Thursday, October 27, 2011

(155) Double marks

I'd like to say that I went into this weekend thinking about what an awesome season it's been, how I'd be missing the people I've been racing with for the past 7 months, and the fact that it has only been 7 months since I started racing in SCCA to begin with.

But I can't say that. Because I approached this weekend the same as I always do - with a steady mind, set on the intent to perform. Those thoughts are for Mondays, when you're setting your trophies in their cabinets. For now, it's time to race.

The weather report indicated perfect 85 degree weather during all three days. I like perfect.

Unfortunately, coming into this weekend, mathematically I had no chance of reaching second place in the driver's championship. All I had to do was finish near my team mate Dave Allen, and I was set for third spot.

This was yet another weekend where I would not be having a Thursday test day, and instead would be jumping right into practice and then qualify. And again, my goal was to be fast out of the gate.

I was sharing the car with Mike Neff, who rented the car to run another race group in Improved Touring X. Mike usually does a couple events every year and is a clean racer, so I had no problems with it.

Practice went very smoothly. I find it easy to get into the groove at Thunderhill. We put the fastest set of tires I had on the car, so that made things a lot easier. When you have a set of well taken care of tires, the car gets much easier to drive. Some of that might be placebo though. Still, having nice-looking tires that you can sink your fingers into because they're so soft doesn't hurt.

Once I was back in the paddock, car owner Ed Railton came over and slyly asked me as I opened the door, "how was the transmission?"

"Perfect" I exclaimed, "I thought I was going a little crazy at Laguna because I thought it felt a bit notchy!"

"That's what Dave [Allen] said when he drove it last time" Ed supplied, "so I threw a brand new one in there. I forgot to mention it before you went out."

"So I'm not crazy!" I said, relieved, "thanks, Ed."

It's pretty cool of an owner to just pitch in a whole new transmission because his drivers say it's a little notchy feeling. Ed's done a ton of awesome stuff for us throughout the year, like hauling the car all the way back to the shop in order to rebuild the engine overnight so I could race the next day. You couldn't ask more than that.

Qualifying was equally perfect. There was little traffic, and I had tons of space. But I'm still new to Thunderhill, relative to a lot of the veterans out there, so I wasn't quite as fast as my team mate, but I still managed to put it 12th overall, 3rd in class. The official results showed a new SSM car, the 00 driven by Barrett Tilley, had got in front of both me and Dave, but it was a mistake, and it was actually an SMT car, so while the official results say I was 4th, I was actually 3rd.

On Friday evening, during the social hour, there was a "Meet the Team"event hosted by Steve Jaroch, SCCA's Chief of Announcing. We stood by the cars and basically did a 5-way interview with Ed, Ian Cook (Ed's former boss) and his driver Ed Lever (who evidently is an excellent interview), my co-driver for the weekend, Mike Neff, and myself. Dave Allen was sadly scarce. That interview will probably show up in "The Wheel", the region's monthly publication. It was a fun time, and there was a pretty good crowd watching, so I'm glad people enjoyed it. Thanks to Steve for having us.

At the start of the race on Saturday morning, I got a huge drop on Dave Allen and left most of the guys behind me for dead going into turn 1. But Dave came back and wedged himself along side going into turn 4, finishing the deal in turn 5. At the end of the first lap, which was unusually calm for Spec Miata, the 58 driven by Jeff Annison rocketed by me. That car had some major horsepower.

Not long after, Jeff started battling the 08 being driven by John Grillos. I was happy with this, because it meant I would probably catch up. I pushed a bit harder.

The battling didn't favor John, and I began following him after trying to get by in the first couple of corners when he lost his momentum in turn 1.

It was at this point that I realized something was wrong. My temperature gauge was climbing. Racing in the draft of John's car was robbing my radiator of cool air, and the engine was going to overheat.

So I started moving over to the side on the straights, avoiding the slipstream when I could. It was a rock and a hard place: either take the slip stream, overheat, and lose power (risking the engine), or take the full force of the air flowing over the car, lose straight line speed, but save the engine. Obviously, saving the engine is preferable.

Once I broke the draft, I could see the thermometer needle going down.

This continued for a little while, until John slightly overcooked turn 14's entrance. He swung out wide, and the back end started to slip away.

He was close enough to spinning that I couldn't tell if he was going to save it or not. And he was positioned on the track in such a way that I couldn't tell if he was going to spin to the outside or the inside if he did lose it. I was about 2 tenths of a second away from jinking to the outside when he gathered it up. I had to slow to avoid hitting him.

This allowed the 20 of Andrew Holifield to easily slip by on the main straight. But I wedged myself to the outside of Andrew in turn 3 and got him back.

I was now up an unsavory creek: I had to defend my position, while tending my engine's condition. It was inevitable that I would lose some spots now. It didn't take long for Dante Paulazzo to pass me in the 81.

Dave Anderson in the 32, another SSM car, also got by not long after. I was now in 4th in class. As far as I knew, Dave Allen was still in 2nd. I couldn't lose too many class positions otherwise I would lose 3rd spot in the championship! And now, a rather large queue was forming behind me, which contained the green SSM #5 driven by Alan Gjedsted.

With the 1 lap to go signal from the starter, I had to capitalize on all of Dave's mistakes if I was going to take the position back. I tried my best, but he lost me going down the back stretch going up the hill to turn 9. I looked in my mirror and saw Brian Ebding in the 3 car pop on Alan going into turn 9. I knew this last-lap ditch attempt, even if it worked out well for Brian, would kill both of their momentum to turn 10.

I was a good 10 or 12 car lengths behind Dave now, and I was going to have to push hard in order to catch him, assuming he made a mistake. But I pushed too hard, and had a nice big drift in turn 11. That sealed my fate. I finished 4th.

I gave the car a pat as we took the checkered, for holding together in the race, and for a wonderful season. My arm bumped the wipers. It was almost as if the car was acknowledging me.

Race 13, the finale, full onboard footage.

As it stands, I did not lose 3rd place in the driver's championship. This race was really important, since it was worth double points. My third place in the championship is a result I'm proud of. But the weekend is not over yet!

Up next is the SCCA Illgen Classic 4 hour endurance race.

Our team consisted of Ed Railton, Roger Eagleton, and myself. Ed's driven Miatas for years, and has lap records. Roger drove with me during my first karting enduro a couple years ago, and raced BMWs last year in SCCA.

There were many classes taking part. Miatas, sports racers, prototypes, GT cars, and touring cars were all on the menu.

The first practice/qualify session was on Saturday afternoon. Mike Neff had just finished his race, but there was a problem. The clutch would not fully disengage. This made it impossible for Mike to shift during the race, and very difficult to get the car moving.

Ed acted quickly, got the car up on jack stands, and dropped the transmission and drive shaft. He only had about 2 hours before the start of practice.

An hour later, and we knew the problem. The throwout bearing, the part that basically pushes the clutch away from the flywheel and allows the motor to spin independently of the transmission, had exploded, lodging parts in all kinds of spots in the clutch.

Miraculously, Ed managed to clean all the parts out, put in a new throwout bearing, remount the transmission and drive shaft, all on jack stands, on his back, in less than 2 hours and just in time to practice for the enduro.

I went out first for a couple laps, to make sure the car was ship-shape. There was a ton of pickup on the tires and at first I thought something might be broken, since it was vibrating the whole car and the grip was terrible. But when I heard the "clang, clunk" sounds from the wheel wells I realized what it was. It took about 2 laps to clean all the rubber chunks off the tires.

Ed pulled me into the pits and Roger took the wheel with a practice driver change. Roger familiarized himself with the car for 20 minutes, and then Ed jumped in for another 20.

We were entered in the "under 1700cc" class, rather than the Miata class, because we figured we'd have the best chance to win. I was excited because I was going to get to try the car on race-bred tires, instead of shaved street tires. Ed reckoned the race tires would be good for about 2 seconds per lap.

Sadly, the next morning, the morning of the race, we contacted the tire shop (AIM Tire), and they were out of Miata-sized slick racing tires. They had sold the last set only 10 minutes prior, a set of Hoosier slicks, to the 35 car of Dan Cooper, Greg Cicatelli, and Doug Makishima - our main competition.

My dad and I drove the truck over to the Goodyear trailer, to see if they had anything that would fit on our rims, but they didn't.

So, we bought a set of shaved Toyos, since that's all we could get. Lesson learned. Special order the tires you'll need.

We practiced for another hour and a half, making a few driver changes and wearing in a new set of tires. Ed set the fastest time in the morning with a 2:10.5, which qualified us as the second fastest Miata. The 35 car beat us, however, by some 2 seconds.

We decided that I was going to start the car, since I had just been racing close quarters all year. The primary concern was simply to survive. I would drive for an hour and a half, then Roger would take the middle stint, and then Ed would take the final stint.

The start was good. One of the cars ahead of me didn't show, so everyone basically moved up a spot. This meant that I now had the inside on the 35 car. A large pack of Spec Racer Fords - tried and true sports racers built by SCCA Enterprises and only slightly faster than a Spec Miata - were ahead of us. My start was so good I made it nearly to the middle of this pack, and the 35 car was stuck behind. I knew it was only a matter of time before they would catch and pass me, though, with those sticky Hoosiers, once the SRFs filtered around me. Being in the middle of that pack without any hearing protection was a headache. Those cars are so raspy they literally hurt your head.

Joe Kalinowski flew in to drive the 58 car with Jeff Annison, and Joe started right behind me. After a couple of laps he caught and passed me. I followed him closely. On lap 4 or 5 he made a mistake in turn 9 and dropped wheels, which sucked him off track. I zoom-zoomed by.

I spent most of my stint battling with the 41 driven by Phillip Holifield. I was very pleased to finally be able to put some space between our cars. Phillip is an extremely fast racer and I'm usually nowhere near him in the races.

Right about lap 20, one of the large GT cars left the race with a bang in turn 8. A full course caution came out, and the safety crews hauled the car away. I'm not sure exactly what happened. I was focused on keeping the pickup off my tires.

The pace car split the field, and while I was not leading the race, I was directly behind the pace car. This basically gave the 35 car a 1 lap lead over us right away. 2 laps later, we were back to green flag racing. I again started working out a gap between me and Phillip. We were not in the same class, but you still want to finish as high as you can.

The rest of my stint was spent dodging faster cars. There was one sports prototype that was lapping about 24 seconds per lap faster than the Miatas, and that thing just flashed by every time.

With the fuel nudging empty, Roger called me into the pits and we made a driver change and filled the car with fuel. Two of Ian Cook's drivers helped us out with that.

Roger takes the plunge down the back of turn 5.

Once I got out of the car, I felt ready for another hour at least. The Miata is not very hard on the driver, and it's quite a sinch, physically, to drive.

Meanwhile, Roger was setting solid lap times. It had been a while since he had driven Thunderhill, but he was re-learning the track very quickly. Roger put a number of laps on some of our competitors and got us further ahead. We still had no chance of catching the 35 car, who was now a couple laps ahead.

An hour and a half later, Ed got in the car for the home stretch. Ed and I had very similar lap times, and he also put more laps on the other cars in our class. All of our stints were fairly uneventful.

At the line, we finished 2nd in class, 15th overall.

It was an awesome race, and it was a fantastic warm-up for the NASA 25 Hour coming up in December.

And now, the SCCA racing season is over. Now I can truly say that I'm thinking about how awesome of a season it's been, how I'm going to miss all the people who are part of SCCA racing, and how I cannot believe that it's only been 7 months since I started in SCCA. It's been a year to remember.

And thank you, to every volunteer who has helped out during the season. You guys are awesome.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

(154) Let's just all be reasonable

It's been said by a number of people that motor racing is gladitorial. While I do not agree with that statement (gladiators existed for the purpose of killing, racing drivers exist for the purpose of going fast), it does illustrate the basic theme of motor racing - high stakes competition with the very real possibility of a horrible death.

I'm not going to talk about what happened at Las Vegas. There are already hundreds of media outlets doing so (some more competently than others), and thousands of people discussing it on the internet (some more lucidly than others).

Rather, I want to talk a bit about safety. Specifically, one of the troubling trends I've been hearing from various people - commenters, experts, and journalists alike.

I'm not an engineer. I couldn't tell you what the best materials are for a crash structure, or where that structure should be on the car. What I will do is tell you, quickly, why I think some of the solutions being proposed to make IndyCar racing on ovals safer are probably not the most reasonable.

Basically, the solutions I have a problem with boil down to two categories: slow down the cars, and stop racing ovals.

The problem I have with these proposals is that these are very low level solutions. Specifically, they do not solve the immediate problems. They simply ignore them.

We could just stop racing, and then all racing-related deaths and injuries would stop as well. But that wouldn't solve the issue, which is the danger of racing. We would simply be ignoring the real problems and refusing to participate. This is by far the safest way to deal with a problem. If you don't partake, there is no problem. However, it doesn't actually do anything about the issue itself.

If you wanted, you could never again get out of bed. This would keep you safer than if you were to live your life as normal, where any number of nasty things have the potential to happen to you, but I think we'd all be in agreement that staying in bed would not be a very intelligent way to deal with the dangers of living.

If you have a car, you have locks and an alarm. If you live in a very cold place, you dress warmly. These are targeted solutions that address a specific problem. Instead of retreating away from the issue, these solutions allow you to carry on. Some solutions are more effective than others.

The same methodology needs to be applied to racing. If you have a neck injury issue, you develop a device that keeps the head from snapping forward. If you have a high likelyhood of fire, you put fire extinguishers in the cars and have the drivers wear fireproof overalls. If you have solid walls around the track, you do your best to line them with something soft to dissipate impact energy.

I just hope those in power try to solve the immediate problems, instead of retreating from any danger and generally limiting our sport. There are only finite threats to our safety in the cockpit. Since they are all physical problems, they all have a quantifiable, deployable solution. Total racing safety is possible given enough time, research, and technology. That day may be very far off, but with that goal in mind, the march towards it will be steady.

In 50 years we have gone from losing many drivers per racing season to having even an injury being big news, all while having faster and faster cars. Let's keep improving motorsport safety at that rate of speed.

Speaking of rate of speed, the season finale to the 2011 San Francisco region SCCA Sunoco Challenge series at Thunderhill Raceway is fast approaching. This weekend is going to contain the final regional race, which will be for double the normal amount of points.

At the moment it looks like I have 3rd spot all tied up, and I'm mathematically unable to get any higher than that. Dave Allen would have to finish something like 5 spots ahead of me in order to overtake me in the championship.

At the end of the weekend, I'll be racing in the SCCA Illgen Classic 4-hour enduro. The team is all set up and ready to go.

My team mates will be my car owner Ed Railton, and my buddy Roger Eaglton. Long time readers may remember Roger driving with me in the Jim Russell karting enduro a couple years ago. Roger spent a lot of last year driving an E30 BMW in SCCA and is definitely a very solid racer. Ed Railton has a ton of experience in Spec Miata, and holds a number of track records in the San Francisco region. His team won their class in the enduro last year.

There shouldn't be any tire changes during the race, but we will have to refuel of course. The Miatas can go for about an hour and 20 minutes on a tank of fuel, which in Thunderhill maths is about 9 miles to the gallon. Pretty impressive for going flat out everywhere. Also convenient, since it evenly splits up the 4 hours between 3 drivers.

This is going to be an awesome weekend!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

(153) Loaner, part 2

Back in the paddock after the race, I talked to team mate Dave Allen and car owner Ed Railton after they both had a look at Dave's busted engine.

Dave still had 3 races to go in his weekend since he was signed up to do Super Touring Light in addition to Sealed Spec Miata, but his car was toast, and Ed didn't know if he could fix it since he didn't know what the problem was yet. Dave needed a car. So I offered to let him borrow mine, with approval from Ed, for the STL races that Dave was doing on Sunday. The Sealed Spec Miatas are legal in STL and Improved Touring A, but STL and ITA both run in the same race group, so you have to choose one or the other.

Dave would run his race in the morning using his tires, and then, after changing back to my tires, I would take the car for my SSM race just before lunch. Dave would rent another Miata in order to run the SSM race with me. In the afternoon, Dave would run his last race of the weekend in STL.

Unfortunately, Dave was going to have to start from the back in the morning STL race because he changed cars. That worried me a little. If you recall my sole experience of starting from the back in June - and the subsequent crash - you'll probably sympathize with my nervousness about the car's wellbeing.

I needn't have worried, however. While it was strange seeing the little silver and yellow Miata buzz around the track from the outside, Dave kept his nose completely clean using his superior racing experience, and brought it home without a scratch, gaining plenty of positions in the process.

Back in the paddock, Dave remarked to me that my Miata "is one good handling automobile." It's nice to have all that setup work approved by someone as experienced as Dave. Dave's 2nd race later in the afternoon went without incident as well.

Ed Railton managed to grab his first (and rather spectacular) Spec Racer Ford victory in the final race of the weekend in the afternoon. He won by over 6 seconds. Congratulations Ed! He's doing very well in the SRF championship at this point.

Up next for me was my final race of the weekend in the late morning. Since this was a two-day format weekend, there was no qualifying per se for the Sunday race. Instead, as requested by popular vote earlier in the year, the grid positions for the Sunday race were to be determined by the fastest lap times set during the Saturday race. My time was a 1:49.143, so I started 3rd in SSM.

The race start this time was slower. The leaders took longer to take off, and I misjudged my own launch. I got passed by two of the more powerful SMT, but I held off Dave Anderson in the black and red 32.

We remained double-file until I passed the 00 of Barret Tilley on the outside in turn 5. Most of the SSM/SMT field had not driven the track yet that day, and were still figuring out the grip levels during the first lap.

I now found myself directly behind the 20 of Steve Holifield, and I pushed very hard on my as yet unheated tires while trying to fend off Barret directly behind me. I tried a silly fake on Steve in turn 11, and scooted up a little too far. Steve was heads up and went wide, but it blew both of our corners and Barret sailed by me as we headed down the straight. I graunched third gear coming out of turn 2. Very easy to do in first generation Miatas when you're pushing hard.

I now had the 34 of Juan Pineda staring me down through my mirror. He tried a pass in turn 9, but backed off. He bided his time a little, and then took me going down the front straight on the inside. I'm starting to crave more horsepower pretty badly by this point.

The battle ahead was starting to heat up, and behind me the 4th place SSM car of Dave Anderson was popping in and out of my mirrors with what I guessed was a 4 or 5 second gap. If I got embroiled in battling too hard, I might have lost the gap. I put my faith in the guys ahead to carry me further and further from Dave. Maybe my time would come.

A few minutes later, I saw what looked to be David Petruska's #59 sitting on the outside of turn 9, in the sand, with most of the left side of the car seriously scraped and bent. I thought for sure a full course caution would arise as a result. I kept looking for the double yellows.

Sure enough, I saw them in turn 5, along with the safety crews coming out onto the track to lend aid to Dave.

I relaxed, took a breather, and I tried to count backwards in order to figure out how many laps we still had yet to go. I was sure we would go back to green flag racing after 2 or 3 laps.

It was on this lap that I got a better look at David's car, still sitting on the outside of turn 9. The door was slightly caved in, but looked intact. The left rear wheel was pointing 90 degrees the wrong direction.

As we rounded turn 11, I saw another car, the 9 of Fred Peterson, who looked like he had spun to the outside and was beached. It didn't look related to Dave Petruska's crash.

We sauntered around again behind the pace car, and now Dave's crash site was being tended to by the safety crews and the paramedics. There was a huge stacking effect in the corkscrew as everyone slowed to check on our fellow racer. I didn't see much as I passed, just the medics checking on him through the window. I assumed it was precautionary.

The line headed into the pits and the pace car brought us to a stop at the start line. The checkered was waving. Dave Anderson came along side and congratulated me on finishing 2nd. I didn't really know what to say besides "thanks". I was thinking about Dave Petruska and whether or not he was okay. After a minute, we all turned around and retired to the impound station to check the front runners for technical compliance. Nobody wants to win a race under yellow, and no one wants to gain positions because another racer crashed. These two factors combined results in one of the worst ways to finish a race.

Race 2 full onboard footage.

At impound, I asked around to see if anyone further up the field saw what happened. Based on what I heard there, as well as what I read on the community site after the weekend was over, this is what seems to have happened.

While racing hard for the top spot in SSM, Dave Petruska had contact with another car in turn 9. He spun off the track and hit the bare concrete wall on the driver's side. He suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and swelling of the brain.

Dave was taken via helicopter to the hospital, where he is now making an encouraging recovery.

All of his fellow racer's thoughts are with him. Get well soon Dave!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

(152) Loaner

Rapid fire is one way to describe the two-day SCCA weekends. Convenient is another. One could think of it as adding pressure, or one could think of it as not enough time to get the job done.

I prefer not to limit myself by thinking such things. I view it as an opportunity to exploit advantages, being my driving preparation and quick learning - both of which translate into speed out of the gate. You need that for two-day race weekends.

And so my weekend began with a lot of preparation. I ran laps in my head trying to dial in what I thought would be the optimal lines and speeds given the (rather ideal) conditions. In practice I was immediately on a fast pace with a 1:49.1 best lap.

This was the first time I had run the new setup with the new alignment and camber settings at Mazda Raceway. There are places where I feel like I have less grip (turn 8, turn 4), but there are other places where I feel like I have more (turn 6, turn 11). Everyone seemed to be running slightly slower times, so it's hard to tell if the setup itself is faster or slower. It feels better at the very least. Easier to drive. It suits my style.

During the run up to the weekend it seemed that there would be a dip in participation. But in the final days of registration the list ballooned, and we ended up having around 45 cars take to the track. As with the other two-day weekend at Mazda Raceway, we did not split the group into even and odd numbered cars for qualifying. So we have quite a bit of traffic to deal with.

It did not go well for me. My first two laps were clear and quick. But on the 3rd lap, I caught the back-markers. I finally got a gap a couple laps later, and my onboard timer showed I was going 7 tenths faster than my best session time of 1:49.4, but a car spun in front of me in turn 8. All the other laps were balked by any number of things, from traffic to spun cars and cautions. Even my team mate, Dave Allen, had an uncharacteristic spin in turn 2. It was one of the busiest qualifying sessions I've ever had.

My early session effort landed me 4th in class and 15th overall for the race. This was to be my lone qualifying session, with the second race's starting positions being determined by fastest laps from race one. Dave Allen landed 2nd with a blistering 1:48 lap.

The start of the first race was fast. I came out of turn 11 practically full throttle. I got a very nice start and held my position (against the more powerful SMTs, every SSM's ideal start is to not lose any positions). I got single file for turn 3, but ahead and behind me there was some two-wide action.

Later in the lap I got by Rylan Hazelton in the 17 car in turn 8. The reduced grip from this new setup in turn 8 really showed as I got a bit of a slide as I crested and stepped on the throttle. It's pretty hard to do that in a 112 horsepower car with racing slicks in third gear.

On the next lap a car spun off the track in turn 3. I was all prepared to go straight through the cloud of dust since I saw where the car ended up and was sure it was clear, but as I was going by the cloud, a new cloud of sand was kicked up and I had to duck my face away from the window or risk temporary blindness. Window nets only keep big things out.

A lap later I caught and passed the 74 of Cameron Rogers in turn 5. Over the next minute and a half I put a good gap between him and myself. Until I entered turn 6 with slightly too much gusto and dropped my right wheels over the edge of the track into the deep sand.

The sand grabbed my wheels and pulled the rest of the car off the track. I backed out of the throttle, but the car was already beginning to slip sideways in the deep sand. I had to jerk the wheel to correct, disobeying the first law of leaving the tarmac: be smooth.

I caught the slide in time, but then another slide came on fast. This one was bigger. I corrected more, it started to come back around, and then I hit asphalt. I had enough sense to see it coming at least, and brought the wheel back to center in time to avoid hooking back into the wall. Cameron sailed by.

It took at least until turn 10 to get all the dirt off my tires, and in that time Cameron put some more distance between us.

I was now giving chase to Cameron, and he held me off for a number of laps. He seemed to get a second wind when I flew off track a few laps before. But I kept gaining on him after turn 6, so I tried to push my advantage as much as possible. Eventually I got by him in turn 8 with a very late braking attempt that nearly spun me out. But his superior power carried him pretty easily by again down into turn 9.

Then Rylan passed me on the main straight, and Steve Holifield in the green #20 passed me in turn 8 after I got slowed a bit by lap traffic. It really sucks being down on power to the other classes. But at least it's not for points-paying position!

I gave chase to the three ahead of me for most of the rest of the race. I kept gaining on Steve on the run from turn 10 to turn 11, but he was always wise to me and played defensive. I didn't have the power to exploit his defensive posture down the main straight, so I wasn't able to get by him there either.

A few minute later and we all passed my team-mate Dave Allen as his engine gave up the ghost. It had been making a knocking sound all morning and he did his best to conserve it, even though he was setting blistering times. Unfortunately, they are usually fastest before they blow and sadly this was the case yet again.

The four of us then started catching some lap traffic, and the 53 was called in for a mechanical problem as we passed by on the start finish line for the penultimate time.

A lap later, and the race was done. The only other Sealed Miata, like mine, that I saw was the 32 of Dave Anderson in my rear-view mirror. With Dave Allen dropping back after his engine blew up, that meant I had finished in 3rd place in SSM, and 14th overall!

But enough of that text stuff, you want video! For you, my friend, best price! Free!

Race 1 full onboard footage.

Some notes about the video:

The squeaking  noise you hear as I apex some corners is the right-rear tire rubbing the fender ever so slightly.

And as I go up the start of the hill past turn 5 and into turn 6, you can kinda see my feet a bit as I shift to 4th. My footwork is getting better and better and the shift from 3rd to 4th is getting pretty fast. The 2nd to 3rd shift is still a bit slow due to the weak centering spring and the weak 3rd gear synchro which really needs to be babied in order not to graunch it.

For now, I will save the final race of the weekend for next time!