The 2007 SCCA Runoff's have come and gone again for a year! Let me start my Runoff's report by giving you a short piece of SCCA squabble, over the past few years SCCA as added more and more classes that are eligible to participate in the Runoff's. The more classes to run in a day means the less time every class has on the track in a day. So having said this, what use to be many years ago, 30 minute qualifying sessions became 20 minutes, then 15 and now 8 minutes, or for GTLite approx equal to 3 laps.
This year GTLite had a full 20 minute qualifying session on Monday at 5:45pm and frankly I guess that I have to admit that I didn't take this long session seriously enough. I used this qualifying session to scrub in a set of tires while getting re-acquainted with the track and it's new layout from last year. So let's just sum this up by saying I kinda wasted a perfectly good qualifying opportunity. On top of that I ended the session a little short due to a clutch disc malfunction.
Tuesday qualifying, 8 minutes and 8:20 am (in Topeka Kansas it's still a little dark at 8:20 am) I just did not have enough time in the early cold to get any temperature into the tires so I did not improve my time from Monday.
Wednesday qualifying, 8 minutes and again in the early morning 8:45 ( as I remember) this time I was able to scrub some reasonable heat into the tires, so on the 2nd lap I picked-up my pace for a go at a good timed lap and about half way through the lap the MINCOMP MINI shut down just like an OFF switch was flipped. Upon evaluation found that a patch cord between the ignition box and pick-up had died-shorted-failed add what ever word that you like to here, but in the end it failed and killed this qualifying session for the MINCOMP MINI.
Thursday, another early 8 minute session and this time I'm as ready as I can be...lowered the nose of the MINCOMP MINI to improve turn-in, mounted a set of soft "qualifying tires" for maximum grip, put a little more timing into the engine and lets go. Took off for a quick flyer and before anybody could make a full lap the track went double waiving yellow as they shut the track down due to a couple of cars off the track creating a hazardous condition. Another wasted-useless qualifying effort!
So now I have "officially" qualified 8th on my Monday's times while scrubbing my tires #%$@&!!! But I haven't crashed the MINCOMP MINI...so this is a good thing!
On Friday race day morning we go out for a quick "warm-up session" and on the last lap the gearbox won't shift into 4th gear...no grinding, no popping out, just doesn't want to go far enough to engage! Now I had this same thing happen in January at Phoenix. After getting back to shop MINCOMP I tore both gearboxes and the shift linkage apart in order to find the problem and I could find nothing wrong! We went to Cal Speedway 2 weeks later and the problem was still there as I left pre-grid, wouldn't go into 4th. After the session I did a "1 lap hardship lap" and it DID go into 4th and has ever since...no issues in 6 races until now, Runoff's race day #%$@&!!! Well no time to fix anything "been there-done that" can't find anything to fix! Please understand that at the shop and up on jack stands, driving around the parking lot and around the paddock all the gears work just fine, it's only when I get out onto the track that 4th gear seems to take a vacation!
So now I'm on lap 1 of 2 pace laps, and guess what? It's shifting into 4th! I don't trust it-not one bit! I flipped off the rev-limiter and I ran my race without 4th gear, only 1-2-3, ignoring all of the pretty flashing green,yellow, red, double red flashing LED lights (telling me I should have shifted a long time ago). One time on the 2nd or 3rd lap I tried for 4th, NOPE not there!
So now I'm around 3/4 through the race and going into the fast (to read: should be in 4th gear) turn 1, crew dude Rich Warnock comes on the radio and says, there's a car coming up on your right side...he's there...he's there...he's still there, so at this point I give this car just a little bit of extra room so that he can have an extra moment to think better of what he may have on his mind and perhaps not get himself in over his head and THUMP, he nailed me in the right rear tire, and on down the door and into right front tire. I never got out of the gas, kept my foot in it and continued on to the end of the race. No good deed goes un-punished, crosses my mind at this moment...note to self: Nice guys finish last...
Started 8th and finished 8th...I ran my fastest laps of the week in the race without 4th gear! The MINCOMP MINI handled pretty damn excellent in the race and even felt Ok after the thump.
Now I have to figure out what the heck is going on with this 4th gear thing! Really wish I could find some sort of smoking gun...
In closing out the 2007 MINCOMP-Team Mini Mania racing season, I would like to thank Don Racine and the whole Mini Mania organization for another year of loyal sponsorship of the MINCOMP MINI. This racing season was the 17th consecuative year that MINCOMP and Mini Mania have worked together keeping the classic mini racing in the public eye.