It's that time of the Star Mazda season. Race 5 and Iowa. Iowa is an oval track and it's usually a wreck-fest. Partly because most of us roadies can't drive ovals and partly because a bunch of oval guys usually join in and cause chaos. Most decent driver treats it as a drop week and stays well clear of Iowa. Myself included, along with my usually SM buddies.
Ironically I decided to spend my time in the Rookie Oval Streetstock series and try and get my D license. I had to get my license up from R 2.64 to above R 4.00 for the autobump to D. At first my approach was to race hard but not qualify. That worked pretty well and managed decent results. But then I got in a few splits were I kept getting taken out by the spinners in the mid-pack on the opening few laps. My race pace and warmup pace meant I should be up the front, so I decided to qualify.
My first effort was a 24.320, which was good enough for about 4th or 5th in the splits I was getting placed in. I started from fourth for my first race after qualifying and ran in that place until I took 3rd after the leader ran high and left a gap. Unforunately for us both he ran high and then turned back in while I was right there. He hit me with a 0x and caused me no problems but took himself out. I guess he blamed me for his woes because he waited for me to come around then drove down into me and took me out.
In another race I passed another driver cleanly into turn 1 (they mostly all seem to run high and I just roll off the gas and stick it up the inside) . Unfortunately he got tapped by the guy right behind me and spun. What did he do? What the majory of rookie oval drivers do, sought retribution for this wrong. He waited for me to come around again, left room for me to pass then didn't slow down in the corner and took me out. I didn't even cause the accident.
I also requalified with 24.117, which was good enough for pole on two occassions as well as a number of front row starts.
I was leading another race with a 4.5second lead after 6 laps (that is a rather decent lead ;)) and the two guys decided to extract vengeance on each other. Driver A puts driver B into the wall by blatantly turning up on him. Both drivers hit the wall and come back down, straight into my path and I had nowhere to go. Race over.
What amazed me was even though I qualified I generally started from the pits, trying to be safer. It didn't make a lot of difference and I'd still get caugt up on other peopls accidents. I tried leading from the front and that still meant I got caught up in stupidity.
The only approach that works is to drive with respect, slowing down for all accidents, letting other drivers through, staying off the radar of the crazy drivers.
By day two of my oval experiment I was into decent splits and most of this went away. From there it was pretty smooth sailing. Although, race two on Sunday was possibly the most humerous race I have ever been in. So many drivers were insulting each other. So many crashes, so many retaliation hits. I drove around thinking this race would make the perfect video. Unfortunately I forgot to save the replay :(
At least with road tracks there are wide open spaces to fly off into so when rookies get a bit hot under the collar and decide to take out someone, they generally don't grab half the field.
Oh and the rookie oval experience wouldn't be complete without being called the worst driver ever and being told to get the fuck off the track. Thanks John A. Schulte. John, did you notice the "worst driver in the world" managed to get out of Rookie in two days, with 9 out of 19 races being incident free, with 2 wins, 2 poles, and a bunch of wins gone wanting through people taking me out?