2007 4 Hours of Pacific Raceways
October 20 - Pacific Raceways

The race that almost didn’t happen. It started back in August when an ABS issue put my car into the wall at Portland. With the car also needing transmission, exhaust and brake work, I figured my season was over. I would just fix the car over the winter. I was planning on joining Steve Adams in his e36 BMW M3 for the 4 Hour. But, a month before the race he made the decision that his car was not going to be enduro worthy in time. Mainly, his small fuel cell would require 3 stops in a 4 hour race. The pit lane configuration at Pacific Raceways results in pit stops being especially costly. Three stops would seriously compromise the race. Hmm, I’ve collected most of the parts I need to put the 968 back together, maybe I should. Could I do it in time?

I started by raiding my stash of parts that I thought I would never use again. I had a bent up fender that Mark Cockle had roughly banged back into shape, the GT-Racing front splitter that was originally on the car when I bought it, and the heavy, stock cat-back exhaust. I bought a used bumper cover and I had a used but recently rebuilt transaxle on hand. I had planned to get a limited slip differential installed in it, but there wasn’t time before the race. The car also needed some time at the body shop so that mounting points and brackets could be put straight.

With a week to go before the race, I had finished swapping transaxles, putting the old exhaust on and getting the car to and from the body shop. Thanks to Mark @ Eurotech for squeezing me into the schedule. I still needed to put the body work back on, attend to the brakes and engine and try to coordinate a crew and all the needed parts and pieces. The car was close to running so I went ahead and sent the entry in. Steve Adams was going to be my co-driver (he may have driven this car before). I then added an adjustable brake proportioning valve, an ABS reset switch, bleed the brakes and hoped that they would work right. There was just not time to properly test them. I was able to get everything buttoned up in time and Stephen Guy came over from Idaho to help load the trailer on Friday night. Yes, Idaho - and my wife thinks I’m crazy. To top it off, it rained like crazy off and on all Friday.
The weather for race day was anyone’s guess. The forecast called for showers, rain, sun breaks, thunderstorms & partly cloudy. It seemed likely that it was going to alternate between wet & dry depending on how the cells of showers passed through. The obvious tire choice would be a full tread Toyo RA-1, as they can handle both wet & dry conditions. While not exactly great in either condition they would be workable in both. Wait, do I have a set of full tread RA-1s? Well, I’ve got this 4 year old set of half tread Toyos, that used to be full tread, 15 heat cycles ago. They might work. I also have a set of Hoosier rains and newer set of shaved RA-1s. The Hoosiers would be great if it was wet for 4 hours but would be eaten alive in the dry and the shaved Toyos would be worthless against Pacific Raceways notorious standing water.

We arrived at the track Saturday morning to find our assigned pit stall was a lake. After tracking down the illustrious Bruce Boyd and finding our new dry pit, Stephen and I unloaded the car and started setting up the pit. It didn’t take long for the skies to open up and the drizzle to begin. The rest of the crew: James, Scott, Cam and my parents Linda & Randy trickled in over the next hour.

It was wet, so we put the treaded Toyos on the car. I went out in the first practice to make sure the car was okay and try to get a feel for the brake bias setting. There was a bit too much front bias and the car was not stable in braking for Turn 2. It seemed okay going into Turn 3 and everywhere else but T2 wasn’t good. The car also had a general lack of grip. The balance was fairly neutral but at no point could you really lean on the car. The lack of a limited slip was definitely hurting in the 3a/3b complex. I tip toed around for a while but could not get up much speed. I brought the car in and we made a brake bias adjustment.

Steve went out in the second practice session. I think he found a similar experience as one of the first things he said (after we extracted him from the car) was that he was not going to be very fast in these conditions. I had told him the first priority of the weekend was to not hurt the car - since I just put it back together. With that priority and the lack of grip I experienced, I wasn’t expecting Aytron Senna. For the final practice session I decided we should try the Hoosier rains. I went out and the difference was enormous. It was a completely different car. Most of the braking issues were gone, you could put the power down and it cornered almost like it was dry. The biggest issue was trying to find the new limits, since it was so different than the old Toyos.
As race time approached the weather was undecided. The track was wet but the clouds were lightening and it appeared the rain may be gone for a while. Even though it could dry out shortly I decided we should start on the Hoosiers. If nothing else the car was fun to drive with them on and it was otherwise miserable with the Toyos. We were here to have fun right? Some teams started on dry weather tires and others stayed on rains.

Steve started the race from near the back of the 38 car field. The grid is set by order of entry and we were pretty much a last minute entry. There were 11 cars in our P1 class. It was a strong group of cars that would not be easy to beat. There was the enduro winning Miller tube frame Fiero, the yellow Helton M3, the Helton Koni Challenge BMW Coupe, Craig Hillis’ 944 Turbo and several other fast 911s, RX-7s and BMWs. As the cars are on the pace lap the rain sprinkles begin again. Scott started doing a rain dance in our pit and it seemed to work as it just kept getting wetter and wetter.

As the race progressed Steve slowly made his through the pack. The BMWs which had started near the front were running away and the P0 Mustang had lap speed from another planet. In spite of the weather, there were few major incidents, although the scanner was crackling with constant reports of cars going off course. Early in the race, as the rain was at its heaviest, Steve reported the windshield was fogging up. Wiping on the inside seemed to have no effect on it. I told him to stay out as long as he could and I think it was then he realized it was the rain-x or something else smearing on the outside of the window. Eventually it cleared and an unscheduled stop was avoided. We got our first update from timing & scoring about an hour and a half into the race. It showed us 13th overall, but curiously, it showed cars I thought Steve had already passed ahead of us. Oh well, I can barely see the track from the pits, who knows what has been going on.

Typically the car cannot go 2 hours on a single tank, but the reduced pace caused by the rain was giving us good mileage. We were going to be able to do the race on one stop. The question was what to do about the tires? The rain had stopped and a dry line was developing as the 2 hour mark approached. If it kept going like this the Hoosiers wouldn’t last. We were continually checking the Doppler radar via James cell phone but it was still a guessing game. There were still rain cells out there, it was just a question if any would hit the track in the next 2 hours. There seemed to be a decent chance one would. We opted to go with the treaded Toyos in case the rain returned. At least they would have some tread if it got wet. The other problem was the tire change itself. The crew hadn’t practiced one and I had hoped to avoid one by using the Toyos. There is nothing like learning on the job.
Steve brought the car in a few minutes past 2 o’clock for fuel, driver change and tires. We were up to 6th overall prior to Steve’s stop. The guys got the fuel in and tires changed in good order. The tire change cost us some time against the cars that were doing fuel only but a dry line had developed and the Hoosiers would not last in those conditions. I exited the pits and completed the out lap without drama. But, as I turned into turn 2 on my first flying lap the car snapped around and I took a quick trip through the gravel. So that’s how it is going to be! I carefully worked my way back up to speed. The car was very unsettled braking into turn 2 after the straight. It was also a bit of a struggle getting out of the tight 3A/3B turns. The car would spin the inside wheel quite easily. Otherwise, the car was pretty decent. These tires were definitely better in the dry than they were in the wet.

I spent the next hour or so running a comfortable pace and passing as many cars as I could. I knew I was running faster than many of the cars ahead of in the order. I just needed to keep pushing and hope there was enough time to catch them. The track continued to dry and the rain showers stayed away. With about half an hour left there was a full course caution for a car that had beached itself on top of the Turn 2 tire wall. On the restart the traffic was incredible. I felt like I was dropped into a Pro3 race as there were BMWs everywhere. After a couple laps I was able to catch and pass the M Coupe for second in the P1 class. By the last lap I was closing in on the class leading Boyle/Tipton yellow M3, but unfortunately they were several laps ahead. I was surprised to see that the Last Lap board was still out as I came around again. Hadn’t the Mustang won this already? Then it dawned on me, Pat Boyle was going to get the checkered flag. Congratulations to them. The Mustang had run into mechanical trouble just before the end.

We were second in class and fifth overall. There had been an issue with timing and scoring early in the race so we were later credited with 4th overall. Considering the thrash to get ready and the 10 other cars in class, 2nd in class was a satisfying result. Not as satisfying as a win but we’re working on it.
Photos by Randy Krause.
Video from the 4 Hours of Pacific Raceways on YouTube

Enduro Stats:
- Drivers: Steve Adams, Eric Krause
- Crew: James Temple, Stephen Guy, Randy Krause, Linda Krause, Scott Norton, Cam Norton
- 4th overall out of 38 cars
- 2nd in class
- 125 laps completed
- 4 laps behind the winning BMW M3
- 1 pit stop w/tire change for a total of 4:14 minutes
- 1:38.601 fast lap (Krause)