What a race week!
Personal best ET of 7.49 seconds @ 182.26 mph and the Modified Race Champion
This race team is so proud of our recent performance, the reliability of this little 13B rotary engine combination and very grateful to all of the guys who helped out with the between round maintenance plus the many fans for their generous and kind words of support. I am truly humbled by the outpouring of encouragement. Thank you!
Following some additional testing which produced great results, we went into this event with a lot of confidence. Something we have not had in a long time. It was really strange to have the car ready a week ahead of the event and not have to "thrash" down to the last minute. I even had the time to wax the car front to back, top to bottom with the terrific Turbowax products.
We elected not to test that car on Friday because I did not want to show my hand plus I wanted my best motor "fresh" for Saturdays qualifying. Knowing we would have some stiff competition, I felt this was the best strategy.
On Saturday morning as we readied the car for the first round of qualifying, while warming up the engine, I noticed that it would lean out for a short time after revving the engine. I searched for a vacuum leak, checked fuel pressure, checked all the injectors but couldn't find anything wrong. The call went out for qualifying. After my burn out while backing up, I noticed fluid on the track and shut it down. Oil and water. I had cracked the front housing but why? I remember thinking to myself, are my problems really fixed and is the combination not as good as I thought? With little time between rounds, we had to swap out to the spare motor.
Thanks to all the guys who lent a hand. During the disassembly, we discovered the reason why the motor failed. The fuel pump had worked itself loose, the belt slipped on the pulleys and leaned out causing it to detonate and beak. Unfortunately, we were not able to make the second round in time so we were on the outside looking in with 9 cars in the 8 car field. We were the 10th car.
By the time we were called for the final qualifying session, it was dusk, the track and air was cool and the density altitude was at just 810 feet. In other words, good air to make power. With the same tune up as I ran in testing, I blasted down the 1/4 mile to a personal best 7.496 ET and 182.26 MPH disposing of fellow RX7 driver Melvin Santana in short order. The car was spinning the tires and dancing ever so slightly all the way down the track. I almost backed out at about the 1000 ft mark but stayed in it and bingo, What a ride! It felt good.
With only one data log to review, I elected to change the tune slightly by adding a little fuel for Sunday's elimination rounds. We qualified in the #3 position which meant I would be up against Paul Efantis in the #2 position in the second round.
Sunday looked like it was going to be a great day for racing. The fans were everywhere and the track looked like it was going to be in really good shape. My first round was against Brendon Alvarez in a '83 Starlet. Knowing I had a faster car, I did not want to red light so I was conservative on the tree and won the round with a 7.616 at 174.75 mph.
Round two was HUGE for me. I have been up against Paul a few times in the past and remember clearly, like it was yesterday, when he owned the tree. I did not forget this and new I had to be on my game if I was going to win the round. With a slight tire pressure adjustment and small clutch adjustment, we both did our burn outs and that's when I focused. As soon as both top bulbs were on, I went right in, staged and stood on the gas pedal as hard as I could then when I noticed the tree begin to fall, I let the clutch go and off I went for another round. The car went STRAIGHT down the center of the track and I did not see Paul at all the entire length of the track but only won by a mere 0.2141 seconds. Thank goodness I cut a good 0.056 light to Paul's 0.080 light
The crowd went wild from what I was told and at the end of the track, my guys came down and were yelling and screaming like we had just conquered Mt Everest then proceeded to receive several bear hugs from everyone. I asked my guys, what did I run and what was the MPH? They told me they were so excited they didn't remember and were so happy we won the round. Wow, what a feeling that was. It was a huge win for us (probably the biggest of my career to date) and that exchange will forever be engraved in my memory.
Now, I had to focus on the final. This final round match up between Carlos Perez in his red RX7 and myself was EXACTLY the same as our 2005 final round. That being the only win for me in the Modified category with the brand new car at that time.
All we did to the car was adjust the clutch deck height and filled the tank with fuel to prepare for the final round.
Staying focused and not concerned who was in the next lane but remember saying to myself, don't throw this away by going RED. I did my usual burnout and staged and away we went. Again, I did not see Carlos at all and when I pulled the parachute for the final time, I knew I had won the event. Again, just about everyone I knew in the pits came tearing down to the end of the track, honking there horns, yelling and jumping up and down like there pants were on fire. What a sight to see!
I have to say thank you to all the volunteers who made this win so much fun. Even though I broke my good motor, busted our tails changing it out between qualifying rounds, missed the second round of qualifying, we still managed to overcome and take a couple of names in the process. As this win has sunk in, I have to say it has washed away all of the agony I went through in 2006 and has me totally fired up about this 2007 season and championship. It feels really good!
Just look at how happy and jacked up these guys were! Wow, this is so cool! L-R: Russ, Pito, Victor, Dee, Tito & Eduard
To all of the fans who personally expressed there congratulations at the track and the MANY who have emailed me, again I say: I am honored and humbled by you outpouring of support. THANK YOU!
Finally, I have put together all of my time slips from this event to show the world and prove to everyone that this team has a very competitive car that has the power, reliability and consistency to win races. Even thought we used a motor that had been used for testing and to run the NOPI season opener here in Texas a few weeks ago, it had what needed to be reliable and be a winner, even though I detuned it a little for the elimination rounds.
To all at Mazda, Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development, Idemitsu, NGK, Mickey Thompson, Innovate Motorsports, Powertrain Controls Solutions, Decal Plus, Kilo Racing and Tito Chassis Shop, Thank you for your support.
Check out some other great pictures from our fans: http://www.rx7s.com/tandrracing/events/moroso_april_2007/
Look for us at the next event April 21-22 in Richmond, VA. We will be ready to turn it up a notch or two and do battle with the best. See you then.
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