2018 Frozen Rotors Winter Classic
Double-8 at Road America Recap
Story by Doc Waldrop
Photos by Bill Strong
Saturday, Day 1, October 20, 2018
If nothing else, the second round of the ChampCar Endurance Series at Road America was aptly named as the Frozen Rotors Fall Classic. Saturday’s first 8-hour race was marked by a little bit of everything Mother Nature could throw at the 74 teams gathered to race at the 18-turn 4.1- mile circuit including rain, sleet, snow, wind, and finally cold but clear skies.
In a departure from the usual grid starting position determined by a random pit row stall being drawn, several teams competed for the honor by having a race on the adjacent karting track for the pole position. With the pinpoint accuracy of a shotgun blast, the final results had Looney Tunes’ #101 Mustang on the pole followed by the Black Perl #142 Miata, the American Express #575 Pontiac Grand Prix, Gyvulys Racing Team (Lithuanian for “Savage”) BMW 325is, and the Spartan Racing #7 A Class BMW 318is rounding out the top 5 qualifying entrants and they led the field to the green flag at 8:30AM.
Barely 45 minutes into the contest, the weather started playing havoc with the field, first with rain being reported around the track that soon changed to sleet sending many cars off track under the slippery conditions. One hour into the race, the order was JSK Racing’s #176 Nissan Maxima in the lead, with Rusty Nuts Racing’s #126 EC class 325is running in 2nd having made up 42 positions since the start, Gyvulys BMW in 3rd, Anderson41 Motorsports’ #411 EC class BMW in 4th, and the big Pontiac of American Express in 5th. The #101 Looney Tunes Mustang had dropped out of the race from 2nd place and was back in the paddock changing engines, having completed only 13 laps.
Premium Dudes #32 and Crank Yankers #186 BMWs had moved up from good starting positions in the top 15 and ran in P6 &7 while the Motorcrap #37 Mustang had risen from 29th to run in 8th place. Black Perl’s #142 Miata and Team Bear Patrol’s #24 Lexus SC400 rounded out the top 10. With cars sliding off the track many local cautions popped up everywhere and one of the first victims of a black flag penalty (BFP) for passing under yellow (PUY) was the Premium Dudes #32 BMW, dropping them down 7 spots. With the slower pace because of local yellows and the wet conditions, none of the teams were concerned with fuel consumption and when the window opened up for the first round of pit stops due to the maximum driver stint limit of 2 hours, pit road got very busy around 10:30 with 14 of the top 15 cars pitting. Only the thirsty Pontiac of American Express stayed out having pitted around 10AM.
The first leading car, running in P3, to suffer in the rapidly worsening conditions was the Crank Yankers BMW when they went hard into a wall damaging the right front. The car went to the paddock for repairs where it was discovered the right rear had also suffered significant damage. They were out for the day. The Gyvulys #707 was also dropping rapidly through the field as well. As the midpoint of the race and the next round of pit stops approached, the TRMotorsports #318 BMW 318is had taken the overall lead from JSK Racing’s Maxima with the Spartan Racing BMW 318is rounding out the podium positions. Premium Dudes had recovered from their PUY penalty to hold down P4 while the Landshark #104 A class Civic ran in P5.
TCB Motorsports’ #811 Mazda Miata was running in 6th, trailed by the Stinky Rat Trap Racing #135 Audi 200TQ, the Ludicrous Speed #162 Toyota MR2, 3rd Gear Pulls’ #177 Honda CRX, and the Anderson41 BMW. Conditions on the track had only gotten worse, the sleet giving way to a blowing snowstorm, and the wind was playing hell with the crews and cars as well: More than one car was seen entering the pits with their radiators nearly packed with brightly colored fall leaves. So much for the picturesque scenery in nearly whiteout conditions being reported in several of the 14 official turns that comprise the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin track. Many competitors had ditched their racing tires for all-season tires to get the maximum grip on the unforgiving wet and slippery track.
The Anderson41 was the next contender to suffer damage having hit the unforgiving walls shortly after pitting. They were not the only leading car to suffer from the racing God’s heavy hand as the #318 TR Motorsports’ #318 E36 was soon seen being driven to the paddock on lap 79 with heavy left front damage and the car was retired for the day. The Miatas of MiElan and Ergolab were both suffering electrical issues and would not be a factor in the results for Saturday.
Lurking just outside the top 10 at just over the halfway point was the Cone Crushers potent Porsche 944, the Brothers Racing’s #427 Mercedes 190E, Dirtguys’ #999 BMW 540, Blue Shells #112 MR2, and the Wasted Wages #786 Dodge Neon. Up front, the JSK Maxima was steadily putting the Spartan Racing BMW further and further behind, the BMW only managing times in the high 3:30s range whereas the Maxima was consistently hitting under 3:30 times. With the last pit stops of the day coming at 2:30PM the pits once again got busy with virtually all the leaders coming in within a lap or two of each other.
Off pit sequence from the field, the Premium Dudes were moving up when yet a second PUY was issued to the team and they dutifully came in. The #999 Dirtguys were also issued a black flag for having only 1 working taillight while the #707 Gyvulys BMW had found the wall and fell from the top 15 having only just reached it again. The #91 Tuna No Crust Integra had displaced the Electric Mayhem #771 BMW 325is in the top 15, the Acura running as high as 12th before falling back as the #707 charged back into the top 15.
With the track finally drying out with an hour to go, the Spartan BMW was making up some serious time on the leading JSK Maxima and at the current pace would overtake him. The times were dropping along with the temperatures and more than one team was worried about their fuel consumption; given the faster pace. Could they all make it 2 hours? Premium Dudes in 4th were also gaining on the Landshark #104 A class Civic running in the final podium slot. The Ludicrous Speed MR2 held down 5th on their own lap by themselves.
The MR2 had overtaken Stinky Rat Trap Racing’s Audi and put them a lap further down. The battle for 7th place was a heated one with 3rd Gear Pulls’ Honda CR-X leading Cone Crushers #917 who had, in turn, passed the TCB Motorsports #811 Miata. Two Brothers Racing in their Mercedes 190E held down the last top 10 positions. In the final 30 minutes of the race, the #999 Dirtguys’ BMW was locked in a furious battle with the Wasted Wages Neon for 11th while the #103 GMW Factory BMW had P12 over the Anderson41 BMW and the Tuna No Crust Integra.
With their healthy lead in jeopardy, the JSK Maxima driver was ordered to speed things up, fuel consumption be damned, and crossed the finish line in 1st place with 135 laps completed over the Spartan Racing BMW by 3 minutes. The #32 Premium Dudes BMW nipped the Landshark Civic for 3rd place 6 laps from the end even with the Honda setting their personal fastest time of the day (FTD) only 8 laps from the checkered flag. Ludicrous Speed came home in P5 followed by the Stinky Rat Trap Audi, the 3 Gear Pulls CR-X, the Cone Crushers 944, TCB’s Miata, and the Two Brothers’ B class Mercedes rounding out the top 10.
Every class was represented in the top 15 with Dirtguys M60 V8 BMW taking home D class honors in 11th while the Anderson41’s 325 had EC covered in 14th place with their M3 S52 swapped BMW. The fastest time of the day was set by the Rusty Nuts Racing BMW on lap 124 with a 2:49.562, small consolation for their 17th place finish after running as high as 2nd early in the race. Race control tallied up the calls from the corner workers and announced that there had been 76 spins on course, with turn 3 being the most hazardous corner on the track. As teams turned in for the night or turned wrenches in the paddock, most were looking forward to what promised to be better weather for the Sunday race.
Sunday, Day 2, October 21, 2018
Teams awoke Sunday to clear skies at least, but the temperatures were still cold as Looney Tunes’ Mustang led the field to the green flag for the 8:30AM start with the FTD “winner” from Saturday, the Rusty Nuts Racing #126 BMW, in tow. The #126 quickly moved into the lead of the race by lap 2 and led the first 10 laps, a half hour into the race. MiElan’s #150 Miata had sorted out their electrical issues and held down 3rd place at this point with the Cone Crushers #917 Porsche in 4th and the Ludicrous MR2 moving up rapidly, gaining 17 spots in the first half hour to run in 5th.
Other impressive gains on the 67-car field included the Clueless Racing #515 Integra moving up 13 spots to run in P8, the Crank Yankers #186 advancing 18 positions to run in 10th, the 3rd Gear Pulls Honda CR-X moving up 12 positions to P11, and the Bavarian Moustache Werks #662 charging up 25 positions to run in 12th. The British American Racing by Hawk (BAR-H) #51 BMW 325is gamely held onto P6, leading the Crash Management #232 in 7th in their Dodge Stratus. Ninth position was occupied by the TR Motorsports #318 BMW piloted by employees of the Tire Rack chain. Their efforts would soon come to an end as the car was spotted off track. The MiElan Miata had also pitted and upon exiting the pit in timer station the car had no drive, the victim of a driveline/transmission failure. It was not to be their weekend at all after notching up several impressive finishes.
The only full course caution of the day fell 1 hour into the race and was quickly replaced by a black flag for the entire field and they were brought down pit road while an oil spill was cleaned up that stretched from turn 2 all the way to turn 5. The time was also used to move a concrete barrier that had been displaced and to fetch several cars scattered around the track. Even with the 30-minute delay until the field was ushered off pit road and back to green flag racing, several teams slowly started filtering onto pit road for their first stops, perhaps unwilling to risk running out of fuel on the lengthy course.
Shortly after 10AM, having been passed for the lead by the Ludicrous MR2, the Looney Tunes thirsty Mustang pitted at 10:17 and was dutifully followed by the MR2 one lap later. The Anderson41 BMW also pitted about this time. With the 30-minute stoppage, most teams felt confident enough so when the race hit the 2-hour mark the floodgates opened and most of the field filed onto pit road. Once the dust settled (finally) from the first wave of stops, Rusty Nuts’ EC class BMW led over the Ludicrous Speed MR2 followed by the Cone Crushers 944, the Looney Tunes Mustang, and the Crank Yankers E30. The top 15 stayed rather set until the halfway point and another round of pit stops. Sure, competitors changed positions, but only the TWOth Civic and the Looney Tunes Mustang dropped out to be replaced by the Dead Pedal Racing #185 Maserati Bi-Turbo and the Dirtguys’ V8 powered D class BMW 540. The Looney Tunes Mustang was pitting constantly, perhaps with fuel pickup gremlins.
After pit stops around the leaders lap 70, the Ludicrous MR2 had taken the lead from the Cone Crushers 944 by lap 80, both on the lead lap, while the Crank Yankers E30 ran on their own lap (79) in P3 having risen as high as 2nd place. Fourth place was highly contested with 5 cars on lap 78 with JSK Racing’s Maxima leading the BMWs of Bavarian Moustache Werks, Rusty Nuts #126, 3rd Gear Pulls’ #177 CR-X, and the Premium Dudes #32. Similarly, one lap further down, 9th place was being pursued by Clueless Racing’s #515 Integra, Stinky Rat Trap’s Audi #135, BAR-H’s #51 E30, and the Crash Management Stratus. Ergolab.com’s Miata, Wasted Wages’ Neon, and the TWOth Civic rounded out the top 15. The Dead Pedal Maserati and Dirtguys’ M3 powered BMW 540 had fallen by the wayside, but the BMW would soon rise again. The Bi-Turbo not so much.
The Ludicrous lead was not really so much (see what I did there?) as there were 4 cars on the lead lap (90): The MR2 along with Cone Crushers, Crank Yankers Racing, and the JSK Racing Maxima all enjoying the pointy end of the stick. That is, before the Porsche once more took the lead and JSK had also managed to get by the BMW for 3rd. The Dirtguys BMW had also moved back into the top 15 along with the GorillaSticker #516 EC class BMW 318ti who were locked into a battle to remain there with the TWOth #510 Civic. The Two Brother Racing #427 Mercedes had moved up as the British American Racing by Hawk #51 faltered from 11th place as the teams approached their last anticipated stop at 2:30PM.
During a routine audit of timing and scoring and a review of the cameras and recordings, it was discovered that some equipment had malfunctioned and through no fault of their own, Cone Crushers had received an advantage in their pit stop time. The best way to correct this (and to have as little impact on the team as possible) was to add 2:30 to their next timed pit stop which came at 2:24pm. The Ludicrous Speed MR2 also pitted at this time and as a result of the extended stay on pit road for the 944, they emerged in the lead. Most of the other top teams pitted around this time, having reached the all-important window of not having to stop again for the driver stint rule of 2 hours. “Most” did not include the leading Ludicrous Speed Toyota.
The Gyvulys’ BMW kept appearing in the top 15 competitors but had considerable trouble staying there whereas the Dirt E30 #212 made their advance stick. The Gorillasticker #516 BMW was encountering the same problem as Gyvulys: Moving up to the top 15 only to lose the position repeatedly. The Cone Crushers 944 was having some problems as well with various corner workers (and even an emergency vehicle) calling in their number with a report of the car smoking. The Ergolab #489 Miata was also black flagged for a dragging exhaust while running in 10th and the infraction would cost them a top 15 finish. The Two Brothers Racing 190E once again moved up to take their place albeit in 15th position.
There was some speculation that when the Ludicrous MR2 DID pit that the JSK Maxima could catch them and sweep the weekend overall wins, but when the MR2 returned to the track with an hour and a half to go they maintained a somewhat uncomfortable lead of just 52 seconds. Likewise, JSKs 2nd place finish was hardly secure with the 3rd place Crank Yankers BMW only seven seconds back, all on the same lap obviously. The most severe car to car contact happened around 3:15 when the Limpy Screwdriver Pontiac Firebird (in heavy traffic, their forward vision obscured) exited the 90-degree turn 6 left-hander and found the #786 Wasted Wages running in 9th place dramatically slowed on the course and plowed into the rear of the Neon. Both drivers were shaken up, but otherwise unhurt.
With an hour to go the Cone Crushers Porsche was retired from the event while the leading Ludicrous Speed MR2 kept the JSK Maxima at bay by some 30 seconds. With radio communications down, the JSK car was uncertain of his fuel status and was indecisive as to push the car forward or not. They led the Crank Yankers BMW by some 30-40 seconds; The E30 nursing well-worn brake pads. The Crash Management Stratus in 8th place was off the pace and it dropped the Dodge to 9th at the end as the TWOth Civic overcame them at the end to claim P8. Tenth twelfth place similarly changed hands with the Gorillasticker EC class 318ti passing the Gyvulys C class BMW and the Dirtguys D class 540 passing the Two Brothers Mercedes for position in the last 15 minutes of the race. The #212 Dirt E30 came home in 14th while the Asteri #147 B class MR2 moved up to 15th place with the Cone Crushers retirement.
Fourth place honors went to the Bavarian Moustache Werks E36 BMW on their own lap and fifth place went to the Premium Dudes E30. 3rd Gear Pulls’ CRX managed to hold off the Audi 200 of Stinky Rat Trap Racing, both on the same lap. The top 3 maintained their order at the checkered flag with Ludicrous Speed getting their first overall win after 6 years of trying. The MR2 also set the fasted time of the day with a 2:45.586. JSK had narrowly missed sweeping the wins for the weekend and Crank Yankers Racing had some measure of redemption after their dismal 63rd finishing position on Saturday. Once again, every class was represented in the top 15 finishing order, 3rd Gear Pulls taking A class honors, TWOth claiming B class, Gorillasticker in EC class, and Dirtguys with D class. C class was well represented with top 5 finishers as well as 7th, 9th, 11th, and 14th.
It was time for the ChampCar Endurance Series to return to hopefully warmer climes for the next few months with Atlanta Motorsports Park coming up next weekend followed by Auto Club Speedway in sunny California, VIRginia International Raceway in early December. Barber Motorsports Park better be snow free this year…
Saturday Race Results
Saturday Best Lap – 02:49.562 @ 87.048 miles/h by Rusty Nuts Racing
Sunday Race Results
Sunday Best Lap – 02:45.586 @ 89.138 miles/h by Ludicrous Speed