2009 Toledo Nationals
by Mike Myers
Once again, the full day Saturday was devoted to qualifying. The rest of the heats from round #4 were run first, and we then ran two more rounds, to complete the scheduled six rounds of qualifying. This was followed by a long break while the Finals were set up.
The weather continued to be Kodak-perfect. The mood in the pits seemed to be even more serious than earlier in the week, with racers knowing this was their last day to make it into one of the higher Finals. From watching the cars on the track, it's easy to tell the "fast" guys from the "slow" guys, which has nothing to do with their car speed. The better racers invariably took a good line, didn't overshoot the corners, and had no wasted motions. The rest of the racers on the other hand were all over the track. Too much horsepower is good only if you know how to use it. The "slower" drivers often had plenty of horsepower, but never seemed to understand that "slower is faster". There's a limit as to how fast any turn can be taken, and trying to over-do that just results in the car sliding around, with excess wheel spin. Still photos can't really show this, but the faster drivers were getting their consistently low lap times mostly because of their "line", not because of their power. Of course, they make it look "easy"... which it's anything but!
There are both good things and silly things about the way the race is being run. It's on a time schedule, and the people in charge are doing a great job of keeping to the schedule. I never thought that could be done, but it was announced that the race would be run according to the schedule, and if you weren't ready on time, it was your problem. For a major race, I think this is a good thing. At the same time, one of the qualifiers after the resort had only one car in it. I think it would have made more sense to place that car in one of the other qualifiers, and save a bit of time. All in all, everything is going great, and I'd have to say it's a very well run event. I also wish the organizers had allowed everyone to go out on the track for a group photo. To me, that seems like an important part (and a nice souvenir) of every major event. I'm so used to doing it, that I never even considered that it wouldn't happen (time permitting). However, it was decided that people might track dirt onto the track, so the only time to take this photo was after the Mains, which probably won't work out as many people will have left early.
Back to Saturday... When qualifying was completed, a second driver's meeting was held. To save time on Sunday, some of the lower Finals were run on Saturday. Otherwise we'd never have been able to get the whole program in.
When the dust settled, the top qualifiers for each class were as follows:
Sedan: Paul Lemieux
Masters: Eli Ezrow
Open: Ralph Burch Jr.
The way the Finals were set up, was to place the top eight drivers directly into the two 1/8 scale Finals (open and Masters), and the top ten drivers into the Sedan Final. The rest of the racers were arranged by qualifying order. The first, third, fifth, and so on racers were placed in the "odd" group. The second, fourth, sixth, and so on drivers were placed in the even group. The lower Finals were set up with up to ten racers being placed in the 1/8 lower Finals, and up to twelve racers in the 1/10 sedan lower finals. Whenever possible, the maximum allowed number of racers were placed in each lower Final, but this left the first races to be run (the 1/16 Finals) with very few racers. The bump-up racers will bring the Final up to the allowed maximum number of racers.
The 1/16 Finals for 1/10 Sedan (odd and even) and for 1/8 open (odd and even) were to be run late Saturday. Each was fifteen minutes long. I know Ryan Ramsey won the 1/16 even Final, as I was photographing him, but I won't have the results of the other races until Sunday.
There are three image galleries from today:
Photos of the Toledo Track:
Photos from the last few 1/8 Qualifiers:
Click the link below to see the final qualifying standings:
For those people who asked, the racing photos were mostly taken with a Nikon D3, often with a 70-300mm zoom. The photos of racers and the track facilities were taken with a Leica M8.2. The Leica is great for "people photos", but useless for racing photos. The D3 is good for everything, but it's big and heavy and I enjoy the files the Leica creates more than those from the Nikon.
Tomorrow is Finals day. Weather is expected to be just like Saturday - in a word, perfect!