Toybox Racing Race Report, October 13th – 14th, 2018 – Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, OH
The SCCA OVR Regional race at Mid Ohio was Andy Nelson’s first event in the B-Spec class, in a 2008 MINI Cooper newly acquired from Indian Summer Racing. You may remember them from the very beginning of the eEuroparts.com pro racing career. The car was purchased race ready, having successfully competed at the 2017 SCCA Runoffs at Indianapolis. Obvious updates included a new safety harness and race decals, but very little work was required to hit the track, a huge advantage over building your own car.
All race cars require a critical spares list, and sourcing the right parts was straightforward, thanks to our sponsor eEuroparts.com! The initial spares order included air filters, fuel filters, and oil filters, as well as wheel bearing and hub assembly’s front and rear. We will build a comprehensive stock of spares later, but for this race weekend we just needed the basics.
Goals for the Mid-Ohio weekend were to shake down the car, have an incident-free event, and get accustomed to the significant differences in power-to-weigh ratios, braking, and handling comparative to classic Minis. A B-Spec MINI Cooper has similar power to a classic race prepared Mini, but come with a massive thousand-plus pound weight penalty, power steering, computer controlled timing, unmodified suspension, and better braking and tire grip.
Saturday’s qualifying session started at 9:00am, under exceptionally cool conditions with temperatures hovering around 40F. The choice of renting a garage for the event certainly proved worthwhile! Out on the track, racers found the surface green, damp, and slippery, with numerous offs in the morning sessions. Andy found very little grip and difficulty getting any heat into the tires. The Group 3 grid was a mix of B-Spec, ITA, ITC, and T4, with forty cars starting the qualifying session.
There were three B-Spec cars entered, consisting of two Honda Fit’s and our B-Spec MINI Cooper. All the B-Spec racers stayed on the track surface without incident in spite of the track conditions. The track configuration for Saturday’ qualifying and race included the chicane. When the session ended, Andy qualified first in class and 18th overall, with a best lap of 2:05.252. The car was running strongly, so just the normal checks post-session to get ready for the afternoon race at 1:30 pm.
Race #1: Saturday
For the afternoon race, the track was dry and temperatures had busted past 45F. Chris Morgan in the #33 Honda Fit got by Andy early on, and held the lead to the checkered flag for the class win. Andy finished 2nd in the #52 B-Spec MINI Cooper, and the #91 Honda Fit of Raymond Glover was 3rd. Andy lowered his lap times to 1:56.350 during the session, and the car remained trouble free. The decision was made to continue to run the used Hoosier tires that came with the car, as there was no reason to go 10/10ths given that there were only three cars in the class and it was our first event.
Race #2: Sunday
Sunday dawned very cool, just 40F. Temperatures were scheduled to rise during the day to the mid 50’s, with rain possible in the afternoon. Newly mounted rain tires were at the ready but the rain held off, so back in the trailer they went. When you rent a garage and bring new rain tires, it doesn’t rain, go figure! The same race tires remained, but we did play around with tire pressures to see if we could increase traction. Sunday’s sessions ran the no-chicane track configuration, giving cars with greater power and some aerodynamics a slight advantage on the uphill straight between turns 1 and 2. The morning qualifying race got underway at 9:04am, with 39 starters.
The B-Spec racers all made the grid, and if you had a heater in your car, it was running! All the B-Spec racers had a good clean race, Chris Morgan and Andy Nelson both remained on the lead lap, completing 9 laps in total. At the checkered flag, it was Chris Morgan 1st in B-Spec, 17th overall (1.52:582); Andy Nelson 2nd in our B-Spec MINI Cooper, 23rd overall (1.55:043); and Raymond Glover 3rd in B-Spec, 33rd overall (1.59:616).
The afternoon race was at 1:40pm, by which time the sun was finally out and the temperature was surpassing the 55F mark. The race start is always exciting with drivers jostling for a position, but everyone got through the first turn clean. After the first few laps, Andy was out on his own for the most part, but with a dry track and improved tire grip it was a perfect opportunity to work on building more confidence in braking zones and exploring the handling characteristics. Although not an exciting race, the goal of improving lap times with no offs was achieved, with a best time of 1.53:284 and another second place podium finish. Chris Morgan in the #33 Honda Fit drove to a well deserved win with a best lap of 1.49.336, and Raymond Glover in the #91 Honda Fit took home the third podium spot with a 1.54:509.
Overall, it was a very successful inaugural event, and now we have a base line to improve on. There is still a lot of speed to be had, and more development needed on the car, but that will have to wait for the 2019 season. A big shout-out to our sponsor’s eEuroparts.com, MINI USA, and to Chris Morgan and Raymond Glover for great camaraderie and competition at Mid Ohio!
Interested in becoming involved in B-Spec racing? Competing in the SCCA B-Spec class is a fun, economical racing option. B-Spec cars are very similar to everyday production vehicles, and racers enjoy competitive racing, exceptional camaraderie, excellent sponsor opportunities, and manufacturer support. Cars that qualify for B-Spec include the MINI Cooper, Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Mazda 2, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, and more. Please follow Toybox Racing on online at www.toyboxracing.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ToyboxRacingMinis/ and be sure to check out the B-Spec Facebook Page for more information about B-Spec Racing: https://www.facebook.com/groups/203643743139368/about/