The Observers Stand / May 21, 2020

The Observers Stand 3

The Observers Stand

Editors Note:

By: David Brown

I’m sure by now you’re absolutely and completely sick of hearing about the Coronavirus and COVID-19. While it has and will continue to effect everything we do in our lives, rest assured OVR Chiefs and Chairs have been planning for when we can get back on track safely. While the early part of the season has faced numerous cancellations and postponements with a bit of luck things are about to change. This issue is a bit light on content although I hope as the year goes on I’ll be able to get back to a more consistent schedule (send me stuff!!!). We’re hoping to get a chance to have regular Board of Directors meetings, but for the time being we are meeting via Zoom teleconference and it is going well. Socializers have unfortunately been postponed and as soon as we get the clearance from the governor we hope to get those ramped back up. Below are some very brief summaries from each discipline but as of now we intend to go forward with all programs as permitted by the state. However, things will be different. Hand sanitizer and social distancing will be written into supps. Procedures will be different. Each group will be prepared as best as possible but there will be a learning curve. As always and I can’t emphasize this enough that you please check schedules as these change daily. Racing WILL resume. To get you back in the mindset I have a little story for you below.

Pete Cline leads a group from VETMotorsports around the course at an OVR Solo on May 11, 2019. Do you know VETMotorsports story? Visit them here. Photo by Mary Jane Berchak
Daytona NASCAR Speedweeks

By: David Brown

Enough about the Coronavirus. Back in February I got another chance to go to Daytona for the NASCAR Speedweek. Last year was my first Daytona 500 and it was an incredible experience that will be tough to top. This year started earlier and went on longer culminating in a once in a lifetime experience.

All of the fun is a direct result of my youngest brother JB who is CEO of Ally Bank. The sponsor of the 48 Ally Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson. This has afforded extraordinary access to Hendrick Motorsports and Rick Hendrick. This year we had hot passes for all events and Rolex Lounge seats for all events leading up to the 500-Duels, Trucks, Xfinity. Once again this year Ally had a Suite in the Sky Suite level for the Daytona 500. I was joined this year by my father and brother Robert and met up with brother JB.

We flew out of Columbus Wednesday evening as the snow made it lone appearance and made our way into Jacksonville about 1:30am and got into an airport hotel with no issues other than trying to park the rental Yukon XL in a parking lot with no spaces. Thursday morning was warm and muggy and quite welcome for the 1.5 hour drive down I-95 to Daytona Beach with a quick stop at Whataburger (because…well its Whataburger). We got to the Ally headquarters for the weekend- The Hard Rock Hotel and waiting in the rooms was an insane SWAG bag of stuff.

We started the fun with the Duel 150’s on Thursday evening with executive transport from our hotel on Daytona Beach directly to the elevator of the Rolex Lounge. The drop of the green flag with 22 stock cars at full throttle in the tri-oval is quite a sound. We watched as Joey Logano used veteran strategy to take a late lead for the win. Moments later we were whisked down via golf cart to the hot pits for a quick grid walk for Duel #2 with 21 cars. Again this year we were fortunate to watch a race from a pit box with Mr Hendrick. After 5 minutes exchanging greetings and meeting some new faces on the team it was time for the race to start and this one was much better from the Hendrick Motorsports perspective! Getting a chance watch a NASCAR race from atop the pit box is quite the experience especially at night. The first thing that jumps out is the data. Unfortunately, I can’t show any photos of the screens of data they track on not only their own car but also their competitors. NASCAR has data for all cars available so they can see traces of their own car and how it relates to others around. The engineers at Hendrick are in constant communication with each other both at the track and back at the shop. Its quite astounding. The second thing that jumps out is how much oil the tire changers use on their air guns. They literally spend minutes oiling the guns and when they spring into action there is an enormous cloud of oil vapor that is expelled during a tire change. I put a quick youtube video below that I shot leaning out the box where you can see the mist.

As I mentioned the second Duel was a great result with Hendrick Motorsports getting a 1-2 finish with William Byron finishing first and Jimmie Johnson in second. As soon as the race ended Mr. Hendrick rushed off to victory lane. We hoped we would be there Sunday evening.

We spent the day hanging out around town and Friday night went to the soggy Truck race which was delayed due to rain. Parking for VIP was more than a mile from the track. Eventually the race started and the trucks do put on quite a show at Daytona. Occasional SCCA Pro racer Natalie Decker finished a strong 5th. Saturday featured the Xfinity Series race won by Noah Gragson in the JR Motorsports Chevrolet co-owned by Mr. Hendrick. That evening Ally hosted a great party with the Atlantic Ocean and beach as a backdrop. Once again we got a visit by Jimmie and he brought along his oldest daughter¬†Evie. It was great to get a few minutes of his time before he joined my brother JB on Mr. Hendricks yacht. Too bad I couldn’t go this year.

Race day dawned with an early departure for the track with a police escort and while it was great it was not as thrilling as last year despite being led for a while by the same badass motorcycle officer as last year. She broke off with the SUV filled with execs that would be departing Daytona by private jet that evening. We got a pre-race visit to the suite from Jimmie although much of the time he spent with a guest family of Ally with a Make-a-Wish child. Now we waited. And waited…. President Trump did a flyby and that pretty much shut everything down for another 90 minutes and then came a flyover from the US Air ForceThunderbirds. Finally the race was about to begin! However the sun had left and while we did get 20 laps the rains had come. Several hours later we were informed the race would be finished on Monday at 4:00. That really didn’t work well with our flight which was scheduled to depart about 5:00 from Jacksonville a couple hours to the north. Unable to change flights our weekend was essentially over. So as we filed out to the bus lot everybody got soaked to the bone in an incredible rainstorm. Luckily I had an extra pair of shoes…

Got a chance to watch the race in the airport and onboard our quick flight to Atlanta and saw the spectacular ending in the Atlanta airport with a large crowd at a bar. We flew home arriving after midnight early Tuesday morning. About 11am that day the beginning of that once in a lifetime experience came into focus.

Mr. Hendrick is an avid car collector and his passion is Corvettes. At his private collection he has more than 160 of them. Earlier this year at the Barrett Jackson auction Mr H purchased VIN #00001 of the newly redesigned 2020 C8 Corvette. On Tuesday after the Daytona 500 Mr. H made plans to go do a ceremonial delivery of that car and he asked if we wanted to be there to see it all. Chevrolet and the team at the Corvette factory quickly put together a great day in Bowling Green for Wednesday. Now we just had to get there. Late Tuesday Mr. H said not to worry he’d pick us up in his Gulfstream IV. Wednesday morning we were met at Signature Flight Support by both Mr. and Mrs. Hendrick. We boarded the flight for the quick 45 minute flight to Bowling Green which is an airfield as opposed to an airport. Greeting us there were 7 new 2020 Corvettes out on the tarmac at the FBO.

We quickly exchanged greetings and everybody got into a Corvette for the 10 minute drive to the factory. Running alongside our caravan was a film crew for Hendrick Motorsports recording our short blasts on I-71 and the surrounding streets. Once at the factory we had a short presentation from the Corvette team and a quick Q&A before starting the tour of the assembly line where we met both VIN #00001 and #00002. For the honor of adding the first off the line Mr. H had paid a cool $3 million for a beautiful Black Corvette polished to an insane level. VIN #2 is Silver and destined for being driven daily. There was a small ceremony with many of the employees welcomed and we then had a chance to watch the cars take a ceremonial drive off the line where we had about 45 minutes to take photos and talk to employees. We then made our way back thru the factory and got to see as the final assembly took place on a few cars even though the engineers really didn’t want us out there. We all had a quick lunch and Mr. H decided he wanted to see the paint area. Now at this point nobody is allowed into the sanding and painting area and the management team tried to say no but Mr. H has some pull and we were all driven to the other side of the factory where we suited up in bunny suits and hairnets. We got to see the robots spraying primer on the bodies and also the robots sanding before the line moved to the paint shop. There we saw the painting process and learned which colors are more difficult to perfect. Following the paint shop we went outside at shift change and so many of the paint shop employees wanted photos with Mr. H and he obliged every single one. Our day done, we headed back to the airfield and within minutes we were rocketing back to Port Columbus. What a whirlwind week. Oh yeah a red C8 followed us home about two weeks later and is parked in my fathers garage. I hope you enjoyed the story. What adventures have you had that you’d love to share? Email them to me¬†here.

Pit Box View Jimmie Johnson
Revised Runoffs 2020 Qualification Path Requirements

Upon advisement from the Sports Car Club of America¬ģ¬†(SCCA¬ģ) Road Racing Department and Club Racing Board, the SCCA Board of Directors (BoD) has approved a revision to invitation qualification criteria for the¬†2020 National Championship Runoffs¬ģ¬†taking place Oct. 3-11 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Late in 2019, changes were made to the process in which drivers earn an invitation to the 2020 Runoffs, with a return to point standings performance criteria being included. However, due to event interruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the belief is many Summit Racing Equipment SCCA Road Racing competitors could encounter difficulties qualifying for the 2020 Runoffs with points standards in place. Therefore, the decision has been made to scrap the points benchmarks this year. Instead, a participation model will be deployed for 2020 similar to that used for previous National Championship events.

Eric Prill, SCCA Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, noted the latest revisions for 2020 are designed to not only assist racers in getting to the Runoffs, but also help local SCCA Regions where event entries may be impacted by COVID-19 concerns.

‚ÄúObviously, the pandemic has created a very complicated situation for the Summit Racing Equipment SCCA Road Racing program and National Championship,‚ÄĚ Prill said. ‚ÄúWhat we have done through the updated qualification path is strike a balance between the challenges some members face with attending events this season and the need for these events to remain successful, which is critical for the fiscal wellbeing of Regions and the Club as a whole.‚ÄĚ

To qualify for the 2020 Runoffs, drivers will now need to participate in a minimum of three U.S. Majors Tour/Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour weekends and finish in at least ONE race. Up to TWO of these weekend participations may be replaced with any combination of Regional race weekends or substituted with paid entries for any of the remaining 2020 U.S. Majors Tour events not attended.

SCCA is rapidly constructing an online option for ‚Äúsubstitute‚ÄĚ registrations where drivers can submit entries and log Runoffs qualification credits for events ‚Äúmissed‚ÄĚ due to coronavirus. The substitute entry process will be separate from normal registration for that event, with details being released at a later date. An action outside SCCA‚Äôs normal operating procedure, Prill noted this is being conducted to offset lost revenue for Regions.

‚ÄúClub members are experiencing financial hardship this year, as are their local Regions,‚ÄĚ Prill said. ‚ÄúA family united by the passion for racing, we all want to see people out doing what we love. This pandemic has impacted everyone, but we want to make sure Club members can get to the Runoffs while ensuring the health of Regions for a long time to come.‚ÄĚ

Updated qualifying conditions for 2020 eliminates the need for a specific Pro path to the Runoffs as the new formula serves both interests. The Divisional and Defending Champion paths to a Runoffs invitation remain unchanged. It should be noted that endurance races remain excluded as counting toward Runoffs qualification, and plans for deployment of the new Runoffs Appearance Fund remain in place.

A full listing of the General Competition Rules change from the BoD motion can be found here.

The Runoffs, which caps the Summit Racing Equipment SCCA Road Racing program each year, serves as an important annual gathering for the SCCA family. It has evolved into what is now commonly agreed to be the pinnacle of American motorsports.  Since 1964, the SCCA has crowned National Champions through the winner-take-all, single-race Runoffs format.

For more information on the 57th Runoffs at Road America, visit https://www.scca.com/runoffs.

Photo By: Mark Weber

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OVR member Alan Stamper does custom Automotive Art. See his Facebook page to view examples or get your own!
Upcoming Events:

May 30 Solo National Trail Raceway
June 14 Solo National Trail Raceway
June 26-28 Rallycross National Tour Ross County Fairgrounds
July 12 Solo National Tail Raceway
July 17-19 Road Racing Super Tour Mid Ohio Sports Car Course

Please verify ALL events before attendance. Online Registration available and very likely to be mandatory. For the latest updates please see our Facebook pages and our website as well as  scca.com.

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Social events TBD
Board of Director meeting are held the second Wednesday of the month via Zoom. Please contact Regional Executive Suzy Hardesty if you have questions or comments.

Competition Updates

Rallycross

Exiting times await at this years Rallycross National Tour event at the Ross County Fairgrounds June 26-28, 2020. Maybe even an event before. Please check OVR Rallycross social media for updates.
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Road Racing

Our next event is the Super Tour at Mid-Ohio July 17-19, 2020. At this time the event is still on and we look forward to welcoming racers from around the country. Stay up to date with our social media for updates.
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Solo

Our next event is scheduled on May 30, 2020 at National Trail Raceway. Please  read all supplementary rules beforehand. Be sure to follow both social media and Motorsportsreg.com for last minute updates.
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