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GOTO Racing, COBB Legacy GT, Grand Am Cup, Mid Ohio

Joel Gat

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Warning: this post is LONG...

suggestions for a better title for the next report after barber?


What a weekend! Tornados, crashes, exploding rotors, a qualifying cutoff, 3-4 cars per pit box, and a race!


So… start with the whole world exploding in our faces – Grand Am said several twisters were seen touching the ground throughout the Mid-Ohio track. We lost some canopies, got some dings, but walked away no worse for the wear and with some great stories to tell.


Add in the fact that we became the meat in a GS sandwich and had to replace most of the front left corner of the COBB Legacy GT as well as fix damage to the front, rear, and sides, and it’s pretty miraculous that we didn’t have to go home. In case I didn’t post the story well enough (I’ve been pretty beat up much of this weekend), Chris was driving in a practice session and this was the first good opportunity to push the COBB Legacy GT hard without rain or tornados. Fortunately for us / unfortunately for us, the COBB Legacy GT was handling GREAT and many GS cars were in our way through the twisty parts of the track.


Speaking of which, there’s no excuse for that – they weigh the same or less than us and they’ve got more tire… We’re 3100 lbs, they’re all equal to, or under our weight, except some of the Mustangs (1-200 lbs heavier), the CTS-V (50 lbs heavier), and the M3 Coupe (50 lbs heavier)). Same or less weight and bigger tires? And no faster in the corners?


The bad news, however, came on every straight, where the GS cars used their extra 150-200 hp to fly past us. They would muscle by and then hold us up. Chris was not able to turn a good time in the massive traffic (93 cars on track). It was very frustrating for Chris and he radioed that fact to me. Given the new qualifying system, however, I needed Chris to turn some fast laps (to know what the COBB Legacy GT was capable of relative to the other ST cars) so I responded, “well, defend your line against the GS cars – don’t let them pass right before a turn.” Chris got only another half a lap in.


Going through turn 2 (the Keyhole), which leads onto the longest straight on the track, where the GS cars would all be able to walk past the ST cars, two GS cars decided to pass. Both at the same time, both right before having a long straight section where passing would be easy for them. Given that there was an ST car in the turn, at the inside, the Stealth Mustang went between the two ST cars. At about the same time, the Playboy 350Z decided that a 4-car wide group through that turn would be smart and moved to the outside of our Legacy.


Chris tried to move out of the Mustang’s way but could only move a little before the 350Z was in the way. The Mustang continued over and smacked into Chris. That sent him flying into the 350Z, and that turned him into the meat in a GS sandwich.


The Wild Thrash:


All I heard on the radio was “*bleep* BIG CRASH! BIG CRASH!” I knew in an instant that we were talking about our COBB Legacy GT. A few more expletives later, and I knew the COBB Legacy GT was coming in on a tow truck. We got the crew working on packing the pit and bringing things to the paddock, while I ran over to meet Chris and the COBB Legacy GT. Well, it took a good 20+ minutes for the tow to come. We were the last to come in. First the 350Z came in, on a flatbed. It looked totaled. Then the Mustang came in, on a flatbed, looking mangled from front to back, all on the left side. Then we waited some more…


Finally, the Legacy showed up. “What the heck?!?! This is an AWD car! It has a …” (thinking for simple words to describe the problem) “a locked transfer case! You flat bedded the two wheel drive cars and 2-wheeled the 4WD!” Although we can’t be sure either way, we will be replacing that center diff before our next practice in a couple weeks…


The COBB Legacy GT came in, looking pretty mangled. The rim was bent, the suspension was bent, the DMS 50mm strut body was bent, the ball joints looked bad, and the inner and outer tie rods looked about the same as the swaybar – in that U-shape that the swaybar is. The right side wheel was bent, the fender was bent, the passenger door was bent, and the trunk panel (that says “Legacy”) was half popped off (err, how’d that happen?). At the front, the bumper cover was mangled, the headlight was shoved inwards (its frame was bent), the oil cooler was popped off its bracket and jammed between the bumper beam and the bumper support.


The crew removed parts so that we could assess the damage and we sent Steve off to ICY’s paddock to see if the factory team had some of the spares that we didn’t have. Dave @ ICY felt sure that they had a spare set of control arms in his partner’s truck (Joe @ Phoenix Racing), but he wouldn’t be able to get it to us until after Joe returned to the track. Meanwhile, Mike @ Gruppe-S talked to a customer and friend of his and convinced the poor guy to bring his Legacy into the paddock for use as a spare parts car. The car was back at the hotel, so we sent him in the crew’s rental minivan with Mike and they came back with the Legacy.


Our crew got to work on stripping his car down, in case ICY didn’t end up having the control arm. We got both cars stripped down – the COBB Legacy GT had all the broken parts removed (including a cracked rotor) and as many of the new parts put on as possible. The “donor” car had everything exposed. When no word came back from ICY, we went over to see if Joe had gotten back.


I’d never met Joe before, so I ended up asking him if he knew when Joe was getting back. :) He introduced himself and said that he had a spare knuckle, but no spare control arm. Back to the COBB Legacy GT and we did the switch, moving any remaining parts from the donor to the COBB Legacy GT and left the donor for the possibility that ICY would eventually get the parts since they said there was a chance.


We rebuilt the COBB Legacy GT mechanicals and worked on the bodywork. Steve used the jack handle to round out the fender after having spent a while hammering, malloting, and dead-blowing the fender, battery box, light frame, etc., close to stock. We replaced the DMS strut body. We put on a new (used for one test day) rotor. We installed the various suspension components, including the tie rods (inner was from Mike’s friend’s car since we didn’t have a spare inner) and control arm.




With everything pretty much fixed, we had about 10 minutes to get the COBB Legacy GT to pre-grid (Mid-Ohio calls it the ‘false grid’) for our qualifying driver to get his practice. While we were fixing the COBB Legacy GT, we had a decision to make: who would qualify the COBB Legacy GT. And at the time, all we knew was that the COBB Legacy GT was in mangled shape, though still salvageable in time for the qual, if we pushed hard. We would not have time to align the COBB Legacy GT to check for bent cross members, frame, etc., or otherwise set it up properly. If there was something bent, the COBB Legacy GT probably would not drive right. If we didn’t qualify quickly enough, we’d be packing our bags and going home.


It was a hard decision, but our practice times showed that Chris and Brian were within half a second of each other in lap times, but we knew that Brian had more experience driving crappy cars that handled poorly. His experience would be invaluable in getting a potentially messed up car around the track quickly. He would need to qualify the COBB Legacy GT. However, although it was only half a second, the usual, smart strategy, is to put the fast driver in second. This lets you switch to your fastest driver at the first yellow, and have, in this case, half a second better times for as many laps as possible. So we knew we were making a tough decision, but it had to be the way it had to be.


That meant we needed Brian to get some seat time before Qualifying, no matter how crappy the car drove. So after qualifying nomination, we sent Brian out in a practice session, where he got … two turns on the first lap. The rotor we were using exploded and about half a second later, some shards of rotor pierced the wheel and Brian was stuck, unable to go, with the wheel entirely destroyed. In the process of destroying the wheel, the rotor also jammed into the strut and bent that (our second bend strut body of the day – what ridiculous luck!).


The Second Thrash:


We pull the COBB Legacy GT in (this time, it was towed on a flatbed) and took off the pieces of wheel. We removed the rotor (damn thing had a whole of 1.5 hours of use on it, all during practice sessions run during an HPDE that we used for some driver training a couple weeks earlier, and that’s it), saw that it had destroyed the caliper slider and snapped the knuckle where it held the slider bracket. Amazingly, the caliper itself was still hanging onto its braided stainless brake line, though the fitting to the hard-line was pretty bent. Huh… another spare we’ll need to carry…


AHA! ICY said they had knuckles! Woot! But where are they? Ahh… still on track. Well, then, sorry Mr Loyal Fan, we’re gonna need to steal more parts. We asked ICY to bring over the knuckle so that we could rebuild our new friend’s car, but meanwhile, we took his knuckle and caliper slider and stuck ‘em on the COBB Legacy GT. His car looked pretty sad there on one jackstand… We fixed up the COBB Legacy GT and paused for a breather. The ICY guys came over with the knuckle, so we prepped the fan-car (sorry, haven't asked for permission to use his name, so...) as far as we could. He'd still need his control arm to go anywhere.


Thanks to ICY - really saved us some time!




Finally with no dry seat time and no assurance that the car would work well at all, Brian had to go qualify the COBB Legacy GT. I looked up the data for the day’s sessions and saw that the whole field was 3-4 seconds faster than the day before, so I told Brian to drive it as hard as he could, break the car again if necessary (my fingers were crossed that he would break something that we had extras of, including, at worst, a motor), but qualify as well as possible, given the “go home” factor if we didn’t qualify well and the fact that other teams might step up during the qualifying and we had no idea if he’d be able to make it.


Lo and behold, not only did he qualify us smack in the middle of the field, one spot ahead of the factory Subaru team, but he also said the COBB Legacy GT was working better than he ever expected after such a spectacular wreck. Awesome. That’s a great feeling – when you thrash like crazy and everything comes together.


Race Day:


Sunday was race day. Tweaks and changes since the qualifying were all ready to be tested and there was a practice in the morning. Both drivers drove, and in fact, turned times within 0.2~0.3 seconds of each other. And more surprisingly, both drivers broke our qualifying time and turned laps fast enough that we would have qualified near the front of the pack had we not had all those problems. Perhaps we should have had a light go off in our heads… ding ding ding… if driver 2 is almost as fast as driver 1, put driver 2 in as soon as possible… but no such bells went off.


Brian went out for the race and started going faster and faster. We wanted him to keep ahead of the lead GS cars – once they started passing ST traffic, we figured, there’d be all sorts of messes and it would be very hard to effect good passes with GS cars constantly making passes in all the straights and braking zones. Brian worked hard and although he got stuck behind the much slower ICY car, after a few laps of being held up, Brian pressed his position hard enough and although there was a little tap when ICY closed the door across Brian's line (or, Brian couldn't hold his line, according to ICY), it sent the message and eventually (a few more laps later) Dave@ICY realized he was holding up a line of traffic and he started letting people pass. ICY had too much power, relative to us, so we couldn't effect a pass on the straights. Instantly, Brian's lap times dropped by about a second and he moved into 9th place. He was setting a blistering pace – 4th fastest in the field. Only Turner’s 330, Georgian Bay’s Cobalt, and Kensai Racing’s RSX-S were faster. The race was going amazingly well and Brian was in a flying groove. He was going faster than he went in the morning and much faster than qualifying. And then, the inevitable happened.


Wait, before I tell you about the yellow, let me go back to a strategy issue Steve and I were having. The car can go about an hour and ten minutes on a tank of gas in full do-whatever-you-can-do-to-win mode – GAC limits our fuel cell size to 17 gallons. A race is 2.5 hours. If there are no yellows, we typically have to stop once for a fuel fill, and then stop again for a splash. If the race has yellows, we have more options, though you can’t _count_ on there being yellows. So you make a chart of fuel opportunity windows. If there’s a yellow between times X and Y, we’ll fuel, but if there isn’t, then we’ll have to fuel under green no later than Z laps.


As the race was progressing, we had no yellows until well into our first refueling window, so to save some time, we had Brian come in for a fuelling. He was turning such fast laps (faster than qualifying, faster than the practice, etc) that Steve and I agreed we should leave him out until the next window (it was too early to fill up and finish the race, so we knew we’d need to come in again). A couple laps later, a MAJOR wreck happened. We were still not in the final fuel window, so we left him out.


Now here was the critical mistake we made. The yellow was very long. Although when it started, we were not in our fueling window, fifteen minutes later, we were in the window and the track was still yellow. We should have called Brian in and refueled and stuck Chris in. But instead, we made a mistake and didn’t call Brian in. Brian got back to green and went to work on moving through the field again, per our orders.


At the next yellow, we called Brian in, got Chris into the COBB Legacy GT, and sent the COBB Legacy GT out full of fuel. We thought we’d lose almost no time. And there was mistake number 2. Because the pace car was already past the point of no entry (we didn’t have a spare crew member to use as a spotter to tell us when the pace car was getting close to the pits), when we sent Chris out, he got screwed. During our 40-second (ish, we didn’t time it, but we had practiced down to that level) stop, the pace car had gone by and was at the point of no entering allowed. So Chris had to wait for the entire field to pass, the pace car to pass, and then the entire field again. ARGH! We dropped two laps for a 40 second pit stop!


I looked at the rule book and, although the official I called over said it was a “refueling penalty,” he was wrong (we were allowed to refuel, we did not make a mistake in that regard) and it’s part of the possible scenarios. I’d just never seen it and didn’t prepare for it and was still dealing with the new Yellow strategy that GAC implemented – three types of yellows, all yellow, 2-lap yellow, and 4-lap yellow, where all yellow let anyone go into the pits, 2-yellow (find out which yellow by listening to the tower’s frequency) means first lap, only GS cars can come in, second lap, ST cars can come in, and 4 lap being similar, except the first 2 laps only GS cars can come in, etc. At the last lap of any yellow, officials would give the one-lap finger sign and all ST cars were to move over and let all the slow, being-passed-by-ST-cars, GS drivers move to the front.


And our pit mates had two GS cars, one of which had a worse pitstop than we had at Phoenix. It looked like the tire man swapped the wrong tire and did it before the fuel man got the dry break into the position, so he couldn’t fuel. The car went up and down and back and forth about 3 times, and in the end, the wheel guy switched to the correct side and did the right wheel. And the whole time, I was distracted because we couldn’t call Brian in while all that was going on…


Anyway, to make matters worse, Chris finally got to go out, had about three laps of passing traffic, and then there was another yellow… which lasted until the checkered flag. What a way to end the weekend… We got wrecked, qualified 30th, climbed to 9th, dropped down to 24th, and then had 3 laps to get ourselves to 21st out of 37 ST cars that made the qualifying cut! Exciting, hard work.


It was a tough weekend, with lots of work. The crew did an incredible job of fixing the car several times! The drivers did an incredible amount of work, and turned awesome times (for those familiar with Mid-Ohio, mid 1:38s in a bone stock Legacy GT running about as heavy as stock and making stock boost, with the only power mod being gutting the cats, though the suspension has an excellent DMS 50mm setup over stock). All in all, though, this weekend was one of the most crazy race weekends I’ve ever had, and I’ll never forgot dealing with tornados, rebuilding a wrecked car, and then charging through the field at the 4th fastest pace… WOOHOO!


A huge special thanks to Mike @ Gruppe-S – his at the track engineering along with his donated crew guy, Tommy, made this weekend possible.


Joel Gat

Crew Chief


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BTW, sorry about the NASIOC cross post - as you can see, this is kinda on the long side to be writing while driving across the country back to California... I figured y'all would be ok with me posting the same exact thing here and there :D




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If this Stealth Mustang that contributed to the crash is white I remember him from Laguna. The guys an ass-hat :mad:, doesn't know how to race clean. He caused a wreck there too trying to a hold a line that it was obvious that his fat-ass overweight mustang couldn't possibly hold and wrecked the Playboy 350Z and a Beemer. I think he's watched "Days of thunder" one toom many times and believes that's the way to race
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Meanwhile, Mike @ Gruppe-S talked to a customer and friend of his and convinced the poor guy to bring his Legacy into the paddock for use as a spare parts car. The car was back at the hotel, so we sent him in the crew’s rental minivan with Mike and they came back with the Legacy.


a member here!! props to him for being so willing to let someone other than me take his car apart. :lol:

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Sounded like a rough weekend for you guys, kind of amazing the leggy ran as well as it did after all that. Once you guys get a little more experience you'll get the strategy end down and you guys will do phenominal.


Especially if they ever do something to those cobalts to make them more even. Seems they out run everything in ST, and might even beable to out run some in GS.

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Heh, this question is coming up on all the forums... the fact is, we really have no idea what the brake failure was. It is quite possible that the caliper slider got bent during the accident and we simply didn't see that, which then led to the rotor overheating or being stressed, etc. Or it could have been something else that we haven't thought of yet. We hope to know more once we have time to examine everything closely... Obviously, if there is a chance that a part was bent that we didn't see, the way to avoid this in the future is going to be to simply replace the entire corner after an accident that affects the corner so significantly.



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Was this the same race that the BMW went end over end 8 times?


[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqM9KXkkRnQ]YouTube- Paul Edwards clips Joey Hand @ Mid-Ohio[/ame]

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Was this the same race that the BMW went end over end 8 times?




Same weekend, different race. Hand rolled in Saturday night's Rolex Race, and we ran the next day in the Cup race.


There actually was another violent wreck in the Cup race, where 3 cars went on their lids going under the turn 1 bridge. It was an eventful weekend at Mid-Ohio.


The scary thing is that Brian got tapped in the same place that the GTO tapped the BMW, and in the exact same manner. The only difference being that Brian managed to keep in on the track somehow. I am glad we didn't have to go over that little jump!

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