Gridlife Chicago 2021 – and a Podium!

A crazy comeback this week led to a podium at Autobahn Country Club, for the Grid Life Chicago event. Rewinding 2 weeks, I had to deliver the Evo from ASM to RS Motors, as the latter had an OEM shortblock assembled and ready to go, if it had to come to that. It did have to come to that. The noise we were hearing was piston slap; piston #4 had overheated, causing some scoring in the shortblock. The cause? A failed hose to the fuel pressure regulator solenoid – a bit of a freak accident, but thankfully nothing to do with the oil. Unfortunately, it did need a new shortblock.

RS Motors was able to put the new motor on and get the car back together in record time, leaving me a week to get some mileage on the car before the event, and thanks to flexibility at work, I was able to put on about 420 miles on the car – meaning I was ready to flush the fluids and get to setting some fast times at my home track.

Joliet had other plans however – after arriving Friday, the track got record amounts of rain on Saturday. I got in one single session on a very damp track, running a 1:42, which actually put me in second place for the day. All other sessions for Saturday were canceled, as there was so much standing water on the track. This worked for me anyway, as I needed to bleed the brakes quite badly.

Sunday turned out much better from a weather perspective. However, a tire puncture on track in my left rear made the car extremely loose and I had to pull off the track early and hunt for new a used tire to replace mine – video below of what happened in T1-2 after it had blown (and I hadn’t realized).

Fortunately, someone on track ran the same size as me and had spares, which allowed me to quickly swap one on for the 2nd session of the day. The track was fully dry by this point, and I was able to put down a decent, lap – a 1:35.2. Not my best, not my cleanest, and the car definitely had a second left in it, but I was just too rusty to get in anything faster. The run put me in 1st for the day, until the very end, where a Tesla ran a 1:34.999 – getting me by 2 tenths. I couldn’t go any faster that session, there was only an hour in between and I just couldn’t coax anything further out of the tires in their state.

I can’t complain, given all the issues and things the car went through, and thankful for my first podium at Autobahn. Again, I think the car had at least a second in it, but between the changing conditions, overheating tires, and my obvious rustiness and getting used to the power and revs on track, I just couldn’t get any faster than what I had done. Next time! Up next competition-wise is at Heartland Park in Topeka, KS.

Set Up (Evo):

  • Ohlins DFV (Custom valved); Shocks 6/7
  • OEM FSB 4/5; WL 26mm RSB: Soft
  • RE-ACD: Tarmac; ATS 1-way CH Front Differential; ATS 1.5-way CH Rear Differential
  • Camber at -3.5, -2.5 rear, 0 Toe F/R
  • Brakes F: Girodisc 2-pc & ST41s Brakes R: Girodisc 2-pc & ST43s
  • CE28N 18×9.5; 255/35-18 Falken RT660
  • 35psi

Notes (Evo):

  • 2021 Evo: 11 autox runs, 18 track sessions (new Falkens needed)

2021 Event Count: 1 Autox, 4 Track Days

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