Redline Track Events Round 4 at Willow Springs, CA 7/4/11

Redline Track Events: Round 4 Race Report – Willow Springs International Raceway  July 2 – 3, 2011

By Laura Heng

Every championship winning race team has had bad weekends.  Blown motors, wrecked cars, or maybe just a $2 bolt that snapped can put an early end to your weekend during the heat of competition.  The only thing that separates the champions from the rest of the pack is that some guys get back to work and rebuild to fight another day, others just pack it up and take up bowling instead (not that there is anything wrong with bowling).  July 4th weekend at Willow Springs was Round 4 of the Redline Track Events series and was a particularly brutal weekend of racing for many.  The triple digit heat and the new racing surface claimed more than a few cars over the course of the weekend.  Circuit Battles, Pro Time Attack, and MotoIQ all saw at least a few brothers in arms fall victim to the heat.  While many are down, they are not out and we will see the return of most, if not all of these teams in a few weeks time, because that’s what true champions do.

First, lets start off with the new track surface.  The entire Big Willow course was given a fresh slurry seal treatment just a few weeks prior to the event.  The slurry seal is more like a “touch up” rather than an entire tear up and repaving of the track surface.  Although the familiar 9 turn course layout is unchanged, the new surface has an entirely different level of grip compared to the old surface.  We assumed that a new surface would give the track more grip but the slurry actually made the track more slick and offered less traction.  Circuit Battles winner Mike Cronin stated that his Fontana Nissan 350Z had less overall grip but the car would behave more predictably when approaching the traction limit.  

The almighty Fontana Nissan 350Z was unstoppable.  Cronin seemed to have the 350Z dialed in better than anyone else and always carried more speed and made up big ground through turns 8 & 9.

The hot July weekend heat was no joke.  The ambient air temps were 106F and the racing surface temps were checking in at over 150 degrees.  The intake air temp datalogged by one team was at 180deg on a naturally aspirated engine right at the air filter inlet.  The blow off valve gases on Joon Maeng’s Lucas Oil/Road Race Engineering  turbocharged S13 were hot enough to boil power steering fluid and melt plastic in the SR20DET engine bay.  The excessive engine bay heat nearly took him out of the race on more than one occasion.  Dave Lemon in the Mazdatrix RX8 sporting a new turbocharger setup caught fire in part due to the excessive heat of the weekend.  Thankfully no one was injured and we are confident that Mazdatrix will battle through this heartbreaking setback.  Needless to say, it was rough out there for the seasoned veterans and rookies alike.   

 
It was a double header for the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Challenge with two races for the weekend.  On Saturday evening the MotoIQ cars lined up for a twilight race dubbed the Liberty Grand Prix in front of over 1000 racing fans that came out for the drag racing and fireworks show.  

 

Mike Cronin was unstoppable in the Circuit Battles event.  P1 and he stayed at the top of the winners bracket all the way to the winners circle.  The Fontana Nissan 350Z had one close call during qualifying when he lost fuel pressure and had to be towed into the pits but the team was able to fix the issue and hit hard the rest of the weekend.

 

Paul Brown used his signature turn 9 passing maneuver to get himself all the way to the finals against Mike Cronin for a Nissan vs. Nissan match up.  Brown in the K&N Engineering G35 would finish the weekend in 2nd place in the Circuit Battles competition. 

 

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