Car #: 39
Year : 1999 Posts: 835
Thanks guys for all the props - yeah I know - BIG SURPRISE to all - especially me!!!!...
and for anyone interested in the race report, here it is.....
Spec Miata Community is the best I cannot say enough about the SM racers. This past weekend was my first visit to the legendary Road America course and I was a bit apprehensive about the track and the depth of the field. On the test and practice days, the engine misfire that shut me down at the Road Atlanta National, returned and I spent two miserable days sputtering around the track. Tom changed all the usual suspects to no avail.
I was ready to fly home, but Chip van Vurst persuaded me to change out the wiring harness. He provided the harness, and Drago’s young mechanic JB did the work on Friday night. A big shout out to Chip, JB, Drago, Tom and Tim from OPM, Mark from Freedom and Dave from Advanced who all lent a hand over the weekend.
Qualifying On Saturday morning we were back in business and with the first sputter-free laps I managed to qualify 5th, a little more than a second off Charbonneau’s pole time. I was more than happy as it was my first time to the track and while I was hoping for a top 10 finish, I knew that I would get faster running with the faster guys.
Race Rain was predicted throughout the day. Weather was moving in fast. The radar showed that it would hit by race time, but that it would not last long – maybe 20 minutes at most. I gambled and went to the grid on rain tires. As we got to the grid, the drops started falling, they called it a rain race and delayed the start by 15 minutes to allow everyone to change to rain tires. This meant that the rain might actually pass before we started. As it was, it was still raining when we went out on our warm up lap. Everyone up front was on rain tires.
I had never done a lap in the wet at the track and had no idea on the rain line. Several opinions on the rain line had been expressed to me prior to the start. Looking back I should never have listened!!!!
The track was wet but there was no standing water. There appeared to be decent grip on the track as we went out, but after T5 it was a different story. I almost looped it on the exit of T5 and then actually did loop it exiting T6 (fortunately holding my spot). That made me real tentative for the rest of the track. Unfortunately in my haste I only remembered to turn on my Traqmate video at T12 and do not have my auspicious loop on video!
On the uphill run to the start I got caught unawares at how fast we would start and got skunked, and being a bit tentative, I got passed and slowly fell back to 8th on a slippery track. Chip went out at the start with a misfire. Bye the time we started our second lap there were lots of yellow flags with guys in sand traps and walls everywhere, and we went to FCY on lap 3. We were behind the pace car for about 3 laps. This turned out to be my saving grace as I had more time to experiment and learn the different grip levels in every corner and ultimately figure out the rain line.
Stupid me, once again I was really slow up to speed on the restart, crossing the line about 15 seconds behind Craig Berry who had driven from 7th to the front of the SM class.
But now armed with an understanding of the rain grip around the track, I was able to pick up my pace and I started closing in and picking up spots. I moved up to 4th and was directly behind Sammy when he tried to stick it under Drago in T14 pushing Jim into the grass, and that got me to 2nd and within the next lap I was able to get to the back bumper of Berry. Craig and I had a ding dong up front, with Sammy Valafar and Shawn Slattery hot on our bumpers. On lap 10, I made a move on Craig on the inside of T3 and with a bump from Shawn I made the pass stick going into T5.
The track was drying and you continually had to experiment looking for a faster line. Unfortunately when you are in front you are teaching everyone directly behind you what is working and what is not, so it was difficult to get away. Craig was never more than a few car lengths off my bumper. I would gap him in places and he was faster than me in others. Traffic also played a part in keeping us all together.
On the final lap, coming down the back straight to T5 Craig had a run in my tow. He made the move to the inside and I let him have the inside and he made the pass, but I was able to square it off and get back inside him, and he missed the shift leading to T6, and that gave me a bit of a gap. Craig chased me down through the carousel and he was flat through the kink while I was breathing a hair. He came up to my bumper in T12, but I was able to hold it to the finish. Shawn passed Sammy to take third.
Pretty stoked to win my first race at Road America. Feel bad for Drago for being knocked off and for Chip who developed a miss on the outlap.
Congrats to Derek Whitis who ran the fastest lap of the race.....so much for not being a rain driver Derek.
Impound The top three were called to impound. After weighing, SCCA tech did various things to the top three cars, checking restrictor plates, taking the manifolds and cylinder head off my Rossini engine, taking fuel samples from all 3, taking the airbox off Slattery’s 1.6. I believe they bounced his car. Not sure what the infraction was. So that would move up Valafar whose car did not have to go through tech. Tech was relatively quick – 3-4 hours and Tom was able to get packed up and head home. Was surprised that they only teched the top three and not more.
Final thoughts Cannot thank Chip and JB enough for their help to get me back in the race. JB was able to replace the wiring harness from the engine to the ECU without taking off the dash. Oh to be young and slim again!!!
Loved racing with Craig Berry, super nice guy, very clean yet aggressive driver, we went side by side through many turns on many laps and never touched. We helped each other when we could. Craig is really confident in the wet and will be tough to beat in a real rain race.
I feel bad for Shawn as I really enjoyed racing with him. He too raced me clean and we would work together where we could.
And most importantly I have to thank Tom at OPM Autosports for showing that my new car is not just good looking, but also competitive. Thanks to Mike Rossini at Rossini engines for building me a great motor that was able to hang with the big dogs. And thanks to Glenn at Traqmate for the great data package. And of course my long suffering wife Kim who had to put up with my frustration on the first two days.
Still hasnt sunk in yet!!!!! Look forward to mixing it up again with everyone all real soon.
Region: Houston; SWDIV
Car #: 15
Year : 99 Posts: 680
Congrats for a great win and a nice race report. Also, kudos to our SOWDIV racing bud Craig Berry for his strong run. Really good in the wet (way better than me) and I don't like to see him on my bumper in the dry either.
Sorry to hear that Jim's attempt at a repeat ended early.
See you all in September!
-------------------- James York
sponsored by: Stan's Auto Center, Lafayette LA powered by: East Street Racing, Memphis TN set up guru: Gilfus Racing, Austin TX
Car #: # 27 ITA
Year : 1986 Posts: 136
Congratulations Danny!!! Good on ya Mate. Nice to see such great results from your quick adapting, analytical approach to racing. A lesson that many could use in their efforts. See ya back in the hot sunny South.
Once you get past the gag reflex, the jelly ain't bad!
Car #: 30
Year : 1999 Posts: 652
Congrats, Danny! It must be disappointing to be the second best looking guy to win June Sprints in the last 2 years though.
Region: mid south
Car #: 2
Year : 1999 Posts: 4275
Not much else to add to Dannys race report. Congratulations Danny, this is a big one.
First time meeting Craig Berry and his dad, He is an exceptional driver and more importantly a great guy. Really enjoyed our weekend together.
After a stretch or 4 races where Craigs car was slowing down by seconds after a few laps.. After changing literally every part in his car and spending lots on parts and labor... the gremlin finally failed. Bad alternator! In my infinite knowledge, I told Craig, 'well it is bad, but it isn't your problem as car still started right up.' Well, I was wrong. Car was instantly solid. Mental note made!
As far as the race goes, I also was congratulating Steyn before the race started. The one thing I did learn this weekend is being "good' in the rain is far more about track knowledge and confidence than some natural talent and/or ability.
My race was a series of being the 4 extra wheels others needed to keep their cars on track. The final one knocked my toe off 1/2 inch and the car no longer would go up the straight, so I pulled in. Nothing intentional, stupid maybe.. intentionally no. The scariest was passing Andrew and Sammy for the lead lap 1 around the outside of the carousel at about a 30 mph closing rate with Berry in tow at the same speed. At track out I was watching Andrew sliding towards me and I knew he couldnt save it( he sure was trying). At that point I moved inch by inch off the track figuring a drive off would be better than a collision. It worked out, but 4 wheels off there in the dry is scary. Four wheels off in the wet, I thought I was dead for sure.
Left teh track feeling like there several scenarios where Craig and I finish a distant 1-2 in whatever order and very few that end the way it did But thats why they run the races and danny won, so again Congrats!
In a not so proud moment, in STU race I started two laps lap to test and while following an A sedan Mustang threw Turn 7, I timed my exit with him hitting the gas, he checked up and I touched his r/r bumper and he spun into the wall. He was hurt and taken by ambulance to the hospital. I felt like absolute crap most of the weekend. He ended up being sore but OK. really didn't feel at fault, but still sucks and still feel terrible.
tech: All results provisional until fuel tests come back. P3 was definitely disqualified for technical infractions. The car owner can explain if he cares to.
So in short, other than seeing friends and having fun away from the track, I should have stayed home.