Race Report – VIR March 20-22, 2015


3 races, 3 wins, 1 lap record!

The 2015 race season starts with VIR March 20-22 in the NASA MidAtlantic region. Friday test/tune, 3hr Enduro, Sat/Sun sprint races sets the stage for great racing. In attendance fellow FFR Challenge racers Paul Arnold, Roger Fusse, Paul Kaiser, and I. FFR GTM driver John Kabacinski decided to join in the fun towing his flat black LS3 powered racecar from NYC area. Austin Nally in his bright red FFR Challenge car with a massive engine and big brakes was instructing.

Friday test/tune saw wet track conditions early on drying in the afternoon. The test/tune sessions were uneventful with drivers learning the track and making sure their winter modifications were without issue.

I participated in the 3hr enduro with qualifying around lunchtime on a damp track setting the fastest time securing pole for the start of the race. Helping me fuel John K, Paul A, and Roger were setup in the pits as the green flag dropped starting the enduro. I have scheduled to come in every 1hr taking 15gal of fuel. Leading the race early on I settled into a comfortable pace running 2:06-7’s until the first pit stop. Ratchet Head Racing were running 2 BMW ES cars going for the overall win, and they were leading after my first pit stop. I turned up the pace running them down battling for a number of laps eventually passing them on track and besting my fastlap to a 2:05.3. The second pit stop was a repeat of the first me chasing down the BMWs making for some excellent racing with me the victor after the checkered flag waved! Started on pole, won the race overall and in E0 class, not bad at all. The new engine installed over winter ran flawless, great power, smooth, rock solid oil pressure and it even stayed cool. Celebrating the win we finished the day off with a great dinner.

I live streamed the enduro through http://www.ustream.tv/channel/jgracing and the iPhone battery lasted 2.5hrs, video is here:

Saturday Paul Kaiser arrived early at the track opting out of running the Friday test day and was lucky enough to find a parking space for his monster 48ft trailer across from our paddock area. Qualifying saw me on pole, followed by Paul Kaiser, Roger, and Paul Arnold who had transponder issues showing no time (later to be diagnosed as a bad ground!). The start of the race was fierce with Paul Kaiser shadowing me through the early traffic but unfortunately his engine was not up to par forcing him to retire early from the race. I win the race, Paul Arnold and Roger finish 2nd and 3rd with Pauk Kaiser 4th. Paul Kaiser and his family helped him pack up his ill-running car and he left for home with the promise of being back at VIR in May. Dinner at the Oak Tree Tavern at VIR was delicious even trying the ‘gator bites’ which oddly enough taste like chicken! Austin also joined us for dinner picking our brains on car setup diagnosing his racecar.

Sunday morning, after talking with Austin a lot about car setup the previous night, had me drive his car in the HPDE4 session for instructors, he being the passenger. Austin is much taller then me, and his car usually has a massive hood scoop to help clear the big motor he installed, so me being short we opted to not run with a hood so I can actually see! With the back pad in the seat, I barely reach the pedals but all is well. We go on track and I start doing what I do, feeling out the car, then start doing hot laps getting into the low 2:04’s. Austin’s car has power, lots of power, great brakes, and handles real well, but found it rolled a lot in turns and when applying the power the rear end wanted to oversteer (no shocker with 500hp.)

After the morning thrash in Austins car fellow racers Paul A, Roger and I settled down for qualifying where I once again on pole but this time setting a new lap record of 2:05.265. Paul Arnold in the 2:07’s and Roger not turning a lap due to some issues on his car. After qualifying there was a lot of time till the race and we sitting around talking in Paul’s trailer lost track of time, so when a NASA official walked by saying ‘guys, they already called the 5min to start of race!’ we hurried to get belted in, and go stage for the race! Paul was faster then me as the grid left for the race with me still buckling my belts, had me start at the back of the first wave of Thunder. First laps of the race had me working through traffic catching and passing Paul for the win. Roger had issues and was not able to turn 1 lap.

A great weekend had by all, weather was perfect, 70deg daytime, and cool 50-60’s in the morning. Next event, May 1-3 at VIR will see more FFR challenge cars getting practice time in for NASA Nationals held at VIR beginning of September.