Category Archives: Racing

Great Salt Wounds

Great Salt Wounds

Like the proverbial emotionally battered lover, we returned once again to the site of our recurrent misery, Miller Motorsports Park. It’s an amazing facility, and a varied,
challenging set of circuit configurations. Yet somehow we always emerge feeling run through a wringer. But, it really loves us, right? Right?

At least the challenges show plenty of variety. This time we had no issue with freak snowstorms, inexplicable oversteer (broken tire gauge), inexplicable brake problems (faulty uprights), or any of the difficulties that we have faced and beaten before. That said, certainly there would be new challenges!

Friday: So, Uh, Where does it go again?

Despite having watched and re-watched my video from the 2010 Great Salt Race in my old Stohr DSR, finding my way back around the track took some doing. Amidst the attempt to regain my bearings, we also were running experiments on trying to contain the overheating issue that was afflicting all the Stohr F1000’s in attendance, to see what affect we could have. The first experiment, an intake splitter duct, had no measureable effect. During the second-to-last session of the day, I removed the left-hand sidepod entirely and observed water temps a full 25* cooler than before. Also immediately in effect was a substantial reduction in rear downforce, so let it be said that the bodywork definitely plays a role in getting good
airflow to the rear wing!

So, on the strength of that experiment, in a last ditch effort to keep water temps in check and keep the engine alive, we cut a hole in the top of the sidepod, just aft of the upper radiator
section, and hoped that would make a difference in staying cool on long runs for the race.

Saturday: Low Point

Those of you accustomed to reading my race writeups will know that I tend to have a quip of sorts for various parts of the weekend, but for this, there’s not much to say. Saturday saw
the beginning and near immediate end of the shortest race of my now 7 year long racing career. A combination of a good jump on the flag, a wide field, a dirty line, and some driver
brain fade saw me too late on the brakes at turn 1 and into the tires at the end of the straight. Race won in the first corner, genius. Game over, and a destroyed nose cone to
go with it, and a damaged front wing for garnish. Video is linked nearby.

Thus began the scramble to figure out if I’d be able to complete the weekend. Here came the spirit of sharing that seems to pervade the SCCA. JR Osborne loaned me a spare nosebox,
to which I attached my now damaged front wing. Richard from Rilltech donated the epoxy to repair my wing, the repairs for which were guided by Gary Hickman from Edge Engineering. To the car we bolted four used tires gifted to us by Lucian Pancea, the four on the car having been flatspotted in the shunt. Four guys pitching in to help us out – without their help, I wouldn’t have had a prayer of getting back on track, and would not have made the Runoffs this year.

As always, I’m so very grateful for the competitive and helpful spirit amongst our competitors!

Sunday: Now This is what it’s all about!

I started the morning with a tentative practice session, and found that the car now had a bit of understeer. I thought this might be attributable to the older tires, but it persisted through
qualifying as well – it would appear that our front wing repair hadn’t quite gotten the profile quite back the way it ought to be, especially as the wing now showed about a 1″ difference
in height from left to right. Hmm….something we’ll have to address later.

But now: Let’s go racing!

This race was EXACTLY what we were hoping for getting into F1000, it was a doozy. As you can see from the pictures, Lucian and I were LOCKED together the whole race!

We came around to the flag at a medium pace, and before I realized what was happening, JR pulled out to the left and jumped ahead, followed by Chris Ash in his F1000. Seeing this,
the starter waved off our start, and we went around again. Our second attempt at the start was much cleaner, and off we went! But, right as the green flew,
a huge chunk of something flew up from a car swept across the nose, crashed into my mirror, and bounced off of my face shield. What the heck? The mirror was knocked askew,
meaning I could only just barley see anything in it if I strained. This would turn out to be a crucial factor in the race.

I followed Lucian down the outside lane, having started
P6 overall and P5 in F1000. Chris Ash was incredibly late on the brakes, forcing Lucian wide to avoid being hit. I was EXTREMELY conservative on my braking point owing to my, uh,
indiscretion from the day before, and Gary Stevens came by on the inside as well. Recovering from his wide entry, Lucian got a good exit out of T1 and led me through 2, 3, and 4, and we raced around the opening lap, all of us squirming around on cold tires. Near the end of the first lap at Clubhouse corner, Chris Ash slowed suddenly (shifter problems), and we all swept around.

Crossing the line, it was JR and Larry in their own world, and Lucian and I just feet apart. I noticed that my understeer continued, but Lucian also seemed to have a very loose
car. That gave me the advantage through the high speed turns 2 and 3, and I poked my nose under him briefly in 3 after seeing the advantage, but thought better of it. I followed
Lucian again for the lap, just a few feet behind. We started lap 3, and this time I got a better exit out of the 180* turn 1. Staying almost flat-out through 3, I braked late as
Lucian swung wide to begin the turn, and snuck my nose in. We went side-by-side through the corner, and I was able to sweep ahead as we entered T4.

We continued like this for a few laps, when a I saw Sam Souval in his WF-1 in my mirrors as we came down the straight. I pointed him by and eased slightly, hoping he would go
by quickly enough not to spoil my gap to Lucian, and this seemed to work out. I followed Sammy through the first few corners, with Lucian now filling my mirrors.

Just a few laps later, Sam was in the mix again, having had contact with Gary Stevenson in his Speads DSR. Sammy continued but was going slowly as we came through turns 2 and 3. Neither Lucian nor I could figure out which direction he was going, and he nearly collected us both. I very nearly stuffed my nose into his rear wing, and Lucian locked up and went wide left on the entrance to turn 4 trying to avoid both of us. Somehow I managed to stay ahead through the mess, and off Lucian and I went again. I got a poor exit leading up to the attitudes and had to defend. A poor exit out of Tooele turn saw him right in my mirrors. I defended to push him to the inside, but knew he was going to get by.

I braked early and returned to the outside of the track and watched Lucian sail by and wide, and was able to complete an over-under pass, regaining the lead entering Windup corner just before the main straight.

We continued in this manner for the next 10 laps as the race neared its close, my understeer steadily worsening. It was particularly bad in the decreasing-radius and off-camber turn 1,
as well as the long right-hand T5 sweeper. However, my advantage through the high-speed T3 and Tooele turn allowed me to consistently stay ahead of Lucian, who would close substantially in the slower corners.

As we began the last lap, I tried for one last good go through T1, but just couldn’t make it happen. As I neared the apex, once again I had to lift and slow in order to get the
nose down to the apex. Rather than see him, due to my mirror all akimbo, I could sense Lucian off my right rear quarter. Then I could hear him – his car sneaking up along the right.
Desparate not to make another stupid mistake, AND take out the championship leader in one fell swoop, I kept my line tight just in case he was there.

I’m still not sure if he was or not, or if I could have exited the corner normally, but we’ll never know. Lucian’s better exit from T1 was enough to pull him beside me into T2. Side-by-side we went through 2 and into 3, but he swept ahead through 3, and I could not keep close through 4 and 5, as my front tires simply had nothing left. I could see his car wiggling with oversteer through 4, 5, and the rest of the lap, but I simply could not get close enough to make a move. Of course, I had to chuckle at the irony that the very man who had loaned me these tires had been led by them for nearly the whole race distance. At
just the right moment, they returned loyalty to their owner, and we crossed the line a second or so apart, P3 for Lucian, and P4 for me.

Homecoming – 2013 USF1000 Pro Series Round 7/8

August, 1917.

The world is at war.

With America having declared war on Germany just a few months earlier, following public furor over the sinking of several US merchant ships,
the war effort is on.

One infinitesimal part of this effort, on a no-doubt sweltering August Wednesday on Long Island, at the Whitestone Naval Reserve base, a commander drags out his Corona typewriter to draft a letter to the head office in D.C.

A small breeze off of Block Island Sound blows in through the open window, and after settling in to a creaky leather chair, he writes:

August 22nd 1917.

From: Commander, Section Base #7, Third Naval District, Whitestone, Long Island

To: Bureau of Navigation, Washington D.C, US Naval Reserve

Subject: Don Charles Kemerer, Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class, USNRF

Don Charles Kemerer has been on duty from June 16, 1917, to present date… He is, in my opinion,
of good officer material, and an excellent gas engine machinist, (theoretic and practical).
His work here has shown force of character, intelligence, initiative, and careful
performance of duty…He is a skillful and daring automobile driver, and in my
opinion, would make a good aviator. I recommend him highly.

W. W. Grier


August, 14th 1985

It is the Turbulent 80’s.

The world is no longer at war, but an arms race of a different kind is afoot. New technologies brought about by the computer revolution are leading to an engineering arms race, and it is a time of excess in the world of motorsport.

At the forefront of this battle the Lola T810, by this point known better as the Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo, is running one of its first few races at Sears Point. The car has had a problematic gestation, and Electramotive owner and founder, one Don Charles Devendorf, climbs into the scorching cockpit, probably not thinking about his skillful and daring grandfather, Don Charles, but more likely, about what is going to go wrong this time with his thousand-horsepower, carbon-fiber tunneled creation.

Like his Grandfather, Don is a man of education, a skillful and daring automobile driver, and the sophisticated machine into which he straps himself reflects his skills as an excellent engineer, though also in part Nissan’s works budget, no doubt.

Standing in the transporter, having just gotten the grand tour of “Cousin Donnie’s” operation is his cousin Patty, and her 5 year old son Jake, who bears the surname of Don and Patty’s mutual grandfather.

Don pulls the cockpit door closed behind him, finishes his prep, and is off in a snarling cloud of tire smoke and race gas fumes.

Mechanical problems prevent Don from finishing well that day, but nevertheless, it’s likely that a lasting impression is made on the young boy. Patty, husband Jim, and one young Jacob Kemerer Latham head over the Mayacamas back home to Napa, happy and sunburnt from the day in Sonoma.

Back at the shop after a long day, Don settles into a creaky leather chair, drags out his IBM PC, and begins to draft the next designs for the ZX-Turbo’s development.



July 5th, 2013

The better part of 30 years later, that wide-eyed boy, now a squinty-eyed man, passes through the gates of Sears Point. He, like his great-grandfather and cousin, is now a man of education, but it will yet remain to be seen if history recounts him as a skillful and daring automobile driver, like that Naval Commander wrote of his namesake great-grandfather, almost 100 years ago.

At the track, and all set up, he settles into a creaky fold-up chair, drags out his iPad, and begin to type…


Friday – Welcome Home?

Unfortunately for me, during this particular weekend, history repeated itself more than I would have liked, in that I too, much like ol’ Cousin Donnie back in ’85, had substantial mechanical problems, all of them engine related.

This weekend’s schedule was a bit odd, with our first practice, qualifying and race all on the Friday, with no practice day whatsoever. Out I went, confidence high, having had a flawless practice day at High Plains Raceway the week before. Unfortunately, all was for nought, as Dad called over the radio just a few laps in, saying that I was smoking, right around the same time
I noticed the dash lighting up with high oil temperature warnings. Crap.

Already the weekend was proving to be even more difficult for some, as the black cloud that’s been following JR Osborne all season followed him to Sonoma, this time allowing him a mere two turns worth of entertainment before deciding it was time for an oil line to part company with its push-loc fitting, and make a nice oil fire and mess in the car. No doubt disgusted with the Racing Gods, JRO packed up and headed back to Colorado with scarcely a second thought.

That wasn’t even the worst of it, as just a few laps later, Lucian suffered an even worse fire of unsure origin, badly damaging the back of his car and rendering it undriveable. Perspective can be important in this sport, and I had to allow that as frustrating as my weekend was starting, there were definitely immediately available examples of how it can always be worse. Luci immediately departed for Portland, with a friend meeting him halfway with Dennis Costin’s car for Luci to use as a backup for the weekend.

That, plus JRO’s issues resulted in an immediate black flag our first lap out, as well as substantially elevated blood pressure inside my helmet as I wondered why on earth my car was such an ill-handling mess. It’s always exciting to try and figure out your way around the track, but a little bit of oil just adds that little extra zing of excitement, yes?

As for the track itself, I never did get enough laps to really get into a groove at Sonoma, but this looks like yet another California race track that they built on the side of a cliff. It’s scarcely believable how steep the run up to turn 2 is – what a climb! The first half of the lap is a riot, the long descending carousel is a riot, and the flat-out back esses are fantastic fun just like the esses at Circuit of the Americas.

As an aside, having been able to run at a few bucket-list tracks this year, when you get a chance to run what we all consider as the class, bucket-list type tracks, you really get a sense of how they all really do have something special about them. Sonoma, Laguna, Road America, Road Atlanta, and now CoTA – all of them really give you butterflies in your stomach and a grin on your face.

So anyway, having run a few laps and having discovered that the engine oil had no interest in staying in the engine, into the pits I went. Some old friends visiting from over in Napa, where I grew up, jumped right in to help clean up the gigantic mess, which was a happy surprise. Look at us and our giant crew working on the car!

Unfortunately, nothing was immediately evident as the source of the problem. We checked various fittings, made sure oil was still flowing happily into the oil tank from the scavenge, and made ourselves a nice overflow bottle, in case it was just perhaps a bit too much oil in the system. Back out for qualifying I went. Same story – just a few laps, and there was oil EVERYWHERE. Somehow, despite seeming fine at High Plains, we all of a sudden had a bigtime scavenge issue here at Sonoma.

With little else to do, and a non-functioning car, we elected to skip Friday’s race, and change the car back over to its usual wet-sump configuration. That meant removing the floor to drop the BRD pan with the scavenge, and swap onto the normal C&M pan. Not a small job. We spent the next several hours doing that, including scurrying around to try and find the right parts and fittings to complete the oil line plumbing. We listened ruefully, then gratefully, to what was apparently quite a mess of a race out on the track.

Jose Gerardo took the win easily, with Chris Farrell having pulled off early with some sort of engine drama. The most exciting part of the race was evidently brought about by — and this is not a joke — a sheep calmly grazing on the exit of the carousel, having apparently jumped a nearby fence. As I hear it, Jose came around the carousel, saw the sheep, no doubt offered up some invective in Spanish, radioed in to his crewman, and as a result, came around to a safety car parked at the start finish line as he finished the lap. Jose was able to get whoa’d down, but evidently a few DSR’s behind were not, and the result was a few crashes and some bent cars, much to the (justifiable) anger and ire
of many.

Thus drew to a close a pretty forgettable day in the world of F1000 racing.

Saturday – Fresh Start

Saturday dawned as many mid-summer mornings do in the north bay area – a low, impenetrable cloud layer and a soft breeze that brings with it the chill off the San Francisco bay. The low clouds gradually give way to a a clear sky, and the day warms up to a gentle 75-85 degrees. By early July, the verdant green-gumdrop color adorning the hills has given way to dry, brown stalks of grass, and small puffs of dust mark your footprints should you find yourself walking along a dirt path. Such it was for us on this day.

We returned to the trailer with fresh perspective, thinking that this morning’s qualifying — the only activity of the day — might nicely change the course of the weekend.

Allow me to dispel any sense of drama: It did not. Despite multiple warmups and checks, and even a morning hardship lap, we were not able to find in time the fitting left loose on the oil cooler which pulled off just a few more laps in, showing me a low oil pressure light and yet another large mess to clean up. I pulled off on the inside of Turn 1, just after the wall, and dutifully waited for my tow back in.

Surveying the mess, we concluded the engine only had about 2 of its original 5-odd quarts left in it. I checked the data, called George, hemmed, hawed, and ultimately decided to do a precautionary engine change, juuuuustttt in case the motor had seen enough low oil pressure to be unhappy. So, that was our Saturday – changing an engine and cleaning up a yet-again oil soaked race car. Full props and shout-out to AJ from Stohr, who chipped in bigtime to help in reassembling the car.

Results-wise, in my couple of laps, I’d stumbled my way to a 1:34 something, which was, good for 3rd on the grid, just behind Jose and Chris in the DSR.

Exhausted again, we went back to the hotel. I cleaned and and we headed out to some dinner in Petaluma with my wife and her sister. I dozed off at dinner and they thankfully decided it was time to head back to the hotel.

Sunday – Go Home!

We arrived back at the track yet again with bright eyes and bushy tails, certain that we were through the worst of it, and now was the time to finally get to have some fun playing around on track. Wrong again chumps!

This time, we at least got to play a little bit, here’s how it shook out:

This time I got a good start (*gasp!*) and followed Jose closely up the hill, lifting a bit early to make sure I didn’t get into his back. I knew Luci would be coming hard and took a nice defensive line into 2. I followed Jose through the next twist, 3/3A, and down the steep hill to T4, right on Jose’s gearbox. Up and through the carousel we went, Jose sliding the back of his car. This time I pulled along side on the left as he covered, and we went through the hairpin side-by-side. Luci snuck under me as I waited for Jose, and I followed the two of them through the esses, all three of us flat-stuck on it. I felt the car bottom and it slid just a bit wide, and I used the curbing in T10, heart in my throat at 130mph!.

We completed the first lap and continued through the second in that order, me learning my way around the track just a bit. I began to notice I had a definite advantage in the carousel, and
followed Jose and Luci closely through 7 as a result, right up behind Luci’s wing as we starteed the back esses for the second time, lifting a bit as before to avoid getting too close in a spot
where I couldn’t get by. I pulled to the inside in 11 but he defended, so I ran a wider line and pulled up next to him at start finish, but again had to back out as he defended his position.

Up again we went, Jose slowly pulling away from Luci and I as I searched for a way by. This time I took advantage of my speed in the carousel and got inside of Luci on the run to the hairpin. He braked later than me, but I was able eto stay ahead and was by as we started through the esses. Time to catch Jose, who had pulled a bit of a gap as Luci and I quibbled with eachother.

It took only a few corners, as the car seemed to be working quite well. By T4 I was once again right on the back of Jose’s wing, and set about trying to find a way by. Again, my advantage in the
carousel was useful, as I found myself right on his rear wing as we came to the T7 hairpin. Jose defended, braked too late, but ran wide and I was by, into the lead.

As I crossed start finish, the first of two lights I have for high oil T came on. 230. Hmm. Not expected in this car, which cools well, and especially on a cool day in Sonoma. I continued. This time, I saw a high Water T light as I came down to T4. Also unexpected. I continued, increasingly worried. The water temp continued to climb as I went through the esses, and the lights worsened as I was halfway through the esses. I felt the motor begin to feel a bit weak, so I backed off slightly. Jose snuck by under the brakes, and I turned the corner, looked at my gauges, and gave up the ghost. Yet again, I pulled off on the inside of T1, scarecely believing that my usual good reliability had gone so badly. Maybe I parked too close to JRO?

Postmortem: A hose clamp on the water pump had been tightened down on the stiffening coil inside the hose, rather than on the water pump itself, and so with higher temps, there was just enough water pressure to pop the line off that we couldn’t budge when checking by hand. A mistake of fatigue no doubt.

Silver Linings?

So, with so much struggle, one noteworthy silver lining from the weekend: The biggest is that the lap where I was chasing down Jose resulted in a new Sears Point F1000 track record, which feels pretty darn good. I’m sure there’s a lot more time in it once I refine the lines and get some time to work on the car’s setup. So, that is encouraging.

Time to go ship some engines off to Mr. Dean for a double-check, clean up a huge mess of a car, and perhaps consider whether I’m yet worthy of the name of my old ‘skilled and daring’ relatives from yesteryear.

Nostalgia Trip

They say “You can’t go back,” and by and large, “they” are right. I visited my boyhood home a few years ago, and it was a run-down and overgrown shell of the place in my memories.
Still, that reality doesn’t stop many of us from trying to drag the past up from the depths.

Such was the case for me and my family as we continued west on highway 80 outside of Salt Lake City – dutiful nod to Tooele as we went by – and into the stark salt flats of western Utah.
For each one of us, it was our first time west of Utah on I-80 in years. For me, it was the highway that brought me to Colorado to begin my college adventure. For Mom and Dad, it carried them east into retirement to their new home in Pagosa Springs after leaving their home and business of 20 years in Napa.

Our nostalgia trip continued at a low level as we motored steadily across Nevada – small memories of many a family road trip from Napa to Pagosa cropping up as we drove onward. In Battle Mountain, Dad recalled a biblical lightning storm we drove through one night on our way out. In another, Mom pointed out where they’d unloaded and watered the horses when they made their final move to Pagosa. In Elko, I recalled my unscheduled stop with the Nevada State Patrol as an 18-year old, who explained to my friend that 105mph was not an acceptable speed to be traveling, no matter how deserted the highway may seem.

And so on.

What really left all three of us struggling to remain dry-eyed was hitting the Calfornia border near Donner Pass, catching a whiff of the Sierra mountain air, and recalling all the family ski trips. Helping the sense that we’d stepped back 20 years in time was a steady diet of 90’s country music coming from Sirius – Garth Brooks, Reba McIntrye, ah, how far you’ve come. As we continued towards Fairfield and our turn south to 680 for Monterey, the feeling that we were traveling not so much westward, but back in time, grew stronger for all three of us.

We got to within about half a mile of the turn-off to Napa, but instead, southward we went to Monterey. Enough nostalgia…let’s build some new memories, eh?

Friday

One reaches Laguna Seca by skirting the east bay area after turning south from I-80. A few bone-jarring hours on California’s crumbling highways brings you south of San Jose, into the Monterey area.

April is an almost idea time to be in Northern California – and it’s almost one of the best places to be anywhere. The rain and gloom of January and February have given way, and the heat and brown dryness of July and August have not yet taken hold. The lush grass on the hills rolls and waves in the wind, and the low smooth shapes look like big green gumdrops put down by a giant’s hand. The hills are dotted with oak trees that beg you to hop a fence, pull off your socks, and go ponder life from the crook of a branch for a while.

Around the bottom of one such green-gumpdrop is the entrance to the Laguna Seca recreational area. A small sign marks your turn, and you then proceed STRAIGHT UP to the top of the cliff that they have built the race track on. A sign on the way out tells you that you are going down a 16% grade, and it feels every bit of it! A healthy dose of throttle is required to pull your rig up to the top of the hill that affords entrance to the track.

Laguna doesn’t have the same immediately intimidating presence that Road America and Circuit of the Americas do. Part of it is that you come down into the paddock from up high, rather than from the lowest point. Plus, there’s no looming presence above you, such as the climb to T14 at Road America, or the monstrous T1 climb in Texas. Rather, you pass over the track as it heads innocently up a hill, and you can see it sidle back into view around another as you descend into the paddock. It’s only as you hit the track that you realize what a roller coaster you’ve signed up for.


We arrived a bit early and queued up in a line outside the paddock for a while. John LaBrie met me, Lucian, and a few of the others, and the weekend bench racing began in earnest. John gave us our assigned garage spots, as he had bought out the row so that all the competitors could have garages at a reduced rate. This made for a lot of fun and information exchange in the garages, as nearly all the F1000 competitors were within a few garage spots of eachother.

Eventually we were let in, and we unpacked. It was dark by the time we were done, and as I made my way from the trailer back towards the garage, a car rolled up, the window rolled down, and Luci’s Romanian accented English emanated from within:

“Get in the car.”

Not much arguing with that, is there?

I got in the car, and off we went to dinner. Tomorrow: Racing!

Practice & Qualifying

Another thing that “they” say is “boy, the video doesn’t do the elevation change justice”, and boy is that true here.

The straight at Laguna is not only not a straight, but it actually has a big crest that makes your approach to the Andretti hairpin pretty blind. The hairpin is not flat either, but comes
sharply off of the hill onto the flat of the valley floor. You shoot through the flat turns 3 and 4 before slingshotting up through the heavily cambered turn 5, then to the flat-and-blind T6.
Upward and upward you go after 6, wishing for another 50 horsepower as the car struggles to climb the grade. Brake when you see nothing but sky as you come up to the corkscrew, look for the tree with the orange marker on it, and turn left into thin air, and hope the track is where you left it. Gather up the pieces of the car at the bottom of the drop and look up – and I do mean UP – at Turn 9 as it approaches you (not the other way around it seems!). Gather your bravery and keep it planted through 9, feeling the car bump and skitter as it compresses into the fast, cambered hill.

Grab a gear and swing left for T10, again riding the curb heavily and slinging out the other side. T11 is surprisingly low grip, so it’s a bit of an early brake, put the left tire just shy of the
red curbing, and feed in the throttle for another trip down the front “straight.”

Another ride on the roller coaster please!

All that we had just a few minutes to learn in practice, and not too much longer to figure it out in our qualifying session. I managed to improve and get a relatively clean lap in the 26’s,
which was good enough to put me in second overall in our group, first in FB, and starting on outside pole. Not too shabby for my first few laps at the track!

Saturday – Race 1

Saturday’s race was for us, just a qualifier. Fastest laps in the race would set the grid for the two Sunday races, which are the ones that counted for points. Still, it would mean
valuable time to continue learning my way around the track.

Oh, and it’s awful fun to race instead of qualify, yeah?

While wandering back to my garage at one point, Kevin Mitz stopped by, sporting a conspiratorial look astride his pit bike.

“C’mere. Let me tell you something,” he said.

“When that green flag drops and you get down to the hairpin, I bet you can ride right around the outside of that Mazda and come out ahead on the way to turn 3. Just think about it.”

And with that, a wink and a twist of the throttle, he was off in a cloud of smoke, to parts unknown.

Out we went for the race. At the start, we lined up as usual, two-by-two. We approached the flag, and I started to fall behind just a bit. I burped the throttle to catch up, and the Mazda thought
we were starting the race, so he took off. I realized what had happened and hit the gas too, just behind.

Incidentally, at some point I’m sure a green flag waved, but I’m starting to realize that the green flag is mostly a formality that seems to be pretty much ignored. Yet another lesson learned.

Down to the Andretti Hairpin we went, the Pro Mazda and I very close together. Sure enough, the Mazda dove to the inside to try and protect his line. I braked late, and no doubt under the watchful eye and small smile of Mr. Mitz, around the outside I went, emerging from T2 in the lead, and off into the distance I went, making a mental note to thank Kevin next time I saw him zooming around the paddock.

Being as this was our qualifying race, it meant it was time to put some laps in, so while we had some clear track, I tried to put in the quickest laps I could, and as a few high 25’s on the dash by lap 3 and 4. I figured that would be good enough to be in the hunt, and right about then, I started getting into the lapped FM traffic.

The rest of the race was reasonably uneventful. The Pro Mazda caught up with me in traffic at one point, since I wasn’t pushing the issue at all. However, he broke a pushrod at the exit of the corkscrew shortly after, and pulled off, trailing behind him the hot smell of scorched jabrock. The two of us had checked out pretty substantially from the rest of the field, so under the checkered flag I went, happy to have run a good first race.

Sunday – Race 1

The grid for our first points race was a close one at the front, so close in fact, that Larry and I posted the exact same quickest time, down to the thousandth of a second. His second quickest lap on Saturday was faster than mine, so he would sit on pole, with me on the outside.

My only complication was that a post-race inspection showed one of my tires was not holding air. With all the tire folks packed up and gone, our only solution was to swap out a fresh tire for the RF, and hope that the tire would get scrubbed and going in time to avoid any funky balance the first few laps.

Our race start was similar to the first, with the start of the race beginning somewhat before the actual flying of the green flag. This time, I wasn’t able to beat the pole car around T1,
and Larry and I swept through turns 3,4,5,6, up the hill and into the corkscrew.

He and I continued for several laps locked together – each of us having our relative to strengths. His car seemed excellent in the slower 2-3-4 corners, and I seemed to gain some back in the run up the hill. His new Kawasaki pulled strongly out of the slow corners, and gave him a good gap down the front straight.

Still, I stayed close, and definitely through the traffic, I managed to stay close. Late in the race, I used some traffic at the T3 to do some blocking, and briefly led, before getting blocked
just as badly on the run to T6, and Larry jumped back into the lead.

We ran like this up until the last lap, just a few car lengths apart at most. On the last lap, coming out of the corkscrew, Larry slowed slightly, having had a balky downshift.
I jumped to the inside, and we hurtled through Turn 9 – the most intimidating turn on the track – side-by-side. True to his nature, Larry raced clean and gave me room, but ultimately I
had to back out of the throttle to hold the turn, and I followed him through 10 and up to 11.

On the entrance to 11, I realized my only hope was that he had another downshift issue, so I went all the way to 1st gear instead of 2nd for the corner exit, hoping I might be able to get a
good run by. Luck was with me, and the same problem struck Larry again on the exit of 11. Only inches from his rear wing, I couldn’t dodge to the inside, so I opened the steering,
channeled a little bit of Alex Zanardi vs Brian Herta, and went across the curbing, over the astroturf, through the dirt and into the overrun concrete, full throttle the whole way.
I bounced across the rough stuff and back onto the track, and we drag raced to the finish, with me taking the checkered flag by a few feet.

My first pro race win ever…what a feeling! I yelled into my helmet and pumped my fists like any triumphant racing driver. YES!!

Sunday – Race 2

To further illustrate just how close Larry and I raced during the first points race, we were separated by just a tenth of a second on our quickest laps. He got me yet again, so for the third time, I’d be on outside pole. This time, Lucian Pancea was just behind us in third place, having gotten in a good lap during the race. Turns out with two straight rear control arms, his car was a lot faster!

My education of how race starts *really* go was completed at the beginning of the third race, with me being a bit slow on the uptake yet again. Larry and Lucian headed for the hills a bit before I did, and I could do nothing but watch as they headed down the front straight. Larry’s big Kawi gave him strong legs on the top end, and Luci’s special ‘low drag’ diffuser gave him some impressive top end speed. He waited VERY late on the brakes for lap 1, and led Larry around the Andretti hairpin, and into the lead.

The two of them raced as closely as Larry and I did in the first race, with me steadily a few tenths behind. Certainly I was making no headway, but it didn’t seem like I was losing much ground either.

I gained in my strong spots up the hill and through 9-10-11, but lost out on the straight each time as they used their advantages to pull away.

Unfortunately, the interesting race didn’t get a chance to develop much further. Shortly in, John LaBrie was the unfortunate recipient of a failed engine, and the resulting mess took many laps to clean up. On the restart, predictably enough, there was another big accident, in the form of a FM yardsale at the exit of T4, and the starter stand waved an exasperated checkered flag.

So, it was a 3rd place finish for me, having been suckered pretty badly at the start for the third straight race, but a lesson well learned.

But, two wins and a third place with a deep field of F1000’s, at one of the most intimidating tracks I’ve been to…job well done!

Best of all, I have a new flag to put on my wall…first pro racing win. What a happy milestone.

Next the guys travel to Seattle for the next round. I won’t be there to join everybody due to budgetary limits, a topic which generated much good natured ribbing in my direction. Luci threatened to bring in the Romanian Mafia (“they come in the night, nobody knows you are gone”), Dennis claimed he’d call in the Moldovan mafia (“We’ll take your stereo”), and Jose, straight from Juarez, said that La eMe would do any cleanup that the first guys left behind. Who knew I was part of such an international group of good natured mobsters?

Be that as it may, it’ll be a few months of development, and then time to come loaded for bear at Sears Point Raceway…just as long as I don’t disappear in the night and appear in Kent, Washington around the end of May.

They say you can’t go back, but going forward sure looks good – I can’t wait!



Sunday – Race 2

In-Car from following Pro-Mazda

Circus of the Americas

As with all stories worth telling, or reading, and indeed this episode of Cap’n Jake’s Racing Log, to properly set the mood for the story, a bit of backstory is required.

Cast your mind, if you will, back to around October of 2012. It’s fall, with that tinge of winter starting to blow in on the air. The leaves crunch underfoot, your breath starts to steam in front of you in the mornings, and here in Colorado, the mountains are ablaze with the color of changing Aspen trees.

If you’re like me, then you were getting ready to close up shop for the winter, still
perhaps glowing with the memory of Runoffs, or your last exciting race of the year. Maybe you were thinking a bit about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and perhaps any winter sports you enjoy. Skiing? Snowmobiling? Arctic Hammerschlagen? Whichever.

Regardless of your offseason proclivities, there is one annual post-season ritual that many of us racers must go through to varying degrees: Convincing our significant others not to make us sleep in the shop over winter for having spent all summer with “the other girlfriend.” It starts a little bit like “Hey Honey…how ya doin’ Punkin?”

Having gone through that refrain, my particular version of the “Racer’s Olive Branch” was to begin helping in the task of sorting out the details of an overseas trip to visit some of the
Amy’s relatives in Vietnam, and do a bit of sightseeing while there. We planned the trip for February, keeping in mind that the usual season opener for the F1000 series is at Thunderhill, at the end of March. Surely, a month or so would be plenty of time to get the car ready for the first race of the year, right?

Fast Forward to November, and off the car went to winter camp to get a bit of fabrication work done, scheduled to be complete around mid January, in PLENTY of time for me to get my ducks in a row before leaving for Vietnam…right? Down went my butt onto the couch to watch the Formula One Grand Prix of the Americas, and off went my imagination to think about what it must be like to run that race track at Circuit of the Americas. Someday, Someday, can you imagine? Wow.

Cue the Lone Star Region SCCA, who, in fits and starts, announced to the outside world that there would be a season-opening Double National Majors race at Circuit of the Americas,
and we amateur pilots were all welcome to come down and take part. The date?: March 8th, 2013.

Hooray! Dammit.

Now my blood pressure was raised a bit. That date left me not even a week of preparation after returning from Vietnam to get the car ready. Maybe I wouldn’t go. Nah, ya gotta go.
Hmm…not sure that’s wise. Wait, how can you not go? You know it’s just goin to be a circus, right?

Internal debate raged.

Reasons not to go began to add up. My normal crew (read: Ma and Pa) weren’t going to be able to go, meaning I’d be on my own to look after the car. Rumors of folks having to
pay expensive track-repair fees after accidents and offs began to trickle in. The fabrication work was delayed, meaning the car wouldn’t be back until just before I was at the end
of February. Worry about the number of competitiors led to incessant forum chatter. The inveitable naysayers weighed in: “Waste of time,” they said.
“Goin’ to be one big mess,” said others, “Goin to be a circus down there,” filled in the rest.

In the end, one driving desire overrode all of those: I simply could not pass up the opportunity, potentially one-time, to go race at this brand new, world-class Formula One facility, and get to experience it myself from the driver’s seat.

Not go? You must be kidding.


And so it was, with my sleep-deprived body still locked into some 14-hours-off East Asian time zone, after 4 days of thrashing to get the car built back up, a fresh crew and I found ourselves pointed due south on the road to Austin Texas.

Buckle up!

First day of School

I don’t remember all of the details of my first day of school, but I imagine I felt something like this when Mom dropped me off. From the wide-open toll road on the outskirts of Austin,
you drop onto an unassuming offramp, which sports a small sign promising “Circuit of the Americas” up ahead. You make a one turn, and you see the large observation tower standing proud like the tip of an iceberg above the rolls and swells of the Texas plains.

As you come a bit closer, more and more becomes clear, until you find yourself at the relatively unassuming entrance to the track. Much like Road America, you come in at the low point of the track, in this case, down by turn 20. Up to your right looms a cliff that seems impossibly high, sitting above even the grand stands, or almost anything else in the surrounding terrain. This looming hulk is Turn 1, ascending upwards sharply before plunging even more sharply downwards into turn 2. As if I wasn’t intimidated enough by the size and scope of the complex, that reminder up above you like the eye of Sauron was enough to raise my heartrate as we prepared our pit space on Wednesday night.

The first of a few difficulties made itself known as we waited to enter. Ultimately, we waited for about 45 minutes as the paddock folks tried to sort out where exactly to stick us.
Eventually we found ourselves in the “Upper” paddock, which is down at the end of T12, and extends southwards towards T13. The “Lower” paddock extends along the main grandstands, all the way from T20 down to where the hill begins for T1. Having gotten past the first confusion of the weekend, we got ourselves set up, and began working through where exactly everything was.

We headed off to our hotel in Bastrop for the night, and returned in the morning early to see how the test day would go.

A Dash of This, A Pinch of That

And, happily, the test day went well. Despite a preponderance of red flags due to folks  successfully finding – and exceeding – the limits of their cars and the track, I was able to get a feel for the track.

And what a track. My take is that the circuit offers a little bit of everything – it’s like the best of Road America, Miller Motorsports Park, and Road Atlanta all mixed into one. The recipe
of trying to take bits from the best circuits around the world has suceeded quite handily, in this humble scribe’s opinion.

How ’bout a lap?

You approach T1 in 5th or 6th gear, and the road comes up sharply to meet you, making the car brake like superman. A timing line across the track marks your brake point. The actual turn itself is table-top flat, meaning that you’d sure better be off the brakes as the hill flattens out (remember this tidbit). As you crest the hill, first the front, and then the rear of the car squirm in turn. Down and around you go into Turn 2, flat-out, and making
your way up to 5th gear from 1st gear. Feels like Road Atlanta. Turn 3 is blind under
the bridge, but it’s flat out once you learn your turn-in. Then you’re into the esses. Lift a touch and maybe a dab of brakes for Turns 4 and 5, high-speed bends that test the car’s downforce and the driver’s bravery. T6 closes in a bit on the exit, blind up over a hill, so you feel your way around until T7 comes up to meet you with a bunch of camber and compression, and you meet it with third gear and full throttle. T8-T9 are a short left-right to test how the car transitions, and you sprint down to another blind T10, up to 5th gear before braking hard for the hairpin, one of the few turns you can actually see when you turn in for it.

Now you can let the car stretch its legs, all the way up through the gears down the rolling back straight. All that downforce that helped you through the esses is now your enemy, so how do you find the balance? Over a hillock and down you go, plunging down
into T12 on the brakes hard. Now begins the tight section, where the car’s mechanical grip had better be good, and you, the driver, had better be looking ahead, autocross style. Finesse your way through T13-14-15, all in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear. Out of 15 you come, shooting for 16-17-18, which really is one corner. Yet again it’s blind around crests and rises, but keep it planted, and again feel your way to the right line, grabbing 5th gear as you hit the apex of 18. Down quick to 3rd for the deceptively quick T19, which falls off at exit, making the car want to slide. Miss the apex and you’ll be sorry! Make the final short run up to T20, find second gear and plenty of curbing, and get your best exit down the front straight, watching for the hill in the distance that marks T1.

Again! Again! I feel like a kid getting to eat cookie dough out of the bowl – this is my favorite recipe ever.

I got out of the car’s last session feeling pretty good. Nobody knew official times of course, but it seemed like I was at least kinda-sorta near the sharp end of the times we heard
in FB, so that was encouraging. I hadn’t lost 5 seconds over the winter. Small victories.

Practice complete, we dutifully found registration (out front in the main lot) and tech (down in the northernmost garage), and packed up for the night, feeling pretty good about the
possibilities for the weekend.


Friday: And Now, the Weather

Friday, and we found ourselves with a bit different proposition. Much hand-wringing had been done on the topic of the questionable forecast for the weekend, and on Friday, we got some of it.

As opposed to the comfortable, 60-70 degree sunshine from Thursday, Friday gave us a gray, cool and wet day. Just enough sprinkle kept falling to keep the track juuuuusttttt that little bit moist, making life extremely interesting for everybody now trying to learn the track, as well as those of us who had had the day before to learn our way around.

As usual it was an excercise in traffic management, with the Atlantics and CSR’s struggling mightily to get any sort of grip or temperature in their tires, yet always rocketing away on the straightaways, just in time to hold you up again in the corners. I discovered that this car doesn’t put power down anywhere near as well as the DSR, oddly enough, so there’s some questions to answer there.

For P2 it was much the same story, even to the point where we mounted rains for a little while, since it looked like we might need them. Fortunately, things dried out just enough
by our session that there was a dry line, so out we all went on our slicks.

Thursday we’d put an experimental front wing on the car, and decided to stay with it for the sake of consistency, since there was still a definite factor of me trying to learn my way around the track. Nobody really set any kind of special times in the slippery conditions, but still, we used them to set the order for qualifying on Saturday.

Up until this point, things still seemed to be going relatively well. Not much chatter was around the paddock about problems or difficulties with the event. Even the Spec Miatas – be still my heart – were not causing any of the mayhem that we expected from their quarter. The worst that any of us knew about was a big off into T11 from one driver, resulting in a lot of trucks and a shortened session.

It was at the end of that final session on Friday afternoon that we came in after another yellow flag, but they almost immediately let us back out. As I accelerated up the hill I thought to myself “hmm…car seems louder than normal, I wonder what’s up?” Nothing felt wonky, so I kept going, but kept an ear out, just in case. Our session ended just one lap later. Back in the pits, I pulled the engine cover off, and lo and behold, where my oxygen sensor had previously been, was a nice silver dollar sized hole in the collector. It’s never boring, remember?

I began scrambling around paddock, looking for the combination of welder, power for said welder, and a human to run the powered welder. I finally found the combination by borrowing a TIG from Jeff Shafer at Factory 48, and power from Critter’s Toter down in the main paddock. Brandon Dixon and Wren Keith were kind enough to introduce me to Nick Fuhs, who they regard as perhaps the finest fabricator in the lower 48. I loaded up
the gas, welder, and Mr. Fuhs onto the most terrifying golf cart I’ve ever piloted, and we headed down to Critter’s to weld.

The time now being around 8:00, and now well past dark in an early Texas evening, we had a few challeneges. First was, the, uh, dark. Turned out that wasn’t so bad, as Nick pointed out that as soon as he began welding, the dark wouldn’t be such an issue, now would it? However, the breeze was a bit difficult. In the end, the final configuration was Nick hunched over the flat bed of the golf cart welding the header, while I held a large shipping
blanket over us both to try to keep the breeze out. Despite the generator frequently tripping its overload circuit, Nick got the job done in amazing fashion, operating the TIG with his knee while I tried to keep the blanket over us. At one point Garrett Kletjian hollered out “What are you guys doing under there anyway?” From under the helmet, torch still alight on the header, Nick murmured, “I just ask that you buy me dinner first…”

At long last, the job was finished, and I owe a big thanks and gratitude to Nick Fuhs of Fuhs Fabrication for helping me continue my weekend.

Saturday: In the Big Top

Race day, and time for our qualifying session. Time for us all to get going. We’ve all learned the track, right? Errrr….yeah.

The name of the game is finding yourself a clear lap. In a gaggle of slow-to-warm Atlantics, CSR’s and DSR’s spanning nearly 20 seconds a lap, that’s a tough challenge. In this instance,
I only partially succeeded, as once again our session was shortened. I was able to bank a mid 2:12 lap, which was good enough for just 7th fastest. JR and Lawrence were in the 2:09’s,
Coop in the 10’s, and the Stohrs found ourselves in the 2:12’s, with Lucian and Jose just ahead of me on the grid. So, the gap was about the same as Runoffs – around 3 seconds to the quickest cars.

Onward to the race – can you feel the butterflies?

Around the long pace lap we went, everybody’s tires pretty much well and truly warm by the end, as we finally gathered up around T18.

Our split-start in F1000 was pretty darn orderly, actually. From what I could see, down at T1, JRO might have gotten in a bit hot, and Steve Ott came out of T1 in the lead.
JR and Coop were on the outside grass/astroturf, and came together slightly. Also, maybe some contact from Lawrence and Steve in the Astra, but through it we all went, everybody
getting sorted out.

Back in my seat, I got a good start, and picked up a few positions on the run down to T1, taking a far inside line, past Lucian. Into T2, however, that was offset by a few, ah, unrealistic starts from the back of the grid, two cars flying around the outside
of all of us as we waited for the green to fly. I shuffled in behind David Burkett and Alex Mayer as we funneled through T3. I got an excellent run as we came up to T8, but thought better of trying to make a move stick, and Alex swept across my nose, missing the front tire and wing by just inches. I kept momentum up, and braked by Alex into T11.

Down to T11 we went, though as we exited, Steve’s Astra gave a wobble and pulled off to the right, the right-rear wheel askew, his race done. Alex and I kept side-by-side all the way down to T11, finally making the pass stick as we turned in for turn 12.

Around we went, getting used to the cars and tires as everything started coming up to temperature. I found myself now behind David Burkett in his black Firman. The next lap, I pulled the same move on David as I had on Alex — have I mentioned how great these PFC brakes are? — sneaking up the inside of T11 before turning onto the long straight. David cannily tucked right into my draft as I swept over to the left trying to defend. David
drafted right back on by about halfway down the straight, allowing me to tuck back under him. Down to T12 we went, and I popped out, waited just a hair on the brakes, and managed to outbrake David again into T11, once again only able to make the pass stick after the long straightaway was done.

If it’s not obvious by now, have I mentioned: Circuit of the Americas races really, really well?

Now I set my sights on Jose G. in the ex JR Osborne Stohr, who was looking very racy indeed. Working in my advantage was a backmarker DSR, who held Jose up badly through the fast T16-17-18 complex, allowing me to close up drastically. Just ahead was Coop too, still in sight around the sweepinpg corners.

Ultimately, that was the end to our fun though, as the big problem was response to the full-course yellow, caused by a large off in T11 again. Many of us saw the flags, many of us did not. For my part, I saw each flag, but it wasn’t until I saw yellow at three corners in a row that I was able to figure out that they were full-course double-yellows. There’s been all manner
of threads on the topic, but it is true that it was more difficult than normal to see the yellows.

That said, a few of the backmarker D’s that we had passed came roaring around us after a while, making me wonder what on earth was going on. In the end, we circulated for a while until we reached half distance, and they checkered us in, race done. The results were JRO, Lawrence, and Coop, with the three Stohrs in 4-5-6 behind. Ultimately, post-race drama ensued in the podium positions, with pass-under-yellow flag protests demoting JR to 4th for the day.

As a further insult to our 4-lap shortened race, scheduling and vehicle recovery delays meant that we wouldn’t get our second qualifying session. Rather, we would grid for the race by our fast laps from Saturday, which put me 4th in the field.

Sunday: Circus Act – Falling Off the High Wire

The weather changing its mind yet again, Sunday dawned bright, sunny, and warm. Overnight, big rain had flooded one of the track’s access tunnels, and word is that a tornado warning/watch had been in effect some twenty miles from the track.

Owing to the previous day’s delays, we only had a one-and-done shot at the race. No Q2, no morning warmup, just hop in and stretch your legs boys! For most of the day we just hung around watching the skies and deciding if there was anything to do. We decided to change sprockets to 15/47 instead of the 46 that was on there. Didn’t seem to make much difference. The data shows 140mph on both of the laps I did, but both of those were in bigtime drafts behind the Astra and the Citation – see below. The only other technical issue of hte weekend was a hunting idle when the car was hot. George had me lower the idle down to around the 1300-1400 level, so we’ll see if that solves it or not.

Down to the grid we went. I was in 4th, behind Coop and ahead of Jose, having just barely pipped him for quicker lap by about three hundredths of a second. I knew that this would be
a close race between us.

Around the pace lap we went, and the green flew. This time I went a bit to the outside, seeing Lucian in my mirrors and trying to block him from making a run up the outside. As I braked for T1, I saw David Burkett come rocketing up the inside lane, and kept my line wide to make sure he wouldn’t collect me. That put me out on the outside of T1’s exit, running across the astroturf, and back across towards the apex of 2. From nowhere came Steve Ott, sweeping around me and up ahead. Around him went the Philly Motorsports car, and even John Labrie I saw up the road in his gorgeous new Phoenix. So, I found myself back several spots, and set about trying to make them up.

Immediately the Philly car removed itself as a problem, understeering wide in 7, off into the marbles and dirt, putting me right behind Steve, who was bottled up behind John. The three of us poured through T8, T9, T10 and ran down to T11, Steve pulling inside to
pass John, and me pulling in even further to pass Steve. Steve and I went side-by-side through 11, and pulled the trigger on corner exit, inches apart, drag racing our way down to T12 Unfortunately, the Stohr’s drag came into play here, Steve pulling out healthily. I tucked into the draft to attempt a re-re-re-pass, but when I pulled out, the car could not keep accelerating. I tried out-braking him into T12, but he stayed around the outside, and was gone, leaving nothing but a trail of leaking fuel.

We went around T13-14-15-16, but he was able to gap me considerably in that span, and was out of reach very quickly. On to the front straight we went, and Steve quickly dispatched David Burkett into T1. I closed up quickly in the esses, David’s car wagging back and forth, looking for grip. I thought I’d have another opportunity to pass up into T11 and I was right, getting down inside David once again.

This time David learned his lesson though, and swung to the inside as we went down to T12. Again he drafted by me, and I had nothing to do but try to tuck back in. This time, he had too much of a run, and I was too far back to make any pass attempt. I stuck to his tail through 13-14-15-16, and we continued around onto the front straight, me just a few car lengths behind.

…And this is where it came unravelled, and the highwire act came to a close.

Remember that bit about making sure to be off the brakes when T1 flattens out? I didn’t get that done. Based on my previous outbraking moves, I thought I’d be able to get by David again in T1, and make a gap through the esses. I left it too late, and had to keep just a bit too much pressure on the brakes over the hump. The back of the car stepped out just a bit,
and I corrected, but the resulting angle put me in David’s path as he turned in. My right rear clouted his left rear, and we crunched together, getting hopelessly interlocked. Day done.

Queue an embarrassing 10 or so minutes as we sat in our cars, separated by feet but worlds apart, waiting for the trucks to come get us. It was now that the big finale of the Circus of the Americas went into full swing, with multiple problems with folks not seeing the yellows, passing under the yellow, and a confusin restart with a green flag showing at the same time as double yellow flags at different points on the track. Confusing to say the least, and a topic to definitely be revisited in the rulebook.

I’ll spare you the annoying details, but eventually I was able to get the car back and assess the damage: a bent RR wheel, and a nose with broken nose mounting pylons. Argh. First time I’ve hit anybody in nearly 10 years of racing, and I’m really hoping it’s a long time until I do it again, if ever. Not a good feeling. I did eventually find David in the pits, and
he was very gracious accepting my apology, quipping “it takes a good man to know when to apologize”. Thanks for your good humor, David.

So, on that sour note, our weekend at CoTA ended. Next was the usual rush to get packed up and start the long tow home, in this case a bit quieter than normal.

Moving on

So now it’s time to look forward to the next race. Still being approximately three seconds off the pace is still tough, though if there’s a silver lining, nothing has changed in the car since the Runoffs to try and correct that. Hopefully if we can get some of the mechanical and aerodynamic changes in place as the season goes on, that will start to close the gap somewhat. The challenge is always fun, let’s see what we can do…

So was it worth it? 1 week, 1 test day, 1 qualifier, and about 6 race laps? Hard to say. Will I go back? Absolutely. I’ll be there with my big shoes

and red nose for the next time the Circus of the Americas comes to town.

You Tube: Saturday Race

You Tube: Sunday Race Start

Runoffs Run…

Runoffs Run

The 2012 Runoffs is in the books, and just like 2011, it was a doozy! Read all about it and watch the video, for another
very surprising and happy result!

On to 2013 and some more development to see where we can take the car. Looking forward to the new season already!