The Fitzgerald Chronicles: Miller Motorsports Park
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Last weekend was the season finale of the Grand American Road Racing Association Rolex Series. The event was held at the new Miller Motorsports Park located about thirty minutes west of Salt Lake City, Utah. Miller is an amazing facility that houses the longest road course in North America. The track is 4.5-miles long with 23 turns.

I drove the #56 Beachman Racing Corvette in the GT class. I was familiar with the car since I had driven it once before at the Mid-Ohio event. It is an older car that is overmatched against the GTOs and Porsche 997s, but the Beachman Racing team has a wealth of technical expertise that helped provide us with an excellent handling car.

The race was a nine hour event and I had two co-drivers: team owner Bruce Beachman, who in addition to his driving duties, is a talented engineer; and Dan Salama, who currently leads the Grand Am Cup ST class points standings with his teammate Will Turner.

PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING

We started the weekend with a promoter test day on Wednesday. There were three sessions available for Rolex cars. We ran the entire test day on some old tires that already had quite a few laps of them. In spite of this, the car's handling was quite good. Since we had three drivers to get in the car, none of us got very many laps, which was an issue since the track was 4.5-miles long and had 23 turns.

Another issue that was problematic was that the Corvette was running way too hot. Water temperatures were regularly hitting 240 degrees and this was requiring us to run a lap or two at speed, followed by a cool off lap. The cooling problems plagued us throughout the test day and continued through the first day of official practice.

The first official practice session began at 11:45am and lasted for ninety minutes. Our quickest time was a 3:04.0, which was eight seconds off the quickest GT time. This was obviously pretty depressing, but fairly indicative of where we stood relative to the other GT cars.

We had two more session later that day. The first was at 4:45pm. We went a little quicker, but the quick GT time dropped to a 2:54.7, which made the gap even larger. Later I split the night session with Don. I took the second half of the session, since it was dark, and it was anticipated that I would do the night driving. There were no lights at the track, but there were reflectors on all of the curbs, which was very helpful.
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