2nd Race of Season – May 16th

Saturday May 16th was the 2nd race of the Northern division of the Top Speed Modified series and found the team venturing to Auto City Speedway in Clio, MI. While the car, and crew chief, had been there previously – the driver had never driven a full size car there.

I had driven a Legends car there, once, and found that muscle memory is longer than expected when I tried to turn into the infield track during my first lap at speed. Despite that very short snafu we had plenty of practice time, even if it took longer than expected to get everyone through tech. The track was very accommodating. We did three “full” sessions, primarily getting acclimated to the track. The last session found some “raindrops” getting onto the visor, but that was only a scuff session anyway.

Time trials were so-so, with a 17th place effort out of the 27 cars on hand. That was easily chalked up to the driver not wanting to end up on the road off turn one since he had developed a propensity to mail it into one a weeeee bit deep during the early sessions. We were split up into heats after that, with each one going 8 laps. The car came in during that session and we walked to an easy victory. It was nice to fall under the checkers first.

The feature was nothing short of a marathon. It is never good when the driver is checking his watch during the race. The early “reviews” were good though, with the car working on the inside. We progressed from 17th up to 11th, and were running in 10th when a red flag was displayed. However that was the end of the progress. Upon resuming at speed the car was ill-behaved, to put it mildly. We marched…backwards and ended up 15th. The seeming culprit was discovered after the race, with 3 of the tires and the nose coated in oil. Someone ahead of us was making the conditions a tad more challenging.

We are on a lull until mid-June, when we have 3 races in one week. The team is anticipating getting out for a test session or two to be prepared for the next race at Springport.

Thanks from the team to all those who served our country. We could not get out to play each summer weekend without your sacrifice and dedication.

-Michael

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Team Updates – Sponsors, Press Attention

It has been an exciting month for the team. We had our first race, which was chronicled in a separate race report.

Team primary sponsor, Techman Sales Inc., has re-upped for 2015. http://techmansales.com/ They were very excited about the Top Speed race to be held in Mansfield, OH, given that is where the business is located, but it regretfully has since been canceled.

A new sponsor has decided to join our efforts (and increased highway mileage) for the year. That is Engine Machine Service, out of Pottersville, MI. They have been gracious in their support of the team through guidance and shop time when the powerplant was redone last season. They have since upped their support – and we look forward to slapping that sticker on the hood, where it is deserved for the steam they provide us with. We assure you that they can assist you for any of your engine needs too. http://www.enginemachineservicellc.com/

Lastly, the Top Speed touring group profiled our race team on their website. They were kind enough to run a long article detailing our exploits over the last few seasons, and the impending efforts. http://topspeedmods.com/2015/04/29/2014-springport-motor-speedway-track-champion-mike-occhipinti-ready-for-2015/

Only 7 days till we crank ‘er up again,

-Michael

Follow us on twitter! That is the best place for race day updates. http://twitter.com/hbsracing

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Season Opener Race Recap

The first race of the team’s season took place Sunday May 3 at Springport Motor Speedway.

It was a beautiful weekend for racing. Temperatures “lingered” in the 70’s with nary a cloud in sight. The suntan lotion did make an appearance, which was surprising that it remained in the ole “racing bag” that ventures to the track weekly. With an open practice day on Saturday the team got in a number of runs. We worked on set-up – mainly to meet some of the Top Speed group’s new rules, as well as to adjust to some reallocating of lead that took place during the off-season.

Admittedly the pace was not where we would have liked to be, but we felt we were within sight. The car was tight, which is unusual for the 12x ride.

Here is a picture of the car during practice, replete with its new livery for 2015 (courtesy of Racing Woody’s photography):

http://racingwoodys.smugmug.com/SpringportMotorSpeedway/Springport-Top-Speed-Modifieds/i-PhFFpxp/1/M/port%20503-683-M.jpg

Sunday came around and there was only one practice session. We did not want to damage our race tires, but did manage to get out twice during the session. We continued to dial it in, and were about .2 from where we wanted to be. The qualifying lap was a bummer, as the car bottomed out severely, for the first time all day, and pushed it up the track. Despite this misstep we timed in 16th place – which was the last car to qualify via time.

We made a last adjustment for the feature, and regretfully we crossed the knife edge. We went to a wicked loose condition and had no grip. There was much sawing of the steering wheel, and a number of “it’s not a dirt track” comments from the assembled teams. We managed to finish unscathed in 14th place. The race went non-stop, which was the antithesis of last year’s opening day race.

We resume racing Saturday May 16 at Auto City Speedway in Clio, MI. The 12x has taken many a lap there, but it will be new for driver Occhipinti. “I’ve gone around it in a Legends car – but that only uses 2/3 of the track” he has been saying, to anyone that will listen!

Looking forward to seeing you at the track,

-Michael

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Crunch Time

We are in the homestretch now, well at least when it comes to what is left of the off-season.

The team is busy finishing its offseason work with less than 2 weeks to race day. The team will debut for 2015 at Springport Motor Speedway, in a Top Speed Modified Tour race. The first race for the series got rained out, so this will be the opening race for the group. The expectation is that the pits will be full. There were 37 at this race last year; there should be over 40 open wheel chariots competing for the 22 starting spots this year. The “race page” can be found here:

This race is particularly critical as it is our home track, and we hope to get a solid start to the season as a number of cars have committed to following the entire schedule. We are at a minimum following the first three, which are detailed below.

May 3 – Springport Motor Speedway

May 16 – Auto City Speedway

May 23 – Mansfield Raceway (OH)

The team is looking forward to the third one listed, as the track is back in operation for the 2015 season on a specials basis. It is one that has hosted NASCAR modified races in the past. Plus, it is the hometown of sponsor Techman Sales, who have graciously re-upped with the team for 2015.

Next updates will include pictures for the new year, plus a little more of the curtain will be pulled back detailing the schedule.

Until next time,

-Michael

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MARFC

Coming next weekend is the MARFC banquet. This fantastic group is what our sport thrives on – dedicated race fans who especially like being around other race fans. [/p] Anywho, their banquet is next week. They have celebrities from the world of racing, pay tribute to those who came out on top at the local speedplants during the year, and use it as an excuse to engage in revelry. [/p] Given the successful year we had at Springport, the group graciously invited us to participate. I was looking forward to it, especially since I have gotten to meet so few of the members in the group. Unfortunately I had to head out on a 2 week work trip, and the inbetween weekend happens to correspond to the date of the banquet. Luckily team principal Mike Stenberg is going to be able to go on short notice.[/p] Thanks to the group – and hopefully our paths cross during this racing season! [/p] Regards from the Far East, [/p] -Michael

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Turkey Derby

Turkey Derby 41 has come and went, and as usual team HBSRacing participated.

Given the numerology associated with the event, I really wanted to campaign a modified. There were some opportunities presented, but they all involved backing up the Brinks truck. It was not worth it given that it would have taken some resources away from the 2015 season.

Anywho, the chariot was similar to most years – namely a Metz Racing TQ midget. There were 17 of us motorcycle powered rocketships. I was certainly behind the eight-ball early on in the day (only one practice session), and that did not bode well for qualifying. I timed 14th of 17, which also represented my starting position.

The race went better, and got into a decent rhythm. Stayed clean and brought it home in one piece in 8th place. I could really have used an extra half second, but some time in one of those before the day of the race probably would have helped a tad.

This wrapped up the racing season (well, save for some indoor karting) for 2014. It was another successful season. We ran 9 races in the Modified, 4 of them with the vaunted Top Speed Modified series. 7 of them resulted in top 10′s, with the other 2 being 12th place finishes. We grabbed a victory at Springport, which was one of four top 5 finishes. Time trialing was strong, for the most part, and we did manage to grab another quick time this year. Lastly, we hit our main target – which was getting to sit at the grown-ups table during the Springport Motor Speedway points banquet.

Here is a video from the last points race of the season.

We are waiting on schedules to be published, and at that point HBSRacing will publish its 2015 racing season schedule. Expect to see the 12x at a few more speedways next year…

-Michael

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Banquet Time

October 25th was a day the team will not forget anytime soon. We headed to the Springport VFW hall for the Springport Motor Speedway banquet.

As always, all of the track employees were so courteous and friendly to us. I personally enjoy it, because it gives all of us a chance to put on our finest threads. We got to sit near the front – a reserved table even – and partake in a nice dinner, and perhaps a libation or three.

The speeches were good, even when some of us forget to thank key people (ugh), and the hardware was … huge. The trophy barely fit in the car; it is the interior width of the Fusion. And, I also managed to score an embroidered Hoosier jacket. It is very nice, and I look forward to accessorizing against Hoosier purple.

The banquet was later in the year last season. This year it was earlier, which means the off-season is even longer. As usual, I can add the “we are working on some things” – because, well, that’s true.

Next update will be after Turkey Derby (running a TQ midget again), and will have the season in review.

-Michael

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