Skip to main content
HOME   |   ABOUT   |   NEWS   |   TECH ARTICLES   |   AT THE TRACK   |   REVIEWS   |   VIDEOS   |   CONTACT ME

Racing again.. and #61 almost catches fire!


Last year, I joined the ranks of amateur wheel-to-wheel racers and went to race with the fantastic Vantage Motorsports racing team (to read more, go to The Ram's Eye Goes Racing). It was just as much fun and rewarding as I imagined it would be so I was really looking forward to this (2017) season. Unfortunately, life has a habit of getting in the way of things you want to do so that's exactly what happened this year. I missed all but the last round of the race season, which was on Sunday September 17. It seems, though, that I had a full season's worth of racing experience in one day..

For starters, I missed the early morning call, which meant I had to start from the back of the pack in every race. No problem, I liked that I'd have more racing to do. I went out in the practice session and I found out I was very rusty.. My first hot lap was a 1:27.x, about 5 seconds off the pace of the car on the Toyo R888's that were on it. Second dropped to 1:26.x, then I settled into a rut of high 1:25's. By the end of the session, I got low 1:25's with a best of 1:25.2. Much better, but still a good 3 seconds off the pace of the car and 2.4 off my personal best - a 1:22.8. Disappointed, I found myself a good race car driver excuse: I haven't raced or driven the car for darn near one full year since last fall. Good enough! It'll come down with more time in the car as the day progresses, right?


Yes, trouble is, "more time in the car" turned out to be far too optimistic. Jay - my team mate for the #61 car that I race - went out for the first qualifying session. The session got red flagged due to an incident and ended prematurely.. which turned out to set the tone for the rest of the day. I didn't go out in the second qualifying session to save gas and tires, since I was starting from the back anyway. Fast forward a couple of hours to when we were being gridded for my first race of the day, adrenaline is high, excitement level even higher, and all you can think about is the race. Starting from the back, I was excited to try and make my way through traffic. I'm in the slowest class - GT6 - and my class is only 4 cars so there wasn't much traffic, but it was still fun. I made my way to 2nd place, but by that time, 1st was a good ways ahead. It seemed hopeless.. until yellow flag dropped due to an incident and safety car came out.. just the opportunity I needed!

I caught up to the rest of the pack and pushed hard to try and pass a Spec Miata that was between me and 1st place in GT6 (for the record, Spec Miatas are actually faster than GT6 on our track). I had no chance in the straights, but I actually seemed a little quicker in the corners. Unfortunately, one lap is all I got, before yellow flag came out again and safety car came back out.. Due to my experience level (or lack thereof), a couple of passing attempts were misplaced and resulted in me actually losing some time so I didn't even get a full lap's worth of corners to make a pass. It was disappointing - having lost half the race - but on the bright side, I got 2nd place and dropped to a best of 1:24.9. And I still had the 1 hour Atlantic Challenge to look forward to, where I would drive the car for around 40 minutes and then Jay would switch with me during a mandatory 5 minute pit stop. 40 minutes of racing! Or not..


Another early ending, although this time, our car was the incident. I was coming out of turn 2 when  the car just fell on its face. I downshifted to 1st and tried to go but the car just kept sputtering while barely moving. I tried to limp it back to avoid another caution with safety car and tow truck.. but it was not happening. Then, I started smelling gas.. I pulled to the side on the grass and waited for a tow. Fast forward a few minutes to getting towed to the paddock, we pop the hood, and the damage is clear. The car is done for the day. The front cross member had snapped, moving the engine out of place far enough to pull the fuel lines. The engine and transmission were hanging lower in the car, the car was running on fumes in the fuel line and rail, and the pump was pumping gas in the engine bay.. It's a miracle the car didn't catch on fire, or it'd have been done for probably and I would have found out how quick I can unbuckle, release the window net, and jump out of the car under pressure, or perhaps on fire.

At the end of the day, I was still glad I came out. Sure, it was a disappointing day and no one wants to be part of breaking Old Faithful (the #61 car) or almost set the car on fire. But with the season being over, it was nice to get at least one race day in this season and the little that I raced was a lot of fun, as usual. The experience is just part of the racing. Plus, 2nd place (albeit in a class of 4) is not bad, and I was able to drop my best lap to 1:23.9. I know I'll have a lot of work to do next season to shake off even more rust but that's part of the fun! There's also the no-points, Jack Canfield Memorial (JCM) 3 hour race coming up in a week, which I hope I can make it to.

Comments







Does An Aftermarket Grille Really Increase Airflow?
I put a Saleen S281 grille to the test to answer that question.

Stock Suspension S197 Mustang With Square 305/30/19's
What you need to fit a proper size square tire setup.

How Limited Slip Diffs Make You Faster on Track
What you need to know about how they put power down and pros and cons.

Can Telemetry Explain Schumacher's Talent?
A comparison between Schumacher's and then team mate Herbert's data.






Cayman GT4 Track Review
The first Cayman with proper (911-challenging) power.

Is an EcoBoost Mustang any good on Track?
Two days at the track in a Mustang short 4 cylinders.

2016 BMW M4 DCT Track Review
It's quick (properly quick). But is it fun?

Can a stock Golf Diesel handle a Track Day?
Not your every day track beater.




🔥 Most Visited This Week

2007 Saleen Mustang S281 SC Super Shaker Track Review

"Who's your green student today?" asked a friend and instructor at the BMW Club Atlantic Advanced Driver Training (HPDE) weekend in June this year. I said: "The Saleen." The response was: "Oh, boy." Mustangs, generally, have a reputation for being more power than chassis. Mustang drivers have quite the reputation for.. how to put this nicely? Taking advantage of said power/chassis imbalance. To make matters worse, this particular Mustang was a supercharged Saleen, with a honkin' Shaker scoop sticking out of its hood. Did I mention it was also a convertible? And the owner was someone who's never been on track before but clearly has the speed bug. Having had a Mustang for years and driven a few on track, they don't scare me - generally speaking - but the combination of being convertible and supercharged with a new and excited owner worried me a little. Nevertheless, I shrugged it off and got excited about chatting with the owner to find

Michelin Pilot Super Sports vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 - Street Review

I've been a huge fan of Michelin PSS tires and exclusively bought them for the Mustang over the last four years. So how did I end up here? This year, I was hugely interested in trying an "R-comp" tire. I had my eyes set on Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's for two simple reasons: price and reputation. Although not a true "R-comp" tire on paper, it performs like one by the account of every single test and review I've read (down to wear rates...). They seem like they're easily the most affordable (from a big brand) R-comp tire and combine that with a reputation for having tons of grip, it was an easy top contender. I had my concerns, though. For one, I'm told and have read that they are an autox tire, not really designed for high speed, pressure, and temps associated with open track. For another, the Mustang is a heavy car (as far as track cars are concerned) being roughly 3,800 lb. (including driver), which will amplify the unwanted open track load

Falken Azenis RT615k+ Street and Track Review

Last year, I picked up a 2009 Lancer Ralliart to do a long term test with it as a dual duty track/daily. One of the first things I knew I was going to do was put a decent set of tires on it. The car came without OEM wheels which was actually good because I didn't have to hesitate about getting a good set of aftermarket wheels to support going wider. Thankfully, my friends at YST Auto Halifax  set me up with a great set of Superspeed RF03RR wheels. The Wheels I had never even heard of Superspeed but I trusted the good folk at YST Auto who mentioned some customer cars running on track with them. These wheels are rotary forged which is basically a prerequisite to be taken seriously in this market populated by companies like TSW and Fast Wheels. The wheels looked like a high quality, well finished wheel and each had a "QC" check sticker on. Just for appearances? Maybe, but I found no defects. The wheels seemed easy to balance (didn't need many weights) and at 18.1 lb. f

2014 BMW 335i xDrive M Sport Review

Post-refresh 2015 F30 3-series pictured.  Which is better, an F30 3-series or an E46? The F30 has certainly taken its fair share of heat. But if you thought I was going to say the E46, you'd be dead wrong. The F30 3-series is better. Far better. It is quicker, faster, safer, more practical, more efficient, more refined, quieter.. the list goes on. A lot of reviews and people I talk to consider the F30 to be an abomination. Frankly, I don't see it. You'd have to be mad to think the E46 is better. Completely out to lunch. I don't know who in their right mind would prefer the E46..  Trouble is, since when were people buying sports cars in their right minds? Here, lies the real problem. " Raw rather than refined in its noises, pounding ride, heavy clutch, 50 grand and cloth seats? " "..  and not at all shy about its performance compromises. It always acts like the automotive jock it is, every mile of every day. " " Raw and quite loud.. An