2006 8 Hours of the Cascades Enduro
October 21 - Portland International Raceway

This was our third try at the Cascade 8 Hour and again we were hoping to have a trouble free run and get a good finish via reliability and consistency. We were running in the fast P1 class for cars 2.5 liters and above. The main competition in class was a 996 GT3 Cup car, a very fast red Mustang, two BMW M3’s, an RX7, a 350Z and a 280Z packing a V8. The 968 would be several seconds a lap slower than most of them.

The race ran from 12 to 8pm Saturday, October 21st at Portland International Raceway. Unbelievably, it was sunny and 71 degrees for race day. You could not get a nicer day in the Northwest in late October. It was a nice luxury to not even have to think about rain tires.

I had two experienced Porsche racers as co-drivers, Craig Hillis and Steve Haywood. I knew they were both great drivers and they proved it in the race. Both of them were comfortable enough with the track and type of car that Saturday morning practice would be their first taste of the car. I went out first to warm up the car and bed the brakes. Immediately, I could tell the car was not quite the same as it’s last Portland race a month earlier. The car was unsettled under heavy braking, especially on full tanks. It has never been absolutely perfect under braking but this was not typical. The car was still perfectly manageable so we worked around it. On the first lap of practice the Mustang spun and broke something – one down.

Video: Cascade Enduro October 2006 (126MB WMV)
The biggest hurdle of the day came with just 10 minutes left in the final practice. Craig was out getting up to speed in the car. In fact, he did the car’s fastest ever lap at Portland (1:19.5) in the session. Unfortunately, he nosed the car into the Turn 12 tire wall the next lap. Nothing quite snaps you to attention as the marshal walking by and saying “Car 6, your car has crashed in turn 12.” What?! Oh course, you immediately think the worst. Luckily, it turned out to be mostly cosmetic. The grill was blown out, hood latch broken, fender bent and one set of headlights was pointed who knows where - but the suspension was untouched. The car went behind the wall and the crew jumped on taping and tie wrapping the nose back together. They did a great job and the car is ready to roll out onto the grid a few minutes before the start.
A unique aspect of this race is the Le Mans style start. The cars are lined up in the pit lane and when a horn sounds the drivers run across the pit lane, jump in the car, buckle up and then take off. Craig was to do the first stints. He jumped in the car and got away in good order. Which was pretty good considering we were scrambling to get the car back together and never had a chance to practice the start. He ran fast, consistent laps though out his stints. The first stop was at 1:20pm for fuel and to repair a loose driver side mirror. During this first stint the GT3 Cup car, the black Adare M3, yellow Helton M3, 280Z and a red sports racer moved ahead of us. The 350Z was in and out of the pits several times. During Craig’s second stint the Sports racer went down.
At 2:40 Craig handed the car off to Steve. We were now in 5th place overall. 3 laps behind the Cup Car and Adare BMW, 2 laps behind the Yellow M3 and on the same lap as the 280Z. Steve was very quick and started making ground on the Yellow M3. Before his first pit stop Steve was able to pass the M3 for position. Then at about 3:40, our car started to smoke. I thought we were going be done when I saw smoke coming out from under the car. But, as mysteriously as it appeared the smoking stopped a few laps later. We looked the car over at the next pit stop but couldn't find anything. On unloading the car the next morning, I discovered a torn CV boot just above the exhaust and grease sprayed everywhere. We were luckly the CV lasted another 4+ hours. Just about this same time the 280Z had a problem and the Adare BMW hit something and went behind the wall for repairs. At half way, we were 3rd and trading positions back and forth with the yellow M3 at every pit stop.

Steve continued his quick pace, setting our fast lap of the race on lap 206 (1:20.1). By the time he brought the car in to hand over to me at 5:20 we were in 2nd overall and one lap up on the yellow M3.
I got into the car with a little over 2.5 hours left in the race. At this point we were in second but the yellow M3 was on the same lap. The car felt really sloppy but as I got warmed up and the fuel load went down it started to feel like the car I usually drive. Soon after my stop, the M3 did a quick stop and came out of the pits a few seconds ahead of me. If I could catch him it would put them 2 laps down. I wasn't able to pass him but I stayed in close contact for next 40 minutes or so as we sliced thru traffic. I had to work hard to keep up as he could use his superior power to put lap cars between us on the straights. We both had to pit one more time. We did a quick fuel only stop and they did fuel & a driver change. But, because of a full course caution they were able to stay only one lap down. Their last driver was fast and they were coming for us.

By this time it was dark and the car had picked up a high speed vibration. The mirrors were shaking so bad it was hard to even pick out what kind of headlights were behind me. I was having to take some risks in traffic to keep the pace up as the M3 was now running faster laps. It had turned into a 2 hour sprint race! With 30 minutes left the M3 unlapped themselves and they were picking up seconds per lap. Jim Hill was giving me time remaining and gap information over the radio and the two kept getting closer and closer. I had to be fast and not make a mistake. When was this race ever going to end! Mercifully, the checkered came out and we finished about 38 seconds ahead. Which is nothing after 8 hours. The results show us as being a lap up, but only because the winning 996 Cup car was between us at the checkered flag.
We finished 2nd overall (out of 35) and completed 337 laps. It was the most intense enduro I've been in and the finishing position was very satisfying. Thanks to the great work of the crew and the fast, clean driving we were able to come out ahead of some faster competition. Also, a big thanks goes to the workers and to Cascade Sports Car Club for putting on a great event.

Enduro Stats:
- Drivers: Craig Hillis, Steve Haywood, Eric Krause
- Crew: Jim Hill, Steve Adams, James Temple, James Wright, David Graves, Randy Krause
- 2nd overall out of 35
- 2nd in class
- 337 laps completed
- 12 laps behind the winning Porsche GT3 Cup car
- 5 pit stops for a total of 8:22 minutes
- 1:20.179 fast lap (Haywood)
- 95 gallons of gas, 1 qt. oil. That's it again!