We came, we saw, we didn’t quite conquer but we did have a really good time. Going into Mid Ohio we knew we were behind the 8-ball a bit. Our competitors had been racing all over the east coast all summer and had presumably been fine tuned and practiced up as a result. Even still, I stepped into the Bruce Work entered Ralph Firman Racing (RFR) chassis with a bit confidence as Mid Ohio has been good to me in the past. Not only were we the fast RFR on the track we were solidly in the top ten. In practice we were 6th fastest two sessions in a row despite throwing huge changes at the car. By huge changes I mean moving suspension points via non-standardized methods. To spare those not into techno-blabbery I digress though. Rain however spoiled Saturday and after a downright soggy qualifying session I was set to start 11th for the race. To be honest, I never even tried to do a full speed qualifying lap. The conditions were simply too hideous and completing the session without a spin or a crash was victory enough. There was ridiculous discussion between the qualifying and the race with the aim of delaying the race until Sunday.
These unfounded thoughts however gave way to the realization that we all own rain tires and already had rain setups on the car and we might as well get in our race cars and race them as intended. Though, someone did decide to have a single file start and this was fine as visibility was admittedly difficult. So after all of this the race got under way. Everyone behaved like adults and everything got going. I drove steady with no plans of immediate world domination. Despite several drifts and semi spins I kept the car going and made my way up to fourth. A full course caution came out and bunched the field. After a typically terrible restart on my part I fell back a ways, suffered another partial spin or two.. maybe three. Who’s counting anyways? Finally, I brought the car home in ninth. Alas, a podium was so close. We had worked on the car so much for the dry that our old wet setup, which was quite good, was pretty much crap. Who knew moving suspension points on the chassis would make such a difference? I think we saw it coming really. Nevertheless the field missed me on many attempts to crash and we were in a good spot for Sundays event.
Sunday turned out beautiful from a weather perspective and we hit the track with a full dry setup. The car was good, if not a little late to come up to full temperature. This set me up in ninth starting position for the race. One guy dropped out and that put in me in the eighth starting spot. Lame I declare, starting eighth put me on the outside at the start, I’d rather have started ninth. These fears were not unfounded and at the start of the race I dropped back several spots. I again drove steady and moved up. It was a pretty mundane race really. The car got better every lap until the end. I passed a few guys and made few mistakes. I brought the car home in eighth and was hounding sixth and seventh. They cut the race short and that certainly hurt my chances at gaining further positions, but there isn’t much point in dwelling on it. All in all, I believe we made improvements to the RFR chassis and have a good view of where we want to take the chassis in the future.
I have to give shout outs to Bruce Work for making the entire thing happen for me, John Walko for diligently working on the car and setup, my father for always throwing it down as a mechanic, and finally our family friend Andrew Raybuck for helping under the tent as well as just being a cool dude to hang out with.
I also have to mention that Joe Selmants did a great job piloting his ride to a top 5 finish in only his second pro weekend. What an excellent and steely drive he had on Sunday. I cannot forget Gary Machiko’s weekend either. He stepped directly into the frying pan and had a solid weekend in what was a giant thirty car field and did so without pissing anybody off. Additionally, bonus points were given for not having to split his car even once.
Below I’ve included a few pictures from the weekend, all of which are thoroughly ripped off from the F2000 Series website, so if you want the real deal head over there. In there you will find pictures of Gary, Joe, my longtime pal and karaoke master Vaughn Horvath, and me. Naturally there are more of me than of the others, but I own the website and get to do whatever I want. Haaa! [wzslider info=”true”]