Clair takes the checker at over 180 MPH for his first win!
If you are a real racer, racing at Daytona has to be on your bucket list.
HSR really went out on a limb to put this race on, as the track rental is way high and the entries are limited. Open wheel cars are excluded from running at Daytona, and the track is really not suited to the small bore production car guys. That pretty much limits the race groups to the sports racers and the big bore production based cars. It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that the entries from these two groups were not going to cover the track rental.
Although it is really fast, the Daytona road course has only one really challenging section - the exit of the banking as it transitions onto the front straight. As the banking falls away, the car starts heading up towards the wall, and for someone new to the track, it is a serious challenge keeping your right foot and all 5 toes flat on the pedal.
Earlier in the year virtually all the Duntov racers had committed to running Daytona, but when it came time to load and go, only Clair Schwendeman was up for it. It is long haul with a fifty thousand pound rig to take only one car, so we took two; we brought Edward's #38 car in case it was needed.
At Daytona, our Corvettes require a 3.36 differential. Clair's car was turning slightly over 7500 RPM at the start finish line, which is 183 MPH with the big Hoosier's and a 3.36. Edward's black car still had the 3.70 from Watkins Glen, so we never considered running it. We brought it in case we needed any spares that we otherwise didn't bring, and in fact we did!
The big bore class was thankfully free of the sport racers HSR threw in to the mix at the Mitty, so it was a straight-up big bore production car race between Corvettes, Mustangs, Camaros and Porsches; just as it should be.
HSR regular Bradley Hoyt entered the only other big block Corvette. His car has aftermarket brakes and other unusual modifications that had him classified in Group 10 at the Hawk race @ Road America in July, but in HSR, he is still in Group 5 with Clair. Brad has a ton of experience at Daytona, having run the 24 hour race at least once, along with several vintage races there. So the deck was definitely stacked against Clair from day one.
The Cobra Automotive team was there in force, and they put on an incredible show all weekend. As good as they are, it is hard to give away 150 cubic inches at a horsepower track like Daytona, but they never lack for effort!
The weather was perfect the whole weekend, as were our hosts. Compared to anywhere else we have run, the security detail at Daytona has to be the most professional, as well as the most numerous! This place is one pro venue, top to bottom.
Hoyt was racing for the HSR points championship in Group 5, so he chose to sit out the Anglo American race on Saturday, not wanting to risk breaking something and possibly missing Sunday's points race.
For the first time in his career, Clair started the Anglo American race from the pole, and he led every lap to capture his first ever, first overall win! And he did it while battling a leaking left front tire that went completely flat as the car sat in victory lane. Great Job, Clair!
The Mustangs were right there at the start, but they fell back in the banking and ultimately the super aggressive Cobra Automotive teammates took themselves out!
On Sunday Clair managed to get within a couple of tenths of Hoyt's fastest lap, and that was good enough for a close second in the final sprint race of the season.