After last year’s devastating results at Coronado we were ready to make a fresh start with the Roadster. For those of you who don’t know I hit a tire barrier on the back straight while qualifying last year that shelved my racing for the calendar year.
Fast forward to this year and at long last we have a car that is ready to race. After repairing the entire front of the car, including the replacement of: the hood, front valiance, grill, driver’s side door, and repairing the passenger side fender and painting ¾’s of the car along with a new air dam, oil cooler and electric fan….We were ready to go.
We also installed a new steel high capacity oil pan, and reworked the brake bias on the car. We found that the brakes were not set up correctly as the front brakes would come on after the rear brakes which made the car a handful. The new modifications done by Phil Erickson included a true balance bar solution with a new in line bias control to the rear brakes. We also raised both master cylinders to allow a better ratio on the pedal. All of this made a huge difference and it was like driving a different car!! I could now lock up the front brakes!!
Enter Coronado. We signed up, with the understanding that the old guard, General Racing, was no longer going to be running the event. HMSA stepped up and took over the event. Cris, who had run the event for many years for GRL now was in charge of the entire event and we instantly saw a huge difference as Cris accepted no less than 7 Datsun’s this year!!
We arrived a day early as well, with Cris now running the event, a drive through the Streets of Coronado was added and we got to participate in the drive to central downtown Coronado with 50 other cars! What a blast! Mic and I took the #83 roadster through town, parked downtown for two hours and drove back in the fog to the Naval base. A very surreal drive as we had no head lights and only the tail lights in front of us to guide us.
Fast forward to Friday morning, we showed up for the drivers meeting, and then wound our way through tech. The Roadster passed with flying colors with notations by the Tech inspector that included Nice Car! And ready to Race!
Our first practice session was that afternoon and I set out testing the new brakes and the drivability of the car as it had been some time since I had been out racing. The brakes were fanstastic, it took most of the weekend for me to get used to the brakes, the modulation was completely different and I found that I would lock up the brakes going down into turn complex 5/6 where there was paint on the runway. All in all the car was solid and we had a good run. Mid way through we were caught up in traffic stuck behind a Alfa (#35) and he was clearly driving the track for the first time and was erratic and slow on course, but would not let anyone pass him….Little did I know that this would be a battle all weekend.
We got the car back to the pit and checked the car out. Everything looked good the car was solid, and we were pleased. We put the car away for the evening and enjoyed a wonderful evening at the Admirals quarters on base with a German themed dinner that included Brats, potato pancakes and lots of German beer.
Saturday we arrived early for our 7:30 Drivers meeting, we got through that, and prepared the roadster and went out on our morning warmup. Again the roadster did well. This time Omar and his #35 Alfa looked a little better, and I was hopeful that I would not get caught up behind him in qualifying.
Sure enough Omar was behind me in qualifying, that afternoon and we set out that afternoon for the qualifying race. Wouldn’t you know it, Omar agot a jump on me at the start and I spent the entire qualifying session behind Omar looking for a way around him. His car was fast in a straight line but his lines through the corners were terrifying! He would chop down onto the apex of the corner and he would brake through the apex. I could tell that he was also driving in his mirrors, and that the more I pressured him the more nervous he became. Locking up the brakes going into turn one, chopping down in two, going wide in 3 and chopping down in turn four, slowing way down for the chicane, way off line in the 5/6 complex and then he would almost coast through 7 and 8 back on the gas for 9 and a poor line in 10.
Unfortunately I never got a good run on Omar, but had an idea how to deal with him in the race.
Sunday we got to the track mid morning in time to get the roadster ready and ran the warm up, again behind Omar as I started working on my plan to get around him if I needed to in the race. Sure enough I was gridded a couple of cars ahead of Omar, so I was a little less concerned.
Sunday afternoons race was a blast as I was gridded directly behind Adam Carolla in his BSR 510. We got out on the track, and had a clean start, Adam ran down the far left side of the track and looked like he had plenty of room so I followed only to get pinched going into one, and sure enough Omar snuck up in the inside of turn one and two and was now in front of me. I also had a black Elva between Omar and myself. I settled in as I knew we had time and got the car and the tires warmed up to go after Omar. On lap three I got the Elva in turn four after getting a good run on Omar and the Elva. Omar was blocking, and slowed to the point going into 4 that I almost got him there. He got on the throttle and his power was enough to motor past me coming out of the corner.
I proceeded to follow Omar with several fast movers coming through the field passing both of us. Finally with a lap and a half to go, Omar bobbled coming out of turn four, I was right there and passed him for position. The Black Elva also must have gotten Omar at the same time and I never looked back, the next set of turns and I could not see Omar any longer as he faded back in the pack. On the last lap the black Elva got a good run on me in turn 6 and passed me, the leaders also came through and opened enough of a gap so that I could not run him down.
Great race, great weekend and the Datsun Roadster is running perfect! I am looking forward to getting her out a little more often next year!!
I have posted the video of the race in the IN CAR VIDEO section of my blog, Enjoy!