Skip Barber Race Series Part 3

Road America

Spending the Fourth of July weekend alongside a picturesque lake and in a charming resort had to be a most pleasing idea to Janie, my fiancée. To me…well Elkhart Lake is the home of Road America, next stop on the Skip Barber Eastern/Mid-West Series.

Like Watkins Glen, Road America’s racing history began with local completion on the county roads in the years following WWII. In 1955 a permanent 4.0 mi. course was constructed and quickly became a favorite of both the local denizens and Chicago area SCCA members. With long undulating straightaways followed by tight turns and daring corners such as “the Carrousel”, “the Kink”, “Canada Corner”,  Road America is considered one of the premier road racing tracks in the US. On my first visit, I spent Thursday’s practice stuck in my hotel with a stomach virus. On Friday my worst nightmare occurred while exiting the carrousel on the approach to the, flat in fifth, kink corner. I knew a car was gaining on me from behind and in the moment I glanced in my mirror my car began to slide around to the side. I corrected my steering but to no avail. I started to spin around. I thought, “this is gonna be bad!”.  No point in trying to save it anymore so I locked up the brakes and slammed into the inside wall with the rear end first. It crunched the rear suspension, rear wing and exhaust and then bounced off the wall, rotated around and hit the wall again, this time with the front nose and wing. I ended up alongside the wall pointed backwards. I seemed ok in the car and since the marshals across the track were making no attempt to cross over, I started the engine up and put it in gear. Alas, the car was moving so I made a 180 and limped back to the pits. I was pretty disgusted with myself for making a mistake and crashing but I put it behind me and prepared for qualifying and the races. Luckily the crash damage was not as extensive as I first believed and my wallet was only lightened by $2,500. I guess I was fairly over cautious the remainder of the weekend but left Elkhart Lake eighth in points in the sportsman standings and looking forward to the rest of the season

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My return to Road America was for the fall race and I showed considerable improvement from my last visit. I was now a solid mid pack runner and every second or tenths of a second I could lower my lap time would move me up the grid a spot. Now there was no easy method to use. Advancement would rely on braking a little later, shifting a little cleaner, taking a turn a bit faster. Mistakes were to be minimized and opportunities to pass seized upon. My competition no longer considered me some upstart but someone to plan against. Both races during the weekend were hard fought. During the first I overcame a mistake filled qualifying session to move up to a top ten finish and would have a decent grid spot for the next race. Both races included lots of drafting, passing, out braking, side by side cornering, and general mayhem. I diced amongst packs of 5 or 6 cars that changed positions after every corner and fought wheel to wheel on every lap. Racing was now a battle and I along with my fellow warriors, i.e. my competition, were enjoying every minute of it.  More–>

Going Faster! Mastering the Art of Race Driving

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