2018 Gingerman 8+7 Race Recap
Story by Doc Waldrop
Photos by Bill Strong
With the “Summer of 24s” over with and the actual Summer winding down, the ChampCar Endurance Series visited the Gingerman Raceway track located just off the Eastern shores of Lake Michigan for a bit more forgivable race format, that of an 8-hour race on Saturday followed by a 7-hour contest on Sunday.
After a Friday test day, 52 entries (out of 57 cars originally registered) took the green flag after a slight delay when the track lost power after a lightning strike during a torrential downpour. With a rapidly drying 2.14-mile circuit the TRMotorsports A class #318 BMW quickly had the lead before the end of the 1st lap followed by the RBankRacing.com #194 CRX (the Saab getting a much-needed breather after contesting all three 24-hour races), also had moved up significantly during the opening lap.
GMS Racing’s #556 Mazda RX-7 soon settled into 3rd followed by Guarino Watson (GWR) Racing’s #991 BMW 325is and the Crank Yankers Racing’s (CYR) #186 BMW in 5th despite not being able to get more than 5200 RPM out of the straight six M20B25 engine with some fuel management issues. Impressively, considering the damp track conditions, the TRMotorsports #318 BMW was able to keep their lead over the Civic despite 2 off-road incidents, the later caused by Autobody Specialist’s #138 RX7 losing an oil line off the pressure sending unit right in front of the BMW.
GWR’s BMW E30 was really cutting some fast laps and passed the RBank CRX for 2nd place but gave it up a few laps later as the Honda made a daring pass under braking into turn 11. Both cars continued their battle, neither team wanting to concede 2nd place. Soon though, GWR ran afoul of Race Control with a clear pass under yellow (PUY) and was black flagged to pit in to serve a penalty. Since it was near the end of the 2-hour driver stint limit GWR elected to take fuel and a do the driver swap just before the race turned 2 hours old. They would reenter the race in 11th position. The penalty had been costly.
Shortly thereafter, just before and after most teams had made their pit stops, the RBank CRX passed the TRM BMW to take the lead with Crank Yankers (CYR) briefly moving up to 3rd followed by GMS Racing’s RX7 in 4th, and the Bavarian Moustache Werks #662 BMW 325is in 5th having started in 38th position. The Ludicrous Speed #162 Toyota MR2 held down 6th place and was followed by the Blue Shell’s #38 Ford Focus, Premature Accelerator’s #117 Miata, GWR’s BMW (having partially recovered from the costly penalty), and IPF Racing’s #252 heavily chopped up Toyota Supra.
Rooster Racing’s #451 Dodge Neon had jumped up to 11th place leading the Victorious Secret #177 BMW 325is, the MiElan Miata #150 which had suffered some damage to the front of the car after contact on course with the Dazed and Confused #213 Ford Mustang, the Cast Motorsport’s #840 VV Rabbit, and the BMTRUBLU #187 BMW rounding out the top 15 cars.
For the next several hours these teams swapped positions with Cast Motorsport’s Rabbit and the BMTRUBLU 1997 318ti dropping out to be replaced by the older E30 #606 of Shitbox Racing and the Endeavor to Persevere #191 Nissan Sentra SER. The Tuna No Crust #91 Acura Integra and the Two Brothers Racing #427 Mercedes 190E had also spent some time in the top 15. While top 10 cars had remained fairly stable, trading places with each other as time marched on, the same could not be said for 11th through 15th: The #550 Junk in the Trunk BMW which had started virtually dead last had moved up to 11th place and the Hakuna Miata #128 had also joined the fray at the expense of the Rooster Racing #451 (which would eventually retire for the day, first with an exploded clutch and then with an engine failure that would require an overnight swap, and the Dazed and Confused Mustang. Kosi Racing’s #603 Miata and the Hellkitty #52 Dodge Neon had displaced the IPF #252 Supra and Crank Yankers Racing’s BMW which had basically resigned themselves to using Saturday’s race as a test session as they continued to battle fuel system gremlins.
Low Farm Racing’s BMW E46 had blown a head gasket and an expansion tank only ½ hour into the race had replaced the engine, only to suffer a cut tire on the last lap when a sway bar link rotated on the strut. Udder Chaos’ #55 had also found misfortune late in the race losing a CV shaft. Interestingly enough, MiElan’s Miata and the Dazed and Confused Mustang (which had had contact on track with each other) were both having trouble with tires. MiElan admitted they had picked the wrong tires while the Mustang was wearing tires down at an alarming rate.
Back up front, it was RBankRacing.com all the way to the checkers for the rest of the race as they never looked back or made any mistakes. The Ludicrous Speed #162 MR2 had put down consistently fast laps (including the fastest time of the day with a 1:44.501) to power past everyone for the runner-up position 2 laps down to the CRX while GWR’s #991 had recovered for the last traditional podium spot in 3rd. The black flag penalty for the PUY had indeed been costly, perhaps even costing them the win.
The GMS #556 Mazda RX7 had survived some fuel starvation problems to finish 4th with the “home track advantage” TRMotorsports #318 taking 5th place after having lead early. The Bavarian Moustache Werks (BMW) #662 BMW took 6th place having returned to the ChampCar Endurance Series after a brief hiatus, followed by the Premature Accelerators #117 Miata in 7th position having finally bested the Victorious Secret BMW after several hours on track. MiElan had battled an ill-handling car all day to finish 9th while Shitbox Racing’s BMW had finally secured 10th.
Junk in the Trunk had held onto P11 with a somewhat comfortable margin over Kosi Racing’s #603 Miata, BMTRUBLU’s #187 BMW, and Dazed & Confused’s #213 tire stricken 2000 Mustang. Team Hakuna Miata’s Miata (surprise) passed Tuna No Crust’s #91 Acura Integra with 15 laps to go to nab the last of the top 15 positions.
Day 1 was over and the action on the track was replaced by activity in the pits as teams scrambled to repair their ailing steeds, most notably the overall winning RBankRacing.com Honda CRX with a left axle replacement. It was also rumored that more than a few beer kegs were being worked on as well by various drivers, but we Can’t Yet Reveal (CYR) them.
Mother Nature had something to say about Sunday’s scheduled start as well: This time it was not lightning, but a heavy fog blanketed the track rendering the flag stations nearly invisible as the line of sight on the track was down to below 100’. By the time the fog lifted, and the race started it was already almost 9:30AM. The track graciously allowed the race to extend the time until the checkered flag fell until 5PM, but with a scheduled 11-12AM quiet time, teams were busy calculating and adjusting their pit strategy
With the order of cars rolling off the grid in reverse of yesterdays order, there were many fast cars with good Saturday finishes already recorded starting up front, including the Premature Accelerators, their nemesis from Saturday: Victorious Secret Racing, Dazed and Confused, IPF Racing, and MiElan Racing to name a few. Before the racers had even logged 3 laps the RBankRacing.com CRX was out; The replacement axle had not been up to the task at hand. Who WAS up to the task at hand was the Guarino-Watson Racing BMW, rocketing up to the lead from a 21st starting position by the 30-minute mark. They were closely pursued by the Ludicrous Speed MR2, the #785 Hole Lotta Laps Toyota Supra, and the GMS Racing RX7. The Victorious Secret BMW had dropped to 5th leading the Premature Accelerators in 6th while MiElan’s Miata had moved up to an impressive 7th from out of the top 25 starters. Team Misfire’s #773 Civic had P8 followed by the BMW 325is’ of Junk in the Trunk’s (#550) and Bavarian Moustache Werks (BMW #662) in P9 and 10.
With the race barely an hour old, the CYR BMW was on the back of a rope, towed in with a stuck wide-open throttle, perhaps the result of contact with BMW BMW #662 (did you follow that?) which was soon seen on pit row for a front-end alignment. The Whole Lotta Laps #785 also was in for a costly PUY penalty from their 4th place position. MiElan also visited pit row out of 5th place to change their front tires and take fuel before the pits were closed for the quiet hour between 11AM and 12AM in their Miata. The Misfire #773 Honda Civic also pitted out of 7th place before the track went cold.
When the field went back to green at 12:04 it did not take long for pit row to get busy again with Junk in the Trunk pitting from P4, Crank Yankers, Udder Chaos, IPF, GMS, Ludicrous Speed, GorillaSticker’s #516 EC class BMW 318ti, and Victorious Secret from P5 all coming in. During the quiet hour, Race Control had reviewed some video and found the #162 Ludicrous Speed had hit the #960 Scribeworks Motorsport Volvo before the quiet hour and they were subsequently black-flagged out of 3rd place soon after the green flag flew. The next cars to pit as a ½ hour into the race restart loomed were the GWR #991 out of 1st and the 2nd place Premature Accelerators Miata, moving the #318 TRMotorsports BMW 318is to the lead for the first time on Sunday.
The #550 Junk in the Trunk was suffering driveline problems and had been retired from P4 just after the restart while the GMS #556 (with a splitter full of grass as a result of an off-track excursion) had pitted with overheating problems (go figure) and had to be push started off pit road. The next contender to suffer a problem was the #662 Bavarian Moustache Werks when a lot of smoke was spotted emanating from the BMW on the back straight, the victim of a cracked head with water leaking from the exhaust tailpipes and the intake manifold. The day was not to get any better for the GMS #556 either as their car was seen pulling off the course near a flagger’s stand. A small fire had been observed under the dash and the driver wisely did not attempt to make pit road. Once the car had rolled to a stop, flames were seen engulfing the entire engine compartment. The alert corner worker immediately had the fire out, but the car was retired from the race as a precaution even after it fired back up to be loaded on the trailer.
Troubles for some of the frontrunners from Saturday’s race were not over: Some 30 minutes later yet another red flag was brought out as the BMTRBLU #187 dumped a significant amount of oil on the track entering turn 1 after the main straight. The red flag was withdrawn as soon as the cleanup crew was onsite, but the field was kept under caution for over a half hour. The BMWs of GWR #991 pitted from P1 and the #318 TRMotorsports pitted from 2nd place with the #318 taking the lead by virtue of a slightly quicker stop. The Ludicrous Speed MR2 elected to stay out and held on to 3rd place. Once back to green flag racing the GWR 325is quickly retook the lead.
Most all the front-running cars had either pitted by now or had withdrawn from the contest with an hour and a half to go resulting in quite the shakeup behind the top 3 podium cars. MiElan was also struggling in P4, pitting multiple times in a short period of time with brake issues. Victorious Secret’s #177 moved up from P5 as a result and the #516 GorillaSticker, the #117 Premature Accelerators, Tuna No Crust’s Integra, and the Mercedes #427 from Two Brothers Racing all followed suit as the Miata dropped position after position. It was not to be their day after running as high as 3rd.
In the end, it was GWR’s BMW taking home the overall win with TRMotorsports #318 in 2nd. Despite resetting their FTD from Saturday with a blistering 1:42.991 clean lap (skipping a 1:43 lap entirely) the Ludicrous Speed Toyota MR2 could “only” manage a 3rd place finish and occupied the final podium position. The MR2 was consistently the fastest car on the track, but an extra pit stop killed their chances for the win. Once again, Victorious Secret and Premature Accelerators (PA) found themselves next to each other at the checkers, this time with the BMW #177 in 4th and the Miata in 5th. Both had improved on their fine finishes on Saturday of 8th and 7th respectively. The EC class GorillaSticker BMW secured 6th dropping a position to the PA Miata late in the race.
Seventh place went to the Two Brothers Racing Mercedes 190E with Tuna No Crust’s Integra in P8 leading the Dazed and Confused Mustang in P9 and the #181 Saturn SC2 of CB Racing in 10th. Kosi Racing’s Miata and the Udder Chaos Neon both pipped the Shitbox Racing #606 BMW for P11 and P12 during the last 15 minutes while LogDog Motorsports Civic gained 14th position and the HellKitty #52 Dodge Neon bumped the Hole Lotta Laps #785 Supra to 16th place.
As the first of the two “fire sale pricing” races (the next being Thompson Speedway’s 12-hour the very next weekend, Sept 1st), most if not all the drivers agreed it was a fun track to compete on and they can’t wait to go back. The teams packed up and headed home, several of them vowing stronger runs at Pitt or Road America coming up. Most of the staff headed home as well to prepare for the Thompson race, but first, there was a little matter down the road that had to be taken care of and you will hear about it. Trust me.
Race Images by Bill Strong