Current News

Watkins Glen 2013: Turning the Chump Car World Upside Down

Date: April 12, 2013
Location: Watkins Glen, New York
Track: Watkins Glen International
Event: ChumpCar Dual 7.5-Hour Enduro
Entrants: 96 ChumpCar Competitors
Objective: Turn ChumpCar's World Upside Down

Warning: certain portions of this newsletter may be slightly exaggerated, or, in some cases, blatantly untrue.  After all, if you can't win, you may as well be entertaining.  Read to the end to decipher truth from fiction.

Not Off To A Great Start
While it didn't end all rosy, it didn't start all rosy, either.  Imagine, if you can, the logistical nightmare of assembling team members from Florida (delayed flight and missed connection due to some insignificant part that holds fuel in the airplane), Texas (delayed flight, delayed connection, rental car flat tire), Michigan (late-night dash by PC across Ohio at two in the morning), and Wisconsin (no delays - how did that happen?).  Oh, and then there was the vignette about Larry driving his new-to-him Lotus Evora from Atlanta, Georgia, and being towed by an Amish buggy the final 15 miles to the track.  Does Lotus still use Lucas wiring?

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Caherty Avoids the Wall in NASCAR Turn 3

My, How Time Flies When You're Not Writing Newsletters!
Last time you heard from us, Caherty had just hit the wall in NASCAR Turn 3 at MIS.  That was back in…August.  Yikes! A lot has transpired since then - Christmas, a Presidential Election, an estimated 1.8 million births worldwide, and yes, another ChumpCar race.  Due to factors including, but not limited to, intentional procrastination, here is your better-late-than-never race report from Texas World Speedway.  I just hope I remember all the important bits.

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MIS Race Report

Our finest hour?

Figure Out Why PC is SmilingTwo, make that three, weeks have now passed since the checkered flag flew at Michigan International Speedway, concluding our second semi-triumphant, incredibly caloric, and completely irrational Chump Car race weekend of 2012.  Frantic last-minute thrashing on the new racecar, bump drafting for hours at speeds over 120 mph, and no less than three team trophies all make the race footage highlight reel; yet ironically, while I have this mountain of good material to work with, I can't stop reflecting back on what "our" means.  In retrospect the race was nice and all, but it was "our" that defined the entire weekend from start to finish.

"Our" certainly started with the usual small cast of characters and a crappy $500 race car, but "our" now includes folks that have never been a part of "our" before.  "Our" was reinvigorated by old friends getting back in touch with the team and coming out to show support (and push dead cars down pit lane!) after nearly a decade or more away.  "Our" was bewildering inasmuch as there are now all these darn KIDS running around the paddock.  "Our" was re-defined in so many ways.  Mark may have naively thought he was building a second racecar for MIS, but what he was really building was the opportunity for more "our."  So while the rest of the newsletter will focus on the action-packed nits and bits of the racing, in my most humble opinion, this weekend was nothing less than "our" finest "our."

As it turns out, we had one hell of a race, too.

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The Road America Curse

For those of you who are keeping track of such things, this scR newsletter is the latest in a series that dates back to 1997.  That's right; we have been doing this thing for 15 years now.  Based on that fact alone, you might be getting slightly bored with the same old stories, believing that there just isn't anything else that can happen at a race track that you haven't already heard about.  You might also be getting bored with the same old cast of characters and their sophomoric routines and high jinks.  You might also think that, after so much time, we are getting bored with the whole ordeal and will likely stop sending out these pointless, if slightly amusing, newsletters in the near future.

Five cars on track and none of them ours

Well, sit back and read on because we have new material, new blood, and a renewed enthusiasm for this fiasco we call auto racing.  We also have a big pile of broken parts.  This is good news for you, for as it turns out, broken parts make for good reading.

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ChumpCar put on notice: the Saturn Art Car has arrived!

Chumpcar logoEvery been to Wampum, Pennsylvania? Chances are, probably not. However, last weekend Wampum was ground zero for our second Saturn Art Car ChumpCar World Series outing. Why Wampum? Because it is where you will find BeaveRun, a 1.5-mile road racing facility that, although relatively obscure, was playing host to our prestigious event. You just know it's a high-class facility when their t-shirts read "You Haven't Raced Until You've Lapped The Beaver." It's a wonder that NASCAR hasn't picked up on this place yet.

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13.8 hours in a Saturn at TWS

Just like old times…but then again, not…

*** The human-interest angle newsletter introduction ***

Mark It all started with a disease.  Or maybe we should call it a "condition" to be more sensitive to the infirmed.  No matter what you choose to call it, the fact that Mark has approximately 26 Saturns (I may be rounding up a little here) littered on and around his property speaks to the enormity of the situation.  It's a problem in any case, and fortunately not a problem that the rest of us need to deal with.  Except Cindy.  Bless her soul.  The big upshot of the condition (for everyone except Cindy, that is) is that Mark is always looking for an appropriate venue in which to enter a Saturn in some form of motorsport competition.  Be it road racing, ice racing, road rally, or the luge, if it's possible to squeeze a Saturn onto the entry grid, Mark's there.  It's just one of the many reasons we love him.

That said, Mark's latest fetish has revolved around a pair of road racing series that limit the value of the race car to $500 or less. Not surprisingly, that's not too hard to do when you are starting with a Saturn.  Or 26 Saturns.  The flip side, though, is that these races last between 7 and 24 hours in length which can be a bit of a, ummm, challenge in a $500 piece of crap.  Think about that for a minute: racing for at least 7 hours in a car that cost less than one rear tire for my GT3 RS.  And that's before mounting and balancing.

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The semi-triumphant return of scR motorsports

Here we go again...

As most of you have long since forgotten, I (scR motorsports founder James Walker) last competed in door-to-door SCCA Club Racing competition over six years ago.  Hopefully nobody remembers that our last race, in October of 2003, at Mid-Ohio, ended two laps prematurely when the alternator decided to work a little overtime and pushed so many electrons into the battery that there was no more room for the acid, thereby spewing it into the fan assembly and thus all over the engine compartment.  Not quite the memorable way to end a quasi-successful seven-year motorsports endeavor, but hey, that's racing.

Has it really been six years?  Six years and one month?  Six years, one month, and twenty-five days?  Yes, but who's counting?  Now, three kids, two employers, and one relocation to Houston later, scR motorsports is back to re-stake our claim as THE force to be dealt with in North American wheel-to-wheel motorsports.  Or something like that, if not “exactly” that.

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Jeff Lawton Sets Record at NHMS

The new owner of the #34 ITA Saturn, Jeff Lawton, absolutely destroyed the track record in qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway during the August 23-24 weekend.  Unfortunately, it was not official because it wasn’t in a race.  Nevertheless, NO ITA car had ever before recorded such a time.  The old track record was a 1:15.7 by an NX2000 with 156 HP.  Jeff turned a 1:15.0 and had two other laps in that session that were below the 1:15.7.

Jeff credits some of the speed to recent engine improvements.  And he says, "We also think we have the set-up down (finally, after three years…..)  650 front springs, 850 rear, rear bar at middle setting.  Had the rear shocks re-valved to the new 8611 spec (which helped the bouncing back end)  Yes, the tracks are very bumpy up here!!"

If all goes well, he hopes to install a larger aluminum radiator soon, because he says, "It runs hot…..  And it loses serious power when it’s hot."  Imagine what he could do if it were cool!