It’s Fun To Stay At The SCCA

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Qualified fifth this morning for my first-ever amateur SCCA race. Dont expect to set the world on fire. Just happy to be here. The good news is that I’m not the only Neon in the class. The bad news is that the other Neon is an ex-Koni Challenge SRT-4. On Motons.

Wish us luck.

Race Report: Wilmington Youth Karts

It didn’t start out well. For John’s second race, and his first time at the Wilmington track, we showed up about an hour late. Our neighborhood had held a block party the night before, outdoor torches blazing and kids running around in that kind of frenzied aimless excitement that I remember from when my dad’s baseball or softball team would have a season-ending party in my youth. I’d let him stay up until nearly midnight, so I felt that I had to let him sleep until eight-thirty the next morning.

When we arrived, John’s competition was already out there practicing. His name was Colin and he was a very soft-spoken, friendly young boy who looked to be maybe ten pounds lighter than my son. His kart was powered by the new Comer C51 with a free-breathing cone filter, which didn’t bode well for any straight-line drag race in which John might find himself. His father had brought a stand, somebody to rebuild the carburetor between races, and a very complete set of tools. Every lap Colin took, the dad would run out to the start/finish line and make a pumping motion with his fist until the kid was well past him. These were people who took karting very seriously.

In the first practice, Colin dropped John by maybe five karts per straight and was on track to lap him when I called a halt to the proceedings. I was genuinely upset. John wasn’t worried at all. “The race,” he said, “will go great.” Doesn’t he know he almost got lapped? I thought. Should I have coached him more? Pushed him more? How is he going to deal with being humiliated out there?

Turns out my son had a much better handle on things than I gave him credit for.

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I’m No Photographer…

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…but I’m not displeased with this one. Danger Girl on a cloudy Mid-Ohio Saturday afternoon, heading towards the Honda bridge. And I took it in “M” mode on the Rebel, setting everything but the focus myself.

When I see the results of my own “work” behind the camera, however, it reminds me how lucky I am to work with people like Andrew Trahan, Jamey Price, Sean Klingelhoefer, Evan Klein, Peter Dawson, Ryan Doede, Matt Tierney, Puppyknuckles Dave, and several others. The challenge that I have is writing something that will make you forget all that visual bullshit.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

Enjoy (what’s left of) your weekend, everybody!

Race Report: SCCA Targa

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Talk about pressure. Acura gave my brother Prototype #0000 of the as-yet-unreleased NSX supercar. Told him he could enter it in the SCCA Targa event that spanned racetracks from Atlanta to Bowling Green. Gave him a factory race engineer. There was just one caveat: he had to come home with the trophy. No excuses.

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Saved By The Rack

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Yesterday I whined about how I was short one wheel centering ring as a result of lending my Neon’s third wheelset to another driver. This morning I called the Tire Rack hoping they could help me come up with a solution. Amazingly, they had my original order of the wheels from 2008 still on the books. And they still had the centering rings. And they’re sending them today. And I’ll get them tomorrow. For free.

There are a lot of people who bemoan the 800-pound gorilla aspect of Tire Rack’s participation in motorsports — my brother and I can think of a particularly unpleasant autocrossing-related incident from a decade ago that serves as a perfect example of why no one company should have too much “juice” in a particular sanction or series — but in this case I have nothing but praise for the folks from South Bend. I’ve already ordered twelve tires and eight wheels from them in 2016 and I expect there will be more to come.

In Which The Author Plays Captain Save-A-Ho And It Costs Him Untold Misery

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Aarrrgh. Eight years ago, I bought a brand-new set of Rial wheels for my Neon from the Tire Rack. At the time, I only had two sets of race wheels and I needed a third so I had dry, wet, and intermediate (full-tread R-comp) options.

When I took a hiatus from NASA racing, a young lady who was also racing a Neon asked me to borrow a set of wheels. If some dude had asked me that, I’d have told him to fuck off. But because I’m an atavistic creature from the 1950s at heart, I let her borrow my Rials, which were perfect. She returned them two years later — dirty, dingy, scraped, and dented.

Tonight I decided to scrub and paint the wheels for this weekend’s AER race. Lo and behold, I pulled the wheels out — and saw that the lady in question had managed to lose one of the centering rings that came with the wheels. Well, this is what I deserve for being a perfect fedora-wearing gentleman, isn’t it? Next time, I’ll listen to Slick Rick.