It’s been way too long since I last drove a race car, 2 years in fact. The plan is for that to change in 2011, as I will be sharing driving duties in an ITR (Integra Type R)- engined Honda Del Sol for the NASA Time Trial series, running in the TTB class. The plan is to run a season in TT to sort the car, then look at the Western States Endurance Racing Series and SCCA Enduros for the 2012-on seasons, with an eventual goal to compete in and complete the 25 hours of Thunderhill, the world’s longest Endurance race.
Life has conspired to set its priorities, and my family is first for me. My friend Mike Outland finds himself in a similar situation, and we both needed to find ways to satisfy our passion for motorsports while sharing the costs, which are considerable by any normal measure of hobby costs. This is a good way to do that.
The Car will be dramatically improved next season, going from a mildly suspended, under-tired, moderately powered solid track-day vehicle to a professionally (JRZ) suspended, powerful race vehicle. I’m looking forward to driving it! In preparation for getting back behind the wheel, my plan is to return to some open-test Karting days in a Rotax 125 at Infineon Raceway. The tight tracks and relatively high speeds (up to 80-85 MPH 4 inches off the ground) are good preparation for the mind and body to get used to putting a vehicle close to the limit. The only thing Karting does not prepare one for is weight transfer. Weight Jacking and weight transfer are very different. But, Karting is an excellent way to refine the skills of keeping the eyes ahead of the car, as well as a great stimulus to grow a bigger set of balls to help through high-speed corners, as well as dealing with traffic.
Mike and I (mostly Mike as I am a miserable mechanic, but will learn quickly under his tutelage) spent some time this past Sunday preparing the car, Mike working on the engine, and me tearing down suspension components for replacement with higher quality spherical bushings, etc. This is a new experience for me as well, actually working on the car, preparing it for battle as it were. I’m looking forward to this learning experience.
There is a sense of joy (I’m not sure my wife shares this) I am experiencing knowing that I love this sport just as much after a two-year absence from it. One indication of this was the ecstatic reaction I had upon learning that Formula 1 is returning to the United States in 2012 with the Austin (Texas) Grand Prix. That is definitely on the Calendar for a vacation!
So now the patient wait for 2011 begins, and it’s surprisingly easy. The past few years have been about achieving a reasonable balance in life, which is an evolving process, but one with which I think we have achieved some traction. I hope that a continuing a motorsports adventure can be an integral part of this balance for years to come. This will be the first installment chronicling that adventure. Stay tuned.