Sunday Oct. 21, 2012

VIR Full Course 3.27 Miles

Friday, October 19, 2012. After an uneventful trip to Virginia International Raceway we arrived in the early afternoon and set up our pit area in the same location as last year. We like this spot as it’s close to the false grid and more importantly the sanitary facilities!

After unloading the car and trailer we marked off a spot for David Clemens who would be there Saturday. Janet took her usual long walk while I busied myself checking and wiping down the race car plus holding court for the Corvair admirers. Also, this being a test and tune day I watched some of the action on track.

We had a nice evening meal at the onsite Oak Tree Tavern which is the old renovated plantation house that came with the property. It is a great place on the hill with old style ambiance. The food was good but didn’t seem to be quite as good as last year.

We retired early to the Lodge which is also on site and enjoyed a gorgeous sunset overlooking the track at turns 4 and 5.

Saturday, October 20, 2012. It was 44 degrees this morning which is way warmer than last year. The sun came up and it warmed up to a nice 70 or so with a bit of a breezy condition.
David Clemens and Barry Ellison arrived around 7:45 and parked with us.

I went out with group 2 at 9:04 after they replaced some of the tire wall where a Group 1 car rearranged it. Can you say cold tires? I well remember my incident with cold race tire last year. For that reason I elected to run my Hoosier R6’s which are better when cold than slicks.

My session was not without some drama. The engine would not rev past 5 grand
without breaking up. After several laps it would go to 6 grand, just like it did at Road Atlanta. I kept going then had an off course at turn 14 and spun in the grass. I got it fired back up and rejoined practice with no damage, just a bale of grass under the car. All was going as well as it could when the engine sounded like I had dropped a cylinder. I pedaled it around to the pits and back to the paddock.
It turned out to be a plug wire off, an easy fix. I managed 7 out of 10 laps. That so far is a record for me! I will race tomorrow. Group 2 goes out a little later tomorrow which will give the track more time to dry and warm up.

Then there was David. David had a David kind of day. SPU went out after lunch. The car was running good and looked good. Then he spun at turn 17 just before the front straight. He managed to get the car back on track. When we didn't see him coming around again I really thought he would be coming in on the hook but, after the session ended he came back in driving the car. That was good so we thought. He said he thought a belt came off but as Barry and I was looking at the engine we saw the harmonic balancer pulley came apart. David said it was an older non racing one. None of us had a spare but Bob Coffin did only it was at his home. The plan was for Bob's wife Linda to bring one to Stuart VA and David would drive up and get it. That was better than David driving all the way back to Roanoke to pull one off another engine. He and Barry grabbed a burger at the ProdFest party and hit the road.

After all the race activity concludes Saturday the ProdFest party gets rolling with Mark and Barrie Coffin and an army of helpers slinging the burgers and dogs plus some cold adult beverages. They have a series of prizes to give out but, I did not get the “Hardship” award as last year. That’s a good thing but, it was a bottle of Crown Royal…dang! This is a great little event and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012. Another great sunny fall day for racing and we were up early as per our habit. 

My session in Group 2 was due on track at 9:50 AM after a 1 1/2 hour enduro for Group 9, ECR 2. That was a good thing as it allowed more time for the sun to warm the track and those guys to squeegee and dry the track for us. There was a slight delay from the appointed time while they repaired the tire wall from the first race. Sound familiar?

We rolled out on the pace lap and when the green flew it was a fair start except for one FP Fiat 124 Spyder who locked up the brakes at the end of the front straight and went off to his left taking out several brake zone markers. Another car that was behind him followed him right off the track. Been there, almost did that! Again my car would not rev past five grand until a few laps in but still not much more. This made me change my driving style as I was short shifting but, it was in the good torque range. I was trying to pass two Mazda’s that were racing each other. I never looked that close. I could catch them in the corners and especially in the climbing esses but didn't have the revs to pass so, I just waited. I saw the lead car was using a lot of brakes and smoking the tires trying to keep his buddy from passing. I figured it was just a matter of time until they would fade. It happened in the Nascar turn when he went in too hot, locked them up and went straight off with his buddy right on his tail. I couldn't see thru the cloud but went left to avoid them. Two more I didn't have to worry about.

Out of 27 cars I placed 12th overall and 4th in EP! Gotta love attrition... I ran consistent if slow and the car handles great as it always has. My best lap time on the full 3.27 course was 2:30.163.

Compare that with the winner who was turning a 2:11.421 in a 97 BMW Z3! He lapped me like I was parked! 

Then there was David. After the broken crank pulley episode which, he got fixed all was good we thought.

He got out on the track and made the pace lap then, it was too long until he made the next pass. Coming down the hill we could not hear his engine. He drove it around to the paddock saying the belt was off. We ran back to his truck, got a belt and Barry was feverishly installing it. I realized we did not spray it with silicone so, I ran (yes, I RAN) back to my trailer and returned with a can and hosed the pulleys down, fired up and back out on the track three laps down. He needed to go back out and finish because with only one other SPU car in the class which had already broke he knew he could win 1st place by just finishing the race.

When he got back out the engine was flat and not revving as usual. Checking the gauges and finding nothing wrong he kept going.

As David said; the start of the race was horrible. Everybody jumped it and then had to slam on the brakes, only to be followed by wide open throttle. This quick snap back and forth is what caused me to lose the belt. When the belt broke it slung into my coil pack and removed the # 2 plug wire. This was the cause of my flat running. 

So at the end of the race I managed to run 7 laps out of the total of 10. My lap times with 5 cylinders where almost the same as they were from the Saturday practice when I had 6 cylinders! 

So now the VIR curse is off two of us. Yeah Michael, we missed you. 

It was a fantastic week end with great weather, good friends and racing Corvairs. Ya'll shoulda been there.


Rick Norris
#36 Sunoco Corvair

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