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.

The Kwisatz Haderach

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Well, this is it. I am officially obsolete. Clearance bin. Last year’s model. Overstock.com.

Thursday night, John drove on a real racetrack for forty-five minutes. His lines weren’t perfect, but we didn’t discuss line theory or anything like it prior to him setting off. I just asked him to be careful, and not to go too quickly. Here’s the thing: Every first-day trackday student, every male first-day trackday student anyway, secretly thinks they are going to be awesome. I know, because my students have admitted as such to me, and because I secretly felt the same way on my first trackday. We all think we’re going to immediately be respectably fast, that we’re going to have no trouble driving at the limit. None of us is ever prepared for the cold reality of being thirty seconds a lap off pace.

Well, I have no idea what expectations my son had for himself. He didn’t share them with me. But he was absolutely brilliant.

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Autocross Recap: OVR Points #2 And Some Illegal Street Autocross Yo

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I don’t think the Ohio Valley Region has updated their site design in a long time. Know how I know? That photo in the header above is from 2005. I think. 2006 at the latest.

Not that much has changed. I’m still autocrossing Ye Olde 2004 Boxster S. And still not autocrossing it particularly well. With that said, I did get a trophy for something besides participation.

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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.

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?

Welcome To The SCCA, John Baruth

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“I like to play a game called ‘people ball’,” John told me. “It’s when you pick up people and throw them. And they make a noise like ‘waaaaaah! I’m telling!’ I don’t know why you would even need a regular ball when you can play people ball at recess.” When I heard this on the drive home from school yesterday evening, I was a little conflicted. On one hand, if John likes initiating aggressive contact for no reason I think he’ll make a great club racer. But on the other hand, the entire Spec Miata class, and much of the SCCA in general, is built on the idea of people snitching on each other, so if John finds that to be annoying, he’s gonna hate having his Viper torn down after each regional.

Regardless of the above, he’s now an SCCA member in good standing. But he’s remarkably annoyed about the membership card.

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