Joliet, Ill. --
This past weekend NASA Midwest and the FFR Challenge Series made its
first visit to the new Autobahn Country Club. This trip put us on the
1.5 mile North Course. In early July we will return to run the 2.1 mile
South Course. Both courses can be combine for a 3.5 mile circuit.
Brian Sanders and Chris Mitchum came to race with Graham McNeill running
in HPDE. Chris and Graham shared a Marcus car, giving it quite a
workout. Friday was a practice day with each driver having the
opportunity to run in 5 sessions each. Each session proved to have
quicker times as the drivers learned the track and the quick way through
some very technical corners.
Although the day was pretty uneventful, it did have it's moments. After
the 4th session, Sanders decided to make a rear spring change after some
trouble getting off the turns. This was the correct move, next session
out was 2.5 seconds quicker. While Brian was making this change, Mitchum
and McNeill came in with car problems. On closer inspection, it was
found that a spring hat had broken on the drivers rear. Easy repair if
you have a spare hat that is the right size. However, neither of us had
the size needed. But since I was taking a 2.5" ID spring off my car and
we had a spare 2.5" hat, Chris was able to put this on the car so it
could continue to run the weekend.
Due the relatively small number of race cars at this event, there was
only one race group and a split start was used. To make the groups as
even as possible, Brian and Chris found themselves in the second group
with GTS and USTCC cars behind the AI and AIX cars. As the time
approached to make our way to the grid for the race, the sky started
turning a dark grey. Nonetheless, we made our way onto the track and
took the green flag. The tourque of the car allowed Brian and Chris to
get a huge jump on the other cars. But, alas, it was a short gain for
Brian as he overcooked the tough turn 6 and spun the car. This put him a
considerable distance behind the field. As he came around turn 9 onto
the front straights, he noticed that he could not see anything to the
right of the track (pit lane and paddock). The storm had hit and hit
hard. Halfway down the front straight, the first drop of rain was felt.
Just as Brian entered turn 1, a canopy blew over the fence and headed
for the track. Luckily it came no further. By turn 2, the rain was
coming down in sheets. Needless to say the race was stopped and the
black flag directed us back to the pits. By turn 6, you could no longer
see the track and had to dodge flying cones. It was difficult to find
your way home.
When Chris and Brian arrived back at the trailers, they found both their
canopys destroyed and blocking the entrance to their trailers. In a
short 15 minutes the storm was over. However, it had done some severe
damage around the paddock. Since the storm had taken out the timing and
scoring computer, it was decided that we would restart the race from the
beginning. In the end, Chris took an 11th overall and first in class
with Brian in 21st and 2nd in class. There were 27 cars in the race.
Sunday turned out to be a very hot day and the threat of another storm
loomed. Chris went out in qualifying and turned the fastest time of the
weekend for the Challenge cars. This new track record stands at
1:11.261. Congratulations Chris!!
This fast time also put Chris on the pole of the second group for the
race. Chris went on to his second win of the weekend with a 5th place
overall finish. Brian did much better in this race finishing 14th
All in all, we had a great weekend. Now it's time to turn our attention
to BeaveRun and the second event of the challenging East Coast Series on
C'ya at the track, Brian Sanders