Greg Amy Wins the Double!
New Short Course Lap Record at Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen "Fun One" September 15/16, 2007
SUPER weekend. The weather was cold and rainy Friday night; C-O-O-O-L-D, cloudy, and windy on Saturday; BITTER cold and windy for the pig roast that night; and warmish and sunny on Sunday.
Saturday was simply too cold to go blindingly fast. The track started out slick in the AM and with no sun never really warmed up; most folks were complaining about a slippy track and that they weren't going as fast as expected (myself included).
One thing I don't like about the Glen is that the paddock area is so large. While it gives everybody plenty of space (and asphalt) it really spreads everyone out. You really have to take the time to drive around and actively attempt to find folks, and that's unfortunate. Further, with the track as large as it is, you really can't get a full perspective on what was happening on-track. As a result, with our busy schedule (I ran two groups) we weren't able to see everyone we'd like to.
I raced both ITA and DP. The Big Bore group was...um, well, "interesting". Cars with lots of power, but I suspect that many of these guys were on Continentals or something. 'Nuff said. Interestingly enough, I wasn't the only competitor in DP this time: a Grand-Am Mazda 6 driven by Herb Sweeney was there too and won both days, but our times were reasonably close; we found out later, though, that they were not running the required SIR 9inlet restrictor), so I think we have at least a psychological victory...
I won ITA on Saturday but could not get down to my lap record track time of last year. Blame it on the track, but I think it's more driver than anything. ITA standouts include a Spec Miata finishing in second place, despite having started from dead last (insert gratuitous shot at Miata ITA weights here) and none other than Ray Lee Chee in third! Michael Liggett surprised us all in that rocket-ship of an RX-7 in fourth, but Manu had a drive axle problem and fell out early.
Within Group 3, Dan Jones won overall and ITR in his immaculate E36 and set a new track record at 2:16.273; Jeff Harding trounced ITS, and Tony Swan solo'd to the T3 win and a new track lap record of 2:18.665.
Only the hearty stuck around long at that night's pig roast. The food, beer, conversation, and company was excellent, but with temps in the 40's (my guess) and a biting wind under the grandstand we could only take it so long. Food was good, though...
Sunday dawned mostly clear and sunny, with the short course
track configuration looming. The day started cold, in the 40's, but once the sun
got up higher it wasn't unusual to see some brave folks in t-shirts. The
annoying-sounding F500s and FVs opened the day's activities and
everyone scurried around to get ready. I was in DP in Group 3 again, and we hit
the track 8:45 or so. But, immediately after pulling out of the pits we went
full-course yellow; an American Sedan got as far as the Bus Stop before pulling
over with his car on fire. They got the fire put out before the car burned to
the ground (it was charred up pretty good and quickly made it onto Smarty's Wall
of Shame), but the end result was only one lap of green qualifying. I think our
"spec Continental" big bore guys had the same problem as the day before, as I
again qualified 33rd in a field of something like 60 cars (I told Matt over the
radio I was embarrassed to be in the middle of that field. His response was, "so
how do you think the Corvettes behind you feel...?")
Group 5 had a good qualifying session, green all the way. The big surprise when the results came out was that the ITA pole was held not by Greg Amy, but by Steve Gorriarian driving a Spec Miata (insert gratuitous...ah, never mind...).
So, it was going to be a race.
The Big Bore race was fun. I had qualified a few spots behind Herb Sweeney's Grand-Am car, and Matt wanted to me beat him (we didn't know at the time he wasn't running the SIR). The start actually worked out pretty well, and I was quickly on Herb's rear bumper. He was driving aggressively, not giving me any quarter, but I managed to pass him a couple of times in the corners (once actually getting a killer run through Turn One and passing him on the OUTSIDE going up the Esses). But, the power of the NX was no match for the GAC-spec Mazda 6 (on regular Hoosiers, BTW, not GAC Hoosiers) and he would just motor by me on the straights. Eventually, we got tangled up in traffic and I lost touch with him, having to be satisfied with beating up on some Corvettes instead.
One little interesting note: towards the end of the race, our very own Ben Phillips in his SPO car comes BLASTING by on the back straight as I was braking into the Bus Stop. As we negotiated the Bus Stop some kind of radius rod/link came flying out from under the car; I had to dodge it to keep it out of the windshield. I thought maybe it was something he kicked up off the track, but just a few corners later Ben was pulled off to the side by pit-in with a left rear suspension that was obvious "de-rawn-jeh". Hey, Ben, go walk the Bus Stop, your part's out there somewhere...
The ITA race was a good one. Steve and I were lined up together in 6th and 7th place, and at the green I used the NX's power advantage to get in front of him and a couple of other cars. I tucked in behind Tony Swan in the rocket-ship T3 S2000 and put my head down to get some distance between Steve and me while he was tied up. Matt gave me running differentials over the radio, and we saw the gap was slowly opening up. I also noticed I was driving better, probably a function of the track getting nicely warmed up plus learning from following Tony (and from some acquired-during-beer great driving tips from John Walsh). Suddenly, Matt calls in "he's pitting!", indicating Steve was pulling off the track; so, I told him to start giving me lap times instead, as I really wanted that short course track record. Working with Tony, I managed to pick up time here and there, and the lap times Matt was calling out to me were very close to the existing track record (1:30.31x, IIRC). We took the checkered on the slightly-shortened race (13 instead of 15 laps) and I had again won ITA, but we didn't know how close we had come to the lap record. Everyone went across the scales and we sat there in impound "BS-ing".
Once the results were posted, though, we discovered that I had, in fact, broken the short course by 2/10s of a second, with a 1:29.944. In fact, indicating how good of a day it was, every class in Group 5 broke their respective lap records: Dan Jones in ITR with a 1:28.354, Tony Swan in T3 with 1:29.294, and Jeff Harding in ITS with 1:28.599 (his very first track lap record!)
A fun weekend all around; if you weren't there you missed a good ole time! - Greg
Saturday - Long Course
Group 3 Qualifying: http://www.mylaps.com/results/newResults.jsp?id=660229&highlight=35
Group 3 Race: http://www.mylaps.com/results/newResults.jsp?id=660230&highlight=34
Group 5 Qualifying: http://www.mylaps.com/results/newResults.jsp?id=660233&highlight=9
Group 5 Race: http://www.mylaps.com/results/newResults.jsp?id=660234&highlight=4
Sunday - Short Course
Group 3 Qualifying: http://www.mylaps.com/results/newResults.jsp?id=660246&highlight=33
Group 3 Race: http://www.mylaps.com/results/newResults.jsp?id=660247&highlight=25
Group 5 Qualifying: http://www.mylaps.com/results/newResults.jsp?id=660250&highlight=7
Group 5 Race: http://www.mylaps.com/results/newResults.jsp?id=660251&highlight=4