OHIO STATE SMOKIN' BUCKEYE SNAKEBIT AT APS ELECTRICS COLUMBUS, OH - The Ohio State University Electric Race Car Team finished a disappointing second place to in-state rival Bowling Green at the APS Electrics at Firebird International Raceway...
OHIO STATE SMOKIN' BUCKEYE SNAKEBIT AT APS ELECTRICS
COLUMBUS, OH - The Ohio State University Electric Race Car Team finished a disappointing second place to in-state rival Bowling Green at the APS Electrics at Firebird International Raceway on March 6 - 8.
After two practice sessions on Friday, March 6, a qualifying session was held on Saturday and OSU driver Craig Taylor broke his year-old track record with a lap of 55.9 seconds over the 1.1 mile road course. Shortly after qualifying, a 25K heat race was held to determine grid positions for Sunday's main event. At the start, the Ohio State entry quickly moved ahead of the field and opened a three second lead over rival Oklahoma driven by Indy Racing League competitor Billy Roe. Taylor continued to expand his lead until his scheduled pit stop halfway through the event. During this stop for fresh batteries, the OSU pit crew performed flawless service, but the car failed to immediately restart.
After a brief delay, Taylor rejoined the race in third place behind Bowling Green and Oklahoma. On lap 9 of 14, race leader Billy Roe pulled off with a blown motor, handing the lead to Bowling Green and driver Larry Crosser. Taylor quickly made up the 10 second deficit from the slow pit stop to catch Crosser on the final lap. However, time ran out before Taylor had a chance to attempt a pass for the victory.
Following the event it was determined that the Oklahoma team would be unable to repair their blown motor so a spare was loaned from Ohio State. Ohio State team leader Alan Ida said the decision was an easy one.
"Oklahoma is our toughest competitor and we want to beat them on the track. They run the same motor as we do and the entire crew and our driver were 100% behind the decision."
On the start of Sunday's 50K main event, the Smokin' Buckeye quickly jumped past Bowling Green and opened a comfortable lead. Behind Ohio State, a fierce battle raged over second place between Crosser and Roe.
Roe maintained a steady second place until the loaned motor also blew, moving Bowling Green behind Taylor. During the third and final pit stop, a battery latch handle broke which added five seconds to the stop. As a result the Bowling Green "Electric Falcon" assumed the lead as they had on the previous day. In the six remaining laps, a determined Taylor trimmed Crosser's lead by two seconds per lap reaching striking distance as they took the white flag. As the two lead cars raced down the long front straightaway Crosser attempted to defend his position by blocking the faster Ohio State car. As the cars neared the braking zone for turn one; Taylor made hard contact with the lead car's left rear tire, breaking his fiberglass nose cone. Amazingly, the 1991 US FF2000 champion slid past Crosser and back into the lead as he entered turn one. Unfortunately, the Smokin' Buckeye slowed with a blown motor halfway around the last lap allowing Bowling Green to take their first main event win. Taylor managed to coast into pit road and slowed to a near stop ironically in front of the Ohio State pit. Heroically, Taylor jumped out of the slow moving car and attempted to push the car the final 200 yards to the finish line. However, he soon gave up the impossible task of pushing the 2,700 pound car by himself when he realized that second place was guaranteed.
Despite gaining and losing the lead on the last lap, Taylor was satisfied with the results. "The car was perfect and it was fun to dice with people again." Alan Ida was also pleased with the outcome. "We had to work very hard just to get here because we had controller problems and we broke the gearbox the week before the car left. It was a tremendous team effort. We are all very proud of Craig and his dedication to the team, he drove on the limit all weekend and he showed a lot of heart when he tried to push the car to the finish line. He is a true champion."
The next event for the team will be the Indy Electric Classic at Indianapolis Raceway Park on May 16, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2.