January 23rd, 2007
Here is what the car looks like now. Marv did an awesome job, not to mention busting his ass to get it done in time for me to get to Sebring. Can’t recommend him enough for anyone that needs body work done.
Engine and tranny are back in the car and should be running today.
The vinyl should be coming in tomorrow. So I have a couple days before we load to get the graphics back on the car. That’s always a pain and takes a ton of time to get them done correctly. After doing the whole car at the beginning of the season I’ve gotten pretty good at it though.
January 15th, 2007
I’ve been spending a lot of time getting the transporter ready for the trip to Sebring. A season’s worth of racing collect a lot of dirt and crud. The trailer is just about all cleaned up and organized. I just have to wash down the floors and move a few remaining things around.
I won’t be driving the truck to Sebring. Ron and Jane who drove to Salt Lake City last year will be driving. We expect to load the cars up next Sunday.
Speaking of cars. My car has all of it’s body work finished. It’s getting painted in the next couple days and should be out of the body shop (Marv Engstrom’s Magic Customs in Lynnwood) on Wednesday. Then it goes back to Colin at Cantrell Motorsports to get the motor and tranny back in. I also need to put the graphics back on, which is always a multi-day pain in the butt process. After doing it last time I’ve gotten a lot better at it though. I’ll take some pictures when it gets out of the body shop.
Once thing that’s a little worrisome is that there won’t be any time to test it before we head to Sebring. Not only that but I managed to forget to sign up for the seperate Test and Tune day ahead of the race weekend. It’s sold out now, so it’s too late. That means I go right into the race weekend with a basically new car. The good news is that both Colin and Leif will be at Sebring with us. Also Porsche Motorsports is usually down there as well with a truck full of parts. So if anything goes wrong, it will hopefully be fixable at the track.
Looking forward to getting back into racing. Not to mention the fact that getting out of Seattle and all the snow/cold will sure be nice. The weather he is really starting to get out of hand.
November 22nd, 2006
I’ve posted a tentative 2007 schedule on the main latestfiasco.com site. We’ll do a lot of the same tracks we did last year. Since we mostly do PCA Club Racing that leads to the schedule not being too different year to year.
There are a number of reasons we do mostly PCA racing:
- The most track time for the money.
- Friendly people to race with. In fact there are lots of people who do the same thing that we do (PCA racing around the country). So we know a lot of the people at all the tracks.
- The 13/13 rule. This whole thing starts if someone does damage to their car or another persons car and they are at fault. They are then place on 13 months probabation. Another infraction within these 13 months and you are suspended for 13 months. This tends to calm things down just the slightest bit. And yes with my crash I am on a 13/13. So I have to be a little bit more careful. I’ve been racing PCA for quite a while now and this is my first 13/13.
- At many of the PCA races we go to there are grids of 20+ other GT3 Cup Cars to race with. You just can find that anywhere else. Except IMSA GT3 Cup that is. But that’s a whole other level of expense and competition. No 13/13 rule there!
Last but not least, I guess it’s been long enough that I can post some pictures of my crunched car! Here’s one of Chris Cervelli coming over to offer condolences. Whenever anyone has a bad crash, people always stop by to say sorry and/or “been there, done that”.
Spare parts… And no the door isn’t actually broken, you can take it off. After the crash when I got out of the car, as I opened the door to get out it just fell to the ground. Kind of like the scene in Blues Brothers where they finally make it to the Cook County Building, get out, and the car just falls apart. Or at least that is what I was thinking when it happened.
Look at all the sagebrush I managed to pull off with me!
The car is currently being worked on by Cantrell Motorsports. Just about every piece of suspension on the left side needs to be replaced, the steering rack, front/rear bumpers, front left fender, left rear quarter panel are done for as well. The parts list is pretty extensive (you can unfortunately change the “t” to a “p” in that last word as well)!
Marv Engstrom from Magic Customs came by to look at it for the body work. He didn’t think it was that bad. Left front and left rear engine rails need to be bent back, plus the body work. Most of the replacement parts are in so Colin almost has it back to a rolling state again, so we can get it over to Marv’s and get the body stuff fixed up.
October 16th, 2006
Miller is really a phenomenal track. At 4.5 miles long and 24 turns it’s the longest road course in the US. It took me the full test day in Friday to know where I was going. By the end of the day I was finally not being surprised by what was coming up after a turn.
The strange thing is that although the track is out in the desert with only small elevation changes there is just enough that it feels like every turn is blind. The track always seems to drop away from you so you don’t get good vision around the turn. That makes it even harder to memorize since the visuals are tough with just sand to look at on the outside of the track. One great thing is that each turn is named and there is a sign board in each turn with the name that you can see.
It’s a very fast track where keeping your momentum is the key. Overslowing the turns kills your lap times completely. The inside of the track is mostly 3rd and 4th gear, with a couple touches in fifth. The front straight is 3,500 feet long:
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October 4th, 2006
Before I start on the details of the weekend, track and so forth I figure I’d get the bad part out of the way first.
I managed to screw up and go off the track on the fastest turn on the course. Not only that, but I hit what is possibly the only piece of Armco on the track that you can hit. I at least had a day and a half of running before that.
The car itself is pretty torn up. It needs new left side suspension (front and rear) and left side sheet metal. There is an exact negative impression of the armco in the sheet metal. Strange thing is that the door came out ok. That’s nice because those carbon doors cost a fortune. The tub looks fine. The left side engine frame rail is bent but that’s easy to fix.
I think I also either bent the wing on the seat or maybe the seat rails themselves. I hit the armco dead parallel to it, so my head hit the wing on the seat. If you don’t have a seat with wings for your head I’d highly recommend it after going through this crash! I’d also guess the hans device also kept my head from moving around too much. It’s just silly to be racing without one of those.
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September 24th, 2006
Loaded up last weekend and the truck left this morning for Salt Lake. Ron’s wife took some pictures so I figured I’d put some of them up.
Have to bring some the track staples: water, gatorade, nuts, cookies, trail mix…
Leif getting his toolbox ready for going in the trailer. I’m hoping we don’t need to use it as much as we did at Watkins Glen! The guy in the orange shirt is Ron. Ron is driving the truck to Salt Lake and Daytona this trip. He’s taking his family along with him as well. Daytona sure is a long way. Thanks Ron.
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September 11th, 2006
I’m working this week to get organized for our Miller Motorsports Park and Daytona trip. Feels like we haven’t been racing in ages. It will be good to get back in the car. I’ve forgotten all the things I usually need to get organized before we leave!
The car needed a little work to get ready as well.
- One of my transmission supports was cracked.
- Some stuff under the car was a bit bent. It looks like I went off the track someplace but I can’t remember doing that anywhere.
- Lots of loose bolts and stuff.
- Had to get the front air jack rebuilt since it wasn’t fully returning when you lowered the car.
- The Stack system seems to have forgotten that I have steering and throttle sensors.
We load the truck up this weekend. No reports from the road this time since I’m not doing the truck driving this time. One trip to Florida was enough for me.
Along the way I had a great telephone call with the Hilton Honors program. I called to connect my Hilton Honors number to our Miller and Daytona reservations. I told the person on the line what I wanted to do, and gave them one of my reservation numbers for Daytona. They look it up, and respond “Ok, I’ve cancelled that reservation.” I say “What! I didn’t want the reservation cancelled’. They say, “Ok. I’ll try to get it back.” Note the word “try”. They tell me they can’t get it back because the hotel is fully booked. I say “Of course it’s fully booked! That’s why I made these reservations months ago!”. I ended up having to call the Daytona hotel directly to get it fixed. That’s what I call customer support.
August 2nd, 2006
Getting the Cayman aligned made a huge difference in handling. Gone was the pull when going from throttle to brake. It also rotated much better through the turns. The original aligment was out of whack in the rear with mismatched toe. Also there was almost no negative camber in the front. The alignment fixed the rear toe and we were able to max out the negative camber in the front at 1 degree.
They Cayman is truly an awesome track car. You can really have a blast driving this car fast. It’s so easy to slide it all the way around a corner using the throttle to steer. You can really feel the car rotate around it’s center.
In fact I had a little bit too much of a good time. I completely shredded the stock Michelins that come with the car. My front right lost about an inch of tread on the outside! I checked pressures and they seemed fine. I think I was just sliding it way too much on street tires. Oh well, live and learn.
Now I need to figure out what to do next. Should I just always run a different tire that can do street and track time? Or should I change rubber each time I go to the track keeping both street and track tires. Given the fact that I’m not going to track the car that often, I may just mount and unmount track tires when I need them. I surely don’t want to spend money on an extra set of wheels.
Even with the eventual tire problems, I still got in almost a full day of track time and had a blast. There were two other Caymans there as well, including another red one. It sure was fun passing 911s with my little Cayman. I can’t say enough good things about this car.
July 30th, 2006
I decided to extend my summer break from racing a little longer. We won’t be going to Road America this year. It’s tough to be out of town Labor Day weekend so I decided to stay here instead of head out.
Still really looking forward to our Miller Motorsports + Daytona trip. That should really be the highlight (as well the conclusion) of the racing year. The more I hear about Miller the more it sounds awesome.
So as to not stay completely away from a track for so long, I’m taking the Cayman out to Pacific Raceways for a track day next week. Not as much fun as the race car, but the Cayman is certainly the next best thing. I’m having it aligned before I go. Last time out it had a bit of a pull while coming off the throttle to the brakes. Colin says that’s probably front end toe not being even. Seems like I remember Pete Stoppani saying his ran a bunch better after it was aligned as well.
I still have work to do on my trail braking, specifically finding the correct brake point deep enough so that I can carry enough speed into the turn. I can do this right about 50% of the time. But my ability to do it correctly varies track to track, turn to turn. On turns that don’t have much runoff (like most of Pacific Raceways) my survival instinct kicks in and I end up braking a little too early. This means I end up having to let up on the brakes to much to maintain speed into the turn. That’s losing me time, so I’ll use this track day to work on that.
June 22nd, 2006
The weather was once again a mixed bag at the Glen. The first two days (Thursday/Friday) were very cold and varied from pouring down rain to light rain. The second two days (Saturday/Sunday) it finally cleared up and the sun came out for some dry track time.
With the two rain days I didn’t get much track time. The weather forecast was saying it would clear out so I mostly figured I’d wait for better weather to get on the track. The Glen isn’t a place you really want to mess with in the wet unless you really need to. The last session on Friday it finally starting clearing and I got my first somewhat dry time on the track.
Unforunately during the first dry session on Friday I blew a radiator hose connection on my car. It’s a strange part that tee’s off the cooling from the engine to the transmission cooler. It’s right under the middle of the car. Luckily I was black flagged almost immediately (thanks corner workers) so I came in before any overheating alarms going off.
The interesting thing is that the part that went is the same part that gave out on one of our other cars at Sebring. Of course we had every other radiator hose in the truck except for that one. Asking around the paddock for a replacement got back replies of “No we don’t have one of those. They do go often. We should really have one of those!”. Luckily it wasn’t too late in the day and Porsche Motorsports in California was still open so we managed to get an overnight replacement to the hotel for the next morning.
That broken part took me out for most of Saturday. It showed up late in the morning and by the time we got it in I missed qualifying for the race. So I started dead last for the 30 minute sprint race Saturday afternoon. The Sprint Race was my first really good track time. I picked up a bunch of positions but the race was only green for about 4 laps and then it went yellow because of a crash and checkered under that yellow. That meant I didn’t have much of a chance to pick up a whole bunch of spots from the back. Even so those 4 laps were my first real laps of the weekend. I felt like I was picking up speed so I was happy.
Sunday was warmup for the Enduro followed by the hour and a half Enduro itself. During warmup I once again was picking up the pace. The Enduro itself went really well for me. I had a new system where I have a stopwatch taped to me steering wheel which I use to time my pitstop. In a 1.5 hour enduro you need to take a 5 minute timed pitstop. During that pitstop you need to get out of the car and re-fuel. The new stopwatch system let me time the pit stop much better than usual so I didn’t lose much spending too much time in the pits. The 1.5 hours of track time during the enduro also gave me plenty of time to get fully comfortable with the track again.
In the end I beat my best time from last year by about 2 seconds which I was really happy about. I also placed 5th in class out of 17 cars in the Enduro which I was also very happy with. So even though the weekend started out rough it ended up great.
I did have some excitement during the Enduro. I was going up through the esses nose to tail right behind another car. The esses are a 5th to 6th gear 100+ mph right/left/right section of the track. There is no runoff room whatsoever going through them. It’s just track, 6 inches of grass and armco on both sides of that. Anyway I was following about a foot behind another car through the esses. Ahead of us I could see a slower car. We caught up with it right at the top of the esses which is the final right hander. We both swung to the left a bit to go around the outside. Then the slower car suddenly swings left right in front of us. The car in front of me slows down a bit which means I have to go wider left. This puts about half of my left side tires in the grass at about 120 MPH. I straightened the wheel to ride it out, the car gave a little hitch to the right which I caught and then came smoothly back onto the pavement. It would have been really bad to lose it there because you just ping pong off the armco hitting the left and right sides. Luckily everything worked out OK but I was certainly holding my breath for a while.
The other car that was out with us ended up losing 3rd gear on Saturday. Lucky for him that the driver for the third car in the transporter couldn’t make the event so we “borrowed” his transmission. It took a lot of hard work from Leif Johnson of Autowerks Northwest over two days to get the car going again. It did get finished for the Enduro though and had a good run.