Today we continue our blog series brought to us by car enthusiast and SOLIDWORKS Senior Area Technical Manager Mike Sabocheck on SOLIDWORKS at the SCCA Run-offs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If you missed day one, you catch up here and you can find out what happened on the track yesterday by reading yesterday’s blog post here. Ok, we’ll let Mike catch us up now on what happened during day 3.
Day 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
We went faster in Wednesday’s qualifying session but so did everyone else. So instead of moving up a couple of positions like we had planned, we dropped back one position to 10th. Still not bad considering we almost didn’t make qualifying on Monday because of our engine problem. A few of our competitors ahead of us had problems on the track and in post-qualifying impound inspection so they may or may not be able to continue.
Racing is not only about the competition on the track but about winning the war of attrition. Your car has to be as reliable as it can possibly be. In our racing, if you stop for just about any reason, you’re out of the race for the win. Our races are considered sprints; they’re short and fast. This is unlike NASCAR or Formula 1 where there’s a long distance to race and a full team to help service the car in the pits. In our race by the time you get into the pits and out, several minutes pass and your race is over. So the old sayings “you have to finish the race in order to win it” and “the fastest car doesn’t always win the race” certainly apply to our racing.
After making a few suspension adjustments on the car Wednesday, we’re ready for the 4th qualifying session on Thursday. This will be a split start because there are two different race groups in our qualifying session. Between the two groups there are 73 cars on the track and that’s a lot. It’s difficult for the drivers to get a clean lap where another car doesn’t get in your way and cause you to slow down.
Maintaining momentum is paramount to fast lap times. Since Thursday is the last qualifying session for us, the groups asked the race officials for a split start so there will only be 44 cars on track for our portion of the session, which is only 10 minutes. So we have to post our best qualifying time today in the first three laps. Otherwise, we’ll probably start the race in 10th. Still OK, but we wanted better.
Many times I’m asked, “who sponsors your car?” Well the only sponsor we have is Kevin Leigh, the owner and driver of the car. Racing is an expensive hobby and money equals speed. The more money you want to put into racing, the faster you will go. During the season we race for what you might call “bowling trophies.” There’s no money to be won in SCCA racing, but during the SCCA Run-offs, there are contingency awards given depending on where you finish the race. The awards are typically products from manufacturers, such as brake pads, motor oil, tires, etc., and we have to apply their decals to our car as part of the contingency awards program.
We also have an association with our tire manufacturer Hoosier Racing Tires and are provided a set of tires for the Run-offs. Hoosier supplies tires for about 80 percent of the cars racing this week. Their compound is busy all day changing tires for the 800+ competitors using Hoosier tires. Teams may decide to race on a set of tires only once or twice. We have already changed tires twice this week and will change one more time for the race on Saturday.