Long time Formula 500 driver Jim Elder took to the wheel for the teams real world debut. It wasn’t an easy day with everything fro IMSA Lites and Formula Atlantic machines down to the slowest of the Formula Vee’s. somewhere in between was the lone Satellite Invader of Elder. 4 other 500s were entered so it wouldn’t be a free ride to the teams maiden win.
The practice session was a bit of a throw away as we used it to do a general shake down of the car and make sure nothing major had been left undone. This was the first anybody had raced on the newly reconfigured Palm Beach International Raceway as well so at the same time drivers were learning the new way around. The new configuration proved better for racing, wider and more room for faster classes to get by. However the track surface itself was still extremely slick and found quite a few cars sliding everywhere. The session was eventually black flagged from a Formula 1000 high sided on a curb in turn 3. Qualifying proved similar results to practice with guys only getting in 1 or 2 hot laps. Jim unfortunately didn’t get a timed lap in before the session was black flagged for another stranded car. This meant Elder would be starting deep in the multi class field.
The start of the race picked up right where practice and Qualy had both left off, with a big mess in the 1st chicane. You can already see another 500 of Tom Manallio already in the grass and missing his nose coming into turn 1. Jim managed to slip through the turn 1 mess and worked his way through the back markers. Eventually he got up on the tail of the lead Sidewinder driven by Charles Thompson. Elder quickly found his way around Thompson and was a good thing he wasted no time in doing so as a crash in the final corner brought out a full course caution which the race would finish under. It wasn’t a pretty race but we had our first win in our first entry!
Race 2 on Sunday would prove to be an even bigger challenge then race 1 on Saturday with a heat wave rolling in. Tire temps were quick to overheat, soon the brakes, and eventually after that the drivers. Even after just a 15 minute warmup Elder came out of the car soaked in sweat. The 45 minute race would prove to be a small test of endurance. Same as Saturdays race, Elder would have to start from the back. This time the 1st chicane wouldn’t try to bite us until lap 4 with a pile up between a few different class of cars scattering everywhere. Elder snaked through just behind the leading Charles Thompson in his Sidewinder. The fight this time would last for 9 laps before Elder finally found his way by. In the closing laps Elder put down the fastest laps of the weekend by any F500 there, securing the win and bringing the teams first track record home as well.
Our goals going into our first weekend was to get a feel for the car, keep everything clean, and bring it home in 1 piece. With 2 wins and a lap record coming back our goals were more then met and gave us a taste of what we really want to do for the rest of our tenure as a team, win.