Well what a weekend. Let me start by saying this was one of the most miserable weekends at a race track I have ever had. I almost packed it up twice but I’m glad I didn’t because the ending wasn’t too bad. Let me also say that while I say the car had no brakes, at no point did I think it was dangerous for me, fellow drivers, or workers to go on track. The car had brakes but not brakes that would make for a fast race car nor were they anything like I had felt previously. So we got the car to the track Wednesday evening as planned. The car was not entirely ready though, still suffering from a brake issue. It was good enough to load and I decided to go ahead and take it so I could test drive it around the infield on Thursday to try and fix things. No room to drive at my shop. Thursday I drove the car and had no brakes. I disconnected the booster as it was shot but the car had pretty much no stopping power. I figured I should bed the new pads in before I dive into it in since cold new pads and rotors sometimes feel bad anyway. No real improvement. I stayed at the track until midnight taking the brakes apart again, checking everything, making sure something wasn’t just in the wrong place or leaking. I tried everything I could think of. Practice 1 was Friday morning and on the first lap out I could tell the thing was a handful. It was a good learning experience to have to adjust my driving to fit the car versus letting it just beat me. Which it did a few times. Including this first session. It was only a few laps in after a lot of sliding that I got sideways on the entry into turn seven, I corrected as usual, but the snap back was hard and I went straight off towards the concrete wall. With my brakes absolute crap, I could barely stop before the wall. There was inches to spare. I knew something had to change after that as clearly it wasn’t going to be safe to go out again for me or the other drivers. I had actually called in to my wife that I was pitting that lap because the brakes felt like they were fading. Qualifying 1 came up and the drums were adjusted just in time to go out a little later and turn some laps. I went out and the car felt slightly better, though still not great. While the car would slow and the brakes weren’t like they were in practice, I was still having to really dial back my braking points. Qualifying 2 was Saturday morning. I was optimistic to get out there after a reboot (sleep) with the goal of focusing on my driving and ignoring the car. To compromise I decided to avoid downshifts as much as possible to focus solely on braking. The pedal was so far down when braking it made heel and toe especially hard so I decided to cut that from the equation. It seemed to work and really help stabilize the car but I once again spun in the process of learning. No biggie but embarrassing on my end. Race 1 came Saturday afternoon. The start of the first race was mayhem as a Lotus and the fastest HP Honda got into it somehow right at the green flag (see video). I luckily made it through cleanly and took the opportunity to make a few passes. The race was black flagged that lap to clean up the mess and we would restart in our original starting order. The pace lap started and I had stumbling issues like I had back in July. As soon as the green flag flew the car had zero power and I had to pull off in turn one to retire.
It ended up being the wiring to one of my fuel pumps. I am hoping that is also what caused some issues last year but I won’t know yet. It acted the same and even started back up fine a little while later but we traced it down to a bad wire between the pump and the dash. Race 2 was right after lunch on Sunday and I was really tired. The weekend had been non-stop and quite frankly pretty miserable. I rarely feel like giving up but I was absolutely exhausted, my wife was exhausted, and it just felt like we’d have another failure of some sort. I decided to clean the brakes Sunday morning to make sure the fronts weren’t glazed or something. Anything to try and help. I did what I could, checked the fluids, and was as ready as I could be. More bad luck came ten minutes before the start. The car would not start. I had battery or alternator issues in November that I thought were fixed, apparently not and the car decided to not start even when being jumped off by a running car. I was going insane. I kept trying and trying. I was now late but someone dropped oil in the previous session so there was a small delay giving me some time. The car finally started and I was out of there to the grid like a bat out of hell. I was fired up to say the least and made it to the grid and to my grid spot (4th in class). The green flag flew and I had a great jump on the third place car then saw Moore’s Civic coming up and was able to get him coming out of one moving me to second in HP. I was able to hold second until the back straight when the Honda motored by but held third. I kept turning lap after lap (I actually thought I was in 4th) and eventually saw the checkered flag for the first time over the weekend. I was happy, relieved to see the end, and glad the car held up. It wasn’t the most pleasurable driving experience but I managed.
We finished third in H Production so getting a podium after such a horrible weekend made things better. Photos: