NASA American Iron Report – Road America April 8th, 9th, & 10th 2005
The weekend started out on Friday as a practice day a little chilly in the high 30’s but quickly warmed up to the mid 60’s and seemed to bless us with that same cycle on all three days, perfect! Knowing what happened to the Ohio/Indiana region the week before with snow at Mid-Ohio, we considered ourselves very lucky. The Friday practice day gave everyone who attended a good shakeout and a lot of laps. The AIX cars of Jeremy Behrendt and Chris Griswold both tested new body work. Griswold was especially worried about blowing his own doors off at Road America due to the high speeds and new fiberglass body panels, but neither driver had any issues.
Saturday qualifying had perfect track conditions with plenty of sun for some decent track temperature, and cool dry air to make good horsepower. The AIX battle had the Maximum Motorsports / G & V Machine / DSS Racing Mustang driven by Chris Griswold on the pole at 2:23.2 with the Pontiac Firebird driven Bob Denton on the AI pole at 2:39.002 for the 4 mile track. The qualifying results were as follows:
AIX / best lap time
1. Griswold 2:23.265
2. Behrendt 2:25.071
3. Fetzer 2:31.048
AI / best lap time
1. Denton 2:39.004
2. Algozine 2:39.677
3. Erickson 2:39.912
4. Groth 2:41.031
5. Cranston 2:43.119
6. Henderson 2:44.523
7. Franklin 2:45.399
8. White 2:51.334
The first ever Midwest Region race started off very clean with Griswold & Behrendt side by side taking the green flag. Griswold got the early jump by a car length at the start with superior torque, but Behrendt and his 5 speed transmission and higher gear ratio proved to have a bit more acceleration on the top end and took the lead into turn one by almost a car length. They battled side by side through turns one, two and three, Behrendt then pulled ahead on the long straightaway going into turn five with Griswold closing under braking. Behrendt then exited turn five a bit loose, got it sideways, and Griswold regained the lead up the hill into turn six. The cars went trough turns 6 & 7 with Behrendt glued to Griswold’s bumper. The braking zone for turn eight, the slowest turn on the track, would signal the end of the race for Behrendt as his throttle got hung up. He had to lock up the brakes to the point were the tire actually blew as he headed into the kitty liter. Narrowly escaping getting punted by Behrendt, Griswold was then free to pull away from the rest of the field. All but two cars, Fred Fetzer & the GTS4 of Timothy Rooney found themselves a lap down to Griswold by the end of the 12 lap race.
The AI race was a bit more contested with some close competition and some good clean racing. Rookies Brian Groth (AI) and Fred Fetzer (AIX) both had to start at the back of the field for their first race after just completing competition school the day before. Richard Cranston did not start due to an oil pump problem. The start of the AI race had Denton and David Algozine side by side through turn one with Denton emerging in front going into turn 3 in front of Algozine with Matt Erickson in tow. Sidney Franklin got by Jeff Henderson and his oil-pressure-challenged motor at the start. Denton continued to lead for the first 5 laps with no problems as Algozine and Erickson battled behind him. Denton then started to notice his brakes getting soft into turn one on lap 6, softer yet in turn 3, and in turn 6, big trouble! Bob narrowly got the car under control by downshifting and pumping the remaining brakes to exit the track in the turn five runoff area. Bob’s brake caliper had a piston pop out and the brakes started on fire! It turns out his rotor expanded enough that it cut into the bridge of the caliper and caused the caliper to spread and the piston to pop out. I am told they were on fire well after the incident, and there is video available. The rest of the race unfolded as Algozine assumed the lead with Erickson closing in the final laps due to Algozine having warm engine temperatures.
Race 1 AIX Results/ best race lap
1. Griswold 2:24.362
Race 1 AI Results:
Sunday qualifying had Griswold on the pole again for AIX at 2:22.870*** (Track Record), Fetzer in 2nd, and Behrendt out with a broken transmission. The AI pole went to Brian Groth at 2:38.753, followed by Erickson, Algozine, Franklin, White and Henderson. The top 3 cars were just separated by a little over a second. Bob Denton ran just a half of a lap in qualifying before his rear end decided to let loose, ending his weekend.
Griswold again motored off to the lead at the start and was uncontested with the fallout of Behrendt, and Fetzer lost a position in turn one. David Algozine had a great start and split Fetzer & Groth at the start going into turn one three wide and emerging in the AI lead out of turn one. Fetzer then gathered it up, and went to get the position back from Algozine. They battled through turns 5, 6, & 7 when Fred got a bit loose trying to overtake, which allowed Groth & Erickson to get back in the battle. With Fetzer by, Groth was now on his bumper. A couple of laps nose to tail was broken up when Algozine missed third gear coming out of turn 7. Groth took the lead with Algozine just behind and Erickson and Franklin closing in 3rd & 4th position. Engine temperatures for Algozine began to rise as he followed Groth, so he backed off to preserve his engine and 2nd place. Erickson and Franklin closed but could not get by for 2nd place. There are no official race times for the Sunday race due to the software crashing after lap 10. Final results were:
Race 2 AIX results Race 2
AI Results Race 2:
Congratulations to all race winners and participants on the inaugural Midwest Region event. A couple of special awards: Bob Denton receives the “Machine Shop” award for his make-shift lathe he made out of his rear axle and 4 inch grinder that he used to grind down his spare rotors. Chris Griswold and Jeremy Behrendt receive the “holy cow!” award for the 175 top speeds they reached at the end of the straights. The event was a tremendous success. Great people, great racing, great weather and a lot of fun was had by all. We had no contact between cars and only one incident in the HPDE groups with the tire walls. I am looking forward to continued success and growth of the new Midwest Region of NASA. I would also like to thank Lawrence Mansier for such a well run event, and all his hard work with this new region.
Midwest Region AI Director