Willow Springs Race Report from Moike

From the desk of Boy Wonder…

While most of you were either in the comfort of your homes watching the AMA SBK races or actually up at Sonoma enjoying the races… Girl Wonder and I were down in Rosamond broiling in the desert for round 5 of the SRA-West sidecar races hosted by WSIR at the Big Track.

Saturday went well.  We started out chasing a traction control issue on the front end.  Sarah was having problems with some chatter on the throttle through corners that I was able to eliminate by taking a click of preload out of the springs on the Koni’s on the front end, and winding in six turns of preload on the Penske in the rear.  This took a little stiffness out of the front, let it sag a bit more, and raised the rear ride height a tad transfering a little more weight to the front.  Just enough of a difference to make the chassis stick like glue on turn in and on the power during the next couple practice sessions… restoring Sarah’s confidence in the hardware.

We skipped the last practice of the day as we were both starting to feel the relative effects of pushing ourselves in the bone-dry 100 degree weather to make sure the chassis was up to par.

Sunday we did the first practice session just to dial in, and then it was back into the pits for the long wait for race 15 to be called.  Finally, after what seemed like forever and two red flags and restarts in the 20 lap Formula 1 race (race 13) we were ready to suit up and head out.

The warm up lap was fine, everything felt good, I glanced down at the temp gauge and we were reading 180.  The engine sounded beautiful from underneath the cowl a mere couple inches from my head as we sailed through turn 8 on our way to the grid.

We were on the third row, inside left against the dirt.  First row was right in front of us, second row was just to our 3 o’clock.  We run a staggered grid launch formation.  If Sarah got a good launch there was a good chance we could be in the top three right behind the leader with the inside line into turn 1.

The flag dropped, and Sarah bogged on the start for half a second.  We got off the line slow and plastic missiles shot around us as Sarah hammered the throttle and fanned the clutch trying to get off the line.  We’re going to have to work on her starts, it’s her Achilles heel.  We were nearly in the back of the pack going into one, with tons of ground to make up.  Sarah put the spurs to it and I buried my head as she chased the pack around the Omega and down the back straight.  I’ll cut/paste what happened at this point from a conversation I had in IRC with Dave… edited for family internet.

[10:12am] [MoikeBox] so Sarah nearly made me s**t my leathers yesterday
[10:14am] [Strega|Wk] Well that’s no fun when it’s over
[10:14am] [MoikeBox] We were trailing Sean after the green flag dropped on the first lap
[10:16am] [MoikeBox] She’s hot on his a*s through turn 8, she dips it late into turn 9, and uses the momentum to slingshot up beside him driving onto the front straight
[10:16am] [MoikeBox] and she drag raced him down the front straight side by side, all the way up to the brake markers for turn 1, and he wasn’t rolling off
[10:17am] [Strega|Wk] lil game of CHICKEN
[10:17am] [MoikeBox] And, she was way off her line for turn in for one, way inside of it… I’m looking at Sean praying to God he’ll f*****g shut down or give up
[10:17am] [MoikeBox] he had the line, Sarah was way inside on him
[10:17am] [MoikeBox] and he puckered up and finally shut off, Sarah didn’t actually roll off the throttle till we hit the 1 cone, which is normally where she’s finishing her braking
[10:18am] [MoikeBox] and, she’s inside, off her line now
[10:19am] [MoikeBox] she snaps it to the right out across Seans nose, doesn’t even hit the brakes, pitches it in and then just goes WFO again aiming for the gators on the inside
[10:19am] [MoikeBox] my a*s was in a different zipcode hanging out trying to find some traction for the front wheel
[10:19am] [MoikeBox] I was already thinking about where the ambulance was going to have to drive up to on the mountain to recover my carcass
[10:20am] [MoikeBox] full on three wheel drift out of 1 on the power, tire spinning, front end chattering, chair wheel hopping up in the air, me s******g myself, and Sarah crawled up out of the cockpit over the front wheel trying to get even more weight on it
[10:21am] [MoikeBox] and she nails it perfectly with even room to spare
[10:21am] [Valgar] hahahahaha
[10:21am] [Valgar] awesome
[10:21am] [MoikeBox] my turtlehead retracted, six more weeks of winter
[10:21am] [MoikeBox] dude, I’m not kidding
[10:22am] [MoikeBox] she never hit the brakes
[10:24am] [Valgar] moike: which track?
[10:24am] [MoikeBox] Willow Springs, big track
[10:26am] [Strega|Wk] that sounds f****n scary
[10:29am] [MoikeBox] it was, I saw Jesus, dressed like Elvis

Despite nearly crapping myself I had to keep my head in the game, so it was over to the right and Sarah put some serious distance on Sean between 2, over the Omega, up over 6/7.  Sean started to reel us in through 8, and on the straight I looked back to see him coming up on us.  I actually slid my ass off the platform on the straight in case he thought about going up inside of us, trying to make us as wide as possible before the turn in into one.

Sarah put more distance on him into two, flew through the Omega with the sidecar skittering, and coming down out of five she had her sights set on Leon in front of us who she was starting to reel in at a pretty rapid pace.

Then something happened.

I noticed she missed her downshift for five, and saw her shake her head…  She bogged it over six, and slowly got up to speed through 8/9.  We turned into 9, acellerated down the front straight, and she once again missed her shifts turning into one, having to hammer down a gear after turn 1.  I saw her once again shaking her helmet and we were about 15% off our pace through turn 2.  I assumed the heat was finally getting to her and she was starting to make stupid mistakes.   She was hard on the gas out of two, and I got out waiting for her to drop two gears for the turn in for 3, but it never happened, and we bogged over the top of the Omega.  I could tell at this point something was wrong, and she was pissed off.  We got back to the front straight and Sean had made up all the ground he lost, he easily blew by us on the power, and Sarah had to let him go… dropping back behind him on the turn in into 1, unable to match his speed over the Omega since she was unable to downshift consistantly.

One more lap saw the conclusion of the race and a very angry Girl Wonder.  Wade and Christine had dropped out with a mechanical at the entrance to 3 (chair wheel hub broke), Roy dropped out with a toasted clutch, and John ended up pushing it across the finish line in the hot pits when his ECU freaked out in turn 7 on the last lap and he coasted in.

When we got in and got the body off the CSR it turns out the Allen bolt at the top of the Translogic servo shifter had snapped off.  Since the body shell rests against the top of the Translogic mount, the Translogic servo could shift  the gearbox up since pressing the ‘shift up’ button caused the top of the servo body to press against the kevlar CSR body.  But pressing the ‘shift down’ button would just move the servo body down instead of moving the shift arm.  As far as I can tell Sarah would get lucky now and then jabbing the ‘shift down’ button when the broken bolt would catch on the servo mount and let the servo shift down the transmission.

It’s racing, these things happen.  It will be re-engineered so it does not happen again.

Sarah on the otherhand is amazingly pissed.  She passed and put distance on Sean by the 2nd lap and thinks she could have put down Leon since she was reeling him in after passing Sean if it wasn’t for a stupid 3 cent bolt.  I have to remind her that at the start of this season just being able to keep Sean in her sights for a couple laps was a major accomplishment, and being able to keep up with Leon was a pipe dream, passing him… laughable.

But no, she’s turned from mild mannered scooter chick into full blown agro racer now that she’s had a taste of what it’s like to intimidate someone for position and win.  And all she can think about is the next race, the next pass, the next name on the hitlist to cross off.

Thanks to Stuart Smith for the photo.

Thanks to all our wonderful sponsors for the epic level of support so far this season, we could not have made so many top 10 finishes without all of you.  And OH MY GOD thank you SCORPION SPORTS USA for the KwikWick liners in the helmets.  In punishing 100 degree heat I can attest that this KwikWick technology is not just some gimmik to sell helmets, it actually works, and works well.  You rule, Teri!

Next Stop…  Fight with the Big Guns out at Road America, June 13/14/15.  Expect amazing things from the Dynamic Duo!


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.