The end of every racing season is usually the busiest and this year busy didn’t even begin to describe how we finished the year. After a long racing season of ups and downs, battling new car blues, on the newly rebuilt #44 SOHO Motorsports Infiniti G35 we were eager to finish out the 2013 season strong with quite possibly the two most important races the #44 car has seen yet. Our November schedule had us going from our shop in Charlotte, NC nearly 5,000+ miles round-trip to the 10th Annual Super Lap Battle / Global Time Attack Finale at Buttonwillow Raceway in California. And then less than 10 days later we had to go from CA to NC and then down to Florida for the North American Road Racing Association USTT Season Finale at Sebring International Raceway only to leave there and go to Indianapolis for the Performance Racing Industry show a week after that. November was a crazy month for us and we are just now getting caught up on the website articles and updates including some quick summaries of the final races of 2013. For more in-depth details of each race please visit our driver’s site at www.kparlettracing.com
The 10th Annual Super Lap Battle / Global Time Attack Finale at Buttonwillow Raceway is easily the biggest Time Attack event on this side of the globe. All of the fastest TA cars and teams on this hemisphere make the annual mid November trek to sunny California to push their vehicles to the limit around the dustbowl that is Buttonwillow Raceway. With the event being at the same track for the last ten years it has become a staple in the North American TA scene and is where the fastest cars in the country duke it out to crown a champion each year in multiple classes. Having only had the #44 G35 built for a few years now this was our first time at the event so we were expecting to do okay but with the heavy hitters out there and no experience at the track we had reasonable expectations, but were hoping for the best. With a nearly non stop 36 hour tow from NC to CA out of the way our driver Kevin Parlett arrived at Buttonwillow and put on his helmet and prepared for battle around the 3.1 mile track with 12 turns covered with tons of dirt and dust.
Our first Super Lap Battle didn’t quite turn out the way we wanted it to but the adventure as a whole was worth the raceday headache. In the first session while learning the track and chasing the setup we had some contact with another car and had some slight body damage to the right rear fender and aero package. After taking a hammer to the damage and getting it back into working shape Kevin took a deep breathe and went back out in the second session to work off the nerves and learn the track some more in preparation for the 3rd session which most were expecting to be the fastest. Unfortunately SLB is only a one day event which for us was a pain because it is a track that is nearly impossible to learn how to drive or setup a car properly in just one day. Plus with us being from the East coast it was much more technical and tighter than anything we were used to along with the added joy of dirt and dust on nearly the entire track surface, so needless to say we were behind the 8 ball if not completely off the pool table before we even started hot lapping. Either way we made a few adjustments after the 2nd session and went out in the 3rd and 4th session gaining a ton of time in each outing but the one day wasn’t enough to get it done. Frustrated, tired and worn out we finished the raceday in 7th place in Limited RWD. No where near the podium we had hoped for and just barely missing out on the 2013 Global Time Attack Limited Class championship by a few measly points. The result wasn’t what we wanted but we knew our first time to the big game was going to involve a steep learning curve and hopefully with what we learned this time out we will be much faster next year for the 2014 SLB. Either way we didn’t have much time to dwell on the poor finish as the next morning we had to leave California and trek across the country for our last race of the season just 9 days later in Sebring, FL.
With an uneventful but unbelievably long drive back to the shop in NC we quickly unloaded the car and got it all cleaned up from the tons of dirt and dust from Buttonwillow and our cross-country trip on an open trailer. Then we addressed some of the damage, changed the tune to comply with the NARRA power to weight rules and changed the setup to comply with the completely different and very bumpy Sebring International Raceway. Going from Buttonwillow, CA to Sebring, FL in one week wasn’t just insane for having to tow that many miles but the tracks couldn’t be more opposite from each other. Buttonwillow was 3 miles of tight technical dust covered asphalt that barely allowed us in 5th gear and Sebring was a ginormous 3.75 track with multiple straightaways that allowed us to top out 5th gear not once per lap but multiple times each lap and may have been the fastest track we have ever been to. Needless to say our driver was excited to stretch the legs of the #44 G35 one last time to finish out the season and we knew that with such a large track it would play into the hand of the #44 car and hopefully put us on the podium.
The NARRA USTT finale was the final points race of the season and we were mathematically in the running for the 2013 NARRA USTT North Cup Championship in TT1. All we needed to do was finish in the top 3 and beat two fellow racers who were ahead of us in points. It was a tall order but certainly possible and after our dismal finish in California we were all ready to finish the season on a high note and hopefully walk away with a championship as well. After driving across the country we experienced every weather from 30mph winds to snow to sweltering heat and everything else, so when we got to Florida and felt the sunny 85 degree weather we were very excited to be wearing shorts a few weeks from Christmas and anxious to race in such perfect late season weather. Bright and early Saturday morning we got the car unloaded, passed tech, attended the drivers meeting did some reconnoissance laps and before we knew it we were in the final first session of the year and excited to see what the #44 car could do around the infamous Sebring.
Once again we were at a track we had never been to before, so the first session was used to learn the line and sort out the car setup all while still going as fast as possible knowing it was a one day double points event with only 5 sessions so each session was crucial. Luckily for us after the first session we were sitting 2nd in TT1 and one of the racers we needed to beat for points did not show up, so our chances were looking pretty good early in the day. Going into the second session we made some tire pressure and sway bar adjustments and went out and put down what would end up being our fastest lap of the day for us. Unfortunately on that same fast lap on one of the straights our 5th gear went out on us and refused to let us engage without some serious abuse. This transmission issue would plague us for the rest of the day along with the very high FL temperatures making the track less cooperative as the sun baked the track bringing out all of the grease and overheating our Hankook Ventus TD’s. With the NARRA USTT rules every class is allowed to run racing slicks but with our car having just come from SLB/GTA we were still on our 80 tread wear Ventus TD’s designated by their rules so we were at a slight disadvantage but we were still holding our own firmly on the podium. Unfortunately in the last session of the day we were bumped from 2nd to 3rd but we were still on the podium and with that podium finish we had clinched the 2013 NARRA USTT North Cup Championship for TT1! It was a hell of a way to finish the 2013 season and we couldn’t have been happier to have won our first TT championship in the #44 SOHO Motorsports Infiniti G35 and gave us a ton of momentum going into the upcoming 2014 season. Until then enjoy the photos and videos in this post and be sure to check back for more updates in the future along with more in-depth info about these races at www.kparlettracing.com