copyright (c) 1993 by Terry Coates
The 1993 Central Division Race of Champions at Mid-Ohio was a
fine event. There were perhaps a few more wounds in Showroom
Stock than normal. Worse yet, I played a major part in creating
many of them--a role unfamiliar and not well suited to me.
But the trouble would have to wait until race day. My crew-guy,
Pat Breakey, and I breezed through registration Thursday night
and set up a choice paddock spot. As usual, there was nothing
to do to the car, so we wasted time and got to sleep early.
We ran the practice day Friday. Throughout the day, the small
changes we made to the car barely kept ahead of the track. As
the track heated, the times slipped. We worked all day and had
made virtually no progress against the clock. But there was
still Saturday's morning to see what we had accomplished.
Saturday morning, in perhaps slightly less agreeable track
conditions, we improved by barely two-tenths of a second. Not
what we were hoping for, but still under my track record set at
WOR Games, last October. Judging from the times we took of
other SSB cars, it would be close.
We qualified on the SSB pole, but nineteenth overall due to the
large contingent of SSGT cars. It was close: four hundredths
was the margin to the next "B" car. The car was running great.
We changed the brake pads and bled the brakes before heading to
the great food at the BFGoodrich-sponsored party.
Sunday's early threats of rain never materialized. It remained
cloudy, though, and the track record was in real danger of
Don Mills was the overall pole sitter and he led us to a slow,
orderly start. David Daughtery, gridded second in SSB, got a
slight jump on me at the start, but I edged inside him into the
first turn. Because of our relatively low overal grid position,
the traffic was thick in the corners. Depsite this, the
processional was somewhat orderly up to and through the
Half-way down the back straight I could see that the next SSB
car was several car lengths back. Ahead of me, at the end of
the back straight, the cars were bunching up already. The
"racing line" had become a line of cars. It is far too easy to
lose places on the first lap by queuing up. I elected to remain
inside of the line. Somewhere during that thought process I
missed my braking point.
I mean I really missed it. I got on the brakes and nothing
happened. I tried to modulate the brakes because it felt as if
they were locked up. The car was screaming toward the turn and
I couldn't diminish the speed. Knowing now that I would never
make the corner, I turned inside to put the right wheels in the
grass. Naturally, the car wouldn't negotiate the turn and it
slid out into traffic.
I smacked the lead SSC car, Randy Pobst, hard in the right-rear
with my left-front. This caused my rear to swing out further.
Sideways on the track, I expected and received the next impact.
It wasn't as bad as it could've been. While fighting the car, I
glanced at the tachometer and saw that the engine had not
stalled. I grabbed first gear and attempted to straighten the
car to get parallel to race traffic. I was not hit again and
No sooner than I had started moving another SSB car darted in
front of me but then hit the brakes. There was no reaction time
available and I hit his rear bumper probably before I could
even get off the gas. He spun going over the crest of turn
eight and I drove around his rear.
Once again underway, something was rubbing on my left-front
tire but it subsided within half a lap. I could see that my
hood was out of alignment but it appeared latched. I could see
no smoke from my car, but David Daughtery's left rear wheel was
smoking in the corners. He was a second or more ahead of me but
I could see him shaking his fist on every straight.
Tony Suever, who dropped times all weekend, was on my tail for
a time until he spun in turn one. He worked his way back up to
finish third in an impressive performance in his new MR2. The
gap between Daughtery and I gradually widened and he crossed
the finish line some three seconds ahead. He also reset the
track record which now stands at 1:52.120, dropped by some
eight-tenths of a second.
Soon after the race, I was informed of a protest filed by Randy
Pobst and David Daughtery. I knew that I had made a mistake and
was prepared to face whatever penalty was appropriate. I did
want a chance to explain what happened. The text of one protest
was mostly accurate, the other was laden with errors.
It takes several hours to resolve these things and it gives
plenty of time to think about what happened. I was really upset
that I had made such a mistake and truly sorry that it had
impacted Randy so heavily. After all sides were heard, the
Stewards of the Meet ruled that what happened was a racing
incident. I was not penalized, but was warned that future
occurrences of this nature may not have the same outcome.
I beat myself up over the whole incident for the better part of
three days. I wrote a letter of apology to Randy Pobst. After
that was done I felt better and I could go maybe an hour
without revisiting the whole thing.
So I made a grand mistake that cost a competitor dearly
(points, contingency money, and damage) and marred my
reputation among my competitors. Despite the second place
finish, it was not a good day. But I learn from my mistakes. It
won't happen again.
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