Great Weekend of Racing in America’s
IA -- Three diehard Challenge racers ventured out to Mid-America
Motorplex for a weekend of awesome racing June30th and July 1st.
Brian Sanders (Cincinnati, OH) and Ed Boothman (Naples, FL) traveled
twelve plus hours to join Gary McDaniel (Kansas City, MO) at his home
track. “Gary travels considerable distances to run in the OH/IN region
on a regular basis, so it was our turn to reciprocate,” said Sanders.
Besides the company of Gary and his family and friends, as far as seat
time goes, this weekend was well worth the trip. Other than just the
regular NASA weekend of racing, Friday was a test and tune with up to
nine hours of track time and a 2-hour endurance race on Saturday.
This race weekend
actually started early Wednesday morning with Ed arriving in Cincinnati
at Brian’s house to do some work on his car. The two racers spent the
entire day installing a new race seat, right-side net and radiator.
Those were the main tasks and several smaller ones were accomplished.
That evening, after wrapping up work, Ed treated Brian to a Mexican
dinner as thanks. Then Ed loaded up and set out on the long trek to
Iowa. Brian headed in for a good nights sleep and took off bright and
early Thursday morning.
Brian and Ed arrived at the track for a track sponsored test and tune.
Ed had a few last minute things to do to get his car track ready and
spent the morning on these things. Brian took advantage of the cool
morning temperatures and set out learning the new track. In the last
session before lunch, Brian turned his fast lap of the day at a 1.44.69
but was not able to duplicate this again. And since this was not an
“official NASA” timed session, this time had little meaning. After
lunch, Ed set out for his first session on track. After getting his
first look at the track, Ed sat down with Brian and discussed the line
and driving it. Both drivers went out for a lead-follow session to help
speed up Ed’s learning curve since missing the morning sessions. Towards
the end of the day, Brian set out on a 5-gallon fuel load to try and
gauge fuel mileage for the Enduro. And after turning his 150th
mile of the day, decided to call it quits. Ed opted to run a couple more
Brian’s last run, Gary and his entourage showed up and began setting up.
Arriving with Gary was his wife Sally, car builder Richard Oben and
friends Pete and Irene Tork. Joe Gilmartin arrived Saturday morning to
join the team. These people were to make up the bulk of
the Enduro pit crew for all three racers. Throughout the weekend,
additional family and friends showed up and lent a hand.
Sally and the
Tork’s, along with Richard’s grill, set up and fed the team a hamburger
and hot dog dinner. It was delicious and welcomed after a hard day of
driving. After eating and sitting around catching up, we called it a
night and headed for our hotels.
the Team arrived early at the track for a drivers meeting. When using
the term “Team,” we are referring to the three Challenge Series drivers
and the pit crew. This crew would be servicing all three cars in the
endurance race. So even though we would be competing against each other,
we were approaching this as a Team concept. As Team FFR, we wanted to
show three strong in the Enduro.
Gary turned the fastest lap at 1.45.016. This time would hold up all
weekend and will be recorded as the FFR lap record. Brian was almost a
half second behind with a 1.45.460. And Ed, still trying to come to
terms with the track, in third.
During the lunch
break, the Team went to work on preparing for the Enduro. Parts, tools
and supplies were gathered. Simulated pit stops were practiced. Everyone
knew what they had to do and was anxious to put it into practice.
At the drop of the
green flag, Gary took his pole position and led into turn one with Brian
closely on his tail. While these two were battling, Ed was never too far
behind, waiting to capitalize on a mistake by either. He almost had his
opportunity more than once. It was amazing that on several occasions
that paint was not traded between the two. On the beginning of lap 6,
Brian and Gary decided to test the limits of threshold braking entering
turn 1. Somehow Brian came out on top and took the lead without taking
both of them out. But a short 2 laps later, Gary made the same move and
regained the lead. So Brian settled back in behind Gary and chased him
for the next ten laps. However, late in the race, Gary was able to put a
Firebird between them that held Brian up long enough for Gary to stretch
out his lead. It looked like it was over for Brian. But luck was on
Brian’s side as the Firebird driver realized he was splitting a race for
the class win and let Brian make an easy pass. Two and a half laps
later, he was right back on Gary’s bumper. With only 2 laps to go, Brian
made numerous attempts to rattle or pass Gary but to no avail. As Brian
and Gary took the white flag, Brian pulled out for his last best attempt
for a pass and as luck had it a slower car came into play, blocking
Gary’s line and Brian stole the lead. As Gary worked to get past the
slower car, Brian opened up a lead. With nothing to lose Gary pushed his
car hard and spun in turn 10 sealing his fate. Brian went on to take the
checkers and the win, followed by Gary and Ed. Brian turned the fastest
race lap which NASA uses as the “official” NASA record. It was a
Now with the
sprint race out of the way, the Team had two and a half hours to prepare
for the Enduro. Cars were fueled. Water bottles and coolers filled. The
pit area was set up and the drivers took a rest.
The grid for the
Enduro was set up by class with the faster cars up front. This meant
that the three Challenge cars would start in P2-P4. A full report on the
Enduro can be read by following the link below. I’ll just touch on a few
highlights here. Brian and Gary were never lower than P4 until Gary’s
car started losing power and unable to turn more than 4000 rpm around
lap 43 when he made his pit stop. Ed was never lower than P6 early in
the race and worked his way up to running P3 before his stop. All three
drivers held P1 when they made their pit stops. After the cycle of pit
stops Brian reclaimed P1 and Ed, P2 overall and kept these positions to
the end. On Gary’s stop, they attempted to remedy his problems and he
went several laps down. Once again FFR challenge cars have proven to be
incredible endurance racing cars. To cap it off, after the race, it was
learned that Brian and Ed had not only finished 1-2 overall but were the
only two cars on the lead lap!
I know I speak for
all three drivers when I say that this could not have been done without
the excellent pit crew we had!! Our crew pulled off three perfect pit
stops with no penalties. Not many of the other 9 teams could claim this.
Thank you to everyone involved. It was truly a team effort!! After
awards, pizza and beer, three truly tired drivers called it night. Well,
that’s not completely a true statement. Gary, Richard, and others spent
quite a bit of time trying to sort out Gary’s ailing car.
Full Enduro Race Report
Brian arrived at the track just as Ed and Gary were about to head out
for qualifying. Brian had decided to take the morning off to recover
from two days of hard driving. Upon arriving at the track, Brian is sad
to hear Gary is still suffering car problems and qualifying confirms
this. Ed took the pole with Gary in second and Brian without a time
As the green flag
fell, Ed moved into the lead and led for 2 laps followed closely by
Brian. Gary fell off immediately as the car performed no better. After
two laps, Brian took the lead and never looked back. Gary finally
retired on lap 12. Ed ran consistently and finished second.
There were two
other replicas in attendance. One, an FFR, and the other, a big block
Contemporary, both running in SU. The Contemporary only finished ahead
of the Challenge cars by 9 sec. one day and 14 the other. The SU FFR
finished 1:34 behind the Challenge cars on Saturday and retired early on
While this was a
Midwest event, the three OH/IN regulars will be returning home to run
Mid-Ohio on July 14-15. Then, the very next weekend, Ed and Brian will
make the trip to the Midwest at Autobahn and the second Enduro of the
year. They will be joined there by Lyle Riggen.
C’ya at the track!