Fall Fest at Memphis International Raceway – Sept 2019

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As much as I love racing, any time you race back to back weekends can be a little exhausting.  And with the National Championships just behind me, the temptation was there to skip the NASA Midsouth event the following weekend. But to skip an event in my own backyard, no matter what else is going on, is something that I find hard to stomach.

I made a little compromise with myself and simply left my car on the trailer from Mid-Ohio taking a  casual approach to the following weekend.

Car Prep

Zero this time.  Pretty rare for a racecar but the 901 went back onto the trailer under it’s own power at Mid-Ohio. I figured it would come off much the same at MIR and it did.

Saturday – Race 1

More firsts on Saturday such as skipping warm up and qualifying and hopping directly into race one.  I could afford that luxury since I have already secured the Midsouth Regional Championship in 944spec for 2019.   My progress as a driver as well as some inopportune events for other drivers wrapped things up very early this year.  Looking forward to the renewed competition next year.

I arrived one hour before race one, unloaded the car, checked fluids and pressures and suited up for my start at the back of the field.  I was feeling pretty amped having just come back from  Mid-Ohio.  I almost jumped from last to first during the rolling start since I chose a 2nd gear launch while the competition started in 3rd.  I had such an advantage before the shift to 3rd that I thought I jumped the start. But what I have been learning this year is that when in doubt, opt for the lower gear in a rolling start.  Seems to offer an advantage.

Three wheeling through the 90’s to a first place finish. Driver: Christopher Simmons

That’s not to say I didn’t throw this superstar start away on the entry to turn 1.  My warm-up and qualifying skipping brain decided  an extra down shift was necessary on entry.  So instead of staying in forth, I spent a moment almost shifting to 3rd and thinking, ‘wtf am I doing.’  Thats all it took to for the whole field to repass and put me back where I started, last.

But being my home track and having a pace advantage, I chased the pack down, taking care  and emerged in 1st mid race.  Continuing to build a lead of 6 seconds until the checker flag.

Saturday – Race 2

Race 2 was a little less eventful save for the inverted grid putting me at the back of the 944spec field.  Same strategy as race 1 payed off as my 2nd gear start landed me in p1 by turn 1.  This time with mistakes and finishing with an 8 second lead.

Sunday – Race 3

Sunday is typically an Aussie Pursuit race in the Midsouth but since the only cars running were 944spec and Spec Miata, we opted to have a 944spec vs Spec Miata shootout.  I took an early lead and locked out the weekend.  It was a rather lonely race, but one thing I have tried to focus on this year is my intensity level. And finishing with a 20 second gap on the field speaks volumes towards my progress.  In the end, the shootout ended 944, Miata, 944, Miata, Miata, 944.

By Chris Simmons

Chris Simmons is a race car driver, instructor, business owner and all around gearhead. His passion for motorsport started in the drifting community over 10 years ago and progressed into wheel to wheel racing of all kinds. When off track Chris can be found training and working on a myriad of projects. After a hiatus from writing, he is back to share his passion, knowledge and experience in regard to motorsports on and off the track.

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