Rotten Lemons to Lemon Aide at VIR - Bill Heumann
4/25/10

James has already posted a recap of the incident that wrecked the #80 car. But he really didn't do it justice. One of the big things he left out was what we saw on the in-car video.

Within 2 seconds of the car coming to rest from a very violent hit with a tire wall, then an airborne pirouette, James was on the radio informing the crew that the car was wrecked and out of commission. Seriously, 2 seconds! It's on video. We think he must have been keying the mic while the car was in the air! Within 1 minute, he was telling Dave to get on the phone with our friends at RRT Racing and see if we could use their car (they were not racing at this event).

Keep in mind, the hit from the incident was about as hard as it gets. It was probably 100 MPH or so at point of impact into the tire wall. The tire wall did it's job and absorbed some energy but there was enough to launch the car into the air in a rather nice (from a spectator's perspective not James') spiral form.

By the time James cleared medical, got back to the paddock, and took a couple Aleve, he was back to his smiling relaxed self. The man has incredible composure!

For me it was a clear example of why BimmerWorld is such a great company. When the owner has that kind of presence of mind and style under pressure, you can be confident they will do the right thing in business.... under any circumstance. Of course, for those of us that are James Clay fans, you know his party tricks are also pretty impressive.... but I'm not telling any of those stories...this time!

Thanks to help of Barry Battle and Michael Dayton, RRT got their car to us Thursday night and our crew jumped on getting the car prepped and through tech as a re-badged #80 BimmerWorld Team car. If the story had ended there, it would be impressive enough but the crew and drivers continued to perform under pressure. Our day Friday had only two practice sessions, then qualifying. Since the car was new to us, Dave and James had very little time to test, tune and get comfortable with the car. When Dave qualified the car, he had about 10 minutes of prior seat time. As is his norm, Dave was cool under pressure and drove the car right to the limit.

The team decided that night that we needed to move some parts from the wrecked #80 to the new #80 so the crew was at the track early and worked like crazy from sometime early (e.g. about 3 hours before us Pro drivers get our first Starbucks macchiato ). The changes were fairly dramatic and there was no practice prior to race start so Dave and James' jobs were simply to go race in a car they really hadn't driven before. I'll let them tell the story of their race but to end in 6th with that much crap piled on their heads is a real testament to the mental toughness of the drivers, great strategy and engineering by our engineer Wayne, and flawless performance from the crew.

So what was the race weekend like for #81.........

What a weird freaky weekend, even when compared to other race weekends, which tend to be pretty freaky and weird! Fortunately most of the weird stuff was happening around us and not to us so our biggest challenge was not to get distracted or too entertained by all the stuff going on.

Before giving a brief race recap here is a summary of some of the other stuff;

- A guy talking on his cell phone as he was walking through the paddock didn't see our lift gate coming down to load #80 on the trailer and walked right into the aluminum ramp. He immediately fell to the ground semi conscience with blooded pouring from what was a multiple stitch wound.

- We met two families worth of really nice fans when we were scouting the track. They invited us up to the roof of their camper to watch the track at Oak Tree. Jason Crist showed that he can make himself right at home under any circumstance... but that is his story. They made a point of coming down from South paddock after the race to get more autographs

- On the race day morning we got a pict from Seth's wife, Resa, showing a car upside down in the courtyard of the Courtyard. I guess it is good thing there was actually a courtyard or the car probably would have ended up in my room. In another strange twist, the car was NOT piloted there by James Clay. (see the picture of the car on it's roof and read Seth's blog here..(http://www.seththomas.net/blog/)

- Seth's Dad, the famous Bobby T, discovered a good restaurant in Danville! Unfortunately, I don't feel like I can tell anyone else the name of it since it was pretty crowded and I want to be sure there is room for me next time I visit VIR..

ok.... Joe and Mimma's Italian Restaurant, ‎3336 Riverside Drive, Danville, VA 24541(434) 799-5763‎

- We had great food at the track courtesy of James' Mom and Dad, Kendall and Barbara Clay! Thank you. I can't say I am sorry to miss out on Chic Fillet!

So on with the race summary....

I had qualified P20 despite putting down my best lap of the weekend in qualifying at about 1 second faster than I had made it around previously.

This picture is right after the start of the race so you get an idea of where Dave (#80 just behind and inside of me) and I started.


The race was pretty clean in the beginning with a little bit of paint swapping and a few minor offs (by others!). At about the 45 minute there was a FCY but it was way to early to pit if we were going to make to the end with a one stop strategy. Dave and I kept plugging away after the track went green. It wasn't long until a fairly major incident occurred at about the 1 hour mark. This involved three cars and as I understand it, one driver broke some ribs. This resulted in another major FCY at about the one hour mark. We pitted both cars simultaneously again but in the 1 1/2 weeks between Barber and this race, James had put together the equipment and a partnership with CMA Racing to help us crew when we needed to do two cars at once. This worked beautifully with fast stops for both cars. The crews were awesome and both cars maintained good track position. The result was that we were somewhere top 10 when I brought the car in and Seth got back out in the top 10, with several cars yet to pit.


In this picture we have passed a GS class Mazda RX8. You can't see in this picture how messed up the rear of the car is from a prior collision!










Our engineer, Wayne Yawn, figured the cars had enough fuel to make it to the end of the race.... barely. Seth and James began working further up through the field. Seth got up to third then had to give the position back to the APR VW after a brush with a GS car. He quickly regained third behind two Compass 360 Hondas (they had pitted at the first FCY at 45 minutes) that were running as train to try and conserve fuel and build up a gap from the rest of the field. They may have conserved fuel, but they didn't gap Seth! In fact he was reeling them in at about .5 - .75 seconds a lap. With about 7 minutes of racing to go, one of the Compass 360 cars needed fuel and had to pit which dropped them into 4th. With one lap to go, our car starved for fuel in T1 and Seth knew he had to limp the car around the track. When he made it to Hogpen, he knew he could make it to the finish line...which he did....just barely. He immediately shut the car down in the field past Start/Finish and got towed back to impound.





Of course, he managed to get himself back to the winner's circle for a little Champagne!

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