Ron and Jason
left at noon Friday to head out to
Thunderhill, anticipating heavy traffic for the Memorial Day
holiday. The early start time worked out well, as they traffic
leaving the Bay Area was light, a they arrived at the track at
3:35pm. They set up camp, and got the car ready for the track by
confirming the front toe setting and adjusting the camber, and
generally giving everything a good once-over. Jason fabricated a
sun shade for the fuel mixture guage to try and make it a little more
visible on the video tape.
Ron and Jason were able to sleep in Saturday, as the first item on the
schedule was the Group A driver's meeting at 9 AM. Ron entered the
track just before 10 AM for the morning practice session, and started
out slowly for the first laps to bed the brake pads to the new rotors
Tom installed the previous weekend. Carlos turned the fastest lap
of the session, with a 2:16.0, followed by Scott Neville with a 2:19.0
and Ron with a 2:20.4.
Scott Miller shows Tom Krug the fast
way around the track, in a car totally unsuited to the task at hand.
The car was still running well in qualifying, with Ron dropping his lap
times into the 15s, finishing with a best lap of 2:15.0, putting him
second on the grid. Carlos earned the pole, with a time of
2:14.2, and Scott qualified third with a 2:16.6. Joe Craven
arrived to the track late, and his car was not through tech in time to
make the qualifying session, putting him fourth on the starting
Tom arrived at the track just after qualifying.
On grid for Saturday race
As Scott Neville left for the grid, Tom noticed a puddle where he was
parked, which was identified as transmission fluid. He ran and
informed Scott, but it was too late to do anything before the
race. Scott made a decision to race anyway and hope it held
together, and investigate the problem after.
Future Racer Steve Fuss in the Time
Jason checks tire pressures before Ron's race
A botched start by the PT and Pro-7 class cars in the second wave
caused the NASA officials to order a restart, forcing an additional
formation lap. When the green flag finally waved, Ron was able to
take the lead into the first turn, with Carlos close on his rear
bumper. Scott came out of turn 1 in third, followed by Joe in fourth.
Ron held on to the lead for 4 laps, when Carlos was able to get
around him in turn 8 in traffic. A Spec Miata went off the
track after turn 6, and tried to steer himself back on track before he
had slowed enough. His left wheels got grip once back on the
pavement, causing the car to spin across the track, where he went off
sideways. Once the car left the pavement sideways, the wheels dug
in, and the car rolled several times. The crash crew reported the
driver crawled from the wreckage laughing.
Joe passes the Miata, shiny side down
Ron was able to keep Carlos in
sight until the end of the race, finishing in second place 3 seconds
behind. Scott finished third, followed by Joe. Carlos
turned the fast lap of the race, with a 2:13.6, followed by Ron with a
2:13.8, Joe with a 2:14.0 and Scott with a 2:15.5.
Scott Neville identified his transmission leak as an improperly
installed stub axle/CV flange which had started to pull from the
transmission housing. Scott was able to make the necessary
repairs and have the car ready for the Sunday festivities.
Scott repairs his car after the
After grabbing dinner from the NASA BBQ, Jason, Tom and Ron went
to work on the car. Tom brought some hardware store go-fast parts
to fabricate a front splitter and an additional rear sway bar. In
theory, the splitter should prevent some of the air from passing under
the car reducing drag at high speed and potentially reducing lift on
the front end. The extra rear sway bar should increase the rear
roll stiffness, reducing understeer. Tom also found a good deal
on some wheels from a BMW 2002, that have slightly more offset,
allowing more negative camber in the front of the car, which should
increase front grip. With help from Scott Miller, everything was
finished and the crew went to bed around 11 PM.
Ron puts the finishing touches on the
The Finished Product
Marcus of Miller
arrived early on Saturday to help out.
After the customary morning coffee and breakfast burritos, Tom went out
to the morning warmup session and was fast almost immediately.
Carlos passed Tom in the second lap, and Tom took advantage of the
opportunity to chase the more experienced driver. Tom's
best lap in practice was a 2:14.5, nearly 3 seconds faster then his
previous best lap. Carlos was fastest in the morning session,
with a 2:14.31, followed by Joe Craven with a 2:14.34 and Scott Neville
with a 2:15.7. Tom pulled into the hot pits after the session,
and Marcus and Jason took tire pressures and temperatures. Based
on this data, it was decided to lower the tire pressures, and remove a
little camber from the left front. No other changes were made
prior to qualifying.
Three Wheeling in Qualifying
The day was hotter by the time the early-afternoon qualifying session
started, and the track was starting to get a little greasy feel to
it. Even so, Tom was very consistent, putting all of his laps in
the 2:16.x range. His best time was 2:16.1, putting him third on
the grid. Joe Craven earned the pole, with a 2:13.9, followed by
Carlos with a 2:14.1. Scott Neville rounded out the field with a
2:17.5.. Tom again stopped on pit road after the session to allow
Jason and Marcus to measure the tread temperature and air pressure in
Tom heads for the grid
When Jason and the crew started the car
for the Sunday race, they noticed the engine sounded like it had an
exhaust leak. A quick investigation by Ron discovered a crack had
developed in the header. With no time to fix it, and no way to
fix it even if there was time, Tom strapped on the car and headed out
to race. Starting behind Joe, on the inside of the second
row, when the green flag fell, Tom tried to stay on Joe's bumper,
forcing Carlos to stay outside and move into second place. This
plan worked briefly, with Carlos and Tom going through turn 1 side by
side. Having the outside line entering turn 2 gave Carlos a
better line through the corner, and he was able to brake a little later
than Tom and tuck in behind Joe for second place. Tom held on to
third place, under heavy pressure from Scott Neville for the first lap
and part of the second, when Scott was able to get a run coming out of
turn 6 and make the pass going up the hill.
Tom stuck on Scott's bumper for the next four laps, including a rather
optimistic attempt to dive bomb under the 44 car entering turn
14. Scott went wide and held on to his position easily. Two
laps later, some faster Honda Challenge cars caught up and passed Scott
entering turn14, forcing him off line to the inside. The lead of
the two cars, a silver Acura got out of shape between 14 and 15,
causing the second Honda Challenge car, driven by Mike Quan to take
evasive action to avoid hitting him. Unfortunately Mike spun
directly in front of Scott. With nowhere to go, Scott T-Boned
Mike in the passenger door. Tom passed safely to the outside, and
moved into third place. Mike and Scott both got back into the
race, with Scott slipping back about 12 seconds due to the shunt.
Joe and Carlos were flying, and had opened a nearly 30 second lead over
Tom when the checkered flag fell. Joe finished First, with a
2:13.37, Carlos finished Second with a 2:13.23, followed by Tom with a
2:15.95 and Scott with a 2:15.98. Damage to Scott's car was
limited to a side marker light and a bent bumper mount, and the
passenger door on Mike's Honda.
Aftermath of the T-Bone