Life is really weird sometimes. Just a day or so before the Silverstone 6 Hours World Endurance Championship event back last month, I saw a post float across my facebook wall touting a SportsCarOne.com contest to win a piece of Mark Webber’s race kit for accurately predicting an aspect of the race. When I saw what the prediction required, my mind immediately jumped to one person, the only person I knew with encyclopedic knowledge of sports car racing, and the “Rainman-esque” level of ability to crunch data. If I’m a sports car endurance racing enthusiast, this guy is a savant.
I’m a huge Porsche fan, and I’ve enjoyed watching Mr. Webber race for years (my second favorite driver ever behind the retired Allan McNish), but do I really need something like this? Well the obvious answer is yes, but I certainly don’t have the predicting skills to pay those bills. Besides, I’d just stretch the thing out walking around the house with it on saying things like “That Seb’s a bit of a wank, in’t he, mate?” and “Not bad for a number two driver“. My wife doesn’t want to see that. So, since I’d ruled myself out, I sent the link to Mr. Motorsport himself, Eric Rood, and crossed my fingers for him.
I’ve only known Eric for a short time, but he’s become a fast friend. A genial guy with that aforementioned cranial encyclopedia of racing knowledge, he is always around when I have a racing question, has patience for my comparatively lackadaisical approach to race viewing, and has a lot of insight during our hours-long flow-of-consciousness conversations over Facebook messenger, often providing better in-race commentary than the television crew. Endurance racing is his specialty, and he usually knows when a team is going to pit based on fuel usage rates, and if you ask me (you didnt’), he really ought to be running an endurance racing team’s pit box. So why did that make him qualified to win Mark Webber’s sweaty, race-worn unsavories?
The contest was to guess with down-to-the-lap accuracy how many laps of the Silverstone circuit would be completed by the winning car at the end of the 6 hour event. By estimating the race’s pace, factoring in pit stops for fuel, tires, and driver changes, and estimating the time slowed for traffic, Eric came up with a number and submitted it. The contest, because Sports Car One assumed there would be more than one sports-car savant out there to guess the correct number, required a tie-breaker prediction ‘Predict the fastest lap of the race to the nearest thousandth of a second (0:00.000)’. To which he submitted a guess as well.
Far and away, Silverstone was one of the better races I’ve ever seen. I’d gotten blitzed at a friend’s birthday party the night before, and yet even with the worst hangover of my life, it was an enjoyable experience to wake up at 5 something in the morning to watch that race (last week’s 6 Hours of Spa was nearly as good, and Eric again provided excellent in-race color commentary via Facebook and Twitter.)
Eric’s laps completed guess: 201
Actual laps completed in the 2015 WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone: 201
Eric’s fastest lap time estimate: 1:40.881
Actual fastest lap time in the 2015 WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone: 1:40.836
Can’t get much closer to accurate than that.
Yesterday, Eric received the fruits of his insanely close guessing labors. Congratulations, dude! I don’t want to say that I’m the reason you have one of Mahk Wibbah’s shirts, but I’m TOTALLY the reason.
I can only guess that Mark was maybe a little bit miffed that his #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid only completed 44 of those 201 laps before succumbing to failure.
For those of you who don’t think that I can’t get pedantic, too, this must be a late 2014 shirt, or perhaps an off-season testing shirt. Porsche has since picked up Vodafone as a partial sponsor, and their logo is on the 2015 race driver shirts.
And finally, yes, I did write this post almost entirely for the title.