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Submitted by Bob Perritt, NOBMWCCA member

Where to start? Well? Um? The Glen is a great place to be and a better place to race. BMW HPDE and Club Race events are always a good time, but being at the Glen was really special. This being my first time driving at this track, I had a different approach to prepare. We usually like to prepare for a new track by finding a club HPDE event at that track 30-60 days prior to the club race. During the HPDE event we get video and data of #57's likes and dislikes of the track, get the suspension setup to match some of the track's many changes, and feel how she handles with my driving style on a new track. But as it turned out I wasn't able to prepare that way for the Glen: We weren't able to drive at a prior HPDE event.











Pictured: Justin and Jeff at the winners podium with the beautiful Turner ladies, O-Fest 2013.

Plan B: Review the map of the track. (We carry a hard copy of most tracks and times that our class runs in our trailer.) I should be able to close my eyes and visually drive that track without being behind the wheel. Next, we download this track to our race simulator and drive. Sometimes (most of the time), I take vacation days at work so I can practice on the simulator. LOL! Once we get a feel for the track, we try to find sections of the new track that are similar to other tracks we have driven. We find U-Tube videos that really add to this training process or talk to someone who has experience there.

So, our first time on track there was the Friday before the weekend races. Practice was actually very short sessions, so we didn't learn as much as I was hoping to learn. Well, some time is better than no time on track. The data and video was good to review and to see where #57 liked and didn't like the track–or, at least, where I thought she liked it (The simulator only does so much). Well, I've got to tell you: . . Boy, this is a fun track–elevation changes, off camber and fast! When not on the track, we were able to get to all the turns and watch how those cars set up for their apexes, braking, and throttling. It's so hard to watch someone else on the track; that's the hardest thing for me–watching! But important!

This track has eleven turns, 3.4 miles of fast with virtually no run-off. We were able to keep her on the track for practices and qualifying–no spins. Front straightaway going into a right hander, Turn 1, especially at the start of a race, is a blast! Not sure how many cars can run wide at Turn 1, but you need to sort that out by the time you get to the esses–Turns 2,3 and 4. We are full throttle and in fifth gear through the esses; we almost need another gear for the straightaway that follows (or to change the rear end to fit the track). You are headed to the "Bus Stop", as they call it. The first time through I left some time there, but I did figure out that you can carry a lot of speed, if you have grip! Turn 5 is a fast right-hander and when wet not fun (See next section for more details).

In preparing for a track, we talk about sections, as you need to break down a track into sections and master each of those sections. If you goof up a turn in a section, you probably gave up a second of your lap time. I have seen drivers (rookies) try to pick that time up before they finish that
section. The outcome usually has bad results. The "Boot" can be one of those sections–Turns 6,7,8 and 9. When you do well coming through Turn 9, you end up with so much speed that you need to tap brakes to set your suspension and weight transfer to continue full throttle thru Turn 10,
a left-hander. That is one turn that has run off, if needed. Then you have Turn 11 into the front straight. When you come into the front straight, you can only wonder about all that racing history at the Glen; it is so cool! Watkins Glen, the town, is fun, too. Good food, good people, and, well, micro-breweries–they are always good.

Now for the rest of the story. My crew has nicknamed me "Crash," after that event. We needed frame work, but that wasn't going to happen at the track (Plan C), so our weekend racing was over pretty fast. I had a great start into the race; we picked up six spots in three laps. For us, that was great, as we have the least amount of HP in our class. At least this is my excuse to convince my better half I need a built 3.2 engine. (Maybe you can call her on my behalf?) Number 57 was amazing. It could have been the song. Radar Love, the crew played on my headset for a brief second, but she liked the track. I liked the track.Everything felt good.

Lap Four was looking good: Entering Turn 1, being full throttle through Turn 2, setting up for Turn 3 is just turning the wheel an inch. Then it happened: Left rear tire lost grip. We ended up head-on at 100 mph into the guardrail wall to the left. We got the car straight and limped back to the paddock somehow. I tried to find a spot to pull off but that wasn't found. This is something I will look for prior to a race event in future–pull-off areas. The Glen really only has two safe ones and I already had passed one by the crash site after Turn 4. After looking the car over, we saw tie rod failure. Reviewing the video, we think we saw a wet spot on track that we got into. We had other drivers view this with some of the same conclusions. I look to eliminate one-by-one what went wrong, and I start with the driver, thinking driver error first, because one needs to learn from every situation.

The good news is she was ready 3 weeks later for my next race at Mid Ohio. (Oh, I forgot to mention I wasn't hurt, but it's a heck of a way to test safety equipment). That Friday at Mid-Ohio was a great practice day. She felt great and drove well all weekend. It only took a few practice sessions to get confidence back, trusting my car, and the work that was done. We really have great talent in this sport–drivers to the workers and everything in between. Thanks!

See you at the track, Bob