Kakashi Racing Attends
First Annual IT SPEC*tacular
Greg, Jeff, and Joe attended the first annual IT SPEC*tacular at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. None of us won the thing, but we had one heck of a time!
#33 - Greg Amy
Well, let's start with the Good Stuff: we had a blast. Beautiful weather, meeting new people, re-meeting old friends, enjoying a truly spectacular track. That's what racing's all about.
As for the Bad Stuff, well, it's not that anything tragic or such happened, it's we just suffered some misfortune.
Not having been at Mid-Ohio in 15 years, I was looking forward to good track time during Friday's PDX event. That day actually went fine (well, except for driving off the track on the first lap on just about the first damn corner...) We had four open-track sessions in which to learn the driver and tune the car, and although I continued to try and resolve a constant push, and I wasn't driving as fast as I'd liked, I appreciated the ability to become familiar with Mid-Ohio again in a non-competitive environment.
Saturday morning's qualifying actually had rays of sunshine: although I still wasn't pleased with my performance, we had qualified in third place. This bade well, as the torque of the NX was very likely going to put us in first place through Turn One...and, of course, it did. The first lap of the race was waved-off due to disarray mid-pack, but at the drop of the green on the lap two I simply floored it, moved over one lane, passed the pole-sitter Joe Moser with little fuss, and simply moved back on line in first place. This, of course, wasn't going to last long, as both Joe and Bob Moser are excellent drivers in cars most-suited for this track. While I was giving a driving clinic on how to drive V-E-R-Y wide (and very poorly), those two drove smoothly and waited for the opportunity to arise. Soon it did: I overdrove a corner and slid wide, and they slunk through in the hole I made for them and smoothly drove away. Nice and purdy. Soon thereafter my buddy AJ Nealey did the same thing in his CRX and relegated me back to fourth.
I settled in for the duration of the 45-minute race, my neither catching AJ much nor being caught much by fifth place Jan Rief. Unfortunately, not too much later, as I fed in the power to enter Thunder Valley, I heard some Fairly Awful noises and the engine suddenly revved up to the limiter. At first I thought the transaxle had popped out of third gear, but when I stuck it back in I didn't have any drive. Fourth seemed to work fine, as did second, but placing the shifter in third gear resulted in a lot of coasting. At that point I pretty much accepted I'd just fragged the trans, and tried to make the best of it with just fourth and fifth. That, of course, doesn't work well in Mid-Ohio's twisty bits, but what else could I do? Eventually, though, a severe vibration under braking cemented the fact that we had to park it; I did so after 18 laps (but more than halfway, so technically not a DNF).
A quick drive around the paddock confirmed the 'box was toast: no third gear. So, while I drove to Cleveland to take advantage of a generous offer of a loan of a used stock 'box (non-optimal final drive, no aftermarket limited slip) from a new friend, Mike Pahls, Matt Kessler and Kevin Hart began the tedious and dirty process of prepping the NX to accept it. I returned about 3 hours later, they installed it, test drove the car to make sure it worked fine, and then we all enjoyed the company of friends in the paddock.
Sunday's race was not all lost: gridding position for this race was based on the best lap time from Saturday's race. As such, I was gridded fifth behind a quartet of CRXs. Even without the better ratio of the "good" trans the start was strong, but I chose to "tone it down" a bit, not knowing what to expect from the car in Turn One. The result was nothing spectacular; the car handled and drove pretty much the same as before but with a few less revs. The first lap was uneventful as I trailed the CRX train in fifth, but on the second lap as we entered the Carousel third place Bob Moser half-spun (and made a super recovery), allowing AJ and I to slip by; soon after I used the NX's power to slip by AJ.
But, Bob was not to be denied. He gathered up the orange CRX and started motoring on me and AJ. Unfortunately, he was also bringing a resurgent Kevin Ruck along with him. That two-Honda orange train got by AJ and set their sights on me. Despite my best efforts it wasn't too long before Bob had dead-to-rights through the Keyhole and the inevitable pass under braking at the end of the back straight followed. I tucked in behind Bob, widening my line into Madness to maintain momentum (my next "passing opportunity" - should it come - would have been the front straight) when suddenly I found myself clouted, then sideways, then backwards into the grass. Unfortunately, Kevin had mistaken my wider line as an open door and stabbed his car in there; when that door closed the inevitable intersection of sheet metal quickly followed.
I got the car turned around but facing traffic, and waited for a hole. That hole didn't show up until AJ and about 10 other cars had gone by. I re-entered the race in somewhere around 13th place, and the car seemed undamaged, at least in terms of mechanical function. Knowing that the day's second race would be gridded by this race's finishing position, I put my nose to the grindstone to recover what I could. It's actually fun being the chaser, and I after a few passes I finished the race in 10th.
Afterwards, Kevin and I had a one-on-one conversation about the incident, and while we don't disagree on the sequence of events, we differ on the root causes (if Kevin makes his video available I'll link to it next to mine below). Regardless, we parted to our respective corners with a friendly handshake to prep for the next race; unfortunately, I found out later that Kevin's car was damaged beyond their ability to repair it for the race, while the NX suffered only a tire mark on the end of the rear bumper cover (that thing's a tank)...
So, by the end of that second race I had an effective DNF and a tenth place, and a tenth-place start for the last race. The possibility of "winning" the SPEC*tacular event was zero (honestly, with this entry list, it was zero after that first race) and I was still unhappy with my driving. So, I gridded for the last race with three major goals: 1) don't wreck or break the car; 2) drive better; and 3) beat my buddies Jeff Lawton and Joe DiMinno, who were gridded in front of me. Well, without much spectacular-ness, I managed to do that, I think. There were a few "questionable" moves from other competitors at the start, but once dispatched they were no further problems. Towards halfway I was catching Joe, when he suddenly peeled off ino the pits with mechanical problems (disconnected spark plug wire - although I think I "skeared" him as I was catching him). The final race, to be honest, was anti-climactic. No harm, no foul, no damage.
Bob Moser won the first annual IT SPEC*tacular in his ITA Honda CRX Si with a strong, smooth, consistent run of two wins and a third. Jon Marhefka, AJ Nealey, and Joe Moser finished 2-3-4, respectively, in their Honda CRX Si and Jeremy Lucas capped the top five with his Acura Integra. Everyone agreed that this was a super event and all are looking forward to the next one.
You should be, too...
Race 1: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-895423271753158640
Race 2: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6085625767744641973
Race 3: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1743801306657020882