June19-20 – Summit Point Main – Hyperfest w/NASA

After having problems with the transmission coming out of gear on Friday, I continued to try and identify what the problem was. Late Friday night Wayne from RRT Racing came out to the track with his son to help troubleshoot – which was fantastic. We talked through all the troubleshooting I had already done and verified I logically isolated the variables before moving on to the next potential. No luck fixing the car Friday night but we identified that the Fuel Pump Relay was toast.

Saturday Phil from RRT Racing had planned to bring his car out to Hyperfest and was kind enough to swing by BMW of Sterling and pick up replacement Fuel Pump Relay after Wayne and I had verified mine was toast by swapping it with the #67 car — unfortunately the dealership gave him the wrong item — that means another trip for me into town – this time to BMW Fairfax since BMW Sterling didn’t actually have the part in stock. Pop’d the new fuel pump relay in my car and went for a spirited drive – SMG not fixed, car still dropping out of gear. Swapping SMG relays with the #67 car didn’t fix the issue. I noticed during the day that anytime I had my key in the ignition my brake lights would come on – very odd – also we saw lateral G sensor errors on the Autologic but didn’t know what to make of them. More on that at the end of this post.

Long story short I didn’t end up getting any driving in the #72 car during the weekend. Mary was generous enough to give up one of her sessions and let me drive the #67 car with her as a passenger Sunday afternoon. I wasn’t able to go any quicker than she was, but I did take turn 3 quicker than her – so quick in fact she didn’t think we were going to make the turn! haha, we did – and now she knows she can go quicker through that corner! Ride alongs are great!

The #72 car parked between Eric Wong’s Multiple Tracks Record Holding E36 M3 and the #67 car — where it sat parked most of the weekend 😦

We had another event planned for the next weekend with no ability to cancel – so to the RRT Racing shop the #72 went for an all out troubleshooting spree. Was it wiring that got knocked loose? After all this was the first time on the new race stiff springs – seemed logical. Or a broken SMG component? The #67 car was left at the shop as a donor parts car – any suspected bad part could be taken off the #67 and tried on the #72 before purchasing. After 2 days and many hours, Wayne FOUND THE PROBLEM! If you can believe this it was the brake pressure sensor.

HUH? How can the brake pressure switch cause the car to come out of gear in corners? It’s all in the SMG safety programming code.

Car sliding (high speed corner) – CHECK
Foot Mashed on Gas Pedal (on race track trying to go fast) – CHECK
Foot Mashed on Brake Pedal (broken brake pressure sensor) – CHECK

Car ECU & SMG programming thinking you are about to wreck and taking the car out of gear – PRICELESS!

(ok maybe not priceless, but sure was frustrating!)


June18 – Summit Point Main – FATT

Today was a FATT event (Friday At The Track), the day before Hyperfest. I was very excited to get this extra track time and an excellent paddock parking spot for the Hyperfest weekend because we had just finished upgrading my spring setup from a street/track to a purely track spring setup including a true rear coilover setup and adding a Ground Control front bar.

Eric Wong had come out to the track that Friday with me – He was going to take me out in the car with him driving for a session, make sure the car was feeling good, then ride along and coach me the rest of the day.

Eric was still parking and unloading his trailer when it was time for the first session so I went out alone to warm up the car and my brain. Half way through the first session the car started taking itself out of gear everytime I went around a high speed corner!?! Ultimately the car stalled on track and would not start. I got my first tow back to the paddock – the first of many I’m sure, hahaha

SMG woes– or so I thought. I spent the rest of the day troubleshooting the car, even went as far as to drive back to RRT and borrow their autologic diagnostic tool. Sourced a replacement SMG control relay, new fuel pump relay and a few other bits, none of which fixed the problem, car was still jumping out of gear on high speed turns.

NOT the best FATT ever.

May15-16 – Summit Point Main – PCA

Back at Summit Point, our home track. Since we were at a Porsche Club event and massively outnumbered the BMW M3’s grouped together. We arrived early and I quickly slid the trailer into a parking spot longways back just far enough we could all line up together – what a nice showing of BMW’s!

With a few more days under my belt I’m now getting a better feel for the modifications we made to the car this past winter and am ready to shave more time off my previous best lap. Caesar and Preeth were down from New Jersey in their E46 M3’s it was the first event we’ve run together since meeting last fall at NJMP. I knew both of them would be fast, but this is my home track 😉

We started out with some lead/follow – After a few laps Caesar was stuck to my bumper like glue so I let him pass me and he disappeared! Caeser with headers, exhaust, 4.10 gears on BGF’s v/s my stock car (less suspension & cage) was no match! Caesar ended the weekend turning a 1:24.x bettering his previous time by multiple seconds – I managed a 1:25.x nearly a second quicker than my last visit in April so I was quite happy.

Here are a few more paddock shots – Thanks for the great pics Caesar!!!

May7-9 – Mid-Ohio – PCA

Mid-Ohio – having grown up in the central Ohio area and never getting the chance to drive the famous Mid-Ohio course I was excited for this opportunity to join Potomac PCA on their annual 3day trip this year!

Topped off the truck tank and 110gallon bed tank earlier in the week:

Left work early Wednesday May 5th to start the journey westward. The weather was perfect and Donna (3rd gen Dodge RAM 3500 Diesel Dually) tugged the 14,000lb trailer through the hills of western MD with ease. I make one stop to refill the truck tank from the bed tank as I hit West Virginia so I wouldn’t have to stop again until reaching Columbus.

Rolled up to my house in Westerville (NE side of Columbus) about 10:30pm, Tony & Mike joined me for a drink on Woodstream to catch up and check out the trailer and newly built #72 M3 track car. Crashed about 1am on the floor in my old master bedroom. I used to live in this house, but today it is empty, between renters. I slept well with just one blanket and a pillow on the floor.

Up early Thursday morning, time to visit Ohio Title Agency and License Bureau to get title and tags for the truck and trailer — and to pay the 6.75% Ohio tax bill, ugh. This just became an expensive weekend!

Leave Columbus about 1pm arrive at Mid-Ohio about 2:30, gates don’t open until 4, parked outside the gate and took a quick nap. Being the 2nd to arrive I had my choice of paddock parking, was able to get a spot near the center of the paddock within reach of an electrical outlet to power the lights and provide 110v power to laptops, etc.

I’ll let Mary fill in the details – it’s Mothers Day weekend, my parents are coming to the track – how cool! Although I’m not sure that coming to see your son race around the race track is the first choice for a mother on her special day. 🙂 Knowing how much I’ve loved cars all my life, a mothers day weekend unfolding like this shouldn’t have been a surprise!

Mary writes about the event:

The Mid Ohio track! Kyle and I have been looking forward to this since we first heard about it from Alan and Sally last fall. This is like going home, truly. Kyle grew up miles away from here and my family is in Wheeling, WV. We can have a track event and see family at the same time.

I arrive at the track shortly after Kyle on Thursday- we see Sally and Alan and a few others arriving. We are surprised that the paddock seems a bit empty for this event, maybe more people will show up in the morning. We are ready to grab a bite and get some sleep anticipating the big weekend.

DAY #1
We arrive eagerly bright and early- it is Freezing! I meet my cousin’s friend for the 1st time who is also driving an M3 and in my class- instant competition! 🙂

Kyle and I are running in different run groups for this event- me in blue, him in white. My competitive nature isn’t thrilled about this but at least I get to have Alan as my instructor. I spend the 1st day awkwardly finding my way around the track. Mid-Ohio isn’t available on iRacing http://www.iracing.com yet and this make me realize how much practicing a new track on iRacing before going helps to shorten the learning curve of the new track!

Kyle’s parents are here for Mother’s day. She is a trooper- it’s cold- rainy, etc… but she doesn’t see Kyle much during the year-this a big visit for her. She carries the track schedule around and ensures that we are ready to go. Kyle’s mom clearly understands how important this is to him and she quickly fits right in.

It’s great to see Rob Talastas here in my group too. It’s fun to see a familiar face so far away from our home track at Summit. Following tradition, at the end of the day we head out to find a “great” Mexican restaurant after a long 1stday. There’s nothing like a good margarita after a day at the track!

DAY #2
I announce to our friends that I had studied data with Kyle the night before and had a new plan…It’s possible that they thought I joking but a few started to wonder what my new plan was as I had clearly improved my line and time on day 2. I turned my best lap of the weekend on my 1st session! Alan signed me off to go solo for the rest of the weekend. Now…I was very happy for that but was hoping to move on up to white. At the end of the day Kyle went out with one of Potomac’s senior instructors to get evaluated to move to Black group, he came back beaming with his new black wristband!! I am very happy for him! I was having soooo much fun! I was surprised that I was most challenged this weekend by turn #1!

We all stuck around at the end of the day to share a few beers and talk about the good times we were having.

DAY #3
I am focused on doing my best today knowing that I will likely only do a couple of sessions today so that we can hit the road early. By now I am familiar with the other guys in my group- Rob, Tony, Ernest, Mike… The groups are getting smaller too- trailers are rolling out and we also start to pack up. One last meal at the track and then off we go! Over 7 hours to get home- ugh!

So my challenge is in every event to try to be within 3-ish seconds of Kyle’s car based his modifications. I found out later that there was an instuctor running in the “Black” group- ( 2 groups ahead of me) with the same E46 M3 set up-no mods- he sent his data to Kyle later and I discovered I was turning faster laps than him! Yay for me!!

Since Mid-Ohio is a 9hr tow, I thought a track walk-through that I can use as a refresher before returning next time was appropriate.

Track map and copy of someone else’s track notes:

Mid-Ohio Track Walkthrough

Down front straight, across the start/finish, braking between 100 and 200 marker, start looking for the raised yellow pit blend line, use first seeing it as your indicator to turn in. Goal is to be WOT by beginning of the blend line (I never got to that point, was rolling into the throttle as I was passing the blend line and WOT by the end of it), follow the blend line around the corner, at first about a ½ car width from it, then almost touch it at the end, track out near the end of the yellow gators on the right.

When running the Club course with chicane before the keyhole, make your way all the way track left for a gentle entry into the chicane. Goal is to stay WOT while you are turning right, then quick brake and anticipate the left turn of the chicane – stay in 4th don’t downshift to 3 during this quick brake, unsettles the car too much and don’t work too hard to get back left to the second set of red/white curbing – aim straight toward the keyhole curbing on the right, but don’t drop a wheel in the (wheel eater) hole before the start of the curb.

Hard break, downshift to 3 – trailbrake into the keyhole, apex very late to get a nice run out. Now down the longest downhill straight of any road course in NA, > 150mph on speedo before you brake for 6. Instead of braking at the last minute for 6, brake early, before the brake markers in the fence (I was using the last camera hole in fence as my marker) downshift to 4th from 5th while braking so you enter 6 quickly and controlled. Turn in early –you are going to understeer right across the red/white curbing (apex), carry lots of speed and let the car wash out. After letting the car wash out, you’ll find yourself entering madness from the left. Downshift to 3rd while braking, I found a ton of grip on the inside of 7 entering madness, others recommend trying to get your turning down early by entering wider (doing this wouldn’t allow you to carry near as much speed through 6). Either way, get your steering straight before cresting 7 or you’ll go for a ride (and not a good one). 3rd gear through madness all the way until you need to shift going into thunder.

OK to enter turn 8 (right hander) from mid-track, returning to mid-track preparing for 9-10-11. Around 9 get on the first yellow gator then prepare to straighten out run over red/white curb in 10, far left to turn into 11 from far end of left yellow gators, apex over the red/white gator to right and get the wheel straight before cresting and entering thunder (another place to go for a ride if you don’t have the wheel straightened out). 12 isn’t really a turn, more of a bend, get far right for entrance to 13, feel like your mirror is going to hit the red wall on the right. Not much room to track out after 13, get straightened out, brake in a straight line as you clear the hump before 14. I liked entering 14 from mid-track for a late apex, line yourself up with red/white gators on right to make a straight line to 15 (over curb on left) and track all the way out as you head down the front straight. Repeat for best results.

And here is what it looks like when I am trying to follow these directions:

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 😉

April 3 – FATT – Summit Point Shenandoah

Mary writes:

It’s my 2nd event of the 2010 season!

We’re heading out to the Shenandoah track at Summit Point for the FATT “Saturday” event. It’s my first time out in the silver car with the new vinyl and my first event with Kyle’s new “giant” trailer!

I drive out separately- he needs to get a hitch that is safe to tow both cars- this means a few extra zzzz’s for me! 🙂

The weather this time is so much better than our time at Main a few weeks ago- the paddock is active-we have friends sectioned off in our area- we are looking forward to a great day of sunshine and driving. I am very excited that my old boss, Greg and his wife Linda, are here for their very first event. I am also participating in my 1st “passing anywhere” event. Sure- I admit that I am nervous about it- will I be good enough? Kyle assures me that I will be fine!

Brian, my instructor for the 2nd time, wants me to try some new lines from what I was used to last year. It’s always interesting to get new perspectives. I suppose that depending on the car each person drives truly dictates what is best for them. I like to absorb as much information from everyone that I can.

Session 2- Brian approaches with a new instructor- he wants to get me signed off solo for the rest of the day. Mark (I think) has some different- some the same- suggestions- he comments that he drives a different type of car. Ultimately- I am signed off.

I am so excited to take this next step onto the anywhere passing on my own but still a bit timid-I think it only took about 30 seconds for me to realize- “Right on”- this is exactly where I belong! I am now picking up speed and confidence as I am trying to catch and pass everyone wherever I can! It’s amazing how comfortable I feel in this setting! No fear!

It’s true that I did let a few passes happen- of course, Kyle (I saw him quickly approach my rear view mirror 2x- bummer!) But all in all- I think that I did a great job at holding my own and doing a lot of passing too.

I noticed that when I lined up behind Kyle for our last session there were people pointing and noticing the “NocabRacing” on our cars- I would like to think that we looked cool up there! Ha! I was very proud to think of us starting this whole adventure just last July and how far we have come- how many new friends we have made- how much more we look forward to for the new season- and how much I wish that everyone could experience the feeling I get when I drive!

We hung out with David-Will-Paulie-Lev-Greg and Linda- and a visit from Ron. Being Greg’s 1st event, the best part was his email 2 days later talking about how he woke up thinking about driving the line and trying to get better. Who hasn’t driven the track at night in replace of counting sheep to fall asleep? I have!!

Oh yeah, this is my first time with a camera! Fun for me that Kyle put part of my last session on Utube! NASA on Main….stay tuned….Season 2010!! Look forward to seeing you there!

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!


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