Dateline: Friday, August 18, 2023
Ah, yes, Road America. These four miles of asphalt have woven their way through the entirety of team scR’s 27-year motorsports odyssey. We have experienced, in roughly equal measure, great success and great failure at this historic venue, all with a side order of Wisconsin’s finest cheese curds. For this reason, especially if you are a new subscriber (you know who you are!), you might want to go back and re-read some our archived pieces regaling our Showroom Stock, Improved Touring, ChumpCar, Ferrari Challenge, TCR, and GT4 tall tales for a proper sense of background and continuity.
And, lest we forget, this is the birthplace of the Hello Kitty Duct Tape schtick. God bless Road America.
Hello Kitty, 2023 GT4 BAND-AID® edition. Can you spot it?
Q: I can’t tell from the opening monologue if this was a weekend filled with great success or great failure.
A: That’s kind of the point. But any time that I can convince Dana and Shelby to come out to a race, that’s an unqualified success.
Q: They both made the journey to Elkhart Lake?
A: Yes! I think it was more just to escape the oppressive heat down here in Texas, but regardless of their motives they were both down in Turn 5 cheering us on for both races. And not a lap went by where I didn’t think of them sitting over there.
Weekend highlight: BimmerWorld Racing made my daughter’s Instagram post!
Q: Just out of curiosity, what did they do when you were not on track?
A: Well…they found this huge cow. Click the link, seriously. Apparently, it’s the biggest tourist attraction in the area. Dana also discovered that if you spend more than $100 at the Road America gift shop you get a free candle (a candle?) or something like that. So, you know, this was truly a win-win family weekend.
Q: Let’s move beyond cheese curds, huge cows, and free candles. Which way did the Road America pendulum swing this year?
A: This way:
I’m going to file a protest for P3 flagrantly blocking P1 on the podium, Elias.
Q: Oh, that’s pretty OK!
A: Absolutely. In what will sound like a repeat from our last newsletter, it helped tremendously that we tested and tested and tested for this race. By the time qualifying came around, we were locked and loaded. My flier was impeded by traffic, but I still managed a 2:16.083, more than 3.4 seconds (!) faster than my 2022 qualifying time. The new pavement certainly played a role in that, but the time ultimately was good for P7 overall and P3 in class for the start of Race 1.
Q: How far off the pole were you?
A: Not much at all – exactly 90 milliseconds. And just for good fun, Matt Travis in the #47 Porsche bested me by a scant 3 milliseconds for the second spot on the grid. I’m sure he’s going to remind me of that 3 milliseconds for quite some time.
Q: Did Tyler put in a similar performance?
A: Arguably even better. His 2:15.154 was good for P2 overall and P1 in class for Race 2. But then…drama.
When not driving silly fast, Tyler is quite the accomplished, yet casual, content generator.
Q: You guys have been surprisingly drama-free this year. What happened?
A: Well, during Tyler’s session there was a red flag thrown for an incident on the track. As he was coming back around to the box, he came upon a much slower car and drove around it. Not in anger, mind you, but simply because he was keeping his tires clean as he drove back to pit lane.
Turns out that none of us, including Tyler, really appreciated the fact that you are not allowed to pass other cars during a red flag. I suppose it makes sense, but of all of the drivers we consulted on the topic, none could say for sure what the actual rule was. So here, as a public service announcement for the benefit of the entire GT4 America field, let it be known that you are not allowed to pass under red flag conditions.
Note to SRO folks: I expect this question to be on the annual license re-certification test thing next year. Or at least on Tyler’s.
What do you mean you can’t pass under red? Really? That’s a thing?
Q: Was there a penalty handed down for that?
A: This is where it gets confusing. Yes. I was penalized three grid starting positions at the start of Race 1 for Tyler’s infraction.
Q: That doesn’t make any sense.
A: You’re right. But before we could address that, all of the Qualifying 2 times were thrown out because of the red flag that was thrown. The Race 2 grid was suddenly to be set based upon Practice 2 lap times from the day before.
Q: So far I’m not following any of this.
A: I don’t blame you. But nevertheless, I was now required to serve a penalty for an infraction I didn’t commit which occurred during a session that never officially took place.
Q: I see your lips move, but all I hear is blah, blah, blah.
A: And then, with 30 minutes to go before Race 1, the stewards reversed their decision and decided that Tyler should indeed serve his own penalty at the start of Race 2. The grid was still based on times set in Practice 2. This nearly made sense after four hours of trying to wrap our heads around it but caused all sorts of anxiety with the poor ladies on the Race 1 false grid who didn’t get the memo in time and lined me up in the wrong position anyhow.
It took longer to set the grid than to run the actual race.
Q: So where did you start?
A: After letting Matt around me as we rolled out (I thought that was the proper thing to do), we started where we should have all along: P7 overall and P3 in class.
Race 1, Lap 1, Turn 3. Leading a frenzied horde.
Q: Was Race 1 all green flag racing?
A: No. Boo. About one lap into the race (it may have been less), somebody somewhere crashed and out came the full-course yellow. After it finally went green again, I only had about five laps of actual racing before I handed the car off to Tyler.
In those five laps I managed to stay pretty firmly attached to Matt’s rear bumper hoping for an error that he never made. So, props to him. Our BMW was clearly faster than his Porsche, but just not in the right places. At least, not in the right places for me to try something creative. Knowing that Tyler is better at that whole thing than I generally am, I figured I would let him do all the heavy lifting and deal with Jason Hart during his stint. We knew we had the racecar to drive to the front in the second half of the race, and I did my best to simply set Tyler up for the opportunity to do so.
This was my view for most of my Race 1 stint. Hi, Matt!
Q: So did Tyler race to the front?
A: Not exactly. We won on Sunday, not Saturday. After a seamless driver change, Tyler got to do his own round of full-course yellow laps. I forget exactly, but maybe he saw two laps of green flag racing in his 30 minutes behind the wheel. After decent racing at VIR, everything old was new again.
In those few laps there was enough bumping and grinding all around us that Tyler brought home the Red Line Special P6 overall and P3 in class. Which made for a pretty OK start to the weekend but was mildly deflating knowing we had a car with the pace to be farther up front. Again.
That halfhearted smile you make when your P1 racecar finishes P3.
Q: A podium is a podium.
A: That’s the truth. So, I will now stop complaining about that.
Q: Knowing now that you won on Sunday, walk us through that.
A: As you might recall, Tyler’s earlier visit to the Principal’s Office had him starting in P5 overall, P3 in class. But we knew that the car was fast enough to dig itself out of that hole.
I think this is one of Tyler’s two green flag laps on Saturday. But let’s pretend it’s from Sunday.
Q: You won, so apparently it did dig itself out of that hole.
A: Yeah, this was a bit better than Saturday. In his stint, Tyler moved up from P3 in class to P2 in class and P5 overall to P4 overall. At least, that’s my best recollection of it. And then, as soon as I hopped in the car…
Q: A yellow flag?
A: A yellow flag. I mean, this used to be a funny tag line. Now it’s just getting old.
This is me. Through a tree. Under yellow.
Q: Did you ever get to race?
A: Thankfully, yes. After we toured around the track for ten minutes or so under caution, there was a 15-minute green flag shootout to the finish. And I need to tell you, it was a blast.
I’ll pat myself on the back for making the pass for the Pro-Am lead on the restart. It was pretty well timed, drove around the outside through Turn 1, and I never looked back. Surrounded by cars in the (faster) Silver class, I put my head down and did a bunch of consistent maintenance laps to finish P1 in class and P3 overall. Which ain’t too bad for an Am driver following a field-stacking restart.
Q: Felt pretty good, I suppose?
A: Yep. It felt exactly like this:
Yes, this was awkward, but awesome at the same time. Watch your right hand, Cosmo.
Q: So, where are you now in the Pro-Am Championship?
A: I note that if you had chosen to follow me on either Instabook or Facegram you would already know the answer. Nevertheless, SRO got the results posted just a few days after the race, but somehow this unofficial, yet accurate, version was found circulating on the Internet a few days prior.
This may or may not have been generated with Matt over a beer. Pretty good beer, this time.
Q: You are car #82 at the top there, right?
A: Correct! Travis and Hart remain there in the #47 Porsche close enough to take over at any second, so we need to keep our noses clean for the remaining five races on the schedule.
And for the record, the “New Series Logo” thing was not my idea. But in the spirit of not being a sore winner, I let it slide. Besides, the series needed a new logo.
Q: The series had a logo?
A: Sure. Don’t you remember SRO’s 2022 version? No? How quickly they forget. I’ll cut and paste it here for you.
Come on, don’t tell me you never saw that.
Q: Ok, that’s pretty funny. I laughed out loud even though I came up with it.
A: I know you did. I’m you, remember?
Q: Oh, right. Any final stories you would like to tell?
A: Only one. On Thursday night the entire SRO grid drove to downtown Elkhart Lake to have a party with the locals. I have participated in this event in the past, but this year was especially cool. Can’t put my finger on it, but it’s just so neat to have all that hardware parked there in front of Siebken’s with swarms of people milling up and down the street. Good on SRO and good on the city of Elkhart Lake for continuing to bring the cars to the fans year after year. It’s one of the highlights of my season.
Find the GT4 car with the Texas flag on the roof for extra points.
Q: Is Sebring next up?
A: That’s right. And as an added bonus, the make-up race from the NOLA rainout will take place on Friday evening. So, it’ll be a triple-header weekend for the entire team. Let’s hope we can carry this momentum into Florida, as all of this hard work is surely paying off.
See you at the track!