(Last) Weekly Roundup: Hitting The Wall And Everything After Edition

The little white Bimmer was right ahead of me in the Saturday-morning tech line for this past weekend’s NASA race at NCM Motorsports Park. Freshly wrapped in a fascinating PopArt-ish line-and-pattern vinyl, it had laminated copies of the original Monroney sticker taped to the rear quarter window. Thirty years ago, it had been sold as a new 325i by Dayton, Ohio’s sole BMW dealer, possibly at the same time that I was working down the road at David Hobbs BMW in downtown Columbus. I chatted with the owner and his co-driver, who was either his brother or someone who just happened to look exactly like him. I’d call them “good kids”, but that’s my age and detachment speaking. In truth, they seemed to be good men, bringing this very nicely-finished car to the track after months of hard work and detail-oriented effort.

A few hours later, after Danger Girl expressed some concern about how her slicks had behaved during qualifying, I borrowed her car and hopped in the “HPDE 4” session. DG was right — the tires were an absolute nightmare, completely grained and displaying some really unpleasant grumble-slide-grip characteristics. The young fellows in their BMW were gridded right behind me. I waved them past early in the session and then spent a lap or two trying to re-surface the slicks by heating and cooling them. I rolled back up behind the 325i just in time to see their newly-built car, on which they’d spent five months’ worth of effort, hit the wall.

A few hours later, I saw the two men loading the crashed car onto the trailer. “I’m really sorry… what are you going to do with it?”

“Oh,” the owner chirped, “we will be back tomorrow!” And they were. According to an email I received afterwards:

We made it back today and for 2 sessions after replacing rear trailing arm, bearing, hub, Front upright, coil conversion it, control arm, tie rod, alignment, and bled brakes.

That sounds like a long night to me.

After nearly two decades on racetracks I have come to believe that sooner or later everyone will hit the wall. It’s what you do after that counts. In Danger Girl’s race on Sunday, she was struck by a 944 driver who lost control under braking and plowed into her MX-5, crumping much of the car’s rear end and knocking her out of second place with just five laps left. It was a stupid and regrettable move by the 944 dude but, again, everybody makes mistakes. His behavior afterwards, on the other hand, was neither typical nor acceptable, and that’s all I will say on that topic at the moment.

Some people make a big mistake on track and use it as an excuse to quit. Others decide to blame the weather, the car, the circumstances — everything and everyone but themselves. Then you have those ones who hit the wall and come back stronger and smarter despite the damage and misery involved. Unsurprisingly, that’s true for life in general as well. At some point, each of us will experience what Robert Bly, in Iron John calls “ashes time”, those months or years where we grind through unfiltered misery, despair…

…well, clearly it’s different for some of us than it is for others.

* * *

Last week, I wrote about cross-Atlantic SUV pricing, the littlest Lincoln, and the idea of a Corvette SUV.

26 Replies to “(Last) Weekly Roundup: Hitting The Wall And Everything After Edition”

  1. AvatarDisinterested-Observer

    I got an email from Michael Timmins asking if I would like to buy an old guitar of his. I was going to forward it to you but I didn’t know your email. It is probably gone by considering it went to everyone on the mailing list and what I know about the demographics of their audience.

  2. Avatarbluebarchetta

    Agree 100% with your take on the Corvette SUV. That being said…what if they took the Tahoe police package, installed the 755hp V8 from the Corvette ZR1 and the interior from the Denali, and called it a Kingswood Estate? Seems like they could sell those for $100K all day long and one-up the Trackhawk.

    Any name is better than Urus, Bentayga, or Culligan Man.

  3. AvatarNoID

    You triggered me with the Roadmaster comment…my family lost ours to an un-insured motorist who rear-ended my father and mother in a mall parking lot at a rate of speed just high enough to total the vehicle.

    It was a completely stock Limited Edition (LT1, tow package, etc.) except for a set of Flowmasters my father put on it…boy howdy it sounded mean.

    So thanks, I’m ruined for the day now. If you need me I’ll be locked in a conference room with my weighted blanket and adult coloring books.

  4. Avatarlink3721

    So why is Dodge able to be different with respect to having “performance” versions of most of the lineup? Durango finally got an SRT variant, and latest rumors say a Hellcat program for the Durango has been resurrected. Apparently it makes sense for Dodge to keep at it.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The equivalent to a Durango SRT would be a Tahoe SS, I think, not a “Corvette Tahoe”.

    • AvatarNoID

      Because SRT JDGAF. It’s why I love them so much. The closest they ever got to settling for appearance packages was a VERY brief “SRT Design” badge applied to the 300C, which (Thank the Maker!) never proliferated across the lineup.

      You cannot say the same for the performance arms of most other manufacturers, who are happy to stamp their go-fast brand on any shined-up turd to generate sales. Malibu Maxx SS, anyone?

  5. AvatarCarmine

    “the people who funded the mighty Blackwing Cadillac CT6-V and then killed it on a whim”

    Except it hasn’t been killed…..and its been stated by GM that it was not discontinued and it would still be available.

    Thats as far as I got into the article, if you’re not going to get the facts right, then why waste the rest of my time….

  6. Pete D.Pete D.

    Re: Euro vs. American pricing : how about the fact that the exchange rate averaged 0.92 EUR/USD in 2000 and 1.18 EUR/USD in 2018 ? That’s a 28% delta.

    • Avatarrnc

      I worked for a German company in the mid-2000’s and the swing was actually more dramatic than that, think it went from .82 to 1.18 in less than a year. All of the Germans over here, thought they were living the dream, making 6 figures, living in shitty apartments and sending all the extra back to the fatherland to save. Man they were pretty miserable the last few years I was around them, basically took a EUR36,000 pay cut without any recourse.

  7. Avatarscotten

    I quit the track when I got way too busy with family/kid stuff. I would make to the occasional event but I wasn’t going often enough to have strong “track muscles” and wasn’t very fast, good or comfortable.

    It’s like golf – you need a certain skill level before it’s enjoyable.

  8. AvatarMike

    In LeMons racing they have an award for this- the Heroic Fix award. We won it once for tossing rods in the engine, swapping it out, and getting back on track.

    Another race weekend the car shat the oil pump, driveshaft, _and_ transmission. We still took the checkered.

    When life hands you lemons….go racin’!

  9. AvatarShrug

    This has absolutely nothing to do with anything except for a vague recall to a previous Baruth article about 4 cylinder Mustangs, BUT I did just sell mine. The Eco Stangs are super neat cars that offer a lot of performance for the price. They are (reasonably) practical, fuel efficient, good looking, and damn quick.

    However, if you are at all thinking of buying one, by no means should you even look at 5.0. I had the great fortune of getting the oil changed in my little 2.3T this past week. Coincidentally, the dealer happened to have a leftover 2018 GT Premium marked down many, many digits off of MSRP. I took a test drive and was sold pretty much immediately.

    More than anything, it’s the sound. Even with the stock, non-active exhaust, these Coyotes are something else entirely. I couldn’t just go back to the 2.3’s painful drone.

    And then of course it’s the power. 460 (!) horsepower at 7400 RPM (!!!) in a fucking $30k Ford? With a clutch and shifter easy enough to drive in traffic all day without a sweat? Sweet Christ are we in the peak of automotive excellence or what?

    Since buying it, it’s been nothing but bliss. The wheels are ugly and the color is Wrong, but the price was unbeatable and such things can always be changed or overlooked.

    It’s a fantastic, fantastic car that I can’t wait to drive everyday. Shit, as soon as the break-in period is over, I’m looking forward to finally taking a leap into some form of Motorsport with it. NJMP is close by, and Track Night in America sure is enticing.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Well yeah, the 2.3 Boost is a decent engine, but the Coyote is an all-time great… congratulations!

    • AvatarDisinterested-Observer

      They sound truly amazing. Every time I hear even a subtle wail of someone trying to gently pull away from a stoplight I know exactly what it is.

    • AvatarBen Johnson

      >>Track Night in America sure is enticing

      I showed up to Track Night with a 2.0 Buick Regal – and had an absolute blast. I say this to encourage others that don’t have an awesome car – don’t wait till you have a perfect car to go. Go with what you have now.

      • AvatarRobert

        Agreed! TNiA is a easy gateway drug to track driving. My humble Civic can hold its own just fine. Run what ya’ brung.

      • AvatarShrug

        I had been wanting to take the plunge since it started really, even with my old Charger and the EcoBoost Mustang I had. Just never really had the time or money to devote to it if something went awry. Now, however, things are a bit different. It just looks like a crazy-good time.

  10. AvatarEric L.

    Whenever I see videos like the Zakspeed guys, I want to know why they lost control. Was the E30 beginning to oversteer, they countersteered, then it abruptly regained grip and shot straight off the track?

    • Avatarrpn453

      Yes. The driver held the countersteer too long. Corrections should be done with (often multiple) quick flicks of the wheel to prevent that from occurring. You need to be back at center before everything hooks back up.


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