Hello FastLap followers, it has been a busy spring so far so I apologize for the delay in updates.

Much of the offseason (Dec-Feb) was spent with final race prep to the 2003 BMW M3 #72 I planned to begin racing. Kill switch, Fire Suppression System, Window & Center Net, Motorola 2way Radio setup (for communicating with Crew Chief & Spotter during races), larger switch panel and a few other race required details along with a full refresh of the suspension components, wheel bearings, etc.

Feb 18th was NASA MidAtlantic’s first Competitive Licensing School of the year and upon successful completion you were allowed to participate in your first races that weekend as a Provisionally Licensed driver. Complete 4 races clean and get your official hard card license, complete 8 races clean and clear yourself of rookie status (R’s next to your #’s & a bright orange rookie plate on the rear of the car).

I passed comp school with flying colors, being challenged by but enjoying the discussions and drills associated with the licensing school. NASA’s comp school is more of a long test day than an actual school like other organizations have. There are certain criteria you must meet before you are even allowed to participate in their compschool, including a fair number of days in Advanced DE, a fully prep’d race car (you can rent one) and signoff by the Race Director for the region.

That Friday Feb 18th was an exhausting day. 4 x 40min sessions on track, 4 x 60min class room sessions, and intentionality little to no break. Students were joined by seasoned racers during the track sessions (on track with you, not in car with you) to evaluate you. The seasoned racers while keeping a close eye on all the students for evaluation liberally “mixed it up” with you during the drills… ie basic harassment to ensure each
student could keep a cool head.

I’ve turned a couple laps here and there totally offline during DE sessions and have had quite a few days experience passing in corners in advanced DE sessions but nothing had compared me for what comp school puts you through.

First session instructions were: 40 minute session, 20 minutes using only the left side of the track and 20 minutes using only the right side, drive at 9/10ths the entire time and no cheating in corners as the corner workers were instructed to radio in cars crossing the center line at any time and seasoned racers
were on track with you driving wherever they felt as they watched the students closely. 40 minutes of driving 9/10ths on parts of the track I’ve never seen before, wow – that was exhausting.

Now an hour of classroom, then on track session #2. Instructions, 40 minute session, 20 minutes on the right, side by side with an experienced racer in a similarly performing car, then 20 minutes on the left, side by side with the same racer — oh and if you (as the student) don’t keep up with the racer, black mark
to you! Nervous driving that 9/10ths with someone next to you? Play it safe and leave lots of room between you and your partner … nope, you were warned, if that happens another random racer would join you by sliding in between you and your partner for some 3 abreast action! It was amazing how quickly you become
comfortable with another car right beside you – this drill was fantastic as it built on the first on-track session.

short break for lunch, more class room and on track session #3 – this time leap frog drills with your partner. Instructions were, take turns passing each other going into Turns 1,4,10,OakTree & 14 (this was at VIR). After 40 minutes of passing 5x per lap I was tired, that is a lot of concentration and your experienced
racer partner didn’t make the passes “easy” either, you had to battle for them with increasingly more effort as the session progressed.

More class room, session 4 was race starts, 2 standing, 2 rolling followed by a 20min mock race … yup the experienced racers were out with us during the starts and race to make it more “exciting”.

Pic of additional class and rookie livery while tearing it up during the mock race at CompSchool.

It was now about 5pm, you are mentally and physically drained from the day of class and drills – time for a written test! first page was a bunch of multiple choice questions mostly with flags, passing rules and at-fault incident rules. The second page was essay situation based – for example, if there was a car off track at the
exit of T3 and an emergency vehicle between T2 and T3 what flag or flags would you expect to see at each of the flag stands 1 and 2.

My class of 12, 11 of us passed. We were told that our class was one of the highest % passing rate for many years. Weak on-track performance noted by either your racer partner or any of the track side “judges” or corner workers, or a non-passing score on the written test would be grounds for failure.

All and all, I felt the NASA-MA CompSchool, for being a 1 day school, did an excellent job of preparing and evaluating student readiness to race. Last year there were many people encouraging me to sign of for comp school and start racing, I’m glad I stuck to my original plan and waited until I had nearly 100 track days
under my belt. Had I tried that school after 40 days I think I would have been completely overwhelmed and failed.


Nov6-7 – Summit Point Main – NASA-MA

Hello everyone – welcome to another issue of “Fast Lap” – from your track addicted friend.

Fall means cool temps, extra horsepower, and patience to make sure you have adequate temp in your tires before you try to go “flatout”.

Fortunately patience was mostly on my side along with a set of quick hands. –you’ll see in the video I get a little too greedy with the throttle coming out of T5 – according to the data that “catch” and consequently poor entry into T6 cost me ~.2sec — oh how I would have liked to have come home with a 1:20.x lap…next time!

I hadn’t driven Summit Main since May – I was there for Hyperfest in August but only turned 1 lap before a broken brake pedal sensor put the car out of service for the weekend. Having driven so many nice, smooth tracks with plenty of run off, Summit Point felt a bit more intimidating (and a lot bumpier) than I remembered.

Here is the FastLap video for the week –

I wanted to continue my tech discussion this email with a note about “time dilation” and toss in a bit of projective imagery.

(I’ll keep this short – I’m not actually trying to teach a class here!)

Paraphrased and tweaked slightly from the dictionary definition to line up with what we experience on the track. Time Dilation is the point of view that the clock is ticking at a slower rate than the local clock. When we all first started driving we were “overwhelmed” with everything that was going on at the track and by how fast everything was happening. As we gained experience on the track, things started to slow down — now we had time to look at every flag stand, check our mirrors more often and look further ahead (eyes up, eyes up!)

I’ve read about levels of time dilation beyond time slowing down enough to “become comfortable” driving “at speed”, but never experienced anything near the levels I’ve read about until the past few events. Driving, watching flag stands & watching your mirrors becomes second nature and now you have extra brain cycles — with those brain cycles I’ve been working to intentionality slow time even further providing the ability to look further and further ahead.

Heading down a straight into a corner – you look through the corner to the track out, you envision your car entering the turn, hitting the apex and tracking out all before you’ve even reached the braking zone. Now you have laid out a “ghost trace” trajectory of where you want your car to be, the attitude you want the car to have during each segment of the turn – and time is moving as if you are watching a movie in slow motion – you feel the car sliding beneath you but since it is all happening in slow motion you stay relaxed because it is easy to compensate for a mistake or the unexpected “at this slow ticking of the clock rate”.

I had a car spin off the track in front of me at the apex of T3 this weekend – what I’m sure unfolded in a couple tenths of a second seemed a life time – I casually watched the rear end of this WRX get light, come around, and slide backwards into the gravel trap – to me it felt as if I had all the time in the world to react – analyzing the trajectory of the WRX and being able to determine with good certainty that it wasn’t going to come back onto the track, requiring an evasive maneuver. I simply slowed a bit extra for the turn, watched the WRX slide off the track, drove by the incident and never tensed up.

You can practice time dilation and forward projecting imagery while on the street – it will make it that much easier to implement on the track.

Mary participated in her first TimeTrial Event this weekend. She was very nervous (as I was before my first TT) – I kept reassuring her she would do great and would soon be looking forward to her next TT weekend. 🙂

After a close battle with a Pontiac GTO – Mary took 3rd place in the TTB class both Saturday and Sunday with a fast lap of the weekend of 1:26.49! Way to go!

An on the topic of practicing on the street, then applying to the track. This coming weekend we are headed to VIR with Audi Club. Since this is a non-competitive HPDE event I plan to take the left foot braking I’ve been practicing on the street and begin applying it on the track. Wish me luck! I’ll report back next week how the experience went.

And here are a couple pictures courtesy of Scott Cain – http://kart53.smugmug.com/Racing

For those of you who were at Summit Point this past weekend, hope you had a safe drive home – to those of you who weren’t, hope I see you at the track soon!

Oct30-31 – NJMP Thunderbolt – NASA-NE

Another great weekend at the track and another new fast lap.

This time @ New Jersey Motorsports Park – Thunderbolt Circuit

I really like this track, it is fast and the massive amount of run off is confidence inspiring. This past weekend was a NASA-NE event and I participated in my 2nd Time Trials event.

Since the car was built for NASA GTS3 class, no specific attention was paid to the “points” classification of time trials – consequently I fall into the TTS class which is an “unlimited” modifications class where the only restriction is your weight to horsepower ratio.

The TTS class limit is 8.7:1 (8.7lbs for each 1rwhp), that is car weight with driver at the end of a session. My #72 car with me in it and 1/4 tank of fuel tips the scales at 3100lbs and dyno’d 297rwhp (call it 300) with current mods. That puts me at ~10.33:1. SIGNIFICANTLY below the Weight to HP limit. I could drop 500lbs or add 50hp and still run in TTS class!

My purpose of TimeTrials this fall wasn’t to be competitive in TTS but use it as a stepping stone to racing next year with the following two objectives:

1) Practice getting into the “Race Qualifying” mindset quickly. 1 or 2 warm up laps, then GO GO GO. This is significantly different than the DE routine of slowly bringing the pace up through the session and frankly through the day. In qualifying you head out cold and in 5 minutes you need to bring it up to a 9.5/10ths or 10/10ths level AND drive that perfect qualifying line, often times having only one chance at a flying lap – gotta make it count!

2) Experience in an environment that does not require point-by’s. In the dedicated TimeTrials run groups no point-by is required, if you catch someone, simply make a sensible pass. This turned out to be a pretty big step, since all along in DE’s I 100% knew that the car I am about to overtake is aware I am going to pass them because I sat and waited (Alan, hahahaha) for that point by from them. The first few passes were a major leap of faith in the other driver.

Even with an “uncompetitive” car from a weight:hp standpoint in TTS I managed to take 1st place in the TTS class both days by nearly 3 seconds to the 2nd place finisher in a class of five cars, one of which was the NASA-NE Regional TTS Points Champion for 2010.

For those 1st place finishes I earned my first “Racing Trophy”, two free tires from Hoosier through their Contingency Program – (that’s $600 worth of tires!) AND set the NASA TTS lap record at the track!

This was weekend 4 of our “5 different tracks in 6 weekends Fall Run”. It has been a great learning experience in car development. The changes I made to get the car to work at VIR didn’t work so well at Mid-Ohio, nor did the VIR or Mid-Ohio setup work very well at Thunderbolt – I didn’t make any changes at Watkins Glen because I was simply learning the track that weekend.

YAY for an OCD-Datalogging personality and the .xls session log book I keep so I’ll be able to quickly dial the car in for a specific track next year and waste less practice time figuring out what works. I’ve forwarded my .xls session log book to a couple of you, if any others are interested in a copy because it sounds like something you may want to start keeping for yourself, please let me know, I would be happy to share a copy in our mutual efforts to improve our cars and personal driving capabilities.

For those of you who were there, hope you had a safe drive home – to those of you who weren’t, hope I see you at the track soon!

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.

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 😉