Eakin's Mosport Report
What do I most remember about last weekend at Mosport? Well... right about now, the fabulous weather. Janice and I arrived back in North Florida and stepped out of the RV into 100+ degree heat. At Mosport, it might have gotten to 80.
If I was Monty writing PR, I'd start with, "The F2000 Championship Series returned to Mosport for rounds 5 and 6 of the 2009 season...."
If I even thought I could write on the same page as the world renown Coop, I'd start with, "Youse knows Canada won't let drunk drivers, wife beaters, and those with other types of criminal records come race at Mosport...so why weren't you there?"
Getting across the border can be interesting, just ask Mike Rand. But if you did all your homework and were tidy about it, usually it's no problem. Bob Wright got across the border too many times last weekend. First he drove the "substitute" ADSA/Wright hauler across, only to have the engine die way short of the track, in Canada. Ouch! Alegra Motorsports volunteered their truck to leave Mosport and run down the 401 and get the ADSA/Wright trailer. Bob stayed with the dead truck to have it towed to the border, then he met another tow truck on the US side to arrange towing the expired truck to a shop in New York. During this maneuver he was walking back and forth across the border. With dead truck disappearing south on I-81, Bob rents a car in Canada only to have it expire as he got to Mosport.
And... oh by the way this was only the beginning of Bob's Mosport experience. Very soon he was splitting his car to change out a faulty clutch. I decided it was best not to stand too close to Bob during the weekend. yet, through it all Bob was one of the happiest guys in the paddock Sunday as we loaded up. He had a great start in Sunday's race (see the youtube video, he's the one over against the pit wall), and a good top 10 finish.
And while we are on the subject of bad luck. Poor Brent Gilkes spins in practice causing a black-all condition. The punishment for that is that one loses the first five minutes of the next session. In Brent's case that would be the qualifying session, which luck would have it got black-flagged just as Brent was leaving the pit lane. So if you noticed him starting last in Saturday's race, realize that is not his usual starting position at his home track.
I mentioned home track. Mosport is certainly Caitlin Johnson's home track, and for all the PR it must be one of Remy Audette's home tracks. The Canadian press gave both a lot of coverage as they took on the foreign invaders from the South. It wasn't either's best weekend. Caitlin was driving double duty all weekend. She is one of the points leaders in the F1600 series in Canada, so she had her FF on hand as she battled for points in that series, while also running in the Z-Sports prepared zetec. She had a major off at Moss Corner in Saturday's qualifying. Not only did that wreck Mr. Gilkes chance of qualifying, but it also got her a ride to the hospital. Fortunately she wasn't hurt too bad. She even escaped the hospital in time to make it to pit lane to see the start of Saturday's race. Caitlin was back racing both cars on Sunday.
Remy came into Mosport as the points leader, and as such left the grid first for Saturday's qualifying session. With a clear track ahead he was able to be fastest in the abbreviated session. For the start of Saturday's race Remy and Chris Miller went side-by-side into T1. Yet as the laps went on it seemed that Remy was uncharacteristically falling back. It wasn't until later that his crew discovered that the diff carrier had broken and the ring bolts had worn a massive groove in the inside of the trany side plate. With a gearbox full of metal shavings, Remy's fourth place finish seemed fortunate in light of the damage. Audette Racing needed a complete gearbox if they were to make Sunday's events. Fortunately there was a pretty little FF parked near Brittain West's trailer willing to donate her complete gearbox. Before 10 p.m. Saturday night, the transplant was completed.
While on the subject of splitting cars. I have noticed that in the pro series, teams will split a car sometimes having it ready to return to the track in an hour. Many of us club racers, when faced with big problems, pack it up and head home. These teams hustle. I do believe that if Caitlin was able to escape the hospital sooner, Z-Sports would have had her ride ready and waiting.
Dave Weitzenhof came to Mosport. Earlier in the season at VIR, Dave was going through the teething process of getting the new Citation/zetec on the track. Since then he's had more outings on the club side, as he qualifies for the Runoffs. On friday he struggled with trying to use his left over VIR rubber. Saturday morning he bolted on a new set of Hoosiers, and promptly went about winning the Masters division. Standing on pit wall I've watched Dave go by many times over the years, and somehow, can't quite say how, somehow there's times I sense Dave and the Citation are happy. Saturday was the happiest I've seen that combination since the podium finish at the '06 Runoffs. And Sunday morning he was even better. After qualifying on Sunday, I was thinking Dave might be in the top 5 by race end. Unfortunately, his race ended early at Moss Corner on lap 1, but it was great to see Dave back in top form. At age 66, shouldn't we put him in another division? Grand Master?
Tom Fatur capitalized on Dave's Sunday mishap and grabbed his first Masters win this year. He now has a solid lead in Masters at the half way point of the season.
Now that I have brought up "half way point", it's exciting to see how close the battle is for the '09 Championship. It could boil down to the last race at Mid-Ohio. Shades of the '07 race between Fast Matt and Cole. And this may be more than a three horse race. Expect Searcy to be in it until the end, and what about Fabio!
Alegra Motorsports was a totally rookie operation as far as F2000 cars at the beginning of the season. In the background they had Bob on data, and Stimola engineering, but shucks the team was totally green. Not for long. Lots of hard work, they are quick studies. The team now has competitive cars. No fulke that Fabio Orsolon got two podiums at Mosport. The measure of their strength is evidenced by Victor Carbone finishing 7th and then 5th. Both days both cars were in the top 7. Not too shabby for the rookies. Don't be surprised to see Fabio on the top step of a podium this season. Joe won't be surprised at all.
Wish i could tell you more about Keith McCrone (9th on Sunday). He was piloting one of the beautifully prepared R-Sports cars. Paul said Keith just finished a regional race recently to get reinstated after a layoff of many years. Looks like Keith is with us for the rest of the season, and he will be running as a Master. That title will also go down to the wire.
R-Sports will be bringing 3 cars to Watkins Glen. It was great to see Paul and Tricia back in the paddock. Also, back was Brian Graham Racing. Brian had Mikhail Goikberg driving both a FF1600 and a zetec this past weekend. Mikhail had a very impressive 6th in Saturday's race. Brian is hoping to have even more McClaren orange cars entered at the Glen. Brian and crew were in charge of "party central" in the paddock. They had set up numerous canopies into a makeshift theater. With the use of a drop down screen and a video projector, they were showing new release movies each night.
Chris Miller had a big weekend at Mosport. He made it look easy driving the JDC car to the win on Saturday, and, but for the last two laps on Sunday he might have swept. What is obvious is that the whole team is geling at the right time. Winning at VIR and at Mosport is damn impressive. With John Church's meticulous preparation, and Chris' confidence, this team has to be considered one of the favorites in the chase.
Bobby Caldwell is getting married on November 28th. I'm betting Jack will be at the reception. Bobby has had not the most pleasant start this season, so taking home two top ten finishes has them thinking maybe they have turned the corner.
Writing about Bobby reminded me of Saturday night's entertainment. Earlier, Francois Audette (Remy's father) did a few smoky burnouts with the Audette Racing diesel 350 pick-em-up truck. Remember now, Francois is Canadian, and it is his home track. Later, John Caldwell (Bobby's dad) deciding the Yanks were up to a challenge, decided to light up their dually's tires. Seeing as how the Audette version had only two rear tires, he figured his four tires smoking would up the ante. No sooner than the smoke fills the paddock, and flashing red lights arrive in force. oops... The Caldwells, needless to say, have some experience in talking their way out of situations that many of us would not. Ask John about "borrowing" bulldozers some time.
And there is this issue about the kidnapping of wigs (yes, lady's hairpieces), but we best not get into that now, as the crime is yet to be solved.
Matt wrote that he was waiting for my report. So I guess I better write something about Mr. Inge. Last but not least.
Matt Inge won on Sunday. Between qualifying and the race they discovered the throttle on Matt's car wasn't fully opening. Fixed that, and Matt had that little extra to pass Chris. Since I patrol pit lane all race I did not see the fantastic move that threw the monkey (500 lb gorilla) off his back. We all knew it was going to happen, Matt was going to win. Making the first win at Mosport is kind of neat. Afterall it is one heck of a track (just check out turn 2 sometime).
Each weekend Matt is always right there. Rarely if ever a damaged car. Not one to make daring low percentage moves. Finally, the well deserved win. I also give a lot of credit to the St Clair gang. Totally understated, without flash, nor flair, Rob St.Clair, Jose, et. al. just keep preparing winning cars. (Matt is driving the Jason Byers' car that Cole won with in '07) I remember all those Runoffs when so many top ten cars came out from under the St Clair tent at Mid-Ohio. Let's face it, Matt doesn't look like a petite horse jockey. I think he's even bigger than Chris Miller. I'm constantly joking with him in impound how his car is consistently the heaviest in the field. The boy can drive. I don't expect this will be his last win.
If you glance through the photo gallery on the F2000 Series site, I'm sure you'll see a few more pictures that need explaining.
Mosport was great. Now, on to the IRL weekend at Watkins Glen! Have I mentioned this is one neat series?