A Hard Fought Battle
copyright (c) 1993 by Terry Coates
"The most fun I've ever had in a race car!" That was the
runner-up title for this article. I believe that was Rob Jones'
comment after the race was over. It was the most fun we'd ever
had in our respective Nissan Sentra SE-Rs but it was also the
scrappiest dog-fight I'd ever been a part of.
The April 24-25 event was a combination Regional-National
and since I'd never been to the track, I elected to run
everything. Cheryl and I walked the track Friday Night and
Saturday morning. It had great potential, but it sure wouldn't
be as easy to learn as Memphis had been. It's longer, has more
turns of a wider speed range, and has several hard braking
I guess I needn't have worried. The track wasn't so
confusing once I was on it at speed. There would be little
improvements here and there, but after seven laps the Sentra
SE-R lapped solidly under the track record. The morning
practice doubled as Regional qualifying and we landed eighth
overall and on the SSB pole, a full second ahead of Rob. The
sole other Ohio Valley Region member was Michael Rowley who put
his VW Golf fifth in ITB.
I nearly didn't run the Regional race. I had a limited
supply of tires and wasn't sure how abrasive this track would
be. The National is the thing; the Regional would only amount
to practice. I finally mapped it out in my head how I could
survive the Regional with enough tires for the National and
without taking any chances.
So when the left-front tire blistered during the Regional, I
was not surprised. I was disappointed, however. Because of my
rather lofty starting position, I had led SSB from the green.
As the tire went, so did the positions. I started letting cars
as they were racing for class positions and I didn't want to
interfere. Rob caught and passed me and I pulled in with only
one lap left. It wasn't worth the risk to continue.
Rob took the Regional win but I set the track record at
1:51.640, slightly slower than qualifying. Rob had begun to
close the gap; he was now only down 0.4 seconds. The third
place SSB car was back another 1.6 seconds--the National race
looked like a playground for Rob and me. Rowley gained a
position to finish fourth in ITB.