By: Jeff Littrell
The Time Trials and Race at Laguna Seca were yet another example of a successful collaboration with the Alfa Romeo Owners of Southern California. The weather held beautifully over the resplendent track that is Laguna Seca and everyone enjoyed a fun and exciting weekend.
There were no major incidents, except a Corvette that brushed the tire wall coming out of turn 11 and an Alfa Romeo 164 that burst a cooling hose, spun and backed into the wall at turn 6. Other than that, the weekend just provided the perfect opportunity to test man and machine on the challenging course in beautiful Monterey.
Overall, the turn-out was large but the FCA contingent was a bit small. We realize that details on the track events have been coming a bit late but were working to correct that via inserts in Sempre Ferrari. Even so, just look at the Calendar of Events and youll see that weve got our track dates nailed down from now until November so reserve the dates and plan to join us. The next track event will be at Las Vegas Raceway on June 10th and 11th.
I cant over-emphasize how there is something for everyone at these events. Your Ferrari was meant to be driven and you really ought to bring it to one of our track events to let it stretch its legs a little. If you arent ready to run on the track with other cars all around you then sign-up for the Introductory group. With that, youll be able to get on the track behind a pace car that will show you the proper racing line at something near 7/10ths speed. This is an exhilarating experience that offers very little risk because no passing is allowed and speed is controlled. It only costs $60 to run two days and it includes some limited classroom instruction. No safety equipment is required beyond good factory seat belts and a helmet. If you dont have a helmet the Alfa club can rent you one so theres no excuse not to come out.
At Laguna there were a number of Ferraris in the Intro Group, including a yellow 308 GTS, a red 308 GTS, and a red 308 GT4.
The Time Trials are the next step up. Here there are three different run groups to help the novices learn at a reasonable pace but still allow more experienced drivers to get in good, clean laps. Speed is not regulated - you go as fast as you dare - but passing is limited to the straights so risk is lessened. Participants is this group get practice sessions all day Saturday and on Sunday morning and then get to race against the clock Sunday afternoon.
Having run in many non-timed track events previously, I really enjoy the competition that is brought out by having the formal Time Trials. In this event I finished second in my class and Im looking forward to becoming number one! Time trialing requires a fire extinguisher and a 5-point harness, as FCA member Roger Moore painfully discovered when he went to get his TR teched at the track and didnt have one. Im really sorry for Roger but there a couple lessons to be learned here. First, we are very concerned about your safety. Second, read the description of the events carefully - we always list the required safety equipment in Sempre Ferrari. Third, get you car technically inspected BEFORE you come to the track so that you dont get any surprises. I had Ferrari of Beverly Hills inspect my car the week before the event and they noticed that I had a worn front wheel bearing. Because I went in early, I had enough time to get it fixed before the event.
Mounting a harness and fire bottle in your car is not difficult to do. There are great bars available that bolt between the factory shoulder harness mounts for most cars (such as 308s, 328s, and GT4s). Hopefully, well do a Tech Tip on these in the near future.
While there were four FCA members participating in the Time Trials, only Arthur Trejo had the guts to bring his Ferrari. The rest of us are guilty of letting our Ferraris languish in the garage while we beat the crap out of something less interesting. I commend Arthur and hope to build a Ferrari track car of my own "real soon now."
The results of the Time Trials for the FCA members are on page 7. If you look at them youll be able to see that I did exactly the wrong thing while Arthur was perfect. The idea behind getting good times is to build up to a great lap. Your 4th lap should be your fastest because usually youll try too hard on your 5th. Unfortunately, the field of cars in my time trial group was too large and I cracked under pressure. I was the last car out in my group, with about eight cars in front of me, spaced fairly evenly and theoretically in order of speed.
On my warm-up lap I was taking it easy to get a rhythm and allow lots of space between me and the car in front of me but before I had reached even turn 5 on my warm-up lap, the first car of the group was in my rear-view mirror. Not wanting to slow him up, I began pushing it too early - thats why my first lap was my fastest. He got by me at the end of that first lap but by then I had caught up to the Datsun 260Z in front of me. He considerately pointed me by right after the corkscrew, coming into turn 9. Normally you arent supposed to pass there but I figured it was OK since he was waving me by.
Well, I passed him but my concentration was all screwed up and I over-cooked it into turn 10 and had to drive off the track into the dirt. I quickly got back on the track but the 260Z passed me back again. When I came into the pits later the driver of the Z-car jokingly asked "Whats the matter, cant stand prosperity, huh?" Well to make a long story short, I spent two laps catching back up to him and trying to get my concentration back and then passed him again on the front straight (a proper place) at the end of lap 4. I can blame part of my poor distribution on the time schedule Sunday but there really is no excuse. I ended up 2nd in class and not very happy with the way I handled the situation.
On the racing front, at this event we finally had an FCA member partake in the races! Unfortunately, he didnt bring one of his Ferraris. Marshall Buck raced his Corvette and finished in 3rd place. I didnt stick around for Sundays race but Saturdays qualifying had a great duel for 2nd place. First was dominated by a well-prepared Porsche 911 race car but second was between the infamous "DuneStang" and a wickedly fast Alfa Romeo 1600 spyder. I am told that this little spyder is driven by a local priest named Tor McPartland who used to race in Vintage events until he was kicked out for being too aggressive!
Imagine if you will the contrast between an ugly home-made contraption buggy with a wrought-iron front grill and this gorgeous little white Alfa spyder. The Alfa started out in 4th I think but before long he had passed Marshalls Corvette to take 3rd and was soon dicing it up with the big, powerful Dunestang for 2nd. I couldnt believe my eyes but the little Alfa passed the Dunestang and began opening up quite a lead on him until suddenly, on the next-to-last lap, he slowed on the front straight with a broken transmission. My heart sank for the little Alfa that could. If only the race had been one lap shorter.... Oh well.
|Member ||Class ||Lap 1 ||Lap 2 ||Lap 3 ||Lap 4 ||Lap 5 |
|Jeff Littrell ||N ||1:49.863 ||1:57.767 ||1:51.001 ||1:51.030 ||1:50.903 |
|Paul Porteous ||N ||1:54.788 ||1:53.484 ||1:53.951 ||1:52.786 || |
|Arthur Trejo ||N ||1:58.891 ||1:56.832 ||1:55.539 ||1:55.015 ||1:55.622 |
|Phil Zercher ||O ||2:01.074 ||2:02.290 ||2:01.852 ||2:01.136 ||2:00.554 |