Spring Nationals Report!

What a weekend! Earlier this year, Todd and I had planned on going to Spring Nationals in order to get some early testing time in Lincoln. We loaded up Friday and hit the road, planning to drive through the night and get in Lincoln early on Saturday in order to catch some practice time to scrub tires during the Pro Solo. We arrived in Lincoln mid-morning, unloaded the cars and scrubbed in our new Goodyear tires.

We’d hauled a two-car trailer up just like Nationals last year, this time with Tye’s ’01 ESP Z28 as well. It helps on the fuel cost to have 4 people in the truck, but it’s a little on the uncomfortable side for 14 hours!

On our way up, Janish had called us and told Todd that Mike Maier and Frank Stagnaro were there. Mike and Frank had missed Nationals last year due to a last minute problem with the car and usually don’t make the trip east to Tours, so we figured Kurt was messing with us. Much to our surprise, Mike and Frank were waiting for us at the practice course, already working on their Mustang.

This was good and bad. Good because it gave us a chance to compare our new car setup against some of the fastest guys in the class, but bad because we had to race against some of the fastest guys in the class!

I took the opportunity to snag some shots of other cars out playing on the practice course and the Evo School course.

This Boss 302 sounded fantastic. It looked like it needed some more front spring though!

Casey Weiss was out there tuning on his new Shelby GT, hoping for a win in FS.

Vivek Goel from Austin also made the trip up with his BS NSX.

Erik Strelniks had a little trouble with his SSM RX7 during the Pro Finale, blowing an oil return line for the turbo. A little work later and it was back on the road.

Tye and Chad were a little tired from the drive up! The next morning started like usual with the National Anthem and a driver’s meeting.

Sadly no fly-over, but a great tribute to all of our Veterans out there!

Todd mounts tires for Goodyear at some of the NASCAR races, so he was catching up with the Goodyear guys. It was fantastic to see them out supporting the autocross community, something I hope continues!

Since we were running the last heat, we got some time to watch the ESP action in Heat 4. This is Tye’s co-driver, rookie Chad Crain aka “Keith Stone”.

Mark Madarash was blazing fast like always in his Trans Am.

Terry and Amy Fair were there in their 2011 Mustang. Though they struggled with setup, the car looks to be competitive in the future! As the heat wound to a close we got setup in our grid for Heat 5 action to start, with 15 drivers in CP, including 4 former National Champions and several top 5 finishers it was going to be interesting!

Racing started! Unlike a normal National Tour which has the same course run backwards on Day 2, this event had 2 completely different courses. They were based on the 2011 Nationals courses, though run backwards and with some minor tweaks. First up was the East Course, originally designed by Andy Hollis.

Mike ended up in first after Day 1, setting a great time.

Todd was second, a few tenths back.

Kurt Janish struggled a bit with his co-driver for the weekend, Jeff Cashmore, slipping into 3rd. I was in 4th, less than a tenth of a second back of Cashmore.

This is my best run from Day 1. I never put together a really solid run (you can see me do multiple turn-ins and be real late getting in the gas in several spots), but it was fast enough to be respectable. Todd forgot to hit the record button on every single one of his runs…

We loaded up for the night, barely missing some serious weather.

It was a bit wet in the morning, but luckily the weather was going to be dry for us to race. After wiping down the car I walked over to the West Course to watch a little CS action.

Local Houston guys, Daniel McCelvey and his dad Pat were there in their 370Z laying down some fast times and taking the win in CS. Drying conditions made it a little interesting, but I’m sure it was good practice.

Walking through grid I noticed Mike and Frank making changes to their car, these guys never quit!

Here’s a spy shot of their front suspension. Some trick ideas in here like the quick-release shock mount for fast spring changes. They demonstrated how well this worked by changing springs after first runs in the middle of the heat later that day!

Watched a little more ESP action that afternoon.

Here’s Colossus (Tye) out on course.

It had been really windy on Day 1. Terry and Amy’s hood got caught by a gust and busted the front windshield on their Mustang. Needless to say, I think it was a little difficult to see out, but they gave it a good effort and Terry ended up in 3rd in ESP!

It was time again for Heat 5.

Mikey went out and set some blazing times, 2 seconds clear of the field.

Todd remembered to push the record button on his first run. It was fast, but not as fast as Mike.

My first run wasn’t great and I improved a little on my second. Looking at the data after the fact I was losing a lot of time to Todd in the middle sweeper section, but gaining nearly 4 tenths on each of the slaloms! It seems we both still have something to learn from each other.

Todd’s second run was faster, but bad news when he pulled into the pit. Water was spraying out from under the hood from a cut radiator hose.

Thanks to some able assistance from Keith Stone and Colossus we were back in action just as they were ready to send me to the line for my 3rd run.

The event was streamed live on UStream which was great for those at home to watch. This of course also enabled everyone to see my lack of talent (spin!) on my 3rd run following my power shift into 2nd…

http://www.ustream.tv/embed/recorded/22924731

Video streaming by Ustream

Check out the above at about 16:10 if you want to see it for yourself! Lack of improvement on my final run put me down into the 5th spot in class behind Janish and Robert Lewis who put down fast final runs.

Todd put in the fastest raw time of the day on his 3rd run, but snagged a cone. Unfortunately the Video4 didn’t record ANY of our 3rd runs, so no video to be shared! I need to have a chat with the Race Technology people, because we’re getting a little frustrated with the system in some ways.

Overall we had a very successful trip, proving that we could run with Maier and Stagnaro. PAX wise we measured up pretty well too with Todd taking the 13th spot overall and I ended up in 29th.

We’ve identified a few things we want to do to the Camaro to find some more speed, not the least of which is getting some more seat time. Stay tuned!

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