Road Atlanta is a special place for me. It is a litmus test of sorts, with lots of competitive drivers. The track is also very demanding and very rewarding to race. This is my second time as a racer at Road Atlanta and it is amazing the difference time and practice makes. I found the track exhilarating instead of scary this time and put some pressure on the local talent during the two, very different races. Would have clenched a hard fought podium during race two if it wasn’t for an inopportune miss shift with one lap to go.
Race one was eventful to say the least. I was caught sleeping at the wheel for the start and immediately lost position. In my defense, no one mentioned that the green would be displayed at the end of the straight instead of at start finish. So I’m thinking we are running another formation lap since start/finish is displaying double yellows. As the pack nears turn one everyone takes off. And then I spot the flagger on the pit exit wall.
Lesson learned, start/finish is not race start at Road Atlanta.
Having lost a few positions at start, and the race being a 20 minute sprint, I had to work hard if I wanted on the podium. I was able to make a few passes and take advantage of a few mistakes from others to work myself back up to fourth before the checker. During the race I learned how to botch turn 7 and not end up in the wall. Had a Porsche Cayman enter the gravel at turn 1 and pelt my windshield with rocks cracking it in three places. (Got to watch the cracks continue to spider throughout the weekend). Oh yeah, and ran out of gas during cool down stranding myself at turn 7. After the flat tow back to grid, or more like a flat tow up the hill so I could coast back to grid, I looked up to see my GoPro DID NOT RECORD THIS EXCITING RACE. Something about disk full. Yep, something else to add to the pre-race checklist.
For starters, I did two things different this race. I made damn sure I knew where the start flag is and cleared the GoPro disk. After a good start, this race was going to be a 40 minute scorcher but the Spec E30’s had other plans. After lap one, a Spec E30 hit the wall around turn 1 prompting a full course caution that brought out the safety car. We did a few parade laps and then it was back to racing. The restart was uneventful. And then a few laps later, an E30 found the wall at turn 7. And you guessed it, parade time. So on to restart number two. At this point we don’t have much race time left and I wanted a podium at Road Atlanta. After a good launch coming down turn 12, I worked my way up to third to later blow it coming out of turn 7 where I pulled the dreaded, 3-2 ‘upshift’.
A.K.A. the money shift. Luckily, I hadn’t fully depressed the clutch and immediately caught the over rev. Still lost a lot of momentum so I had to settle for fourth again. But that is a hell of a lot better than blowing a motor.