Tuesday, March 06, 2007

March at TWS

So many changes! Since last time I went on track, three months ago, much has changed about the setup. I bought a truck and a trailer. A race seat went into the car, after much adjustment and cursing. Money was spent in great bunches. Now, I feel like I'm pretty much set for the next couple of years, except for consumables. Total for the truck and trailer rig was $5300. Seat was $100 (great deal there!) and the mounts for it were another $445 (had to have them modified, as the back of the thing wasn't low enough.

The track was TWS, counterclockwise. Sheri almost went with me, but had stuff to finish up before GDC this week, so missed out. I had one of the best weekends I've had in a long time, though I wish I could have had my wife along.

To start with, Josh, Edgar and John all went in and helped me buy a trailer. My budget for such was $1500. I found a trailer but it was too expensive. I lamented this fact to my friends. Next thing I knew, Josh had contacted the seller, negotiated the price down and then tapped Edgar and John to help him make up the difference.

Truly, I have the best of friends driving with me.

One of the biggest changes in the last few months is in my friend Josh. He used to spin all the time; running hard on the edge of what his car could do, and frequently over it. He's through that gauntlet and is now crazy fast. He's turning out to be a good driver, and growing into his modded corvette very well.

Edgar is driving his Subaru like he stole it. He's moved into Yellow group, and is loving it. He's another one that has really got into the sport and is now lugging his tires to the events and changing to race rubber. He's amazingly fast and fearless for a yellow student.

John had our only mechanical issue this weekend. His power steering pump went out, and it's not an easy thing to get repaired. He went home on Saturday night, which sucked. John is the most like me in terms of driving style. He's methodical, careful and fast. I missed him on track.

There were many Corvettes there this weekend, as the Big Boys came out to party. They are John Page (21st Century Muscle Cars), SW, and Ryan from Austin. All are very wealthy, and have been driving cars all their lives. They are very, very fast. They drive whatever they like, but have settled on Corvettes for the most part. John is a (perhaps the only) licensed Ligenfelter installer and shop in the country, so his choice is obvious. SW (an Indian man with a history of making money on real estate and cars) drives a regular looking red 'Vette that is anything but. Ryan has a yellow one. They go to TWS so much that they should have parking plaques. When I see them coming on the track, I give them a wide berth, as they are generally much faster than I (more horsepower and about a zillion hours of seat time will do that). It's fun to watch them though, and John throws a mean cookout.

Ostentatious wealth example: SW broke a timing chain Saturday, so he goes back to Austin and brings the backup car: The Ferrari. Yowza.

I had a "big moment" on Saturday. In the second run of the day, after the track was warm, a yellow race-converted Corvette spilled coolant all over turn 12. I was three cars behind and didn't see it happen (unlike oil which generally smokes when it spills, coolant does not). I was at full throttle and just at the apex of 12 when I started to slide. Not much to do save run off, sideways. I went all the way around in the dirt, 360 degrees. Both feet in as the car swapped ends (save the transmission!) and was able to get back underway quickly. My biggest fear was getting smacked by someone else coming through the same stuff, but I was able to get going and to the pits (I always check the car after a full off road excursion like that) for a check.

Normally, an off like that would rattle me, but this time, I was quite calm. I knew what had happened as soon as it was starting to go, and saw I wasn't going to hit anything. I had all the time in the world to decide what to do. The only nerve wracking thing about this one was that I had become part of someone else's problem. I think that this is the biggest danger of driving anywhere (road course or to work in the morning). It's a good life lesson as well. Sometimes, you have to just put both feet in and ride out the spin.

By far the most fun was on Sunday. I got back into the rhythm of the track and steadily turned faster and faster times. It was a little like a dance that gets faster and faster as the song goes on. Finally, at the end of Sunday, I got in a group of cars that was going about my speed. We had a Porsche Boxter, a BMW M3 Roadster (highly modified), me in the Z06, and a modded C5 Corvette. We were so close to the same speed that the margin was whether one of us hit an apex six inches off, or dead on. Breaking a rear tire loose on the carousel was a critical mistake. We swapped leads about as many times as we turned laps. All too soon, the checkered was out and it was time to pack up and head home. I could have gone just a few more laps anyway, as the car was about out of fuel! I burned almost a quarter tank in the last session.

I know this is my sport because at the end of the weekend, I felt recharged. Sometimes, you come back from a weekend of exertion, and are simply tired. It feels like you haven't had a weekend at all. Not this time. I loaded up the car, hopped in the truck and drove back to Austin smiling all the way.


Post a Comment

<< Home