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Sebring PCA Race 2018

Sebring PCA Club Race 2018

When its cold up here in CNY it doesn’t take much of an excuse to go somewhere warm….So when the combination one of the largest PCA club races in the country at Sebring and (with a little arm twisting) a flight down in fellow CNY member’s (Dave Tagg) private plane it seemed like a great plan!

6 hours at close to 200mph powered by a air cooled flat six got us in the mood to watch some Porsches…

CNY member Gene Raymondi was racing in his E class Boxster, looking good as always! Gene has had quite a few successful seasons finishing in the top 5 of the country.

Here is Gene making a pass under braking and making it stick!

And then there was a 911 cup car taking an ‘experimental’ line!

here is an interesting view of the Sarasota area!

and finally the view arriving back in CNY at sunset….great weekend trip!

Gene Raymondi Takes 1st place in Zone 1 for 2013

Gene Raymondi and his Blue Lightning

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Team worked hard through out the 2013 season to capture the Zone 1 E stock class title.

Please click on the link below to view a copy of the presentation given at the PCA CNY Annual Dinner. Chris White – President

 

Blue Lightning Racing for web

Wrong Time, Wrong Place, Right Outcome!

Wrong Time, Wrong Place, Right Outcome!

Watkins Glen Porsche Clash 2013

Brian Watson, #509 944 Spec-1

 

This year’s Clash saw SIXTY 944’s registered to race – enough so that the Green Run Group was comprised solely of 944’s in three classes; Spec-1, Spec-2, and Spec-3.  It was the first time that I have been in a race group where all the cars were reasonably close in preparation and where we could run in packs and race together competitively throughout the entire sprints and enduro. Track Time Photos has some great shots posted on their site.  If you are a 944 fan like me, check them out at www.tracktimephotos.com and search under PCA using the 6/1/13 and 6/2/13 dates of the clash.  Here’s one…thanks to Track Time Photos for being at the track and allowing me to use it.

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Blue Lightning Racing 2013 PCA Clash Club Race

Blue Lightning at the Clash
By Larry Lee
 
Late May brings the Porsche Clash to Watkins Glen. This is one of the biggest events of the year on the PCA racing calendar. The Blue Lightning race team has been running this race since 2006. We have had some good results here and some bad as well. Last year Gene Raymondi had his first ever crash in practice for this race damaging his 2004 Boxster enough that it was unusable for the Clash. We climbed back on the horse and were able to recover somewhat with a mid pack finish using his 1986 944 Turbo race car. This year things are looking up. Over the winter Chris White rebuilt the Boxsters engine and transmission, added a light weight fiberglass roof with quick releases and knocked a lot of weight out of the car. Chris installed a set of Nitrogen powered air jacks to make tire and brake pad changes much faster (just like a cup car!). All good things in the go fast calculus. Coming off some good results in the first race of the season at Lime Rock about a month earlier Gene and New Blue were ready for the Clash. The last few years, the Blue Lightning Boxster has been running near the front. Not good enough to win this event yet but close enough for us to start harboring crazy thoughts of podium finishes.
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BL Racing Lime Rock 2013

The start of the new 2013 club race season, Central NY Club racers at Lime Rock.

By Larry Lee

 

Well it’s a new year and the start of a new PCA club racing season. Over the off season, racers across the country have been reading rule books, buying parts, working on cars and looking forward to the time when engines start and the process of turning money into noise can begin. For Central NY PCAers Brian Watson and Gene Raymondi, the new racing season began again at the Connecticut Valley Region Twin Sprint Rumble Club Race at Lime Rock CT on Friday and Saturday, April 26th and 27th.

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Blue Lightning Racing at Lime Rock 2012

Blue Lightning Racing at Lime Rock.

Larry Lee

 

Here we go again. Blue Lightning Racing went to Lime Rock Connecticut on April 26, 27 28 to run one day of the Connecticut Valley Region DE and the 2 day PCA club race. For this event, Central NY members Brian Watson was running his 1986 class SP1 944 and Gene Raymondi was running his 2004 E stock Boxster. This was the first race this year for both drivers. New this year in the PCA Club Racing world is a season points championship where a PCA Regional and National Champion for each class will be determined. Points are awarded based on finishing position in class and the number of cars in class behind you. Both Gene and Brian are running for the championship in their respective classes this year. Both drivers are tentatively scheduled to run 5 races this year.

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Blue Lightning Racing at VIR 2012

 

Blue Lightning Racing at the PCA Zone 2 Club race at Virginia International Raceway

By Larry Lee

 

Blue Lightning Racing ran the PCA club race a Virginia International Raceway June 22nd to 24th.  This would be our third race of the season and our first ever race at VIR.  Gene had run 2 Drivers Ed events at VIR recently with his Boxster to get familiar with the track and at the last event he had put in some decent laps in the 2:18 range.  Gene knew there was more speed to come as he improved his knowledge of the track and confidence with the car.

 

Gene’s incident with his Boxster before the Clash, left us to run Old Blue, his black 1986 944 Turbo that he had raced for many years.  It has been a couple years since he has run this car and our hurried race prep for the Clash consisted of little more than a car wash, bleed the brakes and change brake pads and rotors and go racing.  Old Blue survived the Clash in fine form (Yeah baby) but for the race at VIR some more work would need to be done to get the old girl up to speed.  We dropped the car off at a local shop for some badly needed race prep.  Several things were done, update the seatbelts, bleed the clutch, check for loose nuts & bolts which turned up a loose brake caliper and some CV joint bolts that had backed out a little bit.  It was also decided to put much stiffer springs on the car at this time which also requires an alignment and corner balancing.  This work was completed just in time to load up for the long haul to VIR.  Yeeee dogies, we’re going racing!

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Blue Lightning Racing at NJMP 2012

BLR at NJMP 2012

By Larry Lee

 

Blue Lightning Racing ran our fourth race of the season at the PCA Club race at New Jersey Motorsports Park August 24th through the 26th.  We have had pretty good luck here recently as two years ago, we won our first ever race taking the E Stock class win in the enduro in a very close finish and last year we had a dominant class win in a rainy enduro just ahead of an approaching hurricane Irene.  If we hadn’t slowed down near the end of that race we probably could have taken first overall only being passed in the last few minutes by two 911-Cup cars.  Big things were expected for this year’s race.  As usual, car owner Gene Raymondi signed up for the 2 day DE on Wednesday and Thursday before the race.  This DE was more important than usual because he had just gotten his 2004 E Stock Boxster back from the body shop after crashing at Watkins Glen in June the day before the Porsche Clash.  The original plan was to get the car back and do a one day DE at Watkins to sort things out but that didn’t happen because the car was finished much later than anticipated.  The first time the car would be run in anger would be at this DE in NJ.  This doesn’t leave much time to fix anything if the car isn’t right.

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The first day of the DE was spent getting Gene used to the car again and just seeing if it would run for the whole day.  Gene wasn’t running the car very hard and it felt pretty good.  His lap times were pretty slow but he was on old tires just getting the feel again.  Nothing to worry about.

 

The second day of the DE Gene started running the Boxster harder, sliding it more, braking harder and generally trying to improve his lap times.  Things didn’t improve much.  At this point we decided it would be a good idea to make sure the car was right before we tried to race it.  The car was supposed to have been corner balanced at the body shop that did the repairs but in light of our experience with a badly misaligned car at VIR we thought that this should be checked just to make sure.

 

Across the garage from us was ZSA Motorsport from Fairlawn NJ. (www.zsamotorsport.com).  They had a very nice alignment rack setup in the garage across from us and a big 18-wheeler in the paddock and a lot of mechanics running around doing things.  They were the sponsor of the race weekend and were taking care of several of their customer cars and anyone else who asked.  ZSA is run by a guy named Tiv Heinlein who has extensive experience with racecars in Grand Am, ALMS and circle track.  Gene asked him if they could take a look at his Boxster and Tiv said they would put it on their rack at the first opportunity.  Shortly after, they rolled the Blue Lightning Boxster onto the rack and made some initial measurements and observations.  Tiv came up with a long list of things that he thought needed fixing.  Gene gave him the green light to fix everything they could.  For the next 4 hours, ZSA had one or two people working on New Blue continuously.  First up they moved some suspension shims from the LF to the RF to even out the side to side spacing of the front end.  They adjusted the ride height, set the corner balance and the camber on the front and rear wheels.  They adjusted the front and rear wheel toe in to what they knew worked on a Boxster and added a rear sway bar.  They rolled the front fenders slightly with a baseball bat handle to provide a little more tire clearance.  Based on their experience with Boxsters, they also softened the front sway bar a little bit.  Whew!  Because they were the race sponsors, they did all of this work for free.  Don’t expect this with your streetcar on any given Tuesday.

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While all this work was going on, Gene talked to a young professional driver named Sam Schultz who works with ZSA.  Sam was at the track doing driver coaching for ZSA clients.  Gene wanted Sam to run the Boxster after all the changes to make sure everything was right.  Sam lives near Horseheads, about ten minutes from Watkins Glen.  He races in Grand Am and the Continental Tire Challenge series and does driver coaching for Jaguar and Montecello Motorsports Club among other things.  Sam got into New Blue late in the day and with our AIM data collection system running, did 3 flying laps.  His first lap was 1:37.99 in traffic, about the same as Gene was running.  His second lap was 1:33.83 and his third lap was 1:32.99. The official PCA E stock class record at NJMP is 1:33.288 set 2 years ago.  And that boys and girls is why he gets paid to drive racecars and you don’t.

 

Sam did an excellent debrief about the cars performance and handling.  The debrief and the AIM data were both extremely important.  Now we have an excellent baseline for this track.  We know the car is setup well and is clearly fast enough to win.  The AIM data will now let us compare Gene’s driving to Sam’s driving and see where Gene is loosing time and what is causing the loss.

 

Friday Practice & Qualifying

Friday was the start of the race weekend.  From here on out, everything is for real and every session is important.  The two points races were on Sunday being the last sprint race and the enduro.  These are the two races that we need to do well in.  Gene’s first practice resulted in a fast lap of 1:36.5, which was good for 2nd fastest in class.  A great start.  In the second practice session, Gene got a 1:35.0, the fastest in class and better than the previous session.  Another good result.  For qualifying, we put on a new set of Hoosier race tires and Gene turned a 1:34.2, good enough for pole position in E stock and a continuation of the faster lap times.  Things are looking up.

 

First sprint race

On Saturday there was a warm-up session and two sprint races.  Just before the first sprint race it started raining lightly.  Quickly it was onto rain tires and disconnect the front and rear sway bars.  At the start, Gene got passed by several cars and was running second in class with a few other cars between him and the class leader.  As the race progressed, the rain stopped and a dry line developed.  Gene was trying hard to catch the class leader who was also on rain tires but eventually had to settle for 2nd in class with a best lap of 1:43.8.  Not bad at all.

 

2nd Sprint Race

The qualifying order for the 2nd sprint race was set by the fastest lap time from the first sprint race.  Gene was gridded 2nd in class with quite a few cars in other classes between him and the E Stock class leader.  Gene’s race started well enough and he was closing on the class leader when he came up on a D class car.  Gene was clearly faster than this car but the D class car was being driven somewhat erratically. Gene made a few attempts to pass without success.  Gene was stuck behind this out of class car and now the E Stock class leader was slipping away.  Seven laps into the race, a faster car passed Gene and the D car while going down the front straight.  Heading into turn 1 Gene ducked inside the D car and tried to follow the faster car through.  The driver of the D car, unaware he was being passed by 2 cars, turned in on his normal line and hit Gene in the left front.  Gene finished the lap and pulled into the pits the way you are supposed to do in a PCA race when an on track incident occurs.  The D car continued on and finished the race.  This is the first racing contact that Gene has had in the 6 years that he has been racing.  The contact kicked off an investigation by the PCA race officials.  Interviews were done, statements were written, in car video from 3 different cars was reviewed and several hours after the race it was decided that no penalties would be handed out to either driver.  The damage to New Blue was minimal.  There were some big rubber marks on the LF wheel and a very small dent in the LF wheel arch.  We carefully checked the car and wheel but could find nothing else wrong.  Guess we are good to go for the 2 important points races on Sunday.

At the awards banquet Saturday night, Gene won the Workers choice award for his group.

 

Sunday Sprint Race

Because we didn’t finish the 2nd sprint race on Saturday we were gridded last for the sprint race Sunday morning.  This is the first points race and is the most important of the 3 sprint races.  Starting last in such a short race with so much traffic is a major handicap.  It is very difficult to move up significantly.  After a clean race, Gene ended up finishing 5th in class with a fastest lap of 1:36.2.  This is not what we wanted but was about as good as could be expected given our starting position.

 

Enduro Qualifying

The Enduro was handled a bit differently this year.  There was a separate qualifying session Sunday morning just for this race.  Because so many people were leaving early, all remaining cars were put out in one group.  Great, we’ll be a moving chicane for the fast 911s and Cup Cars.  Watch your mirrors and hold onto your bumpers Buckey, we’re going racing.  Gene got a 1:35.3 in qualifying, good for third in class out of five E class cars.  There was only a half-hour between the end of qualifying and the start of the enduro so it was a bit of a rush to get everything done on the car in time.  We ended up starting the race with all of the stuff needed for the 5-minute pit stop still in the garage.

 

Enduro

The hour long Enduro was the second points race of the weekend.  This is our last chance to get a class win.  This race ran clean for the first few laps but about the time the Cup cars were starting to lap the tail end of the field a full course yellow came out.  A 944 Turbo E stock driver from Massachusetts who we have raced against for a few years and come to know pretty well got hit by a much faster car going into turn 1 then hit the guardrail hard and suffered considerable damage.  This turned into a looonnnng yellow while the course workers cleaned up the mess.  Since there is no refueling in a 1 hour enduro, the pit stop went well.  There was no drama with missing the pit stall or getting the driver back in the car.  After the pit stop Gene tried hard but couldn’t close on the class leader and ended up 2nd in class with a best lap time of 1:35.3.

 

Surprisingly, Gene won another Workers choice award on Sunday.  Two in one weekend is pretty rare.  We didn’t win any races but did manage to bring home 2 nice walnut plaques.

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Points

After this race Gene is 2nd in points in Zone 1 and 11 overall nationally out of a big bunch.  The first place car in Zone 1 is our 944 Turbo driver friend who got hit in the Enduro.  I would expect that he would be done for the year.  We have 1 more race this season but we are far enough back that it will be difficult to can catch the Zone 1 points leader.  Don’t touch that dial.