View Full Version : Lost my balls at Road Atlanta last weekend

03-20-2006, 02:38 PM
In every track guys life there comes a time for equipment dysfunction - while it can be age dependent it can, and does, happen at anytime. In the scheme of things mine was pretty minor last weekend - I lost the ball bearings out of the rails for my Corbeau seat - it literally made for a rocking time at the track. Compared to Toby breaking the crank in his Mercedes, Tim breaking a windshield and having the left front hub fail in his ZO6 and Tony (Jake's instructor at Little Talladega) kissing the concrete in Turn 12 in his 1998 Trans Am - life was pretty good. Toby helped me pull the seat and look for my loose balls in the interior - the amount of assistance people give, and receive, at the track always impresses me - it takes a true friend to dive in and help you find your balls. I whittled a stick to jam in the seat rail but it did not survive the g's (or possibly it was the load) at Turn 5 - so I wobbled but did not fall down.

All told the NASA event at Road Atlanta was a great time. The prep of getting the alternate tow vehicle wired, the '99 Fixed Roof Coupe (FRC) prepped and the vehicles loaded was getting routine since it is the third weekend in a row. Getting there on Friday was brutal for Jake and I though - due to school we did not leave till 1600. There was an accident on I-20 that held us up for most of an hour, the mapquest directions through Athens for Road Atlanta are - uh, inaccurate - and when we got to the paddock at Road Atlanta I thought the carnival was in town. The paddock was packed with all shapes and sizes at 1930 on a Friday evening. We eventually found a laydown spot and got registered. About 2200 we managed to get into the Local Cracker Barrel for late supper/early breakfast.

On Saturday I lucked out with Todd in an '02 ZO6 as one of my students (met him at VIR in Dec) and my other student was also a fun guy in an RX8. I was able to get them teched and myself out on the track for the first session in HPDE4/Time Trials group. The first session was an eye opener since I was not that familiar with Road Atlanta, open passing everywhere and I was shaking down a relatively new car for me. I did not block anybody, passed a few cars, got passed by more and learned the track. Luckily, I came up to speed - so to speak - fairly quickly. I went out with my students, rode with Tim for a session, took my students out in my car and had more fun then can possibly be legal. Riding with Tim is something he ought to charge money for - the running commentary is worth it. He showed me some "aggressive line" options and how to pick people off in a safe manner. Todd as a hard charging combat veteran had no issues with the track, traffic or riding with me. I showed him how close you can come to the edge in a Vette at Turn 1(all part of my instructional plan, honest) and he was pretty nonchalant about it - we rode around talking about HALO jumping, field living, how most folks never had a really bad day "at work" plus worked in a little bit about turn ins, exit points, braking points, shift points and run off options. Robert, my RX8 student, who is a Purple Heart Marine veteran was convinced my whole purpose in life was to kill him on the track. It seemed he had reservations about riding with me - I guess my talk about me pumping the brakes four times at every brake point was not abnormal plus when he heard a rattle and saw me leaning towards him it was just my loose seat rail did not help much. I messed up once and got a little loose in Turn 5 and Robert was bracing for impact. When I never lifted and accelerated out of it I thought he had forgotten how to breathe. After that I never saw anyone wedge themselves so tight in the passenger side of a Corvette. Tim has some video of the event - I am sure you can hear him laughing at me on the tape. Robert actually did relax a little so I could show him some details he could use in the RX8 to get around the track better. During the day I was able to chase down and pass several ZO6s, a Phoenix prepped ZO6, at least one Turbo 911, Cobras, Mustangs, Camaros, BMWs, Porsches and had a ZR1 Corvette dive into the pits so my 120,000 mile beater would not pass him. I did notice a few go by me at times also. I was able to meet up with several folks from the forums I had not met yet and it always a good time to put a person with the words I have read. Jake worked the Turn 10 flag station all weekend, and according to him, he had a blast. One more work weekend and he has a free event coming. Jake will probably run the track in August with NASA. I know he enjoyed Saturday night.....Playmates, pubs, halter tops what is not to like? Jody and Tony both got mugs and hugs for their Time Trial efforts.

Sunday was more of the same with me showing the track to several folks and taking Tim for a ride in the FRC (turnabout is fair play, right?). Tim and I had a great session - other than getting loose and a little sideways in Turn 7 we had a good time chasing folks down. He, once again, provided me some great tips and insights from his experience at Road Atlanta. The lunch time touring lap was bogus - they wanted $20 bucks for people to run touring laps. Jake, as a corner worker, decided it was not worth $20 bucks to him for "slow laps".

I was on unknown heat cycle Hoosiers and Kumhos (I even ran them mixed on Sunday), had unknown pads mostly wore down from CMP last weekend, and suspension I have yet to touch. Considering the unknowns and the fact I was at the wheel the car ran extremely well. I had to back off almost every session at some point to keep the oil temp at 285 or less but otherwise the car performed flawlessly.

The Suburban makes a pretty good low buck substitute for a RV - beats the tent at CMP last weekend. The diesel F-250 is a better tow vehicle though. The facilities at Road Atlanta are also very nice for the paddock campers.

The track was great, the event was fun, it was mostly safe - the guys (also volunteers - bless them) pushing the cars out on the track from the pit could use a bit more training, the weather was great and the people were fun to hang with. I will be doing Roebling, Rockingham and Road Atlanta (again) this year with NASA so that should speak for itself. Looking forward to Roebling in April with Seat-Time.

Be safe out there.