ChumpCar Road Atlanta – Race Recap
Its been over 48 hours and the high has almost left my body.
No, we didn’t win – we weren’t event close. In fact, we finished 51 spots out of first. But that didn’t matter.
The more we compete in these crazy endurance races, the more we enjoy the little things that make ChumpCar so great. Long nights spent with our friends preparing the car, over-thinking, disassembling and rebuilding.. Road trips, good food, bad food, and great company. Some days, its all about the results, while other days, we’re just happy to get a result.
At the 2014 ChumpCar 14hr at Road Atlanta, our wonderful little Honda Civic finished 52nd place out of 109, having completed 266 laps of the intimidating yet rewarding track.
As we continue to compete in the ChumpCar races, our cars, drivers and teams get stronger and stronger. This race, we had a scheduled driver lineup prepared 2 weeks before the race, and knew we wanted to hit the ground running once the green flag dropped. With that, we decided to run one of our quicker drivers in the opening stint, to see where our car really stood against the bigger field and tough competition we were facing. As the laps clicked off, we found ourselves inside the top 10, and gaining on a top 5 position. I thought for sure this was going to be our race to show what we had…
10 minutes into our standard 5 minute pit stop, we sent our second driver out, hoping the brakes would return. As he continued to carefully turn laps, the pedal slowly began to come back as the brakes started to cool. We thought we had planned for everything while upgrading the car for this race. Unfortunately, our developments that made the car faster, also made a lot more work for our braking system. The result: brakes that worked great last race, were suddenly insufficient.
This detail not only effected our first pit stop, but also the second, and then third, when we were forced to replace brake rotors, pads, and calipers, as well as bleed the brakes on pit lane. As the race progressed, our position continued to fall. While we had a fast car with extremely good handling and strong drivers to make up spots, brake conservation was the only way we could finish the race safely. Ultimately, the heat buildup from the braking system would cause additional failures, and set us back even further.
At this point, our goals changed from competing for a top 10, to finishing the race, hopefully in the front half of the field. With 5 or so hours to go, we sat outside the top 60, and continued to run clean laps, knowing the war of attrition would start to play into our favour. As the sun began to set, we managed to keep the car out of trouble and avoided any misfortune the night racing could easily bring.
By the end of it all, we barely made it to the checkered nursing a bad left-front wheel bearing. But, we were able to stick to the plan and hit our (revised) goal of finishing in the top half of the field. Its funny how such a mediocre result could be so uplifting and satisfying for our group of guys. 52nd place sucks – for me, even 12th place would have sucked – I’m just too competitive to enjoy it. However, considering what we went through to get that 52nd position, how the team maintained focus and never got discouraged, I’m extremely happy with the result. In fact, once we saw the result after the race, I think we celebrated as if we’d finished in the top 10.
Results from our additional BogieMen cars:
#429 BMW E30, crewed by Powersports Garage, suffered an electrical gremlin and ECU failure early in the race. The team worked tirelessly to source the problems and managed to get back on track. Similar to the adjusted mentality of our TWOth entry, the BMW boys changed their gameplan from competing to simply surviving and crossing the finish line. They certainly did so, while running some very fast times in the closing stages of the race.
#449 VW Golf TDI of Longhill Racing, unfortunately weren’t able to do the same. As it often happens with new builds, Friday’s practice sessions were spent shaking down the car. Since our weather back home is less than adequate to properly test cars this time of year, the team had to prepare the car as best as they could, and hope that if any issues occurred they could resolve them quickly and continue on. 30 minutes into the race, however, a turbo failure ended their innagural race 13h30m short. Having driven the car in Friday’s first practice, I can certainly say its going to be a competitive entry. The handling and brakes felt great, while the torque of the turbo diesel was stronger than any ChumpCar I’ve seen. Once the crew gets a more reliable engine package put in the car, I’m confident the Longhill entry will be competing for top spot with the rest of our BogieMen team.
Once again, as I sit down to write this blog, I remember all of the emotions associated with the preparation and execution of these endurance races, and can’t help but feel excited for next time. Although our next ChumpCar race isn’t until early May, we’ve already begun making lists of what to fix and how to improve our efforts for next time. I’d like to thank everyone involved with helping making this happen, and continue to fuel the addiction we all have for motorsports. From the people who’ve spent long hours in the shop helping us prepare the cars, to parts suppliers getting us what we needed, friends who’ve generously lent vehicles to help get us to the track, and our drivers along with their passion for this sport who make it all happen. Special mention to Hub & Gail who made the drive down with us and generously prepared food and beverages for all of our drivers and crew. Without you guys, we wouldn’t have been smart enough to plan ahead feed ourselves throughout the weekend!
I’d also like to thank the spouses of our drivers and crew. You’ve put up with our late nights, excessive spending, and constant lack of focus while we’ve been concentrated on how to build/improve/drive a 20 year old shitbox. I don’t know how you do it!
Some photos from our phones throughout the weekend. Professional photography from the track should come in soon and will be added separately.
109 cars with 3-5 drivers per car makes for a large drivers meeting at 7:30 am
The $449 & #429 BogieMen entries supported by Powersports Garage
Out pit and fuel setup throughout the 14hr
On the pace lap before the start
During one of our not-so-routine pit stops. This time, replacing a caliper bracket, axle, upright, front hub and bearing…
A little night time action
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