August 6, 2015
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.
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!
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!
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).
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).
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!
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.
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.