2008 Season in Review
The Aug 30th, 31st CRDA Presidents Trophy Races went well for Myers Motorsports.
The weekend had the biggest field yet. There were 21 cars in our class, GT B, alone. The GT 1 thru GT B field was predicted to be over 60 cars so the organizers split the field into two race groups. GT1/2/A and GT B/C/D groups each had their own race.
I was disappointed with my qualifying performance being well off my personal best. I don't really know why I couldn't set a competitive qualifying time as the crew had the car set up well as proven by the rest of the weekend. I just couldn't get comfortable with the feel of the car. We started the first race in 14th position in class.
The first race went well and we made up some places at the start. Using the outside of corner 2 got us a few more places. Then we were in a battle with a late model Camaro, an Integra R type and a BMW Mini. I got by the mini and the Integra but the Camaro had so much HP that even when I got along side him in a corner he just drove away at the exit. On the back straight he would leg out a substantial lead that would take me quit a few corners to work back. He ended up spinning in Corner 5A. I went wide and avoided him to take the position but the Integra behind me was not so lucky. The Camaro and the Integra collided. We finished the first race in 5th. We also set a new personal best lap in this race. The new strut brace from RS Barn and alignment performed at Kingston Volkswagen is keeping us in the running.
The second race went well as we finished in 3rd place. The bad news was one of our biggest competitors was starting right behind us. Bob Armstrong in a Nissan Nx2000 with something a little special under the hood. He can really pull on us in a straight line (I'll show you the video Bob).
In the third race we drove as hard as we could. We were starting on the inside which is my favorite. Bob was starting outside us and managed to nose out ahead at the start but I managed to keep the inside line through corner 1. Bob again nosed out ahead between corner 1 and 2. I was determined to try and get back even with him around the outside of corner 2 but in the brake zone he pushed us right to the outside of the track so I had to ease up slightly and lost any chance of over lap. We got by the two leaders but I could never get close enough to make a serious run at Bob. Next time we'll be trying twice as hard. We finished 2nd in class behind Bob.
With one race weekend left we are in 5th place in the class points race. It was our season goal to finish in the top 3 but it is looking like a slim possibility. A 3rd place finish is still mathematically possible but we need a "kimi" type of final race to pull it out of the hat. Missing 3 race weekends because of a valve failure has had a big impact on our points standing. The fact that we still have a chance at the top 3 speaks to the strength of the GT B field with the points being spread between so many different drivers.
The final race weekend of the season was the last weekend in September.† First and second for GT B for the season were out of reach.† Third was still a possibility but it would take finishing second or better in all three races in the weekend.†† We knew that a good qualifying position would be crucial.† The car was ready but was the driver?† This weekend there were again 60 cars registered for the sprints so the fields were split.† GT B would be leading the second group.† There were 20 cars in GT B alone.
Qualifying has never been my strong suit and I have generally qualified near the front but not at it.† Usually working up to my best lap times in the race.† This weekend I would have to break that pattern.†† I set a goal to match or beat my personal best lap time in practice.† The morning started out cool and grey but dry.† We got up to the grid early and were first to be let out on the track.† I focused on turning smooth fast laps and pushed myself.† It worked, matching my personal best at 1:36.8.† A good start.
The race gods were not going to make this easy as we started qualifying on a damp track.† We lined up first again to ensure we had clear track to set our best time.† The track was greasy and on the second lap it started to rain.† I figured it was now or never to set the best lap time.† My mistake.† Now pushing hard the back end stepped out in at the exit of corner 3 and I didnít hold it.† As I spun 180 degrees I got a good look at the cars following close behind.† They were so close behind that if I kept the wheels locked up and the car spinning the following cars would not be able to avoid me.† I let of the brakes and rolled backwards down the track.† I was going backwards at about 70 Km/hr slowly backing off the track with there not being a lot of run off room on the outside and wet grass I figured it was better to gently get on the brakes and slow the car down while everyone went around me.† My mistake #2.† The car instantly snapped sideways and into the path of traffic.† Bob Armstrong had now where to go and hit me from behind.† I drove around to the pits for my crew to look at the damage.† I thought that I had end Bobís and my weekend.† My car had significant damage to the rear bumper rebar and trunk rear section.† Miraculously Bobís car looked like it had not hit anything?† He must have a little bit of re-enforcement in that nose of his.† We went back out but my nerves were shot and the car was filling with smoke from the bumper cover touching the exhaust pipe.† Far from the best qualifying performance of my life.† Like qualifying in Formula 1 this had pretty much determined that I would not be finishing 2 in class for the first race.
In the first race I was starting a long way back, buried amongst GT C and D cars.† I spent most of the first two laps working my way through slower cars that had out qualified me.† Once past them my crew radioed me to say I was about 12 seconds behind the next car in my class, a Mazda Speed 6 that was ahead of me.† I was catching him at about a second a lap.† I was driving for all I was worth and trying to carve around slower cars to avoid loosing time.† It was during this chase that I put in my best lap ever, 1:36.03.† Just .03 seconds from breaking out of GT B.† When my crew radioed me with the time I had to get him to repeat it because I couldnít believe the time.† I caught up with the Mazda on the last lap exiting corner two.† I set up on him in corner 4 and went under him on the brakes into 5.†† As we went up into 5 he held me very narrow on the entry.† He left some room at the exit but not enough given how tight he had kept me on the corner entry.† I turned in hard but could not hold it in and made contact with his right rear quarter.† We both spun sideways.† We both recovered and it was a drag race up the back straight.† Going into corner 8 it was obvious my cars handling was off so I nursed it through the last two corners.† Figuring I had a flat tire from the contact I pulled over but the corner worker said the tire was ok.† I drove around to the pits to find that my right front tire was flat.† I still wonder if it was going down before making contact with the Miata in corner 5.† It would explain why I could not turn in hard enough to avoid contact.
I was starting the second race in 7th position based my race 1 finish.† As we came round corner 10 the field accelerated and then checked up. I moved right to avoid the car in front of me and waited for the starter to waive off the start.† To my surprise and others the green flag flew.† We were off but several of us were struggling to regain the momentum that we had given up while trying to keep competitors behind us.† The lead group of 7 cars slowly legged out a gap on the rest of the field.† I set my sights on the Mazda speed 6 ahead of me.† As I got close to the Mazda going into corner 5† there is a yellow flag waiving and the Corcoran Camaro is sitting sideways on the inside of the corner.†† In corner 8 Bob Armstrong is slow on the inside and waiving people by on the outside.† It would turn out that he had a flat tire.†† I eventually got by the Mazda by carrying better speed through corner 5 and getting him on the back straight.† Next in my sights is Perry in his Sentra.† Yes I said Sentra.† Now if they sold them off the show room floor like this they would have sold a pile.† He has a Japanese spec turbocharged engine in it and he pulls about 3 Ė 4 car lengths on me up the back straight.† Iím trying for all Iím worth to get by him but he can make that Sentra seem like it is as wide as a Hummer.† While battling Perry they had dropped the yellow flag in corner 5 and the Mazda surprised me by sliding down the inside in 5A.† I got the position back in corner 8.
I was starting the last race of the season in 5th place.† It wasnít one of my best starts.† I was accelerating behind a modified camaro and he seemed to check up so I lifted a bit and started to move right.† There was a Honda Prelude already there so I had to lift again and then things got moving.† 6th and 7th place cars got past me.† I stayed with the Mazda around the outside of corner two and the Honda Prelude went off on corner 3 so I was at least back up to my starting position but had a gap to get back on the cars ahead.† On the next lap a Nissan 280Z and a Saab got by me.† These cars are fast, running on the cusp of breaking out and have several times so I try and push them.† In corner 5 the Honda Prelude gets beside me and I leave him room at the apex of 5B but he pushes me off at the exit.† I am not pleased.† On the next lap the Prelude spins the Saab ahead of me.† He is making friends real quick.† The Prelude has found some speed since our last meeting.† I can get my nose stuck in but nothing serious enough to make it stick.† His next victim is Perry in the Sentra.† The Prelude pushes Perry wide at the exit of 5.† On the next lap Perry and the Prelude get behind a slower car.†† I carry my speed through the corner and get up beside the Prelude up the back straight coming over the crest.† As we enter the braking area the Prelude is moving me left to the edge of the track.† Based on his previous performances I backed out of the overlap.† Dropping two wheels off at 200+ Km/hr under braking is an experience I would like to miss.†† †I finished the race in 7th position.† A far cry from the 2nd place or better I was shooting for at the beginning of the weekend.
Reliability has hurt me again this season.† If I had not had the valve failure and finished respectably in the first three race weekends I would have finished in the GT B season top three easily.† As it was we finished in 5th place overall in GT B with only one race win separating 3rd through 5th.† For 2009 our main focus is reliability.† We have already acquired major spares for the season. The winter will be spent organizing and insulating the garage to make it more hospitable to work on the car in the winter.† The car will be prepared for 2009.
I must thank my crew whose help and enthusiasm was invaluable in getting us back on track after the valve failure.† RS Barn whose performance products kept helped us maintain our competitive lap times with a used stock engine dropped in the car.† The used engine ran flawlessly while being pushed to the limit with Mobil 1 oil.† Kingston Volkswagen continued to provide technical, moral and alignment support throughout the season.† Torbram Electric Supply was our one stop shop for electrical supplies to set our shop up.