Acura Sports Car Challenge
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
September 26-27, 2020
Two nerve-racking races. Two drama-filled days. The action never let up at the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge double-header at the venerable Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the last weekend in September. For the BimmerWorld/Racing to End Alzheimer’s team, the double billing turned out to be a singularly wild ride.
Saturday, Race 1
The weekend started out well, with driver Nick Galante qualifying a respectable 10th on the notoriously competitive 13-turn, 2.258-mile track. By the end of lap one in Saturday’s race, the #80 had already muscled its way past the #7 Porsche into 9th position. After a lightning-quick pit stop during a caution 30 minutes into the race, Galante tore back out onto the track in 7th, right behind teammate James Clay in the BimmerWorld #82. With a clean pass going into turn one, Galante put his teammate in his rear-view mirror.
Two laps later, disaster struck as the #82 was hit so hard that it spun around on the track. Both car and driver were unharmed, but one of the BimmerWorld team’s two cars was now convincingly out of contention. Head down, Galante was closing in on 5th place when the team elected to pit for a full stop – driver change, fuel and tires. With the pit crew firing on all cylinders, driver Dillon Machavern exited the pits in 4th and entered into a battle royale with the Audis, Aston Martins and Mercedes leading the charge.
For the final hour of the race, Machavern had a Mustang breathing down his neck, bumping and hitting the #80 repeatedly. He managed to hold off his aggressive challenger and bring the r2endalz BMW home in 8th – just in time to prep for the evening qualifying rounds for Day 2. With the setting sun in their eyes and cooler track temperatures to adjust to, the Racing to End Alzheimer’s team qualified in 8th position for the following day’s much-anticipated rematch.
Sunday, Race 2
Straight out of the gate in the race on Sunday, Nick Galante was hit hard from behind by the #7 Porsche (the same car he had passed in much the same spot heading into turn one during Saturday’s race). The #80 sustained some damage, but Galante gritted it out, holding onto 8th position until another car hit the wall 38 minutes into the race. At that point, both the #80 and #82 BimmerWorld cars decided to pit.
In a split second, things went south. A camera crew documenting the race from the pits strayed into the #80’s path, and Galante had to swerve to avoid hitting them. The evasive action caused him to hit a tire on the ground from the #82’s pit stop – an automatic 2-minute penalty. Meanwhile, the #82 was having its own problems, incurring a penalty for spinning its tires on the jacks while still in the air. Despite the misadventures, the BimmerWorld cars reentered the track in 1st and 2nd position – but their heady lead was short-lived. Both cars were forced to serve substantial penalties under green flag conditions – pushing them far back in the field for the remainder of the race. It was a rough ending to a weekend filled with hard knocks and hard lessons for the team, the cars, the pit crew – and the camera crew.
Up next: The Fox Factory 120 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.