2018 WRL US Endurance Championship!

Can’t start any writeup of our weekend without first thanking the numerous people that pitched in to help, saved our ass, or otherwise were critical in us even getting what we got done. Russell, my brother from another mother, busted ass on 2 driveline repairs in 1 day. Hope I can get you to tag along for some more #adventuresinhiredgunning in the future. Collin, Jorge and Brianne for helping with the SECOND diff swap in the MX5. Rudy, who helped swap clutches on the Fiesta with the help of Todd and Russell. Drew, Kristen, and his mom & dad for running around chasing parts and ice and everything all weekend. My “big brother” Gregg for fueling 3 cars when they were on track, as brief as that was in some cases! Stephanie for doing fire bottle and driving her Mazda2 to a 2nd place finish Saturday and clinching the WRL Championship with co-drivers Sean & Mike Young and Florida hotshoe Ryan Wagoner this weekend!! (And Michael Johnson, Drew Bouffard, Ben Bettenhausen in our previous outings!) Scott Alexander for the awesome wrap on the pit box! Ian, RJ, Daniel, Jeff, Frank and all the WRL folks for putting on a great event as usual. And last but certainly not least, Betina Foreman and my momma for the Saturday night pizza & beer run! I’m sure I missed some, and maybe the recall function trying to tell the story will jarr the countless others I owe thanks to!

Friday felt rough, but nothing compared to the rest of the weekend. We had 4 cars running the test day, Stephanie’s Black Armor Mazda 2, Drew’s ex-PWC MX5, one of the Fiestas I just picked up from Marc, and the Aston Martin GT4 V8 Vantage. First session out we broke a motor mount bracket on the MX5, found one at Winding Road Racing and got it pulled and delivered to the track. Slammed in and made Race practice 2. Sean ran a 2:19 in the Vantage, everybody got some good seat time in the cars, and we were ready for the race start Saturday!

 

Saturday race started well, first fuel stop & driver change in the MX5 went well with our new Hunsaker jugs and drilled out filler. As was the norm throughout the weekend in the MX5 & 2, we were done fueling well before the driver change was complete! It was not long into the second stint that something went bang, and the MX5 came in dragging the PPF and trans tail shaft. Evidently a turtle or 2 got clipped, took out the bottom PPF bolt that could be threaded on (a remnant from Barber…) and cracked the top ear of the PPF. So we’ve got a borked PPF, borked diff, and the driveshaft whipping around busted the tail shaft of the fancy new Walter Motorsports trans. No problem, got a spare diff at the house, get a PPF from WRR, swap in the spare trans that just ran Barber and is a good fresh spare like the diff. Get everything buttoned up in time for a stint or two left in the day, make 3 laps and the diff explodes. Turns out the ring gear bolts were barely finger tight, yet the cover was RTV’d and torqued. Hmmm….

Meanwhile, the 2 blew a right front tire about an hour to go, came in and did my impression of a NASCAR stop crossed with a monkey fucking a football and got back on track, still in 2nd place! Were getting caught by 3rd place pretty good and a fortunate double yellow came out for a car on fire and they called the race early. The flaming car was our good buddies at Deep Eddy in their brand new car, which is super unfortunate. These guys were busting ass all day Friday & Saturday, and considering my luck I feel for them as their original car never even made it to the track.

Fiesta didn’t miss a beat nearly all day besides a cut brake line early on, which i had to steal off the spare Fiesta at the shop, only I couldn’t get the fitting loose so I had to cut the hard line to get it off and get it heated up and loose. Until the last hour when the clutch fried. Which brings us to the Saturday night thrash: diff & brakes on the MX5 (after we found one……), clutch on the Fiesta, and tires and brakes on the 2. Thanks to the help of Collin, Brianne and Jorge the diff in the MX5 got done, Rudy & Russell slammed the clutch in the Fiesta that Michael Johnson picked up at the parts store, and we managed to fix some of the radio issues we had late in the race. Got out of the track by 10pm and only had some minor piddly stuff left to do besides lug torque and air pressure.

Sunday was way too early, but we got everything together without issue and on track. The MX5 did nearly 2 stints flawlessly before a rear suspension link worked loose from the late night repair the night before. Few minutes and some hardware store parts and we got it back on track for half to ¾ of a stint when the good spare transmission we put in at Barber and replaced with our Walter Motorsports unit got stuck in 4th. Funny how all this “good spare” stuff doesn’t last worth a damn from a well known PWC team….

The Black Armor 2 clicked off a 2:55 and a ton of sub-3:00 times with the Flyin Floridian Ryan Wagoner at the wheel, who handed off to Mike, our rookie. Mike ran a great race and was a few minutes from pitting when we encountered some trouble. That trouble was an immovable object which will remain unnamed, but it was immovable enough to knock the alignment completely out of whack and end our day. We were able to patch it enough to make a lap, park it, and send it back out with 5 minutes to go so we could be classified as finishers, and good enough for 4th place! So definitely have the WRL Championship well in hand!

The Fiesta battled weird clutch issues all day after the first stint and a half… first it wouldn’t disengage, then it seems we burned up the disc. If anybody’s got any wisdom to impart on this silly internal slave cylinder gismo please reach out and enlighten me. Todd ran some damn fast lap times in the first 2 hours, with zero clutch issues, which makes the whole thing weird and hard to diagnose. Rudy went out and couldn’t do more than 2 laps because the clutch wouldn’t disengage, so we came in to bleed it and sent him back out. The problem persisted for about a lap then suddenly everything was working great again. He did a stint and some, came in and handed the car over to Ian, who then had to battle a horribly slipping clutch during a prolonged full course yellow until he finally gave up because it was so awful. We sent Rudy back out in the last hour to see if it cooled off enough to finish the race and didn’t make it halfway around the track before he found the perfect stop to pull over and hang out. Big thanks to the flaggers and camera system… WHO HAD NO IDEA HE WAS OFF TRACK. Thankfully he had his phone with him and was able to text somebody he knew on the rescue truck to come get him. Thank God he wasn’t on fire or having a heart attack!

All in all, sucks pretty hard bringing 3 broken racecars home. But everybody had a great time, and we came home with some hardware, so can’t complain about that! Never a dull moment at the track, hope to see all my new friends at the track again in the future!