Weekly Roundup: It’s A Start Edition

After the minor heartbreak of last weekend’s losses at NCM’s American Endurance Racing double enduro, it was really nice to come back and win both days at MidOhio with SCCA in my Neon. Yesterday I qualified 7th overall, 1st in class, and finished 6th overall, 1st in class. Despite being hit four separate times by the same Miata in this morning’s qualifying race, I was able to qualify 7th and finish 4th overall in the afternoon, just 0.6 seconds behind the third-place Mustang and picking up another first in class.

Click the jump for a video of my reasonably strong start, where I grabbed 3 places in the first 700 feet, and to read a rundown of this week’s contributions.

I didn’t get in-car video — this is from Danger Girl on the garage walkway.

Saturday’s win.

Scenes from this morning.

Bringing the ATC car hauler I bought (used) a few months ago up to snuff for World Challenge.

At TTAC I answered a van question.

For R&T I evaluated the URB-E Pro GT and OMG DROVE A SPRINT CAR!

Come back this week for some great guest content and a few opinion pieces by your not-so-humble author!

19 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: It’s A Start Edition”

  1. AvatarComfortablyNumb

    I’ll second the Pacifica recommendation. It looks good, it’s comfortable and functional, it handles and accelerates stunningly well, and has very good factory sound.

    More peoole need to give in to van envy. Owning one is everything you hoped it would be, and then some. Join us, and you too can merrily slalom construction barrels on a late-night run for diaper cream, windows down, “Cemetary Gates”…no, LIFE…cranked to 11.

    • Avatarsilentsod

      I’m trying to convince my wife that a minivan is the most practicable form factor for us with two large dogs and a growing family. She is mighty resistant to the idea.

  2. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    A sprint car is likely the most terrifying thing to drive (never tried a top fuel dragster so I might be wrong). A good friend of mine runs the circuit in Florida and I tried his once at East Bay Raceway. It took me a while to figure out that the steering wheel is more something for the driver to just hang on to, than something to change direction with. Brakes have some influence on turning, but it seems its partly the “stagger” of the tires and mainly the throttle. And boy howdy does that throttle get your attention. I spun out 5 times, luckily at slow speed, before I started to even have a clue what I was doing. The last few laps I got better, with one that I felt was near perfection. Then my buddy went out and beat my best time by over 4 seconds.

    Glad he gave me a chance to try it, put that ended any thought I had of how easy it was.

  3. Avatarsafe as milk

    as i am in my late fifties and the only vehicle i own is a ‘93 vw eurovan westy, i am living proof of the van disease.

    i want to comment on jack’s comment,

    ”The question is: what creates the most social good? Paying the “overhead” white-collar workers, or paying the assembly-line people?

    This country is now twenty years into an experiment of what happens when you send every single living-wage unskilled-labor job overseas. How’s it going?”

    i graduated with a degree in economics from the same institution that trained jamie dimon. when i see fools quoting econ bs about the “multiplier effect,” it scares me how much groupthink goes on at these schools. they call it the multiplier effect because they don’t want to give credit to the main proponents of the idea: reagan republicans. this is the famous trickle down economics and it is the modern equivalent of “let them eat cake.”

    real progressives promote jobs for working people. until the day that working, safety and environmental conditions are equal globally, we should all favor locally manufactured goods.

    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      Real progressives promote rent-seeking and permanent sinecures for themselves and their cronies.

  4. AvatarRob De Witt

    I especially like the “…are like refrigerators, buy the one that lasts longest for the least money” allegory. After a life of low-to-middle-class existence driving mostly 100k-mile+ Mopars (two slant-sixes and two 318s) and one 200k-mile+ 528i with a 3.5 and a hot suspension, I finally bought a friend’s 135k Corolla, and that was my absolute first comment – “Just like a refrigerator” – (white, too) and everything works so far, even my first working AC. It can even be fun if I feel like setting fire to some hundreds, but at 73 the extra bucks are few and far between.

    I’m an ex-midwesterner stuck in California, and I swore I’d never own a Jap car. Never say never…..

  5. AvatarNick D

    On the subject of new wheels, what happened to your plan for a second tow-capable vehicle for simultaneous track car fleet transportation?

  6. AvatarE. Bryant

    The more I ponder the vehicle question, the more I believe that “van” is the right answer (and it’s pretty much where I started, as my first van was purchased at age 19). And while minivans are probably the right choice for most customers, I still carry the flag for full-size vans with a longitudinal powertrain arrangement and at least one solid axle.

    I put 1100 miles on my GMC Savana conversion van this weekend – with three truly nasty mountain bike races in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula serving as the focal point of the trip – and I couldn’t imagine carrying my own gear and that of three other family members in a different type of vehicle. The big ugly box also served as a kitchen, sleeping quarters, changing room, and medical tent while camped at the race. This afternoon, it’s shuttling parts for another van project (new driveshafts today – yeah!). It could haul myself and nine other people if needed, and has indeed done that for things like school field trips (not that this is recommended, if only for the harmful level of ambient noise that results from a large number of kids watching Looney Tunes DVDs on the overhead display).

    That’s versatility, and I most certainly would not be better-served by an SUV that’s much more expensive and much smaller inside. Long live the van.

  7. AvatarHank_M

    Your Sprint car article was one of your very best.
    My wife couldn’t understand why I was laughing so hard reading a R&T article.

  8. AvatarCJinSD

    The Pacifica makes a shiny happy rental car experience, but you don’t want telling someone to own one out of warranty on your conscience. Fiat’s Obama CAFE wiring harnesses and LED marker lights are a nightmare.

  9. AvatarWidgetsltd

    It must have been “Miata attacks neon” weekend. We ran with Lucky Dog at Laguna Seca, and were hit by two different Miatas. The second hit was the big one: a wildly optimistic passing attempt by a Miata in turn 11 caved in the neon’s driver door, rocker and part of the quarter panel.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Oh, man.

      We’re starting to get to the point where body panels are hard to get. At least here in Ohio, where the junkyard supply of Neons started to run out about five years back.

  10. Avatarhank chinaski

    Tis but a scratch.

    Driving the minivan at that age would make you the default designated driver to the early bird specials.

  11. AvatarCognoscenti

    Just loved the Sprint car R&T article, Jack. I fear that the street driving techniques so deeply ingrained in me will make for a similarly poor transition to the track in my E90 M3. Are you coming to a track within reasonable driving distance of Charlotte any time this year? I would love two things:
    1. Instruction time with you; and
    2. To be the passenger in my car while you put it through it’s paces.

  12. AvatarEric L.

    > the next slot is booked by a semifamous racing driver who is giving the sprint car thing a try. There are two photographers, a PR agent, and a drone-camera operator crossing the infield to document the occasion. I slouch off in despair. The semifamous driver is posing next to the car I’ve just driven, delivering some polished lines to the camera about a new opportunity and never backing down and whatnot.

    I don’t know what it is about this snippet, but it’s excellent. A tasteful reminder of the irrelevance of fame, combined with a sentence that makes you more likeable. You’re adamant in your writings here that you’re a pretty terrible person, but you sure suck in the reader to a fantasy world where, not only are YOU not the semifamous driver being chased by photographers and drones, but you’re a downright everyman, replete with _feelings_ and severe relateability. (Mr. Andrew Trahan did a great job at that event. The leading image and the shot of you going around the bend, framed by the cage? Insert chef emoji here.)

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Well, I’m not such a decent person that I didn’t crack a smile when that driver hit the wall…


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