The Crossflow cup rolled into Portland for round 4, at the Columbia River Classic hosted by SOVREN. 35 drivers in 3 classes came to play for a second year, in what remains a great weekend of racing. The great food, nightlife and ambiance of a wonderful city just 10 minutes from the track, and the buzz of the All British Meet make this event special. And this year, an exceptionally deep grid of beautifully turned out cars and a uniformly sensible, competent set of sportsmen at the wheel made it a great event.
As usual things got started with a test day hosted by the Lotus Club and a chance for everyone, especially the 12 CSRG drivers, to tune up for the weekend. The racing line had huge grip courtesy of the Indy cars the weekend before, so right away things felt faster than last year. The test day was uneventful other than Andrew Wait stuffing his Lola into the tire wall outside turn 12. Thanks to lots of tape and encouragement by the Anderson Racing crew, the car and its driver were back on track within a few hours. The test day was followed by the now traditional reception at Ivey engines, followed by 35 drivers, their crews and families scattering throughout Portland for more celebrating.
The driver’s meeting had the usual warnings and guidance for the weekend, but also a new twist on how the race would unfold. In an attempt to take pressure off the start lap, the SOVREN stewards agreed to run a different process. The change was to run straight up the main straight, without the chicane on the pace lap and the start lap, and then to open the chicane for lap 2. Large grids including the Indycar series struggle to get through both the entry and exit of the chicane without problems (yes this is a link to the inspiration for this) when cars are streaming in and out 3 wide. At least, that was the idea.
Morning practice times set a grid for a qualifying race, where again things were different in that a driver’s best time set the grid for the Crossflow points race in the afternoon, not their finishing position. As expected conference champ and run-offs bound ace Quinn Posner, modern ford drivers Neil Shelton and Scott Olson led the way, with historic points leader Art Hebert, last years third place championship driver Tom Kreger, rounding out the first few rows. A very big fast midfield came next including Ed Van Tassel in his perfectly repaired Titan, a very rapid John Greeven in his Club Ford followed by Ed Lauber, Bob Morrison and Don Stern. A very early green flag saw the field go streaming down the main straight as planned but on lap two, the short term memory most formula ford drivers suffer from kicked in and about a third of the grid bypassed the chicane the rest went through the chicane. Fortunately no one had a problem in the scary merger of chicane and non-chicane traffic, and by lap three everyone was clear on the concept and taking the chicane.
Dan Wise’s car went silent and had to be towed in, and unfortunately we had two broken cars; one got caught up with another car as it spun going into the chicane, another with failed suspension. Neither suffered serious damage and will be repaired in time for the final race. With the qualifying session concluded a few grid penalties were handed out for the chicane errors and some work had to be done to pull out the non-chicane laps to get an accurate grid.
There was a moment of panic in pre-grid as the grid workers were organizing the grid based on finishing order, not best times This meant that several drivers who pulled off once they had a lap in the bank, ended up in the wrong spot. Competition director Jim Johnson spent five frantic minutes sorting it all out, and in the end, a properly gridded field streamed out on time, if with a few drivers a bit breathless. Overall pole sitter Quinn Posner and his front row partner Neil Shelton controlled the pace perfectly, and anticipating another early green, (which they got) treated the crowd to a tidy start and 35 formula fords streaming into the first turn in perfect order. Leading the historic field a very racy Chris Porritt spun on lap two and had to patiently watch a tightly packed grid go screaming by. As usual the grid broke down into distinct battles with Robert Posner, Chris Schoap, Alan McColl (in his immaculate Tiga) Tom Duncan all ran nose to tail. They were joined by a charging Chris Porritt. Another tight group that included Mike Lanning, Michael Maros, and Mark Keller kept appearing in turn 12 with a different leader. In his borrowed Van Diemen, Jeff Rogers led home a group with Steeve Hoogs, Dan Wise, Jeff Rothman, another Canadian, Keith Robinson and Steve Timpson, Trout Roberts and Mike Nau.
In the end the Historic Ford Podium saw Art Hebert in P1, followed by Tom Kreger, and Andrew Wait. In Club Ford, Quinn Posner put on his usual master class for P1 followed by John Greeven and Alan McColl (with a stunning 3rd fastest lap of the race). The Modern Ford podium was topped by Neil Shelton, followed by Scott Olsen and Don Stern.
There were great performances up and down the grid, with personal bests from Ed Van Tassel, and iron men (have finished 100% of the series races) Chris Schoap, Dan Wise, Ed Lauber, and Jeff Rothman. Chris is exceptional in that he also has a triple points event in his tally in addition to the series and this SOVREN club races. Charlie Lyford just needed a few more laps as he cranked out the third fastest lap of the Historic Ford grid just two laps from the end and as usual Jeff Rothman and Dan Wise crossed the line .2 seconds apart have never been more than a few feet from each other the entire race.
All in it was a weekend that exemplified this series. Lots of hard racing, but with room, respect and the kind of sportsmanship that makes this as fun as anything you can do. There are a few things to think about.
After watching lots of film from various cars, it is very clear too many of our cars are unstable under braking. It is never a good idea to be braking hard with any turn in the wheel, but it all becomes far, far worse if you have too much brake bias towards the rear. Pro’s can benefit on occasion form rear bias, but not us. Check your bias, it should be 60% to the front as a baseline. Your front wheels should lock up first. If your car “tanks slaps” or spins or steps out in slow corners under braking, move your bias forward, lower the rear of the car, or both. Why is this important? Its one thing to spin in front of a field of 15 cars, its another to have 40 cars bearing down on you. Rear stability in general makes a car more predictable, and in pack racing, safer.
Impossible passes. We are seeing far, far less of this which is great, but it only takes one for someone to go home with their car on a wrecker or worse. If the driver in front of you needs to get out of your way for you to pass, don’t try it. Also note, that if you need an unnatural act to get by someone, you are just not fast enough to pull it off easily, don’t do it. Stay close, and wait for a chance that makes sense or just enjoy the racing.
The Drivers meeting. There will always be instructions that are unique to each event. Never assume anything, so take notes, ask questions, whatever it takes to be clear on how the race will be managed.
The Thank Yous!
We keep saying this over and over. This is simply not possible without the help and support of sponsors, host clubs and volunteers.
Jim Johnson, Sherry and Tom Masterson, Andy Collins, and the SOVREN board. You all worked so hard and we massively appreciate it. Bob Pengraph, thanks for the amazing photos
Ivey Engines … for the prizes the race day support for anyone in need, for the parties and for the Crossflow Cup
Roger Kraus Racing… for the tires, the service and the support that keeps vintage racing alive
Racers360, for the support and resources and for what you to do help develop safer, faster, happier drivers
Vehicles for Charity, for all the beer, wine, help and moral support, and for what you do, helping charities and causes thrive
and John Anderson Racing for the prizes, carrying stuff around and being a credit to the sport.
And not least, many, many thanks to Jim Cody, for scoring and keeping things fair.
The Charity Challenge , October 5-8 at Sonoma Raceway. A our final race there will be a monster grid, participation gifts, trophies for the Historic and Club Podiums, for the Masters Championship, for the best Ford, the Series MVP and the Crossflow cup. We will be giving away lots of engine parts, a set of tires and 6 Racers360 scholarships. News and details to follow.