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Showing posts from 2009

The Fifth Element

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It wasn’t to be, after all; we missed the final weekend of NASA’s Southern California (SoCal) region’s 2009 program. It was going to be touch and go anyway as we had just returned to Los Angeles, having spent a week in Sydney, Australia. On arriving in Simi Valley, a family emergency arose that saw us spending the weekend navigating the Interstate system instead, as we drove back to Boulder. However, we had spent a weekend at Buttonwillow Raceway in October, and had really enjoyed it. I am very pleased to write that we are both showing signs of improvement and the good form we had demonstrated at Cal Speedway the previous month turned out not to be an anomaly. The picture above is of the Corvette before heading to Buttonwillow, leaving the car wash, where it had caught the attention of the local Simi Valley constabulary – the new black and blue color scheme suggesting to the officers present that it would make the perfect backup for their mobile command center. In case they need

Give me a “brake” – concentrate!

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National Auto Sports Association (NASA) events take a break over the summer months as attention switches to the annual NASA Championships. This event is for racers, and not for students like us participating in the High Performance Driver Education (HPDE) program, so we just have to wait. After the successful weekend at Auto Club Speedway at the end of July, our next weekend with NASA will be in early October when we return to Buttonwillow. We are planning on continuing using the Infiniti for the last two weekends of the season, as these will be held at Buttonwillow, and we have become better drivers at this track following the switch to the Infiniti coupe. But the weekend at Auto Club Speedway has fueled our enthusiasm for getting even more track time, so we decided to explore opportunities outside of NASA. Our good friends Brian and Jan, who have joined us for several weekends with NASA, have spent time on the track with Speed Ventures, and as this club’s next event was planned

Johnny needs a fast car …

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The weekend before last saw our return to Cal Speedway, which is better known these days as the Auto Club Speedway. This is a major facility that hosts NASCAR and Indy Racing League (IRL) events, and is a far cry from the usual tracks we drive. The centerpiece of the track is the banked oval familiar to all who watch NASCAR events, and the photo above is of me, on the banking between turns T1 and T2, during a late morning session on Saturday (photos by CaliPhotography.com ). “The oval (that you will drive on) is, technically,” our instructor Fulton later explained to me, “NASCAR 1 (entry) and NASCAR 2 (exit).” For groups like National Auto Sport Association (NASA), we use the “Roval” configuration that combines part of the NASCAR banked oval with a road course laid down within the infield. What Fulton was telling me was that we would be driving down the main straight of the oval – shaped more like a “D” than a true oval – and rounding turns T1 and T2 before exiting part way down the

Further tales of two 'Vettes!

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This weekend we will not be at Buttonwillow, after all. A family illness necessitated our return to our home in Boulder, Colorado, where we will be spending the next couple of weeks, and we have no chance of a quick dash back to participate in NASA’s HPDE event at what has quickly developed into our favorite track. We hear this weekend the cars will be circulating in a counter-clockwise direction, whereas the previous time it had been clockwise. Check out the post of April 30, ’09: Are we humans? Or are we dancers? Perhaps the saddest sight to see is both of our cars sitting in the garage hooked up to battery charges, as pictured above, where they will remain until much later in July. With the arrival of the July 4th weekend we head to Copenhagen for a much-anticipated cruise, courtesy of Princess Cruise Line, around the Baltic that will take us to a number of Eastern European cities, including St Petersburg, Russia, Tallinn, Estonia, and Gdynia, Poland. In the meantime, it tr

A tale of two ‘Vettes!

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The weekend at Willow Springs International Raceway (WSIR) proved to be a great experience for Margo and me. We had been looking forward to it and the circuit didn’t disappoint. Our first outing onto a race track back in 2008 had been at Willow Springs and now we consider it to be our “home track.” At the same time, we always associate Big Willow with our ‘Vette and it seemed a little odd to arrive, early Saturday morning, driving something other than the big fella! The ‘Vette remains Margo’s daily drive and there’s rarely a weekend in Southern California when we can’t be found driving along the coast or up through the canyons. The photo above is of a recent drive along Mulholland Highway where the resident photographer from “RockStorePhotos.com” happened to snap us on a descent into the local watering hole. The ‘Vette is limping a little these days, battered from six weekends of track duty but as we arrived at the track, fate would intervene and the ‘Vette wouldn’t be left out,

Are we humans? Or are we dancers?

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Well after the adventures of the previous month at Cal Speedway (Auto Club Speedway) it was good to be making a fresh start. We had talked about it for many nights and remain convinced we did the right thing in not turning any laps when we weren’t fully focused. We had heard so many stories of cars going backwards into the high-speed walls of the big oval that not taking any chances seemed to make a lot of sense to us. The picture above is of Margo alongside the new car early Saturday morning and just after we had been through Tech Inspect. Our plans for the past few weeks did change and we ended up driving back to our Boulder home in the Escallade but we did decide to start a new chapter and to take the Infiniti G37S to the track. Our “momentum” car – and every time we make that comment we can see a wry smile spreading across our head instructor Fulton’s face. “You guys,” he would start and then walk away! Consistent with starting a new chapter, and as forecasted in the previo

Best laid plans ...

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Margo and I spent a short time Friday walking along the beach at Point Dume. It wasn’t what we originally had planned to do that day but it was sunny enough, and it gave us a chance to relax. And the picture above is of us framed by the coastal scenery of this popular spot along the Malibu coastline. As regular readers of this blog may recall, this was the weekend we were to be at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. In fact, in the final paragraph of the posting of March 13, 2009 Preparation? Just Drive! I had expressed just how excited I was to be even thinking about driving on that track, suggesting that there would be “lot’s of film to watch, as we have never been to this circuit.” I closed with “but if the turn of events of the past weekend are anything to go by, I have a much better feel for all the preparation I have to do. And the car will be just fine, thank you very much!” The lead up to the weekend’s planned event had been quite exciting. A friendship that

Preparation? Just Drive!

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It really doesn’t matter how well you prepare for a weekend at the track, it’s not until you roll out of the hot pits and onto the track for the first session before you can tell whether the preparation was worth it. You can watch a lot of videos of other drivers, and feel as prepared as you can be, but there’s never any substitute for getting in the car and just “having a go” by yourself. It is the first weekend of the new calendar year and the setting was the main track at Willow Springs – better known as Big Willow - just a little to the west of Rosamond, CA. It’s on the edge of the Mojave Desert and with spring still weeks away, the daytime temperatures were on the chilly side – perfect for any “forced-air induction” engines. And the C6 ‘Vette we take to the track has a very big forced-air induction engine. Conditions couldn’t be better! The picture at the top of the page is of cars in pre-grid prior to one of the afternoon races and it was the first time I could recall s