Lime Rock Diary:|
Day Two, Part Two
Lime Rock, Conn., July 8 — Despite there being no support races at the ALMS event at Lime Rock, a lot happened in the two hours, 45 minutes the race ran Saturday afternoon. This resulted in needing two parts for the Day Two Diary.
Now that I am back home relaxing on my own couch watching the Yankees-Red Sox game, I can write up some of those doings which could not fit in the Part One edition.
There was a forecast of scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. Shortly before the race start, it did start to rain. Well, rain is not the proper definition. Nor is drizzle. Even spitting is not apt. There were drops here and there that were so light, everyone ignored it.
However, the team managers must have been chewing fingernails, wondering whether it was going to rain for real or not. As it turned out, nothing more materialized, though clouds did occasionally appear. The clouds were a welcome relief for the spectators whenever they blocked out the hot sun.
One of the items a track puts up on race day are those teepee signs near the edge of the track, displaying a sponsor's name. They are usually made out of cardboard and/or Styrofoam so as not to pose any danger if a car goes off and hits one.
Occasionally, the placement of these signs leaves a lot to be desired. A few years back, they put a line of them on the outside of the exit of the last turn at Mosport. An area where a car typically goes off when it overshoots the turn.
Sure enough, in one of the support races, a car went wide, wiping out all the signs in that area. They didn't bother replacing them for the feature ALMS race. Smart move. In today's British Grand Prix, we saw a car go off and plow through one of these type of signs.
The uphill chicane is tight and narrow, creating lots of incidents, including one of the most bizarre to occur in any race.
The bonehead placement at Lime Rock was placing a sign on the inside of the second apex of the uphill chicane, a left hander. This portion of the track gets very crowded as the cars are forced to funnel down to a single lane. Often, cars have to bypass the chicane, taking the regular part of the uphill pavement as the escape road. Other times, when it's too late to bail up the escape road, cars are forced off the road, sometimes cutting straight through the grass inside the apex.
When I saw this sign before the race, I thought no way it lasts very long. Sure enough, just 15 minutes (which actually is longer than I thought it would take) into the race, a car was forced to cut inside the apex, plastering the sign, sending debris across the track.
The most bizarre incident of the race also took place in the uphill chicane. If you are forced to take the escape route to avoid a crash, you must not improve your position when you merge back with race traffic at the top of the hill.
In order to prevent cars blasting up the hill and gaining a gap or worse going airborne, the original reason they put the chicane in, tire walls are placed along the route. There are three of them which extend halfway across the track in alternating fashion. The cars then have to slalom their way around while heading up the hill.
One of the Corvettes took to the escape road way too fast. When he got to the second tire wall, whose tires are latched together but not to the ground, he was out of control. He smacked the tire wall, sending it flying into the air.
Wouldn't you know it, the flying tire wall landed next to the third tire wall fitting perfectly in the gap between it and the guardrail. Now, instead of a half tire wall across the exit of the escape route, a tire wall was formed completely blocking the exit of the escape road. One could not have done a better job if they had tried.
I just waited with humorous anticipation for when the next car needed the escape route. It came soon enough. The GMG Racing Porsche in the GTC class took to the escape road. When he got to the top, he found his exit blocked.
He slowed down probably trying to figure out what to do or simply perplexed by the scene. The driver slowly moved the car between the tires and the guardrail, then stopped seemingly wedged between the two or afraid to mar his car. He backed up a little, then decided just to blast through it, forcing his way through the minimal hole, making it a bit wider in the process.
Soon after a full course yellow came out. An ALMS truck was dispatched to place the tire wall back in its original location. The comedy routine came to an end.
Copyright © 2012 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.