Skip to main content

The Rams Eye is Racing (Again)!




I went back for the second (and third) race days of the season. I heard this is the first time we had a double header weekend since 2009. For a lot of the teams (basically all local), it's tough to make sure cars are race ready for two race days in a row, due to limited budgets, crew, and resources in general. Unfortunately, due to the same constraints for the organizers, a July race day couldn't be arranged so the option was to have one fewer race in the season, or do a double in June. Obviously, the decision was made to do a double in June.




As I mentioned in the previous post, the car I am racing is a 1995 VW Golf GTI. I am very fortunate to have the Vantage Motors team. They maintain and transport the car so I had a lot less to worry about for the weekend. This time, I shared the car with Jay Barthelotte and, once again, Derek Lugar. This is how we split it for the days:

1- Qualifying A: Jay
2- Qualifying B: Myself
3- Race A: Jay
4- Race B: Myself
5- Unlimited (no classes): Jay
6- 1 hour Challenge: Myself & Derek




Each race is a 30 minute sprint, except for the 1 hour challenge (obviously). The schedule was the same for Saturday and Sunday, except for the 1 hour challenge being done by me and Jay on Sunday instead of Derek. The 1 hour challenge requires a minimum of one 5 minute pit stop. On Saturday, Derek drove for the first 20 minutes while I drove the last 40. On Sunday, the plan was for me to drive the first 40 minutes and Jay drives the last 20 but that didn't work out so well.. more on that later.

Saturday didn't start off too well.. On the first race, and on the first green lap, one driver lost control in corner 7 - the fastest corner on the track - and skidded off to the tire wall. I saw it all in real time from the tower. He was carrying a lot of speed and caught some air on bumps off road leading to the tire wall that caused the car to almost roll and hit the tire wall at quite a steep angle. Miraculously, the driver was not hurt and the car landed with the shiny side up, minor front end damage, and was racing the next day. And the race weekend continued to be eventful..




This tire rubber spaghetti is unfortunately my fault. Prepare yourself for some class A racecar driver excuses.. Our team had a bunch of old used Hoosiers that they wanted to use up. I had no prior experience with Hoosiers. The car has no ABS. Front wheels do most of the braking on the vast majority of cars, more so here due to the car's loose suspension tuning. Combine all those factors together, and the result is tire murder. Brutal tire murder. I locked up the tires more than once and flat spotted them. They held up for my qualifying session, but got destroyed in the first race. Jay had a good battle and would have ended up in 5th place, but the tires and my ham fisted (footed?) braking cost him the position - the tires let go a couple of laps before the end of the race so he had to pit and he came in last. Note on Hoosiers: they are very unforgiving. I heard that a lot before but obviously hearing and experiencing are two different things. I was a lot more careful during my race, which was rather uneventful.




The unlimited race, though, was far from that. It was huge fun to watch. Brian Gay (blue E36 M3), who was supposed to start upfront, missed the grid and had to start from the back. He made his way through the whole field and had to battle Joel Nelson for first place. The race was epic. They both are awesome drivers. Brian's car is a little faster but both are in the same class. It was almost guaranteed that Brian would catch up, the question was whether he would catch up with enough time to capitalize on an opportunity to take the pass. He caught up and there was better racing for a couple of laps than almost an entire season of F1.






The endurance was even better for me, though. Because, well, passes! During the race school and the first race day, I didn't take any passes. I only moved up one position, but only due to the misfortune of SCG (Slower CRX Guy, as he has now labeled himself). In the endurance race, I took two positions! Up until that point, every single pass I've done on the track was done only after getting permission to do so. That's a rule in all HPDS's, lapping days, and time attack events in our region and for good reason. The reason is obviously to improve safety, to make sure a pass is taken when both cars are aware of the pass and cooperate to complete the pass safely, especially considering the short and technical nature of our track. Anyhow, I digress. The point is, passing during the race was far more satisfying.




More importantly, it was more fun. You have to work harder for it and strategize for it. When you see an opportunity and decide to take it, you have to stick to it and follow through. Moreover, in slower cars like the one I'm driving and the ones I can compete with, you can't really count on trying to setup for a better corner exit and use power to carry you through. There is no power. Most of the time, you're going to have to be able to carry more speed into the corner and maintain it to make the pass stick, all while making sure you have enough room to do so. It takes more work which makes it both more fun and rewarding, in addition to making you a better driver.

I left feeling very happy. My best lap time for the day was 1:23.46 so I cut about 0.7 sec off my last time. I was on better tires, but they were older, used Hoosiers and it was a very hot day and track was greasy. In fact, a lot of people were running about 1 second slower than the last race week day so I was very satisfied with my progress.




On Sunday, I found another two tenths of a second and got my best time down to 1:23.2 or almost a whole second quicker than my best on my first day on yet another hot day. The rest of the day was rather uneventful, until the 1 hour challenge. The plan was for me to take the first 40 minutes while Jay would finish off after the mandatory pit. Unfortunately, just over 18 minutes in, and on the back straight, the car all of a sudden pulled to the right and a bad wobble and vibration befell the car.. I had lost the front passenger side tire. I had to pit and was done racing for the day. The upside, though, is that I had done two more race days, in addition to the first race day in May, for a total of three, which qualified me for a full race license and down came the novice triangle from the back window! 

Overall, the race weekend was once again a fantastic opportunity to have huge fun, learn, and hang out at the track with like-minded, equally inflicted people (i.e. race car drivers). Moreover, when I wasn't racing, I tried to pull my weight around the paddock more than the first weekend. The more involved repairs/troubleshooting were still done by the seasoned team members but I tried to help with the grunt work - moving/replacing wheels and tires, checking pressure, torque, fuel, etc. At the end of the weekend, I helped pack up the trailer and tie down the cars, and headed home. August race weekend can't come soon enough!


Photography by Colin Carroll

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Michelin Pilot Super Sports vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 - Street Review

I've been a huge fan of Michelin PSS tires and exclusively bought them for the Mustang over the last four years. So how did I end up here? This year, I was hugely interested in trying an "R-comp" tire. I had my eyes set on Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's for two simple reasons: price and reputation. They seem like they're easily the most affordable (from a big brand) R-comp tire and combine that with a reputation for having tons of grip, it was an easy top contender. I had my concerns, though. For one, I'm told and have read that they are an autox tire, not really designed for high speed, pressure, and temps associated with open track. For another, the Mustang is a heavy car (as far as track cars are concerned) being roughly 3,800 lb. (including driver), which will amplify the unwanted open track loads. Combine that with the fact that I drive a good amount on the street during the summer, and I was very worried that they wouldn't last more than a handful of…

The New Shelby GT500 Is Coming in Two Weeks

If you've been paying attention in 2018, you probably already know that a brand new S550 Mustang Shelby GT500 is coming this year. And there is good reason to believe that the 2019 North American Auto Show (often referred to as the Detroit Auto Show) in less than two weeks will host the debut of the GT500. Why the 2019 Detroit Auto Show? It's one of the biggest auto shows for Ford. Ford decided to reveal its Ford GT at the same show three years ago in 2015, and also threw in the current Shelby GT350R and the current F-150 Raptor for good measure.

The Shelby GT500 has already been confirmed by Ford and teased in a couple of pictures and videos. Why is the GT500 significant? The first Shelby GT500 was a 1967 model and it was developed with help from the legend himself, Carroll Shelby. Because of Shelby's personal involvement in racing at the time, the original Shelby GT500 was actually meant to be a track monster, not only a straight line car. It used a a modified version o…

Michelin PSS vs Firestone Indy 500 - Track Review

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my first impressions of Michelin's PSS vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires. I've run PSS's for several years on the Boss, but I'm trying the Indy 500's for the first time. In short, I was worried about the narrower tires (I was running 285/35/18 PSS but could only find the Indy 500 in 275/35/18) and tread squirm, but I was happy with them up to that point just driving on the street. I had the chance to drive on them for three track days now. So what were they like? After my first session, they made an impression that basically persisted for the rest of track sessions on them. Phenomenal, unmatched value. Now, if value is something that stands out above all else, it typically means the compromise between qualities you want and those you don't is less than ideal, but the value is attractive. This is no different. I'll start with the bad, which really boil down to two: ultimate grip and grip longevity.

Grip is noticeably lowe…

The S209 is a big turbo wide-body WRX STI

A Subaru WRX STI is a very familiar car by now. Partially because it's very successful and capable, but partially because its engine and hp has been more or less unchanged for about 15 years in North America. It came out in 2004 with a 4 cylinder 2.5 litre turbocharged boxer engine making 300 hp. Today, the standard issue WRX STI is still powered by a version of that same engine making all of 305 hp, a measly 5 hp increase in two redesigns over 15 years. People have been complaining and, it turns out, Subaru has been listening.


Enter the S209. It is based on the Japanese market only S208 developed with Subaru Tecnica International (STI). It still uses the same North American EJ25 2.5 litre engine, but it's all grown up now with forged rods and pistons, and a bigger turbo (bigger turbos make everything better). In this case, it seems like the housing is the same, but HKS increases the compressor wheel by 5 mm to 65 mm and turbine by 3 mm to 56 mm. That has allowed Subaru to tu…

Can Telemetry Explain Schumacher's Talent?

With Michael Schumacher's recent fantastic news that he is no longer bedridden, I figured it would be a great opportunity to share one of my absolute favourite videos about him. I stumbled across this video last year and immediately bookmarked it. It includes bits from interviews with various F1 drivers, including Schumacher himself and team mate Johnny Herbert. But my favourite part of the video is when they compare telemetry between Schumacher and Herbert.

The telemetry clearly explains where Schumacher is saving (lap) time and how exactly his talent and skills translate to better (and ultimately faster) driving. His talent is even more impressive when you consider the lack of active throttle mapping in modern F1 cars and the myriad of improvements made to driveability. Watch below to see for yourself.


What I love about this video is that I found Jonathan's Palmer analysis of Schumacher's telemetry to be absolutely true when applied to my driving on track.

SPOILER ALERT…

Rejoice: The 2020 Shelby GT500 Could Get A manual!

I posted about the new Shelby GT500 on here, DriveTribe, my Facebook, and my Instagram (you can read about all the tech and capabilities that Ford stuffed into the GT500 in my GT500 reveal post here). Perhaps the biggest surprise (and only disappointment) was that the car wouldn't be offered with a manual. Instead, it would come with a 7-speed dual-clutch auto made by Tremec.

If there is one common theme across all platforms where I posted, though, it's that people want a manual and it looks like Ford is going to be listening very closely. Prior to the reveal, I
predicted that this was going to be the first GT500 to offer an automatic, but I figured it would be the 10-speed automatic available on the Mustang GT and I never expected Ford to drop the manual as an option.

According to a report by Road & Track, the reason why Ford went for this transmission instead of the torque-converter automatic was because it offered quicker shifts on track, suggesting that the 10-speed a…

Contact Me

Name

Email *

Message *