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:,,, and!

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