Speed51 Mention

In our last entry I noted that we were in a bit of an enviable position – sitting atop the points for the Northern Division of the Top Speed Modified Tour with two to play (so to speak).

This got some notice, and some press. With Saturday being the Hot Shoe 100, bringing 60+ cars to Whittemore Speedway, a press release was published on Speed51.com. We were mentioned because of said points position.

Here is a link to that article: http://speed51.com/hot-shoe-100-bringing-best-midwest-mod-drivers-to-whittemore/

I hope when I pen these posts next week that I will be referencing more published articles, ones that congratulate the team and its partners Techman Sales Inc., Engine Machine Service, Murawski’s Tax Service, and Ram Engineering Midwest on a title run.

The team’s got some work to do – let’s get after it,

-Michael

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Baer Field – July 30th

Last Saturday the 30th found the team making its first foray into Indiana, otherwise known as “the other state south of Michigan that starts and ends with a vowel.” I printed out the directions (yes I am old-school) and hopped in the car as the trailer had to navigate a much different route to the track. As I got close there was a detour. And the detour pushed me through corn fields. Eventually a track appeared, next to an airport. One side airport, one side corn field – I think the track is likely okay noise-wise.

We decided to employ a slightly different tire strategy for the night. This proved prudent as we did not have to waste a session scuffing and were able to use the two sessions to fully learn the track. We seemed comfortable, decently quick, and actually able to get the car loose.

But, once again, the time trial demons bit us. I only managed 17th out of 22, which would thus be our starting spot. After a real nice introduction on the frontstretch (strong crowd), a hearty handshake with the Best family who was sponsoring the race, I buckled in and rolled off.

We were not bad early in the race. We could not pass easily, but were eventually able to work past some folks. About mid-way through the race the red flag came out for a car that had oiled down the speedway. After the restart the car came to life. We managed to work past some others, and stayed with the pack running in 6th-8th. Unfortunately the car worked best on the bottom, which is where 2 of the 3 ahead were running. From there we pretty much ran in formation to the finish. Overall a net plus eight was a good run. And once again – not a lot to do before the impending big weekend. That’s right – a Friday night and Saturday night race to end the points season. Interestingly we were able to take over the points lead heading into that weekend. We will be eager to light the wick and get after it.

Anxiously yours,

-Michael

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The Auto City Struggles Continue

It was no secret. We struggled at Auto City last year. With that in mind, we took advantage of a practice session the day before the race. We got in a couple sessions before the rains hit under the expert tutelage of the proprietor of RAM Engineering Midwest (otherwise known as our shock guy). The car looked good, and it felt good.

Fast forward to Saturday July 9th, and it is running good. Our times are where we want them to be. And as has been our nemesis we put on new tires for qualifying…and went slower. We timed 9th. Normally we would be pleased with this, but not when were slower than in practice. Inevitably, the lowest possible number for a redraw (8) was pulled. Therefore we lined up 9th.

We were riding, feeling the car out, in 10th place. Apparently those behind were ready to go earlier than we were. An aggressive move and subsequent hit to the LR turned us sideways to traffic. We then got hit in the door which straightened us out. But the car nearly stalled, which caused us to lose 4 spots and a whole lot of real estate. With no cautions to bunch up the field that was all she wrote for the night. We took our mid-pack finish, modicum of sheet metal damage, and rolled back in the trailer with three weeks to regroup before the next Tour race.

Humbly submitted,

-Michael

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First Foray to Ohio is Complete

The team has been looking forward to racing at Toledo for some time now. It is one of the fastest tracks in the area, and we would be able to stretch the ole legs a tad. Well, yeah, wow – fast track. It actually “feels” a bit fast, however the banking is more pronounced than from the stands. It is also very drivable in that you can change lines as a result.

The thing that stunk was once you “got out” for practice you could not get back in to pits. In other words, we were stuck in the infield, on the infield pit road, and could not make any adjustments. We went out for the first session and we were bottoming out something fierce. But we could not do anything at the time.

Since we are required to run scuffs, the 2nd (and last) session was close to useless – we did a few laps and then parked it to avoid ruining the new sneakers. We were admittedly way off the pace, over a half second from even being close to the invert.

For time trials we found a bunch of speed – about 0.4 seconds. The bad thing was we needed 0.49 to make the invert (as well as move up 7 spots – that’s how close it was). So we timed 16th and started 16th. The race was brutal, with many yellows and two red flags. We showed decent speed, and passed a few cars while keeping up with the 2nd pack. We would not have been able to hang with the top 3, but we were in the midst of the battle from about 7th back. Here is a picture of us on the inside, courtesy of R&S Racing Photos.

We ended up finishing 12th. An extra practice session sure would have helped a lot. Speaking of practice, we are off to Auto City on Friday the 8th so as to turn some laps prior to the race on Saturday the 9th. Thankfully the temperature will drop from then to Saturday (expected highs in the 90′s on Friday), but that is mainly due to the forecast of the r-word. We are hopeful we will get it in, as our season has already lost 25% of itself!

Until then,

-Michael

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Berlin Raceway – Tour Show – June 11, 2016

It took seemingly FOREVER – but the Techman Sales 12X finally hit the track for a Top Speed points race. The season was supposed to start at Springport. Then it was Berlin. And it eventually did start at Berlin. There is something disappointing about not getting going until the 2nd week of June. As a result of that – the entire season is shoehorned into a 9 week window. Enough blathering – let’s move on to how the race went.

Last year we were the undercard for the ARCA/CRA race, with Erik Jones and Chase Elliott running. It was a weeknight, and made for a great atmosphere. This year they changed the schedule. We ran with the JEGS cars, two nights before the big show on a “normal” Saturday night. It was still a solid crowd, and lots of quality cars/equipment in the pits. We are happy to support this event.

We got some help from the “Wizard” Kevin Lincoln, and much of his handy bodywork or handiwork was on display. We (myself, car owner Mike Stenberg, and crewman Austen) got there for the Friday practice to make sure all was good. We were one of 6 modifieds that turned some laps. It was good that we did as we discovered some things (not the least of which was continued cooling problems – not a good development on likely the hottest racing day of the year with 90+ temps) and learning on the new shoes we hadn’t used yet. I can say it is the first time I ever practiced on sticker tires.

We arrived Saturday morning (before the gate opened I might add). This was despite an “autocross-approved” dinner at Logan’s Friday night. We had our standard scrambling to get ready but got out for the first session at 2PM. We were pleasantly surprised to make the Top 5 on the charts, despite the car being very free. We put on new shoes to scuff for the 2nd session, and dropped speed (which is a theme we need to work out of) and fell to 7th. We were comfortable with this as a minimum of 8 cars would make the draw for position. Making this draw was our goal, with the top 8, 10, or 12 picking.

Our time trial lap was a bit tentative. We managed to just hold on to 8th. This was clutch as we drew 2nd starting spot. After the initial start was called back we pulled out to the lead. This was our first lap led on the Top Speed Tour – and also was our fastest lap turned of the race. We were thus displeased to see the yellow come out immediately, and more so when we got the radio call “go to the pits or go to the rear.” Turns out this is the first time we have run our new fuel cell “packed to the gills” and its overflow is a wee bit sensitive. We were leaving a tremendous trail of hydrocarbon products. Knowing it was fuel and would dissipate after a few laps we tagged to the back.

Here is a picture taken before the fateful trip to zee rear.

The next ten laps were great – the car was hooked up and we were able to advance many positions with “careful aggression.” It apparently wasn’t enough as we went for a loopty loop off of the fourth turn after moving up to 10th. Back to the rear we went. We picked off a few cars, and that was all she wrote. The car started getting looser and we could maintain and go side by side by not get any more spots. We ended up in 8th spot, happy to complete the 51 tours of the facility.

There is limited work to do, we could use some additional cooling and a few other minor modifications. With that in mind we head to Toledo Speedway on June 24th to run our biggest track ever. We will be the support division for the Sprint Cars.

Until then, we shall be staying hungry. We have work to do,

-Michael

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First Race Summary

Our first race at Springport – rain. Two weeks later, the second race of the season at Berlin – postponed due to cold / rain – multiple days in advance. The second one really got us thinking that we needed to get the car shaken down. Because of the notice we audibled and decided to run at Spartan Speedway. This was fine – but it required a gear change – and was on a Friday!

The weather for the day looked beautiful. It was temperate for mid-May with a decent breeze. After some travails in getting the vehicle to the speedway (you can ask the boss about that offline), we arrived and commenced getting the gear swapped. Team thrashed, with some external help. We got out for our first session with about 15 minutes to go.

Despite an off-season spent torn apart, the initial guess at the set-up was fantastic. The car ran well, turned well, and times were a tad off where we needed to be. Came in for a quick adjustment and headed back out. It was atrocious – a tremendous vibration was picked up in the RF as if something was broken.

It was then that technology came to the rescue. Cue Tom Stumpfig and his digital camera. He came over and showed us some pictures – and it was clear there was a camber issue. This was adjusted but there was no time before time trials. It was better but not all the way back to neutral.

And the time trial lap showed that. We timed a poor 11th out of 15. A plan was enacted by which we would test something in the heat race and then make a bigger change for the feature. That was a great plan until somebody in track management checked the radar. A storm had picked up steam and was headed east. They made the novel decision to essentially run the program backwards. Features would be first and then heats if there was time. So much for that idea…

The crew chief swung into action, as always. And swung he did with the following advice before we headed out on the track “It’s either going to be fantastic – or it’s going to be junk. If it’s junk in hot laps come in for adjustments because you are starting close enough to the rear anyway.” Hot laps found that, well, it wasn’t too shabby. The decision was made to stay out.

The initial start of the race found us in 10th…and immediately able to keep up. This was a positive development given the earlier performance. After narrowly missing a broken down car before 2 laps were even completed , it was time to do some work. The car came to life and worked on the outside and the inside. 35 laps, with some nicely timed cautions, were what we needed to gradual move up through the pack. With about 10 to go we were running 4th. After a pass on the high side, and a pass on the low side, it was time to try and catch the leader. There was no doing so on this night but it was a solid and most pleasing drive to finish on the 2nd step of the podium. Needless to say we were looking forward to the (eventually rained out) heat race. Below are some photos by Woody of the feature race.

We are in the midst of a month long break. We will light the wick again during a practice session on the 10th, with racing during the Battle at Berlin weekend on the 11th (support division to Jegs cars). We think you will like the improvements made during that month – and we are eager to prove that in the results.

Until next weekend,

-Michael

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Time to Roll

It is finally time.

The race season in the North is upon us. 2016 will find the team once again following the Top Speed circuit. Our season opens up this Sunday May 1 at Springport Motor Speedway. This was our hometrack for many years, but it is the only race going to be there this season.

It is expected that the car count is going to be excellent. With that we are hopeful that our off-season improvements in the motor and suspension department, coupled with track experience, is going to propel us to the podium. We have high hopes – especially with the venue we are starting with.

There are 7 more races on the Top Speed schedule – including new stops (for us) to Baer Field (Indiana) and Toledo (Ohio). There are also returns to 2015 tracks Dixie, Auto City, Whittemore, and Berlin. We also have some extra races we intend on adding in as the schedule allows. We will publish updates to the schedule as it gets closer.

With that being said, we hope to see you out this weekend – or some point this season – to watch the Techman Sales/Engine Machine Service 12x.

-Michael

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