Global Time Attack – Pro Championship – Road Atlanta
I am sitting on the plane on the way to Atlanta to cover Global Time Attack’s first Pro round of 2014 and reading my coverage of last year's event. As I read my own words I am excited by what happened and I think to myself, how in the hell do we top THAT? My fingers frantically type this while the angry toddler behind me uses my seat back as a jungle gym. Perhaps he too was reading last years coverage, or perhaps he was just pissed he was cramped up in this tin can. I share his sentiment as I also want out of here… Partially because I want this damn kid off my back but mainly because I am a total geek for time attack.
Like last year, Global Time Attack shares Road Atlanta with the 2nd stop for the Formula Drift series and that brings out a lot of people and a lot of cars. Looking at the entry list got us excited as the classes were full of some of the top names in the sport from nearly every corner of the country and even some of our friends up North eh’. No one can deny that we have lost some of the big dog unlimited cars over the past 2 seasons, but what is growing is the competitive spirit and in turn, the entry list. Despite the shift towards larger fields in the more mild classes there is more progression than ever and the types of times these cars are turning are truly mind boggling. Just a few years ago some of the times that were good enough to WIN the highly modified classes would not hold up today in the street and limited classes. Heading in to this round of the Global Time Attack, we were only sure of one thing… Road Atlanta would put this year's competitors to the test!
After the failures and total write offs from last year's event, with the larger field we expected more of the same. Road Atlanta is 2.54 miles of punishing track and has a way of exposing a car's weaknesses. Whether that's the transmission, the rotating assembly, or the nut behind the wheel, if there is something that is less than ideal, this road will make that the “elephant in the room.”
Heading to the track at the crack of dawn on Friday and reviewing the schedule made us realize that we would need to work fast! Our hotel breakfast in tow we rolled in after securing our credentials; we didn’t even make it to the paddock before we stopped the rental to point our lenses in the asphalt direction to capture the GTA cars on track. The track went hot and we managed to catch some of the cars in that session that would turn their only laps all weekend! These early morning sessions would be the only ones for competitiors Like Doug Wind in his Modern Performance Unlimited FWD SRT-4 and Will Wattanawongkiri in his WWR Nissan 240SX. Doug’s SRT-4 (not a Neon) would be put on the trailer due to a spun bearing and Will’s car was sidelined by a blown transmission. I was quite disappointed to see both of these guys out so early as I was eager to see what they would put down for lap times. Doug had just moved up to unlimited FWD with some changes that included Race Rubber from Continental Tire and after some discussion with Doug in the paddock his best time last year of a 1:34 and change was matched at 70% capacity of the new setup before the failure; a bummer for sure! Hell the real carnage started on Thursday during practice; I was still in my day job office huddled behind 3 monitors while Roy Narvaez nuked the engine in his GTR.
Also in the first session the MTI racing boys brought out some serious hardware with the sole intention of destroying Jeff Westphal's Overall GTA record of a 1:23.628, their batwing inspired Corvette would not survive long enough on day one to accomplish that feat. The question remained, would their backup car be able to do it on Saturday?