RACE: Loudon Regional personal report 96-07-28

>From: Jeff Benagh <benagh@ICD.Teradyne.COM> SCCA Regional, New Hampshire Internation Speedway, 7/27-28 This weekend was the NARRC double at New Hampshire. I had repaired the bent lower control arm on my ITB '84 GTI after my incident...

>From: Jeff Benagh <benagh@ICD.Teradyne.COM>

SCCA Regional, New Hampshire Internation Speedway, 7/27-28

This weekend was the NARRC double at New Hampshire. I had repaired the bent lower control arm on my ITB '84 GTI after my incident the week before with Chris Foley and his Porsche. Many thanks are due Jon Leeper (FV) for the use of his garage space during the week. Wouldn't you know it, the first person we run into at registration is Chris. After some good-natured joking about trading paint, we settled into the paddock for the great thunderstorms.

Saturday morning was really nice weather, cool, dry and sunny. The practice went off well -- the car was properly back together and my times were good. We went out for qualifying a few hours later and I was in with a good bunch of folks -- Ed Dennison for one. He passed me down the front straight and I followed him throught turn three and up the hill into six, hoping to pick up some pointers and surprised I was mostly able to keep up with him.

Through six, I hit the entrance and apex really well, but had a bit too much speed and went slightly off. I've run off at this turn before, but always from early apexing. Running off from carrying too much speed meant I was much further down track and the old trick of going straight and re-entering in a straight line would have put me straight into the tire wall. So I eased the wheel to the left to get back onthe track. Once one wheel caught the track, I spun off drivers left and went over the curbing sideways.

I got restarted, but the steering was off about 45 degrees, so I drove around to the pits, off-line, hand out window. When I got out of the car on pit row, I saw the right front wheel had about 5 degrees of positive camber. "Bent upright" said Dick Shine, so we went off to try to find an upright, since I had no spare. We located a used one from a Scirocco (thanks to Ed Dunbar from Sportwagen). Our spectators arrived and Betsey and I impressed them with a display of how quickly we could disassemble and reassemble a VW front end. Unfortunately the new wheel bearing was bad, so I sat out the afternoon race.

Betsey, our spectators, and I chowed down on the pig roast (now in it's seventh or so year at a summer NHIS event), then drove down to Ed's shop that night, found an upright with a new wheel bearing and drove back to NHIS and put it in. The next morning in practice it all seemed good and I got ready for qualifying.

I was in the middle of a clump of cars, and finally let a number by and was about to get a few clean laps when the BMW in front of me started dumping gas out of the trunk in the oval. I never realized how slippery gas was, but I backed off to avoid contacting the concrete at hight speed, and the session ended on the next lap, with me never getting a clean lap. I was gridded near the end, but not quite last.

I got a really good start (for me) and went by two other cars on the inside of the oval. One from behind got past me at the very beginning, but this was a big improvement. We came around to turn 3 (the first turn after the oval) and I saw a sea of brake lights, a waving yellow and three cars become one in teh middle of the turn. Once past the incident I passed three other cars before the full course yellow came out at turn 7 and the pace car was out. It took five laps to get the totalled Golf and the severely bent BMW (the gas leaker) out of the way so we could restart.

I got a pretty good jump on the restart. I didn't get anyone, but no one got me either and there was a 20 car length distance between me and them by Turn 2. Through the uphill, I waved by two of the really fast cars who were caught up in the incident and had restarted from the back. I was ahead of two other cars that I could see and drove three really good laps and maintained about a 10 car length lead.

Then I started to notice a wobble down the front straight and noticed that the steering wheel was no longer exactly straight. The wobble seemed to be coming from the right front that we had replaced the night before. I eased off a little through the oval, fearing the concrete walls, and the guy right behind me closed in. The car felt slightly uneven under braking at turn 3, similar to how it felt last year just before the hub broke. Going over the top of the hill, I let off and let the guy right behind by. There was one other car waay back inthe distance, so I kept driving hard except in the oval. Eventually, I couldn't see the car behind me, but kept within sight of the cars in front and finished without getting lapped (for the first time!!!!).

It turned out the second new wheel bearing was also poor and one of the rear wheel bearings was a bit beat up. Wobbles fixed and the new header on order we'll be off to Lime Rock on the 16-17th.

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