My First Time At Gingerman – Not As Planned

It was certainly a race week and race weekend.

My first time to Gingerman Raceway in South Haven Michigan did not disappoint, but I also didn’t get the seat time I had hoped for.  However, that’s part of being a team.

To set this up, the Rad Air Racing team entered our Dodge Neons, yes we have two, in the Cookie Cutter Classic and while we thought we were ready to go, we had issues with the 23 car during a test day.  No biggie, right?  WRONG!  The test day was the day before we were leaving for the track.

Basically, we had a piston begin to deteriorate and that cylinder lost compression.  We left Nelson Ledges around 12 noon, headed to the shop and for the next 15 hours thrashed on replacing the engine with a spare head and block we had laying around.  Lots of driving to grab parts and supplies we needed.  After wrapping up at 3AM we ended up with about two hours of sleep before we headed to work.  Argh!

That’s what I love about our team – they push through.  

Chris from LMS-EFI met us at Gingerman on Thursday evening to tune and time the car.  We were ready for bed!

When Friday morning came around the team was assembled at the track and we were ready for the test day.  Or were we? 

During our testing we found that the rod bearings were the wrong size in the engine we just assembled!  Who knew that the crank in that block had been machined?  We didn’t have Plastigauge available, but who thought we would need it anyway?

That didn’t stop the team.  After lots of phone calls and hours of driving we secured the needed, oversized bearings and the team installed new rod bearings while a delicious dinner was being served up.  Who replaces rod bearings track side?  Rad Air Racing does!

This was the first race where we had rented seats to drivers.  Lester Epps and Kevin Tong joined us for the weekend and their expertise and advice was well received by our young team. They both were a blast to hang with and the advice they shared was very helpful.  I hope we can race with them again soon.  Oh, and I am working to have them on the podcast.

Saturday’s race was an 8 hour enduro and our team worked well.  Our pit stops were smooth and our drivers put down consistent lap times.  On the 23 car we were chasing a break up issue at higher RPMS.  Our drivers just drove through it and for the most part we just left it in 4th gear for the entire time.  The 975 car ran great all day long.  975 finished 16th overall and third in class while the 23 car took 25th overall and 6th in class.

Sunday wasn’t as smooth.  The 23 car was towed in due to stalling on track.  An oversight on the team’s part as it was out of fuel.  We spent the morning determining our fuel stint plan all to have a few issues turn that planning upside down.  The 975 car then started blowing fuses and we couldn’t properly repair it so we parked the car and shuffled drivers.  This means that I did not race on Sunday. I was certainly disappointed, but that’s part of being the team manager.  Matt also gave up his Sunday seat.  I advised him, that’s servant leadership. He’s a true team player and leader.

The team quickly packed up on Sunday afternoon which gave us time to enjoy a few beers and great food at Three Blonds Brewing.

We went to the race shop, unloaded the trailers and headed home.  A full three hours of sleep and we were back at work again Monday morning.  That’s part of the grind I suppose.

We have three short weeks to get ready for Mid-Ohio and I gave the team the week off to rest up.  One work night is all it will take to get the 975 car ready for Mid-Ohio.  

All in all a fun weekend at the track, a few issues to help us learn, and we made lots of new friends.