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  • Writer's picturethe M & the E

ME Racing Report: NASA NE April 2023 @Watkins Glen

The ME’s are proliferating!

The newest friend to sport the ME Racing colors is John Byrne who is campaigning his Golf in ST4 with and against us. The field was large. The weather was atrocious. It was so bad that there was no race on Saturday. Lightning will do that. A two-hour delay meant that we were trying for two races on Sunday. We managed to run the first one with a full field, but the second race was down to three cars. (Most everybody had had enough after a slicked track caused another delay on Sunday and they headed for the gate rather than stick around into the late afternoon.)

Everyone was confined indoors while the lightning was in the area. I felt bad about the time everyone missed. At least Massimo and the grid guys got to retreat to the garage. (Three event weekends and I believe Massimo is running out of ways to stay dry.) I’ve never done an hour in the classroom before and don’t plan to try it again. The class got more track notes than they could use (or comprehend), at least for their first weekend.

The next time out ME Racing will be tackling an American Endurance Racing (AER) event back at the Glen. We haven’t done an enduro before. It’s a new team organized by my friend, Paul Lee who helps run the DE1 classroom with me and is the lead for the NASA NE Toyota GR car program. NIB Racing is the name of the team and we’ll be running my old Protégé which has been beefed up suspension, cage, and braking.

Friday will be for testing and qualifying. Saturday and Sunday will be individual eight hour enduros.

AER tries to make things as fair and competitive as possible. There are five race groups. One (ours) is the slowest and five is the fastest. Groups are set by lap time. The size of each group is determined by the qualifying race results. To prevent sandbagging if a team runs faster in the race than in qualifying by a significant margin they are moved up to a faster run group. There are penalty points that accumulate for violating rules like ignoring flags or exceeding the virtual safety car speed limit. Get enough and there’s a drive through penalty followed by increasingly extended stops in the pits. There’s not limit on the number of drivers, but five three minute stops are mandatory during the eight hours of racing each day. We’ll have a friend for timing and our fourth driver is a new racer, George Menabe who owned the Protégé before Paul and did his NASA competition school with it.

The rain at our NASA weekend made driving the Protege even more fun and had me thinking that it would even better for the AER race weekend. Then I thought again about a 70 car field with drivers whose experience would range from HPDE solo driving to IMSA in cars from our 130-ish hp to those with 5 and 600hp and I thought perhaps rain would not be so great. We'll see!

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May 10, 2023
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