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ZF Motorsports Watkins Glen Sahlen's Six Hour Newsletter
Posted by: newsla on Jun 24, 2014 - 04:44 PM
Sports Cars
ZF Motorsports Watkins Glen Sahlen's Six Hour Newsletter

To say Andy Lally lives on the edge is an understatement. To stay in shape for racing he trains with MMA fighters, for a hobby he is a street luge racer and he will be competing in this weekend's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche with John Potter. The duo won Sebring in March and are currently third in GTD points.


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"My first race at Watkins Glen was in the 1995 SCCA Nationals. I won the Formula 440 class and this track instantly became my favorite track in the world!"

"I have so many incredible memories racing at The Glen over the years. I've won there eight times and three of those wins were GT victories in the six hours race. I made my pro racing debut there as well. On top of that I got my first top 10 in NASCAR competition in the NationWide series and also made my Sprint Cup debut at The Glen and we qualified 15th. All of those memories and much more make this track very special to me."

"Watkins Glen has a flow like no other road course. Fast, wide corners with big elevation changes, friendly curbing and good passing zones challenge every driver that has ever raced here. To win the six hours of The Glen it takes a really good team, a fast car and smart strategists and intelligent drivers. This is a six hour sprint race and there can be no weak links in the team."

When asked for a list, Lally presents catalog of cars from open-wheel racers to Porsches that he driven at Watkins Glen: KBS Formula 440, Van Doeman Formula Continental, Van Dieman Formula 2000, Bowman Formula 2000, BMW Z3 Motorola Cup, BMW M3 Motorola Cup, Ford Mustang Koni Challenge, Porsche 996 Koni Challenge, Porsche 997 Grand Am Cup, Chevy Cobalt Grand Am Cup, Lola SRP2 Rolex Grand Am, Picchio SRP2 Rolex Grand Am, Picchio Daytona Prototype, Crawford Daytona Prototype, Porsche GT Rolex Grand Am, Pontiac GTO Rolex Grand Am, NASCAR Busch Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Brad Kettler on Data, Driver, Strategy and Enough

The typical TUDOR United SportsCar Series race car is a data emitting machine that can confuse team's to the back of the grid or propel them to victory lane.

Brad Kettler, director of operations-engineering at Audi Sport customer racing USA, explains how the teams use data to set-up the car and manage the race and how drivers use data to improve their performance.

"The engineer looks at basic items like the cars top speed, displacement of the dampers, which gears the drivers are running on certain parts of the circuit, steering angles, etc." Kettler said. "These are primary building blocks of the basic behavior of the race car going around the track. They will be looking at ride height numbers of the car at top speed which gives basic aero information. You can go forever into data detail."

The driver has a whole different set of data.

"Drivers will look at the data to improve their performance. He will look at where he is braking, speed he is carrying through the corners and if he is hitting the apex. This information will tell them if they are carrying maximum speed out of the corners and a lot more. Most of the driver data is comparative. If the other driver in the car is faster, they will overlay the data from one driver to another to see where the slower driver can make up time. They are trying to match their times or look for ways to improve the overall speed of the car."

Team strategists use a combination of team generated and series provided data to strategize the team to victory.

"On the team side for the race, we are looking at the other cars in our class making sure we know what they are doing, what their pace is, what we expect them to do range wise on a tank of fuel, etc. We get timing loop information from the series and that tells when they will pit or if they will stay out. We will make strategic decisions based upon that data."

Can there be too much data?

"I agree that there is a point where there is just too much data and you are you looking at too much vague detail. I am still fairly old school. I like to use the data to validate what the driver is telling me. Regardless of what the data says, the cars are driven by a human and you have to match the cars handling to their driving style. It is important to have them be a big part of the equation. I am 60/40 driver to data to validate the cars characteristics. Some people go the other direction. With more and more information available from GPS and other devices it certainly can be overwhelming. You just have to look at the basics of the cars operation and if need be go farther into the details."

Watkins Glen and the Infamous Bog

Watkins Glen is one of the most historic tracks we have in North America. What started in the streets of this small cottage town and then moved to its current location has become the lore of Formula 1, sports cars and NASCAR since 1948.

Sixty years ago a law student named Cameron Argetsinger dreamed of bringing European style competition to the village where he spent his summer vacations. He drew up a challenging course that encompassed asphalt, cement and dirt roads in and around the village of Watkins Glen. The dream became reality on October 2, 1948.
Aside from great racing, this historic track also holds a 30 year mystery. The track has seen great cars like McLaren, Ferrari, Chevrolet and many others race around this great track, but it was another vehicle, a Greyhound bus that holds a legendary story, some might say near mythological.

The Bog, located on the outside between turns 11 and 12 had been mayhem central since the 1960s. Not only the Grand Prix event, but Can-Am, F5000 and other series annually attracted the Bogladytes, who paid $15 general admission to basically party all weekend; few of them cared much about racing. At some point the Bogladytes began bringing in old vehicles to burn in the swampy pit. By 1974 "bogging" your heap at Watkins Glen had become a tradition, performed in front of hundreds chanting, "The Bog wants a car!" as they pounded it with a hail of rocks.

That year there was a chartered Greyhound bus that carried Brazilian fans to the upstate New York circuit to cheer Emerson Fittipaldi. Fittipaldi came into The Glen round tied for first in F1 points with Clay Regazzoni. A strong finish for Fittipaldi could potentially result in his second championship in three years, and clinch McLaren's first constructors' title.

On Saturday morning before race day the Greyhound delivered the Brazilians to the main paddock area. Reportedly its driver escorted his passengers to their grandstand seats, leaving the unattended coach unlocked. The bus was then stolen, demolished, and quickly burned by a mob of mostly drunken spectators. At least 12 other vehicles, four of them reportedly stolen from race fans camping nearby, were similarly destroyed. All met their fate in the Glen's Bog, this infamous mud bowl outside of the tunnel leading to the start-finish line.

Witnesses to the Greyhound burning recall seeing the bus being driven into the Bog area as the crowd was pummeling the bus with rocks and bottles. The Greyhound finally crashed into the car pile, stopped and was set ablaze.

ZF Motorsports Race Reporter Video Library

The ZF Race Reporter series is in full production. The videos, hosted by Motor Racing Network's Tony Rizzuti, show race, event, and technical features from the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, including the popular ZF Fan Reporter segment. Past and future editions can be viewed at www.Facebook.com/zfmotorsport. Look for new content from TUDOR Championship events at Daytona, Sebring, Detroit, Watkins Glen, Indianapolis, and Road Atlanta.

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