NCR Autocross #2—June 20, 2009

by Joe Kraetsch, NCR Autocross Chair

All week long, the weather forecast for Devens looked gloomy but by Friday, predictions were looking better for Saturday’s autocross. Saturday came and the rain did not. The sun even came out a couple of times during the day and it got pretty war. (We went through over eight cases of water!).

Neither of our regular course designers were able to attend. Guest designer, Rob MacAlpine, with help from Ernie Grasso and Matt Nieman laid down a good challenging autocross course. It was not an easy course. There were a lot of technical elements that you had to get right to get through the next section. Overly aggressive drivers and those who are timid on the brakes found themselves getting pinched and fighting to make it through the next section. Those who were patient through the slow sections were rewarded with faster times.

Once again, we had a lot of walk in registrations resulting in a delayed start. First car off was not until 10:15 but we got four morning runs and four more in the afternoon. We had sixty-six drivers competing in twelve classes including a lot of new (to NCR) drivers and a PCA Junior Participant, Brandon Mulkern.

A few people had mechanical problems. Matt Nieman and Judy Hendrickson never made it to the start line. Judy was gracious enough to stay for the day and announce for both run groups. Thank you, Judy. I finally got the legendary black car on the road and to an event (mostly because I am still waiting for parts for my engine rebuild for the white car) proving that the black car really does exist. Unfortunately the black car decided that two runs with a sticking rear caliper were enough, shut down the cooling fans and left a puddle of antifreeze in the paddock. We madly changed the old Hoosiers over to Lisa’s 944 and finished the day with her car. The Schnoerrmeister 914 made it through the morning runs before losing a brake line on the first afternoon run. I heard after the event that one of our invited guests also had brake troubles.

I usually try to report on the close races but there were not a lot of them. However, there were some dramatic changes between the morning and afternoon results. Remember, a driver’s final score is the sum of their best morning run and their best afternoon run. We ran the same course morning and afternoon for this event although sometimes we have changed the course for the afternoon. In the Novice Class, almost everyone changed positions from morning to afternoon except Ronald Orr, who won both sessions. By definition, Ronald is no longer . novice. Strict Stock also saw a lot of position changes from morning to afternoon. Jeremy Mazzariello had a huge lead after the morning session with Mike Tosi, Dick Demaine, Bill Seymour and Ernie Grasso rounding out the top five—all within a 1.2 second spread. Bill took charge of the afternoon session but could not come close to erasing Jeremy’s morning lead (Bill’s best morning run included a two-cone penalty) but Bill did move up to second place on the day. Ernie moved up to third, Dick dropped to fourth and Mike could not lay down a clean afternoon run and dropped way down to fifth. In P2, I was only 0.3 seconds behind David Case in the morning but he got faster and I got slower in the afternoon. Neil Halbert, Bob Canter and Ollie Lucier cruised to wins in P4, P6 and P7 respectively. It looked like Ted Shaw had a comfortable P8 lea. over Michael Orsini in the morning but Ted couldn’t find a clean afternoon run so Michael erased that lead and took the win. The morning race in Modified looked close until you noticed that Kenny Conway’s slight lead was with a two-cone penalty. Ron Mann found three more seconds in the afternoon but Kenny cleaned up one of his runs and sealed the win. Meanwhile Mark Skala dominated the Improved Class while also taking both FTD and top PAX for the day.

Our next autocross is Sunday, July 19. I hope to see you there (but please pre-register online and bring lots of water!)