NutDriver Racing   Carl

Righty's Second Race!

Righty drove his second actual SCCA race July 24th (2004). The event was a SARRC/ECR/Pro-IT race organized by Atlanta Region and held at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, on the 24th and 25th of July, 2004.

Righty drove the #91 RX-7 in the IT7 class of the SARRC race on Saturday. The race included the Improved Touring (IT) classes ITS, ITA, and IT7. Our IT7 car was about mid-pack in terms of capabilities, but near the back of the pack on track since there were a lot more cars of faster classes than slower ones.

The rest of this narrative is from Righty's point of view.

Morning Practice

The weekend started with registration on Friday evening. I was fortunate enough to make it to RA by about 1900 and was through registration by about 1945. Registering as a competitor for Saturday's SARRC race and as a worker for Sunday's races added some time to the process, but things went well overall.

On Saturday morning, mine was the first practice group, scheduled to leave the false grid at about 0815. Having never done a complete lap at Road Atlanta, and having no prior instruction or guidance on the line, etc., was somewhat daunting. I tried to keep my head and not drive over the limits of my abilities, but this plan went out the window not long into the session.

I had been easing my way through Turn 5 in 4th gear (mainly because T5 intimidates the shit out of me! [as it should, ed.]), but decided that if I was going to be anything but a backmarker, that I was going to have to be much more aggressive in this corner.

The line through T5 actually begins to be set up during the entrance to T1 because T1-T5 come closer together than most folks would believe. I had a particularly difficult time with my “sphincter limiter” not allowing me to stay far enough left and wait long enough to turn into the Esses from the exit of T4. Due to this, my line through the Esses and to the turn-in at T5 was erratic at best.

As my testicles grew and my brain shrank, I came to the turn-in for T5 off line and moving 5 to 10 mph faster than I had started. Well, this is when mayhem ensued. Realizing I was not where I was supposed to be, I “juked” right to head back to the right line. At the same time, I'm shifting the car to 3rd and making a lame attempt and heel-and-toe. I turn into T5 which, if you don't know, is an uphill left-hander with a prominent crest on the inside, a curb on the exit line that you much straddle or jump for a fast exit, and a triangular gravel trap that is quite deep.

I'm still on the brakes (trail braking.......not a good idea for the variables at the moment) and the car begins to slide. Well, I dump the clutch anyhow, thinking that Boris Said has possessed my body and that I now have much more talent than I do. The car begins rotate, but the trajectory doesn't change (uh oh!). I immediately lift and countersteer into the slide ...... way too much. The car begins a “tank slapper” and rotates to nose-toward-the-gravel-trap, wall, turn station, etc. (Uh oh #2).

At this point, my gluteus maximus is doing it's best to get a grip on the seat and I'm flailing at the wheel like I'm having a Grand Mal seizure! In my panic, I hit the gas again and turn back into the corner, which succeeds in getting the car to rotate and the trajectory adjusts slightly towards where I want to go .... until the point that I hit the curbing. This launches all four tires, and I'm skipping across the gravel trap towards the grass. Luckily, these antics had scrubbed some speed and I regained control on the paved strip between the trap and the wall. I was still rolling, so I put it in gear, checked the course marshall (thanks for the point, dude!), made sure that my mirrors were clear, and entered the course again. I immediately headed across the race line, wiggling the wheel to dislodge my gravel collection into a safer area, hit the brakes to shake the gravel out of the front splitter, and got back into race mode a little more humble and realistic. This was the biggest event of morning practice.


Qualifying brought me back on course around 1100 and with a much better understanding of my limitations. With the sun up and the temperatures rising, I knew that watching the gauges was going to be important and that the track would likely be slicker than before. I gained the confidence to carry more speed into T1 and got the car to slide slightly a couple of times. Slides in T7 were too easy and I had to be careful as this is the most important turn on track to master.

I had been checking gauges between T7 and T10, then again between T12 and T1. My eyes got confused coming down the front stretch, WFO at about 120 or so (What, am I a radar gun now?). I looked down and saw 240+. This isn't a good water temp and was a change from the 180 I'd seen in practice, so I looked again. Yep, 240 is what I'd seen. Wait a minute, was that the water temp I was looking at? Another glance brought relief as I saw that was oil temp and that the water temp was still around 180.

It was at this very moment that I realized that I'd spent alot of time looking down, and not much looking OUT. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the "100" sign go by ... which is my brake marker. At 120 mph, you're moving at 176 fps. I expect that it took nearly 1/2 a second to realize, move my foot, and apply the brakes. In other words, I was going to miss my spot by around 90 FEET! (OH SHIT!)

I (inadvisedly) headed towards the turn-in I'd missed. The car did it's best to get there, but the rear tires decided they didn't like that idea too much and wanted to take a rest from all of this stupidity in the gravel trap at T1. Luckily, terror builds adrenaline and adrenaline shortens reaction times. I caught the slide and kept threshold braking as I drove straight off of T1.

By the time I'd exited, I was probably below 40 mph. I was able to avoid the gravel and cruised up the hill towards T2, watching the field streaming by. Luckily, the Blue Flagger at T2 was watching closely and “gave me a point” to re-enter at a safe spot. Upon returning to the pits at the end of the session, I found that my escapade had pulled the left-side brake duct hose loose and that it was now damaged. Tim Lee from Safe Quip sold me some really kewl duct hosing .... for $5 per foot, and this fixed the problem.

The Race

Unfortunately, the SARRC race on Saturday was the last race of the day, despite being first on course that morning. Even more unfortunately, there was serious accident in T5 involving one of the Spec Miata guys. The driver was airlifted to the hospital and we sas the car when it returned to the pits. At first, we were surprised by how little apparent damage there was to the car. Upon reflection, that can sometimes be a sign of a more serious driver injury due to the car not dissipating any of the energy of the accident and it being passed-on to the driver.

In the end, my race was delayed by about 45 minutes. I had qualified 9th in class. I was fortunate enough to have a great time racing with an ITA car (was it an Integra?) and another IT7/SRX7 car. The three of us exchanged positions numerous times and had a great time.

Lefty and I did not have a Cool Shirt at the time and this omission, along with my being so horribly out of shape, led to a serious situation about 25 minutes into the 30 minute race.

Coming off T7 at about the 23 minute mark, I realized I could feel my hot breath across my eyes and that I hadn't noticed this before. I should've taken this as a sign. I realized I was very hot and beginning to feel nauseated. Well, I was too dumb to stop and finished the race.

By the time the checkers fell, I was not feeling well at all. I did my cool down lap and made it back to our paddock. It was at this point that I realized how hot I was and how weak I'd become. Long story short, I should've taken Lefty's advice and headed to the Quack Shack to see if Kristina could help. Never again in that kind of heat with no Cool Shirt!!

Wrap Up

As a novice permit holder, Lefty and I have to complete two events to the satisfaction of the Stewards to be able to move up to a Regional Competition License. Dave Rollow was the Steward over the SARRC. I met with Dave, Rick Mitchell, and a lady whose name I can never recall for my post race interview. Mr.Mitchell asked, “How did you do?” I replied, that I had spun off in T5 during practice, but I know what I did. I drove off in T1 during qualifying, but I did it in a controlled manner and waited for a point before re-entering. I qualified 9th, finished 8th (thanks to Brian's faulty fuel pump) and had a great time.

Currently, I need to send my results (and my check) to Topeka so I can be a fully licensed racer. Thanks go especially to Lefty, for volunteering his time to help me, to Sam Henderson of Precision Perfomance Corvette {(864) 297-0313} for going through the car and finding everything that needed to be fixed, and to the course marshals and SCCA officials who put themselves in harm's way so that idiots like me can try to be Boris Said, Hans Stuck, Jan Magnussen, or Johnny O'Connell ... and they do it for a T-shirt and a free lunch!



NutDriver Racing would like to extend thanks to the following people and organizations for helping to make this a very enjoyable and educational experience:
Sam Henderson
Brian Dobson
Dave Rollow
Herb O’Toole

We sure hope we haven't forgotten anyone. If we have, please let us know and we'll get you listed. We'd include links to our instructors, but we can't find their web pages, so far. :-(

Copyright (C) 2002-2011 Revised 4 October 2011