1991 Runoffs Wrap-Up

as told by J.J. Gertler of Hard Drive in the GEnie Automotive Forum

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Topic 11 Sat Oct 05, 1991
AUTO.RT [jj/CRX-Si] at 23:05 EDT
Sub: Team GEnie at the Runoffs!

Greg, Jim, and J.J. are going for the National Championship! Will they win? Will they even finish? Will Greg find the keys to the Shelby? Follow their progress here!
55 message(s) total.
Category 8, Topic 11
Message 1 Sat Oct 05, 1991
AUTO.RT [jj/CRX-Si] at 23:18 EDT

Saturday, October 8

J.J. arrived at Road Atlanta from Virginia at 10. Greg pulled in with the Team GEnie Shelby CSX at 11:30. Jim, towing The Secret Weapon, pulled in around 2:00.

Greg wondered how it was that Jim (A.WILLIAMS34) left Texas seven hours ahead, but arrived two and a half hours later. The answer was simple: Jim slept, Greg didn't.

Our competitors in SSA were in for a shock when The Secret Weapon, the Team GEnie Eagle Talon, took its place in the paddock next to Old Reliable, the Shelby everybody expected Greg to run. And our eyes opened when we realized the number of teams which had also brought Secret Weapon Eagles in place of their usual cars. Oops.

Practice was the usual shambles. We chose not to run today, concentrating instead on preparing The Secret Weapon for tomorrow's tech inspection. Many who chose to run found the Road Atlanta runoff areas as short as ever. Much damage today, to little purpose.

The chicane. New at Road Atlanta this year is a chicane to slow cars entering the back stretch. In SSA, the cost is about 3 seconds per lap. A petition is being circulated among drivers to have the bloody thing bypassed in the races; we'll let you know how it goes. Don't expect miracles. Do expect broken cars, as the fields try to funnel into a one-line chicane.

But today's BIG story was keys. The keys to the Shelby. The key to the motel room. The key to Greg's Apartment. Yes, friends, we are announcing a NEW Auto RT contest: Find Greg's Keys and Win A Date. If you find Greg's keys to all of the above, just fly to Wichita Falls, Texas; use them to enter Greg's apartment; help yourself to the mostly-hocked electronics and race car parts, and if you're there when he arrives, you Win A Date With Greg Amy, Race Driver.

If you can get the key to the motel room to us, though, you may be both spared the date and showered with gratitude.

TOMORROW: Tech Inspection. We'll keep you posted!

Category 8, Topic 11
Message 5 Sun Oct 06, 1991
AUTO.RT [jj/CRX-Si] at 22:37 EDT

Sunday, October 6 =================

We took Da Iggle to tech inspection today. What a hassle (says Greg). Because the car had never run SCCA before, we had to have the full inspection to originate the vehicle logbook. The most serious request was that we drill inspection holes in *every* bar in the roll cage. The effects of this on the structural stiffness of the cage in the event of an accident is better left uncontemplated.

The other "big deal" which SCCA was enforcing was that the class code had to be fully spelled out. Even though only one class of car is in each race, SSA cars couldn't jut say "A", it had to be "SSA". The same went for every class. There's only one vendor cutting vinyl letters here, and the Tech folks made his day! Boy, was he busy.

Herewith, the list of changes necessary on Da Iggle:

1. Buy a logbook for the car
2. Drill 3/16" inspection holes in each bar of the roll cage
3. Move the fire bottle from the roll cage to the console
4. Add decals recognizing SCCA, Valvoline, and Road Atlanta
5. Add "SS" to our "A" lettering (yes, one competitor did add it after the A)
6. Replace our communications antenna with the stock Eagle radio antenna in the stock antenna hole
7. Replace a rubber terminal cover missing from the battery
8. Cut the tape covering the turn signals so that a seam wasn't taped over (and to think, we were counting on that extra 1.5 ounces of downforce.)

All in all, not too bad. We have now passed tech and picked up our Goodyear Eagle ZR 225-50x16s. The race Goodyears are on the car, despite J.J.'s removing the lugs by turning them clockwise. (Brain fade isn't just for drivers, you know.) We now need to pick up rear brake pads, an air filter, spark plugs, and an antenna. We're ready to go!

We took a trip to the new chicane, but it doesn't look too bad. Greg thinks he has the secret line figured out, but we'll know for sure tomorrow at 1:25! Stay tuned...

Tomorrow: First practice!

Category 8, Topic 11
Message 7 Mon Oct 07, 1991
AUTO.RT [jj/CRX-Si] at 21:12 EDT

Monday, October 7 =================

Today's Headline: WE FOUND THE KEYS.

Now we have to find speed. Herewith, Greg's report on first practice in what is de facto the Diamond-Star Class:

Road Atlanta is scarier than ever. It is a roller-coaster in the extreme, which a simple track diagram just doesn't show. We were on the track with the SSGT cars, which made life VERY interesting. Those guys are bullies in Camaros. What's worse is that one of the SSA cars, Scott Grissom's 300 (500?) ZX, was staying with the Camaros. It may be a long week.

One of the Camaros decided to wham me out of the way, fortunately with no damage to our car. The biggest problem we have is hooking up coming out of the corners. The front wheels get light, and the wheels spin.

With the new chicane, top speed in the Eagle at the end of the straight is the same as we were getting with the Shelby last year. That's the biggest sign that we have a problem. The trick is to manage weight transfer without adjusting springs or shocks, since the rules don't let us touch them. We're also burning the left front tire.

Goodyear has some terrific new tires coming Wednesday. They have about enough tread to last a lap; after that, they're slicks. They seem a bit harder than the current ones, so they may last better.

On the good side, brakes aren't the problem we expected them to be. Getting parts is a REAL pain, though, even with three dealers in the area. If anybody has front brake pads for a late '90 Talon, please send them to Road Atlanta!

Oh, and the keys were in Greg's gear bag all along. Duh.

Tomorrow: Second practice.


Category 8, Topic 11
Message 11 Tue Oct 08, 1991
AUTO.RT [jj/CRX-Si] at 21:32 EDT

Tuesday, October 8 ==================

When we last left our intrepid threesome, they were leaving the RTC at about 11:30. The events which follow are these:

11:35 Everybody goes to bed.

11:36 J.J. asks Greg to bring him a glass of water and read him a bedtime story.

11:36:05 Greg throws a pillow at J.J.

11:45 or so Greg and Jim fall asleep.

12:00 J.J., who is in the bed nearest to the drum of racing fuel in the bathroom, is utterly unable to get to sleep because of the thought of the fumes which he can smell all the way from the (closed) bathroom door, and what they might do in the presence of a spark. The phrase, "For unknown reasons, a drum of racing fuel had been stored in the motel room" keeps going through his mind, as does the cost of rebuilding a burned-out motor inn.

12:15 J.J. finally decides the heck with it, if some yokel steals the fuel out of the back of the pickup truck, he'll buy more. He decides to Do the Right Thing, goes into the bathroom, picks up the fuel drum, and attempts to get it out the door without waking Greg or Jim.

12:15:15 Greg and Jim, both somewhat awake but unable to see the fuel drum, decide J.J. is sleepwalking and ignore his going out the front door of the room in his pajamas.

12:15:45 J.J. places the fuel drum into the bed of the pickup truck quietly, so as not to rouse the other guests of the motor inn.

12:15:47 Jim's truck remembers that it is wired with a tamper alarm, and begins flashing all of its lights while making a sound like the collision alarm on the Enterprise, only much louder.

12:15:48 J.J. remembers that Jim's truck is wired with a tamper alarm, and makes heavy tracks back to the room.

12:16 J.J. finds Greg and Jim awake, and blurts "I screwed up." Jim heads out to the truck, not connecting what J.J. just said with what his truck is now doing.

12:16:12 J.J. is under the covers, completely, pretending he is not in the state of Georgia.

12:16:20 Jim gets the alarm turned off.

12:16:22 The nice people downstairs come out on their balcony and ask Jim, "Is that your truck?"

12:17 Back in the room, general pandemonium ensues, with throwing of pillows, etc.

12:30 Everyone is asleep.

5:30 am J.J. gets Greg up; practice is at 8, and there's much to do.


The interesting part is, that may have been the high point of the day. The good news is that we picked up a second and a half from yesterday. The bad news is that the car was 20th fastest in today's practice, four seconds off the lead, which is a supposedly identical car in model and year.

This brings us to serious consideration of whether to go to the backup car, Old Reliable, Greg's Shelby CSX. It's theoretically slower, but Greg knows it better and it does not have the wheelspin problem we're experiencing with the Talon.

Greg confers with SCCA and learns that it is perfectly permissible to qualify more than one car. Jim spends the afternoon doing what little we're allowed to in the handling department. Greg decides to qualify the Talon in the first session on Wednesday, and if that is unsatisfactory, take the Shelby through tech and qualify it Thursday. Goodyear will not be supplying super- trick tires in the Shelby's size, but it already handles well enough to get a decent spot. The question is top-end speed.

Tomorrow: Qualifying The Secret Weapon -- is it pointed at us?


Category 8, Topic 11
Message 13 Wed Oct 09, 1991
AUTO.RT [jj/CRX-Si] at 22:46 EDT

Wednesday, October 9 ====================

The alarm clock we purchased yesterday was roundly and contemptuously ignored. Our qualifying was scheduled for 2:45, so we had time to work on the push and to play with the shifter, which was being balky.

Da Iggle has had a hard life, with a lot of racing miles on it, so it came as no surprise that a new set of shocks for the rear, shipped to us from Jim's store, proved to be much more robust than the ones on the car. This, coupled with tire pressure adjustments, would theoretically moderate the push. Or at least, we hoped so. Jim found the timing to be five degrees off, and so we had some optimism as the Team GEnie Talon went to the qualifying grid.

Greg found the car much easier to drive, and consistently turned laps which equaled his best from Tuesday's practice. There are no miracles, though, so we take it as an encouraging sign that we were 15th in this first qualifying, up five positions from Tuesday. The trick Goodyears probably have something to do with it, too. When we hit the grid, drivers with other tires were running to their company reps screaming for a tire like ours, which is as close to a slick you can get and still be street-legal. Goodyear has been very good to Team GEnie, swarming the car with technicians after the qualifying run, and coming up with suggestions which should definitely help us in the second qualifying session tomorrow morning.

Now that the handling is beginning to come around, power is a concern. The SCCA put boost recorders on most of the turbo- and supercharged cars in the field, and ours showed the engine to be about a pound-and-a-half short of the boost limit. Greg figures that to be costing a second a lap, and we will look for a solution.

The top three cars were disqualified from the session for various technical misadventures, but they will be back tomorrow. And tomorrow, we will qualify...the Eagle again. After the improvement today, Greg decided it would be too complicated and take too much development time to get the Shelby dialed in, and we were faster today than all the Shelbys in the field. So it will be the #41 Team GEnie Eagle Talon on the grid for Friday's National Championship race. We're still learning, and should have much to report tomorrow!

Tomorrow: Final qualifying


Category 8, Topic 11
Message 15 Thu Oct 10, 1991
AUTO.RT [jj/CRX-Si] at 23:35 EDT

Thursday, October 10 ====================

Boost is a wonderful thing. Greg's prediction -- that a return to stock boost would mean a second and a half -- was exactly borne out. After the final qualifying session, we are gridded 11th, and a number of the faster competitors are startng behind us, having fallen afoul of the technical examiners.

The handling, while hardly wonderful, is now -- after experimenting with tire pressures -- at least not completely evil, and even the in-car video camera worked right today. Everything is falling into place.

We have new tires and brake pads on the car, which will be bedded in during the warm-up tomorrow morning. At 2:40 Eastern time, the SSA national championship race will begin. While it looks unlikely that anyone will be able to catch the Nissan 300 ZX of Scott Grissom, the next nine cars in the field are separated by less than a second, so it should be a free-for-all. Couple that with the need for some fast cars to come through the pack, and we should have a very exciting race to report on tomorrow night.

Will we win? Stranger things have happened, especially at Road Atlanta. Tomorrow, Greg will hold nothing back. There's no reason to save the car, only to make it go as fast as he can. Look out, world; Team GEnie's ready to come through!

Tomorrow: Team GEnie goes for the national title!


Category 8, Topic 11
Message 18 Fri Oct 11, 1991
AUTO.RT [jj/CRX-Si] at 23:59 EDT

We are having node problems here, so the full story will be uploaded tomorrow night. But Greg Amy took his best finish ever in the National Championships today! Driving the Team GEnie Eagle Talon from the 11th starting position, Greg took a sixth-place finish against the best drivers in the country! We are more than a little excited about all this, and will give you a full race report as soon as we stop fighting over who gets to see the in-car video next (and as soon as the line problems, which cost us an almost- completed race report) have passed!

Thanks to all for your support! More from the Runoffs tomorrow!


Category 8, Topic 11
Message 20 Sat Oct 12, 1991
AUTO.RT [jj/CRX-Si] at 22:59 EDT

Race Summary ============

The SSA warmup was at 9:30, and it became a time of anxiety for Team GEnie. Greg used the session to scrub in a new set of Goodyears, but it soon became apparent that the soft brake pedal which had plagued us all week was back, and worse. We'd bled the brakes every day, and the pedal was firm in the pits, but it soon went soft on the track. With the race at 18 laps being nearly twice as long as any of the preliminary sessions, a radical solution was called for. So we used the time between the warmup and the race to completely drain the brake system, changed brands and effective temperatures of the fluid, and bled the system. The only other adjustment was to change tire pressures.

At 2:25, we took the Eagle to the grid, slotted 11th between two similar cars. We had some trepidation about the start, both because the earlier SSGT start featured a multi-car tangle in the first turn, and because the other car in the sixth row was driven by a fellow who'd deliberately rammed Greg at a race earlier in the year. So the tension on the grid was palpable. Oh yes, and we were running in the national championship race.

Finally, the field began to move off, a bit late due to the necessity to retrieve cars stranded during the preceding race. On the pace lap, Greg planned his strategy carefully. He had been in the Runoffs twice before, finishing 23rd and 8th, and knew that while a win was unlikely -- given the dominance of Scott Grissom's Nissan 300 ZX -- our car was potentially the equal of most in the field. We just didn't know how much we'd been able to improve the car since the final qualifying session.

Also adding uncertainty was that several fast cars were starting behind the Team GEnie Talon, due to malfunctions during qualifying. Indeed, of the three cars picked by Sports Car magazine to win, two (defending champion Wiley Timbrook and David Lapham) would be coming up behind Greg's car at the same time he was trying to pass others. Greg would be one busy boy.

As the pace car passed under the Nissan bridge and headed downhill toward Turn Twelve, Greg eased the accelerator, dropping back from the car directly ahead. Then, as he passed under the bridge, Greg dropped the hammer. The Eagle screamed down the hill to Twelve, using the space Greg had created, and crossed the start/finish line at full boost.

Greg slotted to the right of the cars in the row ahead, counting on skill and Goodyear's superior tires to keep him on the track along the inside of Turn One. The gamble paid off, and Greg emerged from the first turn in eighth place, ahead of the Mitsubishi Starion of Seg Quinones, and hounding the Plymouth Laser of Dominic Cimino.

Over the next few laps, Grissom regained the lead from the surprising Michael Lowe, who had made a terrific start, and rocketed away from the field, increasing his margin over Greg by two seconds a lap. Greg, meanwhile, spent two laps rebuffing a challenge from Quinones, who twice attempted to get by on the inside into One, but was unable to make the pass stick.

Greg latched onto Cimino's tail, and the two Diamond-Star-built cars drafted away from Quinones. The Eagle was able to close up on Cimino's Laser at several points around the track, but Cimino was skilled at using most of the track, and was difficult to pass. Lap after lap, the two cars passed by Jim and J.J. nose-to-tail, gaining on Michael Sturm's Mitsubishi Eclipse and gradually pulling away from Bill Hagerty's Starion.

Greg noticed the temperatures in the Eagle's engine becoming dramatically high, and began to draft a bit off center, to get air to the radiator and intercooler. He continued to look for a way past Cimino, and one place offered an especially good chance.

Earlier in the week, a couple of fans had stopped by the Team GEnie pit, to see who was driving that 41 car. It turned out that they were camped in the infield, along the new chicane, and had been doing interval clockings on all the drivers through that section. They told us that Greg had been consistently among the fastest SSA cars, almost half a second quicker than average. So, now that he needed a place to get by Cimino, Greg turned to the chicane.

As he lunged to the left of Cimino on the exit from the chicane, fate played a hand. One of the Laser's tires went flat, causing Cimino to slow suddenly. Had Greg waited a second to start his pass, he would have run into the back of the Plymouth. Instead, he was now in seventh, chasing Michael Sturm.

Without Cimino in the way, Greg closed rapidly on Sturm. Within two laps, the Mitsubishi driver made an error, going wide under the bridge and leaving a small opening to the inside. Greg dove to the right, again using his traction advantage to hold the inside line and put Sturm away.

Greg radioed the pits only once, to ask how many laps remained. Told there were four to go, he put his efforts into maintaining a lead over the closing Starion of Hagerty, and he took the checkered flag in sixth.

But that is just the beginning of another story. As he crossed the line, Greg radioed to J.J., "Let's go to impound, boys!"

The top six cars in each class are impounded after the race for technical examination. If one of the top three cars fails, the next finisher is examined. Under SCCA rules, the teardown must begin within 45 minutes of the end of the race, and completed within three hours, unless these time limits are waived by the Chief Steward.

The teardown began today at 8 am, seventeen hours after the race. It is, as of this writing, still not complete. So far, only the top three cars have been torn apart; the SCCA promises that an announcement will be made tomorrow morning regarding the legality of those cars. So, there will be more to report from the Runoffs -- and Greg's best-ever finish may become better yet!


Category 8, Topic 11
Message 29 Wed Oct 16, 1991
E.AMY [Greg] at 00:24 CDT

Hello to all!

Thanks for your support and enthusiasm! It sure was nice being out there knowing that I had so many friends supporting me.

Just a Runoffs wrap-up: Well, unfortunately, Grissom was tossed out during impound. SCCA feels that he had tampered with his ECU. My personal opinion is that he was legal. However, the result is that Team GEnie finished in the top-5 in the country! Just think: a little bit more development time and we could be dangerous!

I'd like to make a few public thanks:

J.J. Gertler, our venerable AUTO.RT, for his being there and offering any and all help needed, from working on the car to calming down the driver when the driver wnated to blow breakfast on Friday.

Jim Williams, A.WILLIAMS34, for keeping that evil car on the track when I brought it back from each session. This guy is magic.

Goodyear, for their TRICK, TRICK tires that lasted and lasted long after other competitors were sliding off the track with blown or worn-out tires. These were obviously the ones to have (3 of the top-5 did!).

Diamond Star motors, for designing one AWESOME little powerplant. Without it, the car would not have been a factor. We can work on improving the handling. Besides, it sure is a sexy-looking bodystyle, isn't it? 4 of the top-5 thought so!

Valvoline, for their synthetic oil that they gave us at the Runoffs. Good stuff!

Cyclo chemicals, Hot Stuff racing shoes, Pyrotech and Simpson safety apparel, VP and CAM2 racing fuels, Janos Industrial Insulation Corp., and all the other smaller contingency sponsors for their help.

And, of course, my Mom and my sister, for driving all the way to Atlanta just to watch my race!

We just seemed to have the proper combination of car, tires, and crew to make it all happen.

The future looks bright. I've been invited by the Pro Dept of the SCCA to compete in the Eagle in the Escort Endurance races at Texas World Speedway and in Mexico, both this month. Let's see if we can continue riding the momentum!!!

Thanks again to all of you, and I hope to talk to each of you in the Monday evening RTCs!!!