A bit of a late race report, but it was a long drive home from Lime Rock and work had piled up. Team SafeRacer entered our two Mini Coopers in B-Spec, this time with sponsors FedEx, Sparco, and Joe Gibbs Driven Oil blazed across brand new wraps. Yes! There are sponsorship opportunities in World Challenge.
TCB had a 20 car field, when combined with a fifteen TC cars makes a very busy 1.5 mile ride around Lime Rock. With respect to heritage, Lime Rock is a bull ring, but certainly not nearly as physically demanding as that would sound. In a B-Spec, we touch the brakes exactly one time and shift gears from 4th down to 3rd once, then back to 4th. The hardest thing about Lime Rock is keeping your foot planted when your brain says "LIFT!" This kind of racing is not my strong suit, and I really need to improve on exactly this point.
Small mistakes cost a ton of time at Lime Rock...you just can't get away with any mistake, as it usually happens in a corner at very high speed...one miss and you lose two or three spots.
FANS: there were thousands of fans there to see the ALMS, World Challenge, and Lamborghini Trofeo racing. They camped in the infield of the track in tents with bonfires and came to the fences whenever cars were on track. Big car corrals for Porsche, Cadillac, BMW, etc...and a kind of carnival midway set up with supercars from the manufacturers. Northeastern fans know road racing.
COMPETITION: Charlie put his Spec Miata skills to good use, bagging two podiums, a pole position and a track record (1:04.3), but ultimately crashed out in Saturday's race (our third race of the weekend). There is a wide variety of "talent" in World Challenge, with some excellent drivers and some not. Far too much side to side contact (which put me in the grass a few times on Saturday) and too many crashes. A Mazda 2 barrel rolled in West Bend (did I mention that mistakes were costly?). The Pirelli slicks performed very well here. I did suffer my first catastrophic blow-out since I've been racing, but there was probably carbon fiber down from one of the Lambos. B-Spec leaders lapped in the 104's, about 3 seconds off the SM record at Lime Rock. It's amazing how well SCCA Pro has matched performance on these cars. Each car make has different strengths, but Mini's ran nose to tail with Hondas, Fords, Mazdas and two new Chevys and a Kia. The Fiats were the only cars not keeping pace.
PRO RACING: Fans are a big deal and everything in World Challenge is done to a professional standard. The other big differences are the availability of prize money, manufacturer contingencies and sponsorship as well as television coverage. The speed differential of the TC cars is pretty big, so the club ethic of "don't drive your mirrors" simply doesn't hold water in Pro.....you have to pay attention to what's going on all around you all the time. That's a learning curve for some drivers. Travel costs offset most of that prize money I mentioned, but these are epic tracks. Finally, every car turns in complete OBDII data after every session. Tech sees everything it wants to see.
FORMAT: Two practice sessions, qualify then race. Race one sets the grid for Race two. Both are 25 minute sprints separated by a 15 minute pit stop. You get five marked tires, no fueling allowed. Race three is a 40 minute sprint with the grid determined by best times in Race two. Prize money and contingencies awarded for each race.
I hope to see the side to side contact and crashes get come way down, but otherwise this is great nose to tail spec racing...maybe more precise than Spec Miata, but with less horsepower. Lower speeds, but no lifting allowed!