The 3-3-30 Plan was born out of the unexpected opportunity to compete in Round 6 of the NASA Texas 2017 season at MSR Houston. My original schedule for relocation to the UK had me across the pond by the time this event was to take place, but for a variety of reasons, that didn't happen.
After a busy summer working overseas, and the week prior to the event spent preparing for my move, I hadn't mentally prepared to race. It took some time on Friday to get my head back into it, but by the end of the day, my times had dipped into the 1:53's - faster than I'd run at MSR-H in this direction before. It had been hot all day, so I skipped the last session and just made it back to the hotel in time to crank the A/C and pass out.
After a solid 12 hour nap, I woke to a gorgeous Saturday at the track.
This weather was in stark contrast to the storm that had decimated parts of the city just a couple of weeks earlier. The flooding had apparently taken it's toll on the timing loop at the track, so with no times recorded during qualifying, the starting grid for Race 1 was set based on season points.
I posted the following on Facebook over lunch: "4th on the grid! Please let me make it through turn 1!"
Car #31 was behind and to the inside, but caught a glimpse of car #20 hopping the curb inside him and over-reacted. He nosed his front-right fender into my left-rear bumper and I spun. Thankfully, I wasn't collected by any of the following 15 cars as I slide completely across the track.
I spend the rest of our 20 minute race trying to catch the back of the pack, but to no avail. I finished 18th of 21 starters, which would also be my starting grid position for Race 2.
Only a little bit of brute force and ignorance was required to get the car sorted.
It turned out that starting from the back wasn't any better for me than starting from the front. While I was able to cautiously complete the opening lap, it was starting lap 2 that I got bumped - again. I had run a little deep and lifted off the throttle more than car #151 expected. The bump was enough to send me off into the grass. Given that I was already at the back of the field, I decided I'd had enough for the day and pulled back into the paddock at the end of the lap.
With an official finishing position of 21st (and last) from Race 2, I was disappointed to learn that the timing loop hadn't been fixed for Sunday. The starting order for Race 3 was based on an average of Race 1 and Race 2 finishing results, so needless to say, I was at the back!
I let the field get itself organized for a few laps, then started to work my way forward. I was able to capitalize on a mistake by car #63 on lap 7, then forced a mistake that let me get past car #36 on lap 9. A cloud of tire smoke gave me cover as I went inside on car #194 on lap 10. Cars #20 and #81 both made mistakes on lap 11, and finally, I got around car #78 on lap 12. The remaining 8 laps were spent solo, trying to chase town the couple of cars that I could see ahead.
Despite starting last on Sunday, I managed to finish 9th, climbing 12 spots in total. That helped to make up for a fairly awful Saturday at my last race in Texas for the year.
I didn't know it at the time, but the results at MSR-H would be enough to help me secure a top 10 finish in the season points despite missing Round 7 at NOLA. 9th overall has got more to do with attendance and consistency than outright pace, but still something to be proud of in my first full season of wheel-to-wheel competition.
Bryan Bursey, driver, founded Underbite Racing in 2015.