22 October, 2008

Year End Results - Formula Vee

I've been so busy working on the C110 Racer project, that I haven't had a chance to update my "personal" blog. So I thought I would update you on the 2008 race season, since the year-end points tallies have been totaled.

I ran with the Northern California Race Club (NCRC) in their Time Trial Series. Classified in GT4, the Formula Vee gets competition from other small low powered racers, like Civics, Miatas, and the occasional Mini. Over the course of 6 events (that we attended) I managed to win the GT4 Time Trial class six times, nabbing 60 points. More importantly, since I made more than 50% of the TT events, I won the year-end GT4 class championship.

In addition to the TT series, I also ran with the American Racing Club (ARC) which is essentially an off-shoot of the NCRC club, running on the same weekends with NCRC. This is a wheel-to-wheel race series where five different classes of vehicles run on track at the same time. We usually have a practice session in the morning, followed by a qualifying heat, and then the race after lunch, which ranges from 30-45 minutes in length. Running in the GT4 class (like the TT series) I had some good dicing towards the end of the year with some BMW Spec E30s, Spec Miatas, and a few Civic/CRXs. I finished up with two race wins, a second place, and a DNS (did not finish) at the Buttonwillow event due to an off course excursion in qualifying that cracked my oil pan. I again clinched the GT4 championship.

More important than any trophies, was the fact I kept improving with the car. I got more comfortable driving it, and steadily dropped my lap times, especially around Thunderhill where most of our local events are held. To put it into real numbers, I started the season off running a 2:24 lap time in the first session. By the end of that first day, I was at 2:21. Each event I would improve a couple seconds, mostly from better driving, but partially because I would continue to improve the setup. By the last event of the year, I was solidly in the 2:14 range, with consistent 2:16s during the race while I was batling with a Spec Miata. This is roughly 3 seconds quicker than I ever ran with the Fiat 128 I ran the two years before.

I even managed to get a bit of video at a few events, when Susan remembered to turn on the camera, or when I remembered to make sure there was storage room on the SD Card in the camera. So, if you want to enjoy a few short videos, see below:

1st lap of the last Exhibition Race of the Season:

A brief 4-wheels off during a TT session:

And finally, a few pictures that Susan managed to snap throughout the year:

Events #1 at Thunderhill, running the Dunlop Vintage Tires

Buttonwillow event, during the Qualifying session:

Getting Strapped in. Helmet, driving suit, shoes, gloves, wrist restraints, harness...check!

Sitting in grid, getting ready for the start of the race:

Running the Hoosier slicks for the first time:

Mounting up the soft compound slicks for a qualifying session:

Special note: Notice in the above photo, the small enclosed trailer behind the FV. It came with the race car, but unfortunately is only 10' long. Ralphvee is about 11' long nose to tail, so the previous owner would take off the front nose cone body section everytime he put the car in the trailer. I quickly realized I didn't want to do that, so I set about making a small "bump-out" on the front of the trailer to fit the nose. You can just see this little white box at the front of the trailer, which is open to the inside. Clever, I know.

I have a few more tricks up my sleeve to get Ralphvee a few seconds quicker for 2009, so check back over the fall and winter for more progress!