A few weeks ago I expressed an opinion on not liking something about ChumpCar (the pit stop window length). What I don't think I did adequately enough was express how much I adore the series and the style of racing. Having renewed my absolute passion for ChumpCar this past Memorial Day weekend at Watkins Glen, I just want to reiterate that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!
I'm very fortunate to have experienced and raced many types of motorsport. While each has their own distinct value and enjoyment, I believe the motorsports community would be a very sad place without ChumpCar type racing in it.
As I walked around the paddock of one of my all time favourite racetracks, I couldn't help but think how impressive the attendance and entries were for the two 7 hour races that weekend. Each and every car had a story, it's own personality and style. From the adaptation of the Formula 1 'shark wing' in the shape of an actual shark to an old 60s American sedan called 'american express', the 105 entries were as varied as the origins of the teams and drivers.
Yeah, you may have skipped that last sentence so I'll repeat that most impressive of statistics... 105 entries! Bloody amazing (and led to some fantastic on track experiences). It should also be commented that this is 105 entries all able to compete for the overall win.
I was driving a superbly balanced E36 BMW 325i expertly prepared by the BimmerLine team. I've owned an E30 and an E46 (my current SE46) but I am pretty sure the E36 is one of the best chassis that BMW ever made. The car was superb and amazing fun and the team dynamic (repeated it seemed throughout the paddock and pits in ChumpCar) was fabulous.
Our race came to us through great pit work, race strategy calls, consistent driving and by keeping it clean on track. We punched well above our weight to finish 8th on Saturday and 4th on Sunday despite being outside the top 20 in overall pace.
We used an AiM Solo for data acquisition and the 'two day, two race' format allowed for some analysis the evening after race 1. By overcoming some of the data interpretation challenges associated with high car counts (e.g. passing and being passed 10+ times a lap), all drivers gained significantly in speed and consistency on Sunday. I personally went 5 seconds faster! I'll be posting a new AiM Video soon on some tactics for ChumpCar (budget racing) to share this approach with others.
With dwindling car counts in regional endurance racing, I think ChumpCar (LuckyDog, LeMons etc.) may well become a bigger part of my racing calendar. It's just that good! There are other series to try (e.g. AER) but this racing has to be the best value for money any racer can spend.
Big thanks to the BimmerLine team and my fellow drivers for making Watkins a weekend to remember. What a blast.