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NASA Texas Opening Weekend

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#1
MPR22

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Texas officially kicked off its race season with the NASA Season Opener at MSR Houston.    The field was 31 deep with 28 SM and 3 SSM.  NASA Texas has some really fast guys that don't tend to travel outside of Texas much so you might not hear their names often and would not be familiar with their skills. Others travel to the Nationals on a regular basis and do very well on a the big stage.  NASA is always bringing in new blood and there were several newcomers at the event this weekend.  The ones I personally met were Chad Evans, Harry Gottsacker, Ben Rail and Sally Landon.  Chad has some offroad experience and X-Factor put together a very nice new car for him that he placed well with at a technical track P18 both races on Saturday.  Harry Gottsacker is young gun that competes in karting and is wandering into the darkside of sports car racing with his first event in a Miata.  Harry finished the weekend with P15, P10 and P9 in the three races turning a best lap of 1:49.781 during Sat's race 2.  Ben Rail, the young man who posted last summer about wanting to get into racing even though he had zero previous experience earned his license and competed in Sat race 2 starting last and finishing P23.  Sunday he qualled P22 and raced up to P18.  What a great start to his young efforts!! Go team X-Factor Rookie!   Sally Landon was introduced to my front bumper on test day.  She had really nice lines through the tight parts and at the exit of the bus stop she held a great line just not much speed.  I thought it must be some young rookie that was building up pace but being very tidy so I pushed her out of the exit around the corner and she never flinched.  Afterwards I thought I should go introduce myself and explain that I wasn't a mad man a felt comfortable with her skill to giver her some practical experience on bump drafting through a sweeper.  Walked up to a couple that were about my age and asked where is the driver of the #20, Sally pipes up that is me!  I was a bit surprised but excited to see someone like myself that got into racing past their 20s.  I explained is was the maniac that was pushing her around and she was very pleasant and exited to have received the push.  Her husband was on the radio with her at the time and she was asking him, "Who is the 22 he just bump drafted me!"  Sally has many hours of DE experience and is ready to put those to use in racing SM.  

 

I rarely venture around the paddock to talk to others that I don't hang out with on a regular basis.  This weekend was so relaxing and the weather, once it warmed up a bit on Saturday, was incredible.  I had a blast meeting the new folks and sharing what I could with them to help them.  Very eye opening experience for me, it was much more relaxing than sitting next to the car worrying about a million different things that don't matter.  

 

 

On to the racing.

 

Qual Sat:

Cold air, bright sun track was rubbered in by the test day the times were going to be fast. 

 

Chris was racing in SSM and Trevor McCallion was just breaking in a new motor so i was left by myself to qual.  I had a few good laps and made some small mistakes but thought the 1:48.127 would put me P1-P3 so I drifted back to Chris and tried to push him.  Boy was I wrong. 

 

John Babot 1:47.572

Vaugne Duarte 1:47.634

Gale Corely       1:47.658

Alex Bachoura  1:48.044

Michael Ross    1:48.127  

 

Not the start I wanted for the weekend but I knew I had a great handling car and was still making some improvements to my lines.

 

Race 1 was supposed to be 6 laps but the event was running behind and it looked like we would only get 5 laps.  My hopes of getting P1 in the race were very dim as these guys are all very fast and tidy, passing was going to require aggression not mistakes.  

 

Race started cleanly and I believe everyone made the first two turns without contact.  I wasn't able to improve going into the launch but the front 4 were already racing hard and I took a very defensive line.  Duarte had some big lock up in the brake zone which caused him to push very wide and allowed everyone but me to squeeze by as he brought his car back in line.  I was able to get by Vaughn out of the bus stop as the TOYO RRs are very sensitive to overheating and he had his hands full with the front right tire.  Around lap 3 I was able to get a run on Gale coming out of the carousel and was able take the inside line into 17.  This left me back from Bachoura quite a bit and I spent the next lap and half chasing him down with Gale's help.  I was able to pressure him from the keyhole around into diamonds edge but not get a good enough position to attack.  I took an inside line into the brake zone and tried to get him to flinch, he missed the shift coming out and i was able to steal P2 by the carousel.  

 

Race 1 

Babot

Ross

Bachoura

Corely

Palermo

McCallion

Duarte 

Thomas

Homes

Chase

 

 

Time to work, more later.  


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#2
Tom Hampton

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I rarely venture around the paddock to talk to others that I don't hang out with on a regular basis. This weekend was so relaxing and the weather, once it warmed up a bit on Saturday, was incredible. I had a blast meeting the new folks and sharing what I could with them to help them. Very eye opening experience for me, it was much more relaxing than sitting next to the car worrying about a million different things that don't matter.

+1 

 

This is what keeps me coming back, and why we bought the RV rather than bailing out to a restaurant/hotel each night. 

 

Notwithstanding my encounter with the wall on Friday, and consequent withdrawal from the races.... I had a good time talking with your dad a little and the usual characters in the paddock. and really enjoyed watching all three SM races.  There was quite a bit of action up-front all weekend.  But, I tell you what....WATCHIN' AIN'T RACIN!


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#3
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So, we know the result of one 1.6 (sorry to hear Tom), was Gale or anyone else in a 1.6?


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#4
Tom Hampton

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Gale was there in his 1.6 fighting for and carrying the lead numerous times throughout the weekend.  Some of the best racing I've seen, Sunday especially between a 99, 1.6 and a VVT....a blanket on all three down to the final turn. 

 

Thanks for the condolences.  I hit the K-wall parallel to it, the foot of the wall made contact with the wheels and destroyed everything in the left-front (UCA, LCA, shock, ball joints, tie-rod and tire-rod end, sway bar end link, front subframe UCA mount), and broke the left-rear knuckle, and twisted the LR-UCA.  The rear knuckle break severed the load-path, and seems to have spared the rest of the rear suspension. The front fender wrinkled slightly, the rest of the body only suffered minor scratches to the top-coat, and didn't even expose any bare steel.  All-in-all pretty minor for a wall that has written off more than one car. 

 

I experienced the dreaded GoPro unexplained shutoff as I left the grid (see other thread), and apparently when I pulled the kill switch I lost the last few seconds of data which included the moments before the crash.  So, I have nothing to go on except my memory as to what happened, and John Babot who was behind me when it happened.  I did not catch the apex curbing, but I did hit a bump just past the apex.  The rear stepped out and I corrected to catch it.  By the time I got it gathered up I just didn't have room to stop sliding sideways.  Babot said it looked like I lifted based on how far the rear-end stepped out.  I don't know.  I don't recall doing that, and it wouldn't be my normal reaction...but, I'm not normally sliding towards a wall at 80+. 

 

Not that it was a high-G impact, but all the safety gear worked as it should.  I had no soreness in any important bits (head, neck, ribs, etc). 

 

The car will be ready for Cresson in March. 


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#5
MPR22

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Race 2 Saturday.

 

Starting the dreaded outside pole in P2 I was hoping to be in third after the first straight going into the launch. I got a poor start but Palermo gave me a great shove and that got my nose out front a bit, Babot on inside had a little lock up and went wide at turn in which I was prepared for and drifted out also but checked up a bit and found myself in the wrong spot of third gear, dropped into second and rotated the car and headed out to the exit of 16 with a slight lead, if I can only nail the shift I have a chance at P1 by the launch.  Alas, my achilies heal showed itself again and the 2-5, 2-5, 2-? 2-3 shift pattern I employed put me solidly in 5th at the launch.  OMG when will i get a clue, I may have to change to a class that has sequential gear boxes.  Frustrated but not willing to lie down I set myself about the task of playing catch up to the lead group.  Corely, racing his 1.6 had a great start and managed to make P1 to lead the train through the first lap.  Lap 1 finished with Corely, McCallion, Palermo, Babot and Ross rounding out the top 5.  Going into Diamonds edge on lap 2 were 4 cars essentially 3 wide.  McCallion was the big loser of that scrum and came out in P5 from P2 at the end of lap 2.  Something was off with Babot's car and he had lock up a few times which created the super heated Toyo problem, I saw the side of his car several turns until i was able to get a run on him out of the bus stop and take P3.  He had to back it down and let the tires cool and drifted further back.   At the end of lap 4 Corely was out in the lead with Palermo very close behind and me a distant 3rd as we took the white flag on lap 5.  Palermo tried a pass on Corely that failed and that put him within range where if I hit all my marks I could catch him and challenge for P2.  With great run out of the bust stop I was able to get inside position into the brake zone in Diamonds Edge and we went side by side, bound up it took me moment too long to get third gear and he got the better drive off as we exited.  It would have been fun to continue the side by side race to the stripe but I was too far back and had to resort to an over under attempt into the carousel, the car wasn't under me well enough so I had to yell uncle and give up and trail Palermo in for P3.  

 

Corely P1 (yes David in a 1.6 over the mighty 99 and VVT)

Palermo

Ross

Duarte

Babot

McCallion

Thomas

Homes

Chase

Gottsacker P10

 

The best is yet to come as Tom alluded to earlier.  


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#6
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Race 2 Saturday.

 

Corely P1 (yes David in a 1.6 over the mighty 99 and VVT)

 

Having not viewed the entire race, might this be different courses for different horses?


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#7
surlynkid

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MPR22 - Sally's radio man kept you 4 full steam ahead without a blink in Race 3.  I had to keep track of how many seconds she was ahead and when you 4 would get to her, and I know it needed to be a good place, so nobody got stuck behind.  S/F blue flagged her and she started to lift, but that was too early and would have been a CF in sugar and spice, so I kept her rolling, so you 4 could all get by in one fell swoop before the launch. 


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#8
tLinder

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Gale was there in his 1.6 fighting for and carrying the lead numerous times throughout the weekend.  Some of the best racing I've seen, Sunday especially between a 99, 1.6 and a VVT....a blanket on all three down to the final turn. 

 

Thanks for the condolences.  I hit the K-wall parallel to it, the foot of the wall made contact with the wheels and destroyed everything in the left-front (UCA, LCA, shock, ball joints, tie-rod and tire-rod end, sway bar end link, front subframe UCA mount), and broke the left-rear knuckle, and twisted the LR-UCA.  The rear knuckle break severed the load-path, and seems to have spared the rest of the rear suspension. The front fender wrinkled slightly, the rest of the body only suffered minor scratches to the top-coat, and didn't even expose any bare steel.  All-in-all pretty minor for a wall that has written off more than one car. 

 

I experienced the dreaded GoPro unexplained shutoff as I left the grid (see other thread), and apparently when I pulled the kill switch I lost the last few seconds of data which included the moments before the crash.  So, I have nothing to go on except my memory as to what happened, and John Babot who was behind me when it happened.  I did not catch the apex curbing, but I did hit a bump just past the apex.  The rear stepped out and I corrected to catch it.  By the time I got it gathered up I just didn't have room to stop sliding sideways.  Babot said it looked like I lifted based on how far the rear-end stepped out.  I don't know.  I don't recall doing that, and it wouldn't be my normal reaction...but, I'm not normally sliding towards a wall at 80+. 

 

Not that it was a high-G impact, but all the safety gear worked as it should.  I had no soreness in any important bits (head, neck, ribs, etc). 

 

The car will be ready for Cresson in March. 

Maybe on the "bright side", it could be worse, you could have wrote-off a 'vette...

https://youtu.be/g-WBm9Q1fyA


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#9
MPR22

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Qual Sunday:

 

Cold and clear, not as cold as the day before so times looked to be up a bit.  I went out behind the fast kids this time and did what I could to hang on to Gale's bumper.  1 lap in I could tell my car wasn't quite right and lap two had me having to counter steer way too much.  Lap 3 on the Toyos seems to be the fastest but I was getting slower each lap and mid way through lap 3 I shut it down to keep from hurting the car trying to make something happen.  Lap one felt pretty good and I was hoping the others that left me weren't improving on their first 2 laps. 

 

Came into the hot pits to find the right rear down 3 pounds from ideal and that would explain the handling issues.  

 

Corely 1:48.316

Ross    1:48.322

Duarte  1:48.460

Babot   1:48.481

Chase  1:49.210

 

 

P2 not bad for a car that wasn't right.   I felt good about the race as it was scheduled for 50 mins and I felt I could keep the car under me well enough to win in a long race even if I did something stupid like 2-5 shift.

 

Race 3 the finale:

 

Gale got to the lead easily and I fell in behind him out of the first two turns, Babot and Duarte were hot on our heals.  The math called for a 23 lap race no need to push things early and I was content to see how those around me were going to race.  Lap 2 had Babot pushing me down the back straight to get me up to Gale and the lead 4 started to pull away just a bit from the pack.  We settled into a nice pace 50.1, 50.0, 50.0, 49.9 laps 2-5.  Lap 6 I got a run on Gale and out of the carousel and was able to get the inside into 17 and pull off the pass. I was happy to be in the lead and hoped to be able to just sit there for a while and see how things shook out.  Gale was having none of it as he got a good run out of the bus stop and just drove my me in his 1.6, I had to lift late to let him complete the pass before turn in at the sweeper or risk falling back to 4th.  At this point i was a little concerned.  The VVT's strong point is the bus stop and the 1.6 weak point is the bus stop on this track.  4,500 third gear corner leading on to a long straight.  We stayed this way for another few laps until Babot got tired of pushing me and also got a run on me and again i had to lift to let him in and not lose much time.  Then the real fun began, Babot wasn't content to let Corely lead and attacked at every opportunity and took over P1 on lap 8, which he held to lap 11 Then Corely went to the front.  Somewhere along the line I got to the lead again but could not hold it for an entire lap.  Corely lead laps 12-14, Babot 15 and 16.  I was faster through the tight stuff but had nothing for either of them on the straights and was happy they would continue the attacks.  Our pace was now into the 51.0 range and i was all about conserving tires as both of them were starting to suffer.  Babot grazed the wall at the exit of the carousel on lap 17.  His left rear was hurt and i backed off to make sure he didn't loose a wheel as the next three turns were rights.  We were deep into lapped traffic at this point and none of us knew when a lapper might miss seeing us coming and fail to give way.  Babot's car was left turn impaired and he failed to get out of the bus stop well and I was able to pass and take P2.  In my head i knew we weren't going to make the 23 laps scheduled because the event was behind again but how much time were they going to take from us?   Lap 17 i was on Gale and Babot was giving chase with Duarte hanging on when we got to a lapper at the launch, I knew the particular lapper and expected him to not know we were coming and I just committed to getting inside him and if he hit us it was going to send him off.  At the last second he saw us but he had already turned in making a very narrow hole that only 3 of us squeezed by, Durate got the dreaded lapper block.  Lap 18 out comes the white flag. This was it, I had to get a run out of the bus stop or Gale was gone.  He made the smallest of mistakes and I hit the turn perfectly and was able to close up hard on him and tried to get inside at the brake zone, Gale chirped the brakes and went a tick wide, i stuck it inside but didn't get good drive off because of the Torsen, his Mazdacomp diff was dominant in that turn.  We slowed up enough that Babot was able to close hard on us because his car was a right turn machine! Gale was slowly pulling away and in the middle of the track, i desperately wanted to get to the inside and try to take that line into the carousel but Babot was somewhere and I could not find him in my mirrors.  I knew i would see him in my right side mirror if he was on that side so he must be inside to my left and well along side me.  I started to drift track right and was pretty sure I was going to finish P3 as both Gale and Babot had the inside line.  Gale turned in and Babot took the tight inside, his car washed a tick and clipped Gale in the left rear bumper, this caused a tank slapper that Gale almost recovered but did not, Babot was left with nowhere to go and basically followed Gale off track right.  Luckily i was wide right and diving for the inside line hoping to get under both of them if they did what they did.  And after 40 hard fought minutes I was finally in the lead for good.  My kids, wife and parents were all there and they said it was the most exciting race they had ever watched.  I felt very fortunate to beat two very talented drivers that refused to give and inch.  Sorry there was contact and that affected the results, but as is the case in the class when you race for 40 minutes and there are still passes to be attempted you have to try.  

 

Thank you Chris Haldeman of X-Factor Racing that was the best handling car I have ever had at MSRH.  Chris knows how to listen to his drivers and make changes based on their abilities and their track knowledge to give them the best handling car possible.  I think too many people take that kind of thing for granted and just drive whatever the prep shop gives them.  He trusts me to give good feedback and he makes the necessary changes, love that guy!  

 

Thank you family for coming out this weekend, it was great to have everyone there for these races, wish i could have done better on Saturday for you but I gave you one of my best races ever on Sunday.  

 

Go Team X-Factor Racing, off to NOLA to duke it out with the SCCA juggernauts.  


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#10
mhiggins10

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+1 

 

This is what keeps me coming back, and why we bought the RV rather than bailing out to a restaurant/hotel each night. 

 

Notwithstanding my encounter with the wall on Friday, and consequent withdrawal from the races.... I had a good time talking with your dad a little and the usual characters in the paddock. and really enjoyed watching all three SM races.  There was quite a bit of action up-front all weekend.  But, I tell you what....WATCHIN' AIN'T RACIN!

Sorry to hear about the brush with the wall- that thing has claimed lots of cars. Watched a 318ti get bent to hell there at a Driver's Edge event last year- I don't think that one will run again.  Thankfully yours doesn't sound too major.


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#11
MPR22

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Having not viewed the entire race, might this be different courses for different horses?

This course is absolutely a dead heat in any car.  The top four on Sunday were VVT, NA 1.8, 1.6 and 99.  Some tracks create parity some tracks create disparity.  That is not anything that can be fixed easily unless we are willing to have variable weights and plates at every track.   


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#12
MPR22

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MPR22 - Sally's radio man kept you 4 full steam ahead without a blink in Race 3.  I had to keep track of how many seconds she was ahead and when you 4 would get to her, and I know it needed to be a good place, so nobody got stuck behind.  S/F blue flagged her and she started to lift, but that was too early and would have been a CF in sugar and spice, so I kept her rolling, so you 4 could all get by in one fell swoop before the launch. 

Thanks, I could tell she either had a spotter helping or was very determined to make room at the right place.  Thank you.  Now if we could get the 49 a spotter. 


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#13
Tom Hampton

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Maybe on the "bright side", it could be worse, you could have wrote-off a 'vette...
https://youtu.be/g-WBm9Q1fyA

Yes, no argument.  It can always be worse.  Well...almost always. 


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#14
Tom Hampton

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Sorry to hear about the brush with the wall- that thing has claimed lots of cars. Watched a 318ti get bent to hell there at a Driver's Edge event last year- I don't think that one will run again.  Thankfully yours doesn't sound too major.


Thanks.  Honestly, I think I'm more upset at myself for NOT trying to get the can back in the game for Saturday.  At the time I made the decision to withdraw we didn't know there was a subframe available.  At about 5:30pm Friday evening Chris came over and said, "How hard do you want to work..there's a NA subframe over there?"  By that time, I'd already received my promo code for Cresson from Adrienne.  I'm sure I could have gone back and re-entered, but I'd already checked out mentally. 

 

So, I wussed out.  That bugs me still.


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#15
chris haldeman

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Ssm car was a blast too drive. I was pushing myself both for class win and overall position within the combined field. I walked away with
3x 1st place finishes and
14th
16th
13th
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3 podium finishes
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#16
sierralima

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Thanks for the kind words, tips and bump drafting, MPR22!  Yes, I have a couple years DE experience in an M3 w/ paddle shifters.  My thought was I wanted to "really" learn to drive...and I heard a 1.6 Miata is the way to go.  I've had it several months - it has been a painful learning experience on how much you can hide w/ HP!  Still not comfortable w/ heel/toe and learning limits w/ no ABS.  And totally not comfortable w/ racing...no experience and yes, I started this WELL after my 20s.  :-)

 

Glad I did it, but almost didn't sign up for the event.  A TT friend asked why and I said I wasn't comfortable racing spec Miata.  He leaned over and said, "You know the only way you're going to get comfortable racing spec Miata...is to race spec Miata, right?"

 

Vaughn has been awesome and gone above and beyond w/ coaching and encouragement - so if you liked my line it is his.  ;-)  And he keeps telling me to wear my big girl panties to the track and pick up the speed...working on it.

 

Main thing I don't want to be a menace and want to stay out of you guys way.  Any tips/tricks/suggestions/feedback, etc. appreciated!  And bump drafting appreciated!

 

Lol...trying to gauge closing speeds is tough.  I've gotten used to DEs where I point a Corvette or Porsche by and they fly past.  I kept wanting to move over but Scott would say on the radio, "They can't catch you yet...keep going!"  That definitely helped....

 

And it is nice to know I'm not the only one who struggles w/ shifting!  ;-)



#17
robertcope

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It was certainly a perfect weekend weather wise. I was running TTE and reset the track record with a 1:48.072. There was definitely a lot more to be had, unfortunately traffic was just not cooperating when the track was fast. I probably got three clean laps in the whole weekend. It was still a blast.

 

In case anyone not from around here wants to know what the track's like, here's video from this weekend:

 

 

robert



#18
trimless

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Great racing all weekend!  MPR 22, I had to slide though the bus stop hard on the gas to keep close to 5000 rpm, that is the only way to get through there in the 1.6

without losing ground to the 99 or vvt cars.  Results for race 3 are provisional until protest results are public, so things may change with the final result.


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#19
Walter Vetter

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Am I the only one amazed that NASA allows the TT drivers, running at race pace, to wear only a t-shirt? Robert, I can't tell in the video - are you wearing a H&N device?


2017 - SMSE SEDiv ECR Champion
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#20
robertcope

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Am I the only one amazed that NASA allows the TT drivers, running at race pace, to wear only a t-shirt? Robert, I can't tell in the video - are you wearing a H&N device?

 

Yeah, I'm in a race seat with harnesses and a Simpson N&H device. I've got mixed opinions on the fire suit (or lack thereof), but in my personal risk analysis, the risk of fire is pretty low compared to the risk of heat exhaustion -- although that wasn't a factor this weekend, really given the great weather.

 

robert







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