We return to the historic WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for Races 7 & 8 of the SCCA San Francisco Region Championship. With a busy work schedule I wasn’t able to attend a test day before the race weekend. The race schedule was also packed full with 7 different classes each having only 4 session crammed into short two days.
Saturday - Practice
With limited track time available for the weekend. I prioritized areas to work based on the time I was loosing from Races 3 & 4 when we last visited WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
I planned to work on carrying more entry and mid corner speed and focus on a few specific turns. Lift and go for Turns 4 and Turn 6 rather than dragging the brakes and getting deeper into the braking zone for Turn 2.
Thought the morning practice session I also took the opportunity to try different lines around the outside of Turn 2 with the cool damp morning conditions that would be very similar to the start of Race 7 on Sunday morning.
Pushing too hard and an early apex resulted in putting a wheel off on the outside of Turn 9 and I spun at 80+ mph. Arms and feet flailing as I tried to catch the car, I thought I almost had it until I spun back the other side of the track and made it almost all the way down the hill to the apex of Turn 10.
I managed to keep going and get a few more laps in, but the steering wheel was off by a few degrees indicating I had knocked something out of whack in the wheel alignment. Probably caused by bouncing on and off the track at least twice.
After the session I took notes and then download my data and video to see how I had done against my plan. There were several portions of the various laps where I had improved my segment times. I really improved Turn 5 being later on the brakes and a earlier better trailing off the brake into the corner allowed me to carry 4mph more entry speed which helped all the way up the hill.
Next up I checked over the car running through the checklist. Our next session, Qualifying, wasn’t going to be until the afternoon, so we had some down time to clean up the car and the various sets of wheels, that quickly get caked with brake dust. After fixing both the front and rear toe on the car it was ready to go for qualifying.
My wife Meghan arrived Saturday afternoon to watch the qualifying session. Always good to have her at the track as I often over think the sessions and how to improve and she reminds me to pause and have fun.
The qualifying for Spec Racer Ford is highly competitive with just a few seconds normally separating the top 20 cars. A few tenths of a second can significantly change your starting position. With so many cars on track it can be difficult to get some open track so you can set a fast lap without catching traffic and being slowed up. The qualifying grid order is set first come first serve. You will often see Spec Miatas and Spec Racer Fords parked in a line for several hours before qualifying starts to get open track out front, called the Pre-Grid.
Shortly before qualifying we joined the Pre-Grid line and some fast cars in front so hopefully we would get some laps without slower traffic.
It was a fun qualifying, the car had lots of grip and pace! I just needed to carry more entry speed and get on with it! The first few laps were used to scrub in the new tires. Unfortunately, by the time we came around for the first and second hot laps we were already catching the slower cars that departed the grid later.
With a gap in front I was able to bang out a fast lap just as the chequered flag flew 1:41.001. A close field of great racers but good enough to place me on the outside of Row 5 starting 10th for Race 7.
Sunday - Race 7
Our friends Ryan and Kendall brought their baby boy Remy to see the race cars at the track.
He had a great time sitting in the car, seeing and hearing all the different race cars as the day progressed.
Kendall also enjoyed the opportunity to sit in the racecar.
Remy is Kanga Motorsports littlest fan! He even had matching Kanga Blue ear muffs to protect his hearing. Also he apparently loves shiny bolts.
Starting 10th, I got a decent start and moved up to 9th on the opening corners. I tried to keep up with the #7 of Bill Jordan but he slowly pulled away.
I dropped back a few tenths each lap as the field settled out. On lap 6 the #51 of Bob Breton spun in Turn 6 and dropped way back, moving myself up to 8th.
The #66 of Brandon Lewis started catching me. The car felt good and I found I could carry more mid-corner speed and started putting in some real fast laps.
As the laps ticked down we all started to catch the slower Spec Racer Ford Gen2 cars and Bill got unlucky catching traffic at just the wrong times holding him up and allowing me to reel him back in.
On lap 9, I put in my new personal best lap of 1:40.027 despite catching traffic. At the chequered flag I finished 8th, just 1 second behind Bill Jordan.
After the race we checked over the car and then since we had plenty of time headed out for brunch with Remy and co. It was great to see Remy so excited about the cars while Ryan and Kendall had a lot of fun.
The grid for Race 8 was set by fastest time in Race 7 and thanks to my banger lap I was positioned 7th on the start. I had a bad start and lost out several spots.
Then on the opening lap I ran wide on the outside of Turn 6 putting a wheel off. I spun to the inside of the track, luckily no one collected me and I avoided the wall.
By the time I got going again, I could no longer see the rest of the field. Now 20th, I spent the rest of the race chasing down the field gaining 1-2 positions per lap. Then an incident in Turn 10 had two cars stranded. With emergency crews out on track we were under full course caution and behind the safety car. With the laps ticking down we finished under caution myself in 10th. Another top 10 finish!
Big thank you to Meghan, Kendall, Ryan and Remy for coming out to see the racing.
Thank you to all our Sponsors and Partners. Huge thanks to Ric of CSR Performance for helping me get the car ready for the weekend with my busy work schedule.
The SCCA Workers and Volunteers put on a great event, they were very busy throughout the weekend, some exciting on track moments, large fields of cars and so many sessions packed into two days.
Our next event is Races 9 & 10 at Sonoma Raceway, 5-7 July 2019, we hope to see you there!
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