Hunka Hunka Burnin Rubber @ MIR 2020

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Racing in town is always a welcome break from the ‘go go go’ usually associated with travel events. Sleeping in my own bed, eating my own food and generally taking a slower pace throughout the weekend is a nice respite; although a lot of credit goes to the crew that runs the NASA Midsouth region as well.

With an emphasis on efficiency and value, NASA Midsouth offers more seat time per dollar spent than any region I compete in. The staff is friendly, the atmosphere is laid-back, meetings and instruction are on time and to the point. I could go on but just want to say this region is top notch and deserves credit for the way their track events, instruction and races are run.

NCM to Hunka Hunka Burnin Rubber

I went into this event scratching my head after a mediocre performance from the last event at NCM. I was missing quite a bit of pace throughout that weekend and it just so happens an issue I experienced sporadically during the NCM event became much more pronounced while loading up for MIR. So pronounced in fact that the racecar would no longer start.

After poking around a bit and checking the usual suspects I pulled the distributor cap to reveal a disintegrating rotor.

944 Spec distributor rotor falling apart.
Failed rotor prevented the car from starting and a failing rotor was responsible for my lack of grunt at NCM.

Luckily, as all spec racer’s know, 944’s have a tendency to multiply when left to pasture and my place is no different. A quick walk across the field and a replacement rotor was in hand. Five minutes later the #901 was whole again, firing up immediately and most importantly, idling and revving much smoother than before.

Time to Race

Two days, three races and a regional championship already secured, this weekend was about having fun and hopefully lowering track records.

Race 1 was a 30 minute sprint race. I qualified first and took an early lead. After maintaining the lead for a few laps the race was red flagged when Shawn Taylor’s #817 944spec lost it’s motor pulling onto the main straight. Due to the amount of oil on the track, the race was black flagged shortly thereafter. Yielding a first place finish in a very short race and highlighting the importance of taking the lead early as you never know what can happen.

Race 1 @ MIR. (Driver: Chris Simmons Nov 2020) from driftopia on Vimeo.

Race 2 was a long 20 minute race. At least it felt long after the abrupt ending to race 1. I slipped by some mixed traffic early in the race building a gap between myself and the rest of the 944spec field. After a few passes I was in the clear and took the checker for another first place finish.

Race 2 @ MIR (Driver: Chris Simmons Nov 2020) from driftopia on Vimeo.

Race 3: The final race of the season. This is always a fun one where we’ve run Aussie pursuits, Miata vs 944, Le Man style starts and more. I suspect a certain group may have hung around after the awards ceremony. Perhaps had a few too many of the free libations, when ‘genius’ struck. That’s the only logical way you end up with an Aussie Pursuit race with a Le Man style start.

Needless to say I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea at first but it definitely made the race more interesting. The Aussie pursuit aspect meant I would start the race second from last with quite a time handicap. The Le Man start aspect meant I wouldn’t actually be in my car and belted in when I was given the go signal to chase down the competition.

As we do in racing I adapted. Strategized an entry and belting procedure and when it was my turn to go, sprinted to the car, jumped in the window and buckled in. This went together mostly trouble free and I was off chasing down the others in pursuit of an overall win.

This was the most eventful race of the weekend and a nice end to the regular season. I consistently worked my way up the field until I came upon the spec e30 piloted by Alek Paterson running in second place. Although I was lapping faster overall than Paterson I couldn’t make a pass stick. The e30 would pull on me at the end of the straight and the rookie driver was surprisingly comfortable throwing the car up the inside of turn 1.

We traded positions a few times with this dynamic playing out each time. I could pass on entry to the straight and would promptly lose the position half a mile later at the the end. This back and forth went on for the last half of the race making for some great wheel to wheel action highlighting the dynamic differences between 944spec and spec e30. Although I wouldn’t have it any other way as this battle was the highlight of my weekend, it effectively ruined either of our chances at a first place finish.

Relying on the cornering ability of the 944 and changing to a second place strategy, I passed Alek’s e30 on entry to the last turn on the last lap; allowing me to pass start/finish in 2nd place before the e30 could close the gap further down the straight.

Unfortunately, the best race was also the one where the camera has a huge smudge on the lens. You can still make out a lot of it so it’s posted below. I will definitely check the lens before each race in the future.

Race 3 Aussie Pursuit @ MIR (Driver: Chris Simmons Nov 2020) from driftopia on Vimeo.

Conclusion

Hunka Hunka Burnin Rubber with NASA Midsouth concludes the regular 2020 regional season. There is no National Championship this year as it was cancelled early in the season with the onset of Covid restrictions. Regardless, this was another successful season for the pink #901 as I won a 3rd consecutive regional championship in 944spec. Setting and breaking a few track records in the process and enjoying way more ups than downs. Next season I will run in multiple series and I have my work cut out for me in meantime building and sorting a new car.

Pics and Comments

Coming soon…

Chris Simmons By Chris Simmons

About the Author:

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 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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