The Saturday morning session began with shakedown runs from many of the teams; get the cars out, get them to temp, put in a few flyers, and bring them in for feedback and setup if necessary. While many of the GTA teams also do compete in NASA's time trial class, this weekend it was some of the regular NASA drivers that ventured in to GTA territory. NJMP locals Joey and Johnny Scarallo brought over their purpose built GTO and Corvette race cars to compete in the Unlimited Rear wheel drive class; they were enticed by the idea of perhaps taking the overall fastest time away from the GST crew. They had a tall order in front of them!
The Professional Awesome crew rolled in with traditional style. Their signature factory upgraded kidnap van tow vehicle with their Street AWD class EVO VII in tow. They had it off the trailer and in no time Jeff Westphal shook down the PA Evo and gave the team input on car setup. Despite limited laps Jeff was able to go faster than Daniel O'Donnell's previous best lap. He also provided some very valuable setup feedback in an immediate download session with Professional Awesome's Mike Lewin. So we now knew what Jeff was capable of running in their car, the question is, would Daniel O'Donnell arrive in time and be able to show up on Sunday to take him down. My feelings were that he damn well better have so that I didn't have to hand money over to Warfield!
|Jeff immediately downloaded with Professional Awesome's Mike Lewin to offer suggestions on how to improve. Jeff was able to put down a 1:10.8 in just a few laps behind the wheel of the PA Evo. Considering this was faster than what PA went last year I mentally prepared myself to lose my wager $.|
As the day progressed teams were out setting quicker times and the track appeared to improve as the day wore on. It was a HOT one in NJ and this Midwest cracker was burning up even after a generous application of SPF973 earlier in the day. Despite the abundance of swamp ass in the infield area they were still wrenching and tweaking in the GTA paddock. After being out on a corner shooting I could plainly hear something on the GST car scraping loudly as the car passed, sure enough the front mount of the rear diffuser had suffered a failure after some curb hopping and as Jeff pulled in to the pits he shaved the World Racing work tiles off the asphalt just to keep them on their toes. By the time I could walk back to the pits to take this in, worker of the year Earl, had the GST L on the air jacks, the rear aero taken apart and was working with Mike on a solution.
Something new that I took in this weekend was truly how much of a grassroots effort the GST car is. I always knew this tidbit to some extent but this weekend I took in the full scope. Mike and Earl are the primary car technicians, tuners, fabricators, and MacGyvers. They have a tremendous amount of help from the World Racing crew, and certainly could not make many of the events without their assistance, however when it comes to build and maintenance they are a two and sometimes three man show at best. I was also impressed to hear that the GST car had not been back to their Northern California home shop since the beginning of the GTA season. No motor or transmission rebuilds, just good ole' gas it and go. For a car of this magnitude that is truly an amazing feat. In talking with Mike he quickly pointed out many of the cars ailments from the neglect and had discarded any chance of them beating their previous record or even coming close to it. Regardless of his accent heavy banter I never count them out and while they would finish the day off of their previous record they were able to lay down a very fast 1:04.168 to lead the Unlimited AWD class as well as the event overall.
|Jeff pits the GST Impreza after “hearing a scraping sound”. The real scraping ensued when he pitted with the broken rear diffuser mount and drove through the pits taking out part of World Racing's pit setup.|
Not far behind GST was the TurnInConepts WRX with Tony Wiesenhahn behind the wheel. You may have seen the many changes that they have made to the car recently and also had heard about their success at the Ultimate Track Car Challenge. They were able to finish day one with a 1:06.600.
|Through new aero changes as well as a NACA duct fed rear mounted radiator, TiC keeps going faster.|
|The latest TiC engine bay. Notice the 3MI intake manifold as well as the low mount turbo manifold.|