NutDriver Racing   Carl

Race 8: March Memories

Event Name: March Memories
Dates: 2007 March 10-11
Race(s): Southeast Division SCCA South Atlantic Road Racing Championship (SARRC)
Organizer: North Carolina Region - Sports Car Club of America
Location: North Carolina Speedway
Rockingham, North Carolina
Car(s) Used: Baby Grand (Righty)
Class(es) Contested: Sports Car Club of America Super Production – Under 2.5 Liter (SPU)


The March Memories event opened the 2007 North Carolina Region Club Racing season on The Rock, North Carolina Motor Speedway at Rockingham, North Carolina. Out of the normal for us, only Righty participated in this event. He took the Baby Grand car for its first Club Race since we bought it. Among SCCA classes, only Super Production – Under 2.5 Liters provides a place for the Baby Grands to run.

Getting There

If you ever decide to go to Rockingham, don’t start in Charlotte. Traffic in Monroe is stoplight after stoplight, with more than the fair allotment of inattentive drivers. Arriving at the track, Righty found that the Craftsman truck teams using the track for testing weren’t done yet, so the track staff wouldn’t allow us into the infield. For unknown reasons, registration hadn’t started yet, so we all stood in line bench racing, telling jokes, talking trash, and the like.

Righty ran into George Conser, a fellow Baby Grand/SPU driver and explained to him that I was alone and that I might need some help (foreshadowing?). He was more than happy to offer assistance and he was traveling with Dave Brown racing and Dave offered help as well.

Setting Up

One of the nicer things about The Rock is that at SCCA events, the NASCAR garages are first-come, first-served. Righty was fortunate enough to get a garage near George and an electronic acquaintance from, Jeff Young.

After some minor wiring issues with the transponder, and a general once-over of the car, Righty found that he had forgotten the key to disconnect the trailer from the truck. Since the track is a long way from the hotel, and he hadn’t been to the motel yet, he didn’t want to drag an empty trailer back to the hotel and try to find a place to park it.

Enter Blair Pepe. He was kind enough to bring his hacksaw and cut my lock off. With the trailer free, Righty made the trip back to the Holiday Inn Express in Rockingham. Not the nicest place he&rsuqo;s been, and the trains made it hard to sleep. But it was a rack, a TV, and cover from any weather that might arrive.


Saturday morning brought the practice session, and the first test of the Baby Grand in anger. The car ran pretty well on the year-old 108 Octane Cam 2 fuel, and Righty was surprised to find that he was less than a 10th behind George’s Hayabusa-powered BG/SPU.

He didn’t know that George never got to open throttle that session. Due to the lack of fuel to make it through the weekend and the fact his local supplier was out of fuel, Righty had to buy trackside. He had a discussion with the folks at the pumps, as there were multiple fuels with multiple characteristics. We settled on 110 Octane Sonoco Purple. It was about $6.00 per gallon, but it was there and he needed it. Considering the prices of gas for the street car, this seemed pretty reasonable.

Practice went without incident, save the flooding problem we’ve always had when the car sits on the line too long. Righty didn’t think too much of it, as it wasn’t a new problem. After practice, he returned to the garage for a nut-and-bolt check and refuelling. Everything seemed fine and he wandered around, re-establishing contact with a number of folks he hadn&rsuqo;t seen for a while.


Now, the fun begins. Righty was disappointed to find that the car wasn’t running as well in qualifying as it had in practice. He’d seen Kirk Riddle and Jim Kellogg around, so he knew that there were brains to be picked if needed.

As qualifying progressed, the engine miss continued to get worse, and Righty pulled off a little early to see what was going on. George Conser was nice enough to help him pull the carbs, and he took them to Kirk. Kirk went through the carbs and reset the float levels. He commented that they didn’t seem to be synched, and told Righty how to do it. He didn’t have the tool(s) he needed and he didn’t have the time, so we decided that it was close enough.

Putting the carbs back on was a more difficult task than Righty could handle alone. George was generous enough to again share his knowledge, and a 2x4 to help get the carbs seated. With all connections re-established, throttle cable in place, all seemed good for the race on Sunday. Back to Rockingham for new spark plugs (the local placed didn’t have them and he had to do the best he could with what he could find.)

The Race

Calling Righty’s brief participation in this event racing is a bit ambitious [that's him saying that :-)]. When he started the car, it didn’t want to clean-out. It still had some degree of a miss. Since the car didn’t have the plugs that it wanted, he wasn’t overly surprised, but he hoped that it would run better than it did in qualifying.

When they waved the field from the grid, the car sputtered a bit and had difficulty responding to the throttle. This has happened before, so Righty’s didn’t think too much of it. He got it cleaned-out, and entered pit road. As he tried to accelerate through the gears, it wouldn’t even clean out in 2nd. This was the first uh oh of the session. He watched the field pull away as it coughed and sputtered its way around, hoping that it would run well enough and long enough for a finish.

The farther into the session they got, the worse the car ran. After 3 laps, Righty’s decided that hurting the car and getting in the way of the others wasn’t the courteous or smart thing to do, so he decided to park it.

As he came down the straight towards turn 7, he got a small puff of smoke into the cockpit and began to smell raw fuel. He also smelled what might have been brake or clutch. He thought, all the more reason to park now. As he got off of the gas and came down pit road, the sputtering got much worse. He made it to the exit to pit road and turned the corner to go to the garage. As Righty’s pushed in the clutch to make the turn, the car stalled. Now the real fun begins.

As he attempts to restart the car, he get another small puff of smoke. He thinks, I smelled brake or clutch earlier. I guess it was brakes, and continued to try to start the car. Within a few seconds, he got a larger puff of smoke that didn’t have that brake pad smell. He thought, I think it’s time to get out.

Righty’s began leisurely to turn off switches, and began to get smoke blowing through the dash vents under pressure. He began to yell, Fire! Fire! Fire! as he reached for the T-handle to activate the on-board fire system. He pulled the pin, took a deep breath (halon displaces oxygen and is not good to inhale) and yanked the T-handle … NOTHING!!.

He began to try to extricate myself from Carl. This is where his panic-stricken comedy of errors escalates again. First, he forgot briefly (a second or two) how to work the cam lock on the harness. When he got the belt released, he forgot to remove the quick-release wheel. In a bit of panic, he dragged his knees around it and began to reach for the latches for the escape hatch he’d just installed (thanks for the hardware!!!).

Righty’s couldn’t find the latches at first, and his level of panic began to escalate. With feet out of their normal position, and not used to the maneuvering to get out of the roof, his first attempt ended with hitting his head on the roll cage. Sitting back down, he adjusted his trajectory and tried again. This time, his HANS device hung on something behind his head, and he returned to the seat again.

Panic now in full swing, Righty yanked the quick releases on the HANS, pulled it off, and reached for the chinstrap on his helmet. With the helmet quickly removed, he was able to get out of the roof where an F&C worker grabbed him off of the roof and moved him away from the car. Just for a note, all of the aforementioned happened in less than 10 seconds.

With multiple fire bottles spraying their dry chemical (he hates that stuff) on Carl and Righty away from the car, the fire was quickly extinguished. Someone asked him if he wanted to drive the car to the garage, and instinctual response was, I’m not getting back in that damn thing!! Alas, he did have to get back in for his flat tow around the corner to his trailer. With many helping hands and many questions about his safety, he and Carl, he got everything situated and started back to the homestead.


From all of this, a few lessons were learned. First of all, make sure that the pin IN THE FIRE BOTTLE has been removed prior to starting the car. Second, practice getting out of the car. And practice it again, and again, … Panic makes you do strange things. The more you do it in controlled circumstances, the more likely your body will just do it without having to go through a checklist. Lastly, Righty learned to not go to a race without a crew member. He had a great deal of help from folks who didn’t have to give me the time of day. He would like to offer a HUGE thank you to the F&C folks, stewards, and everyone else who responded to his incident. Next, Righty would like to thank Kirk Riddle and Jim Kellogg for helping with the carb issues, and George Conser and Dave Brown for their knowledge, bologna sandwich, and 2x4. Lastly, he would like to thank Jeff Young and his electrician buddy who got the transponder working properly.


NutDriver Racing would like to extend thanks to the following people and organizations for their help in making this an enjoyable and fun experience:
Kirk Riddle
Jim Kellogg
Dave Brown
George Conser
Jeff Young
Jeff’s Electrician Buddy

We sure hope we haven’t forgotten anyone. If we have, please let us know and we’ll get you listed.

Copyright (C) 2002-2011 Revised 4 October 2011