Category Archives: Sonoma

Lesson Learned- Charity Challenge 2019

During qualifying for the Group 8 race on Saturday I was lined up 4th. After the green flag dropped I tried to pass #33 NASCAR on the inside of Turn 1 but realized he didn’t see me and backed off. Going up the hill to Turn 2 I moved to the inside and passed him. I attempted to pass the #25 car also but was too far back for the driver to see me coming. He turned in to Turn 2 and we made contact, spinning us both out.

Damage from contact with the NASCAR guy.

Following the contact Jeff the CSRG Race Director came to our pits and informed me that I would not be allowed to race anymore that weekend.

In discussing the incident with Jeff and reviewing my in-car I realize that I exercised poor judgement. I ended my conversation with Jeff by telling him I understood why I was not going to be allowed to drive my other car but I wasn’t happy.

Replacement number cover came from New Zealand. Not cheap!

As I thought about it later I realized that the reason I wasn’t happy was not because of Jeff’s decision to send me packing but I was unhappy with myself for allowing myself to get into the frame of mind that put my car in a bad position and created the potential for damage to my car and another car.

I realized that I began the session in a very impatient and aggressive frame of mind. I had just qualified my 2002 in 3rd place in Group 9 and had driven perhaps my best lap ever in that car at Sonoma. I knew my M3 was quicker that either of the NASCAR cars I was following and I was impatient to get by them and drive another “miracle” lap. The results of my poor judgement and even poorer mindset speak for themselves. This race weekend was a real wake-up call to me personally, as well as being a very expensive lesson. Nose clips for E30 M3’s don’t come cheap, if you can find one.

This old war horse took a hit at The Charity Challenge too.

I am also in a very unfortunate position after last weekend as I was both the perpetrator and receiver of avoidable contact. My #34 BMW was hit by another car during the Group 9 race while being driven by Jeff Gerken.

I want to commend the Board of CSRG for their decision to clamp down on aggressive driving. As an owner of several valuable cars I have felt that things have gotten out of hand at many events in recent years. There are some events I will not participate in because of the poor level of driving allowed. 

CSRG has taken a very brave stance by committing to cleaning up the driving at their events. I would like to respectfully point out to the Board that the only way it will work as we would all hope is  for the Board to be as even handed and consistent in applying their standards as possible, no matter who causes an incident. Anything less will cause feelings of resentment, lack of respect for the Board and its decisions, and lower turn out for their races.

Here’s the video from the weekend:

2019 David Love Memorial Race

Last weekend we traveled down to Sonoma to run the NSU and the K2002 in CSRG’s spring race- The David Love Memorial Races.

CSRG is sponsoring a B sedan series this summer called the John Morton Cup. It seems like every time a sanctioning body puts on a B sedan only race it provides a great spectacle for the public. It is not uncommon to hear, “That was the best race of the weekend.” I hope more vintage groups will schedule some B sedan only races.

17 B sedans were ready to race on Saturday’s qualifying race. I was lined up 5th.

For Saturday’s qualifying race I lined up 5th behind Troy Ermish, Jim Froula, Jon Norman, and Dave Stone. John Murray was 6th, and Keith Lippiatt was 7th. It was a nice mix of Datsuns, Alfas, and a bunch of BMWs.

Just before our race a Formula Atlantic car managed to dump its entire dry sump system full of oil all around the track. Just to make it more interesting the driver stayed right on the racing line while the gush occurred. This made for some exciting racing during the opening few laps.

The green flag waved in a cloud of oil dry. The cars at the back of the field were flying pretty blind. My windshield was coated with oily kitty litter by Turn 3. I managed to get by Dave Stone and was running 4th behind Ermish, Froula, and Norman. Going into Turn 11 the first time I was a bit too conservative under braking and John Murray got inside me. As we powered off the turn my engine started to have a slight miss and John pulled past me into 4th.

Behind me Keith Lippiatt and Terry Forland were having a good battle in their BMWs. Terry eventually got by and ran 6th. Henry Schmitt had to start at the back of the field because he only had slicks for his car. He came through the field and finished 12th.

The miss caused me to lose touch with the lead pack so I had a rather lonely race until the checkered flag. My best lap of the weekend was a 1:58.9.

A cracked and split trailing arm ended our weekend.

Back in the paddock Jim noticed the left rear wheel had a bit more camber than the right. He jacked up the car and found that the left rear trailing arm had split and cracked. I thought the car felt a little funny but attributed it to all the oil dry on the track.

It meant the car was done for the weekend, but I am very glad we found the problem in the paddock and not going through fast Turn 10! He will be welding reinforcing plates on 2 new trailing arms before the next race.

This event marked the return of the mighty NSU. You may remember that I crashed the car in the wet at Seattle last July. Jim and Ted at Racecraft repaired the car over the winter. It looked good as new sitting in the paddock next to the K2002.

The NSU ran in Group 2 which is made up of small bore production cars and sedans built before 1972. The class is dominated by English cars- Midgets, Minis, Elvas, Austi Healys, TVRs, and Sprites. There are also Morgans, 356 Porsches, and a few Alfa sedans.

The NSU ran perfectly all weekend and my lap times got better each session. That makes for a good weekend.

I began the weekend taking it a bit easy with the car until I had some confidence that the swing axels weren’t going to bite me again. In the end I qualified 16th out of 34 cars. I was pretty happy with that.

The race went pretty well. I held off an Alfa GTV but was passed by a couple of faster cars that started at the back of the grid. I ended up finishing 17th. My best lap for the weekend was a 2:05.9.

Here’s the video from the weekend. Hope you enjoy it!