NASA 944spec Road Racing: Bourbon Barrel

Race one victors, 2018 NASA Great Lakes Bourbon Barrel. 944Spec racers Christopher Simmons (left), Dan Piña (center), Michael Cooper (right).
Race one victors.  944Spec racers Chris Simmons (left), Dan Piña (center), Michael Cooper (right).

The Bourbon Barrel is the second event of the NASA Midsouth season. Taking place March 24th to 25th at the National Corvette Museum (NCM) in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This is a crossover event with the NASA Great Lakes region and always pulls large fields for 944spec.

Saturday/Race 1

Rain is becoming thematic this season and Saturday did not disappoint. Warm-up, Qualifying and Race 1 all took place under wet conditions, with the last quarter of Race 1 taking place in an outright downpour. A good defog strategy was crucial during this race and as evidenced in the video, mine failed. I ended up using the back of my race glove as a last resort.

The race started rough as I was blocked rather abruptly at T2 and then bumped into T3. This threw my pace off yielding two positions at the start. However, an out of class incident brought out the safety car and a rolling restart. I was able to refocus and capitalize on the restart, immediately picking up several positions. Then slowly reeling in the rest of field over the next few laps. By the end of the race I had worked myself back from about last to 3rd overall in 944spec behind Dan Pina and Michael Cooper.

Sunday/Race 2

On Sunday, rain tires were replaced with slicks, and some very close racing took place between myself, Michael Morris and Manuel Moody. After another less than stellar start, I could tell my engine was not happy as I was continually losing time to both competitors on the straights. So I started to focus my attention on running as fast as possible in the turns. I caught up to the two other Midsouth competitors and inserted myself into their close battle. Towards the end of the race I saw an opportunity to pass Manny in the hairpin before deception and hold them both off til the end. Unfortunately, I lost traction abruptly on this outside maneuver and went into a large drift. My best explanation is I thought I had it and then I didn’t. Traction on the outside of the turn was terrible and I whipped back around and tapped the armco. (around 32:30 in the vid) At which point Morris passed me and I lost touch with the battle.

But I will say I plan on trying that move again when we are back at NCM in September. And the damage to the car is minimal and should be ready before the next round at Memphis International Raceway in April.

Here is the NASA Speed News article of the weekend.

By Chris Simmons

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