Day 3 for me was Thursday April 12th. Finally the race day had arrived. It was time for LMP.
During the test days the Kelly guys form Florida, Danny Zona and Mike Bressett were setting the pace on the road course, with some blistering times. I knew I had nothing for them, but I was confident I would be competitive with everyone else. The interesting thing was that the track had been very fast on tuesday, but had slowly got slower and slipperier as the days went by. In final practice before tech closed several lanes were quite loose, so it was a scramble to find tires that would hook up, and a setup to cope with the constantly changling lanes.
Monty had arrived late wednesday night, so by thursday morning I finally had all of my boxes and other equipment, making life a lot easier than working out of the small boxes and limited equipment I bought with me earlier in the week.
With the Expert racers up first in almost every class it was early morning thrash and race each day, and the first class was no exception. I got my Parma Flexi 5 into it’s final race configuration and into tech, and wasn’t last for one.
The semi finals were randomly assigned as usual and looking at mine I thought I had a reasonable chance of making the main, however during the race it got so slippery it was almost impossible to drive the car. Orange lane was just impossible for me, it was like the track was cleaned and left wet, with the car fishtailing all the way down the straight and wildly fishtailing through the bank. I changed tires to the widest, stickiest, smallest hub tires I had (which are very sticky!) and it made a little difference, but by then it was too late, I was too far out of the move up positions, so had booked a marshalling spot for the main.
Brian Saunders on the other hand was more on the ball than me. He used choke, and an SMQ magnet motor to squeeze through into the main, where again the conditions were terrible. Rolling the car between heats on a glue board became mandatory, as did finding the softest and stickiest tires you could find. I thought Brian drove a fantastic race, staying on and managing the slippery conditions well in the main to finish second to Mike Bressett. Mike was in a different race to everyone else in the main, as he managed to hook his car up. His experience on this track, and his experience running in his local series where this happens often just allowed him to run away for a very strong win.
There was much discussion about the track conditions and the cause of the problems. Many people were blaming the Kelly "speed" (gold label) type rubber for unhooking the track, but the interesting thing was that even people running that rubber were not hooking up. The only thing I can put it down to is the mixture of chemicals and rubber on the track. These days we have so many different types of rubber and different chemicals treating the different tires, it seems that track conditions will change constantly.
After pitting for Brian and marshalling the main, it was time to put my USRA hat back on and help out with the Amateur LMP race, then in between and after that race it was time to do my final GTP testing.
Given a boost by his second placing in the LMP race, Brians interest in running the GTP race had grown to the point where had had put a car together and hit the flat track to see if he could get down to some competitive times. Of course he did turn some good laps, so suddenly I had a teammate for the GTP race, and we set about re-testing my car, motors and bodies to find a good combination that we could both use. next thing I knew a couple of my Super 16C motors were pulled apart and the arms were finding a new home in a couple of Brians setups. We continued to test our Flexi 5’s getting faster and faster as we made progress on the setups. The final thing we were testing was bodies, and we had settled ont he Parma Storm as being the bodiy we both liked, however as it always goes we decided to test another couple, and included in those was a Parma Lola. We turned the same lap times as the Storm, but the cars were much better balanced, so suddenly we were looking for Lolas, painting them and mounting them.