Monday, August 22, 2005

The Racetrack at the End of the Universe

I confess, I didn't get the joke until I saw the graphics on Pete Wood's car: "Arthur Dent" and "Ford Prefect" on the sides... and then he wore a bathrobe to the drivers' meeting. Too bad nobody else got the joke even after that. The title of the race was a play on the title of a book in a series that enjoyed a cult following in the '80s. The central character, Arthur Dent, is a normal Englishman who finds himself a passenger on a spaceship with his new friend Ford Prefect while wearing his bathrobe. Or something like that. I've only read the first book in the series, and it's been a long time since I read that one. (Pete has even run car number 42 for years, which will mean something to those who have read the book.)

We were the fifth group to hit the track, which left plenty of time for worrying and second-guessing about the repairs we had just completed. I did my best to stay calm and rational while I waited for our group to be called to the grid. The car was ready, and I had to trust that we had done everything correctly.

Practice went very well despite some oil on the track in a couple of corners. I managed to keep up with a yellow and blue Sports 2000 -- a much faster car* -- for several laps, which shocked me... until I found out that it was being driven by a racer who had never driven a mid-engined, right-hand-drive car. He is used to the front-engine V8 sedans that he's raced for years, and he was busy learning that the techniques are very different.

Debbie Campbell, a co-worker at Pegasus Auto Racing Supplies, arrived after practice with her parents, who had never been to Blackhawk before. Her father and I chatted about racing while she and her mother chatted with my mother about dogs. Debbie used to show dogs all over the country, and my mother is a dog training instructor, so they had plenty to talk about.

For qualifying I asked my parents to once again time Pete while I monitored my own times on my on-board lap timer. The best number I saw on the pit board was 1:20, while my fastest qualifying time was a 1:18.89. I knew I had turned a few laps in the :19s, so I was confident that I had the pole. The grid sheet confirmed it: I turned a 1:18.89, and Pete's best was a 1:20.26.

Between the qualifying session and the race, there is generally enough time to give the car a thorough inspection and repair most problems that may show up. The between-session checklist includes such things as bleeding the brakes, checking the wheel bearings and rod ends, and retightening any fasteners that may have worked loose. Everything was pretty much normal, with the same old bolts working themselves loose, everything else staying tight as usual, but the right rear hub was suddenly loose. The hub I've been using is a modified VW piece that just doesn't seem to be holding up too well to the stresses of racing. Oh well... take off the wheel, remove the cotter pin, have Dad hold the brakes, torque the axle nut down again, new cotter pin, wheel back on... wow, that's a lot easier and quicker with two people! When it's a one-person operation, you jack up the car, remove the wheel, remove the cotter pin, put the wheel back on, lower the car, somehow stop the wheel from turning -- usually by locking the transmission in two gears at once (a big job on its own) -- tighten the nut, unlock the transmission, jack up the car, take off the wheel, put in a fresh pin, wheel back on, car back down...

The car was ready in plenty of time for the race. I had enough time to watch a couple of other groups race, including the Formula Vee / Spec Racer group, where I used to run. The polesitting Vee, driven by Hal Adkins, spun or got hit on the first lap. By the time the pack went through corner 4, he was at least 15 seconds behind the back of the pack. He drove like a madman, gaining huge chunks of time every lap. Within about 10 laps, he had regained the lead. I confess that Hal is one reason I got out of FV. I realized that I would probably never be able to beat him, at least not with the car I had. I still joke with him that I had to move up a class to have any chance to keep up with him.

We gridded for our race and waited in the cars for ten or fifteen minutes while the safety crews cleaned up after the group before ours. I don't know what it was about this weekend, but every single group -- including ours -- had an incident (or multiple incidents), stranded cars, or blown engines that needed to be cleaned up and cleared away before the next group could hit the track. It was unusual to say the least, and it got us so far off schedule that the last three races had to be shortened by five minutes each and victory laps were cancelled.

I gridded directly behind the yellow and blue Sports 2000 I had followed in practice, and Pete lined up next to me. I was a little concerned that the driver in front of me still wouldn't be familiar enough with the gearbox and might miss a shift on the start. That would give Pete a clear advantage of several car lengths at best -- a good reason for Pete to hope for it. I got lucky, and everyone in front of us got away cleanly. I got a slight edge on Pete and crowded him just a little bit exiting corner 1 to try to keep him behind me. As the race progressed, some cars fell off the track here and there. On the second lap, corner 6 was waving their yellow flag, indicating that there was something dangerous or someone vulnerable on the track or near the track. I slowed and tiptoed around the corner, looking for the incident that caused the flag... but I couldn't see anything out of the ordinary. The next lap, corner 6 still had their yellow flag out, but this time I saw a driver standing next to the track. Apparently he had spun exiting the corner and his car went into the weeds about 50 feet off the track. The car was completely hidden by the foliage, and it stayed there for the rest of the race.

My father was showing me the gap times between Pete and me on the pit board -- :03, :04, :06. About halfway through the race, the board showed :13... and my oil pressure gauge suddenly dropped! The rule of thumb for oil pressure is to have 10psi per 1000rpm. Since we spin the Formula Ford engines to 6000rpm, 60psi would be ideal, but most of us settle for 40psi. My car had 40psi all day, but suddenly it dropped to 20psi. Better than nothing, but it seemed to me that if it started dropping, it was likely to drop the rest of the way to zero. I tried everything I could to nurse the engine, keeping the revs as low as I could while still conserving speed. I don't know which would have been a more disappointing sight in my mirrors: Blue-white smoke indicating a blown motor, or the purple nose of Pete's car!

The car held together and the oil pressure didn't drop any farther. I finished about 10 seconds ahead of Pete and shut the car off as soon as I could. Now to diagnose just what happened and what we need to do about it...

The points now look like this:

  1. John Haydon: 150
  2. Pete Wood: 125
  3. Michael Schindlbeck: 69
  4. Denis Downs: 33
  5. Scott Reif: 33
  6. Larry Noble: 17
  7. Jon Borkowski: 16
  8. Paul Schindlbeck: 16
  9. Dick Plank: 13
  10. Bob Fleming: 8

Next stop: Milwaukee's lakefront, Veteran's Park, for the "Masterpiece Style & Speed Showcase" car show.

* A Sports 2000 is a little hard to describe. Imagine a formula car, with a 2.0-liter Ford engine in the back, but with two seats and fiberglass fenders. The design of the fenders can make the car handle better than a Formula Ford, and the larger engine gives it better acceleration and top speed.

Friday, August 19, 2005


The car is on the trailer and ready to run! Sunday is the 7th Midwestern Council race of the season, once again at Blackhawk. I'm looking forward to being back at my "home" track with the crowd I've known for years.

Not to imply that the crowd I've run with lately is any less than a great bunch, but I know the MC regulars well enough to anticipate what they will do in a lot of situations, and they know me as well. There have been a few situations at the last couple of races where I just wasn't sure how a driver would react to being passed on the outside of the Carousel, for example. Or just how early I'd have to brake to get him to take the line going into corner 5 so we could both carry some speed through instead of tiptoeing through side-by-side. Or whether he would try that optimistic pass going into corner 3...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Transmission Externals

I'm still not an engineer, but the Internet can be a wonderful tool -- and there's nothing more dangerous than a tool in the hands of someone who thinks he knows what he's doing.

According to a fascinating article on the Key to Steel website, the breakage of the input shaft shows some characteristics of a "brittle fracture":

"Brittle fracture is characterised by the very small amount of work absorbed and
by a crystalline appearance of the surfaces of fracture, often with a chevron
pattern pointing to the origin of fracture, due to the formation of
discontinuous cleavage cracks which join up. It can occur at a low stress of
75-120 MPa with great suddenness; the velocity of crack propagation is probably
not far from that of sound in the material. In this type of fracture plastic
deformation is very small, and the crack need not open up considerably in order
to propagate, as is necessary with a ductile failure."

I'll just repeat the bit that really struck me: This thing broke apart at close
to the speed of sound. No, the fragments didn't necessarily go that fast (and
neither did I), but that's how suddenly the shaft broke, and that explains why
it looks like a grenade went off inside it.

On very close inspection, I can see several cracks at seemingly random angles to the breakage. It does show some signs of "ductile failure," where metal stretches as it is pulled, bent, or twisted apart. Some of the splines are bent, stretched, or twisted, although the surfaces between the fragments show no such signs. That makes some sense. As part of the shaft broke, neighboring areas were stretching to accomodate the change of shape. This same thing happens when you break a glass -- the definition of brittle -- the glass actually deforms a little before it breaks, which is why the pieces never fit together quite right again.

The good news is that the car is nearly together again. The two big pieces of car were reunited last night, and all that remains is a quick alignment check, gear change, and brake and clutch bleeding.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Transmission Internals

There's a strange phenomenon that affects people who do repair work. Some call it a philosophy of "as long as"-ism, while others call it an illness, "might as well"-itis. It always begins with a necessary repair which requires disassembly of the item needing repair. The next step -- or several steps -- are characterized by repeated cries of, "As long as it's apart..." and "We might as well replace..." The final step is either a good-as-new item that will not need maintenance for a long time, or else a never-ending money pit.

I try to avoid falling victim to "might as well"-itis while at the same time keeping a healthy amount of "as long as"-ism. In this case, the "as long as"-ism involves having the transmission off the car -- a big project that we hope not to have to do again until the off-season. "As long as" we have the transmission off, we "might as well" replace these parts we now have easy access to... and we "might as well" repair that part that we couldn't reach before... and we "might as well" clean up inside this hidden area...

Opening the transmisssion to replace the input shaft gives us acces to such things as the clutch, the input shaft oil seal, several crevices which collect dirt and oil, the differential and final drive, and the inside of the transmission case. It makes sense to replace the clutch now, since it is a consumable item and mine has outlived the clutches in several competitors' cars. The input shaft oil seal has been seeping a little more oil every weekend, making a bigger and bigger mess to clean up after each race. The differential and final drive deserve to be inspected for any signs of damage or stress -- especially after having bits of the input shaft thrown around inside the gearbox.

There are plenty of other projects we could add on now, but none of them are important enough to risk missing the next race if they don't go as planned. For example, the filler plug in the top of the transmission case had been jammed in and stripped by a previous owner. Since we have access to the inside of the case, we could drill out the plug, catching any shavings that fall into the case, and replace the plug. But having access through that plug is not critical, and if the project doesn't go well, we could end up needing a new transmission case. We wouldn't be able to get a new one before the weekend, and setting up a new case is an expensive, time-consuming operation. Maybe we'll try that plug during the winter.

Everything else looks to be in good shape, so as soon as we can get all the RTV sealant cleaned off the sideplate, we should be ready to begin reassembly tonight. The new oil seal is in, the rest of the new parts are on the bench, and the fragments have been cleaned out of the transmission.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bad News

When we pulled the gearbox last night, we found that the clutch disc is actually just fine. The input shaft had broken.

I have no experience with metallurgy or stress analysis, so I have no idea if this is a sudden catastrophic failure or a gradual breakage. The books I've read have described gradual fatigue fractures as having a visible progression to them; you can see where the initial crack started and how it progressed across the part, until there wasn't enough intact material to take the stress, leaving the last bit to break suddenly with a jagged edge. On the other hand, the sudden catastrophic failures they illustrate show a clean break, with no clear beginning, middle, or end.

The shaft looks almost like a piece of clay that was torn from another piece. There are jagged valleys and sharp ridges radiating from the center, suggesting that the shaft was pulled apart rather than twisted apart. Perhaps the twisting apart is what raised the ridges; I don't know. The transmission is coming apart tonight. With a little luck, the new input shaft will be in and the gearbox will at least be ready to reinstall by the end of the evening.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Kettle Moraine Double: Sunday

Information from the weekend is still filtering in from various sources. Two cars who I thought had tangled in The Kink on the first lap of Saturday's race actually had a very different story. One car had a wheel come loose and lock up in The Kink, sending him spinning. The second car came through at full speed and saw the disabled car in the middle of the track. He barely had time to avoid him at all, and unfortunately avoiding him meant sending himself into the wall, destroying his own car for the sake of the other driver.

Sunday began warmer than Saturday by a few degrees, but it was still not hot. My mother came up to watch and help out. I went out for the morning qualifying session and tried to stay with a group of fast cars. I was able to hang with them during the first lap, but as we approached corner 13, when I shifted to 3rd gear, the car didn't go any faster. I tried to select 3rd gear again, just to make sure I hadn't missed, but no difference. I tried 4th gear with the same results. The linkage could have come undone, or something in the transmission could have broken. I tried 2nd gear just to be sure. I could feel that the transmission did in fact select 2nd gear, but the car still wouldn't accelerate. Some connection between the engine and the transmission (or between the transmission and the rear wheels) must have broken.

My theory is that the clutch disc splines have probably stripped. This clutch disc has seen at least two seasons of use, maybe more. So I learned something: Replace the clutch disc every season, and don't worry about it again! Replacing the disc should be a relatively inexpensive repair, fairly easy to do, but it wouldn't be a good job to do at the track. Several people offered to help change the clutch, and we could have done it before lunch, but I decided that it was time to sit back and just watch the race.

I think I was better off sitting in the bleachers than I would have been in the driver's seat. Of 45 cars entered, 38 started the race and only 27 were still running at the finish. Between what I saw and what I was told, about 5 or 6 cars were damaged or destroyed. Add that to Saturday's toll, and almost a dozen cars will need major repairs before they can race again. A few of those may never see the track again. I have been told that all the drivers are uninjured.

Speedy Petey grabbed 4th in CFF on Sunday. He could have had 3rd, but he got stuck in a battle for 4th while 1st through 3rd pulled away. Allen Wheatcroft got 9th in FF, and I think he turned his best-ever lap time in the process. Good job guys!

Kettle Moraine Double Regional: Saturday

Win or learn something. I didn't win on Saturday, but I learned something important on Sunday.

The Saturday morning qualifying session at Road America started poorly. The track was very slippery and had a visible line of oil all the way around. We spent the first two laps sliding around, trying not to spin. The track was scrubbed off pretty well by the third lap, but then cars started going off everywhere. I'm not quite sure how that works. No traction, everyone stays on the track. Get traction back, people start spinning off. There were so many yellow flags, it was basically impossible to pass the slower cars or get into a rhythm. I had to settle for 5th on the CFF grid with a 2:44, six seconds slower than my time in July. But this weekend was about relaxing and having fun racing, so my starting position wasn't that important.

My father and I began working on the car to get ready for the race, and we were just starting to think about lunch when Cindy Lindstrand came buzzing up on a scooter and handed us a plate with two Italian beef sandwiches, leftovers from the big Lindstrand Motorsports lunch. They go all out for their drivers, and they're willing to share the leftovers with people like me. Thanks, Cindy, they were great!

As we ate, the sky got darker and the breeze suddenly got much cooler. The temperature dipped from about 75 to below 70 in just a few minutes. The rain started during the race for big GT cars (Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs, Cobras -- the big fire-breathing V8s). The huge horsepower and wide, slick tires made the slightly slippery conditions downright treacherous, and cars were sliding everywhere. Formula Ford tires are much narrower and we have much less horsepower, but racing any car with slick tires on a wet track is an adventure. I asked my father for advice, and he pointed out that there were no puddles. Rain tires generally work only if there is standing water on the track. If the pavement is only damp, the rain tires will overheat and come apart. As we were discussing it, the rain stopped. The sun came out and the track dried completely before we went out.

I gridded next to Allen Wheatcroft's red Van Diemen FF, in front of Pete Wood's Crossle CFF, pretty much in the middle of the pack. The pace lap was a little slow, but not at all bad. The pack seemed to be well grouped, but when we slowed and just about stopped for corner 5, Allen's car stalled. He got it going again eventually, but he wasn't able to get back to his grid position before the start.

The car in front of me seemed to be much too slow, but I couldn't get around him. I lost three positions in class on the first lap while following him. Every corner, I felt I could have gone faster than he did, but he would just pull away from me on the straights. Two other cars were stuck behind him with me, and we were all looking for a way around him. Finally we passed him, and then the other two cars passed me (no problem, they were in a different class). The first lap we were clear of him, I turned a 2:38. Within a couple of laps, I caught up to and passed Bill Ehrlinger and Michael Neylon, both in CFFs, which got me back up to 5th place.

As the race progressed, cars began to accumulate at the corner stations and along the walls. Two cars nearly tangled in The Kink, a very high-speed corner where going off track usually means hitting the concrete wall, hard -- and one of them did just that. A third car joined them about halfway through the race. Another car got hit in corner 3. A car pulled off in corner 12, smoke still rising from the engine. Fiberglass bodywork littered the track at corner 14. A car spun in corner 5 and couldn't get off the damp grass without spinning again. Corner 12 was yellow for several laps while they pulled a car out of the gravel trap. I could see that several cars would not be back out for Sunday.

The car ran well and handled great. Almost every time I followed a car around the Carousel turn or through The Kink, I felt like I could have just driven right around them. In fact, most of the passes I made were driving around cars in the Carousel. The car is so stable and forgiving and solid!

Next update: The Kettle Moraine Double Regional, Sunday...

Monday, August 08, 2005

East-West Challenge

In recent years, one question has been asked over and over at road races across the country: “Where have all the cars gone?” In the ‘70s and ‘80s, so many cars would show up to a race that some classes (Formula Ford among them) would have to be run as two separate groups because all the cars couldn’t fit on the track at once.

Something happened in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and nobody can pin down what it was. Maybe it was the “me” era, maybe it was the rising cost of racing, maybe it was the advent of VCRs and video games. Whatever the reason, race attendance dropped. Classes which once enjoyed 80-car fields now saw 10-car fields. Where were all the cars?

Steve Beeler, a Club Formula Ford racer from Michigan, realized several years ago that the cars still existed, but the owners just weren’t racing them. He asked around, and most people agreed that the reason they didn’t race was because there were so few cars racing. A depressing catch-22.

Steve began a concerted effort to promote several specific races within the SCCA Central Division. Since CenDiv is roughly divided by Lake Michigan, all drivers were either on the “East” team or the “West” team based on each driver’s hometown. Continuing the east/west theme, two of the four race weekends would take place east of the lake, and the other two would be on tracks west of the lake.

The “East-West Challenge” was an instant success. Companies pitched in with contingency awards, which attracted more drivers. Car counts were back up in the 20s and 30s, which was enough to convince most Regions to give the FF/CFF race its own group instead of mixing them with other classes. Over 70 drivers have raced in the series, with more joining every race.

My initial plan for the season was to run the East-West Challenge again this year with only a few Midwestern Council races mixed in. But as I said once before, a racing schedule is at best flexible, a mere suggestion of what may happen. After winning the first two MC races and breaking the car at the first EWC race, I decided to concentrate on the MC season. I still want to run at least one or two EWC weekends, including this weekend’s races at Road America. Since I have missed the first four rounds of the series, I won’t be trying quite so hard to finish in the points. I plan to hook up with someone – maybe Speedy Petey – and just race for the fun of it. It is impressive to see a pack of 30 Formula Fords, even from the back!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Driver's Suits

Of all the possible injuries a driver could suffer in an auto racing incident, burn injuries probably scare me the most. Niki Lauda will tell you how bad burns can be. (He looked quite a bit better when he had ears.) Because of that, my safety equipment -- especially my driver's suit -- has always been a high priority for me.

My first driver's suit was a hand-me-down from my father. Obviously, this suit means a lot to me. My mother gave it to him for Christmas back in the '70s, when it was cutting-edge and the best that money could buy. It was custom-tailored in bright yellow to match his car, and his name was embroidered above the chest pocket. It was constructed of a single layer of Nomex, which was common for firesuits back then. Drivers generally wore Nomex long underwear under their suits to get adequate protection. At the time, more protection meant more layers, which meant bulky, heavy suits. Drag racers wore multi-layer firesuits that looked like quilted snowmobile suits.

In 2002, my co-worker Michael Marmurowicz told me he wanted to sell his old driver's suit, a modern 3-layer suit by Italian manufacturer OMP. He never had a chance to wear it before he retired from racing some 10 years ago. I talked him out of listing it on eBay, and he sold it to me for less than it was worth. This suit has acquired some special meaning for me as well. One sleeve bears a patch of quilting fabric in memory of my friend Carol Nappi, and the other sleeve still has some of my friend Frank Nelson's ashes. Unfortunately, this suit is mostly black. It looks great and sleek and fashionable, but it is awful on sunny days. It sucks up sunlight like a sponge, and oddly enough, the medical crews aren't very sympathetic when you overheat while wearing it. Especially if you still wear a layer of Nomex long underwear under it.

After my last visit to the Med Shed, I was persuaded to get a lighter suit. OMP has been supplying safety equipment to Formula 1 teams for years, and they have done a lot of research and development on driver's suits. They recently introduced a new suit called the "Tecnica Light" which they claim is lighter and cooler than the previous generation of 3-layer suits. They only offer it in two colors, shiny silver and shiny red with a shiny silver chest -- the McLaren-Mercedes and Marlboro Ferarri F1 team colors. I chose silver, since red wouldn't go so well with a blue car.

The suit arrived this week, and it's more than a half a pound lighter than a standard OMP three-layer suit. I tried it on this morning, and right out of the box it feels softer, less stiff and less bulky than my old suit. It has knit panels on the knees and around the arms to allow sweat to evaporate instead of boiling the driver. Another nice feature about this suit is that it is not second-hand, so it's actually my size! I'm looking forward to trying it next weekend at Road America. Sorry everyone, I'll be crossing my fingers for 100 degrees and sunny!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Drive the Autobahn

Meet the newest Club Formula Ford track record holder.

Sunday was the first SCCA race at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois. Because it is a new facility, one driver in each class would finish the weekend as a track record holder. Despite that draw, the turnout was surprisingly light. Pete Wood and I were the only two Club Formula Fords entered.

The schedule for the day was very calm, with only two track sessions. We would have a 25-minute qualifying session in the morning, and a 26-lap race after lunch. On the 1.4-mile "North" track, a 26-lap race should take just over half an hour.

I had the luxury of doing some low-speed laps on this track in April, in a borrowed Dodge Durango and then in Lynn Serra's Formula Ford. Although I kept both vehicles at touring speeds, I was able to get a very good education in which way the track went, and in how it would look from a low formula car perspective. Still, Pete had raced here in May with Midwestern Council, so he had three high-speed sessions in his own race car. He certainly knew the track better than I did, so I concentrated on doing my best to keep up with him during qualifying.

Fortunately for me, Pete took it fairly easy for the first part of the session, maybe letting me keep up with him while he showed me the line. Within ten laps, we were already turning faster times than he had turned in May. Several laps from the end, he moved over to let me pass. I found a little more speed in a couple of corners and got the pole position (and the qualifying track record) with a 1:10.523 to Pete's 1:11.089. Once again, a car in another class (Formula First, "FST") had gridded between us.

The race got off to a very bad start. We were all clean through the first few corners, but coming out of corner 5 I saw a large cloud of dust in my mirrors. When we came up the front straight, we saw that all corner stations were showing the black flag, which is a signal for all drivers to report to the pit lane. In other words, something big had happened, and the officials needed us to clear the track so they could deal with it. We slowed down to come back to the pit lane, and as we came to corner 5, we found out what the big deal was. Two Formula Vees had come together (kicking up the cloud of dust), and were now in the middle of the track, a pair of conjoined twins joined at the bellypan. One car was upside down, facing traffic, with the driver's helmet touching the track, and the other car was upright, on top of the other car, facing the correct direction. Don't ask me how they got that way.

We all proceeded to the pit lane (without the two FVs which were otherwise engaged) to wait for the restart. Before we had come to a full stop, the crew from Lindstrand Motorsports had set about distributing umbrellas and cold water to the drivers. Although they were only responsible for one car in our group, they checked on every driver to make sure that everyone would be able to continue. A grid worker began to lug a big water jug down the line of cars, but Zach (one of the Linstrand crew) stopped her and carried the jug for her on their ATV. They are a great group of people, and I'm not just saying that because they've saved me more times than I can count.

We lined up for a single-file restart and set off behind the pace car. The two Vees had left some gouges in the asphalt at corner 5, but the corner and safety crews had cleaned up all of the scattered dirt and spilled fluids. We took the green flag again and expected a much cleaner start. That was our second mistake.

The FST gridded between Pete and me was pressing me in the corners, but I was not interested in racing him. Meanwhile, Pete had a horsepower advantage over him and wanted to pass him on the straight. I didn't want to tangle with the third car -- I just wanted to settle down for a fun race with Pete. Unfortunately, the FST tried to pass me at the same time that Pete tried to set up to pass him... Pete got the short end of that deal and was forced to do a little off-road driving in a particularly rough spot. He was lucky to continue with only minor damage to the fiberglass bodywork. I decided to slow a bit to let Pete catch up, but the next time I saw him I was behind him, about to put him a lap down. As I passed, I noticed that his nosecone was missing. That has two problems: the car was less aerodynamic without it (not such a big deal on a short course like this), and the air that the nose would have directed through the radiator to keep the car cool was free to flow around the radiator instead. That could have been a big problem on a 90 degree day, and is the more likely reason that he slowed down.

For the victory lap, the pit marshall handed me the largest checkered flag I have ever seen in my life. This thing had to be 3 feet by 3 feet. I held it as far in front of me as I could, and it still flapped against my helmet. It was a pretty good feeling!

Since this was an SCCA Regional race, the MC points have not changed. I am now much more familiar and comfortable with the track than I was, so I should be ready when MC returns in October.

Next up: The SCCA Central Division East-West Challenge Double Regional Race at Road America on August 13 & 14. We will race on Saturday and again on Sunday. MC will run at Blackhawk the week after, and the week after that, the Wisconsin Region of the Classic Car Club of America will host "The Masterpiece Style & Speed Showcase" car show at Veteran's Park in Milwaukee. See you there!