Pit Stop Practice - And Damage Update... - James Clay

Its Tuesday, so it must be pit stop practice time... We were a little behind where we wanted to be at Daytona with our stops. The crew did an awesome job, but the driver handoff wasn't quite where we wanted it. Everything has to flow super-smoothly so that if we hit a snag, we have time for it. It is also pretty annoying/distracting to still be working on tightening belts or hooking up a helmet blower/drink tube/radio while cruising out of pit lane, so time to refine all the little procedures and program them into muscle memory.

Dave White came up to the shop, Chas (our driver helper) stayed late, we put on our coats and hoodies to make the belts more difficult, and got to work. After about 30 minutes of mostly constant swaps, we are in the game. Everything is flowing like clockwork. And who knew - getting in and out of a racecar repeatedly with full winter clothes is actually somewhat of a workout. So now fuel takes 40 sec for a full load and we are down to about 30 on a driver swap - right on!

Damage update - Turns out the #80 car took a bit of a whack at Daytona. No real surprise to anyone that saw the TV coverage, and really none to me after feeling my kidney for a few days (this is actually pretty rare with today's safety gear - even in our massive Watkins Glen wreck which is the scariest I have ever been in, I wasn't sore at all afterward). However, the extent of the damage is pretty impressive. The fuel door wasn't closing quite right and sure enough, the quarter has a wave in it now. The fuel cell cradle took a whack also and is being replaced. Most of it falls under "target of opportunity" for the next trip to the body shop - which is likely to be some time this season if I put on my fortune teller's hat. The guys in the shop are close to having everything straight and pretty again and we will be at 100% for Homestead.

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That's racing... - David White

First off, congrats to Bill and Seth for their 2nd place finish in round 1 of the CTSCC! Nice job guys!

After weeks of hard work by the folks at BimmerWorld and Steve Bassen (Bassen Autobody) to get the cars ready for the Daytona race, it was finally time to go racing. When I arrived at the track Wednesday afternoon, I got to see the cars in full race livery for the first time. They look awesome!

Thursday consisted of a couple of meetings, two practice sessions, and qualifying at the end of the day. The meetings were brief and to the point as usual and it was time to hit the track. We spent most of the practice time working on pit stops and making sure the cars were dialed in. It had only been a few weeks since we were testing at Daytona so it didn't take long for the BimmerWorld crew to nail down the setup. Since I'm new to this series and to pro racing, one of my main goals for practice was to get comfortable with being on track with 75+ cars from two different classes.

Qualifying in CTSCC is a 15 minute session but each class has it's own session so things are a lot less hectic on track. The car felt great and I was able to put together a few very nice laps and put the car in 3rd place on the grid. We were very optimistic about the race!

On Friday, we had a final practice session, a driver's meeting, a "fan walk" and the race in the early afternoon. We spent the practice session working on pit stops and driver changes. The team was nailing the stops and everyone was ready for the race!

The fan walk is essentially a meet and greet in the pits before the race. The cars were gridded up on pit lane and we had a chance to meet and interact with fans. Very cool for Grand-Am to do this I think.

The Race - After a couple of pace/formation laps, it was time to get down to business. My goal was to hand over the car to James mid-race in one piece and in position for a strong finish. Starting 3rd made it easier to avoid trouble at the start but mid way through the 2nd lap, we had our first full course caution. After a few laps behind the pace car, it was time to give it another shot. I think that lasted for another 2 laps before we were back behind the pace car again. The third time was the charm and we had green flag racing for a while. I got shuffled back a few spots but was able to work my way back up to 3rd or 4th before another caution period at about the mid-way point of the race. Perfect time to pit and hand the car over to James.

The crew nailed the pit stop (4 tires and fuel), then they nailed it again on the #81 car with no time between the stops. James was off to do his thing. He was running strong and working his way towards the front. After another caution period, he was running in 4th place right behind the 2nd and 3rd place cars when a competitor drove straight in to the back of him in the brake zone for turn 1. The impact sent him sideways in to the car in front of him damaging the front suspension. With 25-30 minutes to go, we were done...

A very disappointing finish to an awesome weekend. Hopefully our luck will change and we'll be at front of the pack at Homestead next month!