rd.1 @ buttonwillow

This past weekend marked the beginning of Redline Time Attack’s 2010 season at Buttonwillow, CA. We headed up on Friday night with Chris of V/T Engineering and his entourage and rested at a local motel as we knew the day ahead of us would be filled with thrill and excitement. Like all the fellow drivers (teams and privateers), the off-season was filled with bloody knuckles from late night wrenching in conjunction of a plethora of cursing. In our situation, the MR-S went through a complete re-identification. It started with the ultimate horsepower mod, stickers! We posted previously that Linhbergh and I spent bellyaching amounds of time brainstorming and designing the livery to properly suit the KINOD brand. With the master help of J’s Graphics, the dream came within tangible reach and our eyes, they cried. Shortly followed was a complete rework of the suspension and ground works. The faulty JIC coilovers were replaced by BC Racing’s RAM coilover with spring rates of 7kg front and 10kg rear. We also switched out the old Carbotech XP8 and upgraded a step up to XP10 which we think will serve us well in our time trial duty. We researched possible wheels and tire combinations to make the car as lightweight and functional as possible. We decided on 949 Racing 6UL 15×8 front and 15×9 rear with Toyo R1R 205/50/15 and 225/45/15. This tire/wheel combination gave us the necessary stretch on the sidewalls to minimize stretching as well as the lower rotational mass compared to last year’s 225/50/16. With the car aligned to race specs, we were ready to go.
When we showed up to BRP Saturday morning before the cows were awake, we noticed the an effort of added attention from the Redline crew in their efforts to move towards professionalism. Driver check-in took a lot longer than I had anticipated due to their new system which pretty much powers all of their electronic processes. All driver information, as well as lap times were run through this new system which I have no knowledge of. After 20 minutes of standing in the cold, we were finally directed to our pit area where we would be for the next 2 days. A small badge was installed on the side of our cars for the new RFID timing system, which later in the day we find out sucks monkey balls. The Redline trailer was very busy through the course of the weekend as driver after driver failed to pass tech inspection due to ride height and the size of wings. Fellow driver Clint Boisdeau said that everybody was trimming wing endplates on Friday in order to pass tech. I could only imagine the sad faces on the S2000 and Evo owners as they were holding a saw up to their $1300 Voltex wings. Luckily for me, my wing didn’t cost that much and all i needed to do was move a couple holes so the endplate wouldn’t stick out so much. Thanks AJ for letting me borrow your drill. With that over my shoulder, I still had to tackle the ride height situation. I started with 1 finger gap all around and failed tech miserably. Numerous attempts, 3 to be exact, to raise the ride height as my heart started to break when it started to reach the point of 2 finger gap, was when I was finally given the thumbs up and my number plates.
During Saturday practice, I was using an old set of RS2 and bummed some R1R’s from Sean so I could save my fresh tires for when it was absolutely necessary. The treadwear stagger made the car handle absolutely pushy. Negotiating a turn required early inputs on the steering as well as pre-apex throttle lifting and throttle stabbing. What did I get from practicing on Saturday? From a racer’s point of view, I got absolutely nothing. But us ricers were just out there having fun, throwing the car around, hopping around in the dirt, just being a kid. Somewhere between the first and second session a tire was punctured. Thankfully John from City Tire Online and the guy who does the tire switching there were on site with tire servicing and were able to patch me up. Thanks again John! I’d say the scariest part of the day was as I was exiting “Riverside”, a high speed right hand sweeper in the 2nd half of the track. I was in the zone going full throttle. As I clipped the apex and began tracking out, I let the 2 left wheels off into the dirt. The rear end began to swing to the left which prompted me to countersteer accordingly. The rear end proceeded to violently shift all the way to the right where at this point I thought to myself, “OH SHIT WHAT DO I DO NOW?!”. Somewhere before “SHIT” and “WHAT”, I slammed on the brakes which IN THEORY is a big no-no for mid-engined cars. Miraculously my action helped with slowing down the rear, like when Samuel L Jackson says “BITCH BE COOL!”. It was a close call and as soon as the rear end was COOL, the throttle was back on. Another memorable moment was when I took my wonderful lady out for a couple of laps. My instructor Sherman Bahr was watching from the control tower high up in the 3rd floor when he witnessed something he could not believe. I was going through “Bus Stop” at about 80mph while my car went into a full counter lock. The car slid with such incredible angle, Sherman believed it was to be impossible to recover, and somehow I did. I had no clear recollection of this happening but if there were witnesses then that’s good enough for me.
THE BIG DAY. The racecar outfitted in its Sunday’s best, and myself in KINOD apparel, a full day whatever you want to call it. The cars were definitely different than the ones on Saturday. Several people made it through a weekend of gruelsome testing, Ryan Gates and his pretty pink pony did not :(. The field for Street RWD was pretty straight forward. BMW’s, S2000’s, and me. With multiple personality disorder kicking in, one side was thinking “man I’m never gonna win against 350hp BMW or S2000” and the other side thinks “man I’m gonna look good out there”. guess which side won?
The shadows on the ground began to disappear as zero hour approached. The announcer called for all street class competitors to the pre-grid, and I was #15. Clint Boisdeau and I have a growing trend that I would always be 10th’s of second ahead of him yet he always ends up on podium (street fwd). He was grid #16. Cars began to get sent down the hot pit and time attack was under way. My first lap was clean but held back and ran 02:03.221. The serious side of driving began to emerge which actually became a little bit nerveracking which caused the 2nd lap to be not as fast. Tire pressures became rose as track temperature got hotter and hotter, and if you’re a fan of food, you might agree that rice is best served hot. On the last corner of the last lap, I began to brake early just to be safe. But with muscle memory and unconscious reactions, I also began to turn in early. This caused me to hit the apex berm which unsettled the car. While going at adequate speed, I tried to correct for the exit which didnt work. The car went sideways a little bit as 2 wheels went off. Then 4 wheels. At this point I was doing about 70mph in the dirt with my mind set on all or nothing. So I continued to plow the fields at 70+mph for another 3 seconds or so as I tried to guide myself back on pavement to cross the finish line at 2:03.432.
When I returned to the paddock, I realized my driver side door and quarter were scuffed up due to my off road excursion. I was sad, very sad. While other teams and drivers were making final adjustments to gain the extra tenths of a second for the extra edge on the competition, I spent my time cleaning and detailing my car until it was dust free and pretty again. I couldn’t do much about the scuffing though 😦 . On the main stage, bikini contests were being held while I was out being a ricer on the track which prompts even more sadfaces.
Time was close for the 2nd timed session to begin when fellow competitor Alex Peng approached me to let me know to stay back and leave him some room. Apparently one of his rotors began to spider crack so his braking is not as effective so he wants to take it a little bit easy. He rolls onto the track while I was staged and ready to go. I can see from the way he was driving that he was not pushing it on the out lap to save the brakes so I stayed as far back as I possibly could without holding anyone up. The green flag waves and we both began pushing it. Alex’s car in front of me a good 4 cars and Clint’s Mini behind me a good 4 cars. Being a timed session and all, there were no ifs, ands, or buts, so I pushed the car hard. Every corner closing the gap between Alex and I. One lap turns and I’m 2 car lengths at the front straight. His braking was noticably sparing on lap 2 which allowed me to close the gap even more. At the Bus Stop, I was only 1 car length behind as we finished the rest of the lap. Coming up to Sunset (the last corner before the main straight), Alex began braking at three cones which scared me a little bit. I stepped on the brakes in shocked emergency fashion. At this point, I could do one of two things. Take the risk, hold the wheel straight, and hope my car slows down OR cut left, dive bomb, and hope for the best. I chose the latter. I don’t advise anyone to do this nor am I very proud of this. Don’t judge me, I’m ashamed already. So I took the apex and stayed tight through the exit to allow Alex to safely complete the turn. At this point we both knew that lap 2 was no good. I think to myself, “I’ve got to make this pass”. We both head down the front straight in an old fashioned drag race. At the same time we’re both looking at each other through our side windows wondering who’s gonna chicken for the next corner. I had the inside line as we approached the turn and with our fingers crossed, we made it through safely. I gained the position but very very shortly after, something went terribly wrong which caused me to plow the fields once again while Alex passes me screaming, “muaahhahaaa nemesisss!!!!”. I apologized to Alex for my dickhead move and I was braced for a good old fashioned asskicking but he seemed to be excited that we got into that situation. It’s actually very hard to drive wheel to wheel with someone you don’t know. That and it being my first time in this situation, it does require some time to get used to.
When things mellowed down, Cristina and I walked to the AE Performance tent do have a chat with Paul Dentice. While we were there, we happened to see Paul Walker. MUTHAFUCKIN PAUL FUCKING WALKER!!! Got to talk to him a little bit and he’s a really cool guy. We even got to take a few pictures with him. AE Performance will be hitting all the west coast stops this year so be sure to catch them.
All and all, I ended up 8th place in Street class RWD with a time of 2:02.311. Mike Bonnani in the BERK 135i took pole position with a 1:58 lap time. I realized that if I hadn’t spent so much time messing around and driving like a hoon, I could have performed a lot better. After all, it techinically is a race and everyone out there is after the same thing you are. We are pending confirmation of our attendance at round 3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in late April and round 4 at Autoclub Speedway in Fontana late May. We hope to see you out there!