Raceworks Honda Sizzles in Grand-Am Debut

| September 13, 2011

It’s hard to miss the newest team in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge paddock – the light green No, 29 Raceworks Honda Civic Si of Johan Schwartz and Eric Metzger.

“For our first race, I’m finding the team is very well prepared for the race,” Metzger said. “We’re adapting very well to the series. The car is well prepared, and no problems with the reliability.”

The next step is getting the drivers ready for the unfamiliar circuit.

“This is a very technical track, and it’s my first race in New Jersey,” Metzger said. “We’ve got a bit of a learning curve, but we’re picking up speed with every session.”      Grand-Am.com

 Raceworks’ inaugural appearance at New Jersey Motorsports Park was a team success.  “We came here and met our goals – to showcase the potential of our car, to provide a competitive, consistent and reliable vehicle for our drivers, to put laps on the car and gain experience on the track,” said Team Manager Matt Chambers. 

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Schwartz qualified the car in 15th and started the race.  “It was great to be part of Raceworks debut,” said Schwartz.  “Matt did a great job on the car and the team really worked well together with the adjustments and tweaks.  The OS Giken differential allowed us to put power down without any wheel spin, even jumping over curves.  The car was impressive and showed its potential with being 8th fastest in the last practice and the fastest Honda in qualifying.  It was a pleasure racing with this team!”

 Johan was driving fast and moving up through the field. Our plan was to pit only once for tires and fuel and for me to get in. Taking advantage of staying out under the first yellow, Johan was up to 3rd but   then got in a shoving match with a Mini and bent the R/R wheel. The Mittchum Chevy team were helping out with pit stops and did a good job but the longer stop left me behind the cars that pitted.  Lucky for me I joined the race under yellow but then Matt crackled in the radio, “you need to come back to the pits”… huh…”we missed a lug nut”. Not a big deal as I was already at the back of the line…my race started leaving the pits. I tried to be consistent and began to set my fastest laps of the weekend. ..after a few moments of over driving the car…smoking up the brakes  into turn 1 and tank slapping into turn 5, I settled down  and figured the car was getting pretty worn out. My goal became to get it to the finish and stay on the track.
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Then all hell broke loose- along came the leaders to lap me and I was ready to give room …but then the GS cars started crashing into each other.. a Mazda3 got smashed up and came back on the track leaking oil and fluids.  I was behind a BMW 328 at the kink onto the front straight… the bimmer goes  way off drivers left onto the grass ..I ease off the gas (not a big lift cause I’m thinking the race will finish under yellow and I could nip the spot at the line ahead) but my Honda goes into a slide… starts to swap ends towards the (drivers right) pit wall.. no way to save it… stand on the brake pedal. Waiting for the impact and the sound of crunching metal..but cool..I stop short of the wall, swing the car around and get ready for a re-start .  I’m sure I flat spotted a tire and I radio in to Matt” My right rear is flat… the car is bad loose turning left… I’m coming in!”   The Mittchum crew checks the tire and all is ok and the race finishes under yellow.

 Overall the weekend went well…overcame sizzling hot 106 degree heat…finished in 22nd   and brought the car home. I’m sure matt wanted a top 15…I wanted my first top 20 but I agree with matt…should have been top 15.  But it was a race where you learn from it and live to race again.

 “Eric did a good job. He put consistent laps on the car and gained experience,” stated Chambers

“We were impressed with the durability of the Continental Tires”, said Chambers.  “Mid race we had contact with another car that resulted in damage to the tire and the wheel.  We continued on pace and didn’t realize the extent of the damage until the pit stop.   The Enkei Wheels and Continental Tires held up very well despite the damage.”

Shop for Continental tires at Tire Rack.

Event:  Grand-Am Continental Tires Sports Car Series

              B+ Foundation Heroes 200

              New Jersey Motorsports Park

              Millville, NJ

              July 21-23, 2011 

23 GS class starters

28 ST class starters

FairfaxTimes.com

Fairfax native Metzger debuts for Raceworks team

Fairfax native Eric Metzger and the Raceworks’ racing team made their debut at the New Jersey Motorsports Park with a 22nd place finish at the NASCAR Grand Am event on Saturday. More->

Thanks to my sponsor: MJMortensen.com

Photo and press credits to Mary Beth Chambers and Brian Cleary/bcpix.com

Category: Grand Am, Races

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