One word: wow! Thirty SpecE30s fastened together in bumper-to-bumper drafts at more than 135mph November 1-2. The Florida and Southeast regions’ Spec E30s battled it out at Daytona International Speedway.
The two long speedway stretches in each lap required that the drivers work together. The trail cars would push the leader so the group could sustain faster speeds. This was not for the feint of heart. Wind gusts, track imperfections and off-axis bumps caused each car to move left or right constantly. Each driver was fighting to keep his dancing car aligned with the dancing car up front while each was bumping and getting bumped every other second.
To negotiate the Bus Stop, a train of usually two to six cars, approached the chicane bumper-to-bumper at more than 135 mph. They would separate by 2 or 3 feet just before the braking zone. Each driver was absolutely determined to come out of the Bus Stop right on the bumper of the next car up, and with at least as much speed. Failure meant dropping out of the train, raging impotently as you fell back on the long stretch that followed.
It was all about trust. If you get in trouble, do not back off the throttle. Find a way to save it. If the car in front of you gets in trouble, he’s going to have to find a way to save it. It was all about trust. Well, hope and trust.
The precise geometry of the turn wasn’t visible to the trailing cars until they were committed, and the available traction at the Bus Stop was changed as cars kicked up dirt onto the racing surface. Eric Palacio, winner on Saturday and second-place finisher Sunday, also developed a technique of flinging the sole rubber traffic cone back into his pursuer. Ryan Whitinger first tried to catch the flying rubber cone with his oil cooler. After replacing the broken oil cooler, Whitinger tried in the next race to catch Palacio’s flung cone with his windshield wiper.
Whitinger reported that the windshield wiper idea in the second race worked better. There were no mystery patches of oil on the track in the second race.
Although an expensive track to rent, and a long way from the center of the Southeast region, the feedback from the participants was so overwhelmingly positive that a late change to the 2015 schedule was made. We’ll see you at Daytona next October!