Road Atlanta Post Race Review

We spoke to the guys after an exciting Touring Car race that unfortunately didn't have the expected results. See below as Nick talks about a charity that is close to his heart, and James tells us his side of some on track incidents.

The 2008 season is over so the free t-shirt offer is winding down. We'll do a 2008 season wrap up where we ask the guys as many questions as they'll answer (possibly released in parts so they don't cramp up their driving hands typing).

Get your questions in while you can at:

(James) It seems like you guys do a pretty extensive check of the cars between sessions. Can you talk about the importance of that process, and what your guys are checking / doing before the car goes back out on track?

[James Clay] Our cars are full solid mounted (bushings, etc) and driven extremely hard every time they touch the track (if you aren’t turning your best possible lap every time, you are wasting money running it around the track) they need quite a bit of maintenance. The crew has a checklist of all the wear parts to review and inspect/replace if needed. The car is cleaned so the guys can inspect for leaks, cracks, etc. Past that, we do a lot of tweaking on the cars for setup between sessions. The drivers in World Challenge come fast out of the box to the track – a lot of the speed difference as the weekend progresses is captured by small tweaks to the car. Finally, after the day is over and certainly before qualifying or the race, the car gets a thorough inspection and nut and bolt to make sure everything is as it should be and ready to run full-tilt with no issues.

(James) ***Spoiler Alert*** You had a run in with multiple Tri-Point Mazda's during the race. It was unclear - given some of the angles and footage - exactly what transpired but seemed like you held your line and were maybe 'squeezed' a little too much resulting in various contact. What did it look like from your seat?

[James Clay] I am not at all happy about my Atlanta race. Specifically with the Tri-Point cars, I had two issues with contact, both of which I ended up on the “good side” of, but the truth is no one wins in this situation and it is bad for everyone. I had one place on the track that I could pull off a pass in our cars – acceleration on the back straight where I would gain about 4 car lengths out of the draft and into a very hard braking zone where our cars always excel. The first contact with Espenlaub happened on our 3rd or 4th time through 10a together – every time I was pushing it a little harder to set up a turn 12 pass that put me on the podium in 2007 here. I feel like the contact on this occasion was due to Charles slightly crossing the track under braking after we had both chosen our positions and were under threshold braking – not a time to change your plan for evasion. Charles and I talked after the race and had a gentleman’s agreement on the matter and I consider it case closed – certainly I imagine it will be on the broadcast and you can draw your own conclusion.

World Challenge Road Atlanta: Turn 10a: James Clay and Charles Espenlaub from Craig Geiger on Vimeo.

Saini on the other hand was blatantly crossing the track under braking when he lost sight of me and didn’t think about the blind spot we all learn about in driver’s ed. After the race in our “discussions” I was told that I had more room on my right that I should have used, but I guess the engineer in me realized that the coefficient of friction with two tires on grass is not as good as when you keep them on pavement so I chose to maintain my line along the edge of the track. I have plenty of thoughts on the matter but this one will hopefully be in the broadcast as well and I think the fans will see who was at fault.

(Nick) Tell us a little bit about your involvement with

When I started racing WC in 2004 I knew I was fortunate to be able to race at this level. To give something back I was evaluating charities and a friend of mine in San Diego told me about the Special Operations Warriors Foundation and explained how they help the kids of the SF guys killed in action or training. I contacted them and they had people at Sebring working with the SCCA, Realtime, and I to promote the cause. When we met some of the kids the foundation had helped as well as some of the SF guys, it became a mission of mine to bring awareness to this special charity. These guys leave their families for sometime 18 months, they go to the darkest corners of the earth to deal with things the average person will never know about, and they do it for little pay and at great risk to themselves. My small contribution is to let them know someone is looking after their kids if the worst happens.
Find out more about and what you can do to help here.

(Nick) Road Atlanta featured what is probably a BimmerWorld first, with a team driver taking the wheel behind a GT Mustang. Can you give us a little insight into how the TC / GT cars compare?

Mike Davis has been very generous in allowing me to test some of the ACS cars. I didn’t even qualify the car so I squeezed a hardship lap in and started from the back and we immediately had a brake problem. Those are the problems that never improve with time so I pulled it off. Having tested the GT cars in the past they simply have more weight, power, and ultimate grip... The Touring Cars require more finesse as well as keeping the momentum of the car up, especially when you are in traffic with 15 other guys all within a second. The GT cars have such a big performance envelope you really don’t get a break in the action as things are happening at a much faster pace. I’d love to race in both classes but it's tough to jump from one car to the other, not to mention the economics. I give Galati and Randy a lot of credit to be effective in both classes.

(Nick) You had a great race at Road Atlanta and a good finish. How does it feel ending the season on a high note?

At a minimum, this is where I expected to run all season. I’m pleased having a good result and finishing up the season with three top tens but overall I wasn’t satisfied with what I accomplished this year. There is no question running against the factory teams is a challenge and as we saw some of the teams could put almost anyone in their cars and they were a hero... And good for them. Our development continued through the year and we finally got there at the end of the year where we were able to keep pace. I feel confident the E90s will be the car to beat in 2009. If you have a bad last race you have six months of sleepless nights and anxiousness. This finish put me at ease and motivates me to get ready to fight and win next year.


RA - Radio info and cheap tickets for Students

Seth will also be 103.7 FM Bulldog Radio in Athens this morning around 9am if you missed their interview last night at the Zone.

You can listen on the internet here!

Also Friday only Students with a valid Student ID get $25 off their ticket price. This is for Friday only and at Gate 4.

Come out and see BW race on one of the best tracks in the country!