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Close call with the wall at Waterford -long

After spending a few hours yesterday helping out with the Waterford Hills,
Michigan Driver's Safety School, and then having to attend some fun, yet more
mundane parties (engagement and wedding -not mine), I just had to go back
today and maybe get some track time in.  Saturday the weather was hot and
humid, but without rain for a change this week.  No bad things to report,
although on new 95.5 S6 wagon owner did loose control on the front strait and
instead of doing the two foot Hail Mary just let go of the wheel (so I hear)
and narrowly missed a concrete barrier and followed the undulating grassy
infield, in the process S6 leaping four feet in the air and coming down nose
first and bending a few pieces.  Needless to say, things are being assessed at
Vortrag right now.   

While things started officially at 10 this morning, I arrived at 12:30 and
finally made it on the track after checking everything over by 2:30.  This was
all good and fine, except for the fact that the weather was due for a change
and I my SP8000 tires (especially the fronts) were slicker than R1s.  Keeping
this in mind, I started off my run in group 1, since I hadn't been on the
track the day before and I could run at a fairly liesurely pace.  (Groups are
labeled 1-4, where 1 is for beginners and 4 is for advanced/instructors).
Group run times were 30 minutes and usually consisted of only 3 to 4 cars per

Waterford Hills is a 1.5 mile course with 12? turns, including elevation
changes , esses, a swamp turn and two straits.  I usually run group 3, but I'd
do that later.  It began to rain lightly at first and then progressively more.
Knowing how asphalt, oil and water make for a slick combination, I was very
careful and run without incident, although it is kinda fun kicking the rear
out a little, especially when setting up for the next apex:-).  

I ran group 3 two more times, and actually, due to the weather, run groups 3
and 4 were combined, since we were all pretty well matched and most of us were
veterans of the course (this being my 3rd Waterford Hills event).  When the
rain came down really hard, I'd exit and wait out the worst of it. At the
beginning of the second session, it had ceased to rain and we needed to run
the cars on the track to help dry the course, with ever higher speeds.  Then
when things were almost completly dry -yup, it would rain again!  I had slowed
don for the rain and as it was only a light rain, I would get up progressively
more speed.  I was doing this on the esses when the v8's rear broke loose at
about 40 mph and while I'm sure I could have corrected it, the lack of treads
made this impossible  "Oh Sh*t!" -- only 40 feet of grass separated the tarmac
from the guardrail and beyound that the swamp.  

Usually there's more space for a run off, but this isn't where one usually
looses it, so I see what's coming and brace myself as the car rotates
clockwise and I see the guardrail through my rear view mirror, fully expecting
that slow groan of crunching metal as the rear end hits first, but no crunch-
still moving and that guardrail is coming up on my door really fast!  And
suddenly it was over.  There I sat, parallel with the guardrail, my drivers
rear view mirror six inches from the guardrail!  And once I gained my
composure and realized that someone was watching over me, I started the motor,
which stalled, no problem on the socond try, checked for traffic and proceeded
slowly back to the tarmac and was VERY much ready to exit as I saw the Black
flag pointed at me (standard fare for those that don't know-  used anytime
something like that happens to bring the car in to make sure everythings OK or
when you have a reckless driver)  Mine was the former.  No damage!  Of course,
the corner workers and others that observed the incident could not believe I
didn't hit.  There was dirt and grass piled into each of the wheels,
especially the drivers side, dirt on the hood, trunk and roof!  A quick hose
down and aside from the blades of grass that were lodged betwwen the rims and
tires, no evidence of what had happened.

Of course, I was encouraged to go out again and I did (without incident, thank
you).  But the tracks and divits created by my "Farming" excursion really told
the story.  At the guardrail were two 14"  piles of dirt that I had created
when the wheels acted as shovels, or more properly plows that effectively
braked the 2 ton beast. 

Guess I don't need to go to Cedar Point this summer after all.  That's one
thrill I won't forget.

-Ingo Rautenberg
Intact 1990 Papyrus V8q 
Bilstein Sport dampers 
Eibach Pro Springs 
Compomitive 17 x 8 MO
202,000 miles and counting  ..."New" SP8000s for front waiting to be mounted