In Photos: 2014 NASA WERC Round 4

By | September 6, 2014

Start of the WERC

Start of the WERC

On the evening of Aug. 16th, starting just after 6pm, Miller Motorsports Park and NASA Utah hosted the 4th round of the WERC – Western Endurance Racing Championship. A six hour endurance race meant to give those, willing to step up to the challenge, an excellent chance to prove your ability has a driver, as a team, and just how solid your car is.

This is also one of the few events at MMP that runs into the night. And at 6 hours, running into the night it did. And much like the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, the only lights on were on pit row. As this race was running on the outer 3.1 mile loop, this means the vast majority of the race was ran in total darkness. Time to fire up those LED light bars to help drivers see into the night

As with many endurance races, cars fail and fall to the wayside. When the checker flag dropped just past midnight, only 4 cars were left standing.

Taking the overall win was Wild Schick Racing in their ES classed Nissan GTR. Followed by the E3 classed Mazda MX-5s from RJ Racing, Snow Storm, and finally Paul Mitchell.

And you can find more information NASA’s WERC series at their site.

And results of the this year’s Round 4, can be found here.

Thanks to the staff at Miler Motorsports Park for their help covering this event!

[photos | Chance Hales | Neil Eschenfelder | Mike Gillilan]

Sinkhole to be Filled and Three Vettes to be Restored

By | September 2, 2014

bildeBack in February of this year something terrible happened.  A gaping sinkhole opened up and swallowed eight Corvettes whole in the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY.  Since that incident the massive hole has become the main attraction at the museum bringing thousands to the museum to see it boosting attendance with a healthy 70% increase.  The Vettes were removed and promptly put on display as well, most of them pretty much destroyed.

Nearly seven months later, the fate of the sinkhole has been decided.  Initially, the museum was going to leave a portion of the sinkhole. To do so they were going to add safety measures for viewers but the cost to do so has more than doubled the initial estimates of $500,000 to over a $1,000,000.  The new plan is to fill in the sinkhole completely.  The sinkhole will remain as-is until after their upcoming Vets in Vettes event November 6-8, 2014.

The cars were also under the microscope and how to deal with them.  There was much debate about leaving them as is or restoring them.  GM even volunteered to oversee the restorations as well as donating $250,000 to aid the museum in its recovery.  The museum has chosen to restore the 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” Prototype, the 1 Millionth Corvette, and the 1962 Corvette.  The remaining five cars were determined too far gone to restore and will be left in their present condition and will be the only remaining damage caused by the sinkhole.  If you wish to see the sinkhole before construction starts you only have two short months to do so.

Source: National Corvette Museum

Bad Carma: Misspelling Intended

By | August 27, 2014

I’m not Buddhist but I’m starting to believe that Karma really does exist.  It either exists or I’m one of the unluckiest people on the planet.  The latter is probably more true as I come from a long line of accident prone klutzes.  My Dad and his Father have wrecked and probably totaled a combined dozen vehicles at least.  When I was a tween my Dad backed out of the garage with the passenger door open in our green 1976 Toyota Corona, severely hyper-extending it and nearly removing it all together.  He once backed that car into a ditch leaving the house as well.  He’s the only person I’ve heard of who has been hit by a train in an AMC Gremlin and survived and he also totaled a Datsun pickup by hitting a stray pig.  When I was 17 he turned into a rural driveway without looking for oncoming traffic.  I was in the passenger seat.  The Silverado we were driving was scrapped and the Neon that hit us carried the crash dummies in the 4th of July parade.  I could go on and on.

Fortunately for me, the clumsy gene seems to have ebbed but the bad car Karma continues.  I drove a 1993 Nissan Maxima 4DSC in high school.  That car was good to me but I abused it.  In my ignorant teen mind, I figured that as long as I maintained the car it would take care of me.  Clearly 137 MPH runs through the dry farms and clearing all 4 wheels from the ground were not included in the recommended maintenance.  Regular oil changes and tire rotations would ensure a long worry free relationship right?  Not so much.  My lack of self control caught up with me.  An annoying ticking noise showed up one day from the timing cover after four years of hard use.  I’d stretched the timing chains.  Alas, even after new timing chains were installed my beloved “Red Rocket” would never be the same.  No matter how much time it spent at the shop getting diagnosed and having warranty work done, it would never be quick again.

Maxima

The Maxima soon found a new owner and with the money I bought a 1997 Honda Accord LX.  It wasn’t overly sporty but it was a 5-speed so I was OK with it.  My wife and I drove the Accord for two years or so without anything major.  Overall it was a good car.  Then, one winter I got stuck in the snow for the last time and sold the Accord in favor of a Dodge Durango.  The Durango got such bad gas mileage that I thought I was getting gallons per mile.  No matter how often i fixed a leak a new one would surface and it burned oil.  I bought a second car to commute to work in.  A 1989 Honda CRX with a B16 DOHC VTEC.  I loved this car but it had issues right out of the gate.  I flew to AZ to pick it up and though I’d had it inspected and had a bunch of stuff replaced including the brakes, they kept locking up on me.  I had to spend two extra days in 120 degree weather for them to sort the problem out.  Or so they thought.  I got 600 miles into a 1000 mile trip and the brakes locked up again in the middle of nowhere Utah.  With the help of my smart phone and a CRX forum I was able to MacGyver my brake booster’s vacuum hose to get home.

319590_10150331964786673_1283630945_nI took a job that moved us to Seattle and the CRX leaked when it rained so I reluctantly sold it and bought another mid 90′s Accord.  This one took $1,000 from my pocket in repairs in the first month.  We sold the Durango and bought a brand new Dodge Grand Caravan.  We were done with paying for car repairs.  A few months into my new job we realized we didn’t need a second car so I sold the Accord… the A/C needed a new compressor.  I took a new job shortly after and moved back to Idaho.

262997_10150235641036673_6408987_n With my new job I got cheap auto parts and so I decided that I’d try my hand at flipping cars.  My first attempt flipped me the middle finger.  It was a 2005 GMC Envoy and it had a misfire.  Even though I had it inspected before I bought it they didn’t catch that it had low compression in one cylinder.  My wife wrecked it two weeks after we bought it and then I had to put an engine in it.  $5,000 later I was underwater in it bad.  We sold our still new Caravan to my Cousin with only 8,000 miles on the odometer.  We still have the Envoy and now that virtually everything is new on it we’re crossing our fingers and say a silent prayer every time we turn the key.

I bought a 1975 Dodge Power Wagon that was just like my Grandpas.  He’d dropped trees on his but this one was cherry… or at least it looked that way.  It didn’t run when I bought it but after hours of messing around with the cooling system, vacuum lines, and the carburetor I was finally able to drive it.  Then the rear end went out on me… followed by the front.

00p0p_4EIzP0zyngX_600x450  Apparently I hadn’t nuked our bank account enough so I bought my unicorn car on Ebay.  A one owner Series 1 Datsun 240Z.  It had faded paint but it was a numbers matching survivor with low miles.  I couldn’t resist.  I flew to Sacramento and drove it home 600 miles.  Soon after getting her home a loose cam bolt walked a pin loose and bent the valves.  $2,000 later my original engine is sitting in my garage and I have a used L26 under the hood that burns more oil than my 2-stroke weed whip.  It would only happen to me.  10402900_10152026924506673_1213809600887892656_n

I sold the Power Wagon last week but the Envoy and Z remain.  It’s been months since I’ve looked on Craigslist or Ebay with any serious curiosity and I often awake to cold sweats.  If you run across anyone with the last name of Davis, don’t buy a vehicle form them.  The karma could follow you.

Racing Blip: 2014 Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR

By | August 23, 2014

No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia

No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia

The inaugural season of TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is coming to end. After this weekend’s race at VIR, two more races are left. Why does that matter? Contracts are coming up. Everybody wants to put on a good show to prove they are worth the money. For the viewers, this should mean some of the best racing of the season thus far.

Virginia International Raceway is located on the Virginia-North Carolina border. Widely known for the uphill esses, we should see plenty of tires coming off the ground as each driver tries to tackle this portion of the track full throttle. It’s also one of the older tracks in North America, built in the late 1950s. Oh, did I mention this is also a resort destination? Not only a racetrack, but also has shooting ranges for both skeet and rifles, off-road racing course, onsite hotels, and a spa.

This race features an abbreviated field. No Prototype cars this weekend. PC cars are running with the feeder Prototype Lites on two shorter races. Leaving the main attraction, GTLM and GTD class cars running tomorrow for the, some what normal, 2 hours and 45 mins race.

What to watch for:

In GTLM, Risi Competizione took pole, continuing their late season momentum. Followed closely by No. 55 BMW Z4, then No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT grabbing the 3rd sport. Tight racing again in this class. 1.015 secs separate the pole sitting Ferrari and the 9th place Corvette C7.R. This will be a battle on the 3.27 mile Full Course! As a side note, the No. 3 Corvette Racing and No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR had a NASTY crash during a practice session today. As a result, Richard Lietz suffered a broken arm. Jan Magnussen has reported to be sore, but in good shape for tomorrows race. Porsche NA’s crew will have a long night putting together the spare 911 RSR in time the start of the race. As of the time of this posting, the No. 3 Corvette and No. 911 Porsche will be racing tomorrow.

UPDATE (8/24 @ 10:57am): It is being reported that Jordan Taylor will replace Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R.

In GTD, expect more of the same from the last few races. Lots of close racing and the return on the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage, which took pole.

How to watch the race on Sunday @ 4:05pm ET (8/24)?

Again, best thing to do is hit up IMSA’s Race Central for all the details.

Or you can catch the race a few days later on IMSA’s YouTube Channel.

And here’s the ever handy Spotter’s Guide.

And here’s a short preview of the race.

[photo | mike gillilan]

Racing Blip: 2014 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America

By | August 10, 2014

Extreme Speed Motorsports No. 1

Extreme Speed Motorsports No. 1

Welcome to Elkhart Lake in the wooded beauty of Wisconsin. Home of Road America. One of the few tracks in North America that hasn’t gone through a slew of configuration changes since it’s inception in the mid-50’s.

Road America is also home to another one of the more famous turns in racing. Located on the back side of the track, just past the exit of “The Carousal”, you’ll find “The Kink”. Hit the apex just right and you can fly through at full speed. Miss the apex, you’re either slowing down and losing a lot of momentum, or your kissing wall to the left. This is also one of the longest tracks on IMSA/TUDOR’s schedule, coming in at just over 4 miles. Many drivers love the elevation changes and the over all flow of the course. This track should be on the “bucket list” for any driver / racing fan. Pro-tip: rent a golf cart at the track to get around!

What to watch for in this round 10 event:

In the P class. Well, the No.1 P2 car of Extreme Speed Motorsport took pole during a rather exciting qualifying yesterday with a blistering last minute run of 1:55.166, nearly a full second over the 2nd place No. 5 Action Express Racing Covette. There should be some intense racing between the various DP and P2 cars.

In GTLM, I don’t think I’ve seen so many lead changes in a 15 min qualifying session for a long time. BMW then Viper, then BMW. THEN Viper. At the end of the 15 mins, the front two rows will be BMW, Viper, Viper, BMW. I would not count out the lone Ferrari. Risi put down some impressive lap times during practice sessions. Porsche made a strong showing and I would expect the Corvettes the really put up a fight as well.

The race happens today – Sunday, August 10th, at 6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT (it’s on tape delay).

How to watch it the race?

Honestly, the best thing to do head on over to IMSA’s Race Central and sort it out there. Or just head on over to IMSA/TUDOR’s YouTube channel and watch the VOD in a few days.

As always, the ever handy spotter’s guide.

[photo | mike gillilan]

Sprint Car Driver Kevin Ward Jr Killed in On-Track Incident with Tony Stewart

By | August 10, 2014

Tony Stewart

 

An tragic incident occurred last night at a Sprint Car race.  Driver Kevin Ward Jr. was struck and killed in an on-track incident with Tony Stewart.  The incident began with the two making contact during the race sending Ward Jr. spinning into the wall.  Ward Jr. then exited his car and entered the live track to confront Stewart on his next time by.  As a few other cars narrowly miss hitting him, Tony Stewart did after it appears Ward Jr. lunged toward his moving vehicle which clipped him and threw him several feet.  Ward Jr was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. The incident is currently under investigation as an on-track incident.

We don’t want to speculate but there are conflicting reports as to what happened.  Some witnesses say Stewart, who has a history of on-track violence, hit the throttle right before hitting Ward Jr. and hit him on purpose.  Others say due to poor lighting conditions and Ward Jr. wearing a black racing suit may not have even been seen by Stewart.  The course was under yellow, Ward Jr was out of control and unpredictable, and the cars were going at an estimated speed of 40mph and Stewart was following another car so it is entirely possible that he never saw Ward Jr. until it was too late.  As of this writing no charges are being filed and Stewart is cooperating fully and is reportedly very shaken up by the incident.  Out of respect, he has withdrawn from today’s NASCAR race at Watkins Glen.

Due to the violent and graphic nature of the incident video we will not be embedding it in this post but if you wish to see it and judge for yourself, be advised it is not for the squeamish. The video can be found here.

Source: Jalopnik and ESPN

Photo: AP/John Raoux