Sebring

Dear Patrick,

Knowing that as a racer, you are always going for first, I imagine there is some letdown to not making the podium at Sebring. But wow what a race! You guys were sooooo close! 4th (and 5th!) is nothing to sneeze at – quite an accomplishment given the way things were looking the first five minutes in, too.

As luck would have it, I had to be doing something else as the race was ending, so again, I missed all the excitement! Today I found some video of the pivotal battle between Marc Lieb in the #45 and the #21 Panoz. As the announcer is saying, “The Panoz did not turn into Porsche,” I am watching, incredulously, as the Panoz appears to me to be turning into Marc. And this is not just the perspective through Flying Lizard Fan Porsche-crazy rose-tinted glasses. Really.

Marc did a brilliant job getting ahead of Ian – mission accomplished! But then…not. I guess reasonable minds will differ on what happened next. And boy are you spot on about the RSR being a tank. Both the car and the driver showed incredible resilience after that hard impact, I thought. The car looked so rough, but there it was, basically straight from what we could see on TV, and motoring on without skipping a beat! I guess with the car willing to go, the driver had no chance at all to collect himself but basically went “SMASH” and then “GO!” himself. Amazing, really.

You seemed in good spirits in your blog post. For all the races you’ve won, I’m sure there are many you have not. Yet they all make up a very impressive body of work. The team looked fantastic from practice to qualifying through the race, and listening to the team radio revealed that you were all on your game for Saturday (with the exception of your radio, on the blink for a good while there, how frustrating that must have been…). So kudos on a job well done! You guys were amazing, lots of fun to watch over the course of the day, for what that’s worth.

As for me, I’ve just sent in my registration for my second track weekend. I’m going back to Barber, this time with NASA-SE. This will be great fun. These are the first bunch of car friends I made when I got started last Summer, and close to a year later, I am finally driving with them. May 30-31.

Between now and then, I will get in a couple of autocross events. I plan to perfect my heel-toe downshifting, and I’m getting out on our skid pad. I need to know what it feels like to really lose it, and when possible, how to get it back. When I have gotten loose, I’ve always managed to get it right back, but my experience at Barber taught me that “shit happens”. I can’t just expect to lose it out there and automatically know what to do. These things, like all things, are learned. I realized when I did get a little loose in the hairpin at Barber, that I wanted to work on that edge right there. The edge of traction. I need to spend some more time there. The skid pad at our AX course provides the opportunity for that, and I am going to use it. The good thing about my old 911 is that there is no shortage of drivers who want to help me – if it means they get a turn at the wheel. I’m always happy to experience what my car can do in the hands of a more experienced driver, so…win-win.

I’m also planning to work a couple of other events with NASA (pit & grid) and SCCA (my first flagging stint will be April 18-19 for a Time Trial school). And if I can work it out, I’m going to the LeMONs race at CMP April 4-5. I’m invited to drive by a team made up of my NASA-SE friends, but I am sure the invitation is driven by their desire to cut the per-driver costs with my buy-in! Plus I don’t have a fire suit. Instead, if I can make the trip, I’ll be crewing with them. I have found that since I started working races, I am no longer satisified to be watching from the “other side of the fence.” If I go, I want to be doing something.

Email today brought a note from a driver I wrote about in an earlier email. He has a gorgeous and well-set-up 996 and he kindly took me for a ride last December after taking the TT track record for his class at Road Atlanta. I saw him recently at Road Atlanta where there was a big weekend of racing – in the rain. He and his fledgling team did well on Friday, but he had a terrible crash on Saturday. He was not injured, but his newly remade-from-the-ground-up 996 race car was totaled. He attached video of the crash to his email and boy was that hard to watch, knowing what came at the end. I was thrilled to know that not only was he okay, but he has already ordered the chassis for his new car! He says it should be ready to go to for our next club event in May. Fingers crossed, I will be there to work and cheer him on.

Well this is way longer than I’d planned, as usual. Congrats again on the great showing at Sebring! I hope you guys are all enjoying long massages, especially Marc!

Sincerely,
VroomGrrl

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