MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 5, 2003) -- It has been a busy three weeks for 3R Racing. On the heals of the good news that their new Corvette Z06, built from scratch in 21 days, was ready for its first test at Mazda Raceway, 3R Racing received some not...
MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 5, 2003) -- It has been a busy three weeks for 3R Racing. On the heals of the good news that their new Corvette Z06, built from scratch in 21 days, was ready for its first test at Mazda Raceway, 3R Racing received some not so good news regarding their driver Phil McClure, of Floris, Iowa.
"We found out Tuesday that I couldn't run." McClure said describing not being medically cleared to race.
McClure, who sustained a concussion as the result of a multi-car accident at Road America Aug. 3, was not medically cleared to race by his physician Doctor Ian Levinson, of Centennial, Colo., and SCCA Pro Racing's Doctor Ron Krome, of Detroit.
"I took a pretty good shot to the head," McClure said. "I went to my doctor about a week and a half after the accident. He (Levinson) said a concussion is essentially a brain bruise. I wasn't having any symptoms at the time. I could've had dizziness, headaches, balance problems and things like that. But, I had no problems once I got home and rested."
His doctor proceeded to tell him that his concussion would take six to nine weeks to heal. The problem for McClure was that he only had four weeks until this weekend's race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Levinson and McClure agreed to schedule an MRI for Friday, Aug. 29 to further evaluate McClure's condition. The results from the MRI were sent Tuesday, Sept. 2 to Levinson in Colorado. After Levinson had the opportunity to review the scans, he told McClure that he had to recommend that he not race.
"We talked and he said, 'I've got to recommend that you don't run,'" McClure said describing the conversation he had with his physician. "He (Levinson) said, 'Your lesions have not healed and I haven't expected them to heal. It just takes time for that to happen.'
"I said, 'Lay it out for me, what's the risk?'" McClure said to Levinson. "He said, 'I can recommend you don't run, although you are capable of it. But, your only issue is taking another shot to the head. What you set yourself up for is, if those lesions haven't healed they are still vulnerable. If you re-injure them in the same spot, then you are looking at starting to develop scar tissue. And, with scar tissue comes Epilepsy, seizures and, latter in life, comes Parkinson's disease.' He used Muhammad Ali as a perfect example."
The news of McClure's failure to be medically reinstated, coupled with the fact that 3R Racing had worked 21 days straight to build a new car to run at Mazda Raceway, did not initially sit well with McClure or Bob Raub, owner of 3R Racing.
"I am very disappointed," McClure said. "I had my doctor convinced that I could run. He very well would have let me do what I wanted to do. I said, 'Well you talk to Dr. Krome and you guys decide what you think is the best course of action.' They talked and he (Levinson) called me right back and he said, 'He (Krome) is even more adamant about it than I am. He feels that same way I do and you don't want the risk of a repetitive injury, especially when it is vulnerable right now. We'll review it prior to Atlanta and go from there.'"
"It was almost mind-boggling disapproving," Raub said describing his initial disappointment to hearing the news that McClure was not medically cleared to drive. "Not only are we second in the Championship, but Phil made a commitment to us as a team and to himself to put this money out to build another car and to stay in the Championship."
But, upon further reflection McClure and Raub came to the realization that the doctors' decision was probably for the best.
"Everything in me wants to run this weekend," McClure said. "But, I've got a wife and two sons. And, cheating them out of forty years of my life by being disabled or having problems just to stay in the points, from that point of view, it is not worth it."
"We were very happy that we were able to get the car done, but we were very sad that he wasn't going to be able to drive," Raub said.
Following his accident at Road America, McClure and 3R Racing had some decisions to make. The decision was whether or not to build McClure a new car.
"We took a little bit of time when we came back from Road America to evaluate the situation with the car," Raub said. "Phil had to do some thinking about what we were going to do to keep in the series because he is second in points. That took about a week.
"When we decided to build him a new car it was Friday night and from that point on we had 21 days before we were scheduled to leave town to come here (Mazda Raceway). GM helped us out and sent us one of their open rolling chassis off the assembly line. That was a good start because you don't have to tear a car apart. The boys in the shop just went after it. We sat down and got a game plan going. We welded in suspension pick up points, made roll cages and bars and built a whole new car. It was a quite an odyssey and just a tremendous amount of work for our guys."
McClure admits that he was not too optimistic that the car could be ready in 21 days after seeing the chassis.
"When the chassis showed up, I was not very optimistic that it would get done," McClure said describing his initial reaction of the new car. "Then again, I am not really that surprised that they did get it done. Bob threw the guys at it and told me that we'll work the hours we need to work to put it together."
According to Raub, seven people were involved in building the new car and very little was salvaged off of McClure's damaged Corvette.
"Some of the suspension pieces transferred over, the roof and the wing," Raub said describing the only pieces salvaged from McClure's wrecked Corvette. "All the outer body, all the inner workings are new. And, we also completely redesigned and changed the fuel system from a fuel tank that was all the way in the back that just got squashed down to about six inches deep. That kind of concerned us, plus it is a lot of weight in the back and we've been fighting that anyway."
The car's new setup has two fuel cells under the chassis where the factory puts them. This means there are two 13 gallon fuel cells on either side of the car. According to Raub, this gives the car better balance.
"Once we went through that design, none of the inner rear panels fit, none of the brackets fit, no coolers fit, no brake lines could be run, no wiring went to the back because we made the back end of the car a totally different car," Raub said.
According to Raub, the biggest change they made to the new car was to the fuel cell. Also, as a result of McClure's accident, they changed their roll cage design giving McClure a little more head room inside the car.
"GM engineers figured that this was a 25G hit and Phil weighed 6,800 pounds at the point of impact," Raub said describing McClure's accident. "It's been quite a learning experience for us all. I always put safety first when I build cars and I'm glad we continue to do that because he was well protected."
During the Thursday morning test sessions at Mazda Raceway, Raub had the opportunity to drive the car.
"We've done some practicing with the car." Raub said. "The car is awesome. The car is fast right out of the box."
While the new 3R Racing Corvette Z06 is ready to stretch its legs on the track, for now, McClure will have to play the waiting game in the hopes that his injuries heal before Road Atlanta.
At the time this article was written, the 3R Racing Corvette was not scheduled to race this weekend at Mazda Raceway.
For more information on the SCCA Speed World Challenge, visit www.world-challenge.com.
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