The Longest Year

For the past fifteen years, whenever anybody asked me what my “home track” was, I always replied with “Nelson Ledges Road Course.” True, Mid-Ohio is closer to my house — but Ledges was where I spent dozens of evenings and weekends learning to drive, shaking down race cars, and performing the occasional Camry e-brake turn.

There’s been no end to the speculation surrounding Ledges since the facility closed last year, but the new owners have a Facebook page up and have shared the above video. “2016 will be a rebuilding year,” they say. Let’s all hope the rebuilding happens on schedule. Ledges is most famous for “The Longest Day”, an SCCA enduro that’s been held there for the past fifty years or longer. I’m sure it will return, right after this longest year.

The P.O.O.P.

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Unlike some women you’ve met in the past, I won’t be propositioning you.

That was the last sentence in the first email I received from her, almost seven years ago. She was telling the truth. I was the one who propositioned her.

If you ever do turn your life around and realize that I am what you want, feel free to let me know. I will love you until my dying breath.

That was the last sentence in the last email I received from her, some four and a half years later. I think she was lying, even if she didn’t know it at the time. I hope she was, anyway.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: No Time For Losers Edition

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Bark and I spent the weekend at Laguna Seca driving race cars and eating fifty-nine-dollar steaks. Meanwhile, our sons were busy playing their season championships without us. Bark’s kid won his soccer league championship and was recognized as the best goalkeeper in the league. My son ran for three touchdowns, including a cross-field run in the first play of Saturday’s game, and made several big catches to win both of his team’s bowl games this weekend.

So let’s all sing a rousing chorus of “Cat’s In The Cradle” while we take a look at last week’s contributions.

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Housekeeping: Please Continue To Lean Back

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“Don’t take that car into the South Bronx.”

My father never misses a chance to remind me that I’m essentially a Midwestern boy on my own. Well, that’s his fault, for moving me and Bark out here so we never got the chance to grow up as streetwise native New Yorkers the way he and my grandfather did. It’s okay with me, actually. I like to visit the city as often as I can but I also like having room for six cars and seven motorcycles and, ah, however many guitars I have.

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Turns Out There Are “Racers” Who Don’t Just Ram Stopped Cars From 500 Feet Out

About half a year ago, the mouth-breathers of Class C LeMons racing were calling for my head on a platter because I suggested that there’s no reason to ram stopped cars that you can see from hundreds of feet away. Many electrons were spilled in the cause of arguing that YOU JUST CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO AVOID A CRASH ON A RACETRACK.

If I had my way, each and every person who thought that the Ferkel crash was unavoidable would be banned from motor racing for life. And then they would be keelhauled, which is a great old practice pour encourager les autres. I’ve decided to significantly reduce or eliminate my participation in entry-level series because I don’t want to be on the track with people who can’t drive for shit. Ideally, I’d be the worst driver on track at any given point. It would be safest for me.

As a counter-example to the Ferkel crew, I present the man who got me started in club racing, Brian Makse, adroitly avoiding a fucking catastrophic multiple-car incident this afternoon. Some of it was luck; you have to be lucky in racing and Brian always is. (For an example of a driver who is never lucky… well, there’s me.) But Brian also keeps his eyes up and steers through the incident without really even lifting very much. To some degree, he’s a wolf among sheep, as a former pro racer in an entry-level series. But tell me this: who do you want racing next to you… the Nein-11 guy and his buddies, or Brian Makse?

Weekly Roundup: Enter The Fazer Edition

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Some machines are born great, some achieve greatness, and some of them have greatness thrust upon them. The Yamaha FZ1 falls into the first category, having been a simply brilliant motorcycle from the moment it was introduced. And now I have one — or at least I have half of one. Even after fifteen years, this old mongrel still runs faster than my VFR800. What it needs is some freshening of all the things that stick, wear, corrode, or crumble. So that’s what it’s going to get.

This was an unusually busy week for me, but next week I’m going to take a vacation. Oh, who am I kidding? My “vacation” involves both coasts, two racetracks, five different cars, about seven thousand air miles, and almost no sleep. Sure will be nice when I can get back home and rest.

Okay, let’s see what we got done this week.

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Spotter’s Guide To The June 2016 Road&Track

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I’d like to tell you that I had something to do with the Ford GT on this month’s cover, but my contribution to the issue falls into the “agony of defeat” column, not the “thrill of victory” one: Turn to page 104 to read all about helmets and why you should spend real money on a decent on when you hit the track. There are a few neat photos in there as well!