Here’s the “press release” from Alex Talbot, the owner
of the Blue Mazda Miata (affectionately named Lil
Blu), that I race. Last weekend we won 1st place in
Spec Miata, and 3rd overall in the 10 Hour Endurance
race held at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Mi. -
…and yes, we did finish 2nd overall last year (we suck
I guess). I’ll let Alex share the details:
Well for a 3rd consecutive year #6 lil blu and the
Automekanika team took on the 10 hour race and
Gingerman Raceway. Gingerman a 1.88 mile 11 turn track
in Southwestern Michigan that is home to a lot of club
racing, pro-team testing and manufacturing testing as
well. The team of drivers included, Allen “Skippy”
Skillicorn, John Munson, Rob Fike, Aaron Newton and
In the 2003 10 hour endurance event, despite getting 8
minutes of penalties assessed to us and 5 hours in the
rain we still managed 2nd overall and 1st in class.
We were amazed to do that. Keep in mind we’re
piloting a 116hp Mazda Miata against, BMW’s,
Porsche’s, Mustangs, Viper’s, purpose built Spec Racer
Fords, and GT cars. Going into 2004’s event, I knew
are chances were slim to none to get on the overall
podium this time (even though the sweet taste of
champagne is a great motivator). However, there
were to be a lot more Spec Miata’s this year so
running for a class win would be fun. This year, one
of our drivers, John Munson, decided to increase our
chances of a team win by building another Spec Miata.
Same color as #6 lil blu, so we called him #9 lil bro. For
that car, James Sofranos (yes, that James Sofranos), Brian
Domont, John Munson and myself would handle the driving.
James Sofranos, John’s Pro driver has been seen a lot on the
Speed Channel piloting BMWs in World Challenge and
Grand Am cup the past couple seasons. We also had a
3rd car for Automekanika. This car owned by Dan Cook
would have Christy Sallay (Dan’s girlfriend), Rob
Fike, Phil Brabec, Lance Renshaw and Dan driving the
Friday was a test day at the track. Both of the blue
Miata’s were just thrown together in a couple days.
Believe it or not, but neither car was in running
condition just 24hrs earlier. Instead of working on
driver changes, seating positions, and car set up,
Friday was spent chasing new suspension noises,
finishing #9 lil bro, and a finding serious oil leak
on #6 lil blu.
I drove back to Chicago so I could work Saturday, I
have to admit I was quite anxious. The #9 lil bro car
had never turned a wheel and #6 lil blu was leaking
oil from a pretty critical part – not a good way to
start a 10 hour race.
During work on Saturday I would get some of the best
news thus far. Skippy had put #6 lil blu on the pole
for Saturday’s 30 minute sprint race! Some not so
good news came in that the #9 lil bro car had a
transmission problem. Ack! Later in the day we would
learn the problem with the #9 lil bro car was related
to 2nd gear and was not needed for G-man. This was
proven when Brian qualified it in P13 overall and P1
for the class. Lil blu qualified right behind lil
Before we take the green, I need to mention all the
crew we had. John has Bill Watson, a very technical
guy who truly takes his time making sure everything is
done properly and by the book. In addition to Bill we
had Marcin and John’s future father in law assisting
as well. From Automekanika we had Ed, Jim and Clark.
Former Automekanika employee John was there with a
friend as well. Bill who worked for Ed over the
summer brought himself and 4 other guys all dressed in
their Formula SAE suits. For good measure I had my
friend and neighbor Lance Loughman there. 12 or so
guys plus rested drivers should be enough if all three
cars ended coming in together.
Skippy our usual starter was going to take the 1st
stint in #6 lil blu, the pro driver James in #9 lil
bro. At the conclusion of the warm up lap the field
took the green. The 6 car was on the right side of
the track, but by turn one was passing multiple rows
and fully on the left side of the track. In car
footage would have been impressive Skippy had a
great start. The 9 car went backwards a bit. #6 Lil
blu was fairly clear of any other Spec Miata’s and
after a few laps, Skippy put the 6 car in fuel
conservation mode. James in the 9 car reported a
problem of some sort and quickly came in the pits. A
quick inspection revealed no issues. After
re-entering the track #9 lil bro was a lap or two
down. After 90 minutes or so the 9 car was back in
for fuel. Our goal was run the cars as close to 2
hour long stints as possible, to avoid an additional
5th fuel stop. He had gone 60 laps ,turning very
respectable times. Brian Domont was dying to get in
#9 lil bro and make up some time, so we let him. As
we approached the 2 hour mark I gave Skippy the sign
to get going and burn up the remaining fuel. He would
end up running 73 laps, 5 more than anyone else on the
team. He also set the quick time of the entire day
for the 6 car.
Though hours 3 and 4 the #9 lil bro car would get back
to 3rd in class I think 1 lap down. Brian Domont
would end up being the quickest driver in the 9 car.
Mr. Munson in #6 Lil blu would maintain our 1st
position in class and more importantly he kept our
clean record in tact. The #9 lil bro car came in
again way too short of the 2 hour mark going 63 laps,
John kept lil blu out just shy of two hours for 66
About 15 minutes after I got in the 9 car, Aaron was
in the 6 car. I saw Aaron leaving turn 3 as I was
exiting turn 2. A few more laps and the gap was
closing. My worst fear realized! I was catching my
own car and maybe would be forced to pass it. I would
catch my car and eventually pass it getting one of the
laps back. A lap after the pass, the 9 car would
sputter in turn 3 signaling an empty fuel tank, and
the end to my stint. Our pro driver James was on his
way in and asked me how the car was... "I said fine".
But really, how can you talk on the same level to
someone who is used to driving $100k+ WC cars when
you're used to driving $7k Miata's? I mean you really
never hear strange clunking noises from the in-car
shots on TV. Maybe they should do some Spec Miata
coverage. I can hear it now, "did ya hear dat awful
clunk from Alex
Talbert's Miata" from Derek Daley? It might add
another dimension to the viewing.
The next stint by Sofranos was great, clean and the 9
car continued to make ground. Rob Fike piloted lil
blu perfectly maintaining our 1st in class. Did I
mention that we're now solidly in the top 10 overall?
I don't recall exactly where but we were up there.
Somewhere in here, the 9 car also claimed 2nd in class
back. So we were running 1st and 2nd in class and I
think 6/7 overall. During this 2nd to last stint we
ended up climbing to 4th and 5th overall. With fuel
stops left to be done we were not exactly sure where
we were. Some of the front runners were having some
issues with lengthy pit stops some would never
return to the track.
When Sofranos came in we knew the 9 car for sure would
have to make another stop before the end of the race.
Brian Domont went out in #9 lil bro. I joined Brian
who was flying in the 9 car. Lil blu felt great, so I
proceed to start flying too. I didn't know where we
stood after our final stop, so I kept gesturing to the
team to let me know where we stood. After a few laps
the pit board was put up showing us (the 6 car) in P3
overall. It said +28 so I knew the 9 car was behind
me but Brian would have to stop again for fuel. He
would eventually catch me and I would let him pass w/o
any fuss. With one hour to go, Skippy & Aaron
communicated to me that fuel would be very close -
really not the best news to get. I had backed off a
bit, but now I really had to tread lightly. With 45 to
go, the 9 car was forced in and also forced to do a 5
minute pit stop. Now had I been in the pits, I would
have taken the time to wash the car! ; ) Brian would
come out and I would be shown P3 overall and + 2 laps.
So I knew I had two laps to spare. I would start
using 4th and 5th gears, opposed to 3rd and 4th gears.
I was also coasting halfway down the straights. With
30 minutes to go, my fuel gauge was on E. A great
time to really see how little fuel a 4 cyl can use.
Brian would catch me again and I didn't even try to
keep up with him....Funny thing about that was that he
wasn't pulling away from me. He almost seemed like he
was waiting for me. A photo finish maybe? With 15
minutes to go I really had a crappy feeling that I was
not going to make it. I gave the "everybody pray
signal" as I went by pit wall. I was thinking in my
mind how quickly we could fuel the car. Could I do it
in under two minutes to stay out ahead of Brian?
Going though turns at Gingerman in 5th gear is not the
fastest way to drive, but when I saw the one lap to go
I knew is was worth it. I didn't even need to finish
the lap to keep my spot. So for the last lap I put
the hammer down going down the straight to take the
checker the car would sputter Talk about perfect
fuel management. The 6 car would have P3 overall and
1st in class with the 9 car right behind it (well sort
of) two laps down.
An awesome feeling to be on the podium... We loaded up
the car for our victory lap... Interview’s and
champagne on the podium, make all the work worth
while. Finishing a 10 hour race is awesome, but being
on the podium brings it to another level of elation.
Complete and total team work. Ed and the guys
basically built three cars that finished the 10 hour
with no issue. One
of them has finished three times and that same car has
been on the podium twice now. As much as I get
tempted to sell Lil blu, it's times like this I just
can't. It's the team that finished, but I have to
give Skippy a huge pat on the back for getting a great
start, running quickly but then running 73 laps.
Without this critical 1st stint going two hours, we
never would have made it on fuel.
Speaking of fuel I asked Brian why he was going so
slow at the end. Apparently he was running quite low
as well. They had given him all the fuel we had left
on his last stop, which turned out to be just enough
to get him to the end.
Another great Enduro and one we will tackle again in
05. We've tried two of the spots on the podium, we
just need to check out one more...
There's a good chance we will be doing a 25 hour race
in California. I'll keep you posted on that and any
big updates that my fellow team members feel I left
out of my story.
Proud owner of lil blu....
here's a pic http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...chmentid=78684