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Low expectations. Low expectations. This was the mentality that we kept setting for ourselves going into this race. Why? Well, our last race at Autobahn had gone so smoothly, we knew a repeat of that would be rare.  Maybe it was intuition.

Friday – We left Stevens Point around 7am and made our way to John Boos’ shop in Minnesota. As our fourth driver who hadn’t driven the car before, we wanted to get him some seat time to get comfortable with it before doing a 2 hour stint on a race track with 38 other cars. When he took the car out on a little beat run, he noticed a slight ticking sound coming from one of the wheels. So we threw the car on the hoist for inspection. We found it was something to do with the E-brake system; not super important (yes, we still have an E-brake on this car). We also found the driveshaft guibo had a few small stress cracks, and it just so happened that Corvettes use the exact same part as our little BMW. Guess we came to the right shop! After a few practice driver changes and some strategy-talk, we loaded up and headed to BIR to get through tech and claim a pit stall.

Saturday – Excitement, nervousness, stress, anxiety…they all seem to hit you at the same time. John was up first. After a couple warm up laps, the green flag was dropped and we were placed around mid-pack. A few laps in, John called over the radio that the car had a slight cut-out with hard transitional turns. Lap times still appeared to be quick so we advised him to stay out there as long as he could and we’d try to diagnose the problem at driver change. John’s stint was an hour and 40 minutes before coming in. We took some extra time to quickly check over all wiring to find the problem. After shaking as many wires as we could see and reach, we couldn’t get the car to cut out like it was doing on track.
Mike was up next and the cut-out problem quickly resurfaced. He was frustrated as the cutting out would get a little dangerous at times; he would lose all power and suddenly slow down AND had to be ready when it came back!  We kept Mike out there for just a little over an hour before deciding to pit early for more diagnostic attempts, refueling, and a driver change. Thankfully, during this pit stop, the cut-out problem was discovered. It was the pesky wiring under the dash. Solution; Andy zip-tied the crap out of pretty much everything!
Next up was Eric. All those zip-ties did the job….the cutting out problem was fixed and we were on to the next problem. Near the end of Eric’s stint, he started to experience some fuel cutting. We assumed he was just getting low on gas. However, due to Mike’s short stint, we are forced to keep Eric out on track as long as we could. He made it long enough for Andy to finish the last hour and 40 minutes of the race.
On Andy’s first lap out, he radioed in, “I’ve been hit! I’ve been hit!” This forced him to pit in for a quick weight reduction as a few damaged and dangling parts were removed by the pit crew. This was done quickly and he was back out in no time. Knowing this stint would be a stretch with fuel, Andy went 8/10ths in order to conserve fuel. After about 40 minutes, he started experiencing fuel cutting on left-hand turns. This didn’t make sense as our pickup in the pump is on the right saddle. Over the next 10 minutes, the car got worse and it was decided to make another pit stop to refuel. We hoped this would fix the left-hand turn problems, but it didn’t. Being that Andy now had enough fuel, Andy drove 10/10ths when possible and coasted through the few hard left-hand turns. In the last 15 minutes of the race, the fuel problem grew and the car was hardly making it. We JUST made it for the checkered flag, but the car didn’t have enough to make it back to the pits. Just before pit-in, the car died. It’s a good thing we have such good friends, though!  MKRacing rescued Andy by pushing him all the way back to our pit stall. After some post-race inspection, the problem was confirmed. ANOTHER failed pre-pump.
Despite the challenges we faced on Saturday, we placed 10th. This even included extra pit stops; and some of them took longer than the 5 minute minimum due to the extra troubleshooting.
While most teams shut down for the night and left to get food and rest before another day of racing, we spent all evening and into the night fixing the car; battling swarms of mosquitos. We even decided to cut the springs to give the car less body roll in the corners. It was a wise decision, too – the car was much easier to drive.

Sunday – At this point, we felt MUCH better as our challenges from the previous day had been overcome. We decided that Eric would do the first stint, followed by Mike, then John, and Andy would finish. Sunday’s race was far less dramatic and everything went to plan.  Mostly.  The car was turning quicker lap times and the fuel problem was 95% solved. The only problem that we had was a result of removing the surge tank – the car would start fuel starving after about an hour. This didn’t turn out to be that big of a deal, though. The car could still be driven for another 30 minutes but would cut out in a few spots on long, right-hand turns.
The big curveball for Sunday was the storms that rolled through. The race ended up being red-flagged twice due to lightning. The first red-flag was in the morning. This added another variable to our pit strategy, but with a little bit of calculating and luck, we planned it perfectly. The second red-flag was right before John was about to pit for Andy to get in. Unfortunately, this red-flag happened near the end of the race and lasted too long to finish the race. The decision was made to freeze the results as they were and make those the official results. Thus, putting us in 4th Place for Sunday – our first Top 5.

In the end, we were more than pleased. The most satisfying part is knowing our car is 100% within the rules – no grey area or questionable mods. We’re well within the rules, with room to spare.

A big THANK YOU to everyone that helped us out! Tubby Butterman Racing for drinks, advice, and searching for that lost nut; MKRacing for everything, including the push back to pits; all of our crew who came just to crew; and all the other friends who came to watch and lend a hand. Without all of you, our Chump adventures just wouldn’t be the same.

Video to come, but for now, enjoy some pictures:



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