EVOs, Cone Dodging, & Time Attack
Will it be ready for the OTC?
Sorry for the LONG delay in this getting this story out. It has been pretty hectic around here. And like I said before, with the baby, it is hard to concentrate for any length of time. Plus I had a little writer's block. And I was trying to uh....resolve a warranty issue that looks like Honda will refuse to honor. More on that later. I'm also behind on updating the Honda Hall of Fame laptimes. Sorry about that. I'll get to that right after the OTC. The stories below might sound a little "disjointed" but that is because I am trying to get this chapter out before the Open Track Challenge begins. Let's go to the diary:
The EVO geeks show up to duke it out at Thunderhill
February 7/8, 2004 Thunderhill with SpeedVentures
The smack talking was huge for the Thunderhill Event. A big group of Evolution drivers were showing up at this event. Wayne got the EVO guys all riled up, and put up a $100 cash prize to the fastest EVO at the track. He was figuring he would easily win it back. He said he would sandbag, and not tell anyone that he was going to run my used Yokohama front slicks at the event. Heh. We will do anything to win. He is figuring no one else with an EVO will be running slicks at this event. I also threw in a Pulp Fiction wallet for fastest EVO. The NSX wasn't ready, so I brought up the trusty S2000 to scope out the competition. As you may have read from the last "Pulp Report" in Chapter 104, I'm sorta thinking that an S2000 might not be able to win the OTC's Touring 3(T3 Street Tire) class this year, as it is in the same class as the Evolution VIII. With Wayne putting up the cash prize, I figure that no one will sandbag, as they all want to win the prize and the bragging rights for their "board". So now I can scope out the competition for T3, and see if the S2000 has a chance to win two years in a row.
Will is getting pretty fast!
I am signed up as an instructor to help out the SpeedVentures guys at this event. The first two sessions I run in the 2:18's or so, as I am taking various passengers out and showing them the line. I do this for about four people, so they can get used to the track, passing rules, etc. For many of them, this is their first hit of the crack pipe. SpeedVentures is part of the Go-Fast Cartel, and I am a mere dealer for the cartel, trying to get more people hooked on speed (the corner carving type of speed).
Robi was talking smack with his hopped up EVO
For session number 3, I throw on some new tires, and I go out by myself. After a couple of warmup laps, I get ready to do a hot lap, and I accelerate coming out of turn 14 in 2nd gear at around 60 mph, and all of a sudden, no power. It feels like I am in neutral. Damn. I glide the car around turn 15, and slowly roll into the pit area. Unbeknownst to me, I am dumping oil from turn 14 all the way into the pit. Right after I stop in the pit area, smoke starts coming out from underneath the front hood. FIRE? I quickly grab my fire extinguisher, open up the hood, and shoot the halon into the compartment to prevent an oil flare up. No fire, just hot oil all over lower portion of the engine compartment. Robi's EVO hits the oil, but with 4 wheel drive, he is able to catch it and recover. Dearing in his Viper GTS is not so lucky, he hits the oil and goes flying off into the dirt and grass area. Ooops, sorry about that John! They black flag the session, so they can cleanup the track. We can't diagnosis what happened, but the speculation from some people is that the flywheel blew up and took out the tranny and the oil pan. Anyways, I figure I will drop it off at Autowave and have them take a quick look at it before I trailer it over to the Honda dealer.
The fastest EVO at Thunderhill
Wayne is out there buzzing around at 2:11-ish or so. I could beat that with a T3 S2000, except Wayne's car is totally stock except for a chip and exhaust, which were put on by the Work's guys at Wayne's house. If Wayne throws on springs and shocks to counter the understeer, it could be pretty damn fast. Robi proves it, by running a blazing 2:04 in his tricked out EVO, with just about every mod known to mankind. Damn....my S2000 isn't going to run a 2:04 with street tires unless I dump about $20,000 into in, and take out 300 lbs. And my budget is more like uh......$800 to prep the S2000. So much for a killer T3 car.
Wayne hasn't put stickers all over his "stockish" car yet
Wayne hops into Matt's car, which has the Road Racing Engineering suspension on it. Wayne comes back and says he's buying a suspension on Monday for his car, as the car is totally different from his. Meaning that it will actually turn without pushing like a pig. Wayne throws on the slicks, and buzzes to a 2:08.x, but still not enough to catch Robi.
The Vette guys were there also
We get a little gambling in at the local Indian casino, me losing a little bit, and Wayne winning a couple of hundred. He's on a roll with his "system", which basically consists if he is winning a little bit, he quits. I keep telling him that if he is winning, he should be tripling his bets, and take advantage of that hot streak he has been on. He says he is not going to listen to a loser on how to play blackjack.
Robi wins the $100 bucks, and more importantly the Pulp Fiction wallet to stash his cash
February 11th, 2004
Wayne meets with the person who bought 1-800-Phoneguys from him. The new owner is having some problems. He says the business is going bankrupt, and he is just going to walk away from the business and not pay anyone anything. The new owner still owes Wayne about $400,000. Worse, the new owner owes the bank about $800,000, and the bank is in front of Wayne in terms of who is getting paid first. Needless to say, Wayne is pissed, as he will never get paid the rest of the cash he is owed. The new owner also took over the lease payments for Wayne's NSX back when he bought the business, so now Wayne has that $950 a month payment back. The guy was paying Wayne about $7000 a month in payments on the 400k, and $2800 in rent. So instead of having $9800 a month coming IN, he now has $950 a month going out. Sucks. It is tough to live on a negative cash flow.....and even tougher to race on it.
The Works guys gettting ready to duke it out
February 21/22, 2004-Viper Racing League
Messley is scheduled to drive Marko's Viper Competition Coupe in the Viper Days wheel-to-wheel event. After spanking everyone at Willow last month in Marko's car, people were looking forward to seeing if it was a fluke. During the qual race on Saturday, they had a mechanical problem, so Messley is gridded last, around 16th or so for the final Sunday race. Erik was saying to Marko that the tires on the Comp Coupe were dying, and might not last the race. Unfortunately, there was no money left in the racing budget for tires. Bummer. Green flag drops, and they are off. Messley is "in the zone" and having one of those "ultimate moments of clarity" on this day. Within one lap, he doesn't pass one or two, or three or four people. Or five or six. Or seven or eight. Or nine or ten. Or eleven or twelve. He passes the ENTIRE FFING FIELD in one lap. Now realize that Buttonwillow is a pretty tight track. Messley is passing on the outside of Taledaga sweeper, on Magic Mountain/Lost Hills, in the Esses, etc. By the time the field comes around to start finish, Messley is LEADING THE RACE. Now we aren't talking about racing against little spec racers or Miata girly cars(just kidding, you spec Miata guys aren't girly drivers. You just drive girly cars!), we are talking big boy Viper, Viper GTS, Viper Comp Coupes, Porsche Cup cars, etc.
Anyway, Messley with bad tires holds off the rest of the field for the entire race, sliding that Comp Coupe around all the turns. The Porsche Cup Car does take advantage of Messley's tires dying, and does pass Messley for the overall win. Another local go-fast legend, John Dearing, is in third, and he sees Messley slowing down in front of him, and he knows that Messley's car is rapidly losing tire from all the sliding around the car is doing. On the last 7 turns of the race, there are yellow flags for a disabled car. Dearing doesn't see the flags, all he knows is that Messley is losing tire, and he is catching up to him. He's totally focused on beating Messley! He blows by Messley on the straight leading to the checkered flag......but uh....it's under yellow. Messley tries to throw his hand out to tell him to slow down, but Dearing blows by him......to beat him to the checkered flag....but under yellow. Dearing is probably thinking, "I finally beat that bastard Messley in a race!". After the race, Dearing is bumped back to 3rd place, and Messley 2nd overall, and winner of the "Viper" portion of the race. So Messley whomps on all the Vipers for his 2nd win in a row (including Bobby Archer, who is racing in this series), thus cementing his lead in points.
Now, here's where my Black Helicopter theory comes into play. So if you have this "entity" call The Viper Racing League, which consists of time trials for people that do not want to do wheel-to-wheel, AND you have a wheel-to-wheel race, what is the highlight of the weekend? The wheel-to-wheel race, of course! Curiously, The Viper Racing League seems to be DOWNPLAYING their race group, and instead only posts the results of their time trial group. They do not even mention the race group exists in their results. Now why would you do that? Could it be that politically that do not want it mentioned that Messley is running around spanking everyone in oblivion? That a little one man suspension shop called EMI Racing is crushing the competition much like a small car manufacturer is dominating Formula One?
March 5th, 2004 - Speedventures at Buttonwillow
I finally get the NSX ready for a test day. I was hoping to test much earlier, but hey, I still got another 5 weeks until the OTC. Looks like I will be prepared on time! I was hoping the Viper guys would be here, so I could duke it out with them, but they are a no show. I run the fastest lap of the day by 5.5 seconds over Rylan's S2000. I think I am ready for the OTC! And I got five more weeks! Ha! Raceaflais is defeated!
Will picks up an nice trailer
March 6th, 2004 - NSX Club of America, Cal Costal Autocross
Back in December or so, I agreed to participate in the NSXCA Cal Coastal Autocross event with the NSX. Since I won the last autocross using the Flamemobile with slicks (totally unfair against street cars) they wanted me to defend the title, and they also banned slicks this time around, as I was the only one with slicks. I knew this was the same weekend as the NASA event at California Speedway, but I also figured that since it was only one month before the OTC, I probably should not run the NASA event and save the car for the OTC. I didn't want to deal with taking a chance at blowing up and engine on the high banked curve, and then only having a month to get it fixed, tested and tuned for the OTC. As much as I wanted to run the NASA event, I figure I'll do some cone-dodging to save the car. Plus I already committed to doing the autocross, and I hate to flake on people when I tell them I will be there.
The event was in the parking lot of Hollywood Park, which is a horse racing facility. The course was very tough, and about 70 seconds long. The NSXCA Cal Coastal guys went out and bought a full set of autocross timing equipment. They also limited the amount of people that could attend, so we figured we could get 20+ runs for $65, which is a huge bargain.
Anyways, so I am out there thrashing the Flamemobile, using 1st and 2nd gear, bumping it off the rev limiter in 2nd on a short straightaway, and having a blast. Wayne shows up late, after selling one of his motorcycles. He is also bummed as his brand new EVO with only 1500 miles will not rev over 3500 RPMS. Something is definitely wrong with the motor, so he dropped it off at the dealer earlier in the morning. He hops into my car, and says that MY car won't rev about 4500 rpms. What? I get in the car, and it seems fine, especially since I am crushing the competition by a second or so. Craig takes my car for a spin, and says the same thing. I get back into the car, and I run another 71.x or so, which is about the fastest time so far. Autowave is at the event, and they said that the car sounds a little "funny" to them. I agree that it doesn't sound perfect, but it is revving to 8000 fine for me. Wayne and Craig must be amateurs.
A couple of days later I drop the NSX off at Autowave for an oil change, and they want to take a look at the "funny noise". The swap out a couple of coils just in case, and they put the car on their dyno before giving it back to me, and they said at 4500 RPMS, there is a weird dip in power. They do some more checking.....and they said that they think a valve spring broke. Which means they have to drop the motor out of the car. DAMN! How could I break the car at an autocross? Unbelievable. Or maybe it was broken before and I didn't notice it? It was blubbering a bit at Buttonwillow, but I thought that was because we had to run the car extra rich at low RPMs so it would not run lean at high RPMS. I don't have any external fuel management on the car. A month before the OTC, and now the car need new valve springs and retainers, motor has to be dropped. Which means that after it is fixed, it has to be dynoed, re-aligned, and then taken to the track to be re-tested again. SHIT! I just added another month of prep time to get ready for the OTC.
March 13th, 2004 - Mazda Rev It Up
I gotta hand it to Mazda. Those dudes are marketing geniuses. Too bad they can't make any decent cars. Anyways, Terry, Wayne and I signed up for the Mazda Rev It Up event in Irvine, CA. We tried to get Jeff to sign up, but he pooh-poohed the idea, saying something like, "Didn't I just kick all yer asses at Dromo One. What would be the point of me going there and beating you guys again?". James and Brad Sofronas said that they will be signing up, so we figure we meet them at the event and duke it out.
This is our first time at the event, and we are amazed. Mazda had about 2100 people signed up for this weekend. They are doing it at 15 cities across the U.S., where you can compete against one another for fastest time on an autocross course. The way the event is structured is that you sign in, and you get a plastic laminated badge with your name on it, a bar code, and numbers to be punched as you attend the various "stations". They are using Mazda 3's and 6's as vehicles for people to drive.
There are four stations, which involve stuff like braking, turning, accelerating, etc. These "exercises are about 16-20 seconds long, and they prepare you for the Main Event, which is a 35 second autocross course. You get two shots at each of the exercises, and two shots at the autocross. For the autocross, they divide you up into different divisions (Pro, novice, fun, club, women, etc), and they have a huge electronic scoreboard showing you the top 10 in each category. They setup the course the day before, and they have a professional driver rip through the course to set the "index" as to what the fastest possible time is, and everyone strives to get as close to the index as they can. The index also helps compare lap times from other cities that are in the Rev It Up competition. The Pro guy ran a 29.x after multiple cracks at the course. We get there, and we see James Sofronas as 9th overall, at 31.x, and his brother 11th overall, at 32.x. Shit......we figure we are taking those guys down.
Before doing all the exercises, there is an outdoor track that is setup for those indoor-style karts. We figure we hop in and get a little wheel-to-wheel action before crushing people in the autocross. We pay our 15 bucks for the karting event. I start in 8th position out of 10(gridded according to how quickly you paid you 15 bucks). After 3 laps I am in first place, and I cruise home to a an easy victory, thus winning a Mazda Rev It Up t-shirt. This is gonna be my day........
So we are screwing around, ignoring most of the exercises, as you have to wait in line about 10-15 minutes per exercise. The exercises we do attend, Wayne, Terry and I each throw in 5 bucks as to has the fastest times. All the exercises are electronically scored, and everyone is driving identical Mazda RX3 type of cars. Terry is cleaning us out.
And then we go to the big event. They have video monitors while you are waiting in line for the autocross, so you can try to memorize the course. I figure the proper way to do this would be to left foot brake, and keep your foot on the accelerator at all times, since we are driving these crappy automatic Mazda 3(?) that are dog slow. Figuring if James runs a 31.x, we are good for at least that. On my first run, I get lost in the sea of cones, lose my concentration, hit the brakes when I really don't need to, and I do a.......35.x. SHIT! I suck. Wayne's in there at a lower 35.x Terry's in at 34.x. Worse, we are somehow in the "Pro" category, and are getting thrashed on by rank amateurs. More likely, the rank amateurs are cone dodgers who correctly answered the signup questions to put them in the amateur category. Damn....we were out sandbagged by cone dodgers.
So we have another hour until we are scheduled to run our final autocross lap. We screw around with a couple of exercises, and head off to try to take James and Brad out of the top 10 overall. I run a 34.x, narrowly beating Wayne. Terry runs a 33.x. After the event is over, we find out that for our location, we suck. The score board is:
James Sofronas 23rd
Brad Sofronas 28th
Terry Chen 273rd
Doug Hayashi 700th
Wayne Mello 789th
I try to put a positive spin on it. Instead of saying I was 700th, I say that I beat 1400 people that weekend. (since 2100 drivers entered the event). It makes me sound a lot faster.
One week later, James Sofronas pilots his Techmark BMW to a 3rd place finish in the first World Challenge Touring race at Sebring. I guess that is why he kicked all of our asses. Nahh....he's probably has a lot of cone-dodging that he did in the past, and is keeping that in the closet so we don't know about it......
Anyways, kudos to Mazda for a great event. Just think of the logistics for having 2100 people compete in a two day autocross event, with 4 "exercise" stations included also. They probably had a couple of hundred people working the event. Logistics were smooth, everyone had a lot of fun. And uh.....a lot of bruised egos....
Messley is up at Viper Days, helping a couple of his customers out. Unfortunately, his sponsor ride for the Comp Coupe kinda blew their racing budget on the first two Viper Days races, so he doesn't have a ride for this weekend. Bummer.....he coulda been 3 for 3, making a mockery out of the Viper Days Racing League. Looks like his next "sponsored ride" will be downgraded a few levels to an Oriental Import Car for the Open Track Challenge. Heh......I'm not complaining! If someone gets a clue and gets him a ride with the big boys in World Challenge/Trans Am, Wayne and I will be left flailing around like three year olds trying to make our cars fast. And the World Challenge/Trans Am guys will be in for a big surprise.
April 1, 2004
Wayne re-opens his phone business under another name, as the 1-800-Phoneguys name is destroyed in terms of credit and reputation by the previous owner. Wayne sold the business for $1.5 million bucks about 18 months ago, and was able to buy it back for $12,500 from the bank (which is owed 800k from the old owner). There is no inventory, as the previous owner blew it all out. But Wayne figures that he, his brother, Brent, and Lou can rebuild it again! Go Wayne! Wayne also gets his EVO back from the dealer, so it looks like he has a car to run at the OTC! Autowave puts the AEM on the NSX, and tunes it on the dyno. We are looking at 409 RWHP! Autowave has been tuning cars with the AEM, Hondata, and Motec. Bill Zachar drove his NSX down from Phoenix to have his motor dropped and worked on by Autowave. They are also working on building up the old PMUM S2000 into a killer street car that will be blazing fast on the track also. Expect to see Brett driving it around in the next three weeks!
Sunday night, April 4, 2004
About a week ago, I got a call from David Vespremi, who is the owner of a highly modified 2nd gen MR2. He said that he is the only privateer that was invited to enter the "Time Attack" event sponsored by Sport Compact Car and Super Street magazine at Buttonwillow. David is promoting his new book, "Car Hacks & Mods for Dummies" to be published by John Wiley & Sons this summer, and is using his MR2 to help promote the book.
He already has a couple of drivers signed up to help him, but he would like to have me also co-drive, as I know the track really well. I said sure, I will help out, but I also told him that I am usually not that fast driving other people's car. He said fine, between him and his other MR2 hotshoe autocross guys, we can hopefully figure out how to run a fast lap. The other drivers are a Japanese gymkana driver named Masanao, who is flying in from Ohio, and Randy Chase, MR2 autocross champ.
James Chen's 360
I was pushing David to try to get a test day in with the MR2, but like everyone that tracks their car at road racing courses, he is fighting Raceaflais also. Since this is a magazine shoot, he is trying to get a bunch of things done for the event, including alignment, new parts for the car, borrowing a trailer, etc. Stuff like having the MR2 see-sawing wildly, and almost falling off of, Andrie's trailer. He tried to load the car onto the trailer on a slight incline without double checking that the latch was locked onto the truck (no sleep the night before, they were in a daze). Predictably, as the car was halfway up the trailer the end facing the truck lifted up and started rolling down the hill into the back of the truck. Fun stuff.
The Sparco EVO
Sunday night, the team shows up in Orange County around 8 p.m. at the decal shop. They have to make decals, pick up the new hood, build a front splitter, install AMB Transponder, Hot lap, etc. Unfortunately, they don't have the hood yet, as they are supposed to pick it up in El Monte, which is about an hour away. This is looking bad......I call Brent to see if he can help out. I figure we send Brent to find the hood, and the rest of the team can work on the stickers, splitter, removing old hood, etc. I run over to my shop and get some tools, like a drill, grinder, air saw, etc.
The Turbo MR2, with 320 RWHP!
9:00 p.m. Sunday night. The wife calls, baby Kayla has a 104 degree temperature, and the pediatrician wants us to take her to the hospital. I tell Brent that if these guys want to work on the MR2 at my shop, to let them in, while I go to the hospital.
11:00 p.m. We check into emergency. Have a sick infant really sucks, as the baby can't tell you what is wrong. Which means that the doctor wants a blood test to check if it is anything serious. The nurses come in, and they try to stick a needle into a tiny baby vein to get some blood. They can't find the vein. Meanwhile, Kayla is screaming bloody murder, and now the entire ER ward is covering their ears from the high pitched wail. They have to poke her four times in different places in order to find a vein. They also want a urine test, so now comes out the catherter. And the ER ward is reminded again that Kayla ain't happy about this.
4:30 a.m. We leave the hospital. Doctor says it looks like it is just a virus, nothing to be worried about. We get home, and I crash for about 3 hours. It looks like David and crew thrashed on the MR2 last night at the shop.
I get to shop around noon, and David and crew are working on the MR2. They still don't have the hood, as they guy "couldn't find it" at the warehouse the night before. So now a brand new hood is being "molded", and they have to drive back out to El Monte to pick it up. Brian is working on the car. Around 5:00 p.m. Messley shows up to align the NSX, as we have a test day on Friday He's on the car for about 3 hours. As soon as the NSX is off the lift, Brian puts the MR2 on the lift, as he is building a splitter for it. The hood arrives, and an electric sander/buffer is purchased at Home Depot to make the car look like a show car. I bail from the shop around 10:30 p.m., as I can't keep my eyes open. I go home, sleep for 2.5 hours, wake up at 3:00 a.m, and then drive 185 miles to Buttonwillow to meet everyone at the hotel at 6:30 a.m.
Carbon fiber wing/hood/splitter/etc.
April 6th - Sport Compact Car and Super Street Time Attack
The magazines are getting all the cars organized at the hotel, so they can parade over to the track. It looks like an import car show, with some great looking cars lining up to go to the racetrack. David has been talking about this event with Andrie Hartanto for weeks. Andrie is driving Chris Wilson's Science of Speed NSX, and it is our secret goal to try to beat them. David is pumping Andrie for info, strategy, etc, and hasn't told Andrie that I am helping David out with the MR2. It's our little Cheating Bastard secret. I see Andrie at the hotel in the morning, and he is surprised to see me on David's team! Heh. We are going to try to kick some ass with the MR2!
The format is:
1. Everyone puts on an AMB timer
2. There is a one hour practice session (lap times do not count here)
3. After the practice session, people are put into one of 3 groups
4. Each team gets 4 sessions, with the goal of getting the fastest lap
5. Main categories are Limited and Unlimited
6. Sub categories are fwd, rwd, awd. (Hey, it's an import event)
Splitter and Wing. Looks like a mini NSX!
Since I do this road racing stuff all the time, as a team we are pretty organized. The night before we mounted the Hot Lap Timer and the AMB transponder. I rented a garage so we could be out of the sun. I got David to be one of the first cars in the tech line, and the registration line. Everyone else is thrashing, and they are behind. The 9 a.m. practice session begins, and we are the first car on the track, and only one other car is ready to go! There are still suckers trying to get their car teched! Ha! We are gonna kick some ass!
A true "Show and Go" car
We have some new Hoosiers on the car, and I am trying to get used to how the car feels on the track. We go into the Bus Stop on our warmup lap, and the car doesn't turn.....so I uh.....spin. Oooops. Didn't make it half a lap yet, and I spun. Moron. Tires could have been cold, or car could have been pushing a bit. I have Mas as my passenger, with the plan that I buzz him around a couple of laps to get used to the track, and then I'll give Randy a ride. Then Mas and Randy can go solo and start setting some lap times. The MR2 has power, but I am not used to the peaky power of a turbo. I'm sucking on my laps with passengers, running about 2:13 or so. (Hey, it with a passenger, and it ain't my car, and I don't know how to drive a turbo MR2. How's that for excuses) I do about 4 laps with Mas, and 3 laps with Randy, and then I come in and park the car. Mas wants to go out, and insists that I go with him as a passenger. Mas goes about half a lap, showing that he knows how to drive this car, throwing it into the turns. But then car won't rev over 4500 RPMs as it sounds like it is out of gas. We cruise in, throw in some gas, and send Mas out solo. He immediately comes in, and says something is wrong. Damn! We head to the garage, and Brian, the engine guy, is doing diagnostics with the boost controller gizmo, checking out hoses, etc. He comes to the conclusion around 11:00 a.m. that we have torn a wastegate diaphram. David is on the phone trying to locate one. After about an hour, he finds one in Orange County (yup, about 175 miles from Buttonwillow). We call around trying to find someone that can buzz the part up from OC to BW, as if we get the part in time, we might be able to run the last session and at least post some decent laptimes. I decide to take a nap in the truck, as I am pretty tired after the previous two nights.
Turbo diaphram ripped, thus ending our day. Bummer
David finds someone in OC to run the part up to us, but unfortunately he gets there about 15 minutes too late. Damn. Since we did not post a laptime in competition, we are a DNS. Oh well. We will get them next time. We woulda coulda kicked some ass!
The winner of the event is the Signal Auto Skyline, which ran a blazing 1:54.x Pretty damn good. Next was the Axis Ferrari 360 Modena, driven by a European hot shoe, with a 1:57.x. There were a bunch of cars in the 1:59-2:04 range. Andrie drove the Science of Speed NSX to a 2:01.x, which is a pretty good time!
Signal Auto with their GTR that was flown in from Japan
April 9th, 2004 - Test Day at Willow
I head out to Willow with Messley. I got the NSX with the AEM fuel management computer installed on it, along with Messley's super duper alignment. On the way there, about 20 miles from Palmdale, there is a semi truck on the opposite side of the freeway that looks like it crashed into the concrete center divider, taking out both lanes. There are cars at a stand still for about 15 miles behind that crash. Ugly.
7:30 a.m, and Steve's fleet of cars ready for some open testing
We get to Willow by 7:30 a.m., unpack, and are ready to drive around on the track at 8:00 a.m. Our goal is for me to get to a specific target laptime, and Erik to get to a specific laptime (both secret until after the OTC) and then get out of Willow by noon, or else we will be stuck in Easter vacation traffic. I take the car out around the track, and it looks like the fueling is working fine. The motor is running exceptionally smooth, and is running stronger that it ever has. I bring the car in and I tell Erik that I think it needs more rear wing (meaning change the angle of the wing), as it feels a little loose in turn 2. He hops in the car, and said that it does indeed feel a little loose mid corner in 2, but the car is slightly understeering coming out of 2. He says that if we increase the wing, it will be more planted it 2, but it will suck coming out of 2, as it won't turn in. So he starts dicking around with the low speed compression settings to see if he can get more bite in the rear. That doesn't help a lot so now changing rebound a bit. That doesn't help a lot so now we change front sway bar settings. So after about 12 iterations of this, (making a change, Erik doing two laps, making a a change, repeat), Erik thinks he has it pretty close. We throw on a set of new tires, he takes it out on the track, throws down a smoking lap, and says it feels damn good. There is grip in the back, the front is a tad bouncy, but it is biting enough to properly turn in. I hop in the car, and within four laps, I turn the fastest lap that I have ever turned at Willow, and hit my target laptime for the day. We agree that we are damn close to perfect, so we park the car in the trailer and head for home. It is 12:30, and we are off!
A new GT3 RS with sequential gearbox. Nice!
We get about 10 miles down the freeway, and then suddenly we are at a total standstill. Shit. Now the traffic seems to be backed up about 35 miles from where the semi truck took out the southbound lane. DAMN, I should swerved and got off on the previous off ramp. Erik says that we are screwed unless we put the truck in reverse, and go backwards UP the on ramp. What? Are you high? I ain't backing this 48 foot trailer the wrong way into oncoming traffic up the on ramp. Erik says that no one on the onramp is stupid enough to get on the freeway, as they can see it is at a standstill for miles and miles. I grab the two way radios and tell Erik to get out of the truck and start backing me up. People on the freeway are looking at us, saying, "What in the HELL are those guys doing, going backwards on the onramp, against traffic, on a 5 degree hill?". After they see me get halfway up the on ramp in reverse, they get the idea, and now they are all frantically trying to backup on the on ramp as well. The more ambitious guys just say "Fuck it", and they just go forward up the on ramp (essentially going against traffic) and trying to swerve around the Pulp truck and trailer to get the hell off of the freeway. Erik says we are trend setters. And then we see a sheriff coming up the onramp the wrong way. He looks at us like we are morons, but then I guess he decides, "Hell, everyone else is trying to exit the freeway on the onramp", and proceeds on his merry way.
We take the roundabout way back to Orange County, via the 138 to the 15 to the 91 to the 241 to the 405. We make it back to The OC by around 3:30 or so. Not too bad. Normally it takes 2 hours, with no traffic. And on the way home, everyone leaving The OC was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, as they didn't get their ass out of town on time.
Steve's 360 GT. He's a "22 guy" in this car!
So it looks like we are ready for the OTC. My car is working, Wayne's car is working. There are less entries this year, probably due to the economy. We didn't get enough to fill up the race group, so it looks like it will be Unlimited and Limited, like we had in previous years.
5 Tracks in 5 Days. Who will be king?
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