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Citrus Region PCA Members Compete In KUMHO Tire 13 Hour "Charge of the Headlight Brigade" at VIR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos and Article By Robert Demetrius

Several citrus region members attended the Sports Car Club of America's (SCCA) "Charge of The Headlight Brigade", a thirteen-hour endurance race held at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) on Saturday, October 23. VIR, located in Southern Virginia is likened to one of the great European road courses. It is a 3.27-mile historic raceway, which changes elevation as it winds through a picturesque, park like setting. For the sixty-five race teams entered, fall provided a backdrop of trees with beautiful hues of yellow, orange and red leaves.

Before convoying to VIR, several months of race preparation was needed for Team Troysport's Porsche entry: extra headlights were placed on the car for the required night driving in the latter portion of the Enduro and the fuel cell was adapted to allow for quick refueling. Imagine that twenty-two gallons of fuel could be delivered in 30 seconds!

Three drivers took turns piloting Troysport's #68, a white 1972 Porsche 911T, campaigned in stock trim. A fourteen-member team in matching burgundy jackets was on hand to lend support. Marty Collins and Darlene Evans kept us well fed with delicious hot foods and snacks.

Team Troysport Members

Sid Collins (Citrus Region)
Dave Borinski (Citrus Region)
Curt Zitza (St. Louis)
Bill Charlton
Pablo Diaz
Tommy Nickou (Citrus Region)
John Cox (Citrus Region)
Greg Coryall
Wayne Borinski
Jim Morris (Michigan)
Peter Unger (Ohio)
Tony Trott (Citrus Region)
Pedro Rivera (Citrus Region)
Robert Demetrius (Citrus Region)
Marty Collins (Citrus Region)
Darlene Evans (Citrus Region)

-Team Owner/Driver
-Driver
-Driver
-Team Manager
-Crew Chief
-Mechanic
-Safety Chief
-Fueler
-Fueler
-Tire Changer
-Tire Changer
-Team Physician
-Scoring/Timing & Backup Driver
-Scoring/Timing
-Team Chef
-Team Chef

Thursday was "test and tune" day. The 911's engine, being recently rebuilt, had only six hours of "break in" time prior to the event. The engine was running so well that a simple fine-tuning was all that was required. The race would be run on full tread depth tires, instead of racing "slicks", so the drivers had to get accustomed to the added challenge of slippery tires, especially on the downhill curves of VIR. The drivers would need to count on that old Porsche reliability, rather than raw horsepower and speed, come race day. Hence the plan: outlast rather than outrun.

Friday was qualifying day. At 9:00 a.m. the aroma of bacon and eggs filled the Troysport paddock. Needless to say the team started the day on a full stomach, before attending to the car. At the age of thirty-two, the '72 911 was the oldest car in the field and the only car relying on air for cooling. But, she was ready!

Qualifying extended into the dark of night, allowing Sid Collins and Bill Charlton to double check positioning of auxiliary lights. As in daylight, at night the apex of the corner is your friend. If you can't "clip" the apex at speed, at the corner's exit you will be in BIG trouble! Fortunately, a minor light adjustment was all that was needed to spot VIR's apexes. Among the sixty-five cars which included BMWs, Mazda's, Hondas, Pontiacs, Mustangs, Mercedes Benz's, Spec Racers, two Porsche 944's, and a new Lexus. The ITS classed 911 qualified 33rd overall and 11th in class.

Saturday was race day: race day preparation started at 7:00 a.m. At 9:15 am, # 68 was on the grid and the dropping of the Green flag found Sid at the helm, "keeping the car out of trouble", avoiding any potential early race melees. After a 2 1/2 hour stint the car came into the pits for fuel.

At the beginning of the race our cramped pit box was shared with # 38, a late model ITS class Mustang. The Goddess of Attrition was at work early in the race and the Mustang came into the pit with obvious front-end damage. The car was subsequently retired, leaving us with a whole lot of elbowroom to execute our pit stops.

From the raised platform of the scorers' chairs, Pedro Rivera and I had a ringside view of Troysport's pit team at work. The choreographed pit stop began with the crew chief going over the pit wall carrying a large, yellow placard with the number " 68" in bold red. This indicated to our drivers the car's pit "box". As required, fuelers waited for the driver to exit the car before delivering 20 gallons of 93-octane fuel, using quick fill fuel canisters NASCAR style! Once fuel was on board, the pit crew with jacks, air driven guns and spare lug nuts, leapt the pit wall to do the " Dance of the Tire Changers". Flawless! A bystander questioned whether or not we were a pro team.

Dave Borinski was next at the controls of the 911. The race was 3 hours old at this point. Dave definitely had settled into a nice rhythm turning a lap time of 2:24, which ended up being #68's fastest lap. After Dave completed his two-hour stint, Curt Zitza then manned the Porsche, which was slowly improving its position as the race progressed. Curt, although racing this car for the first time was quite familiar with 911's. Yet it was still impressive when he was clocked doing a lap in 2:25.

Day flowed into night. Dave was again at the wheel. Ten hours into the race, to avoid contact with another car, Dave was forced to do some "off roading", resulting in a glancing tire wall blow to the left fender, dislodging the left spot lamp. Fortunately, Dave and the car were fine.

As night fell, a mandatory double yellow flag was displayed, so that corner workers could eat (and probably take a pit stop of their own). This allowed the 911 to speed to the line of cars following the pace car, gaining almost a full lap without passing anyone.

Another excursion occurred, this time with Curt venturing on to VIR's grass. This caused damage to the brake-duct. But with Virginia nighttime temperatures in the 50's, over heating did not become an issue.

Sid Collins would bring the car home in the last stint of the race. # 68 had bettered its position and was now 5th in class, less than a lap behind the 4th in class Mercedes 190 E and several laps behind the front running Mazda's RX7's. One of the RX7's was driven by Ron Zitza (citrus region member).

The two German entries were in the heat of battle. The Mercedes was relinquishing very little real estate to the Porsche. But Pedro's stopwatch proved that the Porsche was gaining. Then the Goddess of Attrition reared her head once again: The Mercedes rolled slowly into her pit box steaming almost like a locomotive. "Front-end damage!" someone shouted. Water visibly poured from the radiator. We were now 4th in class!

Sid kept the car out of trouble, turning consistent lap times in the pitch black Virginia night. The Porsche ran perfectly: No brake pad change was needed, it did not burn a drop of oil and the recently built transmission did not miss a shift. But still several laps ahead, the 3rd in class Mazda RX7 was also running great. You could tell that we were all thinking.. "Where is the Goddess?"

In came the 3rd place Mazda, with less than 15 minutes to go in the race. All eyes were on the Mazda as it sat in pit lane with the hood up. The thirteen-hour clock continued to elapse. Only five minutes remained! Sid, in the Troysport 911, flew by the start/finish line into the Virginia darkness. The Mazda was still in the pit lane with the hood up. A minute later the hood came down. The Mazda, defeating the "Goddess", sped out of pit lane.

Thirty seconds!... Fifteen seconds!.... Five seconds! Checkered flag!!! There was just not enough time. The thirty-two-year-old 911 missed third in class by eight seconds! But we were ninth overall! Team Troysport was ecstatic. One would even say that we and the car were ready for another thirteen hours. What a great weekend!

       
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