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Thread: FLEADH, We are anxiously awaiting your race report from Daytona

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    Chest hair required Olitho's Avatar
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    Default FLEADH, We are anxiously awaiting your race report from Daytona

    FLEADH,


    The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona is quite the race.

    We are anxious to hear your race report.


    Fastest regards,

    Oli
    To the right of The Sheriff. Isn't everyone?

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    Senior Member fleadh's Avatar
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    just got home last night at 9pm... amazing experience. i'll write something up in a day or 2 once i catch back up to the real-world. :-)

    -mike

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    Spec Backhoe Champion redtopz's Avatar
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    We don't need a book, just a summary... Congrats on the race!

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    ^^^+1. Burgoon always does a Cliff Notes version of his long-winded race reports for me. That's all we need.
    The deposed former Sheriff of trackHQ . . .

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    Senior Member fleadh's Avatar
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    Here's the highlights of my Rolex 24 weekend, as I remember them:

    Wednesday

    Arrive in Orlando at 6PM. Make it to Gene's Steakhouse in Daytona Beach in 45 minutes for TRG team dinner (and to collect all my swag for the weekend). Bed by 10PM.

    Thursday

    Get to the track at 7:30AM. Quick check to see if McDreamy is around (long story short -- I wouldn't let my GF come with me because I didn't want any distractions, but I made a deal with her that I'd try to get a photo with him.), no joy.

    During the test days, our car was still in the ALMS GTC spec (except for the Continental tires and body work tweaks to fit them). We were down about 9-10MPH on the straights because of the lack of power and improper gearing. For the race we had a brand new Rolex spec motor, exhaust system, and proper daytona spec gear ratios installed and all of the drivers were really excited to finally get some laps in the updated BEAST.



    I talked it over with our car crew chief and we all agreed that the other drivers needed more seat time than I did, so I was only planning to get 2 or 3 laps in the car to figure the new gearing and power before the race. On the third lap of the first practice session, the engine blew. It put a hole about 2 1/2" wide in the side of the block. By the next practice session they had the spare Rolex motor out of the crate and installed in the car. My co-drivers got some good seat time and they were happy with the car. Spencer also jumped in the car to set us a baseline, only managed a 1:51.7 so we had some work to do on setup, but little time to get it done.



    The weather for the Thursday night practice session was great. I was hoping to get a few laps in the car, but my co-drivers needed it more.. so I sat this one out as well. During the Roar I was able to get 7 laps in during the night practice, so hopefully that'll be good enough for the race. :-)

    Friday

    With only the Friday morning practice session left before qualifying, I was anxious to get a couple laps in the car to figure it out before being sent out with the heavy hitters Friday afternoon. Of course, we wake up Friday morning to wet conditions. A couple of my co-drivers still wanted some seat time to figure out the car, so I didn't end up getting any time in the final practice session.



    I spend about an hour studying the data from the other drivers practice sessions trying to figure out the new gear ratios. Based on previous Rolex sessions, I'm sure our 15 minute long qualifying session will start with a full course yellow on the first lap after someone crashing into something or someone. Then we'll get the green with maybe time for 1 or possibly 2 hot laps. I figure I can't be out there screwing around trying to find out which gear is optimal now for each corner with the different ratios.



    10 minutes before qualifying starts, I jump in the car. The new exhaust system sounds awesome! Rolling through the pits getting through the paddock was fun.. people taking pictures and video of the car like they actually thought I knew what I was doing. We line up in the pit lane, and they start sending the cars out. I might have been in the mid point of the line. The car doesn't start.. it's turning over but it won't fire. Then it starts popping... weird intake backfires it sounds like. My crew chief on the wall see's this and has me cycle the ignition and all the fuel pumps. After another few seconds of turning over, the car fires up and we're off. Not a good omen, but whatever.. it's running and I'm thinking we only have 1 or 2 laps to get a time and come in.

    The session actually ran the entire 15 minutes without a single incident. I couldn't believe it. It was just enough time to give me 6 laps in the car. I was having trouble in the kink with the new gear ratios -- everyone had told me to stay in 4th (we used to short-shift to 5th) and it was a real handful. The RPM's were so high in 4th that the car was very difficult to control through the middle and exit of turn 4. The rear of the car was also a handful under braking into the bus stop (entry speed ~171) and turn 1 (entry speed ~183). I was dialing in a little bit more front brake bias each lap but it never improved. My last lap was my fastest official lap in qualifying (I actually ruined my best lap when I let the Brumos car by into the bus stop.. which gave them pole.... ). It was about 1 second slower than I went in testing at the Roar w/ the slow motor, but I didn't break the car and we weren't dead last. We did a 1:53.9. During the race my average laps were in the high 52's - low 53's without putting the car at risk and in traffic.

    I was really expecting to put down a better time in qualifying, but w/ it being my only seat time of the weekend up to that point and w/ a different motor and gear ratios, I figured it could have been worse.

    Next post -- race day!
    Last edited by fleadh; 02-02-2012 at 10:42 AM.
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    Senior Member fleadh's Avatar
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    Saturday -- Race Day!

    Get to the track at 7:30AM for car meeting. Pits are eerily quiet... everyone knows a war is about to start.


    We have a couple different team meetings for strategy, etc. Then, off to final drivers meeting and 30 minute autograph session (why anyone would want mine, I don't know.. but I'm flattered).



    Head down to the grid for driver intros. Was fun hanging out with all the drivers getting amped up and wanting to drive. Got to sign the Porsche they're auctioning off (top driver side rear fender). One of the highlights of my driving "career" happened behind the stage. I ran into Jerry Woods (owns the shop who did most of the support for my racing this year) and Brian Redman. He introduced me to Brian w/ "this kids got some talent...". I'm hardly a kid, but it was awesome.

    About 10 minutes after driver intros, I'm strapped into the car and sitting on the grid while they're playing the national anthem. This is the first time I've ever had my helmet on and been strapped into a car where I'm not completely focused and ready to eat someones children. While I was regretting not being able to see the jets fly over, we got the word on the radio to start our engines. As soon as I pressed the starter button, it was go time.

    2 recon laps, and we got the green flag. The first few laps were really easy.. I just tried to stay clean and if someone looked like they were coming up the inside of me I simply let them go. There was absolutely no fricking way I was going to damage the car in the opening laps of my first Grand-AM race, let alone in the 50th Rolex 24 when I have 4 other co-drivers waiting in the pits. If we had started farther up the grid I might have been more aggressive, but as it stood, our strategy was basically to have no contact, no offs, and run 1:53's the entire race. If we could do that, we'd finish in the top 10. And with the new wave-around/luckydog rules, even if you fall a few laps behind you can make them up relatively easily compared to previous years.

    Some of my co-drivers weren't comfortable driving at night, so I only did a single stint to start the race. That way we'd cycle through all the drivers before it got dark. I ended my 1 hour stint in around 32nd place I think, after starting 38th and falling back as far as 42nd in the opening couple laps. Didn't make a single mistake -- no offs, no straight-shooting the bus-stop.. hell, I don't even think I missed an apex in that first hour. Maybe because I was taking it easy, but I didn't care. After I got out of the car, I went straight to the RV. The pit boxes were crowded with fans, supporters and crew.. and I just wanted to stay out of the crews way while they did their job. I knew I'd be double stinting (at least) the rest of the way so I wanted to get as much rest as possible.



    Around 8PM I went out for my second stint and first night stint. After a few laps I got my legs under me and was only about 1/2 a second off my daytime lap times. Sometime before the first full-course caution my radio started going in and out. I got the word from my crew chief that we were getting a wave around, and to go, NOW. So I took off. I passed the safety car into the bus stop, and as I was coming into T1 my crew radioed back to me and told me it was a mistake and to get back in line in my original position behind the safety car. After a lap of that, then we got the word again to wave around.. only this time it was correct, I guess.

    Now, when you get the wave around, you need to HUSTLE to get around the track and catch back up to the field to get your lap back. It's a long lap, so you basically drive race pace (unless of course you're at the local cause of the yellow). In order to help the field catch up, sometimes the safety car driver slows down to a crawl. This is all fun and games until the field STOPS on the entry to the bus stop.

    I came out of the banking toward the bus stop at full speed, must have been over 150MPH. If you haven't driven Daytona, you don't grasp the angle and sharpness of the banking. While you're on the banking you can only see maybe 200 yards ahead of the car in a sedan. The roof simply blocks your view. I came off the banking, and there were cars stopped 3 wide on the straight into the bus stop!

    I thought for sure I was going to crash into the back of the field. I'd probably have died, destroyed our car along with 2 or 3 other GT cars. Luckily, the field left *JUST* enough room for me to get by along the wall and slow the car down. I literally passed half the field going 100+mph along the wall, crossed up trying to slow down. I thought I had brushed the wall, but didn't know I hadn't until after the race when I got to look at the right side of the car (during the race I only get to see the left side from the pit wall ). I radio'd into my crew chief and told him I just had a moment catching back up to the field, but everything seemed fine. I didn't tell him how close we came until after the race.

    I still had a fuel stop to go, so after that moment I just took it down a notch and finished out my 90 minutes running 1:53's and 1:54's.



    I ended up doing 3 double stints at night, besides the wave around issue in the first one, it was pretty uneventful. I ran by day-time pace in the rest of the night stints, had no offs and no real mistakes. I did go wide into T1 twice in the first night stint after trying to go a little too deep and not wanting to flat spot the tires. There weren't many cautions after midnight so we weren't able to makeup many laps.. but by the time dawn rolled around we were around 24th position in GT. During the night a couple of my co-drivers had spins, and we had a front driver side ball joint fail which cost us about 20 laps while we were in the garage for repairs.



    Sunday

    We started off Sunday in the daylight in around 23rd position. I went out for my last stint at around 9AM. After coming back in to serve a penalty after my first lap (co-driver in the previous stint did something which caused the penalty, i had to serve it) I basically just drove around. No mistakes and I ran my fastest laps of the race (not on purpose). We were having *massive* understeer on the car and some brake issues and was trying to nurse the car home for the finish. We were about 5 laps ahead of the next car behind us and made up a couple positions during my stint.

    At around 1PM w/ 2 hours left in the race, the front driver side ball joint failed again. We went back to the garage for repairs and lost 2 positions and dropped to 23rd. We had the car back out for the final our of the race, during which time my co-drivers had a couple spins and one of them was hit in the back by a DP (our only contact in the race).

    After the race finished, we just hung around w/ the cars for awhile in the pits taking pictures with friends/fans, etc. It was a weird feeling to sit on the infield grass in front of the pit wall after 24 hours of racing and stress. Almost indescribable... kind of like having sex with all the dallas cowboy cheerleaders at once.. and laying down on the grass on a beautiful sunny day.





    -mike
    Last edited by fleadh; 02-02-2012 at 10:43 AM.
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    Administrator ucfbrett's Avatar
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    kind of like having sex with all the dallas cowboy cheerleaders at once.. and laying down on the grass on a beautiful sunny day.

    Priceless quote. Well done, Mike. Thanks for all the detail. Great reading.

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    Faster than Oli jimt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fleadh View Post

    After the race finished, we just hung around w/ the cars for awhile in the pits taking pictures with friends/fans, etc. It was a weird feeling to sit on the infield grass in front of the pit wall after 24 hours of racing and stress. Almost indescribable... kind of like having sex with all the dallas cowboy cheerleaders at once.. and laying down on the grass on a beautiful sunny day.

    -mike
    Great write up! Even greater summation!
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    dirty smack talker hakeem's Avatar
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    Hell of a writeup! Congrats Mike, that looks awesome.

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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    good job !! sounds like you were the only one w/o contacts, spins, etc...
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    Spec Backhoe Champion redtopz's Avatar
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    Awesome Mike! Thanks for the write-up. Sounds like you did a great job but might need some better co-drivers next year. Oh and who's McDreamy?

    Bill.

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    Chest hair required Olitho's Avatar
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    Congrats. That is a great write-up and the pictures are a huge bonus.


    Oli
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    Great read.

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    Extremely cool. Planning to go back next year?
    Less powah is better

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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    what's the pole time (for GT) ?
    without those 2 ball joint issues. what would you guys of ended up with ?
    how did other cars in your team do ? didn't you guys have 5 cars ?
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    w00t Nurburgring's Avatar
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    BTW, the engine that blew was one of the new Rolex-spec engines, or was it a tired unit? Will the shifting system let you downshift and overrev or does it have some sort of protection?
    Less powah is better

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    Senior Member fleadh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurburgring View Post
    Extremely cool. Planning to go back next year?
    No plans rite now. Not even sure what I'm going to do in 2012.. would like to run the whole GT season, but it's hard to find a competitive car/team.

    Quote Originally Posted by bellwilliam View Post
    what's the pole time (for GT) ?
    without those 2 ball joint issues. what would you guys of ended up with ?
    how did other cars in your team do ? didn't you guys have 5 cars ?
    I believe pole for GT was a 1:49.3. Without the ball joint problems we'd probably still have only been maybe 18 or 19th -- we needed more pace overall (and less mistakes). Me and another guy had a race pace of around :52.x, another guy was :54.x, one around :56.x and another in the :59.x's. I think we finished 4th out of the 5 cars. The 3rd car was one spot ahead of us, the other 2 were top 10. The Pros had a race pace of :50-51's.

    -mike

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    Senior Member fleadh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurburgring View Post
    BTW, the engine that blew was one of the new Rolex-spec engines, or was it a tired unit? Will the shifting system let you downshift and overrev or does it have some sort of protection?
    The engine that blew during the Rolex 24 weekend was the new Rolex motor. We actually blew 2 motors in 4 laps -- the "tired" motor blew in the last session of the Roar Before the 24. :-)

    Ya, you can overrev on downshift if the driver makes a mistake, but that wasn't what caused the failure for the Rolex race motor. It was an assembly defect. The Porsche guys were all over our car within seconds of it being back in the garage.. there was no driver induced problems.

    -mike

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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fleadh View Post
    I believe pole for GT was a 1:49.3. Without the ball joint problems we'd probably still have only been maybe 18 or 19th -- we needed more pace overall (and less mistakes). Me and another guy had a race pace of around :52.x, another guy was :54.x, one around :56.x and another in the :59.x's. I think we finished 4th out of the 5 cars. The 3rd car was one spot ahead of us, the other 2 were top 10. The Pros had a race pace of :50-51's.

    -mike
    but would the new Rolex engine enable you to go faster. was the 24 hours motor a lower power motor ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellwilliam View Post
    but would the new Rolex engine enable you to go faster. was the 24 hours motor a lower power motor ?
    He said it in the original story. They practiced with the tired motor, it blew. The put in one of their two higher powered 24hr motors, it blew in a lap or two. Then they put in their backup 24hr for the rest of the weekend. They were using the higher power motor for quali and race.

    Great job Mike! That had to be a blast

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