First Race @ Atlanta Motorsports Park

Our First Race together as a team and with the new car!  And the weather SUCKS, and when I say sucks I mean it.  The race is at Atlanta Motorsports Park in Dawsonville, GA and was a double eight, 8 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday.  We all drove up to the track Friday the 27th to make sure we had our PIT area setup and ready to go because we knew Saturday was going to be terrible weather.  Friday afternoon however you could not have asked for a much nicer day, mid-to-upper 70’s and sunny.  It’s a shame that didn’t hold true for the rest of the weekend.  We got the fuel jugs filled, pit lane tents setup, we even managed to have the foresight to get a canopy that we could completely enclose and stay dry for the most part.  Everyone got their equipment teched and the car was also inspected since this was its first Champcar (previously Chumpcar) race.  As the car sat it was worth 350 points, so we still have 150 points to devote to other upgrades and remain without penalty.  We packed it in for the evening and went back to our cabin to prepare for the next long rainy day.  We got up early to get to the track in order to be there for the driver’s meeting and it was already raining.  The forecast was basically rain all day with some more rain and with a little rain on the side and for once the weatherman wasn’t wrong.  We were still excited regardless and had everything in order.  Unfortunately the cell phone coverage was spotty at best and the live stream constantly went in and out.  You can watch what clips were captured by clicking here. Ken Adams was up first and took off, he radioed in and said the car felt good but as you could imagine the track was slick and was going to be a “fun” day.  Raymond was on the radio when Ken came back across the speaker and said he had gone “agricultural” but everything was fine and he was back at it.  Ken quickly settled in and began turning very respectable lap times.  Every driver was scheduled to be in the car approximately one hour and forty-five minutes.  Ken brought it in still in one piece and it was time for our first real driver change and fuel-up.  It was more than a little aggravating with the rain coming down, the helmet visors are required to remain down during fueling, so everything constantly fogged up and you couldn’t see.  Once the fueling was done Raymond headed down pit lane for his first ever stint in a real race, in the rain with a fogged up windshield, a heart attack was imminent!   He managed to get out on the track without wrecking, got up to speed and then promptly went off the track.  He sat there thinking, “I can’t believe I’m about to radio in and have to tell these guys I’m in the dirt in less than thirty seconds of action!”  Luckily he was able to get the car back on the track, no damage and press on.  With a few laps under his belt things started to fall into place and lap times began to pick up.  And then the wiper arm broke, and of course it was the driver’s side.  He had to come into the pits and with the ingenuity of the teammates and pit crew they were able to get the passenger’s side rotated enough to fix the issue and have him back out on the track in very little time.  Next driver change was up and it was time for Gary Javo to get in the car.  Gary was our seasoned driver and had been in these races before along with teammate Patrick, but never in this bad of weather.  Nerves and tensions were still very high.  We had a lot to figure out with a new car and the complexity of AMP’s track layout, hills, blind corners and that wonderful rain was making for a very interesting first race.  Gary did a great job as usual finding the sweet spot and started turning very good lap times.  We had some radio issues during his stint and at one point we actually thought he’d radioed in to tell us he had contact with another car.  We all knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but was hoping we might survive the first race without it.  Thankfully it was just a bad radio connection and all of the excitement, there was no contact and we were still shiny side up.  Gary radioed in that he was coming in and it was time for Ernie Perry to get ready to go out.  Ernie had done this type of thing before but had never driven this particular track and certainly not in these conditions.  He took to it like a natural and was turning very quick lap times.  Sadly, he did not get to stay out long before he came over the radio and said something was wrong.  Turns out the rear differential broke and the back end kept wanting to lock up.  It cut the day short and we did not have the parts to even attempt the repair.  We came prepared for quite a few issues, but this was not one of them.  Teammate Patrick Donovan did not get a chance to even get in the car.  Understanding that this is all part of the game and glad that the car was still in one piece we packed it in, we still weren’t happy of course, but there’s not much you can do about it.  We decided to come back Sunday morning to finish packing and make the drive home and awoke to snow flurries.  The weather was truly against us for this weekend.  We had a great time overall for our first race regardless of the rear diff. failure and the team worked really well together.  We are scheduled to race in the Sebring FL 10 hour endurance race on December 29th.  Please follow along as that live stream should work much better and hopefully the weather will cooperate also.  A huge thank you to Germaine Brown and Steven Ruscoe that were the team pit crew and overall support.  Both were out in the foul weather all day Saturday and Sunday helping with the car, the gear, taking photos and anything else that needed to be done.  It was greatly appreciated.

From left to right – Germaine Brown, Patrick Donovan, Ken Adams, Ernie Perry, Steven Ruscoe, Gary Javo, Not pictured Raymond Lamb (in car on track)

Test and Tune at Roebling Road Raceway
Second Race @ Sebring International Raceway