|Summit Point Report|
July 19, 2005 - Unfortunately, we had a smaller turnout at Summit Point this past weekend. Fortunately, we still had some good racing.
Carter Jr. and I arrived at about 9:00 pm Friday night and realized that there was no paddock space in the designated "Spec E30 Paddock Area." Chris Cobetto steered us to a spot near the tech shed and we managed to get everyone there. We also found out that Vic Hall, a contender for the Championship, had lost a rocker arm (not real unusual for an i motor) during the Friday test ay and wasn't able to race Saturday or Sunday.
The Saturday race was very interesting. I qualified on the Spec E30 pole, with David Herrington just a couple of spots back. During the standing start, I couldn't get second gear (yet again!) so I went to third, and then back to second. By this time, I lost about 5 places, including the Spec E30 lead to David. After several laps, and thanks to GTS traffic, I was able to catch David and make a few passing attempts. However, an E36 328i had driven past me on the straight, only to take the preferred passing line in the braking zone. After about three of these, I flashed my high-beam headlights at him several times to get his attention. "Hey man, see these two cars battling for position that look EXACTLY alike and the have the SAME Spec E30 decal on the rear window? Well, you're screwing up our race."
He waved and got the message, but was still a bit of a problem later on. And in fairness, he came to the Spec E30 paddock after the race and apologized. I was calm but did tell him that we appreciate it if other racers will allow us to race, especially when there are no other cars in his class, anywhere in the area.
Back to the race...
After about 5 laps, David was still ahead and as we exited turn 10, a fast 4th gear right hander that leads onto the front straight. At the starter stand, we both saw a black flag. David slowed. Knowing that a black flag tells a driver to go to the pits (not slow down) and not seeing the word "ALL" with it, I started to pass. David waved, telling me not to pass and I initially slowed some. However, I decided to continue and passed him going into turn one at the end of the straight. Next time around, the number "41" was shown with the black flag so we knew we were ok. Evidently, the Golf driver had forgotten to put up his window net on the grid.
We finished the race in these positions, with me never able to significantly pull away.
For Sunday, Chris Cobetto, NASA Mid Atlantic owner, was finished with all the Hyperfest events and was able to race with us. Being a very good driver, and having many, many laps on the Summit Point track, Chris was on the Spec E30 pole, I was second, and David was third. This time, NASA put us in a split grid with GTS and a split start with 944 Cup. As we came out of the pit lane, Chris was on driver's left and I was on driver's right, the preferred position for turn one. Knowing that Chris had earned the pole, I motioned for him to swap sides on the track.
As we neared the end of the pace lap, Chris dropped back from the GTS group a bit. I stayed beside his car, my front end slightly behind his.
I waited for his engine sound and took-off as soon as I heard him go. An "alley" opened on the right side of the track so I tucked-in behind Chris and we made up about four places on the GTS back markers. We were quicker than these last few GTS drivers anyway so this was a good chance to get ahead of them.
During the first few laps, it became obvious that the next pack of GTS cars we had caught, were going to fly down the straight, only to slow us down in the turns and under braking. Chris and I worked the traffic in our group of about six cars. On lap 5 or so, entering turn 10, I hung back slightly as an E30 GTS car slowed Chris considerably going-in. I got a good run off the exit and slowly drove past Chris down the straight. Our cars were/are dead-even on power but this little added exit speed made the difference. To Chris' credit, he did not block me.
As we got down to turn one, I was just ahead, and Chris was on my rear bumper. At turn 6, a sharp left hander, Chris pulled slightly right and stuck his nose on my right rear. The entrance to the right-hand carousel comes-up quickly and I got chopped by a GTS car and had to steer right. I felt, and heard, the bang as Chris and I got together, his left front to my right rear.
Through the carousel, I started looking for tire smoke, in case my rear quarter/fender had been pushed into the tire. I saw no smoke and continued racing.
After a lap, I got past a couple of back marker 944's and Chris got stuck for a moment. Then, I got past one particular 944 and Chris got held-up significantly. 'Luck of the draw for me.
I looked back and Chris was now 15 car-lengths back. With several laps to go, I knew he still had a good chance to catch me. However, with open track, I thought about the places where Chris was quicker, and concentrated on find some speed there.
After a lap, Chris was about the same distance back. After another lap, still the same. And another, and another, and another.
I also noticed I had been sloppy with my brake-to-throttle transitions earlier in the race and smoothed them out. The handling difference was noticeable, as the car would hold the line better coming off the turns.
Then, rain sprinkles appeared on the windshield. Not enough to slow us down but enough to make you think about it. We then took the white flag. Still having a good lead, I dialed it back a couple of tenths, since the track was getting a little damp. As we took the checker, the rain got stronger and we all needed our wipers on the cool-down lap. Someone said that a 944 spun in the post race conditions.
In the paddock, I looked at my right rear and there is one small black streak on the bumper cover, but thankfully no body damage at all. As usual, Chris, David, and I had a good post-race discussion, talking about the events of the past 25 minutes.
I want to thank all the drivers who came to Summit and look forward to a good turnout at VIR. I know that a couple of new cars expected to be there, might not be completed in-time but we'll have ten to twelve cars, according to the drivers, as well as a few new Spec E30 drivers in the Friday Comp School.
'See you there.
Spec E30 Administrator
325i Spec E30 SO