Live Blog: AER at Road Atlanta

We’re racing at Road Atlanta this weekend with American Endurance Racing. What are we driving? Two fantastic cars: Our project turbo Miata, and FCP Euro’s Mercedes-Benz C300. We’ll be posting frequent updates here, so keep an eye on the comments to see how things go. Want to keep tabs on our lap times? Here’s the live timing link courtesy of RaceHero.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more news.

Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/16/18 6:41 p.m.

Day one is just about over. Today was practice in the morning and qualifying in the afternoon. The verdict... our car is slow. Check out the entry list and class assignments here: https://tinyurl.com/y74t6okt

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 5:17 a.m.

Good morning! Coffee is brewing and our driver’s meeting starts at 6:30am! surprise

 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 5:18 a.m.

Our Miata looks good! Can’t wait to start racing! 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 5:27 a.m.

Over at the FCP Euro Mercedes, they’re adding defrost ducting to their blower fan. Why? It’s supposed to be a cold, wet day. 

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
2/17/18 6:20 a.m.

Just about ready to head to grid. Race starts at 8:00. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 6:21 a.m.

 

Same here, Grid just opened. 

The Miata is in class 1, the slowest. The Benz is in class 3, so it will start in front of the Miata. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 6:23 a.m.

And here’s a comparison of tow vehicles:

GTXVette
GTXVette Dork
2/17/18 6:25 a.m.

 Looks like a Dry Start,  But May OR May Not Rain until dark,  Then it won't matter , Everything will get wet When the Sun Goes down, Which You May Or Not See,  Man I Love North Ga.

MazdaFace
MazdaFace HalfDork
2/17/18 6:26 a.m.

Nice! Cool pictures looks like a ton of fun. 

GTXVette
GTXVette Dork
2/17/18 6:37 a.m.

 I should drive over and check this out. this kind of show looks just like where this Fiero I've Gotten Should Land. It Runs Now and No Point in Sitting until the Challenge.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 6:40 a.m.

We’re on grid! As we post photos, keep an eye on the round class stickers (FCP’s is green). These show who’s racing against each other. There are 5 classes, with class 1 being the slowest. The pointy end of the field contains a Ferrari 458 Challenge. The slow end, well, our Miata is in class 1. 

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
2/17/18 6:48 a.m.

In reply to GTXVette :

Absolutely

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 7:08 a.m.

One cool piece of tech we’re running this weekend is RacePak’s new CL1 data acquisition/telemetry system. We can keep tabs on our car from our phone. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 7:17 a.m.

Moving onto pace lap number 3. Two cars already came back to the pits. It’s SLICK out there. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 7:25 a.m.

Our Miata is settling into a groove and knocking time off as the field dries out the track.  

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 7:27 a.m.

Over at FCP Euro, Rob is climbing up the field in the Benz. Best lap so far: 2:00. Looks like he’ll break 2 minutes. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 7:31 a.m.

Rain has started to pick up again, meaning the track will stay wet. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 7:51 a.m.

Just got through our first on-track failure in the Miata. Tore a front sway bar bushing, meaning we spent a few laps in the paddock. Flipped the link around and we’re back on track. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 8:06 a.m.

Meanwhile, in the FCP Euro pit, things are good. Check out this graph of Rob climbing through the field: 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 8:31 a.m.

Rain is letting up, both cars are doing well on track. FCP Euro is up to 12th overall, and our Miata is cruising along at the back of the pack. 

 

Every team is required to do 5 pit stops today, and we’ve already got one of those out of the way thanks to that sway bar endlink. Once teams start pitting, I’m expecting our car to keep climbing the leaderboard. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 8:37 a.m.

At 1:37 into the race, teams have started taking their first of 5 mandatory 3-minute-long pit stops. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 8:41 a.m.

The weather is just toying with us at this point. Rain comes and goes, meaning constantly changing track conditions, lap times, and leaders. The Miata is pretty decent in the rain thanks to its soft, ChampCar-legal suspension, but much of that is offset by the lack of ABS. 

FCP Euro’s Mercedes C300 has ABS, but lacks visibility: they don’t have a heater core, and a bilge blower fan and RainX aren’t enough to keep the windshield clear in this weather. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 8:55 a.m.

We did an opportunistic fuel stop/driver change during a full-course caution. Ed is driving now, and Wayne just jumped out of the car. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 9:15 a.m.

Over at FCP, Rob is out of the car and Michael is in. They’re leading class 3 and still climbing. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 9:21 a.m.

Pictured: what running a well-sorted car with a well-coordinated team looks like. Half the battle is having a fast-enough car. The other half is making it easy to drive 9 hours straight. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 9:43 a.m.

Visibility in the FCP Mercedes is now at “I can’t see anything on the track.”

The team is putting together a Rag-On-A-Stick now. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 10:09 a.m.

Awwwwwwww yeah. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 10:38 a.m.

Day 1 is nearing the halfway point, and the track is finally starting to dry out. Ed is out in the Miata now, and I’m jumping in the FCP Euro Mercedes in an hour or so. 

sleepyhead
sleepyhead HalfDork
2/17/18 11:47 a.m.

cool stuff, thanks for the updates!  Good Luck out there!

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
2/17/18 12:23 p.m.

Tom this is great. Thanks for this thread. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 1:55 p.m.

Just hopped out of the FCP Euro Mercedes. WOW!! What a well-sorted, easy-to-drive, fun car! I was keeping up with E46 M3s out there! 

I got out with FCP Euro still leading class three, and Rob hopped back in. We’re down a lap and a position after that pit stop, but should make that up once the other team pits. I ran a fast lap of 1:45.661, making me the fastest driver so far today. I also had the only dry stint, so I’m expecting Rob to beat me shortly.

Over in our Miata’s pit, things went slightly less well. We’ve been pushing our stints longer and longer to try and stretch our fuel and save a pit stop, but Ed got the short end of the stick after running 55 minutes at race pace in the dry. He ran out of gas one corner before pit in, and had to be dragged to the pit behind the wrecker. We refilled the car and sent Wayne out, fighting to better our current position: 7th in the class, out of 12. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 1:57 p.m.

In reply to dean1484 :

No problem! It’s literally what we’re here for. laugh

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 2:08 p.m.

Rob just turned a 1:44.837 in the Benz. Over in the Miata, Wayne is still trying to beat Ed’s fast lap of 148.109. 

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
2/17/18 3:30 p.m.

Tom just stopped for a splash of fuel and he’ll take it the rest of the way today. We’re under caution right now. Someone went off in turn 5. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 4:27 p.m.

That’s it for day one! The Miata finished sixth in class 1, and the Mercedes finished second in class 2. Tomorrow we race again, and start with 0 laps. We’ll see if we can do better then. 

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
2/17/18 4:35 p.m.

All done for the day  time for a once-over.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 6:15 p.m.

Time for Mexican food! 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/17/18 10:07 p.m.

11:00 pm update: I’m finally going to bed, after walking the paddock for a bit. I watched the Civic Si team swap a new engine in after a pebble snapped their timing belt on track, and also bumped into none other than Bill Caswell (pictured, left). 

Time for bed! Driver’s meeting is at 6:30 am. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 6:48 a.m.

Good morning AER! Track goes hot in about 10 minutes. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 6:56 a.m.

Our Miata is ready! That Fit has a K24 in it, and it’s FAST. 

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
2/18/18 6:56 a.m.

About to start day 2 of racing. We’re gridded up in finishing order from yesterday. 

LanEvo
LanEvo HalfDork
2/18/18 7:07 a.m.

Is FCP Euro the same as Rooster Hall Racing? Todd Brown and those guys were super helpful to me last season when I ran into some mechanical trouble. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 7:14 a.m.

Wayne just took the green flag, which immediately turned into a double yellow and then a red flag with safety vehicles on track. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 7:23 a.m.

Race is still red flagged. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 7:46 a.m.

And we’re back to yellow. Our Miata fueling window is now from 8:55 to 9:25 thanks to the red flag, so we’ll see what the caution flag gods hand us. 

The FCP Euro Mercedes just pitted, taking on more fuel and completing the mandatory 3-minute pit stop for this portion of the race. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 7:51 a.m.

After that last round of pit stops, we’re leading class 1 and 19th overall. Second place in our class, a silver Miata, hasn’t pitted yet, either, so as long as we can keep our stop to 3 minutes we’ll be good to go. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 8:11 a.m.

So far so good! 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 8:13 a.m.

The FCP Euro Mercedes is down to 8th in class, but I’m assuming it’s classmates haven’t pitted yet. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 8:26 a.m.

The Miata’s pit stop was a success. Exactly 3 minutes from RFID reader at pit in to RFID reader at pit out. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 8:36 a.m.

BAD WAYNE! Looks like we need to install a pit speed limiter. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/18/18 8:49 a.m.

Really enjoying this. The data/telemetry is awesome. 

Any chance we can get you guys to do an update on the differences between LeMons, Champ, AER in the "modern era"? 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 8:50 a.m.

We’re currently 4th in class, with Wayne less than a second behind the third-place spec Miata.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 8:54 a.m.

And the double-yellow just came out, signaling the end of this portion of the race. Road Atlanta has quiet hours from 10-12. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 8:56 a.m.

Time to check in with the Mercedes. Michael wheeled it to a fourth-place finish in this portion of the race. They’ll try to improve on that once the race restarts at 12. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 11:28 a.m.

And we’re racing! Ed is out in the Miata, and Rob is out in the FCP Euro Mercedes. All is well. 

Ed’s expected to pit at about 12:45, and we’ll be putting Mike Skeen in for the next stint. Yes, amazingly enough he fits in our Miata. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 12:07 p.m.

And Mike Skeen is officially in the car. He turned a 1:49.840 on his very first lap, so this should be a good session for us. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 12:08 p.m.

Wow. 1:47.57

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 12:10 p.m.

Over at FCP Euro, Rob is now 3rd in class. Best time of the day for the car so far: 1:43.509

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 12:11 p.m.

And Mike just turned a 1:47.02

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 12:14 p.m.

1:46.912...

 

I’m beginning to think there might be something to this whole “professional driver” thing. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 12:35 p.m.

1:46.169. We ❤️ Mike Skeen. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 12:38 p.m.

And we’re up to third in class! 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 12:43 p.m.

We just added “driver training” to our Miata’s list of needs. Mike has us up in second place. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 1:00 p.m.

In the FCP Euro Mercedes, Nate is driving now. He’s in second place, with a 42-second gap from first. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 1:07 p.m.

Meanwhile, Mike Skeen is down to a 1:45 in our Miata.

sleepyhead
sleepyhead HalfDork
2/18/18 1:14 p.m.

nothing like wrenching on the nut behind the wheel

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 2:34 p.m.

Just got out of the Miata.  We’re in 4th place. The FCP Euro Mercedes is second in class. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 3:34 p.m.

Aaaaaaaand the Miata is out. The car was down on power, and further investigation revealed two broken bolts holding our turbo on. With less than 30 minutes remaining and everybody behind us already out, we’re calling it and putting the car on the trailer. 

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
2/18/18 3:40 p.m.

So how does that happen?  

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
2/18/18 3:41 p.m.

I would be interested in a more detailed look at how that happened. 

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
2/18/18 3:43 p.m.

Tom

Thanks for this. It brought back memory’s of our teams adventures.  Man do I miss doing that. 

Matthew Kennedy
Matthew Kennedy Reader
2/18/18 4:01 p.m.

Time for inconel turbo studs.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/18/18 4:13 p.m.

Over in the Mercedes, FCP Euro won!! Position one in their class ran out of fuel on the last lap, and they passed them to take the checker. Great race! 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/18/18 4:32 p.m.

Thanks for doing this. It was run following along. 

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
2/18/18 4:47 p.m.

yes

noddaz
noddaz SuperDork
2/18/18 6:01 p.m.

Yes, this was a fun read...

Thank you!

bmw88rider
bmw88rider SuperDork
2/18/18 7:01 p.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Glad you pulled out the shoe horn to fit Mike into your Miata. That boy can drive.  Too bad about the breakage. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/19/18 7:25 a.m.

Awesome, glad everybody enjoyed it! Thanks for following along.

 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
2/19/18 7:31 a.m.

And here are the official results. Looks like Race 1 is posted, but Race 2 is just a placeholder for now:

https://race.americanenduranceracing.com/event/aer-at-road-atlanta-2018/results

Xceler8x
Xceler8x UberDork
2/19/18 9:39 a.m.

My turbo miata would stretch studs like they were made of taffy at race pace..er..track day pace. Iconel studs will be the way to go. After that, they never stretched. Then I had to figure out how to use stage 8 locking bolts to hold the parts together on either side of the studs! 

Jere
Jere Dork
2/19/18 10:10 a.m.

What bolts not studs?! Thats the problem right there that's turbo basics 101.... Thermal expansion is a bummer

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
2/19/18 10:52 a.m.

We had a new exhaust exit after those bolts stopped acting like bolts. 

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
2/19/18 12:29 p.m.

AER puts on a good event. I have done only one but it was a blast. I need to do more, but with two kids a weekend away is not an option right now. Thanks for live blogging it, I read it all as it happened and it helped put off the race withdrawal!

te72
te72 New Reader
2/19/18 11:26 p.m.

Fun read!

 

Sorry to hear about the turbo hardware failure. Guy who assembled my engine decided to use grade 5 bolts to attach my turbo to the manifold. Wanna guess what happens when they've had a couple heat cycles run through them? Hint: bad things.

 

On the plus side, the engineering has already been done for you here. I went with stainless ARP's that will likely prevent a future failure in my case. If you want to take it to the next level (both materially and financially) then Iconel is your new best friend.

Our Preferred Partners
pbvBQaJKwXX3rnRU1FsqaRrRzOYoAOCt