2011-07-31

My first SCCA race at Thundehill


Had my frist SCCA race last weekend. That was quite a bit different from what I am used to from NASA, and I sure learned a ton, and also had a blast racing.
You see, SCCA has a much larger field in the Spec Miata class, to the tune of 40-60 cars, and that weekend we had 44. With NASA we usually have half that or fewer, and because there are so few of us, we have a mixed run group, with Spec E30 cars, for example. Anyways, fewer people to play with, which means that the field usually drives away from me and I basically just turn some laps and pit.
Now this time was different. On Saturday I had a competitor at my own level and got to race and pass that car, and get re-passed, and chase some more. I had so much fun doing that, that I think I couldn't have any more fun racing for the first place.
The day started less than optimal. In the warm-up session I discovered that my car has somehow lost all its power. I could not get the car to accelerate at all, and was even slowing down going uphill into Turn Nine while flat on the gas. Back in the pit, there seemed to be nothing obviously wrong with the car, but I remembered that the guy at the shop that had some cage work done on my car had opened my air flow meter housing. I don't know why either. But he has, so I thought, well, I can't race this way, so might as well take that car to the local dyno shop and have them try to adjust that bit, because it could be the culprit.
Luckily for me, it was. An hour later, I had regained 20 horsepower and was ready to qualify.

I start out and the difference is like night and day, my car is making all the power that I am used to from her, and we're doing pretty well. Then I get a meatball flag. That's the black flag with the red circle in it, and it means that you have a mechanical issue. I pull to the black flag station, and turns out that my transponder doesn't work. No qualifying times for me.
I go to pit, and with our mechanic Bradley's help, we find that the ground wire was pulled from the transponder at some point. It is a quick fix, but the qualifying session is long over when we're done.
Oh well, it's not like I was going for the pole, more like, I wanted to know my times.

I got to grid all the way at the back and did not have a very good start, but soon I realized that I could catch the car in front of me. Over the next several laps, I worked my way to catch that car and finally pass it in Turn Nine. I got re-passed on the front straight, and was working on catching up again when lapping traffic caught us and I got distracted and slid through Turn One, flatspotting three of my fairly new tires.
I resumed the race, but a few laps later, I got hit in the left rear wheel by a passing car in Turn Six. Both the other car and I went off into the dirt, and when I got back on track, I did not know how much damage there was (nothing visible), and I was fairly discombobulated from the impact and the bumpy slide in the dirt, so I went to pit.
Still, I think I had more fun that day than any other. I am looking forward to my next SCCA race, which will likely be at Laguna in October.