Sunday, April 10
The forecast was for a high in the low sixties with a chance of rain in late afternoon. They hit it pretty much spot on.
They limited the day to 120 entries and we had perhaps a few more than half in the experienced session.
We got started a bit late. Emich had a Z06 there to give people rides. Brand new, $95,000 price tag on the window. At the end of the first novice session one of the Emich guys put it into the wall between one and two. Deployed both airbags; they had to flatbed it off the track.
My fastest lap was in the first session, a 2:12.5. This is the first time I’ve gotten my fastest lap in the first session. I ran six sessions, sort of. One time I didn’t get on the track until the session was half over; another session was ended early due to an incident I’ll describe shortly. The tow truck was deployed two other times.
The track now has lights at every corner station; a nice upgrade. Usually they man about half the corner stations. There are several cameras that are monitored in race control, but with only half the stations manned, any yellow flag conditions might last three turns. With lights on all corners, there’s twice as much information available to us drivers. The same number of corners are manned, but they don’t use flags (except the meatball). Flashing yellow, steady yellow, red (stop), or “police lights”: flashing blue and red (exit the track).
I’ve often said that the race track is the safest place to drive your car. Everybody’s going the same direction, there are no potholes, nobody’s on their phone, all the cars are in good working order, and people wave flags at you if something unexpected has happened in front of you.
I’m going to have to add a condition to that: it’s a club day rather than open lapping. Unfortunately, as has been all too obvious these last two track days, there are people who can’t be relied upon to pay attention and to follow the few simple rules.
There was a white BMW with a giant black wing. A race car. He was fast; a few seconds a lap faster than me. He came up behind me in turn two. When I went to apex turn three I glanced in the mirror to find him missing. He was passing me, taking my apex. If I’d have stayed on my line, his left front would have hit my right rear.
Multiple times in the drivers meeting it was stressed that the slower car stays on the racing line. It’s the responsibility of the overtaking car to go around the slower car. This jackhole in the BMW, running at least twice my horsepower, couldn’t wait three seconds to pass me on the straight.
Back in the paddock I went looking for him. He was clear across the paddock from me. I asked several drivers if they knew where the white BMW with the giant black wing was. More than one said he’d passed them unexpectedly in turns. When I found him I was still pretty pissed. My cutting wit sometimes gets me in trouble, but today words failed me. I was unable to articulate exactly what he did wrong.
I just kept telling him to watch where he’s going and to think about what he was doing. I’m sure he still thinks he did nothing wrong because I failed to be articulate. He said “I thought you saw me” and “no hard feelings.” Yes, I saw him. Just because I’m paying attention doesn’t mean he can have my line. And, yes, there are hard feelings. I reported him to the assistant track manager and told other drivers to keep an eye out for him. Later, one guy told me the idiot passed him in turn three, same place he did it to me.
Now the story of the shortened afternoon session. I was running in proximity to a Subaru, blue and black with gold wheels. I passed him early on, but the next lap he seemed to be faster than me. He was clearly faster on the straights. I didn’t want to hold him up, so I waved him by. As soon as he got around me, my windshield took a light misting of fluid from his car. It was just that one shot, just as he passed me. I didn’t follow him too closely.
After another lap it was obvious I was quicker. I figured I’d get in his mirrors enough to get him to let me by on one of the straights. Coming out of the corkscrew he blew a big cloud of blue smoke out and jerked to the left. I stayed well right and went through another shower of fluid much heavier than before. He went in an arc across the track exit, spinning, kicking up clouds of dust and dumping a wide swath of oil across both the track and the pit lane. The police lights were on by the time I got to turn 3.