March 26-27 – NASA – VIR

Guest driver for nocabRacing, Bill Wasser writes:

1st, let me say that Kyle is truly a great friend. Even though he was obviously trying to kill me this weekend, he’s a great friend. Maybe he thought he was the beneficiary of my life insurance…dunno. Anyway, thanks. It was great!

What a weekend! Here’s my take…

Started out Friday morning. Heading out of Vienna to VIR. Kyle’s all up inside Diesel Dually Donna and Ten Ton Tina’s got a strap-on up the rear of Donna. I’m pulling a train up Tina’s rear (Get your mind out of the gutter!) “Donna’s” the truck, “Tina’s” the trailer and I’m following in the #67 Silver BMW M3.

Anyway…we head South. After 5 hours and a couple of Pit Stops we make it to VIR. 1st impression: Holy crap, I’m going to die! SO many cars. I can’t hear anything but “vvvvvrrrroooommm”. As it turns out, that’s pretty much all I heard all weekend. It’s one thing to watch a race on TV, but to see it in person is a totally different experience. We get the trailer stable and open the doors. Will (Porsche 911Turbo and a friend of Kyle’s) intro’s us to some Mustang guys. They LOVE Tina (the double-stack trailer). I’m just taking it all in. Porsche, BMW, Mustang, Ferrari, Miata, Mini’s, etc. All sorts of cars. All sorts of people. All sorts of noises. All sorts of smells. Soon enough, insanity will ensue, I fear. After a couple of hours hanging around the track, and talking and looking and taking it all in, we head to “The Lodge” for drinks and dinner. Whew! Makers Mark on the rocks was SO needed. And a meal of Veal Meatloaf. SO good. Everybody’s talking cars and engines and turns and apex…I pretty much had nothing to say, since I have no knowledge of any of it. Ok ok..enough about that.

Saturday morning:

Seriously cold. Frost on the grass. Too F’ing cold. The sun isn’t up. WHY couldn’t we do this in June?!?!? Big difference in the paddock from Friday. Many more RV’s, trailers, cars. VIR is blaring Bon Jovi on the loud speaker. Announcer: “Ding dong ding. It’s 7:15 NASA time. The all hands meeting is at 7:30” Really, dude? Could you BE more of a dork?!?!? Oh, btw, NASA – National Auto Sports Association of which I am now a card carrying member. (Is the NRA far behind?!?!?) So, the all hands meeting: Everyone is standing around listening to the announcements. I have no idea what the guy is talking about. I’m going to die. Do I really care some guy got Vagisil to sponsor him? OH!…CLEARASIL. Well…whatever.

8:00am – Class time. The instructor’s a Nazi. Again, I pretty much have no idea what he’s talking about. Flag colors? Sheesh! I’m just gonna try to stay on the damn track! I decide to start taking notes. Double-Yellow = no passing. Red = STOP immediately on the right side of the track. Meatball?!?!? WTF?!?!?! “Make sure the driver behind you has seen the flag.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? Let’s just hope I (emphasis on I) see the flag! So…just a few minutes left in class. My heart starts to pound. “Sh*t! I really have to do this!!!” Head out to the car. Kyle’s already met my instructor and prep’d the car. Chris(instructor). Good guy. We talk for a minute. I feel comfortable with him (not that I know any differently). Helmet on. (Kyle’s taking video…I try to be cool. SO NOT!) In the car. Crap, how’s this thing start again? Oh yeah, brake on…neutral..turn the key. Reverse…damn..umm..oh yeah..to the left and up. Got it. 1st gear. Ease out slowly so as not be a total idiot. Hmmm..where do we line up? I see. Wait..what are all these other cars doing here? Oh no. In line. 5 minutes to go. Chris is chattering in my ear about something. What? Yeah, whatever you say. Uh oh, the 1st line is moving. Heart is racing. 2nd line (my line) starts moving. Chris tells me to go. Umm…I don’t think so. Ok ok. I start moving. Out on the track. Stay to the right of the line. 60mph already??!?!?! It’s been like 5 secs. Into turn 1. Traffic. Chris is not happy. Too slow. 20mph around turn 2. “Ok, Bill. We’ll make a couple of laps to get used to it, then we’ll pit to let the traffic go by. We’ll have an open track and you can run this baby.” Ummm…yeah…whatever you say, Chris. Turns out…BEST thing. Open track was MUCH better to get used to this crazy idea. 1st heat I hit, what I think is, 120mph. Learning the lines. Listening to Chris’ instructions. Turn. Gas. Don’t brake. Go go go! Ease off. Touch the grass (as it turns out, doesn’t mean to REALLY touch the grass…then why say it?!?!!) S’s. Find the line. GO GO GO! “When I say brake, that means you brake hard!” Ok…sorry. Finish heat 1. I’m shaking. Ran a 3:03. Cool! I’m no longer a track virgin. Everyone in the paddock congratulates me. I feel good. Still shaking. Can barely light a smoke….but feel good. Awesome! “Chris, I gotta beat a 2:50.” “No problem, Bill. That’s easy.” Kyle starts the video cam and interviews me. I feel like Richard Petty (ummm..wrong reference?)

Another class. What’s this guy saying? I have no idea. Ok, time to go. 2nd heat. MUCH more comfortable (I’m gonna tear this track up!…I later learn how stupid that thought really is.) Hit the track! GO GO GO! Brake! Turn! GO GO GO! Into the back straight…130-something? Whoa. Fast. Brake! Turn! Touch the grass! Go go go! Ok..try this line, now. A little closer. Watch that car! You got the signal. Pass! Go Go Go! …..and on and on like that. Knocked 18 seconds off my previous run. Ran a 2:45! Score!

3rd heat: Ugh…I’m worn out. Shoulders are stiff. Brain is dead. “Hey, Chis, I’m kinda tired. Let’s take it easy.” Yeah…a nice leisurely drive at 130mph. It’s amazing…you get on the track and you CAN’T take it easy. You just have to go! So, I went. After a few laps I could tell I was beat. “Chris, I want to pit. I don’t feel safe. It’s not my car and I don’t want to risk injury to you.” “Wow, Bill. That’s awesome! Very manly of you.” As it turns out, we had only 1 lap to go anyway. 🙂

And here is video of a few laps from that session shot using a GoPro HD camera suction cup’d to the front windshield (thanks Kyle!)

So…off the track for the day. Learned a lot. Drove fast. Made some good turns. Learned the line. “Damn, I sure could use a bourbon.” Thank G-d for Brad and Bill (in the camper next to Ten Ton Tina). A giant bottle of Dickel. “Get a cup.” Bill says. THANK YOU! So..there I am..late afternoon..chillin’ with a bourbon…smoking a smoke..taking it all in. Here comes Chris. “Hey Kyle, my car is dead. Any chance I can take out #67 for a spin?” Kyle, “Sure, man. Have fun.” Chris, “Hey, Bill. Grab your helmet. You’re comin’ with.” Ummmm….but I’ve been drinking. “Too bad. You’re coming with.” Chris says. AND it’s the same heat that Kyle’s in. So, we’re in line. I’m seriously nervous, but trust Chris’ abilities. “Where’s Kyle?” Chris asks. I say, “3 or 4 cars up.” “Good to know”, Chris says. Bwahahaha…sorry Kyle…you’re in for it now! No..really..Kyle’s a great driver, but up against an instructor…damn! So…Chris has never driven #67 before. HOLY SH*T!!!! 157mph, I think. Braking at #1 cone (I was braking at #4 cone). THIS (see above – heat #2) is where I realized how stupid I really am. I thought I knew this track. I thought I knew how to drive. I’m a idiot! Anyway…takes him a couple of laps…and…there’s Kyle. See ya! Like the line from Top Gun. “Where’d he go? Where’d who go?!?!?” Bwahahahaha…THAT was awesome! Sure sure, Kyle said he LET us pass…I DON’T THINK SO! 🙂 So after the heat…I’m like, “Dude, that was insane!” Chris, “Bill, I hardly pushed it.” Ummmmm…..I think I’ll go throw up now.

Saturday night…MORE bourbon…Mexican dinner…and bed. 9:30pm. EXHAUSTED! (and maybe a little drunk) In bed. Kyle’s got his camera video rolling on his heats so he can evaluate. I hear Kyle say, “I’m gonna brush my teeth.” I mumble something incoherently about sparkles…or something. The next thing I knew..it was Sunday at 5am.

SATT (Sunday At The Track) –

Ok…so…call me a whimp. Just didn’t feel it. Went to the 1st class and decided I didn’t want to drive. So, I didn’t. Thank G-d for freewill.

BUT..an incredible experience. Thank you again, Kyle, for letting me join in the fun. A weekend I will NEVER forget.

Until next time….keep the pedal to the floor and the rubber side down!

Out.

note from Kyle – will add Pics & Video from the event soon.

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