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With sprint season over, it was time to turn to the 2 hour and 8 hour endurance fall race, a part of the Festival of Endurance that is held each year to end the ICSCC season locally.

With the Track Attack #209 done for the year (separate blog post on that to follow), we decided to campaign the Track Attack #226 sister car, which belongs to our Architect, Manu Yareshimi!  This car is bad @$$ and one of the best prepared PRO3 cars in existence.  Manu purchased it from a solid driver and even better person, James Colborn and has been using it in his first year of club racing.

After obtaining his competition license, he experienced the joy of ‘shifting’ his engine and it was down for a couple of months, being rebuilt and readied for the endurance race.

The plan was to campaign the #226 in the 2 Hour race (with Manu and I [Gama Aguilar] co-driving) and the 8 Hour race (with Manu and two other guest drivers).  Further, I would drive a Spec E46 car for the first time, partnering with Grip Racing to drive the Red Bull #95 in the 8 hour endurance race.  I would be co-driving with two other drivers (Rob Dunn and Chuck Hurley).  I have been looking forward to this opportunity as we’ll likely make the move to Spec E46 in 2017 with a build starting in 2016.

Saturday AM Practice

As Saturday of the race approached, the weather forecasted shifted from sunny to rain, to partly cloud and back to rain several times.  By Friday night, it was expected that in the wee hours of Saturday AM showers would hit Portland but then stay dry and cloudy until around 8pm PST that evening, right around the last hour of the 8 hour race.  The rain came through and that morning it was cool, wet on the track and even more wet on the grass.

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I went out first in the Spec E46 on rain tires and upon hitting the first straight away, realized that my 5’6″ frame could operate the car BUT my arms were just barely not long enough to easily shift into 5th gear.  FTML!  After 15 minutes of getting used to the car, how careful you had to be on throttle application and initiating the brakes, I came back in to let Chuck and Rob have a go.

Then it was time to get a few minutes into the #226 PRO3 car as the 2 hour race would start within 20 minutes of practice concluding.  Unfortunately, the ice rink like conditions got the best of Manu and he went off track.  We spent the remaining time making repairs and my first time in the car would be when I would go in for the closing stint of the 2 hour race.

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2 Hour Race

Manu started the race and though we had a good qualifying position, it was still damp and we were going out in dry tires (Toyo RR’s) so we gave him guidance to just slowly warm up, get into a groove and not worry about fighting for position.  Just drive.  That’s exactly what he did and it was great!  He did go down one lap but he steadily improved and kept the car on track as the surface dried.

The first hour came and went fast and next thing you know, it was my turn to jump in the car for the 2nd hour.  Right as we were prepping the pit area for the car to arrive, we saw big plume of tire smoke at pit entry and unfortunately Manu came in a little hot and locked up the front left tire (the most important tire).  No matter, he came in, we did the driver change, refueled and got me going on track.

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Immediately as I came on track I merged right in front of the lead car.  We had un-lapped ourselves in the pit stop but now I had my work cut out for me to keep him behind me and ideally try to go all the way around the track and get the position back.  Turns out, our competitor was on his A-game and even though I had performed much better against him in the past at PIR, in the #209 PRO3 car – it was not to be.

I battled with him the entire race, gaining distance against him but only to catch slower traffic and have him catch right up.  About half way through the stint, I realized I wouldn’t be able to really pull away and catch him, so the goal was to just put down clean laps and focus forward.  All was going to plan until the last 5 minutes of the race.  The lock up earlier caused a slight flat spot and throughout the race, I could tell if I didn’t baby the tire on certain turns, it would chirp and tug.  Then all of a sudden, it got worse and that gave our competition all it needed to put the pressure on.

The last 3-4 laps were extremely tough – I had to be extra gentle on the tire, especially in turn 12 (last turn before the main straight), giving our competition a run.  Luckily the #226 engine (with a new head assembly) is stout and a great brake setup, so was able to hold him off in the braking zone for turn 1.

We ended up finishing in 2nd, putting down the fastest lap of the race for ME2 and having a blast.  Every single second of every single lap in that 2nd hour stint was with a strong competitor on my back, working our way through traffic or having much faster cars blowing past.

We’ll cover 8 hour in a second post.  In the meantime, thanks to Austin from Flying Bye Photo for being a driving force behind the enduro and for the awesome pictures!

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The 7th weekend in the ICSCC schedule was this past weekend and it was also the 9th race of the year in the PRO3 championship.  This is an annual event held at Portland International Raceways, using the chicane configuration of the 1.97 mile circuit.  PIR is an awesome track, that is quite different than the rest of the pacific northwest tracks.  It is more short, little to no elevation changes and pretty smooth track surface.  It doesn’t use up tires or brakes much and is known for being easy to get to 90% of an optimal lap time but that last 10% is really, really tough to get through.  You have to really be precise and consistent.

Gama 3

Typically, it’s a really scenic and fan friendly circuit with great views of Mt. Hood in the background of pictures and big blue skies.  However, this past weekend, with all the forest fires going on in Oregon, Washington and California, there was a good amount of smoke in the air.  Going into the weekend, we felt really good after a 4th place finish at the Car Tender Challenge at Pacific Raceways.  We did regular maintenance on the car, put fresh front brake pads (Performance Friction) and felt good about the Toyo RR’s that only had 5 heat cycles on them from the last race.

Friday Test and Tune

Each race weekend, there is an Test and Tune, sometimes mixed with HPDE type drivers.  For this past Test and Tune, we were focused on getting the tire pressures dialed in as we would have similar weather each day, getting used to a hard mounted seat (got rid of the slider that had a bit too much slop) and as always, doing testing on Track Attack updates that are under development.

Overall, the day went really well with progress each session.  By the 3rd session, we were easily putting down lap times near personal bests and felt confident about being able to get into the 1:30.xxx mark.  On the last session, we did find out the hard way the importance of knowing where your fuel pickup is located and how the orientation of the track impacts when you run out of gas.  :)

Gama 7

Saturday Qualifying and 1 Hour Mini-Enduro

We had an AM practice, afternoon qualifying session 1 for the main Group 1 race, qualifying for the Saturday mini-enduro and the mini-enduro itself.  Practice went pretty well but just not able to put a full lap together, getting to 1:31.1xx mark.  So close!  In the mini-enduro qualifying, we had a solid showing with the temperatures rising and qualified 2nd in ME2 class.

The afternoon qualifying for the Group 1 race was quite eventful.  We made a big effort to get on grid early and make sure we were turning laps with some of the big hitters in the series to catch some drafts and try to learn some things.  This plan was working well as we got behind Chris Hart, the current PRO3 series points leader but as we approached the last turn on the out-lap, went to brakes and the pedal went to the floor.  As the car went off-track, was fortunate enough to catch the car, pump the brakes and get some pressure back.  A little frazzled, got the car back on track and tested the brakes – all good.  A bit perplexed, we carried on getting a flying start to the next lap but as we got past turn 7, black flags started waving and into the hot-pits we went.  Turns out several cars were crossing the blend line, resulting in black flag session for a reprimand.

A few minutes later, we got started again but we only had time for 4 or 5 laps and there was traffic everywhere.  Came away with a disappointing 1:32.1xx.

Gama 2

So we shifted focus to the mini-Enduro, estimating the necessary fuel and thinking through pit stop strategy.  We decided that I would start the race and pit about mid-way through the pit-window, handing the car over to Cody Smith of Code Red Racing and the 2013 PRO3 Series Champion.

Coming around for the green flag, we got a good start and was leading after the 1st lap. Started building a gap but traffic that was slow in the corners and fast in the straights held me up and Kevin Doyle from KD Motorsports took full advantage. He was on me and in my mirrors for the next 8 or so laps until when I went in too hot into turn 1, went sideways and decided to take the safe route out.  Ended up falling back about 8-10 seconds.

5 or 6 laps later, I handed the car over to Cody but during the pit stop, we couldn’t get the lap belt adjusted quickly enough so we lost a bunch of time, going down a lap. Cody still put down some awesome laps, putting pressure on the Bastos theme PRO3 car of Bruce Humberstone, eventually passing him. We ended up 4th in ME2 but still had a great time.  Watch the full race here on Trackattackapp.com.  

DashKidsEnduro

37 laps, 1 hour, 2 drivers and 4th place.

Sunday Group 1 Qualifying and Group 1 Race

Sunday morning, we had plenty of time to plan and attack in qualifying to improve in the grid.  Despite knowing that I had to tap the brakes a couple of times before the braking zones, I just didn’t have confidence of having the brakes reliably there going into turn 12 and I ended up going through turn 10, 11 and 12 slower than normal.  Ended up with a 1:31.285 – an improvement from Saturday but not the 1:30.5xx we knew the car was capable of and we were shooting for.  So we started the race 24th overall and 11th in PRO3.

Right after the qualifying, we took off the wheels to inspect everything and see if we could find a way to improve the pad knock-back.  We found that the passenger front locking collar on the coilover had come loose, resulting in movement that was equal to a bad wheel bearing.  We tightened it up and decided to do some testing during lunch time race car rides with kids.  Thankfully, w had that extra track time and determined that the issue persisted so we sourced a new set of calipers from Advanced Auto Fabrications (AAF Spokane, WA) and swapped them in.

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During the warm up lap for the race, I drove on the curbing hard to see if we had fixed the issue and thankfully, we had!

Thanks to Reid Morris on the headset, I got a great start and was able to pass a handful of cars right away. By mid-way through the first lap, it became a battle with four other PRO3 cars. About a third of the way in, the #191 made a good move in turn 7 and got in front of me. Very quickly there after, I started feeling what felt like brake fade, usually going into a braking zone as I got closer to the #191. I thought the brake problems were continuing but then I saw the fuel spilling out of his car in left hand turns and realized I was too close, losing grip and getting it all over my windshield.

I decided to back off a little and see if I can get a run somewhere but a couple laps later he got the meatball and I was able to move forward to resume the chase after the Bastos #114. Early on I got close behind him but just not close enough or the right run to make an overtake stick, so I decided to stick to his rear as long as I could and see if he would give me an opening. It came with 3 or 4 laps left in the race as he got a little sideways in a couple of turns and then we hit the oil that a Datsun 510 put down on the track. I saw him wiggle, held off on full throttle until we got past it and got around him. After that, I just focused on putting down clean laps and not letting the yellow flags and traffic give up the gap I built (I almost overtook the Watson’s PRO3 car under yellow in the second to last lap, or so because I didn’t see the yellow until the last second – sorry Dave!!).

Overall, awesome race and we made the most of what we had going into the race and finished 5th. Was able to crack 1.30.xxx for the first time on Saturday during the mini-Enduro and feel confident that we could have done it during qualifying if we would have put the new calipers in earlier but it is what it is. Watch the full race here.  

Started 11th, Finished 5th!

Started 11th, Finished 5th!

Up next is the last round of the PRO3 championship at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, WA.  We’re shooting to make some improvements to the car, freshen it up and do some testing and coaching before the race weekend.

Lastly, enjoy some awesome photos taken by Austin from Flying Bye Photography – thanks Austin!

 

As we’ve mentioned previously, in the Pacific Northwest, there are two main motorsports competition organizations for road racing; Northwest Region of SCCA and the International Conference of Sports Car Clubs (ICSCC).  Despite the more regional focus of the ICSCC (conducting races only in Washington, Oregon and Vancouver, BC), it by far ends up with larger fields across the classes.

Most classes are the same as those found in the SCCA and NASA, such as Spec Miata, the new Spec E46, Formula V, Formula Ford, etc… but PRO3 is unique to ICSCC (they are more powerful and slightly more capable Spec E30’s).  So, this was Round 5 of the calendar, held at the challenging and dangerous, Pacific Raceways.

Mid-season updates!

A couple races ago, at Spokane County Raceway, we ended the weekend on a high, getting the electrical demons from a bad MAF mostly sorted out and a strong run on the final points race.  The downer was that we noticed one of the front Koni yellow shocks had started leaking mid-way through the weekend and by the time we got home, the shock had dumped all of the remaining fluid in the trailer.  While the Koni’s perform well and are double-adjustable, we had been looking to move to something different because of non-clicking adjust knob nature of the shocks.  Unlike most modern coilover setups, when you wanted to adjust compression or rebound, the knobs didn’t click so you never really knew how much to ‘turn’ the knob and it was difficult to feel the difference – making set up changes pretty challenging.

So we turned to Fortune Auto and their 510 road-race only series coilover setup.  These coilovers are all custom made-to-order.  You cannot buy them off the shelf.  We contacted Fortune Auto, talked to them about our series, the car and the types of tracks we run and ended up with a setup made just for the Track Attack #209!

 

Fortune Auto 510 Coilovers for the PRO3 Track Attack #209

Fortune Auto 510 Coilovers for the PRO3 Track Attack #209

We go them installed with the help of our Crew Chief, Bryce Allen from Southlake European, we partnered with local hot-shoe, ex-pro driver and instructor/coach, Ted Anthony Jr. for testing day at Pacific Raceways.  After a full day of running, twisting knobs, tire pressure/temperature checks and changing drivers, we felt the car was dialed in and ready to turn some competitive laps for the weekend.

Thanks to Fortune Auto and Vivid Racing (who we purchased them through) for the great quality product and support!  Despite the 510’s being only single adjustable for both compression and rebound, they did everything we needed them to do and for half the price of the super-high end product.  The performance, quality and value is unmatched!

Qualifying

First, we decided to run the Track Attack PRO3 #209 in two groups (or two races); Group 1 is the main venue for the PRO3 class championship and Group 8, the venue for the Northwest Endurance Championship.  The endurance championship holds an endurance race each race weekend, with longer races to book end the start and end of the season (2, 6, and 8 hour races).  For the second time, we partnered with Ted Anthony Jr to co-drive in the endure after previously winning the PIR and Spokane rounds.

For Group 1 qualifying, the goal was take the 1:35.3xx lap times we had been able to clock and stick with the top 3 current runners, to catch a draft and punch our ticket into the mid to low 1:37.xxx lap times.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get out to pre-grid on time and despite putting down solid and consistent mid-1:38’s, we were stuck in no-mans land, too far from the next front runner and too far ahead of the next front runner.  We ended up qualifying 9th in PRO3 but feeling good about the race pace. Click here to watch the session (open in new tab or window).

 

Car Tender Challenge Group 1 Qualifying - where is a draft?!?!?

Car Tender Challenge Group 1 Qualifying – where is a draft?!?!?

For Group 8 qualifying, Ted took the wheel and battled with 2013 PRO3 champion, Cody Smith for pole position in the ME2 class of the enduro.  In the end, he edged Cody by .10 seconds to put us on pole for the race!  Cody would be partnering with Hank Moore, owner/operator of Advanced Auto Fabrication (who refreshed the #209 over the previous off-season).

Check out Ted’s qualifying fast lap here – using an iPhone 5, Optrix wide angle lens and a Ram Mount Claw holder/mount! Click here to watch the fast lap!

1:37.043 - one pole for the 1-hour endurance race and the fastest the #209 has ever gone around Pacific Raceways!

1:37.043 – one pole for the 1-hour endurance race and the fastest the #209 has ever gone around Pacific Raceways!

Race Day!

Group 8 1 Hour endurance race – ME2 class on Saturday afternoon

For the race, we decided to have me (Gama Aguilar) start the race with the objective of staying up front, creating the biggest gap possible to the next contenders (Hank in the AAF PRO3 2013 Champion car) and Bruce Humberstone (solidly fast driver in the Basto’s DTM era livery car) so I can hand over the car to Ted in 1st position and have him close the race.

Thankfully, we had our comm’s in great shape and got a good start, temporarily getting in front of faster class cars that Hank and Bruce would have to deal with and putting a gap.  A few laps in, there was a healthy enough gap to Bruce in 2nd place that I could start running qualifying style lines but suddenly, the waving white flag came out in 2, indicating a slow emergency vehicle on track (which ended up being near the turn 5a entry – killing a lot of my momentum).  I had to slow to respect the white flag and that let Bruce close the gap.  From then on, the gap would widen and shrink from lapping traffic, my own mistakes and good runs.  A couple laps after the pit window opened, feeling I had a good gap to Bruce, we pitted for the driver change.

During the pit/driver change, there was confusion about the minimum time required for the pit (1 minute stopped or 1 minute total).  We took the conservative approach, assuming the 1 minute pit requirement started after you came to a full stop but our closest competitor took only a 1 minute pit/driver change total – putting them in front after the pit stop.  Instead of arguing, Ted put his head down ate up the lead.  With about 10 minutes left in the race, Ted got close enough to go for the lead and in lap 26, he and Kevin Doyle exchanged leads a couple times with Ted ending up with the lead at the end of the lap.  From then on, he steadily built on the lead and with a late race off by the Basto’s car, we ended up with a win by 30+ seconds!

Check out the full race here – shot with a Lumia 640 phone, GoPro Hero 4 and QSTARZ 818XT.

Group 8 - 1 Hour Endurance Race.  We start on pole and come out with a win!

Group 8 – 1 Hour Endurance Race. We start on pole and come out with a win! Click on the link above and open in new window.

Group 1 Race – Sunday mid-afternoon

Finally!  The big race!  The race was run mid-afternoon, in about 80-85 degree weather.  Starting 9th in PRO3 and 14th overall put us in row 7 of the grid, close enough to make charge with a good start.  Historically, we’ve had decent starts with most improving race after race.  Thankfully again, we had our comm’s down really well, got a good start, positioned the car well and coming out of turns 3b and 6 was able to take advantage of the traction that would wear out as the race went on due to the heat.  By the end of lap 1, we were in 7th place, getting ready to overtake for 6th place on the main straight.  After getting into 6th, the race settled down for the most part, just outside the draft distance from the next car and just far enough from the trailing car and the pack that was battling hard for 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th place.

At some point the 4th place car retired, putting us in 5th place and though we were cutting the lead to 4th, we finished the race in 5th after a tough wreck ended the race under full course yellow.

The 5th place finish was a solid performance and with Ted’s help, showed the car has the capabilities to fight for podium positions every race.

Check out the full race here – click here and open in a new tab or browser window.

Making a charge on the first lap!

Making a charge on the first lap!

What’s next?

We have a few weeks of a break before the next race at Portland International Raceway, the weekend of August 22/23.  We plan on doing routine maintenance, prepping some new sticker tires and hoping for continued sunshine.  We will be running the same groups and this time, partnering with Cody Smith from Code Red Racing on the 1 hour endurance race and he might run the #209 in the Group 5 race.

 

Heading out for the 1 hour enduro!

Heading out for the 1 hour enduro!

Coming in for a pit stop and driver change.

Coming in for a pit stop and driver change.

Winning!

Winning!

Ted bringing some Dirt Fish action to the pavement.

Ted bringing some Dirt Fish action to the pavement.

Waiting for a driver change.

Waiting for a driver change.

It’s almost April and normally we’d be less than a month away from the first track day, or maybe already done a handful of test and tunes.  This year has been and will be a little different for good and not as good reasons.

Injuries

Last September, I finally one an amateur league race at our local outdoor go-kart track, Pacific Grand Prix.  This meant that I got upgraded to the ProAm league, where the competition is faster and more consistent.  So that first week in October, I participated in my first ProAm race.

It was awesome but unfortunately, on the last race, an over zealous driver who was trying to make a last to first epic drive, on the first lap, took out a couple cars and they eventually collected me as I was exiting the turn.  I finished the race and initially the hit felt like not much but as the days wore on that following week, it was clear that something was not right.

Long story short, that hit plus my decision to train for a half marathon (and little to no strength training) has resulted in a 6 month recovery period.  It is now almost  April and I am about 75% back to normal.

Lessons learned?  Being fit, warming up, stretching, having the right safety equipment and being aware of your competition during a race, even in rental karts is paramount.  If you sometimes become that hasty driver when the competitive juices start flowing, show restraint.  Not only will you likely drive much better but you won’t put other people’s health in danger.

Off-season Rebuild

As some of my have seen on our Facebook page, the Track Attack PRO3 car has gone over an extensive makeover.  We’ll have a detailed blog post in a few weeks but the car is night and day different.  Because of the extensive amount of work and that it was done in Spokane, WA (close to 5 hours drive away), the car has been gone up until a couple weeks ago.  Super excited about the car, to share the details and more importantly, why each upgrade or change was made.

Season schedule

With a hiatus of NASA northwest in 2015, this year we’re focused on a more regional but super competitive racing schedule with ICSCC and in the PRO3 racing series.  This is a spec series for BMW E30’s, similar to Spec E30 which is popular across the US but a little faster.  We’ll be campaigning an almost full schedule, revolving around 14 races, across 10 race weekends.  You can find the full schedule here and each of the race results.

  • The Ridge Motorsports Park Test & Tune | Early May
  • Pacific Raceways | May 17, 2015 – Results
  • Portland International Raceway | June 7th – Results
  • Spokane County Raceway | June 19 – 21st – Results 1, 2 and 3
  • Pacific Raceways (SOVREN Historics) | July 3 – 5th
  • Pacific Raceways | August 2nd
  • Portland International Raceways | August 23rd
  • The Ridge Motorsports Park Test & Tune | Early September
  • The Ridge Motorsports Park | September 20th
  • Portland International Raceways 8 Hour Enduro| Mid-October
  • TBD – 25 Hour of Thunderhill | Early-December

We’ll also have between 2-4 test race days to break in the new components, coaching and testing any in-season upgrades.

We’re also trying to figure out how to get to Thunderhill, Sonoma and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca sometime this summer.

Excited to get the season started and hear and see all about how our users are getting out there on track!

 

 

 

 

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