oh yeah, we have a blog... -David White
6/23/10

At the beginning of the season, James asked me to blog about my rookie season and I told him "I'm on it". Even though I've never been much of a writer, I figured I would give it a shot since we thought it would be interesting for readers to "see" the experience through the eyes of someone making the jump from club racing to professional racing. I stayed somewhat on top of it through the first few race weekends but, as I'm sure most that know me expected, I've been way too slack about blogging since.

since my last entry:

VIR - I had never looked forward to a race as much as our race at VIR. It's my (and BimmerWorld's) home track and we would have plenty of friends there to cheer us on. Disaster struck early when our #80 car was taken out on the promoter test day (James covered that nicely in his blog entry so I'll skip the details). This was a crushing blow but we were fortunate enough to secure another car to use for the weekend thanks to our friends at RRT Racing.

I feel that we were very lucky to end up with a top 10 finish at VIR after losing our car in testing but I came away from that weekend very disappointed with my performance. I had my worst qualifying performance of the year so far (by a long shot) and a very mediocre race stint. Luckily, James was on it and with some solid pit strategy, we salvaged a decent finish. It was pretty amazing to see how hard the BimmerWorld crew worked to put both cars in the top 10!

Lime Rock - My first trip to LRP was in 2007 (before it was repaved) and it was a miserable experience. When I left, I said I'd never return...until 2010 apparently. My second trip there was an open test day where I drove my buddy Tyler's E36 328 ITR race car so I could re-learn the track. I came away from that test day really liking the track and looking forward to our CTSCC race there on memorial day weekend.

Our race weekend at LRP was a short one with no promoter test day so we had to work quickly to get the cars and drivers dialed in. Even with split classes, qualifying was hectic with 35+ cars on a 1.5 mile track for 15 minutes. I somehow found a decent gap and was able to qualify 5th, a few tenths off of the pole time. The next morning, the crew discovered a mechanical issue with the #80 car about an hour before the race and began thrashing to get it resolved. It's a sinking feeling when you're sitting in the car on jack stands as you watch the other cars go out for their recon laps before they take the grid. We missed the grid and lost our 5th place starting position but there was still time to make the start. The crew got me on my way during the formation laps and I had to quickly make my way to pit lane which is no easy task on race day since the paddock is crowded with fans. I make it to the end of pit lane in time for the start and I begin working my way forward from 35th place and pit from 15th place to hand the car over to James. James was forced to pit under green to replace a cut tire and we ended up a lap down. Another race for us where the result did not match the performance. Bill and Seth ran an awesome race giving BimmerWorld it's first CTSCC win!!

Watkins Glen - Our WGI race was the very next weekend but at least we were back to a "normal" schedule with plenty of test/practice time to dial the cars and drivers in. We are very optimistic that this race will be a good one for us since fast, sweeping tracks like WGI really suit our cars and the cars have been getting better each time we drive them. We have a great showing in qualifying and up with 2nd and 4th place spots on the starting grid.

I got a great start and ran strong in the opening laps but I was too focused on getting by the leader instead of running my race and conserving my tires so I started tumbling down the order. I think I pitted from 10th to hand the car over to James. Valuable lesson learned - focus on running smooth, consistent laps and don't worry so much about leading early on. I think my teammates have covered what transpired at WGI causing us to miss out on possible podium finishes, so I'll defer to their blog posts.

Mid-Ohio - Ready to redeem myself from my poor showing during my WGI race stint, I was focused on running smooth and consistent laps at Mid-Ohio. Our cars were pretty dialed in from the beginning of the weekend which made life easy for us. I was happy with my lap times and consistency right out of the box but found a few areas that needed some improvement. We spent most of the test day experimenting with very small setup tweaks and I made sure I was on pace.

Time for qualifying - Bill and I go out together and found a pretty decent gap. My first lap is a good one until i have a nice drift through the carousel...oops. Still a good lap and fast enough to put me in P1, briefly. Another car edges me out by less than a tenth of a second so I give it another go, focusing on being smooth and hitting all my marks. I dropped a couple of tenths on that lap and secured my second pole position of the season! I won't lie, it's a pretty big deal to me and worth all of the ensuing "pole" jokes...

Race day - One more short practice before the race allows us to make sure we're happy with our race setup. I think this might be the first time that everyone on the team has agreed on something - good sign! Mid-Ohio is a very tough track to pass on so I know I need to get a good start, then put my head down and click off some good laps to stay in front. I do just that and take the lead for the first 16 laps until I somehow managed to cut the main fuel pump off as I'm downshifting in to 3rd gear for the entrance to Thunder Valley. The car bogged down, I wondered if the motor had just let go, pulled to the right to avoid getting hit, noticed the low fuel pressure alarm on the dash so I turned on the spare fuel pump and the car came back to life. This all transpired in under 4 seconds and luckily, I only lost one position. While the situation sucked, it could have been much worse. I put my head back down and worked on reeling in the new leader. I caught him and made a few attempts to pass but was unable to get by before I got the call to pit for fuel, tires, and driver change. James ran a solid stint against some tough competition and we finished 4th. Congrats to Bill and Seth for picking up their 2nd win of the season! Great work everyone!

So there you have it - plenty of highs and lows packed in to 4 race weekends. This month has been a crazy one with 3 races in 4 weeks and a few other trips to race tracks sprinkled in. Going forward, I hope to be more "on it" with the blog updates...but I guess we'll have to wait and see how that pans out.


The End of a Driving Slump - James Clay
6/21/10

It comes as no surprise to a lot of my friends that the last month+ has been a little tense for me. On the surface, being the owner of a team in a new series is always a little intense for a while - compound that normal circumstance with the additional pressure of a 3 race run in 4 weekends - little room for error.

Now add the non-standard stuff that piles right on top. First Watkins Glen. Great weekend for us, all except the results. I have kept my mouth mostly shut, since running it at this point does nothing positive.

But without any shadow of a doubt, we had a couple of podiums in the bag in NY and an error by "not our personnel" yanked it out of our grasp. We managed a couple of top 10s out of it, but no one on Team BimmerWorld was happy. Seeing the TV show didn't make us any happier since in the Watkins situation, we were unfortunately severely aware and without being asked, a few folks felt inclined to theorize that we were clueless. Final word to all the blog readers - we know the rules and unfortunately make every effort to follow them... Anyway, this has been on my mind as a secondary stress point - or tertiary or wherever it falls - I am losing count.

First and foremost on my mind - my personal time behind the wheel has been a major disappointment for a few races. Others rely on me to get a job done and while I feel my strongest and maybe more unique skill is setup and I have been knocking that out, I can wheel the car and usually do so to a good finish. Our team doesn't work as hard as they do to watch cars go around track - they invest a supreme amount of effort and the payoff is a result - a good one. My co-driver has been a standout in his first-stint efforts, putting the 80 on pole once before this past weekend, otherwise typically close to the front, and then handing me a solid car.

Cue the designated hitter. Not for setup or tuning, but to bring home the finish - the final result of all that work. The season has been a little rocky, full of bad things happening to good people as my friend Jim Robinson of DTOM Racing fame would say - in a weak moment when he was being nice.

R1 - Daytona - strong start leading to strong finish, P5 headed up, SLAMMED in the back on a restart by a car that lost its braking ability...end of race
R2 - Homestead - strong start, first timing tower error puts us back, making up ground, hit and spun, recover, ANOTHER timing tower error makes us look silly, still manage a decent top 10
R3 - Barber - a little short to be a great track, but we can put down one lap, which DW does, putting us on the pole. A setup experiment we attempted plays out awesome in qualifying,poorly in the race, car fades, P6 finish. Still decent with the footnote - "for what it was"
R4 - VIR - Home track, cars progressing, an insanely stupid move by a new driver in the faster GS class puts me in the wall with major damage before the weekend even really starts. Find a spare car, awesome race strategy, salvage a 6th. Good result *for what it was...

Starting to see a trend? Well you're not alone. Too many footnotes.

R5 - Lime Rock - hitters slump has set in. Everything else going well, but I can't make anything happen when I strap in the CTC cars. Wildly frustrating and I won't know why until Mid Ohio, but in the meantime, I have a good race going headed for a higher top 10 (still fails to meet my expectations because there are no footnotes this time) and I force an issue in braking, cut a tire, lose a lap. Poor finish at the start of a 3 race stretch, James is grumpy.
R6 - Watkins - enough said on the obvious. The good news for me is I am driving well enough, but something still isn't right and while we seem to be headed for a top 5 before disaster strikes, still not up to expectations.

So now we are facing round 7. Why do bad things happen to good people? Keep in mind that by the law of averages, for every Jimmy Johnson that is having a horseshoe stuck season, there is one of us filling in as James Clay, taking the licks, not getting the finishes. And the more it happens, the worse it is. Thus the mid-season slump.

So it's Mid Ohio time. I get good sleep. I put away the normal BimmerWorld work early on Wednesday, and I focus on racing. I have spent a week pouring through data and I have asked our engineer Wayne to do the same thing, and we think we have found something. I approach the weekend like nothing has been amiss and plan to win the race. This is the test of positive thinking and hard work. Study hard but not too hard. Recognize mistakes but don't dwell on them. Focus on winning without putting too much pressure to get there. A driver's ego is a fragile thing and I have done this routine before, but not for myself.

The cars are good off the trailer. Minimum setup work required - instead we work on specific qualifying and race setups. I am also on out of the trailer. Take the positive reinforcement, study data but don't dwell. Learn and move forward. It is all working and by race time, we are ready to win. David goes out and kills it. I get the car in P2 but we lose a few out of the pits. Our strategy puts us at the back of the field to work up, but unfortunately for me, the traffic Seth cleared as single cars after the restart has now bunched behind the slower of the group and now instead of passing one at a time, I get caught up big having to work a group of 5 that is fanning out in all the braking zones. We move up, go for a final fuel stop under green, and keep working. Another yellow, we have passed more cars, some in front of us pit. More laps and Seth is leading, I am P3 and
working hard to get around a VW who is about as wide under braking where I have the advantage as the group of 5 I worked through earlier. Another caution, my gap behind is lost and a restart with the GS cars (who are slower on the back half) and the fading grip in T1 take their toll and I lose a spot to finish P4.

End result - team wrapped up the 3 race rush leading the points, the 80 car doesn't reach its potential once again due to an outside variable but this time that means one away from a podium. And more importantly to me, my slump is over! It has been a discouraging time and unrewarded efforts were getting old, but no one makes positive progress by burying their head in the sand. It is good to be back!

The reward - this blog entry was written entirely in my time waiting in line for the next coaster at Cedar Point. Next time I am looking for a top step for the effort.

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Mid Ohio- Bill Heumann



Everyone expects you to do well at your "home" track but there are some aspects of being at a familiar track that made this weekend more of a challenge for me than some of the others. First, a little definition of home track. Mid Ohio happens to be the closest big boy track to home at about 5 hours away. I had about 13 events at Mid O including my first race, a bunch of successes, and some miserable experiences including wrecks and blown engines.

For me, Mid O is one of the most fun tracks to drive but it is a very hard track to be really good at. There are so many tricks that local knowledge is definitely an advantage. Having said that, many of the guys in the paddock had lots of experience there also. In addition, I have gotten to the point where frequently the difference between me and the fastest laps put down by my team mates is the result of small bad habits that have become part of my driving style. With Seth's coaching I am aware of these and I am working hard to stop doing them. When trying to break a bad habit though, I have discovered that muscle memory is not your friend!

Our cars were set up great right out of the box and there was nothing for us to do except very minor shock adjustments. Between our engineer, Wayne Yawn, the drivers and crew we got the handling of these cars dialed in pretty quickly. Dave, James and Seth were pretty much knocking off good laps from the beginning and working on trimming off a few tenths.

James was really on his game all weekend. This picture was actually shot at breakfast...... Thursday morning.

Despite my home track "advantage," I was struggling through the practice sessions on Thursday and Friday morning and lagging over a second off the right pace. I was driving decently in the last practice session before qualifying although I didn't get any clean laps and the lap times didn't show the improvement.

Between the practice and quali we had one of the humorous interludes of the weekend. Crystal Mueller brought her beautiful daughters Crystin and Solei to the race and they were introduced to the way the pros behave when James and Dave took them along to get coffee and donuts. Along the way they found raccoon road kill. Showing that they had the appropriate parental skill set for a Father's Day weekend, they let the girls get out, touch, and photograph the deceased! I suspect this was the high point of the race weekend for the girls despite their Mom's displeasure. I just wish I had had thought of doing that when my kids were young but at least it didn't stop Sean (24) and me from stopping on the way out to dinner that night to look for the raccoon!

For the 15 minute single class qualifying session, we used the successful strategy we used at WGI. That is, we held both cars until the field had left the pits then both Dave and I went out in an empty section of track with me following him. Dave is an all around awesome driver but amongst all that awesomeness, his performance in qualifying is towards the top of the list. It helped me at WGI to use Dave as the rabbit....... and the tow from his draft doesn't hurt either!

It helped and I put down my fast lap of the weekend with a 1:37.9. I was unable to beat that and it was subsequently good enough for a respectable P7. Dave put down a great lap despite a little bobble in Carousel which was good enough for P1 initially, but he was shortly bumped to P2. He then went on another flier and got a 1:37.1 which held as P1.

Although the forecast and skies threatened rain Saturday morning, it all went South of us and it was clear, and hot, when race time came around.

This picture shows Dave leading the pack through T1. This picture was probably lap 1 or 2 since everyone is still pretty tight. He led for 16 laps or so.....

Although you don't see #81 in the picture I had my best start in the series and got past one or two cars in T7 and Madness.






There were quite a few FCY, due mostly to cars in the gravel traps. My racing continued to get better and I was pleased with the improvement I made in getting focused in a race environment, hitting my marks, correcting on mistakes from the prior lap, and adapting to changing conditions. I wasn't the fastest guy on the track but I was running a consistent pace that kept us top 10. My race craft got a little better also and I defended my position better than I had previously. My biggest mistake of the race occurred when I didn't drive a defensive line out of T1 up to the Key Hole. A Cobalt got inside me at the braking zone. I thought "no big deal" as I would hold him tight on entry then make an "over-under" move on the back straight. The problem was that I got a better run on him than I was expecting and was so close that I ended up pushing him ahead 20',.... and me back 10'! When I brought the car in we were at P5 and the car was running great.

We pitted both cars when a FCY came out at about the 50 minute mark. This put us on a two stop strategy as we would need an additional splash of fuel to finish the race. Our main competitors at Compass 360 were doing the same. James and Seth both went out and started nailing it. They showed why they are top guns in the pro circuit as well as why we love the E90 BMW. Neither put down the fastest laps of the race, but they put down fast lap after fast lap. Our cars are so solid and predictable throughout the race that they are a driver's dream. Our Performance Friction brake systems not only allowed us to out brake our competition, but to do it from start to finish without any fade.

For those of you who think Seth is a nice guy, this is how he looks just BEFORE he gets into the car! It really isn't a good idea to get in his way. Anyone who has raced him... or watched our driver change routine will know what I am talking about!

(of course it may be possible he is po'd because he doesn't think I am coming down pit lane fast enough.)

Seth will have to give the blow by blow account from inside #81 but from the outside he made it look easy. The only really tense moment I had when Seth was driving was when the #171 VW driven by Josh Hurley punted us in the brake zone for Carousel with one lap to go. Seth had been holding a pretty good gap of 3-4 seconds on Josh until a final FCY bunched the cars up again. As it turns out, Josh was slammed in the rear by a GS car which knocked him into us. Seth was able to maintain control and go on to take the checkered flag. Josh made a point of talking to Seth shortly after the race and set things right.

It looked like we would get both cars on the podium this weekend but the traffic and the final FCY conspired to finish #80 with an impressive season best (so far) P4 .

The results of this weekend put BW in the lead in the season championships by one point. It isn't much of a lead so far but we are happy for the moment. We have good momentum and confidence leading into the the final three races of the season.

The biggest take away for me for the weekend is that race at the top of your game you have to be prepared both mentally and physically. To achieve this, BimmerWorld drivers have learned that ice cream really helps. Fortunately at WGI and Mid O we had good ice cream close at hand. For round 8 at NJMP, I sure hope Flipper's Custard is decent!


Watkins Glen- Bill Heumann
6/6/10

This is a hard blog update to write. I have found that sometimes it gets a little depressing two or three days after a race where you have done well. I think this is mostly caused by the adjustment and let down of going back to the non race world where no one knows, or cares, what you did the prior weekend!

As I write this, I can say with absolute certainty that it is better to suffer the post race let down from a success, than waking up at 6 AM the morning after a race still angry and feeling like the race was stolen from us.

The weekend was rock solid from all aspects that we could control. The team only had a few days to get the cars repaired and prepped after our victory at Lime Rock last weekend. Fortunately, there was only regular maintenance and cosmetic body work to repair so our guys were all over it and the cars were clean and ready to go by the time we got to WGI on Thursday.

We had three scheduled practice sessions on Thursday and two on Friday but almost all of the sessions were cut short due to sessions being black flagged to deal with wrecks.

Despite this, we got enough track time to get the cars set up well and learn our lines. Dave went straight out and put down our team best time of the weekend and was able to qualify P2. I got P5, my best qualifying position of the season so far. It felt great to finally run at the front pace in this series.

The race start was clean and Dave and I got to down to racing. I was slow to get my lap times down to where they needed to be and dropped a few spots in the first couple of laps. Hearing Seth's voice in my head (imaginary...not on the radio!) I got my eyes up and started hitting my marks and began putting down some pretty good lap times. This was good enough to keep me running around P9-P10. When there was a full course yellow at 50 minutes, Dave and I came in nose to tail, from those spots.

Both cars had great pit stops with fuel, tires and driver change. About 20 minutes later, we did a "splash and go" to get enough fuel to finish the race. Almost immediately after our cars were back out, an accident occurred resulting in a FCY which was golden for us.... we thought. Our resulting positions were about P5 and P6 of the cars that had pitted and had enough fuel to finish the race..... until race control started the "waive by" process.

The waive by is where all of the cars between the last GS race leader and the current ST race leader are waived by the pace car so as to not go a lap down from the ST field being split by the GS cars. In error, they did not call our cars to be waived by although they got all of the other team cars that were in the same position. We protested this but they let the decision stand resulting in 80 and 81 being almost the last cars in the race.... and a lap down! James and Seth did a great job to recover from this mentally and got back to racing. After about 30 minutes of green flag racing there was a FCY called for debris clean up and race control recognized their mistake and told our cars to go around the pace car. This put us on the lead lap, but at about P20 and P21 with 30 minutes to go.



James and Seth really put their heads down and started cutting through the field. They had great drives and showed why they are top pro drivers.

This picture shows how closely we can work together when it's race time....





Unfortunately there wasn't enough time left on the clock. Another accident caused a FCY at about 8 minutes to go and the race ended under yellow. James had gotten up to P9 and Seth P6.

At this point we are all trying to be philosophical about it and keep our focus positive but it is very difficult. With the lap times and track position we had, we felt we would have ended up with two podiums if not for race control making what we think was an honest, but catastrophic, mistake.


This picture taken towards the end of the race of #81 Car Chief, Ryan Kuhn, pretty much says it all.









Enough of the "coulda, shoulda, woulda" it is time to focus on Mid Ohio where we need to do well if we are to retain our chance of a championship.


Lime Rock Park - Bill Heumann
6/1/10

Wow! Seriously, Wow!

The super condensed LRP weekend schedule is over and I am trying to get caught up at home before heading out to WGI tomorrow so this will be a little more brief than usual.



First, how does it feel to get on top of the podium? Well, it feels great! Next to seeing my kids make a major achievement, life just doesn't hand out too many better experiences than this.

The race started a little auspiciously as #80 was suffering from a drive train issue which required a transmission swap that morning. This resulted in Dave missing the grid but JUST making the start from the back as the field rolled. Furthermore, it started raining just as the last race ended and we started the pre race fan walk for our race. One of the great things about racing on a team at this level is that none of this really has anything to do with me. What this means, is that I am not really responsible for deciding much of anything or doing anything but drive. The key is let all the other guys deal with these issues and keep your head clear and focused. I don't have to worry about whether we should run rain tires or slicks. Or if we are going to run rain tires, how they are going to get put on with 10 minutes to go to race time. I just focus on my job. "We" decided to stick with slicks.

As it turns out, the rain stopped by the start of the race and while the track was pretty wet, there was some grip on slicks and within about 5 laps there was a good dry line. I dropped a couple spots in the first few laps to fwd cars but managed to stay running at about 12th with the leaders in sight.

Pit strategy including driver change and fuel was really critical to our success since LRP is so short that you can easily go a lap down if you pit under green flag racing. Our strategy was to make sure we got fuel and the driver change done under a full course yellow. We had a FCY at about 10-15 minutes into the race but this was simply too early to do us any good.

At about the 40 minute mark one of the RX8's ran off hard into the tire wall outside of T4 which brought out another FCY. Dave and I were called in at that point for driver changes which went flawlessly again with help from our crew partners at CMA Racing. For #81 the rest of the race was pretty much what we have seen consistently this year from Seth. He gets in the car and puts down fast lap after fast lap. While two or three other cars had turned some 59s lap times in the race, it usually was one golden lap. Seth turned a bunch of 59's and lots of low 60s laps. For those of us who have been watching Seth grow over the years as a driver, it is great to see his performance. He has been really fast for a long time but in the last two years he has developed the ability to run at top speeds without a bobble. He is like Iceman,... but with a friendly Southern smile!

He worked himself up to second place after a fairly long battle to get around Andy Lally in one of the Kias with a gutsy pass around the outside of T3. The gap to the leader, Lawson Aschenbach in a Compass 360 Honda though was still about 2 seconds and the clock was ticking down. Seth kept closing the gap by about .2s a lap when Lally went off big at T1 causing the safety car to come out. The race went green again with about 9 minutes to go. At about the 5 minute mark, Seth got around Lawson at T1 by virtue of our superior braking (thanks PFC!) and Seth's presumably large gonads.

The only weird aspect of this weekend was our surprise when we found that the Champagne we sprayed and drank was non alcoholic. What is up with that?

Thanks to Duncan Burke and Trevor Hilliar for helping with support their JP for a practice day at LRP. Thanks to the Lime Rock Park Club for all of their support and hospitality. They are super friendly cordial group and I hope to get up there to run with them more during the year.

Thanks to Tyler Munroe for cooking for us all weekend. It was great!