2007 rolled around with a unique challenge: There was a second black car in the driveway adorned with Cg-Lock livery, but the similarities between the cars were few. The new Cg-Lock ride was for a foreign racing surface with foreign technologies, and the season would begin with nearly a complete dearth of usable information. We decided to have fun and become moderately acclimated without getting bogged down in the details. Before the season began, we elected to run with the ESDCA, which is the Empire State Dwarf Car Association. The schedule consisted of 30+ races at 7 tracks clustered around Syracuse, NY. The schedule was published in February, which gave us plenty of time to ruminate prior to the season. We wanted to wait a few weeks into the season to debut; however the debut was pushed back even further as we had a wee bit more car maintenance to complete than we anticipated. It took us until June, but we finally headed north towards the Canadian border to begin the season.
Race #1 – 6/23 – Can-Am Speedway in LaFargeville, NY – ESDCA points event
We arrived at the track early, which meant we had our choice in the pit area. It turned out that our spot was next to the normal area for some of the Modified mega-rigs. This obstructed our view of the track entrance. The practice session was to be the first time driving the car under its own power, however Michael missed the cue as a result of the trailer obstruction and buckling in quickly was not yet a mastered science. He made it out in time for the heat line-up (barely), which meant he found himself staring at the large track and its seemingly endless straightaways while the previous race finished. This stressed the nerves, but the heat went well, even passing two cars to finish 7th/9. This instilled some confidence that would carry over into the main, yielding a 13th/17 place finish. More importantly it yielded the first payday, and the first post-race trip to Buffalo Wild Wings to “consume” the race earnings.
One of the unique and new features for this season’s schedule was the addition of two “mini-series.” These did not offer any points towards the regular season chase, but were scored separately. These were circled on the team calendar because it allowed us to maximize the race time given the hellacious travel requirements. The first was a mid-season festival, with seven races in eight days. We elected to hit the two in the latter half of the week, with extra pit support from the official team mom and team “widow.”
Race #2 – 7/6 – Brewerton Speedway in Brewerton, NY – Summer Speedweeks event
34 cars signed in for the evening’s event which meant that 4 were not going to race. A slip-up on a late restart in the heat meant a 9th/10 finish and a trip to the last chance qualifier. A strong run in the B-main yielded a 3rd place finish and a 27th place start in the A-main. It was quite a rush with 29 other cars out on the track (one that was barely more than 1/2 the size of the previous venue) and a nearly full grandstand. Michael ran a smart race and was in 16th on the final lap when a car spun coming out of turn 4. A quick tap of the brake resulted in the right front getting run over, which caused the tie rod to bend and suspension to collapse. He made it across the line, but fell back to 19th. The tow truck provided some assistance from there. It couldn’t assist us in getting the car on the trailer, which was helped by the lights being shut off for the festive fireworks display.
Race #3 – 7/7 – Fulton Speedway in Fulton, NY – Summer Speedweeks event
We thrashed most of the next day to get ready for the next night, finally finishing up about 30 minutes later than we had intended to leave for the track. The track was brutally rough, which meant no heroics in the qualifier and an 8th/10 finish. The feature was a war of attrition and many yellows. The right front spindle broke coming out of turn 4 on the last lap, which caused the car to dart for the wall. Somehow it was kept off the concrete and brought across the line. The result was a 10th place finish and another adventurous trip onto the trailer. It was not soon thereafter that a car dolly was part of the team’s tool collection. The finale for the night was the second trip to the greasy mecca that is Buffalo Wild Wings.
Because the previous two races were not logistically challenging enough, we decided to really push ourselves a mere two weeks later. Despite having run a single autocross in the season to date, we entered the SCCA National ProSolo event in Romulus, NY. Given that the ESDCA was running nearby, we brought both cars. Two cars, six trips with the trailer, it was an exhausting but fun weekend.
Race #4 – 7/21 – Canandaigua Speedway in Canandaigua, NY- ESDCA points event
The events on Saturday ran long, so Michael actually skipped his afternoon runs to get to the oval track on time. The remainder of the crew came once they had finished competing, resulting in a great cheering section. 22 cars showed up. A 4th place finish in the heat netted a 10th place starting spot for the feature. Michael was cruising along when a flip occurred right as he set the car for the turn. He averted the rollover by driving into the infield, but proceeded to beach the car in the process. This meant he had to start at the rear of the pack. He passed a handful of cars to get back to 14th place finishing position. ApplebeeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s was subject to our dirtiness for a post race meal.
It was time to “relax” a bit, so the team next hit up the track that is closest to the home base, a mere 20 minutes away. Well, at least it should have been more relaxing, but the team rushed back the morning of from NJ where they competed in the Chevy Rev It Up event the previous day.
Race #5 – 8/5 – Utica-Rome Speedway in Vernon, NY – ESDCA points event
21 cars showed up at this venue that was new for the circuit. It was only the ESDCAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second ever event there. It is a combination track, using turns 1 and 2 of the banked outside track, with 3 and 4 being part of the infield and flat. The heat went well, with a 5th place finish being obtained. Michael was stuck in traffic in the feature with a 13th place finish being the net result. And yes, the team certainly enjoyed the short drive home.
The team was gearing up for the season ending events, and planned to sit tight until then. However, the lure of a fun track where we did well outweighed the potential risk of wrecking the car before the last push. That being said, it was back off to Canandaigua.
Race # 6 – 9/15 – Canandaigua Speedway in Canandaigua, NY- ESDCA points event
It rained for most of the morning and early afternoon, but the radar looked promising. We headed out anyway, driving through the rain. We attempted to cover the car with a blue tarp, but the wind beat it to shreds. It finally gave up the ghost as we pulled into the pit area, coating the car with a lovely fine blue powder tint. But from there on, the night was eerily similar to the last time there. We took the same pit stall, roughly the same number of cars showed up, and we once again had a big cheering section. This time it was led by Jeff “Gilligan” LaChausse, RIT FSAE alumnus. Once again we finished 4th in the first heat, landed the 10th starting spot, averted a flip, and had to restart at the rear of the pack. Unlike last time, Michael was able to work back through the field, including passing two cars on the last lap. This yielded the team’s second top 10 finish of the year, a 7th. ApplebeeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s was the post race venue once again as well.
Since the car was still in one piece, it was confirmed that the team would enter all the events of the Super Dirt Week series. This was the second of the two aforementioned “mini-series”, and coincided with the Northeast’s biggest dirt racing event – Super Dirt Week. Super Dirt Week is a week-long smorgasbord of racing all over the area culminating in races at the Syracuse Mile for the primary divisions. The ESDCA version was 3 races in 3 days at 3 tracks.
Race #7 – 10/4 – Brewerton Speedway in Brewerton, NY – Super Dirt Week series event
The place was jammed for this event with the stands full of spectators. A stout field of 29 cars showed. We finished 6th/10 in our heat, meaning a 16th place starting spot for the feature. Michael was running well, following a multi-time feature winner to the front, when another spindle broke. He was able to limp to the infield, but was greeted with another tough time getting the car on the trailer and a disappointing 26th place finish.
Race #8 – 10/5 – Cayuga County Fairgrounds in Weedsport, NY – Super Dirt Week series event
31 cars showed for the 2nd event of 3. Luckily, the kind folks at Blackburn Truck Bodies welded up our broken spindles so that we could get the car back together. It was a rough, rough track due to rain. Given the luck from the previous night Michael did not make too many moves in either the heat or the feature but rode around to an 18th place finish.
Race #9 – 10/6 – Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, NY- Super Dirt Week series event
We were paired up with the 360ci sprint cars for this night. This meant we were the undercard. With impending rain we only received 2 laps of practice for the 21 cars that showed. The race was rescheduled for the next night, but we had to pass due to the slight complication of Michael having to get back to Michigan for work.
That finishing stretch only made us more eager to get back out there, but we have to wait 7 months yet. The intent is to rebuild the suspension over the winter so as to eliminate whatever is causing our spindle failures. On the positive side though, the season went about as well as we could have hoped. The plan was to hit 8 races, and we made 9. We did not have any severe contact with other vehicles or immovable objects. We aspired to finish between 1/2 and 2/3 of the way through the field, which we typically did. And we had some top 10 finishes, which only whetted our appetite further. The club has implemented some rules for 2008 which should level the playing field a tad and make us even more competitive. That fact, combined with the knowledge we gained this year, has us anxiously waiting for the schedule to be released. We will run a comparable program in 2008, again focusing on stretches where we can hit multiple races. Our goals are going to be set substantially higher however, with a focus on running in the top 10 more often.
2007 Season, by the numbers:
Top 10’s: 2
Season Points: 46th of 62 (4 races of 27 contested)
Summer Speedweek Points: 29th of 47 (2 races of 7 contested)
Super Dirt Week Points: 18th of 37 (3 races of 3 contested