Oh the heels of
setting the fastest lap time, by a wide margin, at the COMSCC
event a few days earlier, it was now time to prove it during a pair
SCCA races. The car felt great thanks to excellent preparation by Glen
Phillips of GTP Motorsports and the new top engine from the folks at
Quicksilver. The weekend's weather was hot and humid, with ambient
temperatures reaching 85F. As a driver, you do your best to stay cool before
qualification or the race and drink plenty of fluids. Dehydrations is
indeed a factors as you are covered head to toe is Nomex fireproof clothing.
Saturday's race would be a different track configuration than Sunday, and so
small changes were the order of each day.
event we used NHMS' NASCAR Turn 1 and Turn 2. While the best professional
NASCAR teams reach speed of around 100mph, this lighter and more
aerodynamic-friendly car achieved around 130mph, and as a driver am getting
comfortable taking this with the throttle flat out all the way around to
Turn 3. Qualification went well, and was nearly 2.5 seconds ahead of
the nearest competitor and 3.5 seconds faster than the next Formula
Continental (see results here on page 1).
The fastest car of the day, a Formula Atlantic driven by ex-IMSA driver Fred
Bross was having some troubles and never made it to qualification.
Due to the Formula Continental not having
quite the grunt of the Formula Enterprise (FE) car, went from pole position
to being second at Turn 3 and so
this brought up an interesting situation. Sometimes in life you wish you
could go back in time and change the way things unfold. This race was
unfolding exactly how the previous SCCA race
at NHMS transpired during the beginning laps and i was determined for things
to end up an advantage for yours truly. Did not push the pass at Turn 4 issue during lap 3, and around lap 4 the only car ahead of me got quite a
bit squirrelly coming down the hill just before Turn 10. To avoid a possible
collision i got off the throttle a bit too fast and this caused my car to
spin towards the inside. My driver error caused about a 5-second loss plus
had about four or five cars pass me before i could rejoin the action.
With sheer determination, it was my job to hit
my marks and make the best lap times consistently. With each lap, was passing
cars and earned my way back in second place. Now i was squarely aiming for the Formula Atlantic
(FA) driver Fred Bross in hopes of passing him. Our lap times were close, with some laps catching up to him, other
laps he was gaining a bit of ground. See detailed chart below for lap-by-lap
analysis. The green centers are where i gained time, with red being where
time was lost. For those curious, an FA has about 50 percent
more engine with about the same weight as my Formula Continental. My best
lap time was a mere 73 thousandth of a second (0.073) slower than the best
lap from the FA.
In defense of the FA, he was using old tires
and was not overly familiar with the track. This proves that tires and
specific track experience can make a big difference. Still, i was well ahead
of the competing Formula Continental
driver who was familiar with this track.
Towards to middle of the race my lap times slowly dropped
as the rear end
seemed to get a bit loose starting at lap 10 onwards. Therefore, adjusted my sway
which helped a bit yet still was losing some time. After careful
analysis after the race, the culprit was a bit too much tire pressure and so
made the appropriate adjustments for the next day's events. Bottom line
is that from losing time due to a spin, i came back up the ranks during the
race and finished a solid second and a mere 6.4 seconds behind the FA
driver. So second overall and first place within the FC car's classification
(by 23 seconds!) was a very good showing. Unlike the previous SCCA race, i
clutched victory even after having a spin while also managing the car as the
conditions of the track and car changed.
Unlike yesterday's qualification and race,
the track configuration for NHMS was in the chicane/chicane. This is a
slower and presents added challenges to navigate the turns and transitions.
This is especially true when taking the lefthander and, thus, entering the
main NASCAR straight after Turn 2b. You can see this transition beginning at
the 23-second mark of this video taken
during lap 5 of Sunday's race. Had a good lap in my 'pocket' and always like
to have a second good lap just in case, and so went a bit harder and this is
when during Turn 3 while going up the hill the back end of the car stepped
out quite a bit. The car spun off the track and fortunately no major damage occurred.
My qualification time was 1:09.867, first place in classification by 2.2
seconds and 1.5 seconds behind the faster FA (see
Was doing really well and following the FA,
if losing a bit of time each lap, yet at the same time building a nice lead
over the car in third place. Then on Lap 11 coming out of 'The Bowl', Turn 6
to Turn 7, my rear mechanical bits (tranny) started to sound very much
like ball bearings in a blender. Thus, immediately got off the power and
drove the car into the scrutineering zone as had completed enough laps to earn
points for the race. In a few days the car's engineer and i shall take apart
things and fix the problem, hopefully in time to make the July 26 & 27
Watkins Glenn International SCCA event.
Added July 23: Have taken apart and fixed the
car. It appears that upon shifting into third gear going out of The Bowl the
third gear broke apart. Have sourced a much stronger third gear for future
use. The car is ready for the WGI race July 26/27. Seen here is a photo of
the broken gearset.
Appreciation And Thanks
Thanks goes out to
my race engineer Glenn
Philips at GTP Motorsports who continues to aid in more ways
than i could mention here. Thanks
go out to everyone at SCCA, especially the workers and organizers for putting on wonderful event.
Two close Ferrari friends, Scott and Kenny, deserve special mention for helping
me during Saturday's event, with Scott working the radio and providing
excellent assistance. My
appreciation also extends to the Enjoy the Track's sponsors for showing
their support so early in my racing career. If you are reading this, please visit the Sponsors
page and learn about each company's excellent products and services!
They truly offer outstanding items you really should consider before making
your next home audio purchase. As always, in the end what really
matters is that we all...
Enjoy the Track,
Steven R. Rochlin