I had my best (solo) Spec Miata finish of the year on Saturday at the EMRA Sprints. The Sprints were held just before the EMRA Enduro race that afternoon/evening (where Bad Al Bell and I combined for a 3rd Place finish). I finished in 4th Place in a field of 9 SM Spec Miatas. This is also the first race where I finished in the top half of the pack.
The truth as shown in the videos below (unlike some fishing stories) is that I was in 3rd Place with a half lap to go when I blew a shift and the #72 Blue Miata slid past me. I was a half lap short of a dual trophy day.
The race was actually even more exciting than that (at least for me). I started out in 5th place and by turn 4 of the fist lap I had dropped down all the way to 9th (last) place. The race starts have the highest incidence of crashes and I see from my videos that I have a tendency to let the cars sort themselves out a bit (definitely a bit too much).
I have included the whole race as posted in three segments on YouTube. You can see by watching the first minute of part 1 how I drop off to last place when the red #14 car passes me.
Over the course of the 18 lap race, I pass all of the SM Miatas except those in 2nd and 1st place. I race in 3rd place ahead of the blue Miata for several laps after passing him. It is on lap 18 that the #72 blue Miata passes me back to take 3rd place back. This part can be seen towards the end of part 3 posted below.
Note, there are other race classes mixed in with my Spec Miata SM class. You can see the little yellow formula cars as well as an occasional Volvo! These are not in my class but still were in my way from time to time.
Part 1 – The Start of the race – where I immediately fall behind to 9th place.
Part 2 – Where I continue to chase down the Blue #72 Miata.
Part 3 – Where I finally catch Blue #72 Miata and move into 3rd place until missing a shift on the last lap.
The headline sounds nice, but I think my grandmother could have taken 3rd place with Bad Al Bell as a partner. The EMRA 4 hour Enduro race requires two drivers. I did my part by not leaving the car in a tree. Al did his part by passing all of the cars that I had let get in front of me. That is what I call teamwork! It was the longest race I have done in my short career. I was in the car just under 2 hours before I turned it over to Al. A huge thank you to Mike Collins and the Meathead Racing team for all of their help!
This is a quick video of Randy Ramos from Meathead Racing heading off into the gravel pit in Turn 1 at the practice session for the EMRA 4 Hour Enduro. Randy was being followed by Bad Al Bell in my car as we took some test laps. They both pass the white Miata before turn 10 and head down the straightaway towards turn 1. The only issue is that is was really wet and Randy decided to brake a little late… Nothing a little tow truck action could not sort out. It was a great day at the Enduro and the Sprints that preceded them.
You can see the red #14 car sneak up my right side in turn 5 as we stack up into a line of cars. He stays inside me for turn 6. Instead of falling in behind him, I keep my line off his left bumper – and run out of track. This is the old, “watch the track – and not the guy in front of you” lesson.
The 2009 SCCA Club Racing Season was really enjoyable. I was able to make it to seven race weekends this year plus four other high performance driving events. That is more track time in one year than the sum total of track time in my entire life before this year.
I really learned a lot and set new personal best lap records almost every week. I started the year with my best lap in the MARRS 1 qualifier being a 1:37.908 and 8 of the 10 laps being slower than 1:40. I finished this year in the MARRS 11 final race with a 1:31.826. Six seconds faster in a single lap is a great improvement. More telling was the consistency of the laps in each race with many of them clustering in the 1:32 range at the end of the year.
I met a lot of really great people as well. I could not have even come close to making this happen with my busy schedule if it were not for Mike Collins and his fantastic program at Meathead Racing. A huge shout out to Wendy, Sherise, Glen, and Jimmy who helped me though a huge learning curve.
The other racers were also fantastic (aside from some early “rookie bumps” out on the track to initiate me to Spec Miatas). Some of these people are very accomplished racers that turn laps in the 1:27 range. Yet they will still spend time and talk with the slow pokes like me to help me learn and grow with this sport. Many of the Meathead Racing teammates also took time to help me get buckled in and ready out on the grid as well. Such an outstanding group of people to spend a weekend with! If you have ever considered learning how to race in wheel-to-wheel competition, I would highly recommend contacting Mike Collins at Meathead Racing. Even for a busy person such as myself, they make the words, “arrive and drive” a reality.
My hosting provider performed a platform upgrade (actually sold part of the business and moved to a new colo). So somewhere between September 25th and October 2nd, my blog went down when WordPress could no longer access the DB. While they assured their users there would be no interruptions to service, clearly that was not the case.
I saw that the blog was down this morning, figured out what was wrong, and edited the wp-config file to point to the new database. Things are seemingly back to normal. It could have been MUCH worse. I have seen total disasters in migrations such as these (none under my management of course). 🙂
Now I need to jump in my car and high-tail it to Summit Point, WV for my last SCCA Club Race of the season. I am shooting for a new personal best lap record after setting one in the qualifying race yesterday.
I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Berti Roos Racing School up in the Poconos last week. They teach open wheel racing in Formula 2000 cars. This was my first event in Formula 2000 or any open wheel vehicle.
We were allowed to pass in one specific zone if we were given the flag indicating it was OK. I am happy to say I passed a lot of people – but no one ever passed me. That is the way it is supposed to be (aside from real racers at SCCA Club Racing – where getting passed was a reality for me this year).
You can click on the photo below to see a couple of more images on Webshots.
A group of people from work joined over a thousand other riders and rode from the Dulles Airport to the Pentagon today. The Rattle the Runway Ride was conceived to honor those people that flew Flight 77 on September 11th from IAD and crashed into the Pentagon. We staged at the airport behind the Air and Space Museum. As we left, we rode into the airport and through departures. We then proceeded up 267 to 66 and onto the Pentagon where we were able to spend some time at the memorial. The memorial has a bench for each person that died in the crash. The benches face in two directions: one for those that were on the plane, and the other for those killed on the ground. The benches are lined up by year of birth. The youngest victim of this cowardly act of terrorism was only three years old.
It was a nice ride and a nice way to pay my respects to those that lost their lives that day. May they and their families find peace.
I got my new TraqMate installed and used it in the MARRS 7 SCCA Club Racing event this weekend. The device is astounding. It uses a GPS to track your speed and a video camera to record what is happening in front (and optionally in back) of you.
This device will let me know how fast (slow in my case) I am entering each corner and what my exit speed is. This will help me compare to the really experienced drivers and know where to push it harder. The camera and GPS do not lie. And they record every lap and every missed shift. So this should be a huge help towards setting my new personal best lap record.