Saturday, September 10, 2011

NASA National Championship

Returning From the Worst-Case Scenario to Earn a Respectable Finish in the National Championship


If you'd like to skip right to watching the race, which was professionally filmed externally and commentated, just like the pro races, click on the following link.
You can use my username (Z3SpdDmn) and password (SpecE30) to sign in so you can watch full screen and in HD!
www.speedcasttv.com/#/races/245
(Just note that you won't see me in my #007, but in the substituted #21 loaned to me by Denny Barker)


Between the last race in August and the 2011 NASA National Championships on September 8-10, I had concluded that my car needed an engine rebuild in order to be competitive for the championship. Video evidence showed a notable difference between me and the other fast guys and a compression test confirmed my suspicions. It was a stressful 3 weeks that faced us with multiple challenges along the way. I knew that I was taking some risk in building a new engine and running it with no test time, but I felt that doing nothing was not an option. Fellow SpecE30 racer Michael Osborne was a crucial element in getting the engine built and installed, going far out of his way to help. I got the engine running 5 days before the Championships, got it broken in, and set to work on other items that needed attending. In fact, I was feeling pretty good about it as I got loaded up on Wednesday.
I picked up Kevin Kreisa, of DTR Performance, on my way up to the Mid-Ohio and planned to meet Denny Barker up at the track. Regrettably, my usual crew chief, Nate Thulin, had a conflict come up and couldn’t make it, so Kevin and Denny were splitting Crew and Crew Chief duties. Having their help was absolutely instrumental through the weekend. We unloaded and set up a paddock space among the other Great Lakes SpecE30s, including Michael Osborne, Cameron Bullard, and Sean Louisin. When we returned early on Thursday morning, we faced a wet track and ran our Warm-up and Qualifying sessions in these conditions. The car was feeling ok on the wet setup and the engine felt good, but a decent bit of traffic in Qualifying left me with a 6th place starting position for the first Qualifying race. Thursday and Friday were run in this fashion, with a Qualifying session for a Qualifying Race. The results of the 2 Qualifying Races would determine the starting grid for the National Championship Race on Saturday. In all of our races, we would be conducting standing starts. That is, we would all be starting from a dead-stop, just like Formula 1 or the World Challenge Series do. Unfortunately, our region had never done standing starts before, and we initially resisted the idea.


JUMPED TO 3RD ON THE START (Kate Harley Moss Photo)

The rain went away and the track dried up before our Qualifying Race #1, so we switched to the dry tires and suspension setup on the car. I thought that this would be the test to tell me truly how competitive I would be this weekend. I had no problems with the standing start, launching from 6th up to 3rd by the time we hit Turn 1, and I was up to 2nd after the Keyhole. Loren Trethefen, in the only convertible SpecE30 I’ve ever seen, was followed me through (what I normally call) T7, up to Madness. However, he missed his braking point; first hitting me in the rear bumper, then again on the inside, putting a big donut in my door and rear quarter. I controlled the car, though, and pulled back ahead when we went into Thunder Valley. Robert Grace was ahead and I gave chase as I simultaneously was feeling out the car on the dry track. We hit T1 again, for the first time at speed, and my car was not turning… I had taken this turn at this speed and turn-in point a thousand times before, so it was obvious that there was something reducing traction. I slid off the track into the grass, kept my foot in it - correcting the oversteer one way and then the other. I made it back on track, but lost position to Michael Osborne and Carter Hunt. As I looked back, I saw a cloud of smoke and a gaggle of SpecE30’s scattered and spinning all over the place. I don’t know if I was the one dropping fluid or if it was already there, but as I kept driving, the car didn’t feel quite right under me. I pushed forward and got by Carter in T14 before the Carousel, with Sean Louisin close behind me. I struggled through the race and, as we were 2 laps from the end, the car started smoking. I was dropping back and just trying to resist each pass the best I could. I felt bad when Sean and I entered T14 with him on the outside and my car slid out again in dramatic fashion. He may have expected it, as he was quick to avoid me and take to the grass. I was glad he was able to get back on track with minimal incident. However for me, as I entered the front straight and took the white flag, plumes of smoke behind me, the car started going down badly on power. I had to shut it down and pull off. This was no way to start my run for the championship.


SpecE30 Championships - Qualifying Race #1


THE INJURED 007 (Andy Welter Photo)

Investigation led us to discover that the coolant drain plug in the block had gone missing and drained the coolant out of the block, allowing the engine to overheat. The strange thing was that my gauges never showed any crisis occurring. We found a replacement bolt to keep the water in and refilled the system. While the car started and ran, when we pulled the oil dipstick, we found the oil to be extremely frothy – indicating that water was getting into the oil. While the likelihood was that this was a catastrophic situation, there was also the possibility that the head gasket was blown and could be replaced. As Kevin got started on pulling the head, with assistance from Denny and Michael Osborne (who had amazingly started 15th and WON the Qualifying Race #1!), I went on a parts gathering mission. I got oil on site ($60 that would later go down the drain, figuratively) and headed toward Columbus to get a head gasket from fellow SpecE30 racer Kyle Smith. I returned to find that the head gasket that came off did not seem to be blown. With little other choice, we put it back together with the new gasket, filled it with oil, and finally fired it up around 2am. It ran, but when we checked the oil, there was again water in it causing it to froth up. The head was likely cracked, allowing the 2 fluids to mix. We made the decision, based on prior discussion, to go get Denny’s SpecE30 to continue the weekend. He and I set out for Cleveland, arriving at his house around 3:30am. We grabbed a few hours of sleep, loaded the car around 7, and headed back to the track. Make no mistake - it sucked.



Michael got us squared away with the NASA officials so that I could run the #21 car when we returned. We accepted that we would miss Warm-up and focused on getting ready for Qualifying. The car was mostly ok, but missing all the things that we had developed into my car, such as the fit of the cockpit, the suspension setup, and the freshly strengthened engine. Aside from these things, the #21 was oversteering badly going under the Honda bridge in T10, as well as a couple other places. Denny had previously complained of the same thing. I felt like the rear suspension – likely the swaybar – was binding and suddenly locking up the rear end. I Qualified 11th with this condition and Kevin and Denny set to work on fixing the issue. They adjusted the rear swaybar end-links to prevent them from binding and got ready for the Qualifying Race #2. My parents, sister Tessa, and Brother-in-Law Tim showed up from Rochester, NY around this time to spend the weekend with us. I was happy to see them.


HANGING OUT IN THE PADDOCK (Andy Welter Photo)

Starting in 11th put me on the outside of the front straight as we look towards T1. When the lights went out, I got another good launch and dodged left to try to get by Matt Harness ahead of me. However, he also moved left and then missed 2nd gear. I got swiped down the left side, folding my drivers’ side mirror forward, and then rear-ended Matt, looking for a way by. As Carter Hunt was flying by on my right, I rear-ended Matt again before I could jump to the right and pull around him. I had lost about 6 positions before I finally got into T1! I pressed forward and worked on regaining those positions. The car was feeling better, but still having some issues in certain places. I did not feel like I could trust the handling. It felt more like fluid getting on the tires now, as the binding issue was gone and this was occurring on turn-in. I worked through it to gain back my positions, plus one, finishing in 10th. I felt ok with finishing a mid-pack car in the middle of the pack, but felt that it had more. I could see that the cool-suit cooler was leaking water onto the passenger floor and considered that it could be the culprit. However, I had also noticed the coolant temperature rising during the session and the water pressure was running low. I suspected that the expansion tank cap was failing and also noticed that the expansion tank’s overflow was not routed to a catch can. We swapped my pressure cap on, installed a catch-can, and replaced his cool suit with steel ballast from my car. While we were at it, we made a minor sway bar adjustment.


SpecE30 Championships - Qualifying Race #2

The evening was fortunately more relaxing. We went to dinner at KC’s Steakhouse – my favorite Mid-Ohio watering hole – and then got settled into the house I had rented for the weekend just 2 miles from the track. Alyssa and her parents and sister showed a bit later, as Alyssa had flown in to Columbus. It was really nice to have everyone together! The next morning’s warm-up session went quite well, as the car felt completely fixed and trust-worthy. I felt that THIS was a car I could race! In fact, I had dropped over a second off my laptime, posting the 3rd fastest lap of the Warm-up. It gave me a sense of confidence that I could have a shot to run at the top 5 cars. However, storms were a’brewin’…



COMING IN FROM A REASSURING WARM-UP (Alyssa Nolan Photo)

As the National Championship race neared, we scrambled to get everything set and ready, ensuring that we had enough ballast to remain legal after burning 45 minutes worth of fuel in this longer race. However, it began raining before the race and did not look like it was about to let up. We swapped out to rain tires, but didn’t have time to switch to a suspension setup for the wet. Everyone took their positions and I headed out on a very wet track. We lined up for our standing start on the front straight, but some confused drivers ahead of me were not in their correct positions, causing me to start from a row back from where I should have been. In any case, I got ready, radioed to Denny that I would try to bring it home in one piece, and waited for the lights to go out…
I jumped forward by a couple cars to get up into around 6th. Robert Grace pulled out to an early lead while the cars behind him battled for position. However, while trying to open his lead, he went off in the carousel and fell all the way back to almost last. Carter Hunt assumed the lead, and it was a substantial one, at that. My strategy was to try to not be taken out by another driver. Especially considering that I was in someone else’s car, I knew that everyone was going for broke and would surely be making some moves with a low percentage chance of success. Having experience at Mid-Ohio in the wet, I know how much less grip the track offers on the inside, where the sealant is. It looks like a great passing opportunity, but it’s usually a good way to put you and another car out of the race. I pushed the car to get what I could out of it, passing where I knew I could execute. Following Palacio and Curran, I watched Palacio give Curran a bump on entry to the right hander into Thunder Valley. Curran unfortunately spun and we all moved up. While Grace came back up and got by, I got by Palacio and was now in 4th, behind a close battle between Grace and Gagliardo, with Hunt running a good distance ahead. I watched Grace make a move to the inside of T1, knowing it wouldn’t go well. He pushed out and banged into the side of Gagliardo. They both stayed on track, but Grace got big sideways on exit. I used their compromised exit speed to make a move to get by and braked deep into the Keyhole to make sure it stuck. I didn’t expect to find myself up in 2nd, but here I was, so I gave chase after Hunt.


CHASING DOWN THE LEADER (Andy Welter Photo)

With one eye ahead and one eye watching for aggressive moves from behind me, we started to close in on Hunt. I had Gagliardo, Grace, and Trefethen behind me and Trefethen, who had been pushing hard through the field, got past Grace when he got loose over the right into Thunder Valley. As I came into “the fast left” before the Carousel, I saw Gagliardo make a move to the inside. There was no way that it was going to work, so I got ready for the certain impact. He hit me in the left rear, putting me sideways, but I was quick to countersteer and hang on to my position. Loren Thefethen, in the SpecE30 convertible, got past Gagliardo as he recovered and, on the next lap, got a run on me down the back straight. He had hit me hard in the first qualifying race, so I wasn’t going to get into a position where he could do it to me again. I let him sail by and we both closed in on Hunt. While I held my line, knowing where I could pass and where I couldn’t – as well as where I was vulnerable to be passed and where I was not – Trefethen continued in his highly aggressive manner. He got lined up right on the back bumper of Carter Hunt’s car as they took the cresting right hander into Thunder Valley. Coming over the crest, the track is extremely slippery and Hunt got loose, starting a spin to the right. While Trefethen had no option but to also go right, he also got sideways, recovered on the right side of the track, and found himself facing sqarely at Hunt’s right front wheel. He hit him hard, bending Hunt’s suspension and retiring him from the race, while Trefethen careened off to the right and into the tires. Having left myself enough room to figure out which way they were going, I drove past on the left and assumed the lead of the race. Now the pressure was on as I led the next lap with Gagliardo and Grace in pursuit.


LEADING THE RACE! (Andy Welter Photo)

While I couldn’t believe I was leading the race, I tried to figure out how I would hold onto it for the remaining 15 minutes of the race. I didn’t have to think about it for too long, though, because I pushed just a bit wide in the left under the Honda bridge, giving Grace a chance to get to my left side, which gave him the preferred wet line up to Thunder Valley. He went by and I dropped behind, still content to be running 2nd at this point. With Gagliardo’s car suffering from his previous scuffle with Grace, Grace and I had opened up a decent gap back to 3rd. I just needed to hang on at this point and maybe I could make a move, but it wasn’t to be. A yellow flag came out, bringing out the Safety Car, who pulled in front of the 944Spec car that was leading overall. The pace slowed to a crawl as we caught up with the leader and the rest of the field caught up to us. We had a mixture of 944Spec’s and SpecE30’s in front of us, all of which were a lap down from the leader. Getting by in the wet was going to be tricky.
The green flag waved on the back straight and Grace and I initially had a great run. However, no one in front of us could decide what direction they wanted to go. We went right, then left, then had to lift throttle and check back to the right again. We passed a few cars, but we had Palacio and Allen a short ways behind us. We worked forward and Grace put a couple lapped cars between us. As we approached Thunder Valley, I saw Simon Hunter and a not-to-be-named white E30 ahead of me. I flashed my high-beams frantically, just asking for the room to get by. Hunter recognized me and immediately gave me plenty of space to get by. The other car, however, defended as if his championship was on the line. He kept me behind him through the Carousel and I got a run on the front straight.


WORKING THROUGH LAP TRAFFIC ON THE RESTART (Andy Welter Photo)


BEING HELD UP BY LAP TRAFFIC (Andy Welter Photo)

The white flag was out – last lap! I came along to his inside as we approached T1, but he yielded no ground, and I had to slow in order to stick it on the sealer on the inside. Palacio was behind the white car and had a full-speed run through the turn, getting past me on the outside. The white car spun himself on the exit of T1 and backed it into the inside tire wall. OK… so I was in 3rd. Maybe I could live with that. Johnny Allen had worked through a lot of traffic to get up behind me and he was on my bumper as we went through Madness for the last time. For some reason, I didn’t recognize him as a car on the lead lap, thinking that I had passed him and he was just fighting back. He stuck his nose under me through 9 and got beside me approaching the left hand T10 under the Honda bridge, making me over-slow since I would be on sealer on the inside, and got by. I didn’t hand him the position, but I didn’t fight him as if it was for the last podium position, which, of course, it was. I got a run onto the front straight and crossed the line beside him, but about a ¼ car length back. It was not until we parked in the impound lot and I was handed the timing sheet that the reality of having missed the podium by one position set in…


THE BATTLE FOR 3RD PLACE (Andy Welter Photo)

HERE IS THE ENTIRE RACE, SHOT EXTERNALLY AND COMMENTATED, JUST LIKE THE PRO RACES. IT WAS VERY EXCITING AND I GOT LOTS OF ATTENTION!
www.speedcasttv.com/#/races/245
To watch in HD login as user Z3SpdDmn and password is SpecE30.

I congratulated all the podium finishers and watched them celebrate with champagne, trophies, trophy girls, hats and big checks, before they proceeded to interviews. I was congratulated on my finish by my family, friends, and fellow racers, but I would be lying if I said I was satisfied with my finish. I guess it is my nature. Had I simply worked up to 4th, I would have likely been happy with having done that in a borrowed car. But, knowing that I should have at least had 2nd place wrapped up – and having had that yellow flag and the resulting traffic screw me – has left me with a big pit in my gut. There were some body contact forms filed against the 1st and 2nd place finishers, which gave some lingering hope of moving up due to a DQ (not that I would ever wish a DQ on someone). But, having reviewed the video, I didn’t think that any DQ’s would be handed out. We spent the next few hours in tech inspection, having some items checked for legality and compatibility. Having finally passed the inspections, we loaded up all our equipment and both cars and the headed back to the house to hang out and enjoy the rest of the night.
Disappointed as I may be in having lost my engine and not having finished on the podium, I feel great that we salvaged a really good finish from what would otherwise have been a thrown-away Championship run. I’m also rather proud to have been one of the few cars that I was around in that race that didn’t hit anyone else the entire weekend. I have to extend a HUGE THANKS to Denny Barker for allowing me the use of his car! I hope I did him proud. I also need to thank Denny and Kevin Kreisa for their support through the entire weekend, as well as to Michael Osborne for the great lunches and for helping with the attempted head gasket swap on Thursday night. I also want to thank my parents, sister, brother-in-law, girlfriend Alyssa, her parents and sister for all making the trip out to support me! It was a weekend that will not be soon forgotten and I am glad to have had them all have been a part of it.
I also want to thank my sponsors that have been supporting me this year. Jeff, Jeremy, and Andrew at Ireland Engineering, Chris May at IMGT3 Performance, of course, Kevin Kreisa at DTR Performance, Scott Barton of MyTrackSchedule.com, and Ken Herskovitz at Bimmertools.com. They have all made significant contributions to get me running or keep me running at one point in the year or another!
So, I have to move on to next year. The car needs fixing and there’s no time to waste. I need to get past the extensive mechanical woes that I’ve had this year – I learned how to do a lot of things that I really didn’t care to know! – and I hope that I will be set next year once the engine situation is sorted out. I wish I didn’t have to wait a whole year to take another run at the SpecE30 National Championship!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course SpecE30

I had to miss the last 2 SpecE30 races due to other commitments, but I had still been active with coaching BMW Club Racers and testing a new supercar called the Mach 7 Motorsports Falcon. However, it was nice to get back into the Spec cars, as their inherent similarity really push us to dig deep to maximize our performance on track. The #007 car has had a large share of issues this year, starting with a fried wire harness and stemming from there, but we’ve worked hard to get the car performing at its peak level again, as well as continuing its development.

We arrived at Mid-Ohio just before dusk on Friday, already knowing that our usual SpecE30 compound had been overrun. With the NASA National Championships being held at Mid-Ohio in September, we had a large number of out-of-region competitors attending in order to learn the track. In fact, we had Robert Grace join us from the Mid-Atlantic region, which is one of the largest regions for SpecE30. Robert is considered to be their regional hot-shoe, especially since Mike Skeen moved to the pros and Chris Cobetto moved to another class. We found ourselves some room among the other SpecE30’s, though, and got unloaded before heading to the hotel.



Limited as we are on adjustability, we were making small suspension adjustments, hoping to find a bit more speed in the car. Saturday morning’s practice session was a bit short – only 4 laps – but, on old “practice” tires, I set a 1:44.234, running the Pro Course. This was a time that no one, including myself, would match all weekend. The temperature rose rapidly after that morning session, reducing the grip levels for everyone. We had to rely on my feel for the car, more so than strictly lap times, in order to evaluate the changes that we were making. We made an adjustment going into qualifying and posted a 1:44.429. This was good enough for the pole, but concerning at the same time. The driver who qualified 2nd was Cameron Bullard – a relatively newer driver, only 20 years old, who was at least a second off my pace all of last year. I had helped him out in April by having his rear suspension completely refreshed (parts from Ireland Engineering and work performed at DTR Performance) and setting up his alignment. For that, he returned the favor by qualifying 0.333 seconds behind me. That was definitely within fighting distance. With 3 separate race groups, we were all thankful to be separated from the Spec Miatas. However, we had some very fast GTS (German Touring Series) cars in the group ahead of us. I would be leading off the start of our 2nd wave of cars, taking our own green flag on the back straight for the first time I can remember.


Qualifying Video from Side of Car – IN HD!


On the start of the race, Cameron dragged me down through Turns 7 and 8, but I pulled into the lead from there. He pressured me for a few laps before I was able to open up a gap wide enough to take a deep breath every once in a while. From there, I just tried to run consistent and quick laps, working through traffic as efficiently as possible. I had increased the gap to a half a straight away between us and was feeling comfortable with the car’s performance. On lap 7, though, as I was approaching the Keyhole, I entered to find a Porsche 944 spinning ahead of me. I could have picked a direction and shot by, hoping that his car hooked the other way, but I decided to play it safe and slow down to see which way his car was going. He ended up heading backwards off the track and I pulled to the right. Unfortunately, this had absolutely killed my exit speed onto the back straight. To make matters worse, I was going so slow that I needed 2nd gear and I couldn’t find it. I so rarely downshift to 2nd that I might have put it over in the Reverse gate, but regardless, it took a couple tries to get it engaged. As it ripped to redline and I upshifted to 3rd, Cameron blasted by on my right, having gotten full exit speed from the Keyhole.



Well, this race just got interesting… I gave chase as he pulled away from me down the straight. I pushed to get close and when we came around to the start finish line, I was within two car-lengths. As we entered Turn 1, I saw him turn in a couple feet early and, while he held a sweet 4-wheel drift right to the curbing, he pushed off the outside of the turn. I watched his splitter grab a big scoop of dirt and grass before it proceeded to fold under his car. He came right back on and was able to rejoin the battle, albeit with a little less grip in the front, and he held off Jeremy Lucas to finish on the 2nd podium position. In the meantime, I had run the remaining laps uncontested and brought the 007 home in 1st place, with a 7.5 second gap to 2nd!




Race 1 Video - IN HD!



We arrived at the track on Sunday morning to a fog that was thick enough to mandate the cancellation of our morning practice. So much for testing a change we had made since the previous day’s race… Considering the big picture, we decided to risk the qualifying session to evaluate the change. This turned out to put us in a bit of turmoil, as the qualifying session did not go as planned…

During our 4-lap session, I ended up running with an out-of-class car that was hindering me in the turns and I was not able to get a clean lap. The cars that qualified 2, 4, and 6 were impounded for weight checks and for dyno runs. In my head, I assumed that we had still qualified 1st. However, when I looked at the qualifying sheet, I realized that I had actually qualified 3rd. Cameron was second and the pole-sitter was Mid-Ohio newcomer Robert Grace. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t panic a little bit. We were not sure whether we were slower due to the other car or the change in the suspension, so I set to analyzing the video and data to compare against my feeling of how the car was acting. Should we return to the previous day’s setup, which PROVED to be good enough to win? Or, should we continue to evaluate the change, which I felt should make the car a touch quicker, overall, and risk the race? I ultimately decided that I would look forward to having a real race on my hands and we would let the cards fall where they may.



Between qualifying and the race, we did some checks on track width and differential break-away torque so that we could be familiar with the procedure and see where we all stood in terms of compliance. This drew some interesting results. We also eagerly attended the dyno sessions for the 3 cars that were selected. I realized very quickly why my motor never feels very strong compared to the others… While I make a good peak horsepower number, I’m down on torque across the powerband.

On the start, I had Robert Grace in front of me and Michael Osborne beside me. I was amused to watch Michael bump Cameron, as Cam wasn’t moving up into his line up position as quickly as Michael would’ve liked. We got sorted, though, and rolled onto the back straight, awaiting the green flag. Robert and I jumped at the same time, while Cameron was either in the wrong gear or taking a nap. I pulled ahead and followed Robert into Turn 7 and through Madness.



Coming through Turn 1, I pulled along side him, to the inside on the exit, and we went side-by-side up to the Keyhole. And then side-by-side down the back straight. And through Turn 7, and 8, and 9, where I gave him a little too much room and allowed him to pull back ahead, while Cameron was right on my rear bumper. I gave chase again and when we went through Turn 1 this time, I got the run and passed him on the OUTside, with 2 wheels in the grass, and we dragged up to the Keyhole again. This time I had the inside line and made the pass going in. I would love to see this guy’s dyno sheet, though, because he managed to get beside me again at the end of the back straight. I had the inside line for T7, though, and I used it to hold on to the lead.



On our next time through Turn 1, I watched Grace get completely sideways through the apex and I watched the other SpecE30’s scatter to avoid contact. Fortunately there was none and they kept going, but this also gave me a bit of a gap to the rest of the field and allowed me to focus on turning laps. Jeremy Lucas was the next car back and I watched him hold the gap, and a couple times he seemed to shrink it. I put my head down analyzed and made sure to hit all my marks, as I had been off a foot here or a foot there while I was in traffic on the first few laps. This improved my times and opened the gap back up through the remaining laps. The only challenge was a particularly hard-headed driver in a GTS 330i, supposedly a World Challenge-prepared car, who I had passed in traffic. He had about 100 hp on me, so he had the legs on the straights. On the LAST lap, he was closing on me on the back straight. I clearly positioned my car on the right side of the track (approaching the right-hand Turn 7) to indicate that I did not want to be passed here. Well, he pressed the issue and dove WAY to the inside, probably with tires in the grass, so I pulled back to the left under braking so he didn’t punt me off the track with his idiocy. Still, with being off-line and distracted with paying attention to him, as well as giving him room, it put me wide in T7 and in the marbles. Nothing that I couldn’t handle, but it really pissed me off that he was that slow and being bull-headed about the position with an out-of-class car. Of course, I still passed him in Turn 8 and gapped him through the remaining turns to bring home the class win, with another 7.5 second gap back to Lucas in 2nd place, while Grace had worked his way back up into 3rd.


Race 2 Video


3rd-to-1st - Driver Cam



As always, we have a lot of work to do between races, despite the positive results from this weekend. We will be racing on August 13-14 again at Mid-Ohio, and then we are expecting 30 SpecE30’s for the National Championships on September 8-10! Keep an eye out to see how the season progresses!



A big thanks goes out to my 2011 sponsors: IMGT3 Performance, Ireland Engineering, MyTrackSchedule.com, DTR Performance, and Bimmertools.com!

All photos courtesy of Katelyn Harley Moss.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mid Ohio - SpecE30

It’s amazing how much work there is to be done in the off-season to a car that won all but one race in 2010. The work surrounded mainly around 2 items. The first was a rules change that decreased our minimum weight requirement 50 lbs while also allowing us to place our ballast weight more strategically. The second item was a personal commitment to increasing the level of safety in my car. That meant a new wrap-around seat, HANS-specific harnesses, and quick-disconnect steering wheel. A lot of the remaining work went into “while we’re in there” items. I also repainted both sides of the car to create a fresh canvas for my sponsors’ logos. I was out of town for work 5 days a week for the 3 months leading up to the first event, so there is no way I would have completed the car without the help of my Crew Chief, Nate Thulin. Nate was in my garage on many weeknights that I was away and was with me almost every minute that I was working on the car. A huge thanks goes out to him for his hard work and support! Our focus this year is on the NASA SpecE30 National Championship at Mid-Ohio in September, and Nate is as big a part in the effort as I am.

There have been some changes for this season in regards to sponsorship. Scott Barton’s MyTrackSchedule.com and Kevin Kreisa of DTR Performance continue the support they’ve shown me since the beginning and Bimmertools.com continues their support of the past 2 years. New for 2011, though, is an increase in support from Ireland Engineering and a new sponsor, IMGT3 Performance. IMGT3Performance.com is a national online supplier of racing and performance parts, created for customers who seek high quality parts, great customer service, parts delivered on-time, and at the right price. And, of course, for those of you who don’t know, Anthony Magagnoli Racing is “officially official”, providing professional driver coaching and race vehicle support! Visit www.DriveFasterNow.com for details!

On the weekend of April 1-3, I was coaching for the BMWCCA Club Race School at Mid-Ohio. While this is a great event for advanced drivers and to-be racers to attend, it was also a great opportunity for us to shake down the car. And shake it down, we did… On a cold weekend that had snow, sleet, hail, and rain at different times, we still had ample opportunity to sort out a suspension issue we were having. But, unfortunately, it also revealed another issue. The ignition coil mount broke its spot welds off the wheel well and it fell down while I was on track. It shorted against the exhaust manifold and fried my wire harness. Literally. After working on it all day in the freezing cold, I gave up and sent it to a shop a little over an hour north of the track, where it eventually received a new wire harness.

So, I got the car back on Friday night, as Denny, having just completed the NASA comp school, was nice enough to go pick it up for me while I drove up to the track. Michael Osborne conducted some late-night annual tech inspections and we just had a couple items to attend to in the morning. However, I found that the car wasn’t as ready as I thought. There were several issues related to the work done on the car that I wasn’t expecting.

We had 11 SpecE30’s at our season-opener, which is a new record for the Great Lakes region! I personally recruited a couple of the new guys, so I was happy to see them out there, enjoying the challenge of their first event. My car was sporting its return to the number 007, which had been my number in BMWCCA Club Racing, but it had been owned by another NASA racer until this year.



I managed to qualify the car on pole, but it needed some attention before the race. I worked on getting it ready, while Michael Osborne and company prepared a nice lunch for the group. SpecE30 was the second largest race group, only smaller than SpecMiata, so our starting order was changed so that we were in the first wave of cars, in front of the Miatas. This proved to work out great, as we didn’t have to deal with nearly as much Miata traffic.

When we started the race, I had the inside of the front row, with Michael Osborne to my left. On the start, he had picked the wrong gear, but Rob Gagliardo had gotten a good jump from one row back and we went side-by-side through 7 and 8. From there, though, I pulled ahead and started opening a lead on the field. Within a few laps, I lost sight of those behind me. But, at about mid-race, the engine missed once and I thought to myself that it didn’t sound like something random… And sure enough, it happened again on the next lap. And on the next, and then the engine was cutting out for longer and longer, coming out of every left-hander, as the fuel level went down.


(Tom Hitzeman photo)

The car was fading fast, so I tried to get off-line in the places where the engine would cut out so I didn’t get rear-ended by other cars. I tried to keep my speed up and get to the end. I took the white flag and, as I came around the keyhole and onto the back straight, I looked across to Turn 2 and counted off the SpecE30’s. I accounted for all but Simon Hunter. As I braked at the end of the straight, he appeared in my mirror, quickly making up ground. Each time the engine cut out, he made up several car-lengths. As we came through the carousel and onto the front straight, the car fell on it’s face again and I only tracked-out to mid-track. Simon came flying through the last turn, tracking-out all the way to the right. My engine picked back up, but he had huge closing speed on me as we approached the finish line. I made my one legitimate defensive move, moving to the right side of the track. This caused Simon to check up and dodge me to the left to pull past. We crossed the line side-by-side, but I had just enough to cross the line ONE FOOT ahead of him!

Race 1, from Rob Gagliardo:

NASA Great Lakes - Saturday race


(Tom Hitzeman photo)

A win is a win, but I was obviously having a fuel delivery issue. With the help of some of my competitors, I investigated after the race and found the in-tank pump not to be running. It seemed that the relay may have come loose, so we zip tied the relay down and called it a night. We went to KC’s Steakhouse for a group dinner, which was nice to all get together. A quick visit in to see my friend Loretta turned our 30+ minute wait into less than 5.

Sunday morning’s qualifying session was damp and we only got 4 laps. With that, however, I qualified on pole, 5 seconds faster than the next closest car! The 007 seemed to be running just fine, as well. We had a long break until the race, so I took the opportunity to do some work on the car and then have another lunch with the group, provided by the Osborne crew.


(Aaron Eberle photo)

At the start of the second race, I had Richard Bratton to my left, with Michael Osborne and Denny Barker behind us. Michael got a good launch, splitting Richard and I on the back straight and leading us through Turn 7 and over “Madness”. Giving chase, I resumed the lead with a pass going into Turn 14 (“the fast left”). With the 10 other SpecE30’s in my mirror, I focused on putting a gap between us. On the next lap around, though, the car made its first fateful stutter… I shook my head in frustration, as I knew that there would be no way that I could pull out enough of a lead over the next couple laps to make up for the loss in power that I would soon see. We had obviously not found the root cause of the issue.


(Tom Hitzeman photo)

The engine cut got worse sooner in the race than on Saturday and was the engine was running lean enough to compromise power on every straight-away. Since running lean can destroy an engine, I was short-shifting in an attempt to preserve it. It didn’t take too long for the guys to catch back up as the problem worsened. As each guy caught me, I put up the best fight I could, holding position - or even re-passing - through the turns. When we hit the straights, though, getting out of their way was the only sensible thing to do. I dropped back one or two spots at a time, struggling to get the car to the end. When I finally crossed the finish line, I found myself in a frustrating 7th place out of the 11 cars. It was the knowledge that I could pull away from the field, but being kept back by a mechanical issue, that really upset me. I have 2 more SpecE30 race weekends at Mid-Ohio (July and August) before the National Championships. I will be spending more time between now and then coaching there, too, so I plan to have lots of seat time and fully maximize my “home track advantage” in the Nationals.

Race 2, from Rob Gagliardo:

NASA Great Lakes - Sunday race.

A big thanks goes out to my 2011 sponsors: IMGT3 Performance, Ireland Engineering, MyTrackSchedule.com, DTR Performance, and Bimmertools.com!


(Aaron Eberle photo)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Putnam Park - NASA Spec E30

I came to Putnam Park a bit nervous. Not because I was feeling pressure to place well, but because I had pressure to just FINISH both races. The regional championship came down to this weekend. I was nervous because only part of this was in my control. I felt confident that I could keep the car on the track, but a mechanical issue or a rogue SpecPi├▒ata could easily take the championship out of my hands.

Pre-race, I made sure the car had enough tire and brake and ensured that nothing weird was going on. But, the night before I was to head out, I heard a tick in the motor that I didn’t like, so I pulled the valve cover and reset the gaps on the rocker arms. Although I did find a few out of spec, it didn’t seem to have made much difference. However, I gave Nate a good scare when I sent him a picture of the exposed internals of my engine when I was supposed to be getting loaded up! As added precaution, during the races, Nate was stationed in the pit lane with spare tires, duct tape, and zip ties, as well as an assortment of tools; to get me back on track should something go very wrong. Both races would take place on Saturday.

I posted the best times for practice and qualifying, but the car wasn’t feeling particularly good. There was lots of oversteer, making it difficult to drive “flatout”. Yet, it was pushing notably in turns 9-to-10. It was more than a little hairy. We made a small camber adjustment, based on our tire temps, but we didn’t have much time to play with it and had to somewhat wing it.


Sean Louisin giving chase (Alyssa Nolan photo)

I started the race from the pole position, on the inside coming out of turn 10. With radios not working, it was up to me to look for the green flag to drop. I jumped at the same time as Sean Louisin, but he had a slightly higher starting speed, since he had come through the outside of the turn. He was pulling on me, but there was a slow 944 in the left lane and I wasn’t going to be so courteous as to move over and give him the room to complete his pass! So, I lead into turn 1 and stayed in front, despite a lot of lap traffic and a particularly annoying 944. He was fast enough to keep me behind him for several laps, but was also slowing me down enough to allow Louisin to keep me right in his gun sight. He made a couple moves, getting beside me, but I was able to emerge ahead each time. In his final attempt, coming out of turn 8, he pushed wide. He went over the rumble strips, over the access road and, when he hit the grass on the other side, he did his best Dukes of Hazzard impression, launching his car a couple feet into the air. After a hard landing, he was able to continue on at speed and cross the line. For me, I brought the car back cleanly in 1st place, save for a good coating of dust all over the back end. That was one race down; one more to go.


SpecE30 10/9/10 Race 1 - Putnam Park


Coming through the final turn (Alyssa Nolan photo)

It was great to have Alyssa, her parents, and my friend Luke all in attendance. Our future SpecE30 competitor, my buddy Denny, was giving rides in the HPDE sessions to Alyssa’s parents. The track was getting dustier and slicker after every session, as cars would put a wheel (or 4) off the track and kick up a cloud that would eventually settle back on the track. Alyssa’s mom wasn’t even fazed by her 4-off experience!


Nate and Anthony, getting ready to race

In the second race, we started in the same positions as in the first, but my start was no better. I had Louisin pulling me on my left and Richard Bratton III making a surprise attack on the right. We were 3-wide as we entered the braking zone for turn 1. I weighed my options… In the best case scenario, I could win this turn and stay in the lead. In the worst case, we could bang some fenders, get disqualified, and the whole championship is gone. I chose to brake early and let the other two duke it out. I got back by Louisin after turn 2, but Bratton went on to pull out a significant lead, while I had to deal with out-of-class traffic.


Out-of-class competitor (Alyssa Nolan photo)

Once I got through the bulk of the traffic, I set my sights on the fish tank in the distance, 9 seconds ahead of me (Bratton’s car has a vinyl wrap to look like a fish tank). There was an E36 M3, running in PTB, that was making my quest difficult, though. He would rocket down the straight, but held me up through the rest of the course. He got the picture when he passed me late on the front straight, only to have me re-pass him in turn 2, with my inside tires in the grass. He backed off and only passed me in the following laps if he could get by early down the straight. We eventually made our way up to Bratton and I regained the lead by taking him on the inside of turn 8. He remained close behind as the M3 more or less tried not to interfere. Bratton made his last ditch effort going into turn 7, but pushed 4-off into the dirt. The funny thing is that he didn’t seem to lose any speed at all and I’m sure he never came off full-throttle. I came across the finish line to win the second race and secure the Great Lakes SpecE30 Regional Championship!


SpecE30 10/9/10 Race 2 - Putnam Park (Championship Race)


Great Lakes Region’s 2010 SpecE30 Champion (Alyssa Nolan photo)

After having suffered heart-breaks and learning-the-hard-way in the last 3 seasons of running BMWCCA K-Prepared, then SpecE30, I am thrilled to have finally put a championship together. These things rarely happen by accident, though, and I had great support from Nate Thulin throughout the season to make it a reality. He has pushed me to continue to develop the car and not to let it sit idle, just because it’s a “spec” class. We’ve learned a lot about it and made improvements. These resulted in 9 1st place finishes, 1 2nd place finish, 8 pole-positions, and 0 DNF’s this year. I’m really looking forward to next season, when we can do some real testing and tuning to get the car, and myself, ready for the NASA National Championships, which will return to Mid-Ohio in 2011!





Thank you to Alyssa and Nate for all the support AND all the pictures!

A big thanks goes out to my 2010 sponsors: MyTrackSchedule.com, Ireland Engineering, DTR Performance, Bimmertools.com, Enthusiast Auto, and FASTtech Limited!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Autobahn Country Club - NASA Spec E30

Well, Autobahn has come and gone and I'm happy to report that I and the car made it through unscathed. It was rather worrisome in the week prior, as I had both oil and water leaking from the engine, as well as transmission fluid from the tranny. I got the water leak fixed (thanks to new silcone hoses from Ireland Engineering), but the trans and motor are still leaking. We kept an eye on the trans fluid level through the weekend and refilled it at one point, while the oil level remained good, so that seems to not be any cause for worry right now.


Anthony and Nate, ready for Race 1

Autobahn is a motorsports country club and it was certainly a nice place to be. There was lots of high-end machinery to look at and listen to, as many well-heeled individuals from the Chicago area have their cars tended to by one of the several professional motorsports companies based there at the track. I was the only SpecE30 racing this weekend, as I was there to gain the points I need to compete for the Great Lakes Regional Championship. Howerver, I found some GTS1 guys to play with when they weren't battling each other. We're still working with the car setup and I feel that we learned a couple things this weekend to improve the setup, so that's good. Nate has really helped to keep me motivated on improving the car and not just accepting for it to be “good enough”. We were trying a new feature on the car that we’ve been working on for several weeks. We found that it worked, but now we’re doing some more tuning to re-balance the suspension. The rules don’t allow for much adjustment, so we have to be creative.


A little dirty, thanks to a 944 and a convenient mud hole.

As for the racing, Saturday was wet in the morning, so I still didn't know how fast I could go when the race came and it was dry. It would figure that a GTS1 car splattered the entire front of my car with mud on the 2nd lap, reducing visability dramatically. I still drove on through the race, even though I only TECHNICALLY needed to take the green flag in each race.

SpecE30 9/11/10 Race 1 - Autobahn CC South Course

In Sunday's race, I had a great back-and-forth with a GTS1 944 for the second half of the race. He almost had 2 bad crashes (both caught on my carmera!), but managed to save it both times without taking anyone else out. It was a lot of fun. He had a lot more mechanical grip than I did, similar power (I might've had the edge there), but I was able to just out drive him in the fast corners. He did manage to put together a lap that was a second faster than my fastest, but I beat him across the finish line. Lots of fun!

SpecE30 9/12/10 Race 2 - Autobahn CC South Course

Having won 7 of the 8 races I’ve run this year, I am in contention for the Regional Championship, contingent on a couple things… See, the points from our 10 best finishes count toward the season points and there are 2 races to go. At the season finale at Putnam Park in October, I need to finish both races AND average 5th place or better in order to get the points that I need. While that sounds easy enough, I've had enough bad experiences to realize that it's not over 'till it's over! So, at this point, I’ll be focusing on preparing the car, staying out of trouble, and being there at the end.



Thank you to Alyssa and Nate for the support AND all the pictures!





A big thanks goes out to my sponsors: MyTrackSchedule.com, Ireland Engineering, DTR Performance, Bimmertools.com, Enthusiast Auto, and FASTtech Limited!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mid Ohio NASA Spec E30

It’s been a few months since I’ve issued a SpecE30 write-up, as I had to miss a race at Putnam due to a wedding and BeaveRun due to work getting crazy. I attended the July race at Mid-Ohio, but didn’t get the chance to write it up. The car was handling poorly, as it didn’t have nearly enough camber in the left-front wheel. The max that I could adjust to was -2.7 and I really needed as close to -3.5 as possible. I felt like I was parking the car in the right-hand turns. Regardless, I was still able to win both races. In the first, I made my way through traffic to pull a lead and was able to stay in front. In the second, there was much more excitement, as I had Michael Osborne on my tail the whole time. We repeatedly went through Turns 7 and 8 side-by-side, but I was able to pull back in front by Turn 9 each time. Unfortunately, the memory card that the video was on was left on top of the car as we pulled away and lost…


Part 1: SE30 Mid Ohio Magagnoli Qualified & Finished P1


Spec E30 Saturday Part 2 of 2


Fighting off Michael Osborne through Turn 7

There were only 3 weeks before I’d return to Mid-Ohio for the August race and it was shaping up to be a big race. Last year’s regional champion, Simon Hunter, has taken the year off due to his wife having twins, but he would be in attendance. The total number of SpecE30 racers was going to be the largest that our growing region has seen, at 9 starters. So, I knew I had some work to do to get more negative camber in the left-front, as well as address a significant oil leak that was rapidly getting worse. It came down to the week before the race and I had my good friends step up to get the car done. Kevin Kreisa, of DTR Performance, swapped in a new head gasket and Dwayne Beatty, at Joseph Cadillac (of all places) got the camber I needed to compete (I’m not going into detail on that). The car was finally loaded up at 3am Friday morning and I set out after work with my girlfriend Alyssa riding shotgun.

We setup our paddock area near the other SpecE30’s on Friday night, so we were ready to go in the morning. Saturday’s morning practice session went well, with the car feeling much better. Alyssa and my new friend/co-worker DJ were gathering tire temperature and pressure data to get a read on how the new suspension setup was doing. I posted the fastest practice time, but that didn’t mean much. We went into qualifying and I dropped about 0.6 seconds off, which I felt good about. However, Simon edged me out by a couple tenths, and Sean Louisin came from behind to qualify on pole, a half second ahead of me! I was hoping I’d be able to find the speed I needed in the race.

The rain started coming while the other race group was out, about an hour before our race. It was light at first, but then quickly intensified. I strapped down my new canopy to a trailer and the wheels on my car, and jumped back into the truck. It was pouring like I hadn’t seen before, with strong winds sending the rain sideways. I parked the truck in front of my car, waiting for things to die down. 5 minutes after the rain had started, there was a pool forming around my car, and I suddenly realized that the low, flat area I paddocked in may not have been such a good idea. 2 minutes later, my other set of wheels and tires were floating away, now going under the truck, as the water level rose above my car’s lower valence. Another 2 minutes and it was at the door sill. This is when I took off my shoes and socks and, with the other SpecE30 racers rallying to help, dove in to rescue the car. We got the now-bent-in-half canopy stripped away and attached a tow strap to the truck’s hitch and the car’s tow strap. I pulled it out while someone steered it toward higher ground. I pulled the drain plugs out of the floor and let the 5” of water drain out. My helmet had been on the floor, so it was completely drenched. As the rain subsided, we found that the track had lost power and the front straight had been struck by lightning! My friend Denny (soon-to-be SpecE30 racer) was even zapped by it in the pits! The race was postponed until the following morning, set to replace our Sunday practice session at 8am.






It got a little wet...

I ran a hair drier inside of my helmet for a few hours overnight to dry it out and wished the best for my car. Fortunately, it started right up in the morning. It spat some water out the tailpipe, but all was ok, aside from a layer of silt all over the floor pan. The track was still damp, but we all ran our dry tires since there was no standing water and the rain had passed. On the 2 pace laps, I tried to feel out the track the best I could. Each turn was different, with some having plenty of grip on the dry line (Keyhole, 7, 8, 9, Carousel), while others were still like ice on the sealant (1, 10a, 11, 13). I basically laid out where I needed to leave some extra safety margin and where I could really push it.

DJ and Alyssa were on the radio, watching the starter on the back straight for me. I heard the “Green! Green! Green! Green! Green!” while we were still in the Keyhole. Sean got the same jump as me, while Simon was taking a snooze (no radio). We drove into the mist cloud from the SpecMiatas and GTS cars ahead of us as I followed Sean down the straight. I went to the inside through the kink and we were side-by-side through 7. As we went over Madness, I pulled ahead and started focused on getting through traffic. The race only lasted 7 laps, but I saw more than that many cars go off, spin, or hit each other (or a wall) during that time. In fact, our own SpecE30 racer, Kevin Sweeney, spun over T11 (into Thunder Valley) and broad-sided the tires on the inside wall. I lost sight of the SpecE30’s, aside from when I was headed down the back straight and could see a couple between T1 and the Keyhole, and just kept pushing my way through traffic, keeping enough in reserve so as to stay clean.

While negotiating the excitement around me, I had managed to pull out a 38 second lead by the time I crossed the finish line and my fastest lap was 9 seconds faster than the next closest SpecE30. Sean Louisin came in 2nd and congratulations to rookie Cameron Bullard for posting his first podium finish by taking the 3rd spot!


SpecE30 8/15/10 Race 1 - Mid-Ohio Pro Course


Sean Louisin, “Trophy Girl”, Anthony Magagnoli, Cameron

Later in the morning, we held our qualifying session for the 2nd race. I came in only 0.13 sec ahead of Simon, but it was enough to earn the pole position. As it warmed up in the afternoon, we started the guessing game as to how much pressure to drop out of the tires. I made my judgment based on the data I had and went to grid. I had bottles of ice water packed in my driving suit, trying to keep my core temperature down while sitting on grid. A cool-shirt system might be on the list of winter projects.



Starting to the inside of Simon on the back straight, I dragged the brake while holding the throttle wide-open, waiting for the green. We jumped at the same time, but he pulled completely ahead of me by the time we reached the end of the straight. I thought that my brakes must have been dragging, or something, as this was the first time I had started that way. It wasn’t until I watched Simon’s in-car video that I realized how he found so much power on the start. While the rest of us started in 3rd gear, he had started in 2nd. Despite having to up-shift very quickly, he had gained more acceleration in 2nd gear than he lost during the time he spent shifting.

As we hit traffic, I gained back my position and did my best to put a car or two between us. Our cars are similarly matched to some of the GTS1 cars and there are always SpecMiatas around to annoy us, so we both had our work cut out for us. I had managed to put the GTS1 E30 of Kevin Gibson behind me and was working through traffic. Simon became irritated with an overly-defensive SpecMiata and made an overly-aggressive move on the back straight. As he pulled ahead of the Miata, he cut back to the inside, trying to solidify his pass, but braked far later than the car could manage. He braked down to the apex, but found Gibson right there in his path, and hit him hard, sending them both off the outside of T7.


Hunter and Gibson, coming to a rest

A lap later, there was a spin in Thunder Valley, which sent cars scattering, and Kevin Sweeney did all he could to dodge the carnage. While he missed the other cars, he was collected by the same tire wall that he hit in the morning, but this time the impact sent the car up on its roof, as he rolled over the tops of the a-pillars, and landed back on his wheels. This stopped the race and brought all the cars back into the pits. Once they got Kevin checked out and his car off the track, we resumed for a NASCAR-style Green, White, Checker. With Michael Osborne being the next SpecE30 behind me, I set to work when the green flag flew and got by another couple cars. While he did so, as well, I was able to hold onto the lead and cross the line in 1st.


SpecE30 8/15/10 Race 2 - Mid-Ohio Pro Course



The win was somewhat overshadowed by the carnage that one of our fellow SpecE30 racers incurred. Thankfully, he was physically, and even emotionally, fine, but the car will take some extensive work to repair.


Need to look closely to see that it rolled

Having won 5 of the 6 races I’ve run this year, I will be in the running for the Regional Championship, contingent on a couple things… I am currently the only one signed up for Autobahn in September and I must finish both those races. Then, at the season finale at Putnam Park in October, I need to finish both races, and average 5th place or better. So, at this point, I’ll be focusing on staying out of trouble and being there at the end.

Thank you to Alyssa (for the support AND all the pictures!), DJ, Denny, and Kohler for all your help this weekend!

A big thanks goes out to my sponsors: DTRPerformance.com, MyTrackSchedule.com, Bimmertools.com, and EnthusiastAuto.com!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Survival of the Fastest

Anthony Magagnoli and Kevin Kreisa's DTR / Street Survival One Lap of America effort was highlighted in a 9-page spread in the July 2010 issue of Roundel! Roundel is the official magazine of the BMWCCA and reaches over 72,000 members each month. Click here to see the article.

Monday, May 24, 2010

One Lap of America Racing Videos

The videos from the 2010 One Lap of America events are finally uploaded. The articles have also been updated with the videos, but you can just watch them all here:


View Video Album on Vimeo

You can check out all of the One Lap Videos, Pictures, and Story at www.DTROneLap.com.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

One Lap of America Round 10 - Tire Rack Dry(ish) Skid Pad

Coming into the last event, we were sitting in 5th overall, with the 997 Turbo in front of us and the GT3 RS behind us. We were not expecting a very good skidpad performance, if using our wet skidpad result (53rd) as any indication. We got to the Tire Rack early and got the car emptied out before taking it to a parking lot to test the balance. It was cold and cloudy, but dry. While it was oversteering at first, if I could manage to get the rear tires just a bit warmed, it was neutral to just a slight push. I decided that we couldn’t improve on this balance and I would just need to try to get some heat in the rear tires before the run, so I headed back. No sooner did I shut off the car than it began to downpour. Kevin and I threw everything in the trunk that we didn’t want to get wet and jumped in the car, soaked.

With the wet conditions, we figured we were screwed. Before the skidpad event, though, we had to line up for our group photo. They lined up the top 6 in front, which was an amusing sight: Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Porsche 911 Turbo, Corvette C6 Z06, Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911 GT2, and a 1990 BMW 325is.


It had stopped raining, but was still wet. This was when we started to hear grumblings of some very good news. It seemed that they were going to grid the cars in reverse order. This meant that, instead of running 7th, we would run 7th from last, so all the previous cars would surely dry out the track!

When it came show time, I gave it all I had in the skidpad, lighting up the rear tires before the run and scrubbing back and forth on my way in. I stayed tight and held the car on the limit, never letting it waver more than 3' from the cones, but trying to keep it within 1'. I was so focused on such a fine edge that I wouldn’t even take a full breath, for fear that it would upset my hand inputs! I did my 2 laps, turned around, did 2 more in the same way, and pulled off. It was good for .995 AVERAGE G, in sub-40 degree weather. It was also good for 7th overall. It sounded like we wouldn't lose a position after all!



When it was all over, we had the opportunity to be turned loose on the skidpad for some exhibition. Kevin had the car half-packed, but we emptied it back out so I could go put on a smoke show. Despite forgetting to engage the high-boost power mode, I had no trouble lighting up those big Michelins and putting on a pretty good drift show!



We headed inside for the reception and I was excited to see that Brock Yates Sr. was in attendance. I managed to get a few autographs from him before we sat down for lunch. When it came time for awards, we did better than we could have fathomed...

4th Place OVERALL
1st in Class - SS GT2 Small Bore
BMW Marque Award - Highest Finishing BMW
Rookies of the Year


We were just simply astounded! By the time we got to the Rookies of the Year award, Kevin and I welled up a little. We just couldn’t believe it. I dedicated that award, as well as our tactically acquired traffic cone, to Glenn Dodd and all the other One Lap veterans who had come before us.


We headed back home to real life, but it may never be the same. This may very likely become an annual event for us! I’m glad to have these recaps and plenty of pictures and video to reflect on, but I’m also writing the article for Roundel (the magazine of the BMWCCA). Look for it in the July issue!

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS SUPPORTED US AND STREET SURVIVAL IN THE 2010 ONE LAP OF AMERICA!!

A special Thank You to our sponsors: Michelin Tires, Ireland Engineering, MyTrackSchedule.com, Extrudabody, Clutch Masters, 034 Motorsport, BimmerTools.com, APR Performance, Forgeline Wheels, DTM Fiberwerkz, Cometic Gaskets, FastTech Limited, Lamin-X, MyTrackCam.com.

-Anthony Magagnoli
-Kevin Kreisa