IADT ... First Race

IADT..."It's A Driving Thing" (for the acronym-challenged) Early Bird Regional @ Texas World Speedway Sunday, December 4, 1994 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ahhhh, first race...finally! Schoolwork is done, it's time to get down to business. Only...

IADT..."It's A Driving Thing" (for the acronym-challenged)

Early Bird Regional @ Texas World Speedway Sunday, December 4, 1994 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ahhhh, first race...finally! Schoolwork is done, it's time to get down to business. Only problem is, I'll have to do it in a Renault-powered Spec Racer, as opposed to the Spec Racer Ford I've been running. Tom says we'll gain some in the twisty stuff with the lighter SR, but lose a ton down the straights to the 15 HP advantage the Fords have. He figures it translates to a 3 second overall difference between the two. I figure I better take it easy the first time out to check the feel of things...

No practice in the first session, they'll be collecting qualify times at both of our 15 minute morning runs. Eager to run...I get on the grid first so I'm first out for this session. After a warm-up lap, it doesn't take long to see the power difference between the SR and SRF as 4-5 Fords blast by me down into T1. Quite a few others zip on by at T3, but I'm just out there to learn the car and get settled...we can always race later. Call me rookie, that's what I am. Nothing significant happens once everybody blows on by me and I can run alone. The car handles fantastic with a little scraping on T1 entry, but I have a devil of a time keeping it in gear when downshifting to 3rd at T3. It just *insists* on jumping out of gear no matter what I do. By the last four laps I'm running consistent mid 1:24s. Not great, but then again I've got a good feel for how the car handles. I figure I can find another 2-3 seconds easy. Terry and Tom raise the rear end a couple of turns.

Second session I find those 2-3 seconds! Before the session I sought out Rick Houston to get his view of the driving lines/braking points. His insight on brush braking in T1A and T10 makes all the difference in the world to me. The SR requires even less braking with its lighter weight. I also revise my T1 entry and line to go further out than what I was doing before. It eliminates the apron scraping problem I was having, and allows me to carry more speed through the corner (with less brake required). First lap out I do a 1:23 flat, and then drop into the 1:21s. Fast (qualifying) time comes out as a 1:21.7. This will start me on the outside of row 7, at least I'm not DFL! Bill Cominsky, in the SR #17, will start inside of me. With the pole time being 1:16.58, I figure the leaders will average about 1:17 in the race. If I can elevate my average race lap time to 1:21s, then I'll finish without getting lapped. That (and finishing) is my goal for this first race...

During lunch Kevin Waye, Terry Bartoli, and I scramble to loosen up the car some and put it on the scales. We have no idea what the corner weights might be. Everything checks out okay with only a couple of turns necessary on the right rear. We head on out to the grid. Pat Hayes and Jodi take really good care to prop Mr. Umbrella over me so I don't melt...it's December and over 80 degrees on the track! The grid marshall waves us out...it's time to take a deep breath and do a quick pucker check. ;) This is the only time I feel a brief sensation of butterflies in the belly. Once out on the track, that goes away completely and I settle in to scrub tires, warm brakes, get into line, make sure the right gear matches the rpms, come up tight on the #4 in front of me, and mash hell out of the gas just as the starter twitches his arm!

I follow alongside #17 down to the apron and stay with him. I figure by pressing him tight into T1, I stand a chance of getting around him on T2. It works! Then I outbrake the SRF #4 going into T3! But the SRF #22 that started behind me got around both of us, and takes off. I turn a couple of hot 1:21s the second and third laps, and start pulling away by several car lengths from the #17. Then I start having those dang shift linkage problems again in T3 and it's costing me at least a second. During these laps the motor coughs in the middle of the T7 carousel whenever I get back into the gas to exit the turn. This causes a brief moment of trailing throttle oversteer, but just enough to set me up for a great exit! Cominsky catches back up to me on lap 6, drafts down the straight, pulls high and slingshots around to pass going into T1. He basically returns the favor of pinching me down so he can get around. Clean pass and he does a good job of it. I reciprocate by not concentrating in the T4-5 esses, and loop it around. :( There goes any hope I had of catching him to pass again. The car has *really* loosened up now...once in the T9 sweeper the backend slides and wants to come around bad, but I hang on. Another time at the T2 exit, I run out of track and have to run the right wheels off into the mud...nice and easy back on the track and no problems. Whew!

>From that point on I basically run by myself, turning mid 1:22s and 1:23s. That is, until the leaders catch up to me on lap 13 between T2 and 3. I certainly don't want to cause any problems, so I concentrate on running fast and consistent until the T9 sweeper, where I point them on by. They went, I heave a big breath of relief, and then focus on trying to stay with them. It paid off as that next lap I turn my fastest at 1:20.9! The final lap comes in in at a mid 1:21 as they pull away. I was finished, I was in one piece, so was the car, and I didn't finish DFL. The only thing I didn't do that I wanted to avoid was getting lapped by the leaders. If I hadn't looped it that one time, I could've made that goal too.

So out of 16 entries, I came in 14th overall and 5th in class.  Not earth
shaking, but not bad either.  Official results had Rick Houston winning
the race overall with a 1:16.733 best lap.  Wade McBride won the SR class
with a fast time of 1:19.168.  My fast time translated to a 1:17.9 in a Ford,
which really pleased me.  With the lack of power in the SR, all the gains
were made in the twisty stuff, notwithstanding the linkage problems.  That
reflected well on my coming along as a driver.  I think I like this!...

Again, many thanks to the crew: Terry Bartoli (what a thrasher, don't you wish *you* could have him?), Pat Hayes (he's hooked but moving to the Dayton area and looking for anyone needing help!), and Kevin Waye (what a bonus on an already memorable day). Tom, you're always foremost on the appreciation list...and Jodi, thanks for letting me play! :)

Next race: the March 11 Regional back at TWS...

--- Mark A. Breland -- Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) Research Division 3500 West Balcones Center Drive | voice: (512) 338-3509 Austin, Texas 78759-6509 USA NB#51 | FAX: (512) 338-3900

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