Over the weekend of April 8-10 the V8 Road Racing Series visited Summit Point Motorsports Park as the fourth weekend on our 2016 schedule. Not only was it our first foray outside our "comfort zone" here in the southeast, but it was also part of Washington DC Region's first Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series (MARRS 1) event of the year and the season opener of NEDiv's Divisional Championship Series. The short story is:
· I was reminded that WDCR-SCCA does an EXCELLENT job of hosting road racing events
· Even though they're all yankees, I met a LOT of good people who are very enthusiastic about V8RRS
· On the other hand, I also met Maurice (Moe) Colontonio in person <g>
And, as always, the longer story:
My introduction to Summit Point and WDCR was back in 2009 (http://www.b-k-racing.com/summit-point-wv-2009/ for the bored amongst you), so when we were developing the 2016 V8RRS schedule I really wanted to include one of their events on our calendar. We originally planned to be there the first weekend in October, but when the dust settled we ended up moving to their April date because it fit better with our other weekends. Through it all the WDCR folks were good to work with and I was looking forward to returning with Cuervo after a seven year absence, but unfortunately our "fluid retention challenges" at Road Atlanta put the kibosh on those plans. I still attended to support/promote the series, however. Based on weather predictions of possible snow, though, I DID pack my winter jacket for the trip.
From pre-entries I had expected 5-6 V8RRSers to be running, but Ricky Sanders opted out because his car wasn't ready then I found out Saturday morning that Willie Mullins would not be there until Sunday due to delays getting the car together and Mike Longo had broken the transmission in his GTA car during Friday's test day. After the Saturday morning qualifying session (which was damp to start with, then it started snowing lightly just as a dry line appeared!), the V8RRS line-up looked like this:
1. David Sanders (T1 Corvette) - 1.28.420
2. Mark Mercurio (GT1 Camaro) - 1.29.992
4. Jim Jost (GTSC Thunderbird) - 1.32.654
6. Andy Trought (GTA Impala) - 1.33.437
11. Chris Gill (GTA Monte Carlo) - 1.35.539
13. Tyler Wilson (GTA Grand Prix) - 1.36.314
Since I had only gotten to the track just as they were going out to qualify I joined the group at Tech after qualifying and introduced myself to those I didn't already know. The slippery conditions definitely made everyone very tentative but I also found out Tyler was suffering from the occasional stuck throttle (and yes, I DO know how that can make you gunshy!) caused by the hood collapsing on the throttle linkage at speed. After a quick drivers' meeting Tyler and his crew went off to Lowe's to get some aluminum angle to brace the hood while everyone else started getting ready for the afternoon's 12-lap qualifying race.
Our race was the first thing after lunch and while it was maybe 40 degrees with a strong wind the track was dry. I headed up to grid to check things out, then noticed Mark & Tyler coming in the back of Grid just as the 1-minute sign went up. The GCR (rule 6.4.2.C for those that want to check it out) specifies that any car not in place at the 1-minute warning relinquishes their starting position and will be placed at the back of the pack, so it was going to be interesting watching those two come through the field.
At the green David jumped to an early lead while Andy made a bold move to fit between two cars going into Turn Three and move into second overall. Jim came in at the end of lap 2 with what turned out to be a broken axle (more on that later) and Andy moved into the overall lead when David backed off to keep from running afoul of the Sound Control overlords. In the meantime Mark and Tyler (once he became convinced the sticking throttle issue had actually been resolved) were working their way through the pack. Chris was struggling to overcome the limitations of a two-speed transmission (third and fourth only) on a track that requires a lot of second gear, but soldiered on to the end. About lap ten Andy caught an ASedan Mustang back in the Caroussel and finally made it by him on the straight heading to Turn 10 (the high speed right-hander onto the front straight), but the delay allowed Mark to close up on his bumper as all three cars entered Turn 10. From the Tower I saw Andy & Mark come through, then the Mustang went off drivers' left through the gravel trap on the outside of 10 and hit the tire wall (he would later protest both Andy and Mark for hitting him, but nothing was called in the corner workers and the stewards found no evidence of contact). Mark passed Andy on the front straight on that lap, then everyone held positions until the checker two laps later. Here are the final results along with each driver's fastest lap time:
. First in GT1, first overall - Mark Mercurio (1.14.348)
. First in GTA, second overall - Andy Trought (1.17.364)
. First in T1, fourth overall - David Sanders (1.19.576)
. Second in GTA, sixth overall - Tyler Wilson (1.20.604)
. Third in GTA, tenth overall - Chris Gill (1.26.433) - broken transmission
. First in GTSC, thirteenth overall - Jim Jost (1.27.612) - broken axle
After impound (with attendant awards presentations and bench racing) I stopped by the Jost paddock area and found Jim struggling to get the right axle out of the housing. While it's true my crew has instructions to NEVER let me hold anything but a drop light at the race track Jim was unaware of this, so I was using his hammer to try and knock the axle out from the left side of the car, missed the broom handle, and whacked the crap out of my hand in the process. We did manage to finally get the axle out and confirm was indeed twisted in half, but we were unable to get the last broken piece out of the axle tube (and Jim didn't have a spare anyway) so his weekend was done.
After getting patched up at Medical I stopped by to see Andy but Chris said he'd gone in search of a couple of space heaters to ward off the expected sub-freezing weather predicted for Saturday evening. With nothing else to do and no more hands to hit with a hammer, we all convened at the Wilson/Mercurio paddock spot to start an evening of drinking and more bench racing (lying) about how fast we could have been if only we had any talent! It was also there than I met Moe (who had driven down from New Jersey to check things out even though his car was not ready), and a good time was had by all. Over the years I've found that most racers are really good people, and (despite some of these people talking funny) this crowd will fit right in with the others I've come to know. Definitely good folks (even Moe <g>).
Mullins Racing showed up Sunday morning and ran the hardship warm-up to check out the car, but Willie would have to start from the back since he had no time from Saturday. Sunday's race seemed to be a case of "nobody really wants to run second" because Andy suffered some electrical issues (while running second) then Willie blew a LR tire right after he got past Andy to take over the position! Mark, David, and Tyler ran consistent laps to finish in the top three spots and were the only cars on the lead lap at the end. I did hear the announcers say the fourth place car (who was a lap down) usually runs away with things at Summit Point, so they were appreciative of the show our V8RRS racers put on. At the end of 20 laps here's how things finished:
. First in GT1, first overall - Mark Mercurio (1.15.358)
. First in T1, second overall - David Sanders (1.17.065, breaking the T1 track record)
. First in GTA, third overall - Tyler Wilson (1.19.561)
. First in GTSC, tenth overall - Willie Mullins (1.15.904) - blown tire
. Second in GTA, eleventh overall - Andy Trought (1.17.387) - electrical issues
. DNS - Chris Gill (transmission)
. DNS - Jim Jost (axle)
In my opening paragraph I talked about the excellent job WDCR does in conducting races. I imagine someone who just wants to "do their thing" and drive around whenever (and wherever) they want without having their creativity stifled by rules may find it a burden, but these folks run an efficient event and are a joy to work with. They're friendly, efficient, do what they say they're going to do, put on an event that's enjoyable to attend, and appreciated V8RRS being there that weekend. Summit Point may not be a "bucket list" track in the overall scheme of things, but if they'll have us we'll definitely be back in 2017.