June 7-8, 2008 Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama
Round five of the National Auto Sport Association Southeast Championship event, WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee finished 1 st in both of the sprint races and co-drove with team-mates Ryan Downton and Tom Fowler to top the E1 class in the three hour enduro. There was no qualifying for the enduro due to limited track time, so we were assigned the 12 th starting spot. We determined that Tom would start the car even though he had never beer around the track at speed. Even with Tom’s lack of track knowledge, he managed to move up to 6 th overall and turned the fastest lap of the group at 1.49.3. Tom turned the car over to Willie on Lap 21 and resumed on the track in 16 th position. Willie moved the car up to 12 th by the end of his stint on lap 38. Ryan took over and re- entered the track in 13 th position. Ryan would end up stopping two more times but managed to bring the car to the finish in 10 th position overall and 1 st in class. This makes the third time this driving team has finished first in class in the NASA Enduro Championship. In the sprint races there would be two qualifying sessions. On Saturday, Willie would qualify with a 1.50.414 and on Sunday a 1.50.388. Both times would put Willie fist in class. “We had some problems in the Saturday practice and qualifying,” said Phee. “Something was wrong in the front end, I thought we fixed it for the qualifying session but it turned out that it was a bent upper control arm that we didn’t figure out until the qualifying session ended. Once we got the car fixed it handled much better for the race” “Actually I was surprised with the qualifying time since the car was feeling strange in the front end” said Willie. “The race itself was uneventful, other than dicing with a couple of cars in the other race groups. I ended up taking first in class and 10 th overall on Saturday and 17 th overall on Sunday”. The next race is scheduled for July 19 th and 20 th at Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA. for Round 5 of the SCCA Pro-IT Championship.
May 31st, 2008 Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia
Round four of the Sports Car Club of America Pro-IT Championship event, WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee finished 2nd in class and 5th overall in the 30 car field of the Pro-IT race. Phee would qualify 4th overall and 2nd in ITA with a 1.45.7. “I was happy with the 1.45 said Phee. It seems like the team continues to make improvements to the car and I end up going a little quicker each time we come here”. “I got a good start and moved in 3rd overall just in front of the pole starting ITA Car. I was able to maintain first in class for a couple of laps, but got passed going into turn 1” said Phee. I ran second in class until about lap 8 when we went full course caution for a car that had spun in the racing line. I had a good gap on the third placer car but the caution allowed him to close up the gap. On the restart, I got back around the first place car, but it would only last for 1 turn as my momentum was slowed and three cars would get by me in turn three”. “I had a good battle with the third through sixth place cars for most of the race and settled in behind the second place ITA car for the final lap. As we came around turn three, I saw the first place ITA car out of the corner of my eye on the side of the track. I knew at that point I was battling for first. I made a couple of attempts to get by but was unable and ended up finishing .359 seconds behind the first place car”. The next race is scheduled for June 7th and 8th at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama for Round 5 of the NASA Southeast Championship series.
May 10 th , 2008 Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia
At round three of the Sports Car Club of America Pro-IT Championship event and Enduro Championship Race, WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee was able to top the Pro- IT race and with guest co-driver, Bill Ritchie won the ITA class in the 1.5-hour enduro Saturday morning. Qualifying was combined due to sharing the facility with the Formula Drift event. Willie would qualify the primary car for the Pro-IT race with a 1.46.5 that would put him outside the front row for only the second time in his career. “I was a little surprised with the time,” said Phee. “I had a power steering line failure at the start of qualifying, so the car was a little harder to drive without the power steering working”. “It actually allowed me to have a little more feedback on the track, but the car would have been a handful if I had to run more than the scheduled 20laps race. It was great to start on the front row especially since the 2 nd place ITA car was starting 8 th with a 1.48.9.” “I thought I had a decent start but ran wide in turn one and allowed three cars to get by. I ran in the top five for the first half of the race, and was having a good battle with the three other cars, when the 2 nd place ITA car started to gain some track position on me. I decided it was time to put some distance between him and me”. “I managed to get back into 2 nd overall, 1 st in class by lap 13 and opened up a gap on the 3 rd place car. It was great moving back into 2 nd overall after battling with the other competitors,” said Phee. Due to the combined qualifying, Bill Ritchie would qualify in the enduro car. This was Bill’s first time in the WRPMotorsports Integra as he normally races a Honda CRX, so he was still learning the car during qualifying. Bill ended up 22 nd overall with a 1.57.9 in the 23 car field. Willie would start the enduro and run the first half of the race. After letting the pack sort itself out, Willie was moving up through the field until lap 3 when the left front shock blew and lost damping. “It was like riding a pogo stick out there in the fast right hand turns,” said Willie. “I thought I was getting a flat tire, but the crew radioed me and said that the tires looked fine. I did manage to get the car down to a 1.50.3 during my stint and moved the car up to 13 th place overall by the first pit stop. I handed the car over to Bill and warned him about the shock issue”. Bill managed the shock problem and brought the car to the finish in 16 th overall and 1 st in class. Not bad for his first time in the car and the shock problem we were having. The next race is scheduled for May 31 st back at Road Atlanta for round 4 of the Pro-IT series.
March 22 nd and 23 rd , 2008 Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia
At round 2 of the Sports Car Club of America Pro-IT Championship event, WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee suffered a double DNF, due to mechanical problems. What started out as a very promising double qualifying session on Saturday, turned into a nightmare for the Pro-IT races Saturday and Sunday afternoon. “I had two great qualifying sessions Saturday morning said Phee. The car was set up perfectly for the track conditions and I managed a 1:45:4 in the morning session for Saturday’s race and a 1:45:9 after lunch for Sunday’s race. It’s actually the fastest I’ve ever been around Road Atlanta in the ITA car”. The times would put Phee 4 th on the grid overall for the Saturday race and 3 rd overall for Sunday, with a 4 second lap time gap to the second place ITA car. “It was going to be one of those weekends when the race should have been a fairly easy win. I felt comfortable in the car and knew all I needed to do was stay out of trouble and just maintain a good pace said Phee”. Unfortunately, after getting off to a good start the axle popped out of the transmission on the 6 th lap and forced an early retirement for the WRPMotorsports Integra. We put a new transmission in the car for race two, hoping that the bad luck was behind us, however the new transmission developed an oil leak and let go on lap 12 of the 20 lap race. “It was really disappointing based on how good the car was in qualifying. This should have been a double win this weekend said Phee”. But we’ll get the car fixed for the next race and try to stay in the championship hunt.
March 15 th and 16 th , 2008 Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia
At round 2 of the National Auto Sport Associations Southeast Region Championship, WRPMotorsports drivers captured a 1 st in class in the enduro and a 1 st and 2 nd in the sprint races. Tom Fowler, Willie Phee and Ryan Downton teamed up for their second enduro this season. Qualifying was based on a drawing and Tom would start the car in 7 th position in rainy conditions that lasted for most of the race. At the start, Tom put the power down and moved into 4 th by the end of the first lap. Tom continued to run in the top 6 until his first stop. Willie got in the car at lap 14 and was back out in 19 th after the pit stop, and moved up to 16 th by the time he pitted on lap 33. Ryan finished out the race on a drying track and moved up to 12 th overall and first in class while turning the fastest race lap of 1:54:6 in the process. The team finished 21 laps ahead of the second place car. The Saturday sprint race was a mixed bag of conditions as the practice session was wet, qualifying was damp and the race was eventually run in the wet after being delayed for two hours due to hail and tornado warnings. Willie qualified 2 nd in class and 7 th overall. After the delay, the race started in rainy conditions. “I managed to get a good start and passed the H4 leader in turn 3 on the first lap. It was tough to see with all of the rain, but I managed to sneak up the inside in turn three and put a bit of a gap on the second place car,” said Phee. “My lap times improved as the race went on with my best time on the final lap” Phee crossed the finish line 7.7 seconds ahead of the second place car. What a difference a day makes as Sunday was bright, clear and in the 70’s. Phee qualified 2 nd in class and 10 th overall with a 1:48:6. Sunday’s race would be a standing start with several other classes mixed in. “I got a good jump at the start, but gut hit in turn 1 twice by the same car. At that point the H4 leader got away and there was no way I could make up the time,” said Phee. “It’s a little disappointing considering the win yesterday, but 2 nd place is the best I could do today,” said Phee. “The WRPMotorsports Integra ran great all weekend and the OPM crew did a great job maintaining the car, so to finish the weekend with two podiums was great.”
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Sports Car Club of America’s American Road Racing Championship (ARRC) was held at Road Atlanta Raceway in Braselton, GA on November 7 th and 8 th , 2008. WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee finished on the podium in 2 nd place in the Pro-IT event and had a 5 th place finish going in the ARRC until he was spun on the last lap and dropped back to finish 6 th in the National event. The qualifying procedure for the ARRC would be a morning and an afternoon session, with a single qualifying session for the Pro-IT race in between. “The weather was very cool in the morning session, so I knew that I needed to try and get a good time” said Phee. “It was tough to get a clear lap because everybody was thinking the same thing. I turned a 1:44:2 on the test day in similar conditions so I had a number to shoot for and it turned out that I ran a 1:44:3. I was happy with that because I really only got 2 clear laps and it’s the fastest lap I’ve ever turned at Road Atlanta”. That would put Phee 7 th on the grid and the time would hold up as the afternoon session was about 4/10ths slower. Pro-It qualifying would be even more difficult with 49 cars on the track. “I was trying to get a gap so I could try to get at least a couple of hot laps but it was really difficult. I managed to put in one flying lap and ran a 1:44:4”. That would put Phee 2 nd in class and 7 th overall just behind the lead ITA car. “The car seems to qualify better on older tires” said Phee. “But I knew the older tires wouldn’t last the full race distance so the team put on a scrubbed set from the test day for the race”. The Pro-IT race was the last session of the day and with about 45 minutes till race time it started to rain lightly. “It was one of those times when you weren’t sure if it would get wet enough for rain tires or just be damp and slick. Luckily the rain held off and the track stayed dry. I got an excellent jump on the start and pulled along side the 1 st place ITA car, but I was on the outside in turn 1 and couldn’t make the pass. I managed to fall in behind the leader and just ran consistent laps but couldn’t put any time on him. After 20 laps I finished 5 seconds behind the leader, 2 nd in ITA and 7 th overall. The ARRC race started at 10:00 in the morning and the temperatures were in the low 50’s. “The start was fairly orderly until we got to the first turn and one of the front running cars ran wide and slowed the pack down going up the hill into turn 3. That’s when it got really stupid. Three wide into three simply won’t work. As you can see from this video clip, Lap 1 Turn 3 Carnage there were cars sideways, bouncing off each other, lots of tire smoke. Luckily I made it through and moved into 4 th and nearly got 3 rd in the esses. I back off, knowing that we had 20 laps to go” said Phee. “I felt comfortable with the pace I was running, and had a couple of good battles. I was in 5 th with about 6 laps to go when I noticed a vibration coming from the left front of the car. I wasn’t sure if I had a tire, suspension or axle problem. The car seemed to be binding up on the left side and was down on speed down the back straight. I figured I would try to nurse the car to the finish with just a few laps to go. With 2 laps to go I got passed going into turn 10A, I still thought I could hold off the chasing car, unfortunately he mad a desperation move going into turn 3 and made contact with the rear of my car and spun me off track and into the tire barrier in turn 4. As you can see from this video, Last lap turn 3 contact , it was a low percentage move. I managed to get the car going again but got passed by one more car and ended up 6 th at the finish”.
November 7-8, 2008 Road Atlanta Raceway, Braselton, Georgia
August 30-31, 2008 Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama
Rounds 5 and 6 of the Atlanta Region SCCA South Atlantic Road Racing Championship series and WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee finishes 3 rd and 4 th respectively in the two races. In round 5 of the Pro-IT series Phee would come from the back of the pack to finish 10 th overall and 2 nd in ITA. Willie would qualify 3 rd in class and 7 th overall with a 1.49.5 in a field of 14 ITA cars and 26 cars overall. “It was a little difficult getting a clear lap in qualifying, but I did manage to get a lap in the 49’s “said Phee. “The race start was a little hectic but I did move up to 2 nd by turn 5, but got passed going into turn 6. Unfortunately the guy that passed me ended up having an electrical problem in the next turn and I must have hit the back of his car 4 times trying to get him out of the way” Phee said. “That let the 4 th place car come up the inside and pass us both. After that the race was uneventful and I cruised to a 3 rd place finish.” In the Pro-IT race that afternoon Phee would qualify 2 nd but due to a problem on the grid would end up starting last (20 th ). “I was a little late getting to the grid because we didn’t have enough fuel in the car for the 20 lap race so I had to start last on the field.” “Needless to say I wasn’t real happy about starting in the back, but I tried to stay calm knowing that I had 20 laps to get back towards the front” said Phee. “It was really too bad because it would have been a good race for first based on the lap times I was turning compared to the winner” Phee would move through the pack passing as many as 4 cars a lap on his way to the front and would ultimately finish 10 th overall and 2 nd in class. Phee qualified 4 th in class and 8 th overall with a slightly faster 1.49.3 from the previous day for Sunday’s SARRC race. “The race start was much more exciting than the previous day. There was a lot of bumping and banging going into the turn 2 – 3 complex. I was expecting a crash to happen a backed off slightly. Unfortunately the crash never happened and the top 3 cars got away. I did have a good race with the 5 th place car and managed to pull away until about 3 laps to go” said Willie. “I locked up the front brakes going into turn 2 and lost about 4 seconds on that lap and the 5 th lace car closed up, but I was able to hold him off at the finish”. Phee would end up 4 th in class and 8 th overall at the finish. The next race is scheduled for September 13, 14 at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course for the NASA National Championships in Mansfield, Ohio.
September 12-14, 2008 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio
National Auto Sport Association Nationals were held at the Mid-Ohio Sports car Course in Lexington, OH. on September 14 th , 2008 and while WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee qualified for the event, a broken transmission at the start of the championship race would end Phee’s bid to compete in the national. The format for the nationals included qualifying on Friday and Saturday for grid positions for the Championship race on Sunday. Weather would play a major factor in the qualifying races, with the championship race being held in dry conditions. Willie would finish 5 th in Fridays wet qualifying race and 4 th in Saturdays dry qualifying race. “I had two dry sessions on Thursday to set the car up and managed to get my times down, but a massive rain storm on Friday meant that we would be scrambling to set the car up for wet conditions”. “It rained so hard during the warm up that my lap times were almost a minute slower that the times from Thursday”. “The qualifying race would be interesting due to the fact that we had to do a standing start in the rain”. “I got a good launch and moved up, but was on the inside for turn 1. In dry conditions this would be a good thing, but in the wet the driving line is so different, that being on the inside would be the slickest part on the turn, so I backed off and fell in behind the 4 th place car. As slick as the track was I decided to just keep a good pace and try to keep the car on the track”. Saturday brought more rain for the warm-up and qualifying session, but the track would dry out for the afternoon race. “I started 6 th and moved up to 4 th by turn two after 2 cars tangled on lap 1. It was a short qualifying race, but the car was really loose for the entire race, in fact I never thought you could drift a front wheel drive car, but this car was really loose”, said Phee. “With a half a lap to go the fifth place car closed up and tried to go inside in turn 9 and made contact with my right rear wheel. The impact caused me to nearly spin the car and loose enough momentum that two cars got by me before the finish”. The two qualifying race finish positions would place Willie 5 th on the grid for the Championship Race. “I felt good about a podium finish today” said Phee. “As I was coming up to the start line for the standing start I did a couple of quick burn outs to heat up the tires, the car felt fine but when the lights went out and I dropped the clutch I could tell something was wrong with the drive line”. “The front of the car was shaking violently and I knew something had broken in the transmission. I limped the car back to the pits and retired for the event”. “I thought it was an axle problem, but when the crew inspected the car they determined that it was an internal problem, probably the differential”. The next race is scheduled for November 7, 8 at Road Atlanta Raceway for the SCCA American Road Race of Champions National Championships in Braselton, Georgia.
July 20, 2008 Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia
Round six of the Sports Car Club of America ECR series and WRPMotorsports welcomes back enduro driver Kyle Campbell after a six month hiatus. Kyle finished 2 nd in class and 5 th overall after running as high as 2 nd overall until the first round of pit stops. Willie Phee qualified the car on Saturday 4 th in class and 24 th overall. “We had a suspension problem on this car the last time out, so we had the dampers rebuilt and thought the car would be good for qualifying” said Phee. “But when I went out the car wouldn’t turn left without really cranking on the steering wheel. I was lucky to get the time I did”. It turned out that the steering rack bolts had broken and the rack was moving instead of the steering arm. Once we got that repaired Kyle was good for the Sunday morning race. Kyle took a few laps to get into a rhythm after not being in a race car for six months and steadily moved up in the standings, running as high as 2 nd overall until he had to make his mandatory pit stop. Kyle would exit the pits just behind 1 st place car in class. Kyle attempted to make up the 25 second gap and managed to get it down to 19 seconds at the finish for 2 nd in class and 5 th overall. In the SARRC event Willie qualified 2 nd in class and 5 th overall. “It was fairly hot today but the car handled well and I was pleased with my performance” said Phee. “I knew the first place car would be tough, because he put down a very good qualifying time, and I had a couple of faster ITS cars starting behind me. The start went well and I settled into a pace just behind the 1 st place (in class) car. I was able to stay within a few seconds, but couldn’t make up the gap to 1 st” . Phee would finish 2 nd in class and drop one position to 6 th when one of the faster ITS cars got by early in the race. For the Pro-IT Championship event Phee would qualify 4 th in class and a disappointing 16 th overall 1.3 seconds off his earlier qualifying time. “It was really hot and they kept us on the gird for a really long time due some clean up from the session before ours” “I got bumped around a little on the start and that put me further back, but not nearly as far back as lap 4 when one of the cars in front of me got it all wrong in the downhill esses”. “I lost another 5 seconds on that lap alone, all I could do was try to be consistent and try to make the time back” “ By lap 17 of the 20 lap race I caught and passed the 3 rd place car going into turn 10A, unfortunately I had to be fairly aggressive and nearly overshot the exit and he got back by me” Next time I think I’ll wait until the last lap to make that pass”. “To end up 4 th in class and nearly on the podium after all of the problems I had isn’t so bad” said Phee. The next race is scheduled for August 30 and 31 back at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL.
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