SCCA Regional Race November 11,12, 1995 (from a Formula Atlantic driver) I guess everyone heard about the success of the Inaugural Busch GN race at Homestead. Well, we had a somewhat successful inaugural SCCA Regional Race the following weekend.
SCCA Regional Race November 11,12, 1995 (from a Formula Atlantic driver)
I guess everyone heard about the success of the Inaugural Busch GN race at Homestead. Well, we had a somewhat successful inaugural SCCA Regional Race the following weekend. Fan attendance was down due mainly to the continued grandstand construction, bu t the 60000+ seating was adequate.
First of all - What a facility! I didn't go to the GN race so I don't know how the grandstand seating is and its view. But the pit garages were pretty nice. We had over 300 cars at the track and only 84 garage spaces available. I was one of the lucky few to get a garage and what a convenience. We were right on the pit wall and in the shade all weekend. The TV monitors weren't working - I guess ESPN would rather cover the final F1 Grand Prix at Adelaide, Australia that week end.
The weekend started off with mass confusion. With 300+ racing cars and all the support vehicles, the infield was a major traffic problem. Plenty of officials were on hand to tell you what you could and couldn't do several times every hundred feet - it's OK though - everyone was trying to make things run smoothly.
The first practice session was supposed to start at 8:30 but was delayed 1 hour. The 20 minute sessions were a combined practice/qualify session which was absurb at a new track that no one had ever been to - no chance to change gears sets or camber settings or any thing else. Needless to say in Sunday's race everyone was a lot faster than where they qualified. Another problem was the car numbers. I've always been #17 in the FA class. There was another car that had the same number and evidently I was supposed to change my number, although my registration said #17. No big deal - I'll change my number. But because I had the same car number as another car I didn't get any qualifying time.
Oh well. So I had to start from the back of the pack - 35th out of 37 cars. I haven't been that far back at the start of a race since I ran an ITA RX7. The green flag was waving before I even got out of what I guess was turn 10. But before the checker fell, I got up to 11th position, which I felt was OK considering the races had to be shortened to five laps due to time constraints.
Another obstacle to gettin' towards the front was not only the cars scattered at every turn but the debris all over the track. At every entry and exit of a turn there was guaranteed to be grass, dirt, rocks and cars parts. When I say rocks I mean 1"-2" coral rocks fresh from plowing, trenching and digging a new track. Strattling a rock in a formula car in a turn is not a smart thing!
Ralph Sanchez and the SCCA track insurance carrier decided to put a water barrier on one of the short chutes to slow us down. Supposedly Scott Pruett got into trouble in an Indy car testing a few weeks earlier. So, because us SCCA guys go just as fast as an Indy car, they decided to put a wall in the middle of the track - for "safety purposes"!
So now we have debris on the track, usually right before, during and after a turn including the chicane. And that chicane - it was actually filled with water! We found that out when my friend Art Armellini in a FA Ralt RT4 slid on debris into the barrier and the barrier didn't move. What did move was his new Bahner wing and both suspension uprights. I hit the same debris a lap before but was able to escape to the right - between the wall and the barrier. How ever, someone placed cones in the runoff area and I damaged my wing when I couldn't fit between them but hit them.
The chicane was so tight that only one car at about 30 miles an hour could get through. At one point during the race I came out of the turn and saw a group of cars stopped, waiting to get through the chicane. The toll booth on the turnpike moved faster!
To correct things, SCCA officials removed the chicane altogether on Sunday - bravo! Also to correct things, the Timing and Scoring officials didn't put me at the back of the pack but placed me 4th on the grid. They took everybody's lap times during the race on Sat. and regridded the entire field.
In front of me was some fierce competition. Pro driver Stan Waddles in a Pro RT41 was on pole with Ron Caldwell in a National Swift DB4 and FF2000 Champion Jeret Schroeder. So I started 4th and couldn't improve my position.
All in all, the inaugural SCCA Regional Race went pretty well. The Toyota Atlantic Pro Series will be there March 3rd with the Indy cars. Hopefully, I'll find sponsorship and a ride and be there myself!
Thanks for reading! James Irvin