[In this episode, we learned a new way to not finish 1st in a race!]
It has been too many years since we have been to Long Beach, California to watch the Corvettes race, mostly due to the very limited number of Corvette Corral passes available, and the fact that returning corral fans get first shot at those limited tickets.
But this year, Nan's perseverance paid off and she snagged four tickets for the two of us and Don and Shirley.
This was the second IMSA race for us in 2022 -- after going to the opening race at the 24 hours of Daytona in January. But it was the first race in which we could caravan in our Z06 along with the Kingery's in their new C8 mid-engine Corvette.
Saturday morning the Fantastic Foursome left early from Carlsbad for the 90 mile trip to Long Beach., sporting our custom-made matching C8 Corvette shirts.
About 75 minutes later, we were parked at the Corvette Corral at the Long Beach "race track"!
The Corvette corral at Long Beach is a bit smaller than the ones we have seen at other Corvette racing events, but the location is right across from grandstand seating at track side. The venue provided secure parking, plenty of food, early morning coffee, and most of all, SWAG!
We always like to inspect the cars that the other drivers bring -- this year there was a nice collection of C8s.
Somehow Nan always seems to be a winner when prizes are drawn. At this event she scored a really nice sweatshirt!
Soon it was time to visit the pits and the Corvette drivers. For this season only one Corvette will be entered in most of the IMSA races, while the other C8R race car will compete in the WEC (World Endurance Championship) races . . . .
By early afternoon it was showtime. Jordan had qualified on the pole for the 100 minute race -- which is critical because passing is nearly impossible on the streets of Long Beach. Jordan drove the first stint and kept his P1 position throughout his time in the car. Each lap his lead over the second place car -- the #9 Porsche of Pfaff Racing (which had performed so well at Daytona), and the third place Lexus, grew slightly. We were euphoric as it seemed certain that the Corvette team would finish on the top step of the podium.
When it came time for the single pit stop of the race, Jordan entered pit lane with the Porsche right behind him -- both cars pitting next to each other. From our seats we couldn't see the action in the pits. But before long Antonio was back on the track -- we saw him as he appeared rounding the final turn and entered the straight and the start/finish line in front of our seats.
His lead over the Porsche must have been great because there was no trailing #9 Porsche. Another lap went by and still no Porsche. Then a third lap -- no Porsche. Then, mysteriously, Antonio entered pit lane again. Why on earth would he pit after so few laps?
Soon we heard that Corvette Racing had to take a "drive through penalty" -- driving slowly through the pits before reentering the track. The penalty dropped Antonio back to third place. What could have possibly gone wrong for the Corvette to incur a penalty?
Despite his best efforts, Antonio was not able to improve his position and he finished P3.
We left Long Beach confused and disappointed.
When we got home we finally heard the story of the penalty. During the pit stop, one of the big wheel nuts of the Corvette spun out of its impact gun, flew through the air, whizzed past the heads of the Porsche pit crew members, bounced off the hood of the Porsche, and entered its hood duct. It punctured the radiator and knocked the Porsche out of the race.
Over the years we have seen many different ways that a "sure win" can get spoiled, but everyone agrees that taking yourself, and a competitor, out of contention with flying parts is a first!
Next stop - Laguna Seca. But Don and Shirley will go without us this year as we have a conflicting commitment that can't be avoided. [SAD FACE]