There were some changes to the engines
for the cars for this weekend, with Tom and Ron installing a new Techtonics Tuning 280/276
The cracked header from the last event was found to be beyond repair,
so the old factory VW cast iron exhaust manifold was installed, along
with a used Techtonics down pipe sourced from ebay. Scott Neville
also changed cams for this event, with Scott trying a DC270 from Dougherty Racing Cams
Tom suited up for the first session of the morning, and lined up behind
Scott Neville on the grid. Tom and Scott both took it easy for
the first part of the session, playing follow the leader, and swapping
the lead back and forth as each driver got a feel for their improved
engines. Tom was fastest in the morning session, with a 2:14.9,
followed by Scott with a 2:15.8.
Jason checked the tire pressures prior to the morning session, and
that the right front tire had lost a couple pounds over night.
Tom decided it was probably just a slow leak, and decided to run the
tire for the morning session and check the pressure after the session
to see if it was leaking. The pressure was normal when the car
came off track.
The next session on the schedule was the first of two 40 minute
practice sessions Ron suited up and went out, this was his first
time in the car with the rear suspension changes from last race
weekend, plus the 13" wheels in the front allowing more camber
adjustment. He went out to get the feel for the car, and was fast
fairly quickly, turning a 2:16.5 on his first flying lap. His
times slipped a bit, enough that he came in to the paddock on the sixth
lap, complaining that he wasn't happy with the tires, wanting to switch
back to the 14" stock VW wheels he was used to. A brief
discussion with Tom, and a quick inspection of the front tires didn't
show anything obviously wrong (although the tire pressure was not
checked, in hindsight this was a critical oversight). The right
front camber would have to be adjusted to allow the stock wheels to fit
without rubbing made the time needed for the change too long to do in
the middle of the session, Ron decided to go back out on track and see
how things went. Things didn't go well.
In retrospect, it would appear that the right front tire was losing
air, but this was not evident until Ron turned in to turn one on his
first flying lap. Turn one is a very fast sweeping left turn, and
is the fastest corner on the track. When Ron turned in, the
reduced grip of the highly loaded, right front tire made the car understeer
Ron to miss the apex of the corner by a couple feet. The car
continued through the corner, with the right front tire rolled over on
the rim and howling, it continued to understeer, pushing toward the
exit berm. When Ron reached the exit berm, the right side tires
dropped off the pavement and into the dirt. The VW Rabbit GTI,
being a front engine, front wheel drive car has a huge front weight
bias, which means in fast corners the inside rear wheel is very lightly
loaded and is frequently off the ground. When the right side
tires dropped into the dirt, the car was still heavily loaded to the
right side, meaning the only rear tire with any grip was now on a
surface that had none, the back end came around, and the car spun
across the track. Ron put the brake pedal to the floor, and was
along for the ride.
The car slid sideways diagonally across the track, sliding into the
dirt on the left of the track, and continued to rotate to the
left. After sliding for some distance, the right side wheels dug
in and the car rolled. Luckily the car had shed a lot of speed by
this time, and the car only rolled once, apparently twisting as it
rolled, and landed on it's wheels pointing back at the track.
the sky supposed to be on the left?
When the dust cleared, Ron dropped the window net to show the track
workers he was OK, and climbed out to assess the damage. He was
out of the car and had traded his helmet for a ball cap by the time the
emergency crew arrived on the scene. The crash crew checked out
Ron, and towed the car back to the paddock.
On the hook.