American Marc Breuers had logged plenty of miles at Lime Rock Park prior to rounds 3 and 4 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series. With one Pro Series race (2000) and numerous Skip Barber Race Series starts under his belt at the historic 1.5-mile...
American Marc Breuers had logged plenty of miles at Lime Rock Park prior to rounds 3 and 4 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series. With one Pro Series race (2000) and numerous Skip Barber Race Series starts under his belt at the historic 1.5-mile track nestled at the foot of the Berkshires, Breures was expecting to make hay while the sun shone. In the end, the sun hardly ever made an appearance, and Breuers probably made more hay than he had to in order to walk away with two ninth place finishes. Nevertheless, he quite aptly demonstrated that his sophomore season will likely reap rewards in addition to walking away with valuable insights into the art of racing in the rain. Here follows the Lime Rock weekend in his own words.
Rounds 3&4 of the Barber Dodge Pro Series were held in the swamplands of Northwestern Connecticut at Lime Water Park, I mean Lime Rock Park. Prior to the weekend I looked at The Weather Channel and saw a wave of green headed towards the East Coast on the radar. I promptly called my teammates Davy Cook and Roger Yasukawa so they could purchase rain gear since they are from Florida and California respectively.
We arrived Thursday afternoon and our coach Michael Zimicki of Rechnen Schriber Motorsport said "ve vil be here all ze veek, und it iz crucial dat ve make a track valk und do ze Bruce MacInnes shuffle test." I think Mike had something stuck in his throat. I couldn't quite understand him but followed him anyway.
Friday morning started our double race weekend. As the first cars out, we had the honor of ridding the track of all the dirt that the transporters brought on the day before. The good news was that it was a dry session. I have been to Lime Rock quite a few times with the Skip Barber Race Series driving the 2.0 liter Formula Dodge and had to change my approach with the additional grip of the No. 94 SUNOCO SPECIAL Dodge Reynard. That was the last time we saw dry conditions for the remainder of ze veek (sorry).
1st qualifying for Race 1 brought damp/dry conditions which made the first few laps a reconnaissance mission. This became the theme for the weekend. Halfway through our session a light drizzle began in The Uphill and West Bend although it had little consequence. I take that back, we did have and incident that ended our session early. I was in P4. "Let it rain" I thought to myself. Rain would let 1st qualifying times hold, and give us practice in the wet without the pressure of qualifying. As it turned out we gridded for Qualifying 2, Race 1 on slicks with a wet/dry track. Just before we got the green flag an old friend Peter Cunningham, who just got off the track, came over and told me the regular line was dry, however it was wet off line. Halfway through the session I posted a good time, which put me in the Top-5 however the track continued to dry and I couldn't get a clear lap at the end of the session. I would be starting the race on the 4th row. I was happy with my performance for the day but was disappointed that the results didn't show it. That night I dined with Paul Schwab, Director of Marketing for Sunoco Race Fuels, and Jon Holland one of the local distributors.
Saturday brought the green wave that I had seen on the radar. It was cold and wet all day. This did not seem to bother the multitude of fans that perched on the rolling hills of this 1.5-mile track. The wet weather brought the Bruce MacInnes (a Skip Barber Racing School senior instructor) shuffle test into play. You shuffle your feet across the racetrack from the outer edge down to the inner edge. You quickly get a sense of the grip change and learn where to put the car for the conditions. We prepped the car with full wet settings, which paid off. I found my self in P1 for a good portion of the session. I got caught out a little in the closing laps by not adapting to a drying track and lost some time, ending the session in P8. Good thing there was another session.
2nd Qualifying for Race 2, prior to Race 1(it is ok if this is confusing, I'm not even sure if I have it right) was wetter than the first session. We made a few adjustments, kicked the tires and off we went. Since the track was in a full wet condition, times were not improving. We were brought in for a red flag during which the rain had stopped and the track was drying. I'm not sure what the red flag was for, but let's just say that it was a little longer than it should've been. Once we were let loose we had four minutes remaining in the session. I was at the front of the line and had clear track. I finished 4th in the session, which was good for 5th spot on the grid. Now the only thing left for the day was Race 1.
Definitely a wet race, Race 1 would best be described as a learning experience. I started in 7th and am not really sure where I came out of turn 1. Cars flared across every lane on the track in hopes of seeing something. My brake point was a complete guess. I went from using the brake markers as reference points to using entire buildings. That's all I could see. On lap 2 coming out of West Bend I managed to do the one thing that everyone told me not to do: go off the track. I was fortunate that I didn't hit anything and even more fortunate that I could get back on the track. Now back in 18th spot I started to work my way through the field. Once I worked back to 7th I got caught behind someone through the infield and confidently decided that that coefficient of friction in the left-hander had suddenly risen and that I could pull off a pass on the outside which put me back in the swamp. I was in 15th and worked my way to 8th when we got a yellow flag. On the restart I passed Rhonda Trammel on the downhill just before the green flag fell. I had moved up to 7th and was working on another pass when I received a black flag and a drive through penalty. Take your partner by the arm, doe-see-doe, and to the back of the field you go. I made my final charge through the field and finished the race in 9th place. Needless to say I was not happy with the results, however Carl Lopez (another Skip Barber senior instructor) came up to me at the end of the race and shaking my hand said, "Those were the best three races I've seen you run." I took my licks and will remember the lesson for the next rain race.
Sunday is a quiet day at Lime Rock so many of us gathered to watch the F1 race from Monaco and the Indy 500. It was very exciting to see one of our own, Robbie Buhl ('89 Barber Pro Series champion), in 2nd place towards the end of the 500. Interesting that the drivers had to deal with similar weather conditions to ours and that the top 7 finishers were CART drivers. Helio Castroneves' fence climbing provided inspiration for the next day's activities.
Monday brought a dry race and renewed hope for success. I was looking forward to a good start from the 3rd row. The first time down the hill we were waved off but on the second try Barber Dodge Pro Series starter Doug Hill threw the green flag. I moved to the inside, or so I thought. I left about seven-eighths of a lane open and Rafael Sperafico, with two wheels in the grass, snuck beside me and left the door open for Matt Plumb as well. Now in P7 coming out of turn-2, I went to work. The car had a little push but everything else was going ok. That is until Pete Boss punted me off the track as he mistook my car for the apex of Big Bend. As I was spinning off the track I quickly calculated that I had fallen back to 16th. It looked as if charging through the field was to be my theme for the weekend. With clear track ahead I was able to put in some good laps. It took a few laps to work my way through when a full course yellow. Before the green flag fell for the re-start someone passed me at the exit of West Bend and forced me to do a little extra work catching up. In the end I had a good battle with Aki Okamoto for a few laps taking the checker in 9th place. Even though the finishing position was not what I expected nor desired, I had some great action. The in car camera footage should be something to watch!
Now that our season is really underway I am looking forward to taking our new CART affiliation and joining the Champ Car Series for the remainder of our schedule. Lastly I would like to congratulate my teammates Roger Yasukawa for his podium finish, and Davy Cook for his first pole and a 4th place finish.
See you all in Dee-troit.