Firebird Race Report – Part Deux
Originally posted on 10/11/2001
Due to Popular demand (well ok just two people emailed to say they liked it) I am submitting the second part of this report.
Sunday, Oct 7th
Firebird Raceway, Phoenix, AZ
San Diego Double Regional
After the problems seen on Saturday getting the car running in time for the race it was a real relief that we did not experience any similar problems on Sunday morning. Since the FF/CF/F500/FV group was still in the #5 position we had time to walk around the paddock and admire some of the other cars that were there in the incredibly gorgeous weather we had that morning. There was one Club Ford in particular that was quite pleasing to the eye. The owner had made new custom body work for it (this was also his first attempt at laying up fiberglass) and he had painted it in Ferrari Red and it even had what looked like Ferrari decals on it, that is until you looked close and saw that the silhouette of the prancing horse had been replaced with a silhouette of his Black Lab!
For the practice session the car behaved very well and seemed to have shed any of the problems that were seen on the previous day’s outing.
When time came for posting a qualifying time the ambient temperature had gotten quite a bit warmer than the previous day or even that mornings practice session. After one lap to warm the tires I fired off three quick laps in the :09’s and then noticed the water temperature creeping up into the 180’s so I pulled my foot out of it to see if it would come back down (2 strokes lose power when they get into this temperature range). While the temperature did come down I decided to take whatever I had gotten for time and call the session over. At the point that I brought the car to impound I was less than three seconds off the pace being set by the fastest FF and only 1 second adrift of the fastest CF. My time was able to place me fourth on the grid with two FF on the front row and a Club Ford (the pretty one mentioned above) next to me in third.
The sky had started to develop some ominous clouds as it had the previous day so it was announced that all races were to be trimmed to 20 laps so that we could try and beat the rain. I of course was happy to see the overcast and cooler conditions since the motor would run better and I was not even minding the threat of rain since I had done well in it on Saturday. At the start the cars in front of me got a good start but I mistimed the flag which allowed Gene Petterson in a FV to get a good run on me and allowed him to plant his nose right under my diffuser and as he said later at impound to get a great tow down the front straight. Since he was directly behind me I was unable to see him and when I got ready to turn in to the carousel I checked my mirrors to see if Bill Windish in his CF was trying to come up the inside and imagine my surprise when I see Gene pop out to pass me instead. Because Gene took an early apex he got pushed wide on the exit which allowed Bill and I to repass him on the exit of T2. Coming into left hand T7 for the chicane I must have gotten on the gas too early on my cold tires because I instantly felt the rear come around on me. With Bill and Gene right on my tail I kept the wheel straight and straddled the curbing for the left hander backwards while watching both Bill and Gene overtake me. I had not braked as I went backwards (the tires were scrubbing off enough speed) into the turn so I still had momentum to turn left and rotate the car back onto the line as soon as Gene got by me and to continue without coming to a stop. I fell back into line behind Gene as we exited the chicane with the right hand T8 and we both had to avoid Bill’s car as it slowed on the short straight leading to T9. The race was uneventful for the rest of the session (except of the last lap – see below) with only one short local yellow on the next lap as Bill’s car was flat towed from the track. As I climbed from the car at impound I saw Bill getting out of his car too! Since I had not seen him back on the track I asked him what had happened since he was obviously able to rejoin (four laps down). He said that when the car got back to his paddock they tried to restart it and noticed that the kill switch was in the off position! When I spun going into T7 I must have thrown a rock which turned his motor off! Just like throwing balls at the target for the dunk tank or shooting ducks at the fair!
Looking over the time sheets I was running about 4-5 seconds behind the FF and 2-3 seconds behind the CF while 3-4 seconds in front of the Vees. Among the FF’s Barry Ebert and Greg Dalmolin had a great race with them running nose to tail for the entire race. Looking down their time sheets you can see that they were running almost identical times each and every lap. On the last lap I saw the blue going into the carousel at T1 so I checked mirrors and saw them coming and by the time we got to T9 Barry passed me on the left and even though I was trying to keep out of their way it caused Greg to drive through the corner at T10 (almost like taking the line that the Spec7’s always take) to stay with him.
All in all a good weekend and with two more Double Regionals to go this year here in Arizona I only need to complete two of the four events to step up to a National license so that I can run in the Snowbird Double National in January.
Hope to see some of you there!