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Submitted by Brian Nawrocki

September 22, 2012
Thursday started out unloading a wrecked racecar shell from its slumber in my trailer/extra garage space, so I could help friends get their race cars to the track. A nice country drive towing an E30, Sebastian, took me through the beautiful Ohio countryside from Vermillion to Lexington. I even got to watch an old diesel locomotive taking tourists down one of the many tracks I crossed on my adventure. Then, drive home to rest for Friday, my second race of the season, and first ever OktoberFest.

September 23, 2012
Wake up and go get Joe, my sole crew member and crew chief. Then I'm off to my brother's house to pick up a full water buffalo-hide executive-edition interior from an '85 745i. This is done, so Joe can hawk it to a pleasant gentleman and his wife who drove all the way from Oklahoma, only to procure the interior and place it in a 325,000-mile 5-speed conversion M102-fired E23, then turn around and head back home. Now that's a dedicated E23 Lover.

Get to Mid-Ohio about 9 a.m. Practice is in an hour and a half followed by qualifying at 11:30. Roxanne, aka #192, and I have gotten intimate once before at Beaver Run for the PVGP earlier this summer, she brought me home ahead of my competitor in the only race I had class competition. Roxanne came adorned in her usual Bent Splitter Racing colors of safety orange and white, adorned in her #192 BMWCCA Club Racing Labels. It was time to go get jiggy with it. Roxanne and I qualified third in a field of nine including Than and Dan—the former is chasing this year's Spec E36 national championship, the latter is driving last year's Spec E36 National champion's car. Pole for this race was 1:42.7; I qualified with a 1:44.2. Not bad for my second time in this seat in this car at this track.

The green flag was dropped on the back straight due to the size of the field—nearly 100 racers showed up for the event, too many for a single run group. I run group B, the slow cars, which included IS, JP, KP, Spec E36 and Spec E30. The entire field was separated by no more than 14 seconds, which made for some exciting racing within the class, and amid traffic. After swapping positions with Dan, as we came up in traffic at the keyhole, I had the inside line and traffic, he had a clear outside line, but a longer distance to travel. Dan chose wisely, I chose poorly, as he got by me on the exit from the keyhole. A couple of turns later Dan got by Than and I would be in direct contact with Than for the remainder of the race. I kept tight to Than, navigating our way through traffic. Roxanne and I had a good exit from Turn 1, which became a good run into the keyhole. "Here goes, I'm going to get Than. No!" I got into the ABS and now I'm 20 feet past where I wanted to be, riding the grass rim at the top of the keyhole as I watch a purple IS car and Than escaping from what I thought was my last chance to make my move. "Don't give up!
Get back on it!" The gap created by my braking mistake allowed me to carry more speed into Turn 7. Through the next few series of turns and by the carousel I had caught back up to the pack. A traffic jam going into the carousel was going to be my last chance to make something happen; we were going slower than usual, so I wanted to grab second gear to come off the final corner strong, something I usually don't do. That was a mistake. Powering out of the turn I shift into third—oops—make that fifth, and I finish eighth overall and third in class.

September 24, 2012
Arrive at the track and get ready for practice and qualifying. I nipped last year's Spec E36 Champion by .2
seconds to qualify second for the feature race. After this performance I was stoked for my chances. This one is for all the marbles. To the winner goes a subscription to Grassroots Motorsports and usually a sticker proclaiming "class winner." I found out at O'Fest, they pull out all the stops and upgraded to F1-style faux crystal/plexiglass trophies in the shape of the continental United States naming the event and finishing position. "Oh, how I would like to bring home that trophy!" After forgetting video for yesterday's activities I made sure to bring it today. Cars roll off grid and it's time to heat up the tires. I start my usual methods of heating up the rubber, a steady diet of tire spinning accelerations and eye-popping decelerations (easy to do with an E46 M3, not even possible to do from a roll with a 325is). I come around the carousel and get on it, coming up hard behind Than then slam on the brakes one-third of the way down the front straight. WHAM! I'm hit from behind. After a couple of laps under yellow to clean up the wrecked car I took the green/black flag and had to call it a race. My chances at a trophy will have to wait for another time. To make matters worse I was penalized for "excessive brake warming" and got probation to boot.

September 25, 2012
I got to the track and qualified third for the 90-minute enduro behind a ringer, Anthony Magagnoli's reigning NASA Spec E30 National Champ. And, he was co-driver of Than's #19 car and last year's Spec E36 champ. The smashed-in backend was held together with tin straps and sheet metal screws and a ratchet strap, but the extra drag didn't slow me down too much. I'm excited for the race.

Shortly after getting out of the car I learn of Harvey Rogers' death. Harvey was the Northern Ohio Chapter patriarch for many years and a friend. Harvey and I just had a nice discussion the night before about my incident in which he tried to console me that I was not at fault. As always, Harvey was trying to expound on his racing knowledge and share some of his wisdom: "You never know for sure what anyone is thinking, and that $#!t happens." I never thought that would be one of our final conversations. The previous night Harvey had been acknowledged for his efforts in putting together a major national event and a successful club race at O'Fest, the first time in 10+ years of being chapter president that he made an O'Fest event. Sadly it was his last. Harvey retired to his hotel room after receiving a standing ovation during the Club Racing dinner event that evening. Harvey went out with a bang, the way he would have had it. At a race track, at a racing event, with friends of the marque he loved.

After hearing the news and shedding some tears with some other race friends, I decided to get in the car and run the race anyway. After seriously reconsidering not racing due to the previous days' track events, I decided to drive anyway, as that's what Harvey would have told me to do.

I'll have no video of my first O'Fest victory in a Spec E36, only a memory of my first win. Along with that, I'll have the memory of a great president, member, and mentor to the Northern Ohio Chapter BMW Car Club of America, Harvey Rogers. Harv, I know you were beaming down that sunny Sunday on a terrific finish to an awesome event you were integral in planning. I can only hope we put on a good show for you. Thanks again for all that you did for the club for so many years. You will be sorely missed. Harv, this win was for you!