I had three goals at the beginning of 2014, my first year as a road racer:
- Get my Competition License
- Complete 3 race weekends
- Run the American Road Race of Champions
The ARRC at Road America is considered one of the premier events in club racing across the nation – the Runoffs of the non-Runoffs-eligible classes, if you will.
My first time on track was our first qualifying session on Friday. I managed to set the fast time in ITC for both qualifying sessions that day, putting myself on pole for the race the next morning just ahead of the local driver to beat Will Perry. The car was handling well, I could put it where I wanted, but the brakes weren’t inspiring much confidence. We spent most of Friday afternoon into the evening and night working on them, unfortunately to not much of an improvement.
The ITC Championship race was first thing Saturday morning, along with a handful of other classes, all in Group 1. The start was uneventful, everyone weary of cold tires – I vividly remember being able to see my breath as we took the green. Perry and I settled into a race pace and ran nearly the entire nose to tail with no position changes, myself in front.
My car, the newer of the two with better suspension but a heavier minimum weight, excelled on the front half of the track up to Turn 7. Coming out of 7, Perry’s car – an older car equipped with a 5 speed (instead of the 4-spd in mine) and light weight – pulled harder and ran better up the back straight.
I knew he was pacing me for a run down the back straight on the last lap, so I was doing everything I could to conserve brakes. When the white flag flew, sure enough, he tucked into the draft and makes his move down the back straight headed into the final corners:
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It was a hard-fought and exciting win, a perfect end to a great season with the ITC Civic.