2019 Season Opener – MSR Houston; January 26 – 27, 2019
It was a bit chilly in Angleton in the early morning as everyone started to warm up their cars. A lot of us were wiping down windows and windshields, hoping the sun would come out to burn off that thin layer of moisture on the track.
MSR Houston is a track we’d yet to drive, and normally, that means we come down for the open track day the Friday before, but work kept that from working (haha) so we had to accelerate our learning curve. This year it was clockwise, while last year, we’re told it was CCW. Watching videos helps, but you don’t know your gearing or braking points unless you’re physically doing it. (A simulator will be built for moments just like these… as soon as we have the space.) And the Launch – well, it’s a turn with an appropriate name and has a bit of a pucker factor the first time you hit it at full speed.
We have a different approach to collecting points this season. If we enter as a team, we should fare pretty well at the end of the year in the overall standings in our region. It also makes it easier to swap drivers out for any reason if we ever need to. I took to the track on Saturday and Dave on Sunday.
Being a season opener, we expected people to be sorting several things out. We sure were – over our break, we installed radios to talk back and forth while in the car, dialed in our AIM Solo 2 a bit more, it’s only the second time out with the limited slip differential, and got to experience the pure joy of the hard wired Smarty Cam to record all of our lap footage (which will be posted on our YouTube page in the coming weeks). We also had a brand new set of tires – same required Toyo RRs – just a lot fewer heat cycles.
What we didn’t expect was to see so many other cars have issues. We witnessed several offs – and it rained in the area earlier in the week. A lot of those cars had to be pulled out by the tow trucks, which slowed things down. Then there were the cars that wrecked. An E46 M3 hit the start/finish wall, a Miata lost a wheel, and more. That slowed things down even more.
The NASA Texas team managed as best they could, but it meant we both had some racing under caution, and we both had a race shortened to try to catch back up to the schedule.
This was one of those weekends when it was all said and done, we were really happy we came home unscathed. It was an added bonus I got to stand on the podium in 3rd place on Saturday night. It was an even bigger bonus we finished 3rd in every single race all weekend, adding up those points. Sometimes, it’s not about setting records or doing your absolute best. Sometimes it’s about surviving and being able to get to the next race without major repairs.
We got to know MSR Houston – we’re eager to drive it again. It’s a challenging, technical track and we both felt like we handled different parts of the track better than others. My favorite turn became Diamond’s Edge and Dave enjoyed Sugar and Spice. And of course, it was great seeing some of the regular faces at the track for another season.
Next up, our home track at MSR Cresson in March.
See you at the track,