2007 8 Hours of the Cascades Enduro
March 17 - Portland International Raceway

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The calendar said it was still winter but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the weather. St. Patrick’s day dawned bright and sunny with highs to be in the upper 60’s. Are we sure this is the Northwest? This year the Cascade 8 Hour race was to be the start of the season. Typically the race is run in October but it was moved to accommodate the scheduled repaving of PIR in the fall. It seemed like we had just ran the Cascade Enduro but here we were again.

This year there was a new P0 class for 3.5 liters and above, which meant the 968 did not have to up against big V8s and the like. The competition was a pair of fast euro-motored BMW M3s. In past years, these cars have been 1 to 3 seconds a lap faster than us so we would need a little help from them and a trouble free run to beat them. Could we really run a fourth 8 Hour in a row without a problem?

Video: Cascade Enduro October 2007 (79MB WMV)
This year my co-drivers were a reprise of the 2005 lineup, Bruce Beachman and Steve Adams. Both had experience in the car but it had been a while for each of them. You can read Steve's race report here. Bruce came down on Friday afternoon to get some time in the car and Steve was going to practice Saturday morning. I wasn’t worried about either’s ability to do the job. All the suspension work over the winter had paid off as the car was handling very well.

Our first bit of drama occurred in Saturday morning practice. Steve had taken the car out and had an uneventful session getting up to speed. We had considered not running the car again but I thought it was best if Bruce took it out in the final practice session so that we could get the tire pressures set where they needed to be for the start. Bruce brought the car in and James took the pressures but the right rear was 8lbs. low. How could that be? A quick look revealed the newly installed valve stem was leaking. The valve stem was quickly replaced and the car was race ready again. That would have been a nasty surprise in the race.
The driver order was going to be Bruce, Steve and then me, with each of us doing a double stint. The Le Mans start at this race is always a talking point, but, in reality the start of an 8 hour race is all but meaningless. Bruce had been considering several different “moves” to spice up his run across the pit lane. The cart wheel & moon walk were abandoned for a rendition of the dance of the sugar plum fairies. Needless to say, the ballet won’t be calling.

Bruce jumped in the car and I helped strap him in. The only problem was when Bruce went to start the car there was nothing! It was like the kill switch had been pulled, but it hadn’t. I had just started the car with no problems minutes before. Hmm?? After a few “what the hell are we going to do” seconds, the car just fired right up. It is still a mystery.
Even though we had a good grid position, the poor getaway left Bruce in the middle of a mid pack scrum. It was a while before race settled and the traffic began to work itself out. In the meantime, Bruce was battling with the very fast P2 class Caterham. The 968 was faster down the straight and the lightweight Caterham had the braking and cornering advantage. With the Caterham drafting behind us it was a close battle that continued until our first pit stop. We were running 2nd in class and 5th overall at this point. The crew did quick fuel stop and Bruce went right back out. Amazingly, when he came out, he slotted right back into the battle with the Caterham. Our fuel stop had cost us exactly a lap, which is pretty good considering a lap of PIR is fairly short.

Bruce brought the car in at 2:40 to hand it over to Steve. We had moved up to 3rd overall and were running 1st in the P1 class. To this point the car had been running great, the only issue was that the rear of front undertray had become dislodged and could be seen flapping under the car as it went down the straight. I wasn’t too concerned, as the leading edge was secured by many bolts. Steve was strapped in and sped away. It took him a few laps to come up to speed but after that he turned very consistent times.
Approaching the 4 hour mark, we still had the class lead but the Adare BMW was closing in. After Steve’s fuel stop we only had a 30 second cushion. Then it happened….the first issue the car has had in 32 hours of endurance racing (I guess it was over due). The right corner of the front splitter had separated from the car and was dragging on the ground. All the flapping had eventually fatigued some of the mounting points on the bumper cover and it let go. We were black flagged so Steve brought the car in. We attempted to hold the splitter up with tie wraps and duct tape but that didn’t hold for very long. You could hear the splitter dragging on the ground each time the car passed. It was clear to me the only remedy was to remove the splitter. Luckily, just about this time we caught a full course caution. We attacked the car with whatever cutting device we had on hand (and whatever the Adare team threw over the wall to us). Even though, the splitter was partially falling off, the other half was firmly attached and not going to come off with out a fight. It finally succumbed to some big snips and several hacksaws. To add insult to injury, we were also given a stop and go penalty for not all the crew wearing gloves over the wall. In the melee we lost seven laps and fell to 4th overall and second in class.
Steve brought the car in at 5:10 to hand over to me for the final two stints. I knew we had lost quite a few laps to the cars in front of us so it was unlikely I would be able to catch them without their help. The stints were mostly uneventful. There seemed to be a never ending stream of Miatas out there. It felt like I was passing a couple every lap. The once race-leading sports racer retired leaving us third overall. We were now 3 laps behind the 2nd place Caterham. With about 20 minutes left I had given up any hope of catching them. I relaxed my pace by 5 to 10 seconds a lap to ensure we had enough gas to finish and was just circulating awaiting the finish. By this time it was fully dark and there was no need to take any chances. With 5 minutes left, I round turn 6 and see some tail lights parked to the inside of turn 7. It’s the Caterham! I couldn’t believe it. There is just enough time to do enough laps to pass them. It turns out they had run out of gas. Very bad luck for them but good for us. We finished 2nd overall and second in class. We completed 335 laps and finished 7 laps behind the winning Adare BMW.
Photos on this page are by David Birkbeck, Camden Thrasher & Randy Krause. Click here for credits.

Enduro Stats:
- Drivers: Bruce Beachman, Steve Adams, Eric Krause
- Crew: Andre Samson, Anna Adams, David Graves, James Temple, Julie Adams, Randy Krause, Skip Grehan, Stephen Guy
- 2nd overall out of 30
- 2nd in class
- 335 laps completed
- 7 laps behind the winning BMW M3
- 5 scheduled pit stops for a total of 6:19 minutes
- 3 unscheduled stops related to removing the splitter for 9:46 minutes
- 1:19.839 fast lap (Beachman)
- 85 gallons of gas, 1.5 quarts oil. That's it again!