ChumpCar World Series: Watkins Glen International – Part 2


Sunday, with some quick reflexes and creativity with the electrical system, Rob Pacione ran a lap in the Civic that tied the fastest lap of the day, however, we were down so many laps that, apart from us, I am not sure anyone noticed. Then the next gremlin hit. Fourth gear became more and more of a challenge to find until it simply disappeared. At that point it was time to call the car in and put it on the trailer. Everything that could have been done trackside had been attempted. Once home, it was discovered that when some welding had been done on the roll cage that it had damaged part of the wiring that ran nearby. That, my friends, is part of the game of racing.


The #881 Civic will be back and better than ever. Watch for it. On the left is Will, a ChumpCar volunteer. He couldn't be out on the track racing as his teammates were deployed overseas. The next best thing, he and his wife both came out and volunteered for the entire weekend. Will, thank you! Note: volunteers can obtain ChumpChange that can be applied towards their entry fees for future races.
Careful framing with the camera limits the viewer to only being able to see the pristine parts of the Miata. This car is beautiful – it just will not win a show and shine anymore. With two teams  driving the car it meant more pit stops. This pushed us further back but allowed everyone to get some time in the driver's seat. As John expected Ralph to be driving the Honda, his name had been removed from the roof. That was a true disappointment for Ralph and, as I pointed out to John, caused the value of the Miata to drop!
Sal Sanfilippo, director of ChumpCar Northern Region, ran a great three day weekend of racing. Pulling 93 car teams together, having all of the organization in place, and ensuring that the mix of novices and experienced drivers were safe was in the experienced hands of Sal and his team. I don't have any pictures of Wendy Edwards, but she was great in making sure I had all of the information needed prior to the race. (This is in brackets so that Sal may overlook this if he happens to read this, but I'm guessing that Wendy was also great in making sure Sal, her husband, was well organized and on the top of his game throughout the race weekend.) The entire North Region team is very professional and I look forward to getting to know them better!
When I saw Bill Strong's #79 MR2 in my rear view mirror in the first few minutes of driving on Friday, I wanted to move onto the runoff area and hide. That car is a beast! Later I enjoyed the chase! Here we are coming through Turn Nine with Turn Eight in the background.

The Miata was running strong throughout Friday and the weather, while it remained overcast, only let loose with a minor sprinkle. The first two drivers reported that the track was amazing and, while it took a bit to get used to, was absolutely incredible. The Azenis were great, inspired confidence in the car which was running flawlessly. John started, Sergio was next, and I took the third stint. None of us had driven WGI before, so the adrenaline was high. We were running in the top 25 when I took the wheel. You may be wondering why I have waited so long into the story to tell you about my driving. Perhaps it was because I was saving the best for last. Maybe because I was hoping you would not read this far. Ladies and gentlemen, I can tell you that when I hit the track it was awful. Have you ever seen a squirrel that got caught in traffic on a highway and did not know which way to turn but miraculously escaped unharmed? That is what I felt like. Picture me, coming past the end of the blend line and mixing it up with drivers who have been driving this track since they lost their baby teeth. Everyone under the sun passed me. I was a moving pylon. The only cars that did not pass me were black flagged off the track for driving too slow or were on the back of the flat bed. And I am pretty sure that at one point the flat bed came out onto the track – and it passed me too! I was absolutely schooled by everyone out there in that first lap. In my defense, remember that this was my first time at WGI and that apart from video I knew nothing of the track. I literally did not know what was around the next corner. I did not know what the corner needed. Who knew what the car could do, because I certainly did not have a clue. Plus I had come out cold into a mix of heavy traffic where everyone else it seemed was an F1 pilot. Talk about intimidating.


John giving instructions to the crew. Drivers swapping places and the departing driver updating the incoming driver on the track conditions. The driver's side of the Miata and the nose showing some of the war wounds from previous races. Rob, Afshin, and Ralph had raced the Miata here at WGI in 2013. John, Steve, Sergio and I were here for the first time.

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