Sunday, April 26, 2009

Testing - Round One

It is a very warm Sunday afternoon and we depart for South Bend in three short days. Hard to believe and where has time disappeared to?

As we left things a few days ago, the car was being attended to by Passport BMW and Dinan for engine malfunctions and over-boost issues on the twin turbos. Passport had re-flashed the car to stock specifications and we were awaiting a test run at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia. RRT was able to arrange the testing for last Thursday evening. And so with the car emptied of all items that can fly around, Barry Battle from RRT exits pit lane for the first of 4-5 hot laps. Summit Point is a 2.1 mile road course and in a stock car with street tires I expect Barry (an extremely hot shoe) to turn a 1:30 time. I never realized how long a minute and 30 seconds can be. I am standing in the pit exit tower looking impatiently toward the crossover bridge and turn 10 waiting for a sign of the car's nose.

At last Barry comes in to view and he is still putting the whip to the ponies. It may be a warm up lap, but it is a good sign. As he passes by the tower I occupy my mind by starting the stopwatch. This time the minute-thirty seems even longer, but again he comes in to view and moving at a rapid pace. I have no idea how much he is pushing, so to say we have passed the test would be premature. It was in lap two just a couple of short weeks ago that we had the issue expose its ugly head.

Lap three has started and time appears to be slipping by faster now. Barry passes under the bridge and starts lap four. He has cranked out a 1:29.30 lap....almost a full second off the beginning laps. I am starting to feel as though the test of the car is going well and that the first phase of our fix is in place. Barry does one more lap and returns to pit lane for a debrief. As he comes down pit lane, I am asking for a thumbs up or down. Through the windshield I see a thumbs up...hooray! I have a huge smile on my face and as Barry and I chat track side, he relays how he pushed the car very hard banging it off the rev-limiter on multiple occasions. Since owning the car, we have not been able to get it to the red line without going to "limp-mode".

Wanting to make sure we have fully tested the car in stock, we let it rest for 10 minutes and then send Barry back out. Again, Barry completes 3 laps and turns a very fast time at 1:27.50. He pits once again and gives it a huge thumbs up as he later acknowledges he pushed it even harder. Not wanting to use up the One Lap tires and new race brake pads on the car, we decide the test is a 100% success.

I stay for few minutes to chat with the RRT racers and discuss how the testing of their Koni Challenge ST class BMW 328 Sedan is going? That's right, Barry and Michael Dayton were also testing their Grand Am car for an upcoming race in New Jersey. The race will be their first of the season and their first in such a highly popular and well known series. They are making a huge leap to Grand Am and I am very proud and happy for them. I wish them all the luck in the world and cannot wait to see them in action. For now though, all I can do is give RRT and Barry a huge thanks for getting us through round one of testing.

I leave the track around 7:10 and start making way to Passport BMW in Marlow Heights where Woody will pick me up and the car will be left for the re-installation of the Dinan software upgrades. Saturday comes round two testing....back to Summit Point and a NASA race weekend.

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