Run What Ya Brung

Dial In Day

Saturday 23rd March 2019

The Dial in Day 2019 was another roaring success with no less than 24 car entries and for the first time ever, 4 bikes! The bracket racing educational day saw entries from those that have never been up the track before to those brushing up on their skills ahead of this weekend. There was a great mix of vehicles too with a few Mustangs and muscle cars, a Nissan Skyline and some super quick hot hatches too. It didn’t take long for it to become apparent that some entries knew exactly what they were doing…
The day begin with the first classroom session which started at the very beginning. What is bracket racing? Why do we do it? And addressing, probably the most important question of all, how hard can it be!? The answer, as everyone found out, is very hard…
In this session we look at everything from how to stage to vehicle prep, how to drive on the track itself, reading timing tickets and everything in between. Once we’ve been through a quick session on “how to bracket race” it was all out onto the track for the first cycle of qualifying and eliminations to see how much the students had picked up.

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Already, this is when we began to see some understanding shining through. In the car class, incredibly after the first 3 qualifiers, 3 racers were .00 off of their dial in. Being .10 away from your dial in would have had you qualified in 12th. To put that in perspective, the number 1 qualifier in Sportsman ET at last years Festival of Power, Andy Dibley, would have qualified 4th in this field.  We’d like to think that this has something to do with the teachers (Andy Dibley included) and the training provided but realistically, I think it’s probably down to having some very good students this year. Yes, OK, Sportsman ET only had 1 qualifier at last years Festival of Power but that takes absolutely nothing away from this years class. Proper racing is for pro’s right? The whole idea behind running the event is to show that no matter what you drive, you can compete at a competitive level, at an affordable price, and have a whole lot of fun doing it.
So, after a super tight round of qualifying, it was elimination time and for many, the first experience of staggered start racing. It was straight in at the deep end with a race separated by 0.0017 at the finish line for Brian Lowe and Thomas Dakin with Thomas taking the win in round 1. With that being the closest race in eliminations, Thomas was also on the losing end of the 2nd closest race of this session with a margin of 0.017, Reiss Alam taking the win there in the quarter finals on his way to a runner up spot. The winner of the first session was one of the standout performers of the day in Jamie Bartlam and her Ford Fiesta ST Line X – proving that bracket racing really isn’t about speed as she took the win in the slowest vehicle in the field. Not only did Jamie win the eliminations, she sat on top of the qualifying pile too giving her the maximum points from this session.

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Then it was all back into the classroom for a quick debrief and a little more learning including a look at what goes on at the finish line, breakouts and importance of reaction times amongst other things. Debrief complete and it was back to the startline for another 3 qualifiers. Although no one went .00 off in this session, being .10 away would have had you in 13th this time around as entries began to hone in their skills. David Kinghorn in his modern Mustang took the lions share of qualifying points with a 13.31 on a 13.30 dial in with Peter Clayton narrowly missing out on the number 1 spot by 0.007 of a second in another Mustang which was a popular choice of weapon on the day. In fact, the top 3 qualifiers were all in Mustangs this time around with Thomas Dakin rounding off the top 3.
The next lot of eliminations saw even more mega close racing with no less than 12 races being settled by less than a tenth of a second at the finish line. Jamie Bartlam once again found herself in the final after some impressive racing, this time against another of the standout performers of the day, Gary Lake in his Pontiac Firebird. The result of this race was settled by a double breakout with Gary taking the victory this time around however, the difference at the finish line was 0.0009 of a second ie. Next to nothing. After Jamie’s flying start in the first session of racing, picking up maximum points, Gary had began to make up ground after outqualifying Jamie and beating her in the final, at this stage, Gary still had a mountain to climb if he was going to win the day, especially after losing in round 2 the first time around.

Whilst the car entries were doing battle, the 4 bikers we had signed up were hard at it too. Although the racing wasn’t quite as close and we didn’t have half as much racing, we saw some very obvious improvements throughout the day and awarded points as we did for the cars. After almost accidentally signing himself up for the day, Andrew Rowlett accumulated the most points throughout the day being less than a tenth away from his dial in on several occasions throughout the day. ET Bike is ready and waiting for you guys!

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After one last chance for any questions in the classroom, the grand finale was set as the students were faced with a 1 shot qualifier ahead of their last lot of eliminations. Back with the cars and It was Nina Coombs that took maximum qualifying points in her Lexus running a 14.71 on a 14.70 dial in followed by Steve Harwood-Stamper in his Mitsubishi Evolution and Gary Lake, importantly outqualifying Jamie Bartlam by 5 places, making up more ground on the points leader.

By this point, it was clear that the racing was being taken very seriously by everyone out on track, and no race was to be taken lightly. Jake Belton in his VW Bora was the victor of the closest pairing in this session beating David Hancock to the finish line by 0.0057 of a second in round 1. A re-match between Jamie and Gary wasn’t to be as Jamie suffered defeat to Jake Belton in the ¼ finals as Jake made his way all the way to the final against the Firebird with, you guessed it, Gary Lake at the wheel. Gary took a comfortable victory with an advantage on the tree as well as the finish line but the big question was, had he done enough to overhaul Jamie’s points lead? The answer, was yes, by the skin of his teeth, Gary Lake was the dial in day 2019 winner by just 30 points, or just 3 qualifying positions. Congratulations to both Gary and Jamie for some excellent racing throughout the day. As well as walking away with the trophy, Gary also earned himself an FOC entry to the upcoming Festival of Power event.

Current Sportsman ET racers take this as a warning, Dial in Day winners have gone on to win the Festival of Power event and much more. This time around there are 3 graduates on the Sportsman ET entry list with another in VW Sportsman; they’re coming for you!

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Notable Stats from the day:

Dial In Day

2020 Preview
2019 Report
2018 Report

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