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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I hope no one minds if I take up a bunch of space but I thought folks would like a wrap up of the TGSI racing season.

Our 2003 racing season was both a winning season… and frustrating season. Our goal was to win the SCCA runoffs in E-Production (240Z) and regional championships in GT2 (280Z), GT4 (Opel GT) and F-Production (Opel GT)… we got half way there.

The season started with a double National at Phoenix International Raceway. When we unloaded the handling on our E-Production car was JUNK. We spent 2 test days setting up the car at Buttonwillow Raceway Park… and it was all wrong. Right from the first session in Phoenix we were working on the suspension. By qualifying time we were still way off and qualified in the back of the pack. More adjustments made it better, but no better than a mid pack finish for the first race. More adjusting before the second race qualifying and the car was much better. We qualified 4th. More adjusting before the race and the car was even better. Then, on the second lap I went under the 3rd place car to pass on a hairpin turn… down to 1rst gear to make the turn and passed into third. When I grabbed 2nd gear… the half-shaft broke. We went home with very few points and way behind in the championship.

The next race was at California Speedway for a Regional GT2 race. Yahoo… that’s a fast track. No drama here. We won here going away.

Next was another National (E-Production) at Willow Springs. I “claim” to “own” Willow Springs. This was our chance to “blow their doors off”. We had our potential biggest sponsor of the year there (FLUIDYNE) because we knew we would shine there. An ignition problem killed us during the 20 minute qualifying session and we started last on the field. Not to worry… I “own Willow”. The race started and I was passing everything… moving to the front. By lap 7 I had the leaders in sight. By lap 8 I was moving to the rear… the handling had gone off. In the end I finished next to last. After the race we found that the left front tire had blistered badly and 1/3 of the tire was running on cord. I guess I literally drove the tires off. The reality was there was something wrong in the suspension that we had to figure out.

Next was double regional. We spent so much time working on our National car (E-Production) that we decided to pass on the F-Production regional championship. So we only ran the GT2. We again won going away… both races.

In April there was another double National at Buttonwillow Raceway Park. By now we new that our season championship was “shot”… no chance at the championship. We convinced ourselves that as far as the “Runoffs” are concerned it didn’t matter who was fastest at the beginning of the season… it mattered who’s fastest now. After the Willow Springs race doing “money no object” stuff to the E-Production car. We spent every spare moment… and every spare (and not spare) dollar on the car. A test day on the Friday before the race to “dial it in” and we would be ready. We started the test day at 8:00 A.M and after several test sessions, spring changes, shock settings, etc we were down to a couple more fine tune things to try. The car was really fast, and we were under lap record time... right up until the crank broke at the flywheel. We had spare everything for the car… engine, transmission, clutch, suspension… everything but a spare flywheel that was destroyed when it wallowed around in the bell-housing. That ended our E-Production season.

For the remainder of the GT2 races we were virtually un-contested. We won all but one of the remaining races. We would have won that race except that we used old tires to save “bucks” ($850/set)… we had such a point lead that no one could catch us so we saved the bucks and finished second for the one race. In the end we won our 3rd consecutive GT2 championship.

Our GT4 and F-Production effort had suffered greatly because of our efforts on the E-Production car. We had “passed” on F-Production all together. The plan had been to use the year to do development of a “killer” Opel GT4 engine… and we were starting late. We were already a bunch of points behind because we had missed races, but don’t misunderstand… we still intended to win the championship. While we don’t really consider it a challenge to win the regional championship with a national level car and driver... it’s another matter when you start out missing 3 races. We would have to dominate from now on. We still need to do the engine development for the GT4 car so we stuffed our new Opel GT4 engine in our “national” F-Production GT. (Most of you know this car as the “Fastest Opel in the West” and the car that had previously won the Area 11 National championship.)

Using our F-Production car with the GT4 engine we entered the May double regional. We won both races… but not without pain. The valve springs were a tad too soft and we “dinged” the valves.

Since we were still after a championship we ran the next few races on our F-Production head and won them all… still in GT-4. More importantly we had gained the lead in the championship.

For the Sept double regional we had a fresh engine and new GT4 head. The engine was making better power than ever before. We ran away and hid from everyone… until the last lap. A broken motor mount allowed the engine to rock… and crack the oil line fitting at the oil pressure sender. Oil slowly leaked out of the engine and just before taking the checkered flag for the win… the engine went boom. I pushed the car across the finish line to finish second. But I missed the second race… and fell behind in the points again.

The championship came down to the last double regional in October. I had to win both races and my nearest competition in the championship had to finish 3rd or worse in at least one of the races. We got a new engine ready barely in time for the race. By barely in time, I mean that… the engine was started for the first time around midnight the Friday before the race. I missed the Sat morning practice to finish off the loose ends from the engine installation and to put more break in time on the engine. I used the 20 minute qualifying session to finish breaking in the engine. Since I never ran the engine over 6000 RPM during qualifying I started the race from the back of the pack.

To make matters worse a guy showed up with an ex-John Olsen Datson 510 GT4 car. To most of you that doesn’t mean any thing, but to me I knew… this car was one of the fastest GT4s in the country. John Olsen had won National division championships in this car and had gotten him “podium finishes” at the “Runoffs”. To win the championship I had to beat this car… second place wouldn’t do. The ‘510 was on “the pole” I was way back.

The race started and I moved up quick… passing cars in the slower classes but the ‘510 was getting away while I worked my way through the traffic. Regional races are short “sprint” races… about 50 miles long. By the time I had moved up to 2nd place in GT4 I didn’t think I could catch… and pass the ‘510. I knew I was closing on him… about a second a lap, but I didn’t know if I had enough time left. I just drove my ass off. My crew counted down the laps to me on the radio. With 3 laps to go the ‘510 still had about 4 seconds on me. With 1 ½ laps to go, he “bobbled” in the “esses” and I closed up to within about 5 car lengths from him. Now he was driving his ass off and I didn’t close any on him through the twisty stuff. But when we went through “Talladega” (a high speed foot on the floor “pucker up” sweeping turn) I started closing on him. “Talladega” opens up onto “the back straight”. Between the middle of Talladega and the end of the “back straight” I had made up the 5 car lengths and passed the ‘510 before going into the next turn. Now I had to hold him off. I drove the next twisty section a little conservatively because I didn’t want to hand him back the race with a mistake… he was “all over me” trying to get back by. When we got to the “front straight” I pulled out 3 or 4 car lengths on the ‘510 and we got the 1 lap to go sign. Now I knew I had the “killer HP” we had been hoping for. By the next time I got through “Talladega” and the “back straight” I had a comfortable lead and brought the Fastest Opel in the West home to take the checkered flag. I had what I needed… the win, and my nearest competition finished third. Now all I needed to do was win the last race of the season on Sunday.

Going into Sunday, I was pretty confident. I had the HP we had been looking for and had just beaten a national caliber car. As it turned out the Sunday race was more of a Sunday drive. My closest competition “blew up” during qualifying Sunday morning and didn’t make the race Sunday afternoon. So for all intent and purposes all I had to do was stay out of trouble and finish the race. I intentionally started last. I didn’t want to get taken out by any of the “first turn bozos”. I didn’t even try to pass anyone for the first couple of laps. I waited until everyone got strung out and then moved up picking off cars one at a time. By about ½ race I was in third. I was just behind the second place guy, so I just put it on “cruse control” and waited until the last part of the race to make pass. I finished second and the ‘510 finished first… but I WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP.

As I started this off, it was both a good season and a frustrating season. Even though we won 2 championships that was only half of the goal. Even though we got our GT4 Opel engine where we want it, we spent far too much time and money on the other stuff to get our GT4 tube frame Opel GT finished. I’ve spared you a lot of other frustrations we had during the season… and there were a lot. So all in all, the season was not satisfying at all.

No time to worry about that now. We’re getting ready for next season and it starts early out here in the West. We’re going after the E-Production and GT-4 National championships… including a win at the “Runoffs” next year (04). As I’m writing this it’s New Years Eve for one more hour. (Don’t ask). We leave for the “Snowbird” double National in 2 weeks (14 Jan 04).

I’ll keep you updated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have committed a cardinal sin for racers. I forgot to thank the folks who helped me out… so I’ll use a little more space and correct the “sin”. I won’t bore you with a list of sponsors, but there are a couple of people that are far more important than sponsors that I need to thank.

First and foremost, thank you to the folks at the Opel GT Source. If it weren’t for Gill and Dennis I wouldn’t be able to race an Opel… and I suspect that a lot of others wouldn’t be driving Opels either. They are a toll free call away for the quality parts we need to keep our Opels going.

The second person I need to thank is Bob Legere (Rally Bob). When it comes to performance he probably knows more about Opel stuff than any one else on earth. Bob is always willing to share his hard learned “secrets” and my Opel runs up front because of many of his ideas. Thanks Bob
 

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thanks for the report its good to hear about Opel racing stuff

i am sure a lot of others feel the same way but don't post

good Job

Davegt27
 

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I love to hear Opel racing success stories, and hope to be able to tell some myself this coming season...

I agree, ogt.com is a lifesaver to GT enthusiasts. Very few people where I live remember the baby vette, and Nobody around here knows what makes one desirable, especially for racing!

Question: Why and/or how does a crank break at the flywheel? I've never heard of such a catastrophe.:eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If you think about it, all of the torque goes through the crank at the rear main bearing... so that is the highest stress area in the crank. I suspect that there was an internal flaw at that point in the crank we had. Then, under the racing stress, it broke off at the junction of the rear main and the flywheel mounting flange. "Funny" thing was, the engine was still running just fine... it just wouldn't move foreward. Before we took everything apart we thought it was a clutch.
 

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So Bob, with 2004 being a quiet year for you (just going for the 2 National Championships this year, right ?), what does your 2004 National race schedule look like for the GT4 car ?

Bill D.
 

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Is it possible to post this season's schedule? Or at least for the tracks in and around soCal? I'd love to come out and support you guys if not physically or financially at least in spirit. I'd love to get some videos of GTs racing. But not having a press pass will probably relegate me to the stands and distant views of the action.
 

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The SCCA in my neck of the woods is pretty easy about letting you in at their events. You sign a waver and pay anywhere from nothing to $5. You can walk around the pits down to the grid...There are some places you can't go at times but they are pretty cool around here. Take all the pics you want. Talk to the drivers....we love to talk about our cars:) You might want to come out and work a race....best seat in the house. It gets in your blood and they are super nice people. Maybe if they where nasty I would be about 8K richer and not have a half done race car:D
 
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