National CENDIV 1992 Season Opener
copyright (c) 1992 by Terry Coates
The 1992 Central Division season opener looked from the
start to be the normal, rainy April race at IRP. Rob Jones and
I arrived at the track Friday evening with rain threatening.
Areas near the track displayed the kind of standing water that
can only be produced by sustained heavy rains. The edges of the
entrance road were roped off to keep tow vehicles and trailers
from entering the bog.
The usual grass paddock area was also a bog so we were sent
to paddock where the drag racers normally do. This is an area
inside the track in the neighborhood of turns six and seven. It
is pavement/gravel and--though spotted with puddles--it was
solid. The droning noise from turn six was a large water pump
trying to bail out the turn. Word was that Friday practice
sessions were cancelled because of standing water there and
that if things didn't get better, the race would be
It rained nearly all night Friday but not really hard.
Saturday morning the pump was still running but things were
looking better over there. The puddles in the paddock area had
grown and banded together against us. The rain continued all
As the turn six crisis eased, it appeared that the biggest
problem would be the logistics of operating the grid and pit
areas from a detached paddock. The answer was to grid in the
paddock and use the pits normally. To make work the practice
and qualifying sessions were combined into a single, 30 minute
session. Those requiring people and equipment in the pits had
about 10 to 15 minutes between sessions to make the
Graciously, the results were ferried across the track to the
new paddock area.
The rain stopped by late morning and the track was mostly
dry when the SS group went out for practice/qualifying. I like
the IRP track, but it doesn't seem to like me. I crashed my
last SS car beyond repair here some 18 months ago (actually,
the car was repaired, but it probably shouldn't have been).
Today the problem would be tires. BFGoodrich had sent me
full-tread (6/32") tires and up until 11am this looked like the
ticket. Somehow IRP got the rain to stop when it was too late
for me to change my setup.
This was my first time out this season and first time in the
new car, a 1992 Sentra SE-R from Buckeye Nissan. I'd had the
car only five weeks and the cage, belts, etc had been finished
two days before. The only other preparation was changing the
oil to synthetic. This was, most definitely, Showroom
The car was very new to me. I was used to a Volkswagen
product which felt very different indeed. The biggest problem
was the rusty driver and I was unable to put a good lap
together during the first part of the session. As the car was
new, so was the fuel gauge and the tank it was attached to.
With about five minutes to go in the session the car was a bit
short of fuel. I pulled off safely but without posting a decent
Rob Jones in his '91 Buckeye Nissan Sentra took the pole of
10 SSB starters. I was an embarrassing 3.5 seconds back,
seventh in class and separated from the rest of SSB by a mass
of SSC cars. Not good. Other OVR drivers faired well: T.C.
Kline's Sentra and Tony Suever's CRX qualified third and sixth
in SSB, respectively. In the other SS classes, Don Mills
qualified fourth in his SSGT Camaro, Forrest Granlund earned
second in his SSC Civic Si, and Roger Schroer gridded eighth in
his SSC Protege. There were no SSA drivers from OVR.
All was clear on Sunday and rain never seriously threatened.
This was consistent with the fact that if it were to start
raining I would have had more tread left on my tires than
anyone else. Instead I could expect my tires to start chunking
from the added heat. One SSB car didn't make the start so I
inherited sixth right away. The race was fairly uneventful. An
early spin separated the lead SSB pack from the rest of us. Rob
Jones led T.C. Kline every lap but the most important one.
Rob's left-front tire was rapidly shredding itself and he had
to back off in order to finish. He held on to second place.
I managed to get things together and was turning times
within 1.5 seconds of the leaders. I passed Tony Suever for
fifth but couldn't catch any one else in the 30 minute race. At
impound all of the Sentras were found to be destroying
left-front tires. Admittedly, all of us were pushing the cars
too hard and were abusing the left-front, most notably through
Tony held on to sixth in SSB. The first four positions of
SSGT were unchanged by the end of the race. Freddy Baker won
and Don Mills held on to fourth place. Forrest also held second
in SSC. Roger Schroer moved up to fourth picking up just over
five seconds from his qualifying time to post a race lap of
under two minutes. Roger and I sure could have used that
separate practice session!
Next up is the "Enhanced" or "Showcase" National at
Blackhawk. It will be interesting to see what promise this new
format holds. One of the "enhancements" includes a free
practice day. It looks like this time I'll get my shot at
closing the gap before qualifying.
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