2012 Championship SEASON – Porsche Owners Club – Jesse Menczer, Porsche 997.2 Cup Car
We will repeat this probably more times than any one cares to hear….but many try to win, even just to win an event, but few are able to rise above all elements and WIN a Championship. Jesse Menczer and BRracing Motorsports did just that in 2012…..winning the Porsche Owners Club championship in 2012. 8 events, 16 races. To win takes great resolve, great commitment, great SKILL, great preparation, great team support, strategy, quick wit, learning, and luck. So many things, often completely out of your control, can sideline your objective. Jesse did an amazing job…learning, pushing, listening, trying, changing…whatever it took, to try and win all the time. And, most of the time, he did. When a quick and skillful move was needed, he did it. When a key start was required…he pounced. When waiting for the right time was called for, he waited. When threading the needle in the middle of a pack, he did just that (I remember holding my breadth when he made an amazing move going into turn 1 at Willow Springs, and passed three cars in the midst of one turn….I didn’t think there was space, nor did I think others would give him room…not sure which it was, but when he exited the turn, he had made the amazing move).
Here is a quick recap and summary of the races in 2013.
Race weekend #1 – Willow Springs – February 2012
So, a little history before we get into the details of the race weekend. Jesse had bought this car late in 2011. It’s a 2011 Porsche 997.2 Cup Car….awesome car. He ran a couple of events in late 2011 to get his feet wet w the handling and prowess of this car. The Cup Car comes w massively stiff springs….keeps the car flat, but the line between (“I’m OK, and I’m going for a spin” is very fine….very fine). Take that, and mix w the bumpy Willow Springs track, and you have an interesting combination.
The key to Jesse’s results in the races were his starts. He did OK in qualifying, but not great. Still learning the car. But, at the starts, he made some amazing moves, and gained huge amounts. On one start, he went from 6th to 1st overall, and held 1st for several laps, even against faster cars. He managed his tires well, and won his class.
Race weekend #2 – Spring Mountain – March 2012
As noted in the notes on the prior race, the razor edge on the car, and the type of tracks we were going to visit, made us re-think the spring setup for the car. So, as a result, we decided to make quite a change….a huge change. Out came the stock suspension, and in went some very soft springs front and rear, and triple adjustable shocks (JRZ). Not only did the springs and shocks change, but this would also impact the ride heights of the car. So, all sorts of changes, and we used the Friday practice at Spring Mountain to try to get a foundation to build from. But, about midway thru Friday practice, Jesse thought the car was a handful (not a happy handful, a “I can’t drive this thing like this” handful) Not turning in, rear stepping out, not stable in the middle of the turn….can it get any worse?? We worked and worked on the setup and alignment, working late into the night each night to narrow the gap to where we wanted to be. We never got all the way there…but got the car to be manageable….not good enough to win, but good enough to play and get solid points. Our outlook for the season was a little unsettled.
Race weekend #3 – Willow Springs – April 2012 (we did not race this event, taking the risk, and instead raced w PCA at Fontana to prepare for the June Tribute to Le Mans race weekend). No points…..big risk.
Race weekend #4 – Fontana, Tribute to Le Mans – June 2012
Wow…what a weekend. Many may not know, but this weekend had three races in it. The two POC club races, and the POC Tribute to Le Mans Enduro. We had done the PCA race in April at Fontana, and had used the weekend to further refine and dial in the car. We now felt we had gotten our foundation under us, and were moving to the other side of the fence where we could dial in the car to meet the specific needs of Jesse and that specific track. We felt good going into the weekend. The original plan was to run Jesse’s 2011 Cup Car in the POC club races, and to run another car in the Enduro. But like all good plans, they are subject to change. After practice for the Enduro on Friday, the group decision was to change the car for the Enduro……hey, let’s use Jesse’s Cup Car! Sure, we haven’t set it up for the Enduro, but we have a couple of hours. Sure….sure. I won’t go into all the details on what running an enduro is like or what changes we made, but this made the goal of getting lots of POC race points a hard stretch. But, we had the car set up well, and he walked on the competition on the Friday POC club race. We also won our class in the Enduro, and placed 2nd overall in the Enduro. An amazing weekend….and Jesse drove smooth, reliable, calculating. We came away w great points, and surged in the championship race. We now could return to thoughts about chasing the championship.
Race weekend #5 – Laguna Seca – August 2012
We had a little bit of a break for the summer….but we used that to our adavantage. At the Fontana event in June, we found another little element that we needed to fix on the setup and handling. We made the changes again in early June, and used a race at Sonoma (PRC) to try out the new setup. Much improved….much better. We were feeling good going into the weekend. But, even though the car felt good, other things would come to intervene. Jesse qualified #1, on pole, overall, and the car felt great. But, just as we were pushing the car back under the canopy at our trailer, it didn’t feel right. “Hey, put the sequential into nuetral…..it is….no, it can’t be, the car won’t roll….check it…..I did, it is in nuetral”. Hmmm, well, the transmission ain’t right. We put the car up on its jack stands, and determine we indeed have an issue w the transmission or clutch. But, we have a race in 45 minutes….Hmmm, what to do? We can’t afford to miss the race. As fortune would have it, BRracing had 8 customers participating in the event this weekend, and one of them (Geoff Stahl) had a 997.2 Cup Car (new to him and freshly built by BRR). A little discussion between Geoff and Jesse……and voila, a decision was reached that says we’re running Geoff’s car in the POC race. We’re WHAT?? We only have 30 minutes to go before the race! The setup is different, the drivers gear is different, the radios are different…oh well, what the heck. All team members jump in, and we get the car setup and ready to go just as the final call for grid is made. We roll up, rolling to the front of the grid to take our #1 qualifying position. No, No, No…says the grid chief. That’s not the same car. You must start from the back. Hmmm, OK, we’ll see how this goes. Jesse drives an amazing race, and passes 6 cars in the first turn. Passes 13 cars on the first lap. But, we still have over 20 cars more to go. Each lap, more victims. Net, he finishes second overall…and if we could have had a couple more laps, we think 1st was possible. That was Saturday…that meant we had all sorts of time to fix the original car. Out came the transmission and clutch…we determine we have a bad tranny. We drive back to the shop on Saturday night, pick up another tranny, drive back to the track, install the tranny, clutch, and stuff….and have it ready to go for the first practice on Sunday morning. GO TEAM….priceless. Jesse drives another great race, and takes 1st in class, and 1st overall in the Sunday race. What a weekend! This will go down in our history of one of the greatest weekends we could have had.
Race weekend #6 – Fontana – September 2012
Short weekend. No practice on Friday, just a Saturday and Sunday event. No breakdowns, no transmission swaps, no car changes, just great driving and racing by Jesse, and great results. We add to the points total, and now we know what we have to do for the remainder of the season to win the championship. Jesse sets new personal best lap time…the additional setup changes we had made during the summer paid off here as well. Tire wear improves, stability on the banked oval improves. We had the rebuilt tranny from Laguna in the car, and it worked great as well. However, other cars are appearing in the class that are targeting the limits of the rules….running bigger motors (but also more ballast, but on a track like Fontana w the straights and banks….speed pays well), bigger flares and therefore, bigger tires, more grip. The game has been raised.
Race weekend #7 – Sonoma – October 2012
Between the Fontana POC event in late September, and this race at Sonoma in late October, we ran the Pirelli Cup event at Laguna. That threw a whole new set of changes back into the mix. To run in the Pirelli Cup…you must run the stock suspension, w the stiff springs. No ABS allowed (we normally have ABS – Bosch). Plus the Pirelli tires are a different size, and a different height….not only a different height, but a different height on the front and a further change on the rear. That means the ride height goes out the window, and almost everyone knows that the ride height and rake on a Cup Car are absolutely critical to the setup of the car. We decide to use the weekend to further learn more about the Pirelli tires, and the setup they require.? We also like the Pirellis….slightly larger in size, so we reckon that would bode well for more grip on the twisty Sonoma track.? Since we were flipping back and forth on the suspension (we went back to the softer springs), but this time, just to keep things interesting and improving our learning quotient, we go w a different spring setup…slightly stiffer than what we used to run. That means everything changes again…ride heights, alignment, shock settings. We do through about 13 different setups on Friday practice and get a great setup. It shows during the races, and Jesse wins both races. On Sunday, we put on the qualifying tires, and Jesse sets another new personal best lap time.
Race weekend #8 – Willow Springs – December 2012
This is it…its crunch time. We have to win a race this weekend to secure the championship. We talked and talked prior to this race on what tires to run. Pirelli….they’re big, and they last. Yokohoma, they’re quick, and come up to temp much faster. Which ones. The competition pulls out all the stops, and brings a bazzoka to a knife fight (997.2 w RSR wide body, 4.0L motor). Jesse has his work cut out for him. Qualifying goes well….but we’re starting 5th overall (GMG also shows up w their killer World Challenge Audi R8s). Jesse makes a great start…moves up to the front running group, group is running nose to tail, and then a yellow comes out about a third into the race. The field bunches up….we’re ready for the start. Robb is on the radio, and yells “GO GO GO” as they are going thru turn 9. The leaders can’t even see the starters stand….but Robb is on the radio yelling “GO GO GO”…so, Jesse goes. The starter had thrown the green early, and Jesse takes off. By turn 1, Jesse passes the whole field, and is in 1st place overall. Nail biting starts by all team members. Antacid is being passed out. Jesse just drives hard. His car gets a little wider each lap. We’re waiting for someone to dive bomb him. Jesse is able to pull away in each turn to keep the hounds at bay. Isn’t it time for the checkered flag? How many more laps?? This is killing me. Jesse drives a great race, and secures the championship w a WIN. AWESOME. PRICELESS.
Jesse drove great all year long. Never touched another car, never had a bad weekend, just drove smart, worked hard w our team to refine and improve the car for each event, and produced the results. The car worked great…no major failures all season long, The team was great. Worked hard, worked great together. Love our guys. Great atmosphere, great fun. Looking forward to 2013.
As the saying goes…it’s a complete team approach.?? This was our group (some customers in this pic as well) at Fontana earlier in the year….GO TEAM!
This is the BEAST that served Jesse so well.? Long season, lots of miles, lots of hours.
This is the setup….it takes everything to make this fly well.?? Tools, pit cart, canopy, jacks, air wands, and more spares than you can shake a stick at.
Other than the driver, the most important part.? The team…and straight up hard work.? We pour over the car every time it comes off the track or is back at the shop.? As the saying goes, nothing beats preparation.