Its been a complete month since we wrecked our speedway car at Michigan in June. Since that time we have been frantically working to get another car completed and ready for racing. We worked until the last minute getting the basics done so the...
Its been a complete month since we wrecked our speedway car at Michigan in June. Since that time we have been frantically working to get another car completed and ready for racing. We worked until the last minute getting the basics done so the car could go to Berlin. We missed the Toledo and Shady Bowl races. Both of those tracks I know we could have done well at. We were a little more than unprepared for the Berlin race, and it showed.
We pulled some pretty late nights this week, including an all nighter on Friday in order to get it done. The Berlin track is not far from Grand Rapids, MI., about a three hour drive from our shop in Ann Arbor. We need to be there for sign in at 11:00 AM......we left our shop at 11:30. I had slept on the way to the track. When we got there, I walked in and went directly to the drivers meeting. Practice was to start at 2:30. I saw some of the cars warming up. We unloaded our stuff and started getting the car ready. I realized that my safety equipment (suit, etc.) were outside of the track. Practice had begun and would last an hour and a half. I had to wait 30 minutes to get outside to get the uniform. (dumb, dumb,). The car made it through tech with 5 minutes left in practice. Got onto the track and the warmed up the car. Tried to get up to speed but something was wrong, no traction at all. The right rear axle was not engaged in the locker...to short.
The gear we were using had a different spline combination than everyone normally uses, so no one had any spare axles. We had to borrow a gear and buy axles from the parts truck.
This is Berlin. Its a 7/16 mile track with a very strange layout. Turns 3 and 4 are kind of square and you have to apex the entry, let it slide, then apex the exit. The front straight is curved and the back straight is a drop off. Hmmm. Qualifying was next and I hadn't had any real practice. The car pushed badly and the brakes were soft. Qualified 26th. It was going to be one of those hang on and keep out of trouble kind of nights for us. The car would be a lot better with some more time for the proper setup.
The race began and we started off OK. The first few cautions were kind to us and I stayed on the lead lap through about lap 60. The car was pushing so bad, it was everything I could do not to hit the front straight wall. When the leaders finally got up to us, I could not run on the bottom and keep up. Around lap 100 or so, I was exiting turn 4, the front end slid badly towards the wall. I had to jerk and spin the car to avoid nosing the car, barely avoided backing back into the wall and spun to the inside missing the guard rail. I was off the race surface, no caution. Got the car fired and kept on trucking losing 2 more laps.
Got the tires cleaned off, and got going again. The car was simply horrible. The leaders were coming. Baird and Kimmel were racing for position with someone else in 3rd right behind Kimmel. I kept low going into three. Baird passed on the entry, Kimmel tried to cut across my nose under Baird and made hard contact to my right front fender. Turned us both sideways. I spun to the inside, Frank to the outside, he hit the wall. Had to get the car refired. Lost a lap again.
Got into the pit and changed right side tires. This only helped the car for about 10 laps. The stagger didn't match up and the left sides were gone too. I was just hanging on by this point. We tried to come in and throw wedge into the car. That helped a little. We finished the race five laps down. Kimmel went on to win the race with significant damage from our incident.
This whole week has been a blur. I got some much needed rest on Sunday. We've got some work to do before our next race. We need to go though the front end of the car and get it right. Do some practice before the Kil Kare, Flat Rock weekend at the end of July. This is a new car for us. We obviously missed the Berlin setup by a mile. We will be better for Kil Kare, Flat Rock where we have run a bunch.
I need to thank my crew. Most who stayed and worked all week to get this car done. They had to pull out the rear end after the race and return it to the party we borrowed it from, load the hauler and drive back home. None of us had more than a couple hours sleep in two and a half days. People like that are hard to find.
Mike Buckley ARCA #28 http://www.goddessfiona.com/buckleyracing