Thursday, October 18, 2012

Racing a 1971 Datsun with Beach Dudes Racing

It was still dark when we arrived at Ridge Motorsports Park… foggy.. and a bit cold. Driving around the pits looking for my team I wanted to be as quite as possible and  not wake anybody up in their tents….hey it was only 5:30am, only 3 hours to green flag. I was already ready to race…! How could people still sleep…? Still baffles me…

 Anyways, I would be racing a 1971 Datsun station wagon with team Beach Dudes Racing. The car deserved that name with a surf board on top, although none of the drivers were surfers. Perhaps a contradiction… but so was the car. Under the hood it had a Nissan Pathfinder V6 engine delivering a healthy 210 HP to the rear wheels. Weighing only ~2500 pounds I knew this was a going to be a great combo… but little did I know about the track, the Ridge.

 Over the years racing with different teams, different cars on tracks I had never been on.. I came to expect challenges. But Ridge was different, it was a maze of technical high speed, low speed and off camber turns with massive elevation changes. Youtube videos do not do justice for elevation changes(nor iracing).For example the most dramatic is the last turn in Road Atlanta of course.. a true roller coaster ride, but on the videos it always looks like a small hill top.

 I would be starting the race, a 2 hour stint to be exact. I literally had to learn the track the first few warm up laps before green flag dropped… and to be honest it took me at least 20 minutes to figure the damn track out. I took it nice and easy at first as I discovered the car had massive but predictable over steer. I think it was ~30 minute mark when I radioed-in that I would be opening her up… and off she went.

 I don’t remember much after that to be honest… I remember being radioed in to pit in which felt like 20 minutes but was actually 2 hours, getting out of the car and asking where the mechanic of the team was,, and I remember congratulating him for that engine. The brakes and handling struggled but the engine made it up for anything…I mean anything on the track. I don’t think I got passed the last 90 mins of the stint, and surely could have gone even faster if I had bigger balls. Regardless I set the fastest time for the car with a ~5 second margin.

 Thanks to Beach Dudes Racing for giving me the opportunity to race with them and I hope I get to join them for future races… They really have  a great operation, a first in junk car racing, a fully dedicated pit crew, mechanics and the best food on the track!

 Oh.. and of course Coco… the team mascot J