2022 ended with a GT3 class win in LDRC, but despite our success, this was our most challenging season so far.
We started our season at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park on Easter weekend for a test and tune Saturday, and 8hr race Sunday. Having difficulty obtaining the 16" tires we ran for our first two seasons, I purchased 2 new sets of 15x8 Bassett Racing wheels on which to mount the more attainable 225/45R15's. As I may have covered earlier, this was a very poor choice. Even with the proper 45 degree lugs and lug centric balancing required by the manufacturer, the track felt like a 2.5 mile rumble strip. Sunday started with snow, and ended with a blown engine at the 6 hour mark. Off track, my dilapidated tow vehicle had blown a brake line Saturday morning as I pulled up to the track entrance. Fortunately this didn't happen on the highway with my trailer on, but it required trackside repair none the less. My father spent most of the weekend in the cold under my truck repairing the brakes to get us home. Overall a bit of a bust on the weekend.
We returned to CTMP in may for round two, having installed my spare engine, and obtaining another spare from a high mileage Pontiac Vibe. Surely we wouldn't need it anyway. Six hours in, we needed it. Saturday afternoon we scrambled to install the new spare, and had our fingers crossed that it would make laps around the track. After some conservative stints by all involved, and some of our GT3 classmates taking their turn with mechanical failure, we survived the day to manage a 1st in class. A little validation for our somewhat sideways season thus far.
The June Calabogie race was next up. However, late in the week leading up the the race, a team member tested positive for covid. After running through the various scenarios to make the weekend work anyway, we decided to sit this one out and regroup.
Next up was Shannonville Motorsports Park for the August long weekend. On a personal level, I approach this track with a lot more optimism than the others. The track seems to be easy on our equipment, and there are no rewards for copious amounts of power. The playing field is level here. It should also be mentioned that this was to be out first race with more power. We went into the weekend with a fresh 2zz engine, which is a 40hp improvement over our previous exploding power plant. Unfortunately, the "lift" engagement (think vtec) was not working, meaning we basically had what we started with, except with a dysfunctional valvetrain bolted onto it. Much later I would discover this was due to a single wire that I had removed as part of the cruise control system that Toyota decided was relevant to this car making 40hp more. Anyway, it all turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the car running in fail safe to 7000rpm, combined with our great handling, put us in a comfortable lap time window to win both days in GT3.
Our final event was at Calabogie for the first weekend of October. Two weeks prior however, I was at Cayuga testing my new found horsepower. For a few laps anyway. The engine decided it did in fact NOT want to run a sustained 8400 rpm, and anything bad I'd ever read about 2zz's all came true at once. Despite my best efforts, this engine was not going to be back together for the race weekend. We were going into our final race weekend of the year, again on a high mileage used engine. With great restraint on the part of our drivers, the car would hold together for the weekend, and we would seal our first GT3 championship at 5pm Saturday.
In a season that felt like an eternity, we had our greatest successes, at the cost of overcoming our greatest failures. The team sprung into action when the going got tough, and worked together to pass on a functional car from stint to stint when it mattered. We had the support of friends, family, competitors and staff that kept things positive when the wheels fell off the bus. We made new fans and introduced new drivers to the world of endurance racing. In the end, our failures became a smaller part of the bigger picture, and left us with the knowledge and motivation to push for greater goals.
2022 Season By The Numbers
Around 3 Tracks
Completing 1320 Laps
For 5620.49 kilometers
With 4 Class Wins
Despite 2 Blown Engines
And Two Sets of Wobbly Wheels
= 2022 Lucky Dog Racing Canada GT3 Champs