Daytona Rolex 24 Gerald Green Report, part 2

Part 2 Let's see. Where was I? Oh yeah. About 8PM Saturday. Crew is just about done repairing exhaust and rewiring electrics. I'm getting ready to go back in. Guy from Hella comes over to align lights. I don't think it will do any good....

Part 2

Let's see. Where was I? Oh yeah. About 8PM Saturday. Crew is just about done repairing exhaust and rewiring electrics. I'm getting ready to go back in. Guy from Hella comes over to align lights. I don't think it will do any good. Here's why: mounting post for the cornering lights are not straight. So, when you turn them outwards, they're at about a 30 degree angle, wasting most of the beam. Anyway, I fire it up. And turn on all systems. So far so good. Pull out on to pit road, refuel, let engine warm, and pull out REAL careful. Good thing I did, 'cause the cold tires and cold air temp make it *incredibly* slick. Now I know why I've seen cars crash into the guardrail on pit out. Take things real easy. Let temps come up. Watch for traffic. Keep the crew chief informed. Sure enough, cornering lights ain't doin' the job. So I need two eyes out front, one on the gauges, and one (maybe two) in the mirrors. Boy, this is a challenge! Temps are in the green, and I'm picking up the pace. Feels OK. Since cornering vision lacks, I start driving via timing. In the International Hairpin (East Horseshoe), as soon as the headlights pick up a blue pole in the spectator area, I know if I accelerate at a certain rate, and unwind the steering wheel at a certain rate, I'll get to the track out point correctly. At the next turn, the fast left hand sweeper, if I get to the 100 yard marker, count "one thousand one", then turn in at a certain rate, I'll hit the apex pretty close. And so on. All the time watching my mirrors for Ferraris, etc., and being VERY careful to think ahead and not put myself in a bad position when being passed. I guess I got pretty comfortable, because they're asking me to slow down again. This *really* blew me away. OK, back it down a little, no problema. Click off those smooth laps. Traffic is absolutely insane: both passing (not much), and getting passed (a lot). About 45 minutes into the shift, I'm ripping down the back straight and see a bunch of headlights a ways back in my mirrors. They're closing pretty quick: must be WSCs. I'd been trying both the inside and outside lines into the chicane to let folks by, and decided to let these guys by on the inside by staying wide. I thought they'd get me under braking, but they didn't. No problem, just stay as far right as I can and still make the 1st right hand turn in the chicane. Sure enough, the Scandia Ferrari goes by on my left as we exit the 1st left-right. Fine. Nobody's going to be crazy enough to make it 3 wide in the middle of the chicane, right? Wrong! The Ferrari pulls over before he clears me (they'd done that multiple times to multiple people), I pull a little right to avoid. Meanwhile, one of the Doyle Racing R&S Mk IIIs (I think it was the Dibos car) decides he's going to dive bomb me into the 2nd part of the chicane. Bam! He nails my right front wheel with his left front and spins me. He's gone. I'm on the dirt to driver's right at the apex to the 2nd part of the chicane, facing oncoming traffic. Quick get the sucker fired. No way I'm pulling back into oncoming traffic, so I turn hard left, go across about 30 ft of dirt, onto the back straight, and slowly re-enter at the exit of the chicane. On the radio. Tell crew what happened. On my way in. Feels OK. Check right side. Pull in pit. Right front wheel is bent. Let's change tires, check things out, re-fuel, and do driver change. Climb out. Crew does good job. Bob Jones gets in. I give him low down on lights, cold tires, and insane traffic. He leaves. Explain to Tom what happened. Describe problem with lights and what lines I was using to avoid problems while getting passed. I've decided the inside line into the chicane is better...

I go to the (rented) Winnebago to get a drink, change out of my Nomex, and relax a little. I come back about 45 minutes later to find the car behind the pit wall with its nose pretty well crunched. I thought Bob had an incident. Turns out he had a *real* problem seeing where he was going (doesn't know if it was just the lights, lack of reference, night vision, traffic, or a combination), and decided after about 5 laps that discretion dictated he hand the car over to Kerry. Kerry got in and got comfortable pretty quick, turning times comparable to mine. I still haven't heard the whole story of what happened next, so it could be none of Kerry's fault, but he somehow went off course, came back on, and went off a couple turns later, contacting an immovable object with the nose. The various radiators and coolers are OK, but the fiberglass, and the cow-catcher, and radiator shroud are pretty messed up. The whole team starts thrashing on the car. I do what I can for a while, holding lights, getting tools, and such, but after a while, decide I'm in the way, and should probably get some shut-eye, because all 3 of the other drivers are working hard on the car. Tom agrees. I go to the Winnebago and crash at about 1AM.

At about 3AM I wake up freezing. Nobody turned the heat on. Tom comes in and says he's sending everyone to sleep for 3 hours. The crew is fried, they look like zombies, they're making mistakes, and nerves are getting frayed. Everybody go get 3 hours sleep. (Lesson: *force* your crew to rotate getting some rest). We'll meet back at the garage at 6:30AM. Luckily, the Super 8 wouldn't let me skip Sat. night, so I have a room. We have 2 others also. My brother decides to crash in the Winnebago. I get to sleep (?) in a warm bed. Try to force myself to relax. Finally drift off...

Final chapter to come...

Yours in Speed,

Gerry Green gbgreen@attmail.com g.b.green@att.com

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About this article
Series IMSA Others
Drivers Bob Jones