Join BimmerWorld and GRAND-AM at VIR April 23-25 – Special Ticket Offer

The Continental Tire Challenge is coming to our home track at VIR the weekend of April 23-25, so we called our friends at the track office to work out a deal for our friends and customers. All the GRAND-AM races are on Saturday April 24, but the entire weekend is full of racing activities.

To purchase tickets with our discounted group code, go to Saturday only tickets are $20 (code GABWJ10) and the full 3-day pass is $30 (code GABW10). We race at 3:30PM on Saturday – stop by and see us before or after the race!

Back to Florida... - David White

So it's back to Florida for the third time in 3 months (rough, I know) and this time we were in Miami for round 2 of the CTSCC. Homestead Miami Speedway is a banked oval with a road course in the infield. Like Daytona, only smaller. The oval is smaller, the banking is not as steep, and the infield portion is much tighter than Daytona.

After hearing warnings of how cold it was from friends in Miami, we had beautiful weather all weekend. Much nicer than what we had been dealing with in NC and VA the last few months.

Thursday was a promoter test day which consisted of the team unloading and setting up in the morning and then we were on track for a few hours in the afternoon to dial the cars and drivers in. Even if everything goes smoothly, this makes for a hectic/busy day for the team. In our second session, I recall a GS Porsche (very loud car) passing me and once it pulled away, I was still hearing a loud car and the note seemed to change with the revs of my engine...weird. I discussed the issue with the team and brought the car back to the pits. I had somehow managed to blow a hole in the exhaust near one of the oxygen sensors. With the limited time between sessions and the amount of work required to fix the problem, James and I had to skip the final session. We formed a game plan for the practice and qualifying sessions on Friday.

We hit the ground running Friday morning with two practice sessions before lunch. I focused on a few areas of the track that needed some attention and I was pleased with the results. The BimmerWorld crew had the cars dialed in and we were ready for qualifying later in the day. Bill and I decided to go out at the back of the pack for qualifying and I was able to put together a few clean laps to put the car in 11th place on the ST grid.

Saturday consisted of a final morning practice before the race which was spent doing a few laps and practicing pit stop/driver changes. The BimmerWorld crew consistently nails the pit stops and with James and I doing some driver change practice a few weeks earlier, everything went as planned.

We had the usual pre-race "fan walk" but the grid procedure was different than the one we used in Daytona. There was a bit of a mix up about the procedure and several cars ended up starting the race from pit lane including both of our cars and the APR VW's.

Once the race started, we had our work cut out for us but it was definitely an exciting ride! This race had fewer cautions than we expected and I was able to work my way from 31st back to 10th or 11th during my stint. During the second caution, there was confusion among the officials which led to me losing some spots during the wave-bys for the ST cars. We pitted during that caution which lessened the impact but it was still very frustrating and confusing for the team. After a beautifully executed pit stop, James was underway. He was steadily picking up spots until more confusion by the officials during a caution near the end of the race hurt us again. James was running 7th or 8th when the officials ordered our #80 to get in front of the #25 (the lead ST car). James and the team repeatedly questioned this but the officials were adamant that we "make it happen". So James reluctantly went to the front before the green flag flew. About a lap later, we were told that the #80 had to go back to where it was during the caution causing James to miss several laps of racing for position with the 5th and 6th place cars.

Our 7th place finish wasn't bad considering the snafus during the caution periods and was a big improvement over our Daytona finish. Bill and Seth had another great race and finished in 4th in the #81 car, awesome work guys! Overall it was another very strong showing for the BimmerWorld/GearWrench Team and I expect that to continue throughout the remainder of the season.

I think Bill covered the Jimmy Buffett issue quite nicely in his post, so all i'll say is that I'd be happy to never hear another Buffett song again...ever.

Next up - Round 3 at Barber Motorsports Park...stay tuned!

(photos courtesy of Curtis Creager of CreagerImages)

Homestead Recap (or How I learned to Hate Jimmy Buffet Music) - Bill Heumann

It seems like race weekends are defined by all the weird stuff that happens. Kind of like a family vacation,.... only doubly so.

Seth and I had prepared for the race by joining Chin Motorsports for a two day event a couple of weeks ago. Chin runs a great event with lots of track time. Mark and Maria treated us like royalty and arranged for our run group to get a session on the pro course (less infield but includes Nascar #3-#4) for one session on Sunday. We got tons of track time in my IP race car with lots of support from Randy Mueller of Epic Motorsport. This included a major engine overhaul (head gasket and harmonic balancer) Saturday night so we could run on Sunday. It's a true friend that will stay up all night so that someone else gets to drive. Especially since he gave up a Bahamas trip to do it! Thanks Randy!The result was that Seth got me to where I was very comfortable and fast on the track and had started working on some technique improvements that are costing me time.

So fast forward to this race weekend. We had a promoter test day starting at 1 PM on Thursday. My only real job was to get the feel for the car since I was already pretty comfortable with the track. The lack of aero and running on our series spec Continental enduro tires verses Hankooks can sure take one's bravado away! At any rate I put down some decent times and was getting more and more comfortable with the BimmerWorld/GearWrench E90.

On Friday we had two practice sessions then a 15 minute qualifying session at 5:05. Dave and I decided to go out at the tail of the pack for qualifying, get a nice gap, then do our fliers. Dave went out a little in front of me, due to me being held up to be scolded by a grid official. I really had no idea what my infraction was at the time because the guy was yelling at me through my helmet, earbuds and engine noise. So I go out at the very tail and allow what I thought was a big enough gap (about 200 yards) to the two cars in front of me. Despite this being a single class, that wasn't enough of a gap and I caught them by T3. I made the mistake of backing off to build another gap for the next lap instead of making the best I could of out of that lap. On the next flier I was on a good lap for me through T5 (T1-T4 were usually my weakest parts) but when I hit the brake zone for T6 all hell broke lose. The car had an electrical short which killed ALL power. I locked up the brakes and spun to a stop in the middle of T6 facing oncoming traffic. For about 5 minutes I fiddled with various combinations of master switch, ignition, start button, etc. while watching cars come at me under waiving yellow, until blessedly, I got power again and got the car started. I got one lap on flat spotted tires before the session ended so I qualified pretty poorly (P28). Dave did an awesome job qualifying P10 with what would be one of the fastest lap times we would get out of the cars all weekend.

The electrical short was diagnosed as a broken wire hidden by shrink tube in the right rear quarter of the car (coincidentally, the corner I crushed in my test day mishap at Daytona).

Morning practice on race day went well and we were ready to go. Due to a misunderstanding of the schedule we missed gridding our cars properly so both Dave and I had to start from the back of the field. This wasn't too much of a change for me since I had qualified so poorly but for Dave and James it was a real setback. We started working our way up through the field. Within two laps, the GS leaders had caught us and things started getting really wild with a fair amount of carnage but we continued to make our way through the field. Due to worries about a cooling issue we had been fighting in the #81 car we pitted early under a FCY and did the driver change at just over 30 minutes into the race. Seth got in and started doing his usual magic of cutting through the field. One of the many incredible things about Seth (besides of course that he is Seth Thomas!) is that he can consistently put down qualifying speed laps in the heat of racing. While everyone else in the field falls off by .5 seconds or more from their qualifying times in racing, Seth kept hitting fast lap after fast lap regardless of traffic or race conditions. When the normal pit rotations came around we were leading the race for a while, but we needed to bring to Seth in for a splash of fuel due to the early stop. We ended up in fourth just behind my friend (now SOB) BJ Zacharias in the a RSR Mini. Congratulations BJ!

Meanwhile Dave and James drove an outstanding race without error on their parts and ended up in seventh. But for a series of very bizarre race control instructions and some bad moves from competitors they would have been higher. I'll leave it to them to explain the weird stuff. All I can say is that it should be entertaining to watch Speed TV try explain it on the air.... which probably means they will keep the coverage on the GS cars while the most crazy stuff is going on.

Despite some bad luck, the team held together and came away with both cars in the top 10. In this field, that is a great accomplishment and we are all very proud and pumped for the next race at Barber. The crew did outstanding jobs on all of our pit stops which is critical to having any chance of success in this series.

Thanks to the lovely Crystal Mueller for helping the crew with various tasks but, most importantly, for arranging our food for the weekend. It was delicious and makes a big difference going into an enduro!

So why do I hate Jimmy Buffet music now?

Homestead has a paddock wide PA system that played Buffet music almost non stop from 8 AM until we escaped at around 6 PM. Now unlike some of the other team members, I didn't mind a little Buffet now and then and usually Florida is a good place for it...... but 10 hours a day? Really?

As I finally made it to my departure gate Sunday morning I realized that the most demanding toughness training that comes from pro racing isn't from the racing itself, the hours practice, or even the continual comparison of every minutia of one's driving techniques to drivers like Seth, James and Dave. It comes from the continual challenge of dealing with airports like Miami International (and driving on the streets in places like Miami). But that's a whole other story!

Labels: , , , , ,

The big news from Homestead!

At least it is occupying some of our downtime. Continental Tire has started a “Fan Favorite” program Where fans (you) vote on your favorite car/team. Tell me more! OK:

• How do I vote? Text ST80 to 20123 between 12AM EST Friday (that’s late night for you kids and 6 hours before work on Friday for the kids headed to an office) and Midnight Sunday. And you can vote as many times at your fingers are feeling frisky. Beat the pros’ personal record of 58 in 2 minutes...
• What does it cost? Nothing. Well – normal text rates apply, so it actually depends on your cell plan, but nothing or next to it.
• What do I get? Our gratitude knowing that you are supporting our team for now. In the future, a chance to win free tires for your valuable minutes spent (this will be done every race). Try it out this weekend to make sure you have the process dialed in for when you are going to win something…
• Why bother with no free tires this weekend? Because we appreciate it (and because we are competitive).

Thanks for participating (because we know you all will).