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Button Willow Race report

Tim Comeau

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Well, all 4 guys showed up. Ken Huey (pixar) and Michael Weitze did their racing school or HPDE. Pete Yousko and I were met by Steve Bernheim. There was another 944 driver doing HPDE.

The weekend was mostly bad, with scattered high points. Kinda like the weather. I had/still have a nasty cold.

The 4 hour trip up there took 8 long hours because some hee-haws decided to crash on the freeway. I honestly didn't know if my clutch was going to make it, sitting on the grapevine grade for 2 hours+. The weather Sat morning was cold and wet, as in rain. Rain-X worked well.

I skipped the first session. I went out for the second session (qual) on old hard tires. That was a thrill! I managed to keep it on the track while many others didn't. I was getting wheel spin at 20-30 mph. The afternoon race saw better track conditions, but still very slick. I had on new shaved tires and kept the same set up as I had at the Streets last weekend, under similar weather conditions. It was too soft. I pushed the car hard, but there was just too much body roll and not enough grip. Also, I have never been SO HOSED by traffic in any other race. It was almost comical. Faster traffic would come up through and pass me at the worst places, then just breeze by Pete while he was on the straightaways. My momentum was killed about 4 times. Got that on video. Pete drove well and did things right. He maintained a lead till near the end of the race when he was slowed by some traffic. I HAD to get by this one Honda before the front straight if I was going to have a chance of catching Pete. Pushed too hard. I got past the Honda going into Sunset, but couldn't keep it on the track at the exit. Farmer Tim got the car back on the track and the Honda re-passed me. I stayed in the fight, but Pete won. Bernheim didn't make the grid. His pit help said his engine had seized?


There was a group of about 40 NASA drivers in the BBQ joint and we showed our videos on the big screen on the Timmy TV channel. (Better than NASCAR vision). That was a good time and I hope we can do it again.


Sunday morning was foggy. Less than 100 feet visibility at some points. Didin't lift until around 10 or 11. Schedule was changed and compressed. I made big changes to the sway bars and some to the tire pressures. We got a 15 minute practice session for all the race cars. It was short, but we were happy to have it after waiting all morning for the fog to lift. It was critical for me to have some more testing time. The car turned out better, but still wasn't good. I made more changes to the bars and tire pressures and got ready for the race. I started right behind Pete and we had a good dice for a while(got that on video too) , but Pete had the better car and I made several big mistakes trying to keep up. Especially in the off ramp. Pete had limited slip and he was kicking my ass coming out of that slow turn. I tried making up for it by carrying more speed in to the braking area. He just walked away every time I oversteered. (video). In the end, he got me by 5.6 seconds?. The good news is I broke my own track record trying to catch Pete. The bad news is Pete went even faster trying to stay ahead of me. The old record was 2:10.3. On Sunday's race, I turned a 2:09.8............and Pete turned a beautifully, smokingly, effecient lap time of 2:08.9. Well done.

So Pete got both wins and a new track record to boot. He moved well up the championship standings for more TOYO TIRES bucks too. I should have given him my cold..........

With more guys coming up to speed, 2005 looks to be very exciting.

I don't enjoy losing at all, but I dislike winning all the time even more.

Dylan, Jason, Chris, Steve, Bill, Pete have all shown speed this year, and I have high hopes for a few others, who are building cars, and come from different racing disciplines.

2005 should be great.

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Timmay! TV is awesome. I think it was a great idea for the Saturday dinner crowd.


Timmay! takes a lot of ribbing from the non-944 crowd. We're just jealous he looks so good in his suit (I heard it's a ladies suit, maybe that's his secret?!?). I still don't think I'd wear it to dinner though


Congrats on the good weekend of fun, the SE-Rs had a blast until JWL decided to have an aerobatics display after Magic Mountain


Good news is he's fine and we've seen what an SE-R can take in a bad situation. Kudos to Pablo on the cage he built.

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Well I for one had a blast. I hated the rain on sat. I kept having bus flashbacks But the race was fine. I had a good dice with JWL until I passed him going into Magic Mountain. Then he had an off trying to catch up as he entered sunset. He broke the hangers on the exhaust and it was draging in certain corners. The track was a bit slippy even after it dried up.


Sunday sucked in the early morning. I am glad we had practice. Practice times showed how fast Tom Paule is on this track. I knew that Tom will catch up even though he was starting from the end of the grid.


When Tom showed up after JWL unfortunate rollover, I simply pointed him by around Bus Stop and drove behind him and learned a GREAT DEAL. After I figured out his lines I started catching up to him. We passed each other sevral times. The final pass was mine and I held him off for the white flag and the checkered flag. It was an amazing race. What a learning experience for me. I just forgot how fun dicing with Paule is. There was only one contact that was my fault. I missed a shift in cotton corners and paule bumped me from behind. From that point on, I stopped shifting into second for cotton corners and took it in third like Paule does.


Just like Tim mentioned, racing greatly improves lap times. I pulled 2:06.495 and Tom pulled 2:06.5xx or 2:06.499, I do not remember. These are amazing times considering that the previous best was 2:09.601 under the same race conditions.

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Well, I found some time to watch Sunday's video this afternoon while the baby was sleeping. Nice and clear, good sound. I was getting really, really close to Peetee's car! I stuck my nose in a couple times, but couldn't take the position. More than a couple drivers asked for copies of the video. I'll see what I can do. Gotta learn how to load it into the computer from the video camera.........then make CD's.

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  • National Staff

Thanks to all of you (especially Tom and Naji) for making my first race a great experience. It was great fun, and I'm glad that I waited until all of you were done with your points battles so I could mix it up with you without having to worry about messing up a class battle. It was definitely the wildest session I've ever had on a track. Starting at the back of the pack with Tom (33rd) turned out to be a great opportunity for me. After Tom and I went 4 wide with the VW's after the green flag and he ended up ahead of me, I never got passed again. I ended up in 17th position overall, bested my time trial time by more than 3 seconds (2:05.9), and was able to pass both Tom and Naji about 2/3 into the race and hold onto my position, and even lapped a few cars. Our overall position would have undoubtedly been much better if we didn't have the 3 green flag start. I was really surprised when we passed an H1 car and a RSR. The red Miata that I caught up to on the first lap into Cotton Corners went two and three wheels off 4 times between there and Talladega before I passed him. Then, I had the front row seat watching JWL's car tumbling like something you might see on a year wrap-up highlight video for a pro rally series. Then, just as I'm about ready to scrub the race to go check him out being the only doc around, I see him walking away, allowing me to breathe a sigh of relief, and concentrate on getting past Tom and Naji, which was the goal I had set for myself before the race (other than having a clean race, not getting lapped, and passing JWL--but not that way). The time from when I caught up to Tom and Naji until I had a few second lead on them was just intense (about 4-5 laps total). I loved it!


Tim, it would be great if I could have a copy of any video you have of the blue #777 SRT4. Tom or Naji, if you guys had a video running, same thing.

Thanks Again.

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