Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's Race Season!

Hot damn, but that was an awesome way to start the season!

I just spent the weekend at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia. There was racing, Time Trials, HPDE, and karting. There were TONS of Miatas, and I got to steal a bunch of really good ideas for my dashboard setup.

But the highlight of the weekend, at least for me, was the door-to-door action in the advanced HPDE group.

It's always a little scary in the first event of the year. Do I remember the track? Do I remember how my car handles at the limit? Do I, in fact, even remember what the limit is? Turns out: yes, yes, and mostly.

Summit Point Main is the only track I've ever run and never had proper instruction. I figured it out on my own and by watching other faster drivers. And I've gotten pretty consistent with 1:33 laps, occasionally churning out a 1:32. I know the car can do at least a 1:30, and looking at data I know now where I'm leaving time on the table.

But Sunday, man o man! I got hooked up with a couple of guys who were turning similar lap times, and we had a nice long chat about various ways around the course, agreeing that we'd look for each other in the 2nd session. Well, we found each other and ran together for about 15 minutes. And it was awesome! There was a Porsche 944 that's being prepped for 944 Cup, a seasoned Spec Miata (though in new hands), and my orange popsicle. We traded places, took turns side-by-side, ran nose-to-tail, and had an absolute blast. And I got it all on video.

A white Porsche Cayman S was following the action and got some good shots of one particularly dicey lap. Once I'd gotten by the other Spec Miata, he had a hard time keeping up and severely over-drove the car, eventually spinning off in Turn 10.

Now, I've run with guys before. I've found people with similar cars or similar talent and played with 'em for a few laps, including one great session at VIR last summer, but this was really the best fun I've had to date. Back then, I was running in Intermediate, which meant no passing in the corners. But now we can actually practice real racecraft, going 2 or even 3 wide white-knuckled through some really scary turns. And at this level, there's a trust between drivers that didn't exist before.

There's a guy I met last fall who was kind of overwhelmed in our group, spinning off once (or twice?) and having a hard time controlling his way-overpowered Porsche 997 GT2. But I made him pass me on the inside of a terrifying turn to show him that he could do it, and afterward I think he got a level of confidence that was sorely missing. If you don't trust yourself and the car, you're gonna go off or spend your whole day driving slow.

Hard to believe I have 9 more weekends to look forward to this year, and yesterday I picked up a new car that we're gonna build for Chump Car & LeMons, two series for <$500 race cars. And this weekend I'm heading down to North Carolina to pick up a 24' enclosed (and insulated) trailer. Time to start tailgating and stop paying for hotels!

2010 is gonna be the BEST track season ever.

1 comment:

catherine said...

We can't wait to have you join us for the ChumpCar World Series. As you may know, we had three NASCAR teams run with us at Virginia Int'l Raceway, including Tony Stewart over Easter Weekend! Be sure to check out the 2010 Chump schedule at www.ChumpCar.com. And don't miss the video clip on our homepage; it's from the ChumpCar reality TV show pilot shot at Infineon Raceway & Portland earlier this year. Best regards, Cathym@chumpcar.com