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The-storm-before-the-storm

The Storm Before the Storm – Watkins Glen 2016

I suppose the same could be said of any event, but those not involved have no idea how much has to happen to get it all set up to pull off the show. Even as we roll in to set up before the spectators arrive, there are already other support series, officials, and equipment in the paddock. Dozens of semitrailers full of tires are hidden behind the fancy tire support haulers. Generators, communication equipment, vendors, fuel trucks, and safety equipment are staged around the paddock.

Rainy day pit practice
Rainy day pit practice at the shop and constant effort from the BimmerWorld crew paid off in the race.

 

No One Goes Hungry!

Everyone has something to do, and everyone needs to eat. From concession food or cooler-packed cold cuts to the full splendor of Chef Dave’s trackside services, this is one of the areas that we’ve grown even more so than our transporters. Johnny and I were able to fill in during Dave’s absence, but Johnny clearly stated, “We’re not Dave Taylor, so the chicken cacciatore and grape leaf appetizers would be another time.” I was fine with that. I have half a dozen staples I knock out for the guys on test days, at club races or in the shop, and Johnny Ray is working on a BBQ stand business to ease his coming retirement boredom. All that said, I’m always looking for an excuse to run the smoker, so I smoked a big batch of Southern BBQ the weekend before we left and vacuum-sealed it to bring with us. We take our eating pretty seriously here at BimmerWorld, and no one goes hungry at the track.

Pre-race BBQ
Making sure no one will go hungry: Pre-race BBQ prep at 7:00AM on Sunday morning at the Marks’ Ranch

BimmerWorld subs
And for a bit of variety, Italian subs tend to make everyone happy – and full.

BW waffles
Our morning adventure with “BW” waffles… Talk about a good omen!

 

Before the Storm: Time For The Rain (Tire) Dance

After the mad dash of the event setup and practice, we prepared for qualifying. If it’s going to rain on a race weekend, it’s most likely going to begin to sprinkle indecisively about 30 minutes before qualifying or the race. True to form, qualifying was no different this weekend. The first cloud of the weekend, and green blips on the radar, showed up 40 minutes prior to the qualifying session, so the rain tire/dry tire decision dance began. The garages looked like an Independence Day sale at Ray’s Tire Emporium as the crew juggled the air lines, impact guns, and tire options. There is never a dull moment. A fleeting shower left the tire decision gray, so we sent the No. 81  on wets and the No. 84 on drys. As expected, it seemed bleak for the No. 84; the early wetness looked like it wasn’t going to dry, but Tyler Cooke laid down his fastest lap the last time around and this left both cars with solid qualifying positions.

Rain tire dance
Chris Broce looks ready to start the rain tire dance.

All hands - Race-day prep
All hands on deck for race-day preparation.

Watkins Glen fan walk
A fan checks out the No. 81 BMW 328i on grid during the fan walk.

 

Two Top-10 Finishes – Two Solid Cars Heading to Canada

Race day was beautiful with good winds and a relatively cool temperature. Both opening drivers drove excellent stints and brought the cars in high in the field. The crew banged out two great stops. Dave Simpkins, Joe Vaught, Chris Broce, and Tom Wansor nailed a super green-flag stop on the No. 84 which pitted from a 2nd-place position and returned to the track in 2nd place. We lost a little ground in the end, but the closing drivers still put two cars in the top 10 and grabbed points for the championship. The race also left solid cars to prepare on the road for Canada, which is always a looming concern for back-to-back races. Damage is harder to fix when you don’t have your own shop to work in.

Post-race carnival
Scattered race parts at the IMSA series transporter. The day after the carnival is always an interesting sight.

Staying at Watkins Glen to get the work done in the short turn-around before the next round lets our week come full circle with a glimpse at the midway after the carnival has left. Broken race parts and miscellaneous hardware litter the empty asphalt as straggler trucks and trailers make their way out of the paddock. After preparing our cars we head out right behind.

-Jason Marks


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