April 17-18 – NASA – Summit Point Main

Mary writes:
It’s Friday April 16th, 80+ degrees outside and it is real tough to focus at work- I’m thinking about driving with NASA at Summit Main! This is going to be a great weekend!

Summit Point Raceway – Main Track

Kyle, who is always thinking ahead, drives out to Summit at 6am on Friday to drop off the trailer and set up our spot right next to the RRT Racing crew. He then has to make a mad dash back to DC to put in his day of work. Friday after work we head out to the track and arrive just before 9:00pm to squeeze in getting both cars tech’d and ready to go for Saturday morning. I’m so glad he made that decision to secure a perfect spot for the weekend the paddock is already very crowded!

Saturday morning we arrive at the track by about 7am and it is already busy with cars, trucks, trailers, people camping…just a whole lot of action…. I am quickly reminded how much fun this is going to be.

The weather is much cooler than yesterday but my adrenaline is pumping and the sun is out. I hear engines revving and I start to absorb everything around me; the butterflies set into my belly- it’s my first time with NASA in group 3, passing anywhere, and this is a serious bunch of drivers! Now of course I know that I am very capable but I think that the pre-race/game/match time for any great athlete is likely a bit anxious, that’s natural, right?

Classroom– substitute instructor- she has interesting points of view that were a bit different than expected from others but she was open minded to hear different views from all. Funny- Kyle whispers that based on her driving advice he guesses that she drives an older Porsche 911…we later find out that he nailed it right away! “Grey Wolf” her plates read.

Saturday:Session1– solo drive-first time on Main this year without rain- felt it was ok but not great. Our FATT day on Main in March was cold and it rained all day so I have to count this time as my first real comparison to last Nov. I’m not in my groove for sure – I need to be patient and let the car and the track come to me.

Saturday:Session2– solo again- lining up on the grid-Kyle has Michael Dayton (pro-driver in GrandAm for RRT Racing as his passenger and coach), then me, then….what? Why is John McAvoy & Barry Battle (the other GrandAm pro-driver for RRT Racing) behind me? How did I get sandwiched between these two?

My heart is pumping as we roll off the grid! The session ends just fine- I did “ok”, I’m not feeling bad about it, I held my own, but still feel that I can do more. It’s great to be solo on the track but I surely won’t pass up a great driver telling me what to do better! I need to find an instructor and get a few new pointers.

Saturday:Session3– Michael Dayton agrees to go out with me for my last run. He is so kind to offer because he has to rush back to our paddock spot after finishing his time trial session, squeezes out of his race car to hop into my “car” and coach me. He immediately focuses on a few points for improvement- I am listening intensely and making the corrections he points out- it’s working. But- now there’s a problem!

The “low fuel” light come on during our first lap! Oh CRAP! It’s lesson 101! On the beltway- I could ride this notice out for days….but after completing the 2nd lap and seeing the needle DIVE, I have to tell Michael that it’s time to go in- fuel issue…how humiliating is that!? I had to let all the boys pass me through turns 6..7..8..9 as I crawled off of the track being as gentle as possible with the throttle (in the paddock I check and see it says I had 1mile of fuel left, I wouldn’t have made another lap!). Kyle pits before the session is over – says he was worried about seeing me come in early- thought I might have gone off track. I assured him that “the #67 silver car” was just fine….and me too. Haha.

Here are a few of my quickest laps from the weekend, camera mounted via suction cup on the sunroof.

Sunday:Session1– Eric Wong goes out with me. I am so happy to take advantage of his guidance on this session! He gives great advice about where to hit each apex, when to break, when to gas…I tell him that I am at full throttle but can’t get power…all this weekend I have been running with the DSC ON! So once again- I have an embarrassing moment- I thought I turned it off- can you only imagine the difference? Well that at the end of my session with him- hit 1:29.9! Last season best was 1:30.2. Still better!

Sunday:Session2- Michael Dayton out with me again- DSC is “OFF”. Top lap of the weekend….1:29.2!! As much as I wanted to beat Kyle’s best time- I will be happy with mine- he has 500 lb less in the weight of the car-if I go solo- that lifts the weight of passenger- he has different suspension- he has racing seats-(I am sliding across the length of the car), he has tires that stick (r-compounds)!! Mine are slip sliding away and noisy (street tires). I walk away from this weekend feeling like I did well; I know I can do better; but most importantly I am pleased with my results to beat my last by over a second. I look forward to the next time to beat this performance and I’m confident that I will.

Kyle did especially well in this event-he best “flying lap” was a 1:26.8. Outstanding! Under our difference in car conditions- I would like to set a goal for myself to be within 2-3 seconds- feel free to suggest otherwise of what it should be….He is a great driver and I need to figure out the balance of our cars to compare so that I know that I am improving appropriately.

Some in-car video shot from the #72 car with Kyle driving:

We decide that if we were to wait until 5:30 to make our last run, we would be just too spent and make the decision to pack up and head home around 3:30.

The added bonus to the weekend was finding out that we were able to now take out other people with us in our group (as passengers). Kyle’s friend Christy made it out to the track with her son Seth –who was totally into cars. He is 10yrs old but he knew the types of cars, was cheering on his favorites during the races, and remembered the names of people we knew. Very impressive! Clearly one that will be out here with the rest when his time comes and we are all much older! Hahah! Christy had that ear to ear grin when she got out of Kyle’s car after her ride with him during the second session on Sunday as expected! First thing out of her mouth was “when can she could do it again”- yep, hooked! I knew exactly what she was feeling as I am right there too every time I come off of the track! That was awesome because I always tell Kyle that I wish my friends could “get it” when try to explain to them how it makes me feel when I drive!

And now some content from our guest passenger on Sunday, Christy writes:

The last stretch of road (rt611 off 340) to the track was an excellent wind-up to the thrills to come, one of those windy country roads with plenty of elevation changes. My boy (Seth) and I both had fun with it, he made a game of calling every bottom out, of which there were many. We enter in the front gate of the track and pull up to the spectator/participant split, I start to head to the spectator area, but then decide that is not where I belong! I back up my car and turn to head into the paddock. A perfect spot to park is waiting for us.

We head into the mess of cars and trailers in search of the nocabracing.com cars. Seth’s many exclamations, “Look at that,” are exactly what I am thinking as he states them. What a great atmosphere this is! I’m getting so much more excited every minute! About half way down the paddock, we spot Kyle’s massive trailer and parked next to it the nocabracing.com cars. These cars are so much lovelier in person!

The air is chilled, and we warm our hands above the motors that still hold the heat from their previous runs…

The PA announcer says HPDE3 to grid – “Time to get strapped in,” Kyle says, in his ever so relaxed manner. I’m not nervous, which I find weird, but I am almost numb with anticipation. Unnatural leg movements are required to get into the car over and around the roll cage .. that is when I began to realize that it was truly happening. I was going out on a race track! Way! I’ve wanted this all my life. Racing flesh horses around curved barrels and poles can’t possibly compare…With each calculated pull and click as he strapped me in, I felt my grin getting bigger and bigger. My helmet visor was down, and began to fog up. I thought to myself, “I can’t have limited vision! Oh, no!” I must have chilled my heavy breathing, because the fog went away, but the visor was dirty…I don’t want to miss anything!

We pull out and into the grid track lane. As we sit there, the grid marshal holds 3 fingers up, Kyle says “3 minutes to track” … this wait allows me to wallow in my anticipation, he says I don’t have to have the visor down. Yippee! I’m not going to miss a thing!

My boy is positioned in the watch tower near the main flag stand where he has a great view of the main straight. I love being here I think to myself!

Two standing yellow flags, the warm up lap is nice, and Kyle explains the flag meanings to me as I get to know the track. When the yellow flags go down he slams the throttle, I’m in heaven! I must trust this man, as only once did I have the instinct to throw my right arm up to grab the door, or whatever may be there to grab, this car is gutted, no “oh shit” handles, just bare metal and cage. I had my knees up the first half of the session, and when I realized how I was seated, which isn’t how I would be seated if I was driving, I let my legs go to the floor.

That’s when I felt the butt clenching I had on every corner. Ooh nothing better than butt clenching! I had to continuously push the helmet and headphones back up, as the helmet was a bit too big and it slid around a wee bit on my head and didn’t hold the ear phone up. Turns 4-5 are the toughest it seems, and that’s where it was truly tight and I was most thankful for the harness, and had the most fun!

A tight right hand turn after the long straight way, braking from 140mph to 40mph in a couple hundred feet, I felt my heart skip a beat or two! We were seemingly inches from other cars at times. I thought to myself how good it was that everyone kept their foot on the gas as much as possible!

Then we came around turn 10 once to finding his friend in the dirt (gravel pit), we waived at him, he must have been embarrassed, his car was half buried! Kyle explains that the gravel pit did what it was supposed to do and stopped him before he reached a tire wall or barrier. David and his car were both unhurt.

All in all today at the track was more fun than a pecan pie in pants! Seth’s analogy 😉


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