Brutal Fourth Place Fight on Streets of Houston
Mahopac, NY – Tim Paul put in a recovery drive on the Streets of Houston in the SCCA Pro Racing MX-5 Cup, on Sunday, June 29, charging through the field from a low of 13th place to finish a season-best fourth in a hot and humid race with a very-wounded ALARA Racing CellMark Paper No. 6.
Skipping over Paul’s F2000 VIR weekend in June, which ended abruptly with a car problem during testing, the Screaming Monkey Racing CellMark Paper team hoped to turn their luck around for a hot summer weekend in Texas.
A super-tight MX-5 field, which features all drivers in the same cars, saw Paul start from seventh in the first race of the double-header weekend on Saturday, missing out on a fourth place start by literally thousandths of a second.
The race didn’t go to plan, however, as a big race crash on the opening lap left the ALARA Racing crew working into the night to piece together Paul’s MX-5 chassis.
“The wreck on Saturday was pretty big, even though it was hard to tell from what the damage looked like. I hit right on the frame rail so all the energy went right through me, and rang my bell pretty good,” said Paul. “We’d been so quick, we got up to pace and were a couple thousandths of a second out of fourth in qualifying, ending up seventh. The field is so ridiculously tight, I was disappointed and pretty banged up from the wreck, and when Saturday night drew to a close, we weren’t sure if we would have a car for Sunday at all.”
But the car was ready and waiting for Sunday, which was even more hot and humid.
“The ALARA guys, who I cannot thank enough, worked all night to get the suspension to align and get the car to roll straight around the bent chassis,” Paul continued.
He would start Sunday’s race from sixth, but quickly fell back, trying to gauge how the car would react.
“I dropped all the way back to 13th believe it or not. However, we had good speed all weekend and the car was solid, it was already wrecked so we couldn’t lose too much more so as I settled in and found a rhythm, we had no reason not to pound the hell out of the old battle-scarred girl. She came through like a champ, and somehow, despite the heat exhaustion haze I was in by the checkered, we ended up fourth,” Paul explained.
“Everything after the mid-race restart is a little fuzzy, the car and I both had started to overheat a bit, and my shoes were literally melting to the pedals by the end of the race but we came home fourth and got our best result of the season so far. I don’t think I climbed out of the car at the end, I think it probably looked more like a bowl of jello tumbling out, wet and limp.”
After a flight back to New York and three days of hydration, Paul was back for the July 4 F2000 Championship festivities at Mid-Ohio. A track no stranger to Paul, he was looking for some good luck following accidents in F2000 cars in both 2012 and 2013.
As the Screaming Monkey CellMark Paper team chased mechanical gremlins, Paul didn’t get as much practice time as other competitors. Regular team leader and engineer Glenn Phillips was not able to make the trip, meaning Michael Witson wore several hats as lead mechanic, crew chief and engineer – installing a new engine on Thursday afternoon single-handedly. Meanwhile, Phillips did the engineering via phone with Witson as the track conditions changed throughout the weekend.
In race one, Paul moved through a competitive field, picking up three spots to finish ninth.
A day later, he had the start of a lifetime, coming through the field on the opening lap from a 15^th place qualifying spot, a result of wet/dry and tricky qualifying conditions.
That would give Paul another ninth place run, as he spent the closing laps in a duel with Jason Rabe and John McCusker, with Paul splitting the two for ninth at the checkered flag.
F2000 takes a break before rounds nine and 10 at Pittsburgh Race Complex, August 1-3, while MX-5 Cup picks up the action in Ontario, Canada at Mosport, July 11-13.