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Old 04-04-2006
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Speed World Challenge

Hey guys (and gals). This is Robb Holland (for those of you that can’t tell who I am by my screen name), and I run the SBR West Coast Regional Series. I met Pat Daly at Sebring this year and told him that I was going to be running as a rookie in the Speed World Challenge Series this year and he graciously asked me to post some updates of my experiences in the series on this board. I’ve read some other fantastic race posts and hopefully I can do them justice.

Two Weeks before Sebring
Former Speed World Challenge champions 3R Racing (Tommy Archer-Viper-2004) had been working on my Dodge SRT4 for several months now but due to time (and as always, money) there is no way, it seems, that we are going to be able to make it to the season opener in Sebring. The team will travel there with my teammates Dan Aweida (the other SRT4) and Skip Sauls (Viper) but up until 2 weeks to go, it looks like I’m going to sit this one out and also miss out on valuable rookie of the year points. However, team principal Bob Raub, gets a call from the guys at Techsport who had campaigned the Air Force Reserve Ford Focus last year with Memo Gidley and Chip Herr. They have lost their sponsor and are selling their whole World Challenge set up, the car and an insane amount of spares (I will find out why so many spares shortly) for substantially less than it would have taken to finish my SRT4. Even better is that this was the car that sat on the pole at Denver last year, so it had the juice to run at the front. Done deal.
3R gets the car 5 days before we have to leave for the race. Techsport said that they rebuilt the car after last years season ending race at Laguna and it should be ready to go as is. However 3R being the consummate, meticulous professionals that they are go through every nut and bolt on the car just to make sure that it is up to their standards. Unfortunately this process takes 4 1/2 days leaving no time to test the car before we have to leave for Sebring. Riiiiight! My first pro race, in a car I had never driven, a car type (sedan/ front wheel drive) I had never raced, on a course I had only seen once, with a first practice that was combined to include the GT cars (550 hp Vipers and Caddys) and the Panoz series cars as well (72 cars in total). Read on…….

Sebring
Thank God (which ever one you believe in) for Skip Barber. The SBR event I ran here three weeks ago was INVALUABLE! Coaches Mark Hamilton Peters and Mikel Miller had worked with me on coming to grips with the track and finding speed here. Huge help, thanks guys, I wouldn’t have survived the weekend with out your help. As for that first practice it was … insane. Getting passed going into 17 by several GT cars moving almost 40 mph faster than you while you’re trying to get around a Panoz car that is faster on the straights but brakes 100 m earlier and carries 10 mph less through the corners, is an experience that will have me in therapy for years. No really. The good news is that in that first unofficial practice I ran a 2.25 (hey I’m finally faster than Alexander Rossi! He doesn’t have anything for me that a couple hundred extra hp won’t cure! ) which is only 2 seconds off the fast guys and less than a second off Memo’s best time in this same car last year. Way cool!
It all went down hill from there. Long story short, there was a reason that this car came with a huge spares package …. It needed it. We broke 2 trannys and 3 drive axles over the weekend. I had to qualify while driving with one hand holding the car in gear through the corners to prevent it from popping out of gear. Not exactly the recipe for fast laps. I made the "Show" however (you have to be within 110% of the leaders time (there were even several cars slower than me, although I don’t know how)). Then at the standing start the clutch blew, locked up, and all the power went straight into the axles which promptly broke again, ending my day 500 ft after it began. Welcome to pro racing.

St. Pete
Fast-forward two weeks. 3R had gotten the car back to the shop, ordered some custom upgraded axles and a new clutch (which had to be sourced and FedExed from AP Racing in England as the guys from Techsport (the original builders remember?) were British and used their British contacts to get parts to build the car, those parts were, yep you guessed it ….. British) and rebuilt the trannys. Of course all of this take time. In fact it takes the exact amount of time that we had before we had to leave for St. Pete. Life’s funny that way I guess. So once again we test at the race. Only this time there is no promoter test day just the two official practices, qualifying and then the race, and we are on a street course ….my first. (Excuse me sir but those large concrete barriers are kind of close, could you be so kind as to move them back a bit for me. Say 100m or so. Thanks so much!)
Once again we were slowed by problems. The rebuilt trannys weren’t holding up (we are switching to an XTRAC sequential box for Mid Ohio) and still popping out of gear. With no chance to switch trannys before qualifying I once again qualified while driving with one hand (I’m actually getting pretty good at it)(Oh and did I mention that the car doesn't have power steering.... It doesn't) and once again there were still several cars slower than me (I have to take my little victories where I can get them). Unfortunately that wasn’t our biggest problem. We were so focused on our mechanical problems that we hadn’t taken the time to go over the data downloaded from the car. The assumption was that I was losing most/ all of my time with the gearbox issues. Wrong! St. Pete has two high-speed full throttle corners and one high-speed 90% throttle chicane. Since we hadn’t had the time to do anything else but fix the car we had made no suspension adjustments (Wait, you can adjust the car? Damn you R/T 2000! ). Fortunately my MOTEC track beacon wasn’t working in qualifying and I wanted to see how my lap times had progressed and so I pulled Dax the team engineer (how cool is it that, I have an engineer) aside to look at the data. When we pulled it up we immediately saw that I was lifting through all of the high-speed corners that were supposed to be flat out. Oops. I was losing 1 to 2 seconds a lap right there! After analyzing the data we realized that the car was way lose through the high-speed stuff so we dialed in some rear wing, cranked up the rebound, and reduced the rear tow in. Unfortunately there would be no time to see if these adjustments were going to work as the only other on track session we had was the race itself. Wheee! Are we having fun yet?

The Race
Ok…brand new tranny (wrong ratio but it’s solid.... we hope) and suspension dialed in (we hope) its time to go racing. I had qualified 27th so I was going to have a front row seat to the mayhem that was about to ensue as Speed World Challenge uses that quaint transmission destroying format of standing starts. At the start Hugh Stewart who was in front of me got a great start and rocketed past several cars, which left a big hole in front of me. I remember being pissed off because I had to start somewhat conservatively due to my (hopefully) former gearbox and axle issues and was losing a bit of ground. This however was to prove to be a godsend as 200m later two of the front running cars got into it at 100 mph and bounced off of each other and one of them spun into the path of Stewart who swerved to avoid the impact and hit the Wooodhouse SRT4, careened off the pit wall and then back across the field to slam into the outside wall. All the while my crew chief (how cool is it that I have a crew chief?) is on the radio (how cool is it that … OK I’ll stop now) telling me that there’s a crash on drivers right however by this time they have bounced off the pit wall to my right and are now heading back across the track to my left which is where I’m heading. Hmmmm. Ok I think its time to go RIGHT! Full throttle! Oh hey look here comes Eric Curran’s Acura. Hi Eric! Hey… Eric… has anyone told you that you’re going the wrong way?!?! No, oh well, you are and oh by the way I’m about to hit you broadside at about 75 mph. Oh you’ll move out of my way and you’ll take that pesky BMW I was also about to collect with you as well, thank you very much. Oh hey look there’s Hugh again, Hi Hugh, I was just chatting with Eric and he said he’d move out of my way how about you? You will! Thanks so much and would you mind taking the Woodhouse car that’s in my way with you as well. Thanks. Whew!
Thankfully no one was hurt. But four very nice racecars were totaled. Fortunately none of them were mine. After that the race itself was somewhat anti climatic. The tranny worked as advertised, and the suspension changes worked as well. I lapped 1.5 seconds faster in the race than in qualifying (with all of my laps other than the start or when in traffic within .8 seconds of each other) and managed to pass 13 cars (four were in the first lap crash) and finish in a credible 14th place out of 34 cars. I think we could have had a top ten finish had we qualified better (but we also could have been right in the middle of all the mayhem, so I’ll take what I got).

We now have 5 weeks before Mid Ohio so we should have the car at 100% by then, so no more excuses it’s put up or shut up time. Thanks for reading.
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Last edited by usbikepro; 04-04-2006 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 04-04-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Here is some in car video stills of the crash
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Old 04-04-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Hi Robb, We met at the Skippy race weekend last December at Laguna Seca. Nice to see your move to the pro level. Best of luck, and keep those reports coming.
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Old 04-04-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by usbikepro
Excuse me sir but those large concrete barriers are kind of close, could you be so kind as to move them back a bit for me. Say 100m or so. Thanks so much!
LOL!

I've always wanted to run a street course... how did you like that??

Nice write up... enjoyed it, thanks!
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Old 04-04-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Actually it was scary as all hell at first. Turn 3 and the kink are completely blind and are taken flat out (if your car is set up right). 3 has got a nasty bump that upsets the car at turn in giving you a bit of push initially that you have to ignore because that push turns to oversteer real quick as the road crowns and then falls off at the exit. That's what caught out Irish Mike Flynn in qualifying (see below). The chicane is even worse, you're sliding towards one wall at entry and another at the exit. All in front of 100,000 spectators, multiple 20 ft. tall TV screens all around the course, and the assembled international media (not for here for us but for the Danica Patrick Racing League). Pressure what pressure? Actually it was a frickin' blast. I can't wait for Denver.
Hey Ted good to hear from you. As long as you guys keep reading, I'll keep writing.
Sorry I've got to do the racer thing and thank my long time sponsors Fila for helping me out. I may not be fast but at least I look good.
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Old 04-04-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Obligitory sponsor shot
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Old 04-04-2006
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Thumbs up Re: Speed World Challenge

Rob,

Great meeting you at Sebring and thanks for sharing your adventure with so much detail and enthusiasm! Good stuff.

Pics and video stills give you that sense of being trapped in a high pucker factor unforgiving tunnel. Yee Hah. But you do look cool in your Fila's

Tough with so little set up and practice time but having the right support crew makes all the difference. Good stuff watching the process of team & individual technique develop into on-track performance.

You've got good equipment, a good crew and positive attitude that makes the most of your situation. Nice problems to have. Keep up the good work!

Please do keep us updated and good luck at Mid-Ohio

Pat
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Old 04-04-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Tell Fila they should keep sponsoring you... this post inspired me... going out now to buy 100 pair of shoes and some sweats!!
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Old 04-04-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Thanks MJ. Just for that, if you PM me your address and shirt size after you return from shopping, I'll shoot you one of our wicked cool Fila polo team shirts when they're done. Make all the other skippy guys green with envy.
Pat it was a pleasure meeting you at Sebring as well. 3R Racing is a really amazing group of guys and I am very lucky to be associated with them. There is a very good reason why they have won 3 SWC Championships, they are simply the best team out there.

Last edited by usbikepro; 04-04-2006 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 04-07-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Rob,

I haven't had the pleasure of meeting you at a Skippy weekend, but I found your recounting of your experiences in the first two speed world challenge events quite interesting and entertaining. Hope you'll find the time to keep us updated on your exploits as the year progresses.

-Pete
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Old 04-11-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Thanks PT. Hopefully I'll be able to sneak in a few Skippy races in between my SWC commitments and we can meet. Like I've said before, if you guys keep reading I'll keep writting. I also have some HiDef in car video of St. Pete. It's pretty cool as it's in widescreen format which means that you can actually see everything that's going on not just a postage stamp size bit of the front window. As soon as I can figure out how to compress it to a more handy size (under a couple of gigs would be nice ) I'll post it.
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Old 04-11-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Robb, we are drooling to see your wide screen hiDef in car, with the follow up question... Could you strap one of those rigs on an RT2000? As you've probably seen the cameras are usually bagged out of harms way with an optical fiber cable to a bullet cam (lens) mounted on top of the roll bar. Do you have a picture of the rig?

Quote:
Originally Posted by usbikepro
I also have some HiDef in car video of St. Pete. It's pretty cool as it's in widescreen format which means that you can actually see everything that's going on. As soon as I can figure out how to compress it to a more handy size (under a couple of gigs would be nice ) I'll post it.
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Old 04-11-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Hey Robb,

Great race recap. Congrats on making lemonade out of lemons. Alex just left for school so I'll be sure to show him this when he gets home.

Looking forward to cheering you on in Denver. If you ever do any testing in Pueblo, please get in touch. We would sure enjoy a first hand look.

Jim
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Old 04-11-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Pat, the camera is just mounted directly to the roll bar. As far as I know there are no HiDef bullet cams out there (If someone knows different please let me know). The camera itself isn't very big (Sony HDR-HC1) but I think if you were to mount it on an RT without protection you'd have a thousand dollar paperweight by the time you made it to turn one. That's the one advantage to running tin tops is that you don't get beat up so bad. I would love to post a full hidef video here but the best I can do is get one lap compressed to about 950mb or so. I don't know if your servers can handle that file size. If they can let me know and I'll post it.
Jim good to hear from you. Congrats on Alexs strong showing at the National event, wish I could have been there. We will be testing at Pueblo a bunch next week if this weather holds. PM me your contact info and I'll give you some advanced warning as to when we're heading down. It will most likely be on a weekday as Pueblo is fully booked for every weekend this season. (It's the only track still standing within 300 miles) but I'll keep you posted.
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Old 04-11-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by usbikepro
I would love to post a full hidef video here but the best I can do is get one lap compressed to about 950mb or so. I don't know if your servers can handle that file size. If they can let me know and I'll post it.
Yup, we can handle it. As long as the entire internet doesn't descend on us and downloads a copy... I could just see my bandwidth bill.

I'll PM you with FTP instructions. This could be very cool..!
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Old 04-12-2006
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Re: Speed World Challenge

Lets see that HD footage... I still want to see a complete lap, uninterrupted, of the St. Pete street circuit.
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Old 04-16-2006
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Videos Re: Speed World Challenge

The videos are now available to download in the new HD Videos section in Stuff/Links. Thanks to Rob Holland for making the video and uploading it. Please make sure you read the different file types and the system requirements for each - the system requirements for the bigger HD files are HUGE, so unless you have one of the newest and fastest computers you may not be able to see the bigger versions.
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