Mid Ohio is an important track this year. It is where the NASA Championships will be held, and its also a track that I have never been to before. With NASA Champs on my schedule, I figured it beneficial to try to get to the track before Championships weekend in September. Having had a great time at my first two SCCA Majors weekends, I signed up for the next one on their schedule which happened to also be a Hoosier Super Tour.
The first practice session was good, I went out on old tires to get the lay of the land. Many people watch video or play iRacing in preparation for a new track. I do the same, although I feel like everything always looks totally different from what I expect once I actually get to the track.
Four BMWs in T1 is an uncommon sight for the entry list, T1 is usually dominated by the Amercian V8s. We had a total of 11 in class so a sizable field. We had Hugh Stewart, Matt Gaetano, Jonathan Vasquez, and myself. Hugh was the only one who had been to the track before, it was new to the rest of us. I threw on a slightly newer set of Hoosier A7s for the afternoon of qualifying. In Friday qualifying I almost matched Jonathan’s time, we were both in the 1.34s. Hugh blew us away with a 1.32 for provisional pole, and it was Matt’s first time on track due to skipping practice and he put down a solid 1.38.
Another round of qualifying Saturday morning. I was sloppy and didn’t improve my time by much. Jonathan found enough to push him into the 33s. A T1 competitor John Buttermore bumped me to P6 as he improved his time into the 33s as well.
Saturday’s race was one of my favorites to date. I didn’t have much in terms of expectations but hoped to at least maintain my starting position and maybe make up a spot or two. When I got to grid I was dismayed to see that there were almost 8 out of class cars between myself and the next fastest T1 car of John Buttermore. Crazy what less than a second does to you. When the race started, Hugh got pushed off by another car. He got turned around and faced us on track as the entire field came at him. Scary moment! Hugh managed to get through unscathed.
I turned a few laps, got past some out of class cars, and quickly caught sight of Buttermore’s C6 Corvette. Hammered down to clear the last two A sedans and then did my best to stay on his bumper. The Corvettes have tons of power over our cars so he would gap me on all the straights. I was able to make up most of my time in the turns. I watched the rear bumper of the Corvette slowly get larger as I closed the gap. Finally I got my chance, he went a smidge wide going into one of the last turns. I stuck my nose in and kept him on the outside. He got a poor run out of the last turn which allowed me to get side by side and out brake him into T1. From there I held a defensive line to the key hole and through the back stretch until T5. Managed to grow that gap a bit but then we hit an out of class car. Buttermore followed another car past the traffic and I thought all my hard work was gone. There was gap as we turned up the hill and I dove for it, putting the out of class car and Buttermore behind me once again. Managed to hold my position for the rest of the race. This was one of the most fun races I’ve had to date. Finished P4, but a post race change of positions put me in P3. Vasquez took home a win, and Gaetano a P8. Not bad in a field of 11 T1 cars.
Sunday’s race was longer, and started with some cars off in T1. By T2, we were still three wide when I felt a car hit the rear of mine. Not quite sure who it was or where they hit, we continued on. When we came around to the keyhole again, Buttermore’s car was in the tires. I assumed it was some sort of brake failure as we had contact well into the brake zone. My car didn’t turn as well after that, so I just held on for an uneventful P4 finish. Hugh and Jonathan had a much more exciting race as they chased Bill Baten’s Camaro for the entirety, with only a second or two separating all of them. Matt Gaetano improved on his previous times and finished a solid P7 for Sunday.
It was a very successful first outing to Mid Ohio. The almost 8 hour tow home through the mountains was less painful after some good results. I’m very much looking forward to coming back in September for NASA Championships in ST2.