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2017 Reflection


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Seems like a good time for a thread that's just for fun positive stuff.   What were your favorite ChampCar racing memories in 2017, what did your team overcome, did you make progress or just have a good time?  

 

I'll start,   It's pretty tough to pick a memory that was the best.  Team MiElan had a pretty good year.  The best weekend racing about has to be the spring race at Road America. This was the first race for our EcoTech swap and new aero mods and it never missed a beat. 3rd and 4th place finishes were our  best ever at the historic track.   A very close second would have to be our first ever trip to Barber earlier this month. Wow what a hard track for this old guy to learn. The rest of the team carried the load and we managed Top 10 finishes both days and had a fantastic time in the snowy south.   

 

Cant wait to get back to racing in April at Road America. 

Edited by JDChristianson
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First ever racing season for me.  I ran 4 races, my favorite moments:

 

Watkins Glen:  Blowing up the engine under FCY somehow.  Then getting Ricky Bobbied from the sound of the radiator bursting (you have to listen really close - it was really loud to me) and jumping from the car. https://youtu.be/hFDYB4trwSA?t=8m59s

 

VIR 24hr: These 5-10 minutes of chasing the Huggins BMW at dawn with not enough sleep, not enough breakfast, not enough something else that I've forgotten since my brain stopped working for a few days after those 24 hours.  https://youtu.be/6Fi0BhaGEnc?t=12m3s

 

 

Road America:  Deciding that the two hondas were at an aerodynamic disadvantage and folding each others mirrors in for better straigh line speed. https://youtu.be/g6jHHdzfjIU?t=1h45m56s I know this was optimistic to say the least, but we had a good laugh over it later on.

 

VIR North: Setting FTD on Saturday and running side by side with eventual winner Schultz through what was really a few corners but what felt like 5 minutes. https://youtu.be/VOzsAEhrq9E?t=55m41s

 

I'll always be a chronic renter (no time or talent to build my own). And I enjoy the bickering on the forums at work over the various things that people bicker about, but I love the comraderie once we're all out on track. As long as that stays the same, then I'm good with whatever else.  Less than 6 wks until my next race and I'm bringing 3 new drivers to the series with me.   Thanks everyone I've met, the staff and volunteers for the terrific year, the opportunity to spend a few weekends out on track with you and the many more hours thinking about those few (like right now, at work, when I hope most of you are home). Stay warm and be safe.

 

Why is January so long? 

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Not sure what our most memorable or most overcome issue was so I'll just get wordy and summarize the whole year.  The year looked bright for us coming off a win to end 2016 at Barber in the Lexus and the 944 finishing in the top 20.  We decided to skip Road Atlanta and just have fun in Tiffany's Honda Accord at the Lemons race at Barber the same weekend.  Turning a 1:55 and a 1:56 in the 87 model 87 HP 87 mph top speed front wheel drive Honda was a pure blast, kind of made up for missing RA.  Plus the engine in the Lexus was having oil pressure issues at the end of the Barber race so we didn't want to take a chance of blowing it up since it had over 180,000 miles on it.  I finally got around to pulling the motor from the parts car and made the mistake of saying we needed to go through it before it went in the car.  Nobody had time to get it all together in time to shake it down prior to Daytona, so we missed that race too.  Prior to missing that, I hopped across the country and helped my cousin at Pomona Speed Shop run their E36 at Sonoma.  Fun track, but I have never seen a more slick racing surface in the rain.  I was pretty quick in his car, but made up for it by spinning several times in the rain. 

 

When it looked like we weren't going to get off our asses and get the Lexus engine together for COTA I decided we were going with the old motor.  I had a feeling COTA would be short lived for Chump so we were not going to miss it.  We had trashed the trans at the Barber race and installed the spare so I tore the old one down, never got around to getting it back together either.  See the trend?  So we set off for COTA with a tired engine and a spare trans that was almost together but still in a box hoping all would hang in there for one more weekend.  The first day started pretty well, we were running top 5 I think when about 1/2 hour into the race Casey called in saying all hell broke loose in the trans and all he had was 4th.  We said stay out and I would get the other trans ready.  We spent half the day putting the spare together on the garage floor, finally figuring out where all the interference pins went.  We kept doing fuel and driver swaps at 2 hours in between working the spare trans.  Everybody figured out how to carry momentum through the turns with nothing but 4th gear so we were laying down some pretty good times.  We brought the car home in 7th place running all day in 4th gear, including getting out of the pits and up that damned hill toward turn 1.  That night we swapped the trans and had high hopes for Sunday.  Chris started and had a good battle between Tyler's E36 and the Looney Tunes Mustang for a couple of hours before the other liability showed up.  He called and said the motor blew in the esses.  Texas has just not been kind to us for the second year in a row which is a shame because that track is made for the Lexus.  

 

We finally got our stuff together and finished the engine and was able to shake it down in time for WRL at Barber in August.  There were some really fast cars there, a few much faster than we see in Chump, but the fast ones couldn't stay fast for 8 hours so we brought home the win on both Saturday and Sunday for our inaugural races in that series.  If they continue to have races at home in Birmingham, we will probably run there again, but just not sure we will travel for that series unless the car count picks up.

 

Nobody was interested or had time or funds for Sebring or Road America which I had hoped to do one of the two, so our next race would be AMP.  In between I went back to California and helped Pomona again at Buttonwillow in their E36.  That little track was really fast, fun, and challenging.  I think we finished 2nd both days?  The car count is down out west, but the racing is still very good. 

 

As the days drew down leading up to AMP, I had been checking the weather and it looked like solid rain for at least one day maybe both so we made a call to order some new rain tires.  Most important call of the weekend, they were unbelievable on Saturday in the driving rain, we had awesome grip and was able to open up a pretty good lead on the field.  We would have been even faster had we not lost our windshield wiper with 2 hours to go which slowed us down.  We started in first on Sunday, but Troy and his Bio team were very fast there with a dry track and quickly made up the time and put several laps on us by mid to late day.  Randy was really really quick on his home turf in that car.  Fortunate for us, they had fuel and trans issues and we started closing pretty quickly and passed them with about 1/2 hour left in the race and went on to win our second Chump race in less than 12 months.  Not sure this is the place to say this, but while on the subject of Randy I will say this.  During the race I thought awe man that sucks they are running a pro driver in that car but we talked about and said well if we finish second to Randy Pobst that is doing pretty well.  But I think the thing that caught my attention was during the awards ceremony I got the impression he just enjoyed being there and enjoyed being one of us.  I hope he hangs around and does more races in this series.

 

Next up was Barber.  Who would have thought snow there?  But, we still started the race on time Saturday with snow on the ground but not on the track.  Casey had a tangle with another car (our doing) about 2 hours in and damaged a tie rod.  The alternator had quit right before that, so we took the car back to the shop and replaced the tie rod, did an alignment, and replaced the alternator and got back to the track in time to shake it down to get ready for Sunday.  I started Sunday and by lap 8 or 10 I had it out front.  Cold temps and the track coming in made for some quick lap times, I had a 1:44 something which is the fastest that car has done at Barber, and it had made a ton of laps there prior to this race.  I backed it down a little trying to conserve tires and fuel and pointed the Bio car by when they caught me on the front stretch (they were catching me anyway) before turning the car over to Chris to finish the morning session.  Chris brought it to the red flag in first place and had managed to put Bio a lap down.  We put Chris back in the car to start the afternoon with the plan being he would run another hour, put Casey in for 2 hours, then I would finish the last 50 min or so.  When we saw what happened with the E36 flipping coming up the hill at 4 during the pace lap we made the call to bring Chris in for fuel and driver swap under fcy so we could make the rest of the way with only one stop.  We waited as long as I thought we could hoping to catch everybody else napping, but Troy made the same call and Casey went back out in first and Troy still a lap down.  Bio caught us and got on the same lap and they started laying down some quick laps making up a lot of the lap during that session.  Our front tires were just going away so we made the call to change both front tires on the last stop or we wouldn't have a chance.  Plus the alternator wasn't charging at high rpm, not sure what that was.  I got in the car with a little under 2 hours remaining, not optimum for this 54 year old has-been since I had already done 2 hours earlier.  But, you gotta do what you gotta do, my regret is I didn't put Chris back in since he had only driven one hour earlier.  I kind of got tunnel vision on finishing, I told the guys going into the weekend I had not finished a race in a year so wanted to finish one of the two days if possible.  The tires helped, the car was handling well again.  One helluva pit stop by Chris, he changed both front tires and filled with gas and when I got to pit out I had 10 seconds left on the timer.  I had a great battle with Bio for the remainder of the race, with it ending 15 min early due to previously described on here contact I should have avoided.  We managed to get in and change a tire and serve a 3 min penalty and actually got out in front of Cone Crushers but the front end has some damage still not diagnosed and shook like hell so I couldn't fight with them for fear the car wouldn't respond.  I finished 4 or 5 seconds behind the CC 944 for 2nd place.  Not exactly the way we wanted to finish the year after having 3 wins in a row leading up to this one (WRL sweep plus AMP).  We got a lot of help from our pit mates with RocketHam during our pit stops at AMP and this race, so kudos to Dan and his guys for that assistance.

 

We have some work to do on the car to get ready for next year, but hopefully we have it all done before Road Atlanta.  Dissertation complete. 

Edited by Burningham
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I had such an incredible 2016 making 2017 a bit disappointing, however it was still a blast. 

 

Road Atlanta and Autobahn were my favorite races from 2017. If we didn’t have car trouble at Daytona that would have been right up there too. 

Edited by red0
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2017 was a pretty tough year for CYR to be honest.  Going back to a M20 we had a lot of problems from Mid-Ohio, COTA, NCM, and VIR.  BIR was our best race and we finished 4th on the Donneybrook but still with a lot of problems.  I think my best memory for 2017 is being in the Premium Dudes car for Autobahn and setting fast lap on both tracks for the team.  I think Sunday was one of the best stints I have ever done in my life. 

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January of this year 2017, a coworker of mine and I ran across some YouTube video's of Champ Car.  We both had racing experience, him off road and myself late model oval.  We got to studying building a car for Champ.  After some thought we decided on the Miata.  In March I was able to locate a 90 model sitting beside a house with grass and weeds covering it. After talking to the owner I was able to buy it real cheap because it did not run.  A 45 dollar timing belt later I had it running.  Thus began the hard work to put together a race car.  With a limited budget we decided to leave the car completely stock and concentrate on the safety aspect of the car. The next several months consisted of putting in the cage, seat, fire system and just making the car legal per the rule book.  After almost a year we had what we felt was a safe race car.  The only performance items we added were a radiator, shocks and springs.  Our intentions were to run Barber and pray the drive train and motor would last long enough for us all to get some track time.  The best thing about this whole deal was the fact that my 19 year old son spent a lot of time with his ole man working on this project.  For that to me was the best part of this whole deal.  As a teen myself, my dad spent a tremendous amount of time with me working on old cars, I still have and drive often a 66 Pontiac we rebuilt from the ground up.  He passed away in 2003 leaving me with memories I intend to recreate with my son.  This project has allowed me to spend quality time with my son and pass down lessons learned from Dad.   Anyway, we finally made the 60 mile drive down to Barber in December with the car and camper in tow.  Fully expecting to maybe run the first day, load up a broke race car and head home.  After two days at the track, we completed 347 laps and just over 825 miles.  The car was probably the slowest out there but it made the whole two days and was able to see the checkered flag both days. For two EMS helicopter pilots and an 19 yo college student who had never done any kind of road racing, I think we did pretty good.  I guess the whole deal is the best 2017 memory, from the excitement of racing at Barber to the enjoyment of spending time with good friends and my son.  We are now looking forward to 2018 and making the car more competitive.  Because of the limited budget we hope to try NCM in Kentucky and of coarse running Barber again.  A special thanks to the entire Champ Car staff and all the racers that made us feel welcome at our first race.  What a Memory!!!!!!!

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1 hour ago, Hunterflyy said:

The best thing about this whole deal was the fact that my 19 year old son spent a lot of time with his ole man working on this project.  For that to me was the best part of this whole deal.

This is what this whole thing needs to be about!!!  Our team is 2 dads and 4 sons.  The experience, building and racing together is the best!    

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3 hours ago, Crank Yankers Racing said:

2017 was a pretty tough year for CYR to be honest.  Going back to a M20 we had a lot of problems from Mid-Ohio, COTA, NCM, and VIR.  BIR was our best race and we finished 4th on the Donneybrook but still with a lot of problems.  I think my best memory for 2017 is being in the Premium Dudes car for Autobahn and setting fast lap on both tracks for the team.  I think Sunday was one of the best stints I have ever done in my life. 

Autobahn Sunday was pretty special... I got to the track and said "ok... 4 penalty laps in a 6 hour race... pretty hot outside... how about we all just take turns running 1 hour stints and have some fun because there is no chance we win this thing".

Then you and Andrew and Steve said "ok FU, we're racing for the W", and then you guys went and won it while I was pit crew the whole race! We had some good fortune with top teams having issues, and were lucky that track length on Sunday was shorter than Saturday so the 4 laps was not a big deal, and a perfect pit stop to dodge the pace car, but the biggest reason we clinched that win was that the car was running perfectly. Makes me so happy when the car performs well. That was my 2017 highlight.

Edited by enginerd
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3 minutes ago, enginerd said:

Autobahn Sunday was pretty special... I got to the track and said "ok... 4 penalty laps in a 6 hour race... pretty hot outside... how about we all just take turns running 1 hour stints and have some fun because there is no chance we win this thing".

Then you and Andrew and Steve said "ok FU, we're racing for the W", and then you guys went and won it while I was pit crew the whole race! We had some good fortune with top teams having issues, and a perfect pit stop to dodge the pace car, but the biggest reason we clinched that win was that the car was running perfectly. Makes me so happy when the car performs well. That was my 2017 highlight.

Your team went hard that weekend.  It was cool to watch.   Just to be a trouble maker, I'll remind you that 4 laps on Sunday was about the same distance as on lap at Road  America 😛   None the less Premium Dudes had everyone's number that weekend 

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7 minutes ago, JDChristianson said:

Your team went hard that weekend.  It was cool to watch.   Just to be a trouble maker, I'll remind you that 4 laps on Sunday was about the same distance as on lap at Road  America 😛   None the less Premium Dudes had everyone's number that weekend 

You are exactly right!! I'll add that in. Got lucky on that one too.

 

I argued in a few threads years ago that the penalty lap system was woefully inadequate in dealing with tracks where the lap times are drastically different. In this case, it helped us out a lot that such a change was never made!!

- We won by... 21 minutes on Saturday after 12 hours (7 laps) [the race of "who broke fewer times?"]

- This became 4 laps for Sunday (since Sunday was a 6 hour race)

- 4 laps on the Sunday track is only 5 minutes :D

Edited by enginerd
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My story is similar to @Hunterflyy, but from the other side.  We too are a family operation, but I'm the kid who never raced with dad who drove late models in the 80's.  I remember as a kid sitting in the drivers seat pretending to drive as a little kid.  As of September there was no pretending anymore!  After the ChampCar race at Thompson last year, I decided to convert my Miata from weekend track warrior to ChumpCar.  After months of saving money, building, saving money, building, the car was finally ready.  I rounded up my dad, brother, a buddy to drive and a buddy to crew, and we set out to race at Thompson in Ct.  We learned a lot about spares that first race, but despite a busted radiator hose and 45 minutes in the garage we achieved all our goals....Take the green, take the checkered, and drive it on the trailer to get it home.  We were ecstatic about a 15th place finish despite our problems.   Our next race at VIR brought us even more joy.  After getting hit hard in T1 on Saturday, the team kept their composure and finished 14th overall on both days.  Knowing our 300pt, 1.6 Miata was very out classed, we would have been thrilled to finish top half, so a top 15 was like a win.  

 

A couple things make the year so memorable.  One thing that stands out are the people of ChampCar.  From @djsteviec showing me the ropes at Watkins Glen, to McParland Motorsport offering me every hose they had to help us get fixed, the people have been great.  The other is bringing my family together.  Even though my brother and I are long since grown, dad still likes to tell us what to do and we still like to roll our eyes, but we know we are in it as a team.  We get to race together, share the ups and downs, and tell stories about what "WE" did.  Even the team members outside our family have come together and become our track family.  That team spirit and camaraderie gives us all something to look forward to a few times a year, and you can't put a price on that joy.

 

Its been fun to race all of you this year (well most of you anyway), and we are very excited to race even more in 2018.

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42 minutes ago, enginerd said:

Autobahn Sunday was pretty special... I got to the track and said "ok... 4 penalty laps in a 6 hour race... pretty hot outside... how about we all just take turns running 1 hour stints and have some fun because there is no chance we win this thing".

Then you and Andrew and Steve said "ok FU, we're racing for the W", and then you guys went and won it while I was pit crew the whole race! We had some good fortune with top teams having issues, and were lucky that track length on Sunday was shorter than Saturday so the 4 laps was not a big deal, and a perfect pit stop to dodge the pace car, but the biggest reason we clinched that win was that the car was running perfectly. Makes me so happy when the car performs well. That was my 2017 highlight.

 

Only downfall is not having radios on Sunday and telling you the cool suit worked and Larry getting in at the hottest part of the day with no cool suit. 

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2017 was a tough season for Mostmint Racing, coming off two class wins and a podium finish in 2016 we did not have good performance this year.

 

We went to Watkins Glen for the first time as our first event in May and found that Saturn rear hubs don't get along with the curbs in the bus stop very well - we broke three hubs during the weekend.  The second one was breaking at the end of day 1 but it let us finish.  After nine race weekends with the car I figured we had seen everything a track could throw at us.  We were a bit down on power but still managed a 2:26 FTD and ran 18th.  Day two we had issues with the knock sensor which cost more power, and the shifter and LR hub broke in the afternoon.  Still racing at Watkins Glen was awesome, and the first time I had a lot of time in the simulator before I went to a track. 

 

We did have an incident with the race car at a track day at Nelson Ledges in June.  New driver training ended up with a long slide exiting the kink into the tire barrier and the car ended up on the roof!  After we put it on the wheels, I started it up and drove it back to the pits.  I am still learning how to groom new drivers.  Damage was mostly cosmetic + new windshield.  Let's just say that plastic panels are very forgiving.

 

VIR was our second race, the first 24 hour since 2012 for us and the first time most of us had been there.  Definitely excited to see our car on the event shirt.  Hundreds of people with Mostmint Saturn t-shirts!  We blew up the engine at just over 3 hours into the race, which then led us to an in-race engine swap for the first time.  We lost a bunch of time on a couple problems but got back out there and ran 13 more hours of racing.  By far the weekend highlight for me was night racing in the rain.  Our Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's and the Saturn were fantastic in the wet and I passed a lot of cars, including a pass of Simon Sez.  Considering this was on the backup engine, and my first stint at VIR (which started at night) and very shortly into the rain, I felt pretty good about that.  Funny thing I was dreading it before I got into the car but was sad when my stint was over!   

 

IMG_1709.JPG

Edited by mostmint
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Great year!  Lots of fun and smiles.  Won at Road Atlanta against a bunch of super expensive cars.  Should have won at Watkins Glen but oh well. Still my favorite track!   Took the summer off to be there for my daughter delivering her first baby!  Won The Eastern Championship at AMP, led at Barber, got my new build Miata out to Laguna.  Made a friends' dream come true by getting him to laguna, and made my dreams come true by racing with my son there.  He's hooked and is going to Road America in April and hopefully more! 

Edited by Jer
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I spent the first half 2017 building a team. I, to my surprise, was only able to find two people to actually put up money do this with me. Then a month or so finding a car (surprisingly easy). We bought out an existing team which saved a lot of work. The rest of the year I spent working with my new team and prepping that car. On Dec. 29th 2017 I get to find out how all my hard work will pay off. If racing that car on the track is as much fun as I had getting ready to race I'm going to call 2017 a good year.  

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    Yeah as far as the racing 2017 was a fun one . Thanks Team Punisher for letting me wheel in three events ,fastest at Rd Atlanta and Daytona and a B class win at VIR .  I worked 3 event weekends for chump so I got to be part of some racing and Conner and I won another NASA kart enduro .. 

    On the life side lost some dear family and close friends , 17 was tough also .. 

    Going to dive into 2018 like a young man working and racin , working and racin ......  

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On the track we have had our share of problems, but believe we have most of them cured for 2018 and look forward to having some more fun at the track(s) for sure. Body-wise the car really took a beating this year, but the new engine is holding up well and I guess that's what matters most. Looking to get off our pizza cutter tires/wheels and add some aero this year assuming I can spend some time working on that and not the rest of the body!!! Thanks to all of our "old" buddies at the track, John Allen Special, E Racing, Running Bulls Racing, Chattanoogan TourenWagen, No Cents Racing, and others that we are just now getting to know better like Huggins (Pinkies Out), Team Jacky Ickx, Hong Norrth, Biohazzard, Burningham...and others. Lots of others!!!

 

Offtrack it's been a helluva ride this past year. Being a part of ChampCar Live has been a blast and working with @Paulie and @Bill Strong is certainly never boring. Very encouraged to hear and read of all of your comments and we are looking to improve our coverage this year.

 

The BoD gig is also very rewarding as we continue the transition to the new name and continue the growth of the Club. Looking forward to working with @riche30 and @TAlexander as they come onboard January 1st.

 

The most challenging aspect of being a part of Live and BOD is remembering all of your names. Dang, there's a lot of ya!!!  I'm working on it though...

 

Happy New Years!

 

 

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9 hours ago, WastedAccounts said:

I spent the first half 2017 building a team. I, to my surprise, was only able to find two people to actually put up money do this with me. Then a month or so finding a car (surprisingly easy). We bought out an existing team which saved a lot of work. The rest of the year I spent working with my new team and prepping that car. On Dec. 29th 2017 I get to find out how all my hard work will pay off. If racing that car on the track is as much fun as I had getting ready to race I'm going to call 2017 a good year.  

Good luck!   Enjoy the ride!

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Good year, finished the end of last yr with that NYE win at Sebring, hoping for a repeat in a few days  !!! .    Got the monkey off the back of the 935, it was a on a year long streak of bad finishes and DNF's.   But both cars had a couple of top ten finishes, and both podiumed at our bucket list track at the "Glen" which really made the trip so much the better.   Plus a great finish on day one with just losing 4th place to the M Brothers team in a squeaker at the line.    And got runner up in the Eastern Chumpionship to boot.       Memory most time fails but I don't think we blew anything up or crashed at all.  So, happy bout that.    Looking forward to 2018 !

Edited by Evilwheel
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