Mid Ohio has always been a bucket list track for me as a driver. Having worked there for Nissan and Ford as a crew member in the past for Pirelli World Challenge and the Pirelli Trans Am Series, it has always been a track I’ve wanted to race and is steeped in motorsports history. So when GridLife asked their drivers what they thought about starting the 2017 Track Battle season at the infamous 2.4-mile track in the middle of Ohio, I was beyond excited. The only issue being that it would have to be scheduled early in the year… and snow and/or rain was an almost certain possibility, and it was.
After getting a few issues sorted at our VIR test, we couldn’t wait to get the #44 BC Racing Infiniti G35 to Mid Ohio for the first race of the year on the new setup. This race would be the first time we tried out our brand new Toyo Tires R-888R 100tw tires for the Track Mod RWD class as well as our first time trying out the new aero package and weight loss in a race setting. But first we had to get to the track, and just as we suspected when creating our schedule in the offseason, weather would play a role. On our way through the mountains of Western Maryland and Pennsylvania we ran into a snow storm that ended up dropping a few inches of snow across the region, and you guessed it, a few inches at Mid Ohio as well. It was a cold weekend for racing and although the great track crew got most of the snow cleared from the track, there were some icy spots and piles of snow on the apexes of some turns. It was a wild site seeing the snow piles while driving the course, and a hard time to try out new tires on frozen surface that lacks in grip even in the warm. It was going to be an interesting weekend, and we had a lot to learn.
GridLife Track Battle Rd 1 Day 1 began with a pretty sketchy early morning practice session on a track surface that was far beyond cold, thanks to ambient temps in the low 30’s. Not to mention mid apex rivers of ice in spots where snow piles along the track edge had began melting in the sun. The track was cold and especially slick with brand new tires fresh with mold release chemicals, but my first few laps around Mid Ohio was a ton of fun! The 15 turn track features a great balance of flowing turns with long straights and beautiful scenery on a challenging 2.4-mile course full of many turn types and elevation changes. There is a reason there is such a great history of amazing racing at this track, it’s tricky and fast and truly showcases the abilities of car and driver. Unfortunately, our weekend lacked a bit of both.
After doing my best to learn the track and new setup on Day 1, we started to gain speed every session on Day 2, but we were a longshot from the leaders who were local track experts driving well prepped cars and lapping much faster than the rest of the field. It was not going to be a good weekend for the #44 Infiniti G35, as I was struggling as a driver and chasing a setup to deal with the overall lack of grip with the new-to-me frozen track. During the final session of the weekend, after picking up a good bit of speed my previous two sessions, I was on our fastest hot lap of the weekend by a good margin according to the AIM lap timer and with just a few turns left my car suddenly lost a lot of its power and started running poorly.
I quickly brought it in and realized my final session for the event became the victim of a blown off turbo intercooler pipe. A fitting end to a rather frustrating first race weekend of the season. With the slower hot lap’s we recorded earlier in the day we ended up finishing 9th out of 19 in Track Mod, a far cry from the last time raced with GridLife by winning at Road Atlanta. With the car loaded in the trailer with no large issues and easily fixed, we look forward to our next race with Global Time Attack for Drift Atlanta with Formula Drift at Road Atlanta. Also be on the lookout for us running many GridLife races this season and especially the MidWest Festival and South Festival events later in the year.