posted on July 06, 2011 09:59
Redline Track Events: Round 4 Race Report - Willow Springs International Raceway July 2 - 3, 2011
By Laura Heng
Every championship winning race team has had bad weekends. Blown motors, wrecked cars, or maybe just a $2 bolt that snapped can put an early end to your weekend during the heat of competition. The only thing that separates the champions from the rest of the pack is that some guys get back to work and rebuild to fight another day, others just pack it up and take up bowling instead (not that there is anything wrong with bowling). July 4th weekend at Willow Springs was Round 4 of the Redline Track Events series and was a particularly brutal weekend of racing for many. The triple digit heat and the new racing surface claimed more than a few cars over the course of the weekend. Circuit Battles, Pro Time Attack, and MotoIQ all saw at least a few brothers in arms fall victim to the heat. While many are down, they are not out and we will see the return of most, if not all of these teams in a few weeks time, because that's what true champions do.
First, lets start off with the new track surface. The entire Big Willow course was given a fresh slurry seal treatment just a few weeks prior to the event. The slurry seal is more like a “touch up” rather than an entire tear up and repaving of the track surface. Although the familiar 9 turn course layout is unchanged, the new surface has an entirely different level of grip compared to the old surface. We assumed that a new surface would give the track more grip but the slurry actually made the track more slick and offered less traction. Circuit Battles winner Mike Cronin stated that his Fontana Nissan 350Z had less overall grip but the car would behave more predictably when approaching the traction limit.
|The almighty Fontana Nissan 350Z was unstoppable. Cronin seemed to have the 350Z dialed in better than anyone else and always carried more speed and made up big ground through turns 8 & 9.
The hot July weekend heat was no joke. The ambient air temps were 106F and the racing surface temps were checking in at over 150 degrees. The intake air temp datalogged by one team was at 180deg on a naturally aspirated engine right at the air filter inlet. The blow off valve gases on Joon Maeng’s Lucas Oil/Road Race Engineering turbocharged S13 were hot enough to boil power steering fluid and melt plastic in the SR20DET engine bay. The excessive engine bay heat nearly took him out of the race on more than one occasion. Dave Lemon in the Mazdatrix RX8 sporting a new turbocharger setup caught fire in part due to the excessive heat of the weekend. Thankfully no one was injured and we are confident that Mazdatrix will battle through this heartbreaking setback. Needless to say, it was rough out there for the seasoned veterans and rookies alike.
|It was a double header for the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Challenge with two races for the weekend. On Saturday evening the MotoIQ cars lined up for a twilight race dubbed the Liberty Grand Prix in front of over 1000 racing fans that came out for the drag racing and fireworks show.
|Mike Cronin was unstoppable in the Circuit Battles event. P1 and he stayed at the top of the winners bracket all the way to the winners circle. The Fontana Nissan 350Z had one close call during qualifying when he lost fuel pressure and had to be towed into the pits but the team was able to fix the issue and hit hard the rest of the weekend.
|Paul Brown used his signature turn 9 passing maneuver to get himself all the way to the finals against Mike Cronin for a Nissan vs. Nissan match up. Brown in the K&N Engineering G35 would finish the weekend in 2nd place in the Circuit Battles competition.
Wednesday, July 06, 2011 9:23 PM
Dez innocent no, bystander yes!
Thursday, July 07, 2011 5:42 AM
Thats some wild angles on Joon's dive planes.
Thursday, July 07, 2011 9:51 AM
I'm a pretty big fan of Ward's 10 best engines and there is a reason a VQ has reigned from 95-09, BUT how in the world the Pentastar V6 makes the list in '10 and '11 with no sight of a VQ varient, is WAY beyond me.
Thursday, July 07, 2011 10:17 AM
I have a question for Paul Brown and the K&N crew. Who builds and tunes their motors? They have got to be one of the most reliable high powered cars out there. VQ powa!
Thursday, July 07, 2011 11:44 AM
Thank you Redline and MotoIQ for hosting this race!
This was an amazing experience. I've never had the opportunity to race in front of that many people before. I did get to run a time attack session in front of about 90,000 spectators that were waiting for the ALMS race to start at the Long Beach Grand Prix a few years ago. However, having an honest all out race in front of the 1000 or so spectators was even more thrilling. Sure we were conviniently slotted between the bikini contest and fireworks show, but it seemed to me like there were a lot of people there that were really into the race.
It may sound booring that I held the lead for every lap leading up to the last, but it wasn't booring for me. Edo pulled out his ballast between qualifying and the race which I figured would cancel out our 1-second gap from qualifying. I gave it everything I had on all three starts to try to break the draft. But once Edo settled into his pace after the last restart, he steadily reeled me in. It was getting dark and I tried to use Jedi mind power to will the starter to throw the checker. But when I saw hes eyes I knew it wasn't going to fly until Edo got his shot to make his move.
I'm so glad that the last lap was filmed from the balcony. Edo and I both had in-car camera failures. I feel that Edo's pass on me in turn-1 was exicuted perfectly. What you can't really see from the video's perspective is that Edo pulled out of the draft and over toward the faster racing line right at the braking point. Fast FFs don't turn and brake well at the same time. I was able to get out to about mid-track before turning in, but Edo (making the first move) was able to get all the way over to the racing line, giving him the speed to pass me at the exit.
Both of us were dogfighting on the last lap and getting off the line. When Edo dropped a wheel in 5 I knew I'd have a run down the back straight. Unfortunately I couldn't get next to him untill we caught the G20 between 8 and 9. I had the momentum to get by Edo but the hole I had to drive through was very narrow. I could not turn/lift untill I cleared the G20. It seemed like I was a lot closer to making the pass stick than it looks like from the video. I got the thing pitched, scrubbing speed and turning hard, but it walked out to the edge and stepped off the track. That's not to say that I still would have crossed the finish line first had I made it through the turn.
It stopped about 5 feet short of the haybails. By the time I got it fired back up and over to the track, the Fit was buzzing by. Instead of driving it into the pits I did a full throttle blast down to the finish line. Thats when I could finally see and hear the fans cheering for me, which made my last place finish feel better than most of my wins. Thank you everybody, that really felt great.
The off roading filled the front end with debris but I didn't notice that I had damaged the radiator until Sunday's qualifying session. With under 2 hours to repair it before the race I decided to put it on the trailer. I had given it all I had the night before and I was happy to stand in the hot pit and cheer on the guys who were out there racing in the heat on Sunday.
Thank you again Redline and MotoIQ. I know it couldn't have been easy to get that many enthusiastic people to come out and watch us in that crazy heat. I wasn't going to finish second in front of them.
Thursday, July 07, 2011 12:02 PM
Awesome read Andy! I just love your driver's perspective after watching that amazing race in person at the track! MotoIQ's coverage of these grassroots racing is great with hearing the behind the scene storys! Keep up the good work!
Thursday, July 07, 2011 3:06 PM
I want to see driver blogs here. Andy's story is amazing.
Friday, July 08, 2011 9:21 AM
The K&N G35 looks like a beast of a machine. Would love a little more on that car.
Friday, July 08, 2011 10:41 AM
Was great to have you here at Willow Andy! You put on an excellent show for the fans! I know my father-in-law, cousin and boys came over to your car after the race to congratulate you on the great race and show you support. The crowd was definitely cheering for you, I could hear them through the windows in the announcer booth!
Hopefully we'll have a chance to see you race at future MPTCC events, either later this year or next year. We'd love to have you! :-)
Friday, July 08, 2011 9:29 PM
Sorry we could not make out for this one but can't wait to get to the next one!
Saturday, July 09, 2011 12:45 AM
Great write up, I really like what Redline and Mr. Kojima's PTCC have going this season.
VQ 4 life g.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 2:51 PM
Nice Writeup Andy and it was great racing with you. I gave you enough room to burn your tires off and attack last few laps. it would have been great if me and you could have raced to the finish line that would have been the highlight of the weekend. Looking forward racing with you and MotoIQ. You guys put on a Great program on saturday Evening.
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