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WOR Games Regional

copyright (c) 1992 by Terry Coates

I needed to take a break from writing these articles so I thought I'd have someone else take the pen this time. The Buckeye Nissan Sentra SE-R was running very well at Mid-Ohio; I have to thank the car for a fantastic job.

There were those at the track who thought something was up with the car. These persons (who shall remain nameless) jeered such things as "illegal" and "cheater" at the Sentra and me. However good-natured the kidding may have been, it really got to the car. I hooked my PC to the car's computer and dumped the following article. Those wires were a bit hot at times and I had to humanize a few things, but here it is . . .

Illegal my fascia! Boy, that really burns my coil. The air was just cool and dense enough that I could pull in a good bit of air into my chambers for a really great bang. I wasn't exactly burning my BFGoodrich sneakers off either. The track was the perfect temperature for grip. Cheater? I wish those guys would put their hands near my electric fan. It may start at any time!

Given that I had only Sunoco 94-octane pump gas to work with, I was able to [. . . discussion of engine management system details deleted . . .], putting out more power than I ever had.

This was my first regional. Unlike my Driver, I started at the top of club racing. The regional sure was different than what I'm used to. I hadn't seen so much traffic since I had my temp-tags and roamed city streets (I was still wet behind the cam lobes then). It was tough negotiating the track with twice the amount of cars around. It was made worse (or better?) by the fact that I was one of the faster cars in this group. I'm used to being half-way back in a typical National field (of SS-GT/A/B/C cars).

My Driver wanted the pole and a track record. He should have bought me new shoes for this, I thought. But I'd bust a belt trying. Conditions would probably be perfect, but no new tires were available and I would have loved to have had the extra octane points of unleaded racing gas.

All I can remember about practice and qualifying was dodging traffic. Practice was hopeless, but, well, it was practice. I got into the high 1:53's during qualifying, but over half the laps were high 1:55's. There was just no end to the traffic. My Driver wasn't happy with third on the grid, but we qualified just 0.23 seconds off the track record. If the weather would hold out, the record was in reach.

But now the important stuff: The race. I imagine my Driver will censor some of this, but I've been wanting to sound my tailpipe about this ever since. First, there is no question that the guy on the pole didn't belong there. I had dusted the guy in qualifying and lapped him during the race! The pole sitter must have chosen the outside, because I was behind the legitimate fastest-guy in an Opel.

During the pace lap, everyone was weaving wildly, warming up their tires. Not my Driver. Noooo, "Mr. Cool" is ambling placidly around on the pace lap, conciously NOT warming up my tires. He thinks the tires don't retain enough of that heat for it to do any good. This is the same guy that took the green flag and charged into the inside of turn one without so much as a lift.

Smart move. At the green flag, he had me right on the Opel's bumper. I threw all my power to the pavement and he ducked me inside. I was clearly leading going into the first turn and I had the motor screaming near red-line.

Now, these ITB cars are louder than my Driver is used to, but he had to know we were really flying. I know he looked at the tach but he must not have seen it. He turned me in on the inside of turn one--way inside--and I just couldn't do it. My front just wouldn't grab. As we made a bee-line toward the grass he tried everything he could think of to get me around there but, well, he's not that good.

I felt him relax the wheel as we neared the grass. That was a good choice because he would've made me spin into traffic fighting the "two-wheels-off" battle right where the concrete shoulder starts. The grass made me pitch around wildly but he saved it and nearly had the car going straight. Just then my front tires caught a rut throwing us onto the track at a bad angle.

I know he didn't drive me onto the track. I'm sure he intended to merge on once he had it collected. My driver isn't stupid enough to just lunge back into the fray, though he is probably misguided enough to think he could make a save like that and ease back on the track. And don't think he doesn't know that he could've lost me forever in the few seconds that followed "re-entry".

To his credit, once aware that we were destined for the pavement again, he cocked the wheel perfectly. Sure it was a guess, but it was a good guess. When my tires gripped the pavement, we were (miraculously) headed the same direction as everyone else. That saved my door-skins. I tensed up all my hoses waiting for an impact. There was none. No one so much as brushed me. A few cars ZOOMED by on either side until I was up to speed, but no contact. I was never more relieved. Many thanks to the heads-up reactions of the other Drivers.

We came back to lead the race for several laps, being careful not to interfere with the ITB race. My driver gave the lead up when the Opel caught us. The second-place ITB car never closed up and we finished second overall. On lap 11 we set the track record at 1:52.992, nearly 0.6 seconds better than the previous mark. In fact, we went around four of fifteen laps faster than the previous record. That's pretty good considering the large field brought the nose of the race to the tail in just four or five laps.

As soon as he unhooks this cable, I'm off to Buckeye Nissan to have a small oil leak fixed (automobile incontinence is not pretty). I'm in good shape after a full season, save a couple of dings from earlier this year. I want to look nice so I'll have those fixed. Then I'll probably take the winter off and rest up for the spring. See you then!


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