Race Report – US Muscle 4 Hour Endurance Race 17th May 2014
As seen by Team Chevy
Saturday Night 17 May Thunderbird Raceway hosted the 4 Hour US Muscle Car endurance race in the Pro/ Am (Club members and Rookie) format.
The night was a huge success with some very high quality racing and a fabulous friendly atmosphere all night long.
Many thanks go out to Chris and Cathy for hosting the event, to Bill J and Sheppo for arranging the track, teams and timing system.
The team selections were spot on with even driving talent from all division across the teams.
It was a little disappointing to see so many club members that had registered drop out on race day it does make it hard for those that are organizing the event, however this certainly did not impact on the positive atmosphere of the night.
The race rules, procedures and penalties were read out at the drivers briefing. From what I could see there was not one penalty handed out all night and all drives and marshals were at their stations when required great stuff everyone.
The cars were all Scalextric US Muscle cars two Camaro’s a Ford Mercury and a Dodge. The cars were probably not that evenly matched with the two Camaro’s clearly the faster cars all night. We will strive to get the mix right next time.
The teams were allocated and the team captains drew out their teams name, car and starting lane, all random and down to the luck of the draw.
The teams were given a short time to prepare their cars which included gluing in the motor and axles, gluing on the tyres, coating the front tyres with nail polish or superglue and lubricating etc. all usual basic stuff. The team car setups were intended give the rookies some hints on how to set up the race cars. As it turned out most of the rookies knew all of the standard setups anyway. This just goes to show how great the standard is here at TBirds.
Drivers Start Your Engines
This is how I remember the event there will be many stories from each team and it would be great to get other perspectives so it is biased from my perspective.
At race start there was great air of excitement anticipation and nervousness as the cars had yet to turn a wheel on the track. Had the glue had time to set was everything running smooth and true? Time will tell.
Lights are on and off goes the grid. Quickly it become apparent that the two Camaro’s were the gun cars as they streaked to the lead dicing for the lead lap after lap. Slowly Team Chevy pulled out a small lead over team Camaro.
Team Mercury’s and Team Dodge’s starts were not as stellar as their speed and handling were not great as the Camaro’s. I am not sure when it happened or how but Team Dodge developed mechanical issues that were to continue throughout the night with the car ultimately being replaced and the team given an additional 25 laps. Team Mercury and Team Dodge showed true grit be soldiering on and the two teams were battling with each other all night.
Teams were required to pit stop once each lane to remove the body, change braids and re fit the bodies. Bill J did a great job prompting the teams to ensure they did their mandatory stops.
Team Chevy slowly built up a solid of about 30 lap over Tam Camaro until late in the race when they bent an axle. It was not clear what the issue was initially but the car slowed and started to run with a vibration and rattle clearly there was an issue. Several pit stops to check the car out discovered the bent axle, what to do? Get the car back on the track purchase another rear axle assembly and prep it just in case it got worse. While this was happening the car slowed dramatically, a quick trip into the pits check the braid out again and as it left the pits the guide came out so back in to the garage and the guide was replaced with a new one. Two laps later we lost a front wheel! It is often like that when you run into trouble it comes in droves. Front wheels fixed a quick team meeting let’s keep going if the bent axle causes more trouble we will replace it if and when the car become too slow or un-drivable.
By this stage we have lost the lead to Team Camaro, and the car is now not as fast as the Team Camaro car. Our car it is running smoother now and could be pushed hard despite the bent axle. Everyone in the team stepped up, we have about 10 laps to makeup.
Lap by lap we started to make inroads into the leaders advantage the depth of talent on our team was our greatest gift and now making a difference.
Last lane 1 hour to go, Mass always a quick runner delivered despite several of the pit stops mentioned above. Daniel a top runner also a couple of pit stops but running strong. I had a tough battle with Rhyse from Team Camaro, with our team having one additional team member we were out of sync with the other teams so we pulled back a little on the change of drivers. By the time Michael finished his run we had just regained the lead!!! Young Paul then started to put the hammer down as we creped ahead of Team Camaro. Jack T stepped up on the next change and increased the lead to about 5 – 7 laps. We are starting to think that we might be able to pull this off! Frank mentioned to me that he would be disappointed if we did not win after performing so we all race, We have one driver and 6 minutes to go now it is in Frank’s hands to bring it home and he was determined to do his bit for the team. We gave Frank the instruction to bring it home safely and stay on the same lap as Team Camaro take no risks but to drive to his rhythm. Slowly Frank started to match Camaro’s lap times then passed their car and started pulling away “Way to go Frank. Frank increased our lead, we don’t know what the finishing advantage that we had but it was comfortable we think 10 – 20 laps but not sure at the end!
We are looking to retrieve the results as we could not find the file on the night I am sure that Sheppo will find it and post the final results.
The final placing’s (subject to verification) are:-
1st Team Chevy
2nd Team Camaro
3rd Team Mercury
4th Team Dodge
The night was a great success and great fun. Some of the teams had a few car frustrations but were great sports in the face of adversary (as they say its character building). There was great enthusiasm to do another enduro in the future and a number of ideas were discussed after the race including:-
- Cars to stay on the same lane all race with the team driving a different car each time they change lanes
- A multi stage race using several tracks (did I hear anyone say rally cars?)
- An LMP day/night Le Mans style race with car with lights (especially with Le Mans coming up in June)
- Teams to setup their own cars prior to race day
- Do we want a half time break for BBQ?
Some of my thoughts (just throwing them out there):-
- What is we run a series of three enduro’s during the year with the same teams? Two 4 hours and a 6 hour with a points awarded to the champion team over all with a perpetual trophy. This would be just like the World Endurance Championship where there are two races (Silverton 6 hour, Spa 6 hour and Le Mans 24 hour) leading up to Le Mans? Next year we reform new team?
- Magnet racing evens out the driving skills with Pro Am racing there were very few crashes compared to other endures that we have run
- The raced format is great we just need to do a few minor rule tweaks for clarity –
- Will we allow assistance with the pit in button?
- A car that breaks down on the track may be removed to the garage area without going in to the pits
- Will we allow driver substitution (from within the team) should a team member be late
- A little more time needs to be provided setting up the cars if they are handed out and setup on the night
- It would be good to allow at least two team members work on a car whilst in the pits, sometimes you need someone to hold a part while it is being repaired and a second set of eyes always helps. If we are simulating real racing they have a full team on the cars when they go into the garage have a look at the Audi team at Le Mans! So one team member on the on track pit and at least 2 in the garage.
- Practice time with the car prior to race start although this can be a double edge sward if you break the car practicing. As with real racing the race starts at the designated time no exceptions
- It would be desirable to run new racers through the pit stop procedure, there was some confusion at the start about the fact that you had to hold the button down to get the car into the pits.
- There are a couple of timing system changes that Sheppo is looking in to the laps box/font size so that we can see past 999 laps, a pause for track issue, may be the ability to stage a race should there be a major track issue i.e. picking up from the place the race was stopped and printing out the results a t the end of the race (correct me if I do not have the right Sheppo).
- The raffling off of the cars left a lot of smiles on the recipients faces thumbs up Chris
- The new donated cars from the sponsor that were also raffled off was also great thanks again Chris for going the extra yard two thumbs up.
- It would have been idea to have an equal number of team members on each team as the timing was a little complicated but work ok with no issues.
- Cathy’s BBQ was great thank you Cathy
- Bill’s stewardship of the pit stops was fantastic, supportive and fair, thank you Bill.
- Sheppo and Bill seeded the teams well again thank you
- The night was fun, friendly and built great networks and new friendships between the Clubbies and Rookies.