Bloody Knuckles, Bad Luck and Better Days Ahead
Pirelli GT4 America, Rounds 5 & 6
VIRginia International Raceway
June 5-6, 2021
Parts and Labor
Coming out of what the team described as a “big flying fiasco” at Circuit of the Americas, all three of Bimmerworld’s BMW M4GT4s were in critical states of disrepair. It was clear that before the crew could even begin to strategize for the upcoming Pirelli GT4 America races at VIRginia International Raceway, they would have to put in some good old-fashioned garage work.
Luckily, nobody around here is afraid of a little sweat and a few bloodied knuckles. After some serious hours and a whole lot of teamwork, the best crew in the business had all three cars, including the #36 Racing to End Alzheimer’s BMW, ready for prime time.
Down, Up, Down Again
With the ante paid, the team loaded up and headed down to its home track in Alton, Virginia. Eager to turn the season around, James Clay and Nick Galante hit the practice track with determination. They pushed the #36 hard, testing its limits.
Toward the end of the practice session, the car took a turn too fast and made light contact with one of the barriers. Despite initial fears of another disaster, the crew once again worked through the night and had the BMW track-ready by the early hours of race day.
After a respectable qualifying, James Clay started race 1 on Saturday from 11th place. On the first lap, he worked his way to 9th and briefly snagged the 8th position. Poised to enter the pit window on the upswing, bad luck once again found the #36. Just before the race’s halfway mark, a brake rotor cracked and exploded on the front left corner, effectively ending the race for Clay and Galante.
Almost, Not Quite
The repair crew came through once again in the clutch, and Saturday’s frustration gave way to renewed optimism at the start of Sunday’s race. Nick Galante sped off from the 14th position, battling intensely to hold the spot all the way to the halfway point.
Following the pit window, a steely-eyed James Clay entered the race determined to make some moves. Clay’s assault through the field started with 5 passes in 10 minutes. With the #36 sitting in the 9th spot, a caution period momentarily slowed the action while a disabled car was removed from the track.
On the restart, Clay rocketed up to 6th overall and started turning laps equal to the race leaders. With this trajectory, the team began eyeing second place within 4 laps and a potential podium finish.
But bad luck never seems to be far away these days. Another car became disabled on the track, and a lengthy cleanup meant the hot #36 was forced to cool its jets and finish the race trailing the caution vehicle.
Despite the frustrating result, Sunday’s race provided tantalizing glimpses of better days ahead. The speed is there. The grit and determination are there. With just a little bit of luck, there’s no limit to how far (and how fast) this team can go!
Tune in for Rounds 7 & 8 for the Pirelli GT4 America series at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on August 27-28, 2021.