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Gridlife was asked to be a support series along with Porsche Cup for the popular Nascar Xfinity series this year at Road America in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin. If you haven't been, this is a long and fast racetrack in a very beautiful part of our country. The GLTC race series was not open to all competitors for this event. Fortunately, we had raced in enough races this season that we were approved for competition. The Condor race team would soon be heading 1500 miles North, but first came more upgrades for car #14.
In order to improve handling even further the team added aluminum E9x M3 rear suspension arms. They are a bolt-on upgrade for the non-M chassis and feature spherical bearings on one end & rubber bushings with smaller diameters on the other. We also upgraded the rear toe arms to spherical versions by SPL.
After tackling the rear suspension we turned our attention to the front end and installed a set of spherical monoball front control arms for better turn-in and more consistent braking.
The last part of our prep was working with Epic Motorsports on a lower horsepower tune. The plan was to remove some of the additional ballast required for the class (up to 160 lbs at times) to be more competitive. Check out the Spec E9x Pre-order here. After these upgrades and our usual pre-race prep, we were ready to hit the road for 2 consecutive weekends of GLTC competition.
This was the team’s first trip to Road America. A track that we've always wanted to race at. So much so, that the track logo was the inspiration for one of our t-shirt designs. When we arrived, the first priority was to visit the dyno to confirm HP numbers for the new flat tune. With the “low hp” tune, the 330 dyno’d at 225hp. This was 15 hp lower than our local dyno, and unfortunately, we couldn't remove enough weight to compete at the correct 12.5 to 1 power-to-weight ratio for GLTC. This meant the e90 would be running the full power tune (239 hp), for this event.
There were two test sessions on Thursday before qualifying. The car felt great in the slower corners and very neutral in the carousel. Due to the long straightaways, this track tends to reward high HP cars, and the e90 had no problem with them but struggled for overall grip in the faster corners. Mendez qualified 25th in the 42-car field. This was not terribly far off the pace, but we did not have the speed for a top-10 finish.
Friday had two races scheduled. In race 1 Mendez was able to work his way up 7 positions early in the race, before settling in and finishing 18th. Before the second race, when going to torque the wheels, we noticed a broken wheel stud. The crew quickly drilled out and replaced the wheel stud with one from our spares bin. The studs on this car are already over 2 years old which is past the recommended lifespan for a race car.
In race 2, Mendez quickly made up a few spots at the start, and as the race progressed he settled into 12th position. With 2 laps to go, a missed apex in turn 3 cost him two positions with a final finishing result of 14th. Unfortunately, this would end up being the best finish of the weekend. After the race, the e90 flashed a throttle body fault. The fault was cleared, but the following morning, in Race 3, due to the same issue, the 330 went into limp mode on lap 1. Mendez limped the car back into the paddock. The team did not have a spare throttle body, so the only thing they could do was to remove it and take the time to carefully inspect & clean it before reinstalling.
The goal for race 4 was to make up as many positions as possible now that car #14 had to start towards the back of the pack in p39. When the green flag dropped Mendez pushed forward, working his way up in the race’s first half. The latter part of the race was spent behind a fierce battle between an s2000 and Miata. Once the checkered flag dropped, the Condor 330 had made it up to P22. Check out the in-car video here. GLTC’s points system is based on the overall result from the weekend, with each of the 4 races counting towards the final weekend result. Ultimately, Mendez secured 18th place overall which left him in the top 15 in points for the season to that point.
Road America certainly lived up to its reputation as one of the world’s best race tracks for both drivers and fans. A similarly fun and exciting track would be up next in just 5 days’ time. By late Saturday afternoon, it was time to pack up and load out to Mid Ohio for another consecutive week of GLTC competition.