NA-F2000: Mid-Ohio and Grattan LaLiberte reports

>From: Dana LaLiberte <jmfangio@UMICH.EDU> Hi gang. I lost my e-mail service for a few days, but I'm back, with an actual report! The F2000 Pro Series was at Mid-Ohio with the IndyCars over the weekend. There was an optional practice...

>From: Dana LaLiberte <jmfangio@UMICH.EDU>

Hi gang.

I lost my e-mail service for a few days, but I'm back, with an actual report!

The F2000 Pro Series was at Mid-Ohio with the IndyCars over the weekend. There was an optional practice on Thursday that we didn't take part in due to lack of money, so already almost everyone was one step ahead of me. Friday I had a practice session at 8:30 and a qualifying session at 2:00. In the practice session I basically tried to get up to speed and get acclimated to the track with the car. The tires we were on were junk, so I didn't make any changes with the car other than to make it a little more comfortable. The clutch did start acting up, though (a fluid problem) so I couldn't use the clutch at the end of the session...bummer. We discovered that the slave cylinders in the transmission (the cylinders that actually push on the clutch to dis-engage it) were leaking (bad seals) so we decided to wait until after qualifying to change it. We thought that maybe if I didn't use the clutch, they wouldn't act up (and I would be able to do neat things like go from a standing start in the pits), so I got a quick lesson on how to up-shift without using a clutch (which I have never done before).

Qualifying went so-so, then I came in half way through to change the rear wing, and I couldn't get it going...uh huh...clutch. I was actually quite pissed at myself, as (at least I feel this way) I was driving like crap, and not pushing the car hard enough. I ended up 38th of 52. I had wanted to be low to mid 20s at this point. So I was pissed off, and we had work to do on the car.

Saturday we had qualifying at 7:30 and the race at 4:00. Qualifying went a little better, and at least the clutch didn't act up (although I didn't ust it at all while driving...which I like much better, as it is quite faster). I ended up 23rd for the session (which is where I should have been Friday), but gridded 30th for the race. I guess that some people actually went faster on Friday, which boggles me because it was much cooled Saturday morning!

I got a so-so start to the race, passing (I think) three cars on the first lap. I was in a group of about eight cars, and we were having a go at one another. On lap four I got a scare when I got real loose in one, which is taken about 120 mph...luckiny I stayed on the track, but I lost some distance to the guy in front of me. THere was a yellow on the fourth lap, and I got a good re-start, and then started to settle more into the race. The handling in the slow corners was going away, giving me a push, especially in the carousel and keyhole corners. Then there was another yellow with three laps to go, I had a lousy re-start, and got passed by two cars...rats! I ended up 21st out of 50 starters, and I think 45 finished...something like that. Steve Knapp won...he's fast.

Sunday just sucked. WE decided to do a national at Grattan, skipping the qualifying. We took part in the morning warm-up, and again the car was pushing in the slow corners (although now the tires had been through two qualifying sessions and a race). I made what I thought were decent changes on the car, and got ready for the race, which I was starting last, in 32nd position.

I got a bad start, because the doofus in front of me was being stupid, trying to get more of a running start at the field, which doesn't work as well as being lined up right on someone's butt. I did pass some cars though, and started working on the traffic.

DRIVERS NOTE: These guys really bit...going from a pro race on Saturday to a National race on Sunday was really amazing, because they really sucked! THere was definetly an idiot factor involved in this one, they were all over the place! (end driver's note)

So I was up to 11th by the 7th or 8th lap, but the car is horrible, and just wont handle into the hairpin...I couldn't go in hard at all, and it would push through the whole turn...I must have smoked my right front ump-teen times trying to get the bloody car slowed enough not to push like a pig, to no avail. I was making up gobs of time down the straight, however, as I refused to lift for the two turns before it, and everybody else must have read somewhere that you have to brake for them...I even passed an Atlantic on the straight...go back to my driver's note to see what I'm talking about.

So there I was, on the 7th or 8th lap, giong into the hairpin, and a guy that was a good 10-15 feet behind me puts a banzai move on me, which of course I don't see in my mirrors because I am wrestling my car through the corner. So he gets his left front in front of my right rear...do I really need to keep going on this one? Let's just say that I would have made any gymnist proud...I completed the entire flip in the air, one corner of the rear wing caught the pavement, and I basically came crashing down on my wheels.

RESULTS: three broken wheels, three a-arms, two rear wing end plates, some other small suspension parts, and one slightly pissed, and now poorer, driver.

There was that one point, upside down, when I was looking at the pavement, and I actually thought "this sucks" (the little Beavis in me coming out) thinking it might hurt...but it didn't. I was a little sore yesterday (my kneck did one of those Mika Hakkinen things when I landed...but side to side) but that is why I have a fitness program, to keep flexible and in shape. Besides, how can I complain about being sore when earnhart drove the entire race on Sunday?

So what do I think? It sucks, but that is racing. Hopefully we will still be able to do a little more this year...I want to test at IRP, as well as do a race at Mosport, before the snow flies, so with a little luck, and some more dents on the credit card, we probably can. Besides, why get real pissed off and yell a lot, what does that solve?

That's all for now, folks...

Dana

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Mika Hakkinen , Steve Knapp