Read the latest race recap from Horton Autosport driver, Patrick Lindsey…
Growing up in Southern California was “awesome”. The weather was one of the many things that made it great, and oddly enough, I never really knew how good I had it until I moved to Manhattan to start my career in finance. I arrived in New York in mid March and I’ll never forget staring out the window of the office watching snowflakes fall, realizing I didn’t own a real jacket. What does that have to do with racing? Well I started my racing career on the west coast and always enjoyed sunny days at the race track. February in the desert was the only time we had to worry about weather and that was because it was just cold. Only one time can I recall racing in the rain in SoCal and that was my first actual club race at California Speedway. I tip toed around as I was more worried about getting past my provisional licensing period than I was about finishing order. Other times, either in Northern California or on the occasional pro visit to Ohio, did I ever have to don the treaded tires and skate around the racetrack.
Going into Homestead Miami Speedway for the third round of the Rolex Sports Car Series last week, the weather man said we’d have thundershowers to deal with over the weekend. I had been in this situation before and somehow always lucked out with a dry racing surface when race day rolled around. This time, however, it appeared as though my luck was about to change. My co-driver, Eric Foss, was oddly optimistic about the chance of rain and seemed almost as if he were looking forward to it. He taught at the Panoz School at Sebring though, and I believe they spent more time teaching under umbrellas than they did the clear blue sky. It had been a while since I had taken any rain laps, and as it so happened, the last time I saw the wet was a World Challenge qualifying session in which I went into the tires at 100 miles an hour. I am normally a confident competitor, but my confidence was certainly dull in comparison to my co-driver. I would say Eric is the exception to the rule when it comes to a driver’s feelings about rain.
The week was going rather well and we had anticipated as much. The Horton Autosport team had a chance to develop and prepare our Neo Synthetic Porsche GT3 for the Homestead race and it showed. Eric was right at the top of the time sheets in practice, and I found myself quickly learning the partial oval road course and knocking off very quick times. There was little doubt that we would be in the mix for a top finishing position on Sunday; although first we would have to qualify, and as Saturday approached, so did the rain clouds.
For this particular race, the Horton Autosport team had the pleasure of staying in a vacation rental about 25 minutes north of the track, and as we got underway Saturday morning we had noticed that it had been raining overnight. Eric took some laps around a drying track and soon pitted as the rain was starting up again in earnest. While we waited for our Continental rain tires to be mounted, we chatted about the rain line. People might not realize, but when you race in the wet you drive a different line than in the dry. As cars take the most efficient line around a dry race track, variables like radius and camber in the road surface play an important role in determining where to place the car. The track surface gets worn smooth over the dry line in most cases, and if you drive over that part of the track when it is wet it can be very slick…something I didn’t learn in California.
As our qualifying session drew closer, there was talk that Grand Am would cancel the session due to rain; the idea being that you don’t want to put driver and equipment at risk if it isn’t necessary. As it turned out, our qualifying session would be canceled; however we were given a chance to use the time as a practice, which Eric and I did. As it turns out, I was pretty quick around the wet Homestead and had a blast running the oval at 150mph plus in the wet. Our Porsche was again near the top of the time sheets and we returned to our vacation rental to relax and prepare for Sunday’s race. Part of that preparation was gathering everyone to sit down after dinner and watch Days of Thunder. Afterward we couldn’t wait to attack that oval!
To say it plainly, Sunday was just miserable. From the first step out the front door we were wet, and just when you thought you couldn’t get any more soaked, the skies would open up and dump even harder. I would start the race nearly last as the grid was set based on points, and unfortunately, we did not run the first race at Daytona. We were still very confident as both Eric and I had the speed to get our Porsche to the front. When the race began and we went green the rain was so heavy that the anti-fog on the windshield could not stop the condensation, and I spent the first twenty minutes of the race unable to see out of the center and left side of the windshield. It was so bad that I had to rely on my spotter to guide me around the oval and tell me where the cars around me were running. After a stop under yellow, the boys fixed the issue by rubbing soap on the inside of the windshield. This way I had a streaky view, but at least I had some view of where I was heading. It was surprisingly just as scary when I could finally see because cars were spinning constantly as they searched for grip on the rain soaked track. We moved from 18th to 8th before stopping to put Eric in the car with just over an hour remaining. Eric got adjusted to the conditions under yellow laps, and thanks to a great strategy by the boys at Horton Autosport, we were good on fuel to the end. The only hiccup in our plan proved to be the Grand Am officials who felt the conditions were too adverse to continue. The race was called after only 2 hours and we had to settle for 11th with a car, driver and strategy that was no doubt worth much better. Sometimes the racing gods just don’t offer the rewards when they ought to. I believe in the one true Lord and He must get a good laugh when we curse the racing gods for our bad luck.
Horton Autosport continues to gain momentum in just our second race this year. We will go to New Jersey Motorsports Park for round 4 of the Rolex Sports Car series with the expectation of doing even better. Thanks for the continued support of our sponsors Neo Synthetic Oils and Carbotech Brakes, as well as the support from Porsche Motorsport North America, a vital part of our program. See you in Jersey!