(Las Vegas, NV) — As summer comes to a close, the SCCA Cal Club Division races were held at Buttonwillow Raceway in California. After continuing to be faced with mechanical engine issues throughout the year, the GRRRacing team resorted to throwing in their stock back up motor after several dyno sessions at Insane Power in Henderson, NV. With help from Bill at Delicious Tuning, an off the shelf tune was loaded in the car and the team was satisfied with the numbers they saw in the single pull that was ran.
Saturday September 1st qualified driver Michele Abbate just .1 off of the pole position in the STU class. “I was having an odd reaction in the car in all of the right handers on track. My ABS and traction control started to freak out and placed the car in limp mode. I really wasn’t able to get the time I wanted out of the car, but, thankfully we were still on pace despite our issues”, Abbate shares.
Crew Chief Anthony Philleo worked to diagnose the issue. After a few checks and changes Abbate hit the track for a hardship lap. A hardship lap is allowed to be requested by competitors who are experiencing issues with their vehicles in order to try and resolve it before a race. The hardship lap went flawlessly and the team was feeling good for the race.
Abbate took the green for Saturday’s race and was in the lead by turn 1 after a great start. Unfortunately, Abbate was still facing VSC/ABS issues and the car would not allow power to be put down any time the the steering wheel had an angle input. After leading the entire field overall, the ECU loss communication with the ABS module, placing Abbate in limp mode for over half of the race. She was able to secure a 2nd place finish, but this was not the result the team had hoped for.
“It has been frustrating to deal with mechanical issues, and now that we have those sorted, we have this new electrical gremlin haunting us,” Anthony expresses. The GRRRacing team worked through the night checking through the entire system, trying to troubleshoot the issue. Once they had exhausted all of their resources the team had no other choice than to hope for a better result in the morning.
Sunday provided a 2nd chance qualifying session, but as soon as Abbate got through the first corners, she radioed in stating the car is still having the same issues. Unable to complete a lap in the qualifier the team exited the track and got back to work in the pits. The team removed all suspects that could be causing the issue. Including resetting the ECU and checking several other parameters.
Feeling hopeful the team requested another hardship lap. With 80% of the lap completed successfully without any issue, Abbate sailed it into the final right hand sweeper, only to find the problem to persist and place the car in limp mode again. Frustrated, the team continued to analyze the problem and troubleshoot.
Taking a closer look at all of the ABS modules and a few in car fuses, the team found a few more suspect culprits. This was their hail mary, with a final request for another hardship lap just 1 session before the race time, it was granted to them. Michele put the car through the ringer in the one lap and completed it 100% without any disabling modes! Although, a traction control light would still flicker on the dash, there was no disabling of the engine, rpm, or speed of the car, which meant she could race at race pace, or maybe even better…
Before the race, the team worked to perfect the system but came up short on any further improvements. As Abbate headed to grid, they placed her in the last position behind the entire field. Unsure if this was a paperwork error or due to her missed 2nd chance qualifier, she knew she had her work cut out for her.
The green flag dropped for Sunday’s final race of the weekend. Abbate picked up 4 position before turn one. Charging for the front she picked the field off one by one, her class competition leading the pack. Before completing lap 1 Abbate had taken the overall lead and was pulling a gap on 2nd place. On a mission, Michele broke the track record on her 2nd lap of the race by 0.7 seconds. Never looking back Abbate’s lead grew and grew with her consistent lap times. As she took the white flag, Abbate reset the record she had just set, with a 1:58.2 another .2 faster than her previous best!
The checkered flag flew and the Scosche x GRRRacing 86 was the first to cross the line with a long list of accomplishments. A hard charger award was given for the most positioned gain, the fastest overall time was set, first place finish overall and in STU, and she earned her first track record in her driving history.
“I am a firm believer that you get out it what you put into it, and Lord knows we have put in so so so much work leading up to this weekend”, Michele says after leaving the podium. “It was a lot of fun getting to see our team work hard, do well, and finish on the top spot of the podium again”, Anthony Philleo explains.
Persistence, dedication, and perseverance is what makes a champion and the the GRRRacing team exemplifies this effort in every dimension. Stay tuned for some exciting announcements to come, and as always thank you for your continued support.