Monday, August 14, 2006

Photos From Denver

Click here for the full set of photos I snapped at the Champ Atlantic Series events this past weekend in Denver.

Unfortunately, the team had a less than successful weekend. After qualifying 19th on the grid, Steve Ott's racer ran into problems on the first turn of the race when another car clipped him, sending him into the pits. Although he was able to rejoin the field, his car later struck a retaining wall, knocking it out of the race. Fortunately, the driver was unhurt.

Still, it was an exciting weekend, and one that provided the nuclear industry with some exposure in a fun and festive atmosphere. Thanks to the folks at Newman Wachs Racing for providing us with a great opportunity. I'll have some more comments later.

TUESDAY UPDATE: My friend Dennis Beller of the Eagle Alliance was also at the race, and he just sent me a detailed analysis of the accident that knocked Ott out for the day:

My analysis of lap 1 incident involving Ott (car 35), Sperafico (car 10), and Bridgman (car 2) (note that times from the webcast video feed are a bit uncertain, however, the following is in sequence)

4:50 Start
4:52 Ott (P19) gets the jump on Sperafico (P20) and Bridgman (P18) who starts to Ott's left front.
4:53 Bridgman moves from outside to inside to block Ott (blatant), but Ott is far enough past Sperafico to move to the outside to continue attempting to overtake Bridgman.
4:54 Ott has moved to the center of the track and is clearly in front of Sperafico but has not overtaken Bridgman.
4:55 The maneuver likely cost Ott some momentum as Sperafico moves to go around Ott. Ott is likely watching Bridgman, though, as he is trying to overtake a car that has obviously just blocked him.
4:55 Bridgman is on the driver's right of the track, near the wall, Ott is in the center, and Sperafico is slightly left of center. It does not appear that he is continuing to gain ground on Ott.
4:55+ Cars are staggered nearly uniformly, and Bridgman is drifting out from the inside wall towards the racing line for the corner. Ott may be just past his rear and Sperafico may be just past Ott's rear, but none of their tires appear to overlap.
4:56 All three cars have left the field of view without collision.
4:56+ (new view from further down the track) Bridgman has moved to the center, pushing Ott towards Sperafico, but space can be seen between all three cars.
Ott is closer to Bridgman than to Sperafico.
4:57 Ott's line does not appear to be straight down the track, which is probably costing him with respect to Sperafico.
4:58 Bridgman is now left of center, which doesn't leave room for two cars on his left.The images of Ott and Sperafico overlap, but it does not look like they have made contact.
4:58+ Ott has moved further left, and it still appears they have not made contact.
4:58+ Contact. It appears as if Sperafico has run under Ott after Ott lost ground while avoiding Bridgman, lifting his rear and turning him.The other possibility is that their tires overlapped which kicked Ott's rear up over Sperafico's front tire. However, nothing in previous images would lead one to believe that Sperafico had gained that much ground on Ott. It also does not appear that Ott's rear end lifted enough to clear Sperafico's front tire, but he did come down and immediately straighten up, as if he had been lifted from behind and then dropped as Sperafico turned into the wall.

It appears more likely that Ott got back in front of Sperafico's front end before being forced over by Bridgman, and that Sperafico then ran under Ott.

Other notes:
When Sperafico climbs from his car, it does not appear that his right front tire or suspension is damaged. The top and diagonal struts all look straight. However, his wing is definitely bent. Can a tire-to-tire collision at that speed leave neither car with any suspension damage?

Onboard camera view from Ott's car:
5:42 Ott is more than one car width from the wall, and he is behind Bridgman who is moving to the left.
5:43 Ott is closer to the wall and contact may have been made as it appeared he turned his wheels to the right to recover.
5:44 Contact has occurred, Ott has been lifted and dropped.

There is more footage of the start at 11:06-11:08, all from the camera at turn 1, where it is clear that Ott was moving over because of Bridgman's move. However, the entire incident seen in real time leaves it ambiguous whether Sperafico hit Ott or vice verse. The lack of tire or suspension damage on either car seems to be the most telling physical evidence.
Be sure to remember to watch the race telecast this Saturday at 3:00 p.m. U.S. EDT on Speed Channel.

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