This weekend, I was racing a Spec E30 at Lime Rock park in a two-day, 10 hour endurance race. It may have taken me an hour, but I was able to find the wall. Here's how it happened.
We start the race in third and hold the position for a few laps. Under pressure, I drop a wheel heading through Lime Rock's fast corners and lose momentum, in a momentum car like a Spec E30, that means losing positions. I find myself in seventh but still running nose to tail with the lead pack. The cars in second through seventh are running within two seconds of each other, one mistake, and that could all change. This is close stuff.
As I am in the back watching the aggression in the group ahead, I'm waiting for that crash to happen. Sure enough, it does. An overoptimistic 318Ti makes some very erratic moves, and one of them ends up crashing out another Spec E30 ahead of me. That moves us to fourth. And ahead of me is Randy Pobst in a black Spec E30 and Ethan Low in a red Spec E30. We'd been running together for the entire stint, I need to stick with them to pounce when an opportunity opens.
We're together on the restart, but there is a lapped car between us and the leader. The other guys get by on the first lap after it goes green, but it times out poorly for me and I need to wait.
On the front straight, I decide I have to get by. I am not waiting to do this. Nevermind that we have nine hours left, I have to get by now. I pull out to pass and dive in under braking. The lapped car turns in, and doesn't see me until we were side by side.
This is when the shit hits the fan
I lock up the fronts, the rear gets light, I pinch the line to avoid a collision, and it's a perfect storm where everything that can go wrong does go wrong. I know better than to do all of these things, and especially to rush to pass a lapped car. But I'm close to Randy Pobst on track. How often do you get to race against a multi-time national champion pro driver and actually think you have a shot at staying close? The answer is not very often.
I lose the rear of the car, and there is no saving it from there. I try to correct, I try turning on the windshield wipers, I try shouting a ton of swears, none of it worked. I get the car slowed down, but I hit the wall at about 30 MPH.
The corner workers tow me out, and I drive back to the pits. The front left fender is banged up and the toe is out slightly, but other than that, no real damage. We reset the toe and send the car back out.
The worst part is that we have nine hours left and now have no chance of winning. That's what upsets me the most.
But hey, it's racing. Mistakes happen. We all make them. Thankfully this one didn't impact us mechanically, but it ruined our chances of a top three finish.
Live and learn. Next time, I won't rush to make a pass.