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 JULY 2011 NASA SPEC E30 RACE AT VIR

After a 13 month break from racing E30's Mike managed to take home a 2nd place finish and a Win.  Saturdays race was challenging with the rain just starting to drop at the green flag but Mike kept his cool and stayed in second place for the duration of the race.  He finished a couple seconds behind the current NASA MA points leader Robert Grace.  In Sundays race Mike qualified 3rd almost a half a second behind Robert Grace in 2nd and Robert Gagliardo in 1st.   Watch the video to find out how it all panned out.   Kudos to Robert Grace and Robert Gagliardo on a great race.  Great driving and great racing!

 

 

2011 ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA

               
Mike competed in the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona driving the #56 Bennett Racing Ferrari F430GT.
Early on Mike was on pace with Jean Francois Dumoulin and Michael Skeen in the Thursday night practice session.  
Unfortunately the car suffered signiificant damage to the right side as a result of an impact with the wall 
later that session. Thankfully Mike was not driving at the time and the driver was ok.  The Spirit of Daytona
team was a huge help to Bennett Racing as they allowed the team to use their local race shop to repair the
car in order to make the start of the race.  The Bennett Racing crew stayed up all night Thursday and Friday 
to get the car fixed with almost no sleep.  The car did make the start of the race only to suffer a right rear
tire failure in the first 4 laps of the race.  The tire failure caused damage to the F1 transmission control and
additional bodywork damage.  Luckily Fernando Torres of Competizione Sportscars was on hand to re wire the
F1 control unit in record time to get the car back out on track.  The team was doing amazing into the early 
night.  Mike got in the car around 8:00pm and the team started to re-gain some of the positions they lost
while in the garage.  Mike was running a great pace and was extremely consistent throughout his first
professional stint.  Mike then handed the car off to Daniel Harrington and didn't get back in the car until
around 2:00am.  Mike thought the car felt good early on in his second stint, but noticed the gear changes
were rough and the clutch was starting to slip.  Ladislav Kovacyk the crew chief for Bennett Racing told
Mike to keep the car out as long as possible but after an hour or so the transmission developed a bad vibration
and the team decided to bring the car back into the garage.  At first glance the transmission looked to
have overheated but the team would later discover the throwout bearing had failed and leaked oil onto
the clutch.  The team worked throughout the night to get the car back out on track and the
Bennett Racing Ferrari took the checkered flag with Glynn Geddie behind the wheel.  Congrats to all
the drivers and Bennett Racing for a job well done!  Watch the car cross the finish line in the video below.
 

TESTING THE BENNETT RACING FERRARI F430GT AT DAYTONA JAN 8 2011 

 

TESTING THE BENNETT RACING FERRARI F430 IN JULY AT VIR


 

HYPERFEST 2010 SUNDAY SPEC E30 RACE.  AWESOME RACE!

Spec E30 - Grace vs. Davidson - Summit Point  

SATURDAY HYPERFEST RACE AT SUMMIT POINT

Mike started second and moved up to the lead at the start with the help of Russell.  He then managed to stay in the lead for the 
first couple until he was held up in traffic.  Frans Hansen who qualified first was getting through the last turn (10) very well and Mike
was losing time where it counted most.  With the long run down the straight into turn 1 Mike was having a tough time holding
off Frans.  Frans eventually passed Mike going into one but they exchanged P1 a couple more times throughout the race.  Great race!   

 

MIKE BEING CHASED BY A VERY FAST SKYLINE GTR


A LAP AROUND VIR FULL IN THE F430GT FROM EVERY ANGLE

 

 

TESTING AT VIR

After a few months of work the F430 was finally ready for testing.  After 14 laps in the car, 8 of which were on the north course Mike
managed to set a new track record for VIR's north course configuration with a lap time of 1:30.496.  Enjoy!

 

TRIP TO WATCH THE  24


 

GRAND AM ROLEX GT

   

Mike has been asked to be one of the drivers for a new Rolex GT team comprised of
all SPEC E30 drivers.  The car is a Ferrari F430 Challenge that will be converted
to Rolex GT specifications.  Here is the press release: 

NASA Spec Racers Pursue a Mission: the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona

Annapolis, Maryland--Five racers from the NASA Spec E30 series are on  mission: to race in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 2011.  A fireside chat at a NASA Mid-Atlantic event in October 2009, initiated by Skip Bennett, a Spec E30 competitor and Ferrari Challenge series alumni, has evolved into a grassroots effort to pursue a racers dream--a chance at the big stage at one of the most prestigious motorsports events in North America. Skip has formed Bennett Racing Enterprises to field a team of five Spec E30 drivers piloting a Ferrari F430 GT.  Mission Daytona will be the title of their documented journey to the Rolex 24.  The Editor-in-Chief of Grassroots Motorsports, Tim Suddard, has agreed to document their endeavor in the pages of the magazine throughout 2010. The drivers are no strangers to competition, as they all have competed in the very competitive NASA Spec E30 class, driving 1987 – 1991 spec-prepared BMW 325i’s.  Mike Skeen and Chris Cobetto are current and past national champions, while Mike Davidson, Jon Allen, and Skip Bennett have acquired multiple wins and podium positions throughout their tenure in the class.  The team is in the process of developing the car, having already secured the services of Ladislav Kovacyk as crew chief, former crew chief for the winning team of Alegra Motorsports in the 2006 Rolex-24.  Grand American racing, now a division of NASCAR, recently announced that the entire 2010 season of the Rolex Sports Car Series will be featured live on the Speed Channel. This should be an interesting journal.  Stay tuned for future news on Mission Daytona!

www.Bennett-Racing.com

VIR OCTOBER 2009

Saturday Race 
Mike finally managed to fix the sputtering problem he has been chasing all season and qualified
first for Saturdays race. Mike had a good start and received a generous bump from Skip going
down the straight.   Jonny also got a bump from Chris going into turn 1 and Jonny managed to 
get by Mike going into turn 3.  Mike battled Jonny the entire race trying not to make a mistake as Chris
was right on his bumper the entire time.  Mike managed to stay right on Jonny's bumper and on the 
last lap he got a great run coming out of Oak tree and managed to draft Jonny down the back straight
and pass him going into 14.  As Mike was at the apex of hogpen Jonny gave Mike a slight tap on the
rear bumper that cause both cars to become connected.  Jonny's front bumper actually got stuck
to Mike's rear tow hook.  After Mike's car popped loose the car snapped violently off track.  It was
an unfortunate end to a great race.  
 
However, Mike did what he wanted to do this weekend which was to prove that with a solid running
car he could qualify first and contend for the lead.  Job well done.  Congrats to the rest of the guys 
as they did an awesome job this weekend as well!

VIR OCTOBER (2-4) KONI CHALLENGE RACE

Come see Mike at VIR Friday, Saturday, and Sunday driving in the new VW "Sim Race." For info contact VIR or visit the north paddock pro shop.

 

SUMMIT POINT AUGUST 2009

Sundays Race 

After a good race at VIR mike decided it was time to try to and place his new engine in the car.  After a lot of work Mike managed to get the engine running correctly and on the dyno. Or so he thought.  The car dynoed well and Mike thought the car was ready to go to Summit Point.  Everything went well during the Saturday morning practice sesssion and Mike could tell that the engine was stronger than the old one.  Mike felt the car was ready for the qualifying session.  Mike went out behind Skip and managed to run with Skip during qualfiying. However, Mike started to notice that the car was missing coming out of turn one.  During qualifying the miss was not that bad as Mike managed to get the number 2 spot on grid a few hundredths of a second behind Skip.  The race and qualifying were both in the rain and Mike is no stranger to the rain.  He managed to stay in second place until the very last lap.  Johhny Allen was battling with Mike the entire race and managed to get by Mike in the carousel on the last lap.  Good driving Johhny!  The race went well for Mike.  The next day Mike was unsure of the status of his race car so he and his father lookedover the car to check for any loose connections or grounds.  During qualifying on Sunday the car was developing a big problem and Mike only managed to qualify mid pack.  For the race the problem only got worse and the car would hesitate everywhere on track.  Since Mike is running for points this season he toughed it out and manged to finish 8th.  The video tells the story.

   

 

VIR JULY 2009

Saturdays Race  
 	 	

After a rough weekend at summit point Mike decided it was finally
time to try and put in his fresh engine. The engine that was in the
vehicle was freshened up (new valve guide seals and gaskets for top
end) for the 2007 National Championships. Even still the bottom end
had ~200k on it. So the engine made it through two seasons with no
problems except gradually loosing hp and torque. So it was time. The
new engine had arrived and Mike decided it was time to put it in.
After a days work with the help of some friends the engine had made
its way into the car and they were ready to give it a go. When they did
finally try and start the engine yhey heard a terrible noise that
turned out to be piston to valve clearance issues. The head that Mike
originally wanted to put on the new engine was not ready in time for
the July VIR race so they decided to put the old head that was on the
previous engine on the new block. The only problem with that head
after it turns out is the head had been milled on an angle and it was
.035in out of spec. So now Mike, his dad, and friends are trying to
figure out a way to get Mike to VIR with a running car. With only a
few days to spare Mike and his good friends Shane and Pete managed to
pull the new but damaged motor out of the car and replace it with a
motor that was in a wrecked race car of Mikes. This motor was a
factory engine with 4 race seasons on it so it was not the strongest
but it ran well. So off to VIR we went. Mike Helped Instruct for the
Super Comp School on Friday. After the comp school we all went home
and slept well. Saturday morning was nice and Mike and His dad were
ready to try and see what they could drag out of this car. They
started with some tire temperatures and made some adjustments that
seemed to work . And then after qualifying 7th Mike decided to make a
major change to the rear swaybar which really seemed to help. Mike
Started 7th in the race but managed to quickly gain a few positions
off the start and then he managed to get past Skip Benette later on
to finish second in class. The video is fun to watch.

Enjoy

 

SUMMIT POINT JUNE 2009

Saturday Race  Sunday Race Footage     

TESTING AT VIR SOUTH WITH THE FERRARI CLUB OF AMERICA MAY 2009

FCA PRACTICE VIDEO 

SUMMIT POINT APRIL 2009

Saturday Race   

After 2 years of absence from Summit Mike decided to attend this race in an attempt to keep his 2nd place standing in the points championship.
He started the weekend off with a broken rocker arm 1 lap into Saturday's practice session. Thanks to Paully he got it fixed pretty fast and just barely missed qualifying.  Carter also supplied a spare rocker arm shaft so big thanks to him as well. The junkyard motor's rocker arm shaft had seen better days. So Mike started at the back of the pack. The car started to sputter on the out lap a problem he's had ever since he took the adjustable fuel pressure regulator out at the beginning of the season. We are not sure what is causing it but it's getting rather annoying Mike figured since he was in the back he could try and get a good start which he did. "As I came through 10 the flag dropped as soon as I saw the stand". He  managed to get by a few people on the first lap and then came up on Vic. His car seemed to be having some issues as Mike had no problem getting by him going into 10. Mike made up a few more positions and started closing on Carter and McGrath. Mike had now gone from last to 5th. As Mike was coming out of the carousel he noticed McGrath giving Carter some room so he decided to try and follow Carter under McGrath through 8 hoping that he saw him on the inside. He didn't and he made contact with mike causing McGrath to spin. Mike collected him again as he was spinning and they both went off track. Mike was able to get back on track and regain some positions to finish 9th with his front bumper sticking straight out.
We worked on the car Saturday night and got it ready for Sunday's race.

Sunday was a little nicer than Saturday. Mike managed to qualify 6th with the car feeling a little odd. The sputtering was getting worse so Mike knew it would be tough to maintain his 6th place position during the race. Mike managed to get by the axis car at the start and attempted to follow Carter. Mike was keeping Carter in sight when he got behind a SPEC 3 which was almost impossible to pass with the sputtering on the straights. Mike managed to finally get by the Spec 3 and then tried his best to drive clean and maintain position. Everything was going well and then Mike saw Robert in his mirrors. Mike knew he had come from last place so he must have been turning some quick laps. Mike tried to keep Robert Allen behind him but knew he didn't have the to car to stay in front. Robert had no problem passing Mike coming out of 10 onto the straight. Skip was right behind Robert as well and he also got by Mike. Skip had gotten pushed off by a spec 3 the lap before. After Robert got by Mike, Mike figured he was safe. Nope....Grace pops up in the mirror and now Mike is praying for the checkered flag. Mike managed to hold off grace and the race finished under yellow.

Mike said after the race:

"I was really impressed with the speed everyone has at Summit. I hope I will have the car fixed so I can try and play up front at Hyperfest. Chris especially did an awesome job all weekend. It's anyone's race now. The competition continues to grow and that's a good thing."

VIR FULL MARCH 2009

Saturday Race  Sunday Race         

After 4 races Mike remains in 2nd place in the Mid-Atlantic Points Championship.  Mike qualified 2nd both days and finished second and 8th respectively.  The first race was very exciting as Mike and Chris battled again.  Mike went from first place going into turn one to 2nd place going into turn 3.  After a few laps of battling Mike was able to get back by Chris for the lead and held onto the lead until turn 14 where Mike and Chris had to split a slower car.  Chris managed to get the inside line going into turn 14 and the lead. Chris and Mike did an awesome job and it was an excellent race for the spectators as the action was intense.  Unfortunately Mike's camera was not working so he does not have any video footage from Saturdays race.  At the beginning of Sunday's race Mike's car started to sputter as the green flag fell.  The cause was likely to be water in the fuel tank. The car sputtered intermittently for the remainder of the race and if you look closely at the video you can see his hand reaching down to flip the ignition on and off to try and clear it up.  He lost quite a few positions on the the start but managed to get all the way back up to 5th but regrettably made some poor decisions in traffic which ultimately cost him the race.

Here is a race report of Saturdays Race by Chris Cobetto (2 Time Spec E30 National Champion and Nasa Mid Atlantic Regional Director)

So after looking at the laptop I figure that, at some point, the rain is going to make it into our race. Wet or dry? Well I figure that it is dry NOW and we may get at least 5 min of dry so I should go dry and just work it the best I can when the wet comes. I roll on to grid with 7 minutes to go and, of course, the sprinkles start. Frig!

On the pace lap I must look like a complete goob. I'm tossing the car around and overbraking to try to get an idea where there is some grip. Green flag drops and I hear Carleton booger a shift and Skip gets picked behind Carleton. Mikey plays defense going into one so I fade left for a setup to turn one and just try to stay with Mikey. I got a little bit of a run out of turn one and was able to get up and close to Mikey at the kink before turn 3. Mikey gave me some good room and I jump the curb at the kink to gain position. By the uphill esses the rain is getting harder and Mike is right on my six. I'm really pushing to try to get some good heat in the tires before the rain comes in earnest because it will be nearly impossible to do so when it really starts coming down. I slide through turn 10 at a pretty good pace and have to use the curb at the exit. I look back, thinking that I should have put some space on Mikey. No dice. Mike is right there and that is how the entire race went. I would make a pass on some traffic and think, "ok I should be able to breathe a little now but no way. Mike is ROCKING right through traffic, hammering it into the braking zone and using every bit of track. I looked back many times and watched those front wheels making little corrections, balancing the car at the very ragged edge. Mike is driving REALLY well. It was about lap 3 when we got held up by a spec 3 in turn 3. Mike gets a run and sticks a great pass in 4. We round turn 5 and I see an EV crew dragging one of the guys that went off. The guy in front of Mike is being EXTREMELY cautious and holds up Mikey. I saw this happen and backed off the throttle for a split second and then started rolling into it so I could time when I would hit full throttle for just after passing the EV crew. It gave me enough momentum to try to gain position on Mike, drivers left, heading into the uphill esses. Mike gave me enough room to be there but I'm quite sure that the outside edge of my left tires were tossing up red clay and the thought went through my head, " Cobetto, uh, are you really sure you want to be right here right now?" I got beside Mike and was able to stick the re-pass. On the next to the last lap Mike got around me in turn one and so it was time to follow him around some. I just could not make up and distance on Mike. I wasn't losing ground but I wasn't gaining any either.

White Flag waving at Start. Mike was perfect going into the Oak Tree section but got boogered by a couple of cars and that gave me a shot. I stayed in third and couldn't get the torque out of Oak tree to gain anything on Mike who had bumped down to second, which I knew because I saw his car jump left on the gear change. Todd Reid was right in front of Mike and very slowly mike pulled away in Todds draft. As we started into the braking zone at the end of the back straight I figured it was now or never. Todd, who is very fast and good in the rain had been very slow through oak tree. I figured that he was probably on a dry setup and anticipated that he would probably brake much earlier than Mike and I had been doing going into the braking zone at the end of the back straight. Mike was about 1.5 car lengths in front of me and right behind Todd. I looked through Mikes windshield and waited for Todds brakelights to come on. They went on and I stayed in the throttle just enough to shoot past Mike and Todd and then got on the binders. Mike went around Todd on the right and slid right in behind me. Only four more turns to go but there were 4 cars in front of us. At that point it was just a matter of shooting the gaps. I went for one gap and Mike went for another. I honestly didn't know who was going to win the race until the exit of 17.

I told Mike that that race was in the top three for me. Absolutely a freakin blast. Mike drove an absolutely awesome race!!! He drove ballsy, smart, clean, smooth and mistake free. We have a lot of drivers in the Mid Atlantic that are factors and Mikey D is most certainly on that list. I mean, GAWWWWWDAMN, Mike, you really REALLY rocked it out.

I have considered selling my car and building something else but the Gods honest truth is that I don't know anywhere else where I could have as much fun. I love these cars and the close competition but what is really special is the camaraderie that exists among the cast of characters that drive. In the past year I have watched everyone's game improve dramatically. But no one is a jerk. Everyone is cool and willing to help one another. I am truly proud to be in this class and honored to be friends with y'all. Thank you Carter for building this.

2009 is set to be REALLY fun!


Peace,
Chris Cobetto 

WIN AT VIR FULL February 21st 2009           

Saturday Race Part 1   Saturday Race Part 2 

Mike wins at VIR FULL course.  After a few adjustments to the car's camber and toe settings mike qualified in 6th position.  The start of the race was clean with no incidents and mike managed to gain a position right off the bat.  He then began to get into a rhythm trying to chase down Chris Cobetto.  A great battle ensued as Chris and Mike battled for position.

The leaders slowly began to run into some traffic and MIke and Chris were now in the hunt.  Towards the end of the race Mike and Chris were nose to tale and Robert Allen and Skip Bennett were holding first and second place respectively.  Skip Bennett made a pass on Robert Allen going into turn 1 and Mike and Chris began to close the gap.  Going into turn 3 Robert Allen caught some traffic and went on the inside of turn 4 as Mike and Chris went on the outside.  Both Mike and Chris were able to get passed Robert Allen for second and third place.  As Mike and Chris continued to battle Robert Allen made a pass on Mike going into Oak and Slid wide just bumping into Chris Cobetto leaving the door wide open for Mike to slip through into second place.  Mike was holding strong in second place coming onto the pit straight until Chris Cobetto made a great pass on the inside of turn 1.  He went a little to deep on the brakes and mike was able to dive back underneath him for the second place.  As mike was coming around turn 3 he saw that Skip Bennett had made contact with a spinning Spec Miata and now Mike was in the lead.  During the last lap of the race Chris stayed right on Mike's bumper all the way to the checkered flag but Mike was able to take his first win in the NASA MA region of SPEC E30.  

NASA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS 2008

Nationals Qualifying Race   National Championship Race 

I Finished In the Money (5th) at the 3rd annual NASA National Championships! It was an interesting race that started off rough with an incident in turn 4. The rear toe was knocked out due to the incident and the car became a handful after that to say the least. I made it all the way back to 4th and then a full course caution came out. I had a great battle with Johnny Allen, David Herrington, and Simon Hunter. Congrats to Carter Hunt, Simon Hunter and Michael Skeen for great finishes. Here's the video. The camera died at the full course caution :(

OLDER VIDEOS

CMP February 2008 
VIR FULL March 2008 
Pocono North Win 
From 23rd to 3rd at VIR 
National Championship Race 2007 
Win at the ROCK  
Season 2 Highlight Video 
From Last to First at Rockingham