Global Time Attack Rd1 at Road Atlanta alongside Formula Drift has always been the Daytona of our sport. It’s the first race of the season, a massive amount of fans, a whopping 75+ teams, the fastest drivers and of course; the fastest track! At Road Atlanta its go big or go home, and everyone has the wick turned up to 11 every year. This year the entry list was easily one of the best fields of fast cars we have seen in North American Time Attack history, and in my opinion rivaled that of our friends across the pond in WTAC. Our class in Limited RWD was also the biggest field in history at over 15 signed up.
Road Atlanta is, as one of my pro racing friends calls it, “one of the only tracks left in the country where going fast is okay all the time”. Pretty much 12 turns and 2.54 miles of balls to the wall fast with each turn sketchier than the next. Road Atlanta has always been my favorite track to race and most likely always will be for its absurdly fast turns, insane 170mph back straight and scary turn 12 at the bottom of a huge elevation change.
Leading up to GTA Rd1 at Road Atlanta the #44 BC Racing G35 had a great off season and race prep went smooth and easy all winter. It was obvious with my normal luck that something bad was bound to happen once I got to the track… and I was right. After traveling down early and getting the G tuned at Z1 Motorsports to verify our new Aeromotive Fuel System was running fine, we headed to Road Atlanta early for Thursday practice hosted by the track.
Thursday morning practice session came and after a few laps I quickly realized the brakes did not feel right. The handling felt great and the tires actually surprised me how well they gripped in the fast sections, but the brakes were inconsistent with the new setup from last season. Some braking zones the car would lock the wheels with no effort, others the pedal wouldn’t stop anything to save its life. Something obviously was going wrong with the brake vacuum system and sadly we didn’t figure out the solution until the final Session on Friday Day 1. On top of that our ominous oil blow by issue returned again, only compounding our problems. With the help of crew chief Kyle from Z1 Motorsports and brake expert Johnny from OG Racing we eventually figured out what I think may be a permanent fix to the brake issue I have been struggling with for years.
With some Nissan ingenuity (Z32 check valve lol) we got the car out for Friday Session 3 and the brakes finally felt predictable and able to drive, just leaving me to relearn my braking points and rebuilding confidence. Unfortunately, before I could improve on our feeler lap the car got an air bubble in the coolant system and overheated mid lap, going into limp mode in a matter of seconds and finishing our day without a fast lap. It wasn’t the Day 1 result we wanted, but I was excited to get the car on track Saturday morning and get a much faster time. We finished day one in 4th place but knew we had a car capable of battling for the lead and at the very least securing a podium spot, but that would be too easy with our luck…
Saturday morning we were ready. I had confidence in the car, the weather was good and we knew we had a good chance to beat our lap time from 2015 (before the rule change) and at the same time battling for the LRWD lead. Right off the bat the car felt great. I began to finally trust the brakes and our first hot lap was a full 3 seconds faster than anything else all weekend at a 1.35:86. Normally I would pull in and check pressures after a hot lap but given I knew we only had so much time left in the weekend I decided to go for another hot lap, which felt even better and even faster, with me gaining confidence in the brakes every moment. That lap ended up feeling good but I knew I still had a good bit more time left. We finished Session 1 with a fast lap of 1.35.46 securing us solidly in 3rd place. When I entered pit lane I was ecstatic with my crew chief Kyle from Z1 Motorsports because I knew we had finally figured something out on the car I had been chasing for some time. I knew with another session we could easily be in the 33’s if not faster, and battling for the win. Unfortunately, though that was the only good moment we had all weekend, because the second I went to start the car to go back to the pits all we heard was ClanK, Clank!,ClaNK,CLAnk,Clank… we threw a rod, in freaking pit lane… I suppose it was better than detonating on track but it was still the dagger in the heart to an already very long weekend of battling more issues than I can put in this recap. The motor was about 6 years old and had certainly been through the ringer, so I wasn’t upset that it was toast, but boy did I want one more lap just to show that we finally figured the car out. It was just enough a taste of success with the car to have me smiling ear to ear even with a blown motor. The car is fast, and this weekend finally proved that to me. And to say the least I can wait to race it again soon!
I knew the #44 BC Racing Infiniti G35 was easily capable of winning the race if everything went right, but it didn’t, and that’s racing. To make matters even worse, and the true icing on the crap cake, while waiting for them to call our class at the awards ceremony (expecting 3rd place) I found out that a Corvette driver ended up beating my lap time on his last lap of the last session of the weekend by .06 seconds. Literally missed the podium by less than an inch. It was all in all a tough weekend at the track but we worked our asses off, learned a ton, still went fast, and more importantly I had a ton of fun with my Global Time Attack family new and old. GTA is truly some of the best events and people on the planet and I look forward to the laughs and smiles just as much as I do the great racing. Be sure to check out GlobalTimeAttack.com for more info and check out the race recap video below. Also be on the lookout for our rebuild process of the VQ35DE at Z1 Motorsports and our return to Road Atlanta in August for Grid Life!
Photos thanks to Turbo by Garrett, MCV Imagery, Snaps Studio and Midland Motorworks.