TWS Race Recap 01/12/03

George Roffe
Thu, 16 Jan 2003 00:34:16 -0600

NISsport Racing race recap, SCCA ITS regional, Texas World Speedway,
January 12, 2003, driver, George Roffe:

On Sunday, 01/12/03 we raced on the 1.8 mile counter clockwise course at
Texas World Speedway.  We arrived at the track on Sunday morning to a
steady soaking, extremely cold (30-something degrees) rain.  We had to
register first thing in the morning and then move the trailer we dropped
off the night before, find a pit space, and unload.  We were able to
shoehorn ourselves amongst all the large trailers in the infield.  We felt
like dwarves.

We were in the 5th (of 7) run group, so we had a little time to get some
things done.  Thank God.  We had to get our annual tech inspection and
haven't had one without getting dinged for anything in three years.  We
were a little nervous going in since you never know what they might find
fault with and we cobbled together our fuel test port at the last minute
the day before.  Thankfully, the annual went without a hitch.

When we got back to our pit area (did I mention the 30 something degree
rain?)  we set about changing from our dry tires to our rain tires.  It was
not necessarily an easy decision.  You see, our rain tires were not racing
rain tires.  They were eleven-year-old (original) street tires.  We debated
what to do.  The rain was steady and soaking, but not a heavy
downpour.  Eventually we decided that given the cold weather, the street
tires should perform as well or better than race tires which would most
likely never get up to temperature.  When changing the rears we
disconnected the rear swaybar, but when we changed the fronts, we ran out
of time to disconnect the front.  So, we went to the pre-grid for
qualifying with a poor set-up but the man said it was time, so away we
went.  The car pushed like a drunk pig, but that was better than the rear
wiggling around.  We got two warm-up/recon laps in and when we started our
first hot lap they checkered the session.  We figured we qualified
last.  Close.  We qualified second to last (19th of 20).  When we picked up
the qualifying results we found there were 6 with no time and they were
mostly cars from faster classes.  Great.

So, after qualifying we went back to our pits (did I mention the 30
something degree rain?) and disconnected the front swaybar.  The tire
picture was further clouded by the fact that the rain stopped by the end of
qualifying and the line was drying.  Oh goodie, more tough decisions.  That
decision was made simpler when the rain started again.  Oh goodie.

Since it was so cold, and we weren't doing anything more to the car, we
were first to the pre-grid.  That gave the engine plenty of time to warm up
and thus the heater (did I mention the 30 something degree rain?).  As the
grid was formed we were still second to last.  The slowest qualifier didn't
show and one of the entries with no time did.  Still 19th of 20.

At the start we passed a couple of cars using the excellent torque of the
SR20DE to great effect.  By the time we reached turn 1 we found the pole
sitting Porsche 951 (944 turbo) in the mud inside the turn.  We also found
half the track at turn 1 to be liberally sprinkled with mud.  It's going to
be a fun day.  We danced around through the first half lap letting the
field sort itself out.  Entering the last turn on the first lap a 280Z came
together with a gen I RX-7 at the entrance to the front straight.  Not
tremendously close, but way too close for comfort.  Thankfully they kept
their affairs to themselves up along the wall and left us alone.  We got
one more lap under green before the full course caution came out.  We
passed one car on the front straight just as the caution came out, so we
waved them back around to stay on the good side of the stewards.

When the green flag few again we were right back on it and repassed the
Golf we waved around as the caution came out and also flew past at 280ZX
for position in class.  As we pulled away from those two we started reeling
in a turbo Supra.  We thought "yeah, right" but we were soon on top of
them.  We tested them in a couple of places and on the next lap we
dispatched them without looking back.  If only it were that easy in the
dry.  Served up next was a V-8 Camaro.  It too fell like a brick tossed
from the Eiffel Tower. After that we were pretty much on our own for a
while.  After a couple of laps the Porsche 951 was zeroing in on us like a
Patriot missile hunting a Scud.  We happily waved him by to find another
Scud to kill.  What we didn't realize is that the race was reverting to a
timed race and it was the last lap.  What a surprise when we saw the
checkered flag wave from the starter stand as we hit the front
straight.  No matter.

We had a great time.  It was even better when we got back to the pits and
found out we finished third in class.  We suddenly found a force field
three feet off the ground that we could walk on.  All our goals had been
met.  We were able to bring the car home in the condition we brought to the
track in.  We received our final punch to get our regional competition
license.  And, we just flat out had a blast.

In the end, much thanks must be given to Bruce Hearn.  Once again he got us
squared away for the event and even baby-sat a driver who was freaking out
over the rain and all the ups and downs leading to the event.  Everyone
should lucky enough to have a Bruce Hearn in their pit  especially when the
chips are down.  When he gets his SE-R ready for competition he's going to
have plenty of markers to cash in.

Next event for NISsport Racing:  NASA event at Motorsports Ranch on
February 8th and 9th.

George Roffe
Houston, TX