Donald Rumsfield once said, “There are things we know we know… There are things we know we don’t know. And there are things that are unknown unknowns. We don’t know that we don’t know.” In my opinion, and not that I’m a big fan of his, Donald’s words do a great job of summarizing why auto racing is such an intriguing sport. I know that Work Racing went to Watkins Glen and that I went there without knowing/having driven the track. However, the real excitement is based in both the things I knew that I didn’t know and the events I didn’t even know that I didn’t know.
Example alpha. After our first on track session the rear of the car was covered in a bit of oil. What we knew… there was an oil leak. What knew we didn’t know… where that leak was coming from. What we didn’t know that we didn’t know… that an eight square-inch section of our bell housing was going to fall off and that the seal on the transmission input shaft was actually what was leaking.
Example beta. Successful practice sessions saw us running near the top of the time sheets. What we knew… we had a shot at being in the top ten again. What we knew we didn’t know… what pace the car would have in qualifying. Finally, what we didn’t know that we didn’t know… that we would have the second quickest time and be on pole after the fast time driver was penalized for being involved in a black flag.
Then there were the races. The results of which are an incredible feat for the Work Racing team. Bringing home an incredible second place on Saturday and a solid fourth on Sunday. These results were a true unknown unknown for the team and in many respects are astonishing. However, I can in no way attribute these results simply the consequence of luck. A firm believer of building my own luck (luck aka preparation), I can only ascribe our results to the product of hard work and a team atmosphere that has a constant eye on the ever elusive goal of improvement. This includes Bruce Work’s ability to make quick decisions regarding the direction of the team, John Walko’s ever-steady guiding hand, and my father’s relentless dedication to the mechanical aspects of the car.
The weekend, while very successful, certainly did not operate without issues. The concerns started at Mosport where the crash damage was slightly larger than we had realized. That is, we ran the race at Mosport, but did not find the bell housing cracks until Watkins Glen. This resulted in a nice size Work Racing branded cooling duct in our bell housing and likely decreased performance. Additionally, beforehand we saw our first real test session of the year at Beaverun. For this we rolled onto the track on tires that had each been marked, ominously I might add, with large “x” shaped markings. As I am neither a forensic graphologist nor an expert in paleography I care not to infer what those “x” shaped markings meant. Despite the unknown unknown of the bell housings slow and sure self-destruction and the compounding loss of our primary diffuser due to the track’s ample abrasiveness, the test proved the car to be fast. This in turn left us confident in the car heading to The Glen.
Two days later, we arrived at The Glen, got the pit spot setup, and luckily our replacement primary diffuser showed up via FedEx early Thursday morning. Having seen track time in the car previously also did well to inspire my confidence. These are the components that lead to our epic Watkins Glen weekend.
More to come in part 2.