I think I promised TTAC’s readers that I would put a whipping on their former Editor-In-Chief. Well, that didn’t happen. Not quite. In fact, the old man came within sixteen seconds of winning the whole thing. He just wasn’t counting on Randy Pobst to betray him.
Twenty-three cars took the start for AER’s first-ever race. The “media car”, which was an E30 325i, qualified fourth, and Travis Okulski took the start, to be followed by Jack and then Randy Pobst. My car was the #42 BMW E30 325i which qualified fifth. It was raining at the start. Travis dropped to eighth as our #42 car jammed up to second place. The #902 BMW E30 of Duct Tape Motorsports quickly dropped the field. An early safety-car incident and some pitstops allowed Travis to get to third, but by the time he finished his stint he was in sixth place with my teammates in #42 still in a strong second.
During Jack’s stint, he took the car to third place and unlapped himself against us by four laps in 96 minutes, making it a three-E30 race for first. He was far enough ahead of fourth place that he could take a three-minute pitstop to hand over to visiting pro Randy Pobst without losing third. But on our pitstop rotation, #42 fell to fourth place as I got in.
For the next hour, Randy and I diced back and forth as we used our shared radio channel to talk smack and share track tips. I’d never raced the Lightning course before but by the time he and I pitted I was doing pretty well. And when Randy knocked off the muffler by cutting the course short at 1 it looked like we might take the third spot. But what happened instead was that there was a mechanical and a crash ahead of us, putting Randy in first and us in second.
It looked for a while like the #1 car was a sure bet to win first place and I believe I heard Jack saying something about how this would be the greatest victory in the history of endurance racing. But just as he was simultaneously running his mouth and stuffing it full of BBQ chips, the #1 car had a contact incident that cost it two laps and placed it within vulnerable striking distance of the #901 E36 BMW of Cardorks, which had been making a strong run through the field into second place.
Time for final driver changes. At the 45 minute to go mark, I was back in the #42 which was holding a steady fourth place. Travis Okulski was in the #1 with a 42 second lead. And in the #901 was… Randy Pobst! Having knocked the muffler off the #1 car and then subsequently received some drama about it from a certain long-haired caveman-looking journalist, Randy switched to the #901. Resetting fast lap again and again, he chased down Okulski. With 18 minutes left to go, the gap was down to 2.7 seconds. But in the very next lap, Okulski had to yield to the charging E36. Still, he had a three-lap safety margin to third place, which was held by the very quick W124 300E of EZ Riders, seen here.
When the smoke cleared, it was
- Cardorks #901 E36
- AER #1 Media Car E30
- EZ Riders #300 300E
- CD4 #42 E30
- Rally Baby #24 E36
Big props to the Rally Baby guys who brought eleven cars to the event and held a great party.
Due to the Lewis-class system used to classify the cars, there were three podiums.
Class C, won by the “old guys” at Rally Baby:
Class B, won by EZ Riders. You can find me on the second step of the podium:
Class A, won by Cardorks. You can see Randy standing between the second and first step on the podium since he drove both the first and second place cars:
A great time was had by all. Tomorrow we’ll do it all again, starting in the order we finished today — and who knows, this time we might be able to take home the win for TTAC!