NASA Race Weekend
August 6-7 2005
Point Raceway, Sonoma California.
Shed Racing Compound
Shed Racing competed in NASA's
event at Sears Point
in the GTI Cup class.
were 5 cars in class this weekend, with Ron Swett picking up the
driving duties Saturday, and Tom Aiken driving Sunday. Other
competitors included Scott
Suarez, and Dan
Piña. The success of the inexpensive coilover
suspension testing at Thunderhill in June resulted in the entire field
using the improved spring setups.
Bryan and Geoff from Miller
Motorsports showed up Saturday to help out (and mooch rides, snacks
and bottled water), and Geoff took a few
Marcus and Scott Miller helped out Sunday.
hooks the window net in place.
Ron started the early morning practice session and immediately had a
horrible understeer problem with the car. It just did not want to
turn. He wasn't sure if it was simply a problem with cold tires
on a cold track, or if it had something to do with the suspension work
done since the last race. Ron stuck it out for 2 laps, hoping for
some improvement, and decided to drive down pit road to not hold up
some faster cars that were behind him. About half way down pit
road, the engine died and would not restart.
returns to the paddock after a brief practice session.
Ron got a lift back to the paddock from the crash crew, where it was
determined that the fuel pump had failed. Luckily, Carlos Suarez
had an extra junkyard pump, which Tom installed and the car started
up. It was also
discovered that during the suspension work, the toe alignment was way
off, with almost a full inch toe-in. This is great for straight
line stability, but not ideal for a road race car.
Best time for the morning practice session was Carlos, with a 2:04.5.
double checks Tom's fuel pump
With #43 running again, and a rough adjustment done to the toe, it was
time to qualify. The qualifying session went well, with Ron
getting the feel for a much better handling race car. His best lap was
a 2:08.4, with Don Baily setting the pole position time of
2:04.1. A quick final adjustment to the toe, and it was time to
Lined up in pre-grid for the Saturday
race (image © Geoff Crall).
start for the Saturday race (image
© Geoff Crall).
serves as spotter for the Saturday race.
Ron got a decent start for the sprint race, and was able to keep the
GTI pack in sight until he got held up behind a slower Pro Sedan
MR-2, and someone's front bumper that decided to block part of turn 3A
for most of the race. Dan
Piña retired with an electrical problem, putting Ron in fourth
place. Carlos Suarez finished first, followed by Don
Bailey, and Scott Neville. Ron finished fourth, with a best lap
of 2:06.1, for an average speed of 71.89 MPH. Best lap of
the race was Don Bailey with a 2:03.74.
takes the checkered flag
Sunday morning, Tom took the early
warmup session easy,
getting a feel for the new suspension and reacquainting himself with
track. Everything was fine until a strange handling problem
appeared near the end of the session. This was later tracked to a
loose bolt (well, missing
bolt) connecting the passenger side hub assembly to the lower ball
joint. Tom's best lap was a 2:11.8. Fastest lap in the
morning practice was Scott Neville, with a 2:04.75.
The Sunday qualifying session was changed to a qualifying race, with
the starting positions based on the inverted finishing positions from
Saturday race. This put Dan on the pole, and Tom on the right
side of the front row. Dan held the lead into the first
turn, with Carlos passing Tom for second place going up the hill into
Turn 2. Dan held the lead until going into turn 3A, when his
recurring electrical problem came back, putting him out of the race,
and Tom back into second place. Tom clung to second place for all
of 100 yards, before Don Bailey got around him coming out of turn 4,
followed by Scott Neville going into the Carousel. At the
end of the race, Carlos
mistakenly came in one lap early when he saw the starter preparing the
flag for another class, putting him a lap down. Scott finished
qualifying race first, followed by Don and Tom. Fast lap of the
race went to Don Bailey, with a 2.04.00. Tom's best lap was a
This won't last long (image © Geoff Crall).
The Sunday Race grid was again set by finishing position in the
qualifying race, which put Tom on the left side of row 2. The
dropped, and Tom got a fair start, getting passed by Carlos and Dan in
turn 2. Tom stayed with the pack of GTIs for the first 2 full
laps, falling back about 3 seconds behind the group. On the third
lap there was a disabled car on the outside of turn 6, with a standing
yellow displayed at the flag station entering the carousel, and a
waving yellow just before the disabled car and crash crew truck.
Tom was a little overcautious, and slowed more than necessary for the
first pass of the scene, allowing the rest of the GTI field to expand
the lead by 4-5 seconds. The following lap, trying to gain back
some of the ground he lost, Tom went into turn 4 too hot, and braked
too late, going off the track to the outside of the corner, followed by
a short run through the grass to get back on track. By the end of
lap 4, the leaders in the Baby
Grand and Thunder
Roadster classes (who started a half lap ahead of the GTI class)
started lapping the field, and Tom spent most of the remainder of the
race trying not to get in the way of cars turning 15-20 seconds faster
lap times. The only other event worth noting was a RX-7 who lost
his rear window, leaving a field of shattered safety glass in the track
between turns 8A and 9, just off the racing line. In lap 8 while
running strong in second place, Dan's electrical problem came back yet
again, putting him out of the race again. Carlos Suarez
finished first, followed by Scott Neville and Don Bailey. Tom
finished 4th, with a best lap time down to 2:06.99 Fastest lap of
the race was Don Bailey, with a 2:04.24.
(L-R) Ron Swett, David Piña, Carlos Suarez, Scott Neville, Dan Piña, Don Bailey, Tom Aiken
Hondas had a hard weekend
Another good weekend. In our first race weekend and second ever
trip to Sears Point, we were not front runners, but we were reasonably
competitive. Tom and Ron both improved their lap times from their
previous visit by about 10 seconds per lap. The car had some
problems, but nothing terminal, Thanks to the generosity of our
competitors. Tom's welding job on the front tow hook seems to
have been adequate.