Monday, May 9, 2011

Day Eight - Tire Rack

Well, once again, I am begging for forgiveness on the tardiness of the post.  This was a hard One Lap on me personally as I was not feeling well for all it, nor was Woody for that matter.  Fighting colds was not fun and the constant hack of a cough was extremely tiring.

Where we last left everyone was the Saturday morning dry skid pad event.  The dry skid pad test is the final competition for the 2011 Tire Rack One Lap of America.  The teams are run in reverse order from the last place teams to the front running teams.  As we were 29th going in to the last event, we had a rather long time to wait before our turn came.  But come it did and I was in the drivers seat.

I gridded up and off I went.  Pulling on to the skid pad, I was not sure which gear to stay in - second or third.  I opted for second as it felt right approaching the green flag start.  Whether or not that was the correct selection will never be known, but it again, the torque to the sensitivity on the throttle was perfect.  I ran the car as close to the inner diameter of the skid pad circle in both directions for two laps each.  It was over in the blink of an eye.  When coming off the skid pad, I was approached by Brian Hair who said I pulled over 1 g and was currently in second place.  That was good news. although many of the top teams had left to run.

When all the teams had run, many had run at 1 g and above.  In fact, a new skid pad g had been established.  Where did my effort place me finally - in 14th overall for the event.  It was also an effort that kept us solidly in 29th position in the field.

So, in the final tally, we finished 29th overall out of 75 cars that started.  We are very happy with the result and effort.  Woody and I had a great time and I would not trade the experience once again for anything in the world.  We had some adversity in our run in with our armadillo friend, but we over came it quickly and moved on.  The mechanical escapades from the 2009 One Lap with Woody proved to be a valuable learning experience.  Keeping our cool got us through.

I will post again in the next day or two with statistics of the event.  So please stay tuned.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day Seven - Autobahn Country Club

Sorry this is coming in as late news, but here we go!

We arrived in Joliet, IL at 1:30 am CST after a 590 mile drive from Birmingham, AL.  It was a rather uneventful drive and we were very happy this drive did not follow the day directly after the haul from Florida to Louisiana.  When we put our heads on the pillow, we were out.

The alarm went off at 7:00 am and we were in the car by 7:30 headed to the Autobahn Country Club (ACC).  The ACC is a very nice facility and track.  It has a north and south course that could be combined for one larger track.  In the past, the One Lap has used only the south course for the time trials.  This year, the event organizers have secured running the north course which is the shorter of the two configurations in the morning and the longer south course in the afternoon.  Woody will take on the north course and I will drive the south course.

Woody sets off for the grid and is soon taking his hot laps.  He looks good for the small area of track we can actually see and due to the length of the track, his session is over quickly.  It's now a waiting game to see where he has finished.  We are in 29th overall, but we have a team or two at 30th and 31st that are definitely within striking distance.  Our goal is to hold on to our top 30th spot as we have fought hard for it.

Just before lunch, the results are in and Woody has posted a 34th fastest time.  It is good enough to keep us in 29th, but the 30th place team has now pulled within 10 points in the overall.  With a bobble in the afternoon, I could relinquish our 29th position which would be tough to re-take on the dry skid pad on Saturday at the Tire Rack.

Although I have driven the south course three times previously (15 total laps), I opt for a track walk as a refresher and to walk off lunch.  It is a healthy stroll of just over two miles in 30 minutes.

After suiting up for what will be the last time this week, I head to the grid.  I am in the 4th run group and looking forward to the session.  Just before reaching the grid, the 30th place team driver, David Teal, comes over to put the pressure on me.  David let's me know that I am clearly in his sights and that he is gunning for us as he wants out of the 30th spot.  We laugh and promise I have my A game on for this afternoon.  The session ends quickly and as I approach our paddock space, Woody gives me the thumbs up.  No official time, but by Woody's time piece, I had a three lap elapsed time of 5:11 +/-.  Apparently this is a good time - no pun intended, but time will tell.

We pack up in about 20 minutes and are in route back to South Bend in the hopes of avoiding Chicago rush hour traffic.  We also have a date with a beer or two once back at the city where we started a week ago.  WOW...a week has flown by, although on Monday night as we were staring at a pool of oil under the front of the car, it seemed like we had weeks to go and not days.  We're very happy to have survived and finished.

Trudging east bound across northern Illinois and Indiana on I-80/90 toward South Bend, Woody's cell phone rings.  It is Neil Simon and he relays us the afternoon results from Autobahn.  I placed 18th overall with a 5:11.20.  The 30th place car was 30th which put another 60 points between us.  Our point lead after the day at 70 with the dry skid pad on Saturday.  David is driving an all wheel drive Audi, so he is praying for rain in the morning.  Obviously, we are not.

We are back in South Bend by 5:30 EST with a brew in hand.  Other One Lappers are arriving every few minutes and before you can blink, it's a party!  Everyone is in good spirits and congratulating each other on completing another One Lap.  While we still have one event left, it is a great relief to be near the end as we are tired.

Next report, the dry skid pad!!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blast Off!

Quick Note!!!

We have driven right through Birmingham, AL and I-65 north toward Huntsville, AL.  The amount and extent of damage caused by the tornados of last week is staggering.  Swaths of trees with no tops.  The remaining stumps just twisted like cork screws.  Amazing to think of the power of those storms.  And then think about today's weather which could not have been prettier.

The Winner's Podium at Barber

Woody at Turn #15 - Barber

Joe Drumheller's Porsche

Day Six - Barber Motorsports Park (Part Two)

The results are in from the afternoon session.  Woody's elapsed time was 5:38 which was 33rd fastest for the event.  For the in car competition that puts us tied going in to the last event.  Unfortunately, there are two different tracks at Autobahn Country Club and we are running both.  There is no way to determine the handicap of one over the other, so for this One Lap we'll call it a draw.  Although, I think Woody should be docked one win since he finished 69th in the wet skid pad - JEEEEZZZZZ Woody!

With today's performances we have moved up one spot to 29th overall.  As of now, we have gained 40 spots which included having one DNS (Did Not Start) which was good for zero points.  Not too bad!  May be we'll still another spot tomorrow?

We left Barber at approximately 2:30 and have 670 miles to travel to Joliet, IL.  The GPS currently indicates an arrival time of 11:51 pm.  After fuel stops, comfort stops, and what will surely be a quick choke down dinner my touch down estimate is 12:45 am.

Woody has confirmation that his wallet that he left behind at dinner last night in Meridian, MS will be overnighted to South Bend.  Yes, I failed to report that little oops.  No worries though other than we are cruising along at 85-90 MPH literally as I write this and Woody is behind the wheel with no driver's license.  His response - the trooper will understand, won't he?

I will cut blogging short tonight as the lap top does not have much battery left and I am looking forward to some sleep in the car.  I will post some more photos though.


Day Six - Barber Motorsports Park

WOW...what a day here in central Alabama!  There is not a cloud in the sky and the temps are in the mid 60's.  Camp ZERO is once again set up and we are enjoying the shade after a quick lunch and a few parade laps on Barber Motorsports Park (BMP).  BMP is a beautiful facility.  When we arrived this morning and completed a track walk, I thought I should be pulling out my five iron for a shot in to the green.  This place is immaculate.  Where else would you arrive at a track and the grounds crew is tilling the mulch and planting flowers?  The grass is a variety of golf course quality bent and is perfectly mown.  And if you go off and damage their precious grass, guess what?  They send you a bill.  I kid you not!

I drove the morning session so I was able to get in few extra laps at slower speeds to see where I had screwed up earlier and when it counted.  Dave Miller joined me and we had some fun here and there in the E92 M3.  It may be my car, but the M3 is simply awesome right out of the box.

Before heading out on the noon time parade laps, Joe Drumheller informs me I finished with a 5:35 which places me 28th overall in the morning session.  I am pleased with that result, but know that I could do better with a little more time learning the track.  I have never driven here nor has Woody.  We are both newbies to this circuit, so you have to be a quick study in just one recon lap and then three hot laps.

Woody is suited up and getting ready to head to grid as I write this, so for now I'll sign off.  Woody's time and position next posting!

Day Five - No Problem Raceway

Our day started at 3:30 am when we arrived at our motel in Donaldsonville, LA after a 590 mile leg from Gainesville, FL and went to bed.  In reality, Woody and I had driven 960 miles in this day with an actual moving time of 14 hours.  Remember we had to drive a 240 mile leg from Savannah to Daytona to start the day!

The alarm went off much to early at 7 am.  OUCH!  Three and a half hours of sleep.  Today's event is at Grand Circuit Bayou.  Since the owner of the track has not changed the name at the main entrance, I will keep using it as it is what we know, No Problem Raceway (NPR).  Woody and I have both driven here before in 2008.  It is an interesting little track that shares the main straight with a drag strip.

We flip a coin to see who will drive the morning session - I lose.  Woody suits up and then grids the car.  It is not long before he is off and running.  He looks smooth.  Brian and I are watching from the stands at the carousel.  We both agree that he could be on the throttle sooner as he is exiting this turn complex.  The results are posted and Woody turns a 4:31 total elapsed time for his three laps which is good enough for 32nd fastest.  It maintains our 31st overall position.

Lunch comes and goes and we are sitting around Camp ZERO with One Lap friends laughing about events of the week.  It's here that I learn that Joe Drumheller paid and coached the armadillo to run out in front of a white BMW M3 with Virginia plates.  It was a suicide mission of sorts with a promise of a 1,000 virgins and putting the kids through Armadillo University.  What goes around comes around.  In transit to Louisiana Joe hit a tire carcass that destroyed his front splitter.  No serious damage and we are glad Joe and his co-driver, Don, are okay after the experience.

My turn at the wheel arrives and before you know the session is over.  After packing up and heading north toward Birmingham and Barber Motorsports Park, we learn that my time was 4:22 placing me at 18th overall in the afternoon event.  It moves us up to 30th overall in the standings.

It is a short 460 mile jaunt to Birmingham from Donaldsonville.  We stop for a nice dinner in Meridian, Mississippi with friends (Joe, Don, Brian, Dave, Mike, and Steve).  We are back on the road by 7:30-ish with another 146 miles to travel.  The GPS has us arriving at 10:30 pm.  Right on schedule, we pull in to the lovely Hampton Inn in Leeds, Alabama.  By 11 pm we are horizontal with 8 hours of blissful sleep ahead of us.  We need it as it was a long Tuesday and Wednesday.....3-1/2 hours of sleep in a 42 hour period.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Critz BMW Gang

Day Four (Interesting Facts)

Woody pointed out to me that I had not included a couple pieces of in my last post.  I'll also briefly discuss the drag races.  Here it goes.

As it turned out, adding the extra fuel just before going out on Daytona was key as I went through a 1/4 + tank in the session.  We would have had fuel starvation.
 Next, when I was brave enough to look at the speedometer coming through the tri-oval it read a smidge over 160 MPH.  Factoring in the discrepancy in gage to actual, I believe the speed to be an adjusted 155 MPH.  Still damn fast if you ask me.  The new photo at the top of the blog page is in the tri-oval way you can tell from that photo that the speed is 155 MPH.

After leaving Daytona, we had a short 116 mile drive to Gainesville and the drag race track.  Pulling in we quickly unloaded the car and had our tech sheet completed and signed.  I suited up once again and then staged the car with all the other competitors.  A brief lesson on drag racing timing lights and safety issues and it was time to run our ET (elapsed time).  We score overall points in the ET based on time...pretty simple concept.

I line up and stage.  The lights on the christmas tree (a pole between the two lanes with position stage lights, yellow count down lights, and then green lights - GO) begin their sequence.  Green lights up and I let out the clutch and press the right foot pedal - hard.  It is worth noting here that the lights or jumping the green lights do not matter for the ET pass, BUT they will in the next event.  Four shifts later and 13.665 seconds and I have gone a 1/4 mile and reached a speed of 104+ MPH.  Slow for sure as the M3 in "official" testing has ripped off a 12 second 1/4 mile.  My guess is we are down slightly on power as it is hot and the car only had 40 minutes to cool off from the drive prior to the ET.  The ET pass is 32nd fastest and the second fastest BMW.

After the ET comes bracket racing.  Based on your ET you select a time that you believe you personally will not beat.  Usually you put down a number slightly lower/faster than your ET time.  You want to be as close to your ET as possible.  Other competitors are doing the same thing.  You come to the line again and the difference between the two cars is dialed in to the christmas tree sequencing.  So for example, if I  dial in 13 seconds and the car next to me is at 15 seconds, he will start 2 seconds before I will.  The start is dictated by the lights so you must be sure to concentrate on your lights and not the car next to you.  Now if you jump the green light you are out.  You are also out if you beat (are faster than) your own dialed in time.  If everything goes off perfectly (no jumped lights and no one "breaks out" of their dialed in time, then it is a true drag race.  There is a winner and a loser.  The loser packs up and heads to the next event.

Now there are not a lot of points available in the bracket racing portion of the event.  As there are 597 miles to drive to No Problem Raceway in Donaldson, LA, I am all about losing on purpose so we can start our long drive.  I lose straight up, so no worries.

We were on the road in 20 minutes with the GPS showing an arrival time of 4:30 am EST.  We will gain  an hour, but big deal.


Day Four - Daytona International Speedway & Gainesville Raceway

Yes, you are reading this correctly.  After Critz BMW finished up at 11:15, we took a quick photo of our saviours and hit the road.  Our goal was to make the afternoon session on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway.  This is a 240 mile drive from Savannah, GA to Daytona, FL.  We decided that we would call One Lap organizer, Brock Yates right after getting through Jacksonville, FL to determine our arrival time and ability to make our run.

Needless to say, we were pushing hard to make it.  Woody was nice enough to say you drive Daytona as you deserve it.  Why I don't know, but it was sweet of him to say.  As we cruised through the Jacksonville, we made our call to Brock.  It was just shy of 1:30 pm and we had approximately another 75 miles to go.  At our current pressing speed we told Brock we could be there by 2:45.  He said come on and be ready to go at 2:45 - suit, helmet, etc. fully deployed.

After exiting I-95, we stopped for a quick splash and go of fuel as we had a little less than a 1/4 tank.  The 1/4 tank seemed like enough for 3 hot laps plus a recon and cool down lap at Daytona (17.5 miles).  Woody was more skeptical and said let's plop 7-8 gallons in it.

We arrived at the track gate and signed the waiver and boogied to the garages and paddock.  Brian and Dave were waiting for us.  It was 2:20 pm.  Everyone jumped in to action to unloaded the car while I suited up.  By 2:30 I was on the grid chatting with Brock.  Brock said, your early, go to the back of the line.  He was joking.  I was waived to the front of the line.  At 2:45 my group was released for the recon lap.

During the recon lap I am amazed at how smooth the track is after the re-surfacing that was completed last fall.  When we ran here in 2009, it was very bumpy through the banking and even in our limp mode that year it was unnerving.  It is not long before I arrive back at the start finish line.  I stop and wait for the green flag.  It is waived and I am off.  WOW....what a ride!!!!!

It is over before I know it and am back in the garage.  Woody arrives and we start re-packing the car immediately.  I am still on a high that will last for the next hour!  As we pull out, we check our watches - time, 3:15.  Less than an hour and we arrived, unloaded the car, ran three laps, re-packed the car, and left.  It was worth the 3 hour, 240 mile drive.  Thanks Critz BMW!!!!  Next stop, Gainesville Raceway for the bracket drag races.

Breakfast at Denny's - $24.00
Fuel Costs to Daytona - $75.00
Cost to fix the M3 - $2,073.00
Driving the High Banks at Daytona - Priceless!!

After dropping to 36th overall by missing the morning session at Daytona, my total elapsed time of 6.52 for the three hot laps brought us back to 32nd overall.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pesky Little Critters

Fact is stranger than fiction.  I swear you cannot make this stuff up!

So we are cruising at 80 MPH along I-95 having just crossed in to Georgia on our way to Daytona Beach around 10:00 pm last evening when a medium size critter strolls in front of the M3.  As I was slightly distracted by a fast approaching car from behind (mirror watching), I unfortunately view the animal much to late to make any sudden avoidance maneuvers.  There is an instant thud on the right front side of the car.  I actually think Woody's passenger seat jumped up 6 inches as the mass passed under the car.  I see the terrifying look in the nasty little guys eyes just before impact.  What was that Woody asks?  An armadillo says I.  Even with this fellows leather like hard shell he could not withstand the 80 MPH blow.

I immediately tell Woody that there are some vital parts down in that area, particularly the oil cooler.  Within a mile or so we are approaching our first available exit and radio to Brian Hair and David Chow that we have hit an armadillo I need to check out the car.  After pulling off, we start looking the car over.  Everything appears to be in relatively good order.  I walk back to David's car and get down on my hands and knees to see the car lights shining under the car.  David had mentioned seeing something hanging down that I could not see from the front.  It is then that I see a small puddle of fluid at the front of the car and on the right side.  I have that OH NO moment running through my head.  I get in the car and back it up about 5 feet.  The OH NO moment turns to sad reality as we are leaking oil.

With a flash light in hand (a damn good one too from David's company - 4 Sevens) we can see that there is in fact a leak at the oil cooler, but we cannot determine if it is the oil line or the cooler itself.  In any event, driving the car is no longer an option and so we pull in to a Days Inn within 1,000 feet of the exit ramp.  Woody and I get a room and say goodnight and safe travels to David and Brian.  It is obvious how bad they feel for us and of course we are very disappointed as this means we will miss Daytona.  I phone Suze and give her the news.  She is keeping me upbeat and thinking positively about the situation as is Woody.  Strangely, we have been here before....just read the posts from 2009.

Getting to our room we formulate our plan.  The first call is to BMW Roadside Assistance where we arrange for a tow at 6 am to the local Savannah BMW dealership, Critz BMW.  How lucky are we that there is a dealership only 16 miles from the motel?  Darn lucky as this could have occurred 100's of miles from no where.

The first call from the towing company rings in at 4:15 am to verify we are still waiting for a tow.  At 5:35 the tow truck driver calls to announce he is in route and should be arriving by 6 as planned.

The M3 is loaded up on the roll-back tow rig very quickly and we are off by 6:15.  The 16 miles seems to take for ever as the tow truck is slow and rush hour traffic picking up.  Our driver, Thomas, is a great guy and points out our only mistake from last evening.  Appears we left some good eats out on I-95 that could have complimented our eggs, pancakes, and bacon breakfast.  A real delicacy here in these parts!

Arriving at Critz BMW the car is unloaded faster than it went on.  We pull it in to the service line and wait for the doors to open at 7:30.  At 7:15 a gentleman arrives and asks if we are doing the One Lap?  We respond yes.  Our visitor tells us that he is friends with Doug Wilks who is part of the Leh Keen team in the Nissan GTR that is leading the One Lap event.  Small world!  I introduce myself as does Richard Papy, who happens to be the quality control manager at Critz.  Turns out Richard is a racer too and has an original Porsche 944 Ex-Fire Hawk series car.  We explain our plight and Richard says he cannot promise, but he'll mention the event and our problems to the service manager and may be we'll be fit in today.

Within minutes the assistant service manager Steve Scarano arrives with his two young boys in tow.  Steve and the two boys are very interested in the car.  We exchange some stories and again explain our situation.  Steve invites us in and says we'll get it in first thing.  A tear literally comes to my eye as it does writing this story.  Steve says - not sure we'll have the parts, but let's see what we find.  Woody chimes in and says of course we have the parts....they're on that new M3 in the sales lot.  Steve comes back with we'll check with the owner if it comes to that.

As the techs do not start until 8, Woody and I walk over to the Denny's for breakfast.  Again, our regret is not having our breakfast meat.  Arriving back at the dealership at 8:30 we set up shop in the waiting room.  I begin this blog and it is not long before we are invited in to the operating room to see the patient.  The problem is in fact a small hole in the oil cooler and damage to the under tray.  Critz

After several long minutes, Steve comes to the waiting room to tell us the good news....the new M3 will give up its oil cooler and under tray parts so we may continue the event.  We are so happy and thankful to the entire Critz team.  Again, tears come to our eyes as we feel blessed.

As we are sitting, blogging, chatting, and watching the thousandth story on the wicked witch of the east's demise on CNN we are introduced to the owner of the dealership, Dale Critz, Jr.  He is very personable and listens to our story with keen interest.  Dale wants to know about the cause and how we got started with ZERO - The Project to End Prostate Cancer.  My relationship with Tommy Holcomb and how we always talked about competing in the One Lap together comes to the discussion immediately.  Mr. Critz is happy he can are we!  Dale returns after a few minutes and suggests we google The Armadillo Jackal by Robert Earl Keen, Jr on You Tube.  The link is here....I  If not, it is easy to find.

Chad, our tech wizard, just came in to say there was a part or two not on his original list that should be replaced if we are doing this right.  I agree after looking at the part and what it supports.  At this point, what is another $70.  Chad expects to have us out of here soon.  My guess is we will make the drag races at Gainesville, FL early this evening and rejoin our One Lap friends.

I cannot thank Critz BMW for the friendship they have extended us.  We will never forget this dealership, especially its kind and generous owner and the people who run it and service its patrons.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Day Three (Part Two) - BMW Performance Center

Quick update before I stop for the night and take my turn behind the wheel.  We have approximately 500 miles to go this evening to Daytona, FL and the GPS shows us arriving at sometime after 1 am.  UGH!!!!!

Woody finished 32nd overall at the BMW Performance Center.  With the attrition and our finishes at CMP we have moved up to 26th overall.

Next, we met a gentleman by the name of Mike Forrester who either owns or manages a BMW dealership in Spartanburg, SC.  After discussing our plight with the brake warning light and what we have found or not found, Mike contacts a good friend and independent mechanic (Albert) who has an Autologic and can read the brake fault codes on the M3.  It is a simple brake sensor that can wait until we get home to fix.  It does not affect the brakes or their operation.  We can rest easy for now.  You too Suze.  Mike and Albert....HUGE THANKS!!!!!  You too Scott Hughs.

We link up with our friends from the Executive Inn and their news is not quite as good.  It appears there is more damage than originally thought and they must retire.  The car will be patched together well enough for them to drive home and then fix properly.  We will miss them and wish them a safe and speedy trip home.

Good night....more tomorrow from the high banks of Daytona International Speedway.

The Baron (just because)

Day Three (Part One) - Carolina Motorsports Park

I realize I am behind a bit, but there was no Verizon service available at the track today - Carolina Motorsports Park (CMP) in Kershaw, SC.

One word is coming in to play today and in the 2011 One Lap - ATTRITION!!!!!!

We arrived early last evening by One Lap standards (10:00 pm) at our lovely lodgings in Kershaw.  The well appointed Executive Inn was our choice.  There is nothing executive about it!  When we tried to check in they had put down the incorrect arrival dates for us.  Appears we should have been arriving next week.  Oh well said the huge man behind the counter.  They still had a room and Woody and I were going to have our very first spooning event.  I couldn't wait.  Fortunately, Chris DeYoung who is teamed with Mike Renner from the BMW Performance Center had a room with two king beds and was flying solo.  We completed the old key switch-a-roo and we were in business.  I'll take Woody up on spooning another night.

The results for the second session at Summit Point were posted and Woody was 23rd fastest.  Amazingly, he was roughly 5 seconds faster overall than I was in the morning session (my time being 21st fastest), but other teams picked up the pace as well.  That's how the One Lap works.  To quote Van Morrison, "What you gain on the hobby horses you lose on the swings".  At the end of the day, we had positioned ourselves in 31st overall after being 69th after the first event!!!!

As we are standing on the balcony and talking to some friends working on their car (more on this later) another One Lapper (let's call him Don because that is his name) tells everyone to switch on CNN as President O'Bama is going to speak.  It appears the wicked witch of the east has been killed.  This is great news - so can we now please bring all the boys home from Oz!!!  That's as far as I will go with my political rants.

The alarm comes at 6 am again which is earlier than we really need to be at the track, but not trying to worry Suze, we had a brake warning light come on right after leaving Summit Point yesterday.  As we are headed down the highway about 2 miles from Summit Point and discussing the light I finally say to Woody - may be we should touch the brakes and see if we have them???  Woody in his calm, cool voice says...good point (we both laugh) .  He does and we do.  Good news.  Arriving at our garage space we jack up the car and pull all the wheels and look the situation over.  Everything appears in good order.  We head out for a track walk and a little exercise....2+ miles worth.

While walking I bump in to Ben Shaut.  As Ben and his father Dan run an E90 M3 and are very mechanically inclined I ask about what our problem might be.  I describe everything in detail and say the good news is we still have brakes.  Ben proceeds to ask if it is a yellow or red warning light?  I say red.  He sounded bad when he said it too.  We walk back to the garage and the Shaut's are paddocked right next to us.  We walk through the issues with Ben and Dan.  We complete some more investigative work.  Brake fluid level - OK.  Jack up the car again and put rear on jack stands to check rotation of wheels and parking brake - OK.  Dan's OBD code reader....nothing comes up.  Nothing else we can check for now.  Dan's solution until we can have a dealer look at black tape over the warning light and put it out of your mind.  I am all smiles at the thought of that.

It is soon time for Woody to grid up as he has won the toss to drive the first session.  First test on recon lap is to check the brakes.  He stops at the starting line after his recon lap so I assume everything is still a go for launch.  He finishes quickly and later we find he is 32nd fastest.  It is good enough to move us up to 30th overall.  Why, because a Mitsubishi lost a turbo oil line and the car caught on fire headed in to turn one.  By the time he made turn two the driver was looking for a spot to pull off track and exit the car - rapidly.  The fire teams arrived quickly and the problem extinguished.  The pun intended....toast.  Attrition.

At some point in the first session a Porsche 911 dumps coolant on the track.  Coolant is slicker than pig snot and the session is stopped so the track crew can clean up.  This puts finishing the first session behind by close to 45 minutes.  It is going to be a long day.  Attrition.

Woody and I are strolling the paddock and come upon the sick Porsche.  Andy Hennessy who supports the Dubler Chocolate team of HHR's

It is finally time for me to take a run at CMP.  I do and it is over in short order.  Brakes are still working obviously.  I place 24th overall.

During the second session the Mazda 2 has an issue as it towed off.  Our guess is that the turbos let go or over-boosted the motor/head gaskets and the car is finished for the event, but we won't know really until tomorrow in Daytona.  Attrition.

Now to the saddest story.  Let's back up to our friends working on their car last night in the motel parking lot.   The ones we were watching from the balcony and helping as we could. Appears when the team arrived and parked at the reception drop off the parking brake was set, but not fully.  The drop off area leads directly to a steep slow that flows in to the parking lot.  As the team was checking in, the car decided to take a stroll on its own.  It went down the hill and struck a large Harley Davidson motorcycle, proceeded to jump the small sidewalk curb, and eventually strike the exterior wall of room #126 placing a 24" x 24" hole in the plaster.  The bike had serious enough issues that it could not be ridden.  The exterior motel wall never looked better.  The car had a dented hood, right front bumper damage which appeared mostly cosmetic.  The team's plan is to skip the CMP events held today and get the car to a dealer in Columbia for a look over.  Hopefully we see that at the BMW Performance Center in the afternoon.

Next....the BMW Performance Center in Greer, SC.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day Three - Summit Point Motorsports Park

Dear Readers;

Sorry, but I need to make this a short post as I am having more technical difficulty with the power converter in the car.  I think it has to do with too much stuff plugged in - GPS, radar detector, PC, and cell phone chargers.  So here it goes!

First - We arrived in Winchester, VA last night at 12:50 am after traveling 590 miles from Peru, IN.  All in all, not a bad trip and getting 4-1/2 hours of sleep would be welcome.

Next - Woody placed 27th overall in the autocross yesterday afternoon at Grissom Air Force Base.  We were very pleased with this as it commenced our long climb from the cellar where we found ourselves after the wet skid pad.  This is the last time I will mention that stupid event...I promise Woody!

This morning we arrived early at Summit Point Motorsports Park in Summit Point, WV.  It was raining upon our arrival and that was not what I wanted to see as I was scheduled to drive the first session.  Oh well....stuff happens and this "ain't" NASCAR.

About an hour after we unloaded the car and set up camp, friends and family started to arrive.  We were very excited to see everyone, some more so than others (sorry fans, but Suze takes the cake).  It was soon time to line up the front runners and hot shoes on the grid.  The rain had stopped some time before and the track was drying.  There were dark clouds surrounding the track so I opted to grid up sooner hoping to luck out on good conditions and letting the big dogs help dry what little moisture that remained.  Just before heading out, Woody and Dave Flogus stopped by to say that the track was still slippery in spots.....great!!!!!

It was soon my turn and the three hot laps went quickly.....from a standing start 4.33 minutes to be more exact.  Not long after the session was completed the results were posted.  I placed 21st overall.  I am very pleased with the finish and it was good enough to move us up to 40th overall in the standings.  We'll keep chipping away.  Rumor has it that in the afternoon session Woody beat my time which hopefully moves up some more against the field.  We need to make big gains now as later in the week it is very difficult to move up.

Finally - huge shout out to all that came out to see us!!!!!  John and Diane, Neil (we miss you little man), Zach, James, Holland, and Max, Seth and Julie, Mark and Tricia, Steve, Vic, Chuck (thanks for the donuts & OJ), Harley, Al and Tiki, Janeen, Gordon, John H, Debbie, Shannon, Tyler (grill master), Melissa, and last but not least Kay and Suze!!!!