This is going to be a very short recap since we didnt really get very far in the race. I flew into South Carolina and made it to the track on friday. The Schumacher Taxi Service Corolla FX-16 had already been teched and looked pretty well setup. I didnt get to drive the track or the car so instead walked the track to get an idea of the flow of the track and see where our likely passing zones were. The interesting difference from previous races thing the lack of temporary chicanes, we were going to be use the full west course of the Carolina Motorsports Park with no changes whatsoever. Another change new to Lemons was that the corner workers were going to throw local yellows instead of the full course yellows we’ve seen at the previous events. It looks like Lemons is growing up and looking more and more like a real racing series.
On raceday I was the first driver and also one of the first car on track. This was super helpful since I then got to do 3-4 laps under yellow which helped me get used to the car and the track. Once the green flag went out It took me another 3-4 laps to get comfortable with the dynamics of the Corolla before I really started pushing the car. It turns out that the car had no power or torque but it did have excellent brakes and pretty decent lateral grip. The best way to pass people was under braking into turns 1, 11 and 14 though I did manage to pass a fair number of cars around the outside of turns 1 and 12 as well. Since the start of Lemons is really chaotic (92 cars on a 1 mile course) I got almost no “clean” laps and was dicing for position on every lap. In the end my laps times were pretty competitive (best of 1:08.9 at a time when the fastest cars were in the 1:07s) and I managed to get us up into 7th place at around the 90 minute mark.
This is when things start going wrong – I was trying to pass a car into turn 13 when a Miata hit my from behind and spun me around right at the apex. I got a black flag for spinning (the Miata got away scot free) and we spent about 20 minutes in penalty area before the next driver was allowed out. The new driver had no track or racing experience and about 5 laps into the race managed to do this:
Yup that’s our car on its side. He came into turn one too hot with one wheel off inside the rumble strip. At this point instead of just going straight off the track he tried to make the turn and caught a wheel on the curbing which led to a roll-over. Video of the roll below:
The driver was fine and the car was in surprisingly good shape. However Lemons has a “Why am I Upside-Down?” rule which says that if a car rolls it is done for the race. So that was the end of the race for us just 2 hours into the event. Luckily the 2 other guys on the team got 45 minutes of track time each with the other cars on Schumacher Taxi Service so at least it wasnt a total waste for them. I still had a day and half to go before my flight so I ended up becoming a guest judge for the event – more on that in my next post.