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2004 8 Hours of the Cascades Enduro
 
October 16 - Portland International Raceway

Wow, what a great event! I don't think it could have gone any better for us. The drivers, the crew and the car were spot on for the whole day.

Here is a video. (Thanks Skip)

The race ran from 12 to 8PM with 2 hours of practice in the morning. The forecast leading up to the event was for 20-30% chance of showers on race day but the night before the local news was predicting a very wet day. We prepped the car in the morning assuming it was going to be a wet race. We purchased a second set of rain tires because the skies were dark and we were concerned about using up our one set of rains if the weather alternated between wet and dry. Practice went smoothly as the crew familiarized themselves with their duties, driver changes were practiced and tires were scrubbed in. Neither of my co-drivers, Hal Hilton & Steve Adams, had driven the car before race day so it was important to get them as much time as possible to get comfortable with the car. Here is a link to Steve's write up.

We were classed in P1 which meant we were up against a new Porsche GT3 Cup Car, a turbocharged tube frame fiero, a former Daytona Porsche 993, a wickedly fast (in a straight line) Mustang and a couple of RX7s. Some of these cars would simply be unbeatable if they ran a clean race. The P2 class, for 2.5 liters and under, was stacked with a handful of very fast Speed Touring Car BMWs and a spattering of Z cars and 944s. In all, 39 cars in 4 classes started the race.

 


At 5 minutes to 12 the 39 starting drivers lined up across the pit lane from their cars awaiting the LeMans style start. I must admit I had a few butterflies as I waited by the car to assist Hal into the car for the opening stint. We were gridded in position 4, which gave us the opportunity to get out of the pits before a lot of cars. Before you know it, the clock strikes twelve, a horn sounds and controlled chaos ensues. As I'm helping Hal I hear a few other cars starting. It seemed like an eternity as I got Hal strapped in but in reality it was only a few seconds before we got rolling. Hal left the pit lane in the first eight or so cars and completed the first lap in 6th place. Hal immediately got down to business and put down some blistering laps. He turned some of the fastest laps the car has ever done at Portland. He spent most of the first stint mixing it up with the eventual 2nd & 3rd place finishing E36 BMWs. We lead the P1 class until 45 minutes into the race when the GT3 Cup car and Fiero finally made their way to the front.

We planned to do the race on five stops, which made for an even two 1:20 stints for each driver. We were only going to change that if it rained. Well, it was still dry and the skies had lightened. Hal brought the car in at exactly the 1:20 mark and handed the car over to Steve. During the stop we spilled a small amount of gas as the remaining fuel in the dump can decided to surge out of the vent tube. We were given a warning by the pit marshal with the next occurrence to result in a penalty. We solved the problem by only putting just enough into the dump cans to fill the tank. It turned out we were using about 15 gallons per stint. Luckily, that was our last fuel related incident.

Steve had what appeared from the pit lane to be a trouble free run in the second stint. Steve normally races a front wheel drive Acura so it took him a few laps to get settled. But, very quickly he was up to speed and cutting down his lap times nearly every lap. He put down nice, clean consistent laps. At the 2:40 mark he brought the car in for my stint.

I got strapped in the car and took off. It felt strange jumping into a hot car and joining a race that was nearly three hours old! The car still felt up to par so I tried to get down to a good pace and work thru traffic. Early in the stint I nearly had a monumental accident along the curved back "straight". I was overtaking a Acura on the left and as we rounded the curve he suddenly shot left, inches in front of me. It turns out that a 944 was parked against the wall and not visible until the last second. I just saw a flash of parked car as we shot by at 100+ mph. He must have just come to a stop as there were no yellow flags. That brought out the pace car for the first of three times during my stint. Just my luck. The last part of the stint was run under green and I was finally able to get some good laps in. I brought the car in at 4:00 and handed it back over to Hal.

Hal picked up right where he left off and put down fast lap after fast lap. I was surprised to see the relatively light attrition. It seemed most cars were still running and I had only seen a handful of cars having extended stops in the pits. Hal returned to pit lane at 5:20 for the next fueling and driver change.



Steve was concerned about the tires and lobbied for a new set before his stint. As Hal was still running fast laps, Steve was overruled and we agreed to not take the time to do a tire change if the tires passed a visual inspection. Well, the tires still looked great after 5 hard hours. Steve set off on another clean run. He ran with the headlights on for the whole stint. Sun set was at 6:25 but it started getting dark much earlier with the cloud cover. By the time Steve returned to the pitlane at 6:40 it was almost completely dark and best of all it was starting to sprinkle. Oh boy, dark & wet - that should be fun.

I got in the car and headed off into the darkness. I had never raced at night. If you've never done it, it is an experience. The headlights behind you are blinding and you can never tell what car is behind you. Is that the Miata I just passed or is that the race leader right behind me? A few minutes into the stint it really started to rain. Problem was it was very hard to tell how hard it was raining. You could see that the track was wet and something was hitting the windshield but it was so dark you couldn't tell. There was no traction but at this point I'm not stopping for tires no matter what. After skating around for a while the rain stopped and a dry line started to appear again. At this point all I wanted to do was make sure I didn't throw the car off the road. Of course it is just my luck today and there are a couple more full course yellows during my stint. During the last yellow I noticed the car ahead of us in class, the Pallis & Kitch 993 pull into pitlane. They had been running a bit off their pace before that so I wasn't sure if it was a planned stop or not. The last thirty minutes seemed very long and I was very happy when I finally saw the checkered flag. Andre came over the radio and told me that the 993 had not come back out of the pits so we were third in class. I was overjoyed and mentally exhausted. The weeks, days and hours of hard work had paid off with a good finish. The car ran without a single issue all day, the Toyos look like they could go another 4 hours, the drivers never spun or touched another car, the crew did great work and every stop went smoothly. I can't wait to do it again.

 
Enduro Stats:
- Drivers: Hal Hilton, Steve Adams, Eric Krause
- Crew: Andre, Skip, Gil, Eric, Andrew, Randy, Anna, Linda
- 6th overall out of 39 starters
- 3rd in class
- 320 laps completed
- 14 laps behind overall winner
- 5 pit stops for a total of 11:13 minutes
- 1:20.680 fast lap (Hilton)
- 85 gallons of gas, 2 qts. oil & 1 set of Toyo RA-1s for the whole race. That's it!
 
 
 
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