NASA Midwest makes first
trip to Gateway International
East St. Louis, IL -- On April
26th, Gary McDaniel and Brian Sanders participated in NASA
Midwest’s first event at Gateway International’s “roval.” This is the
home track of the Annual Run-n-Gun that many FFR cars have participated
in. Brian arrived early to the track on Friday to assist the Chief
Scrutineer with race car annuals. Fridays’ temps were in the high 70’s
but this drastically changed as a cold front and storm moved in. Just as
it was turning dark, the temp had fallen into the low 50’s. Gary was
delayed in arriving due the storm and traffic. But he made it just in
time to get his annual inspection before tech shut down for the evening.
Saturday morning remained cold.
This was not Gary’s first time at Gateway and he showed this by running
off and leaving Brian in the morning practice. Brian improved his times
in qualifying but then so did Gary. But Gary pushed it a little to far
on one lap, spinning and backing his car into the wall. The only damage
was a couple broken tail lights. He was very lucky. Because of the
design of most infield road courses or rovals, there tends to be a lot
of concrete very close to the track. Race Group B consisted of all
classes except for spec miata and 944. To accommodate the varying speeds
of this class, it was decided to grid all cars by time. This meant Gary
would start three rows ahead of Brian. From the start, Brian was caught
behind a slower car and Gary pulled away to lead from start to finish
with no challenge.
As a bonus, all licensed drivers
were invited to run with the rookies that had just completed their comp
licensing school in a practice race. Both Gary and Brian decided to join
them. The veterans were asked to start from the rear of the field so
Brian and Gary took up grid in 19th and 20th
starting positions. This race was a standing start. Challenge cars have
always had an advantage on standing starts and this was no different as
Brian and Gary found themselves in the top 5 exiting turn 2. This gave
the rookies a real experience as we were 4-5 wide into turn 1 and 2.
Gary went on to win this race with Brian taking 3rd.
Sunday’s weather was to be more
of the same cool temps with a 40% chance of rain about race time. Sunday
proved to be a much better day for Brian as he cut down the advantage
Gary had in track experience. Once again the cars were gridded by time,
except this time, Brian would be on the row behind Gary. Brian blew a
shift on the start and was passed by three cars. After fighting his way
back around these three, he set his sites on Gary and began closing the
distance. For many laps in the middle of the race, Gary and Brian ran
nose to tail, reminiscent of past races. All was good and Brian thought
he had a chance until almost spinning in the same spot two laps in a
row. This gave Gary enough space to take the win uncontested. Gary ran
exceptionally well and would have been hard to beat regardless. Gary
claimed the FFR track record at Gateway with a time of 1:12.879.
The next stop for FFR in the
Midwest is a cross-over event with Great Lakes at Putnam Park on May
Cya at the track!
Midwest Challenge Series Director