"I'm happy to report that our finishes in the National points races this year gave us enough edge to win the SCCA Northern Pacific Divisional Championship for the second consecutive year," remarked a jubilant Rich Sloma.
The K&N sponsored driver races in the highly competitive GT-1 class in his carbon fiber modified, and constantly evolving Corvette.
Despite mechanical problems during the practice and qualifying sessions, Sloma still managed to score two first place finishes in the GT-1 class at the SCCA double Regional races at Infineon Raceway.
In spite of some mechanical issues during the practice and qualifying sessions, Sloma still managed to score two first place finishes in the GT-1 class at the SCCA double Regional races at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.
In practice prior to the first race the lower ball joint bolt in the left front suspension broke. It was a 3/4 inch grade-8 bolt that had served the team well for nine seasons of racing and chose this particular time to experience a fatigue break. It took some creative work to get the broken parts out of the upright, and a major search of Sonoma County fastener suppliers to find a replacement part, but they got it back together in time for qualifying and the first race.
With back-to-back wins in 2009 and 2010, Sloma now has five total Divisional Championship in the same car.
"We then went out to qualify for the second race and on the second lap the identical bolt on the right side of the car also broke," said Sloma. "We had gotten a spare bolt and knew how to extract the broken pieces, so that repair went quickly, and we got the car back together for the second good finish of the weekend. We'll obviously have to upgrade that particular bolt over next winter but thought it was pretty amazing that the two bolts failed so close together after all that running time."
"This was actually the fifth time that I've won the Divisional Championship with my current car, but the win this year made it two in a row, which I hadn't done for a few years," adds Sloma. "It was my best finishing record so far, with three first and three second places out of six starts. The car is quicker this year because of some chassis improvements we've made which increased the car's lateral grip in corners and also improved the traction out of slower corners. But the consistently good finishing record is because we upgraded some components in the rear drive which had been less than reliable in past years."
The K&N sponsored Fortuna, California driver competes in his carbon fiber modified Corvette, against Mustangs, Jaguars and other American cars with massive V8 engines, which produce huge amounts of stress on parts.
"As we improved engine power and rear tire traction over the last few years we had gotten to the point that we were killing rear drive components at a rapid rate. Last year we broke half-shafts, constant velocity joints, and both inner and outer stub axles on a regular basis," explained Sloma.
"We tried to have reasonably fresh parts to start races whenever we could, but it was always kind of a roll of the dice to see if we could finish the race. This year we borrowed some technology from the off-road racers and significantly increased the size of all of our rear drive components, with the result that we didn't break a single part in any of our divisional points races."
After the Rich Sloma Racing team clinched the Divisional Championship they ran a couple of Regional races in the San Francisco area just for "fun."
"We use those as development opportunities to try new ideas, and sometimes our plans work and sometimes they don't. At a race at Laguna Seca in June we tried a new kind of setup for the differential in the rear end. The car worked well in practice and qualifying, but the differential exploded on the second lap of the race. So that wasn't our best idea ever."
Sloma says although his car running well now, and there are still a couple more races they could run, it's time for the engine to be rebuilt. He's learned from years of experience that discretion is indeed the better part of valor.
"We have 16 hours running time on the pistons and exhaust valves, and our experience has been that both components will most likely break if we run them much longer."
Sloma uses a K&N air cleaner and oil filter on his racecar. "I also use a cone-type K&N air cleaner on my '56 Chevy street rod, and my faithful 500,000 mile Chevy pickup only uses a K&N oil filter."
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