NASA Road Racing: Summer in February

944spec racer Manuel Moody playing in the rain and finishing first during race one.

What a weekend!  After what seemed like an extra lengthy off season, I was getting so antsy I would have raced in a blizzard; so the torrential downpour wasn’t an issue.  This was the season opener for the Mid-South region at our local track located in Millington, TN.  Pretty much constant rain on Saturday made the 944spec class especially interesting.  At Memphis International Raceway we run what is known as the hot pit during wet conditions.  This involves bypassing the first half of the main straight which functions as a drag strip most of the time and running full speed down a pot hole ridden ‘pit lane’ shooting between two concrete barriers to exit back onto the straight, bypassing the super slick, at least when wet, VHT coating.  We affectionately call this gap the ‘can opener.’  Not an area for mistakes as you can see in the video below.

Race one was the most exciting of the weekend.  I promptly dropped to last on the rolling start.  (My racer excuse is that I’m still on an anemic motor.)  But I was able to post the fastest laps in class and work my way back to a third place finish.  And the difference between first, second and third was about 1 second.  Made me wish for another lap or two to get the job done.

Race two took place under drying conditions so the field moved onto slicks.  There were still a few spots to exercise caution however.  I finished in second place during race two behind Michael Morris in the number 573.

All things considered a great start to the race season.  We will head to the National Corvette Museum at the end of March for more racing.  Enjoy the video of race one, event pics are below.

One more thing. We all discovered that a Honda Odyssey minivan is faster than a 944spec that weekend.  You can read all about it over at Jalopnik and check out the Turnology article as well.

Special thanks to Mary Jane Absalom for all of the excellent photography at our local events.

By Chris Simmons

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