A "Short" Story - Electrically Speaking The beautiful state of Virginia is well known for its lush greenery, with a multitude of trees and shrubs of every variety to be found from end to end across its vast acreage. And any landscaper will tell...
A "Short" Story - Electrically Speaking
The beautiful state of Virginia is well known for its lush greenery, with a multitude of trees and shrubs of every variety to be found from end to end across its vast acreage. And any landscaper will tell you, there is so much green because there is so much rain. And it seemed there was enough rain hitting the ground leading up to the Grand American Rolex Series VIR 400 event this weekend that whole new forests could have sprouted up in just a few days time. But the rain that keeps landscapers in steady employ can sometimes put a racecar's electrical system out of business.
The CB Motorsports / DLGL Software Pontiac-Riley Daytona Prototype team came into rural Virginia International Raceway looking to improve upon the team's fourth place finish in the last race at Watkins Glen. But Mother Nature proved to be in a sorry mood for she cried enough tears to encourage troublesome gremlins - looking to stay dry, no doubt - to take up temporary residence inside the electrical system under the hood of the #15 car. Once inside, they did their work well enough to make a "short" day of it, both figuratively and literally.
The electrical gremlins got right to work early, wreaking havoc with the performance of the Pontiac powerplant. And, as team owner Chris Bingham had once again asked Terry Borcheller to drive for the team for this race, the kind of sparks the team was hoping for and what they received were not nearly as planned. Borcheller again partnered with Hugo Guenette but neither driver could overcome the handicap of wet wiring.
Borcheller: "Hugo had a problem with the electrical system early on in the race. The motor would just cut out every so often. When I got in the car, I too was having problems intermittently, but I could still go pretty well."
Then came lap 46 of the 74 lap race. That would be all the laps the #15 car would run through the rolling Virginia countryside this early fall day.
"All of a sudden the motor just quit and I pulled off to deal with it. It would start and go for a little bit again, so I just tried to nurse it back to the pits."
Hugo Guenette had started the wet race on an almost dry track and was staying on course for what could objectively be called a solid run, that is, until he made contact with a solid object. He brushed up against the #09 car, resulting in that car going off course momentarily. Ever observant Grand Am officials did not want to give the incident the "brush off" and so Guenette was ordered to bring the car into the pits on lap 23 for a "stop- and-go, plus one minute for avoidable contact" penalty. That unwelcome diversion from the task at hand put the team one lap down to the leaders.
Guenette was able to get back up to speed - in spite of the electrical issues - and pick up a few places before turning the driving chores over to Borcheller on lap 33, an hour and ten minutes into the race.
Team owner Chris Bingham" "We did go one lap down but we got it back when a caution came out just when we were going to make our driver change. I have to say the team made a great call to get us back on the lead lap right when Terry got in!"
But Borcheller could only nurse the ailing car around the 3.27 mile circuit 12 and a 1/2 more times before parking on the wet grass. He ultimately found he had just enough usable electric current to propel the car slowly back around to the pits where the team elected to retire the car from the race.
The early departure meant a final placing of 41st overall and 23rd in the Daytona Prototype class.
Guenette: "What can I say? When you consider the unrelenting wet weather, how little practice we had, the cancellation of qualifying due to the incessant rain, and the electrical problems we suffered in the race; it was just a bad weekend."
It was most certainly a wet and mood-dampening week in Virginia, and all that water did make a short race of it for the CB Motorsports / DLGL Pontiac-Riley, but Bingham remained upbeat about what the team had accomplished this season, always managing to finish what they started in every prior race.
"I'm very pleased on how the weekend went, except of course for the outcome. But, with all the rain, things could have been much worse. And it so happens that this race was our only DNF this season."
This was the first season of racing in the Daytona Prototype class for CB Motorsports. The team's Riley chassis was not received until the season was underway and so the plan from the beginning was to learn the car, the tracks, the competition, and the way to the front, this year, so the team could enter the 2006 season with enough experience to challenge for the championship from the first lap of the first race. Bingham is confident that what they have learned so far, combined with what is currently in negotiation for next year, will find them ready to compete at the front of the pack.
"We are working on several key areas right now, areas that will strengthen our ability to consistently take the fight to the current top teams in the Rolex Series. We are not ready to make any announcements just yet, but we expect the changes we are working on will be of interest to Grand Am fans everywhere."