Before I say anymore, I wanted to thank Dan Bowne for all the hard work he put into preparing the track surface for us this past weekend. Dan, one of our Granite State Mini Sprint members, arrived at the track bright and early around 7:00am to lend a hand and start preparing the surface. He did a terrific job. Thank you Dan.
Being the last race, we voted a few weeks ago to go wingless. Wingless adds another dimension of challenge to the minis sprints. The wing acts as down force to gain grip when accelerating and it also adds side force to help straighten the car in the corners and help prevent spinning out. Without the wing, mini sprints have less grip and must use the breaks to slow down more for the corners. So in essence, it makes the track feel slicker without a wing. In my personal opinion, I think it makes for a more exciting race.
As we took the track for the heat, I started on the outside poll. When the green dropped I put my foot to the floor and to my surprise, my car didn’t move… It quickly reved up as the other cars split around me. I quickly shifted to 4th and the car finally came up to speed.
The 500cc mini sprints (as well as the 600cc) run a motorcycle engine including a normal motorcycle transmission. In other words, we can shift the cars during the start of the race. Because we run on a ¼ mile track, most of us will start the cars in 3rd gear when we take the green flag and quickly shift to 4th by the end of the front stretch and then leave it in 4th during the rest of the race. The reason we don’t shift during the rest of the race is because shifting will actually cause us to lose track time. Once up to speed, shifting is not necessary. We only use 3rd to get a good jump on the green flag.
At this point, I thought that maybe the track was a little slicker than I thought and I just spun the tires on the start. Jordan Eldridge #57, Zack Herbert #4, and Lacey Hanson #33 all made it by me before I was able to get my car up to speed. The rest of the heat, I worked hard to catch up. My car being too loose, I encountered my first solo spin in turn 1. During the restart I was able to move my way back to 4rth and on the last lap, Lacey got a little too sideways in turn 4 and I was able to make it around her to finish 3rd in the heat.
Back in the pits, I made some tire adjustments to tighten the car. When a car is loose, it has a tendency for the rear end to come around. Tightening a car is to create the opposite. Taking some of the overseer out of the car so that it will travel in more of a straight line through the corner. Tightening a car too much, will make it push. A push is when a car doesn’t want to steer and the front end wants to travel straight up the track in the corner. The goal in making car adjustments is to get the right balance between a car being tight, and loose. Ever changing track surfaces and conditions can have a big impact on this balance. I’ll explain more about track conditions in a future blog.
I started on the pole for the feature. Confident that my changes would also help with the wheel spin when we took the green, I put my foot into it with the same results as the heat. The car quickly reved and once again, didn’t get out of its own way. That’s when I realized it wasn’t wheel spin that I was experiencing. It was my clutch not fully engaging or slipping when I got hard on the gas. I managed to get it back into 4th gear and left it there for the rest of the race, ultimately sacrificing acceleration on my re-starts.
There were quite a few cautions during the race. Without wings, there were some spin outs and also some car troubles that some of the other cars experienced. There was so much action and position changes its really hard for me to remember and note them all. So I’ll try to note the important ones that stand out in my mind.
With all the restarts and spins I was able to make my way back to the front after having that initial problem with the clutch. On one of the restarts, with Zach on my outside we took another green and Zach quickly took the lead back from me as I couldn’t get a good start still starting in 4th gear. This was short lived as another caution came out and we regrouped. This time, I was on the outside poll with Zach on the inside. On the green, Jordan came from my rear to bump me back to 3rd.
Now, Zach and Jordan in front of me, we bombed down the back stretch and into turn 3. Jordan, entering the corner too fast and not working enough break, drove into…..onto…..up…..over…..and then down Zach’s car. I passed them on the high side in soft clay to avoid the accident. Jordan landing on all 4 wheels continued on, incidentally breaking his tank cover off the back of his car. I wasn’t able to see the damage to Zach’s car as I drove by, but I believe Zach headed to the pits shortly after that. Jordan on the other hand was black flagged for the incident and also had to leave the track.
Left to start back on the pole, with Lacey starting to my outside we took the green once again. As was the rest of all my restarts, Lacey was able to get the jump on the start, running in the correct gear, and left me to fight for position after the start.
I tried high; I tried low, a few times getting my noise down under Lacey but the losing momentum before exiting the turn. With around 5 laps to go, my car started to sputter in the corners like it was running out of fuel. The fact was, I started the night with a full tank of fuel but we have never run so many caution laps in one race this season. The extreme amount of caution laps ate up a lot more fuel than usual and I was in fact starting to run out. When I came into the corner to hard, what remaining fuel I had left would slosh to one side of the tank and the engine was sucking in air. So for the last 3-4 laps, I had to let off a little more in the corners so I wouldn’t run out. Fingers crossed, I was extremely happy to settle for 2nd rather than push too hard for 1st and run out of fuel. And that rounds up my 2nd place finish.
On a different topic, Drew Eldridge #57, didn’t bring his 500cc car this past weekend. Instead, Drew has purchased a 600cc mini sprint and brought that. Last week I mentioned that Drew’s 400ex engine that he was testing for the club suffered damage from a cracked block. He was not able to fix it in time for this last race and decided to concentrate on the 600cc.
Race week #10 was Drew’s first run with the 600cc at Canaan Dirt Speedway in Canaan, NH. Drew planned to start in the back and just feel the car out and get some track time. During the heat, a car spun out in front of Drew, leaving him nowhere to turn. Drew collided with the spun car sideways. The collision caused Drew to roll his new car over crushing his wing and damaging the rear axial. He walked away unscathed, though he would have work to do before running the car again.
This week, Drew brought the 600cc out for the second time this year bearing the #7 not the #57. Starting 7th out of 7 cars in the feature, Drew worked his way through the pack. The 600’s were also wingless for this race, and there were a lot of cautions. As Drew worked his way to 3rd, cars in the back of the pack developed problems and dropped out, but not before Drew had the opportunity to pass. Drew was able to overcome all wingless disadvantages, ran an excellent race and placed a strong 3rd in his first ever 600cc feature event. Congratulations Drew!
Drew will be running the 600cc car this coming Saturday, the 17th of September, and over the next few weeks at Whip City in Westfield, MA. Feel free to attend and lend him a hand in the pits if you would like to get involved. Whip City’s website is http://www.whipcityspeedway.com/ for more information.
I’d like to thank my sponsors, TheRaceDepot.com; Christopher Bean Coffee; Amsoil; Aluminum Rapid Shelters from Caddis Sports; and Patriot Fuels. Be sure to check them out. Remember, checking out Ads by Google on the website helps pay for these blogs as well, and all it takes is a click.
Well, that wraps up this seasons run with Granite State Mini Sprints. I hope you have enjoyed the blog this year as our first season played out. Over the winter I’m hoping to make additions to the family history page at EldridgeRacing.com and would like to invite you to keep visiting to see the updates. If you haven’t signed up for email updates to the blog, I encourage you to do so. You don’t have to worry about spam and under NO circumstances will we EVER sell your email address. Your privacy is my utmost concern. If you should decide to cancel email updates, there is a convenient link at the bottom of each email to conveniently cancel.
The blog will not end for the off season. There will be at least one more blog reporting the final results for the point’s race this month. Also, once or twice a month, I may send out blogs to let everyone know what’s going on, between site updates and information that may be useful. If you sign up, or stay signed up, you’ll also be the first to know when the new schedule posts after the new year for 2010.
Save us as your home page!!! I’ve added a Google search bar that conveniently searches the entire web from the Eldridge Racing Home Page. I’ve also added a Blog Updates list to the home page that lists the latest blogs. Using us as your home page and performing your Google searches from EldridgeRacing.com is yet another way you can help support EldridgeRacing.com. The search engine will return all the same results you would get from the Google website with the added advantage of being able to see if there are blog updates every time you use the internet.
Get Involved Page: (NEW!)
I’ve added a new page labeled Get Involved. The Get Involved page lists 6 ways you can get involved with Eldridge Racing or Mini Sprint Racing in general. Check it out.
Other than that, keep it safe, keep it on the track and we’ll see you next time, at EldridgeRacing.com
Derek Eldridge #8
500cc Mini Sprint
Granite State Mini Sprints