There has been so much hype around the new GRIDLIFE Touring Cup Season which kicked off at Circuit Of The Ameras this past weekend and boy, it certainly delivered. Excitement level was off the chart and everyone has been extremely excited to get back racing after what seems like a year long off season for us. After the highs and lows of racing we never expected how the weekend would end.
We arrived at the track Friday and began setting up in the paddock area. Eric was excited to debut the new Hybrid Racing SuperTouring Civic. New upgrades include a wider front track width, custom front suspension, larger 18-inch wheels, larger rear wing, revised front air dam with oil cooler. Power output has also increast to 197whp and 189trq. Weight is slightly over 2550lbs. With the increase in power and front tire size, this car has the right formula to fly this season.
First practice went off without any issue. Simple tire temp and pressure checks call for a few adustments. Once the car returned to the pit Eric called for some rear shock adjustments. That's it, the car was nearly dialed in right off the trailer.
Qualifying was a bit odd this year as the stewards did not display live timing. This is the first time I've seen this happen and it wasn't a mistake. Preventing viewers from seeing live times means that the drivers and teams can't see where they are and because of that, they aren't able to sandbag and avoid starting from the front row with potential weight changes. It seems a bit silly to me, but I don't make the rules. It also removes a level of excitement from the viewers at home since there is essentially nothing different than watching a free practice session. Sort of boring, but I digress.
After the times were in, we would start P5 in a field of over 30 cars. The car was hooked up and we were doing everything we could to hang on the the tails of the Corvettes that had nearly 200trq more.
Race one was a bit of a show. Cars were all over the place and after moving up in the field, Eric wouldn't have the pace to keep the TSX and Corvette behind. We would end up finishing where we started in P5.
Race two's starting grid is defined by the fastest lap and because of Eric's hustle we were P3. Not only would we start third, but Sunday morning's race would have each car line up and start from a stand, using the Formula One lights. This was a show everyone lined up to watch. The only casulty was ASM's S2000 that blew the diff apart at the back of the field. Andy would limp the car to the service road and nearly replace the diff before the end of that race. haha.
We finished P3 after losing and gaining some positions but we held it together while other cars failed and kept that spot.
Race three would have us start in 3rd again since the grid is set by the finishing position of race two. This would be a wild one since Eric was fighting with a bunch of cars ahead of him. One of the leading Corvettes suffered a rear diff failure which essentially locked the rear wheels. Eric was so close he wasn't able to stop fast enough resulting in contact in the front right side corner.
As he returned to the pit we saw the damage which was suprising. The core support was pushed down and inward, the headlight, cooling vents and ducing were all bent and broken. We had some work to do as the final race 4 was just two hours away.
We got to work and did the best we could to get the car back together... even with 1.2 headlights.
Race four was a sprint and because of the top 11 invert, we would start P9 with James and Jeremy behind us. In a few short laps, Eric would gain 6 positions overall and finish P5 after a yellow caution flag slowed everyone down. What a weekend of racing!
The efforts of Eric and our team put us in the 2nd place overall spot for the weekend! Everyone was extremely happy with that considering how fast those C5 Corvettes were. Our Super Touring Civic was hooked up and we were off to an awesome start to the season!
After our celebrations we returned to the paddock and began packing up as Eric and his father had a near 20 hour drive back to Ohio. After loading up and wishing them well, we loaded up and went off to have an easy evening with dinner and a shower. The next morning I woke up to a text him Eric's fiance Emily asking if I had heard from him. Not realizing he sent me a message, I replied no. She then informed me he and his dad had been involved in an accident a short time ago. They were out of the vehicle and ok, albeit bruised and cut up.
I then looked at the message from Eric to see this image.
Eric's dad took over the drive a short time before the accident as Eric was in the back getting some rest after driving for about 10 hours. His dad would doze off during his driving stint which sent them off the curve of this highway, down a hill and into an embankment crashing into the bottom.
Thankfully Eric's F150 took the brunt of the force deploying all of its airbags which kept them safe inside. Eric was a bit unluck being in he backseat as the collision sent the cargo and tools through the back glass of the truck smashing him in the face and cutting his legs. All things considered, they walked away in good shape.
Over the next few hours, the recovery crew pulled the truck out of the ravine and we able to recover the race car and trailer.
All of Eric's hard work was smashed and thrown all over the road and woods. Thousands of dollars worth of tools, custom and spare parts were gone.
Eric and his father are back safe in Ohio and we will have another update for everyone soon on the state of the Super Touring Civic. The damage is pretty bad, but it's nothing that can't be fixed. As soon as we have an overall accessment of what needs to be done, we will make another post.
Thank you to everyone that messaged us and Eric and supported his gofundme.