear. the flag flew and i took the lead fairly easily. scott slotted in behind me, and wade/harper went to work on each other! it was immediately obvious that scott was on worse tires; it was not too hard for me to stay in front of him, even while conserving my car (i was short shifting and using 5th gear, too, in an effort to protect my tires and make sure that i would not starve for gas before the end of the race). i moved out to a decent comfortable lead and stayed there, with scott sometimes closing up once i got into heavy 944/miata traffic. we had an exciting view of Roper’s SE-R spinning off at one point (yahoo! looked like a wild ride). about half way thru the race, there were some multiple collisions that brought out a FCY. it took them forever with a backhoe to pull out the miata and the tirewall; they finally restarted the race with about 5 mins to go, and everyone’s tires were cold. i got a good restart, and was past a pack of miatas when i went into T1; i practically broadslid through, cause the rear tires were cold and the fronts were still warm! i remember thinking ‘wow, i bet there will be some contact on this restart’ and about 30 secs later we got another FCY, and finished under yellow. there had been another crash in the lower esses, and there wasn’t time to clear it and restart. it ended up me, steve, scott, wade. here’s the race clip (battery died sometime near the end of the FCY, just before the restart): http://www.vimeo.com/7037076
the changes that i made to the probe really worked; handling was great, and the power level is now back to great; scott barely can crawl around me up the back straight (draft and slingshot) and i can drive past him down the front straight (draft and slingshot). the ReidSpeed cold air induction kit really did its job, and definitely helped me nab the track record. i’m looking forward to next year too, and have a few changes planned for the probe (some new bodywork is #1 on the list! i’m tired of the ‘wrinkly’ look!). i’m planning on going to the NJMP Thunderbolt at the end of the month with NASA NE; anyone else want to try racing at this world class facility? i’ve done one day on it, and i really liked it (drove my civic there).