Miss Shifting my Way to Second at Nashville Superspeedway


I’ve moved out of the Mid-South to the beautiful ‘mountains’ of Northern Alabama. But, I’m still close enough to call the Mid-South region with the National Auto Sport Association home. Making the Nashville Superspeedway (NSS) event in … Nashville, TN … my first official event of 2023.

The number 351 Spec Miata could make quick work of the 944 Spec field if I could avoid miss shifts and grab the proper gear..
Only a little more complaining til I get to the racing.
The Move

In my previous post, I mentioned the new startup venture I’m involved in and my time is at a premium more than ever. Even so, I still have an insatiable desire to race and push myself to the limit. And I am calling my relocation to Alabama ‘The Move’, as that is ominous enough to convey my predicament.

Yes, I have moved to a beautiful town called Guntersville. Located on a 66,000-acre lake about 30 minutes south of Hunstville. For that, I am thankful, even though I am not a fisher. But there is a catch -pun unintended. My race operation is now spread across 2 states, and I do not have a good place to wrench yet. This has become quite a logistical nightmare at the start of the season.

I mention this because the number 351 Spec Miata needs a bit of work. I want to give a huge shoutout to my friends. Instead of enjoying a nice Nashville Friday night at their favorite venue, they helped me wrench on the Miata. Getting it in passable racing condition.

Race 1

Honestly, the races Saturday were pretty uneventful. Conditions were mixed, with both Saturday races taking place on the wet condition Toyo RA-1 tires. At the start of race 1, I miss shifted the transmission, grabbing the easy-to-find 2nd to 5th shift. Dropping myself from 2nd to last by turn one. I recovered pretty easily after a lap or 2, but that initial mistake allowed the 1st place driver, Ian Bryan, to build a lead I couldn’t contest by the checkered flag.

Race 2

Race 2 was more of the same. This time I started in 3rd gear to avoid the miss shift. Starting outside of the power band was loads better than miss shifting. I lost a couple of places that I easily recovered. But again, Ian was able to find his way through the field a little better, and with our lap times being very close in the wet, I once again finished 2nd.

Race 3

Race 3 is another story, though. On raw pace, I am a second faster in the dry than the opposition, so I knew this race was mine to lose. Again, I had to be careful not to miss shift this wonky transmission at the start. I held p2 through the first series of turns this time.

Then we started to drop the rest of the field. By lap two, I was executing a high-speed pass around the outside of turn 1 for 1st place when the car abruptly spun. You can see in the video what appears to be a darker patch on the pavement that may have been a bit of … something. All I knew was that I was at the limit. The car let go very abruptly and, fortunately, ended up high on the bank and pointing down the track.

I say fortunate because my starter was acting up all weekend, and I had to be push started before every session. So as I was stalled on lap two of the race, I knew I had one chance to ‘gravity-start’ the car. I pressed the clutch, built some momentum, and popped the clutch to start the car. It worked, and I was back in business, although solidly at the very back of the field.

The chase was on and I made contact with the 944 Spec and Spec Miata fields after a few laps. A few of my former compatriots in 944 Spec let me through easily, but then a few did not. Leaving me to battle with slower, wider cars in the infield that would then pull away on the straight. I knew this phase of the race would cost me the overall win. I had a blast out finessing the faster cars and eventually went on to finish 2nd in Spec Miata with the fastest lap, more than a second over the race leader.

The only race worth watching this weekend.

Starting the season with 3 consecutive 2nd place finishes and the fastest laps, during the races and time trials in TT6, is not too bad.

By Chris Simmons

About the Author:

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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