Archive for May, 2009

My Left Hand

Posted in Me, Track Days on May 30, 2009 by vroomgrrl

null

Dear Pat,

My left hand….got an incredible workout today!

My instructor is awesome and things are going well. My car is solid as a rock and I’m loving my new Dunlops. My biggest challenge this weekend is dealing with all the traffic! It’s pretty nuts, and I tend to get too distracted managing what’s coming up behind me relative to where I want to be going. From working pit & grid at this club’s events the past year, I knew this is how it would be. And this is why I intentionally did not do my very first track outings with NASA. I am still not sure I’m ready!

So I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing a whole lot other than staying out of the way. It’s been awhile since I had the 911 out at all, and I’m really rusty anyway. I’m picking up speed, but it’s coming slow this weekend – literally! My instructor has been really good about making the best of this setting given my limited skillset, focusing on a few particular turns where I can push my limits in a safe way. And helping me pace myself relative to the traffic so I have plenty of room when we get to those turns.

Still, as I said to start out, my left hand is getting a serious workout! If I could get some video footage, I’d love to do a video of the weekend from the perspective of My Left Hand. Now that would be funny!

That said, I had a fantastic experience this afternoon. I got my ride with Mike Skeen at the wheel of my car. Woo! It was so awesome to experience what my 911 can do with some serious skill and talent behind the wheel. He said he really enjoyed my car, and talked to me some about things he noticed about the suspension, giving me some ideas for small tweaks I could make that would have various effects. I had no clue he was so young. Only 22. He went to Georgia Tech for a couple of years, and got an AA at some point. I asked him if he had a day job these days. “This is it!” he answered. He was featured in the SpeedTV show Setup last year, and he was hoping to use that momentum to jump-start his full-time racing career. His new team, Atlantic Motorsport, is running a car in the Muscle Milk TransAm series. They started out incredibly well at Road Atlanta, but have struggled since, barely making it from race to race. He had a really rough time at Mosport last weekend – they only got four laps into their race before a mechanical issue sidelined them for the weekend. For a privateer, to make that long trip and only get in four laps…my heart broke for them. But as is his way, he found the good in the situation.

He talked about how he loves driving anything and everything, and I asked him if he did any oval racing. Nope. Not since his kart days. I told him I was a fan of yours, how you two reminded me of each other in ways (talent! red hair!), and how you loved driving anything, too. He was totally surprised when I told him I’d found out you were running in the NASCAR Camping World series. I am so impressed by his skill and maturity – and at 22 years old. Man. One difference between you – Mike is very tall! Over 6′. He had a time getting comfortable in my car. He is the ONLY person I have allowed to monkey with the seat height adjustments – “Make yourself comfortable,” I insisted. Of course! He got down as low as he could and as far back as he could, and man oh man he drove the hell out of my car.

Unfortunately, it was the end of the day, and I was really hot and worn out. I had one more session to run with my instructor, the last of the day. Mike and I hadn’t nailed down a time to meet, but he called me as I was heading to the air conditioned tower for a break – and said we could go out in ten minutes. So back to my car I went to meet up with him, and I got that great ride. Except I got all queasy! I pretty much expected this given how I was already feeling. I always do better as a passenger when I’m fresh and it’s cool out. I hated to ask him to bring us in early, but it had to be done. Turns out we were headed for the checkered flag anyway. I felt so lousy, there was no way I could turn around and take the wheel for a track session. I found my instructor and told him what was up. We had a good long chat, kind of decompressing for the day and making a plan for tomorrow. And then I headed home a little early.

I got a really long nap when I got home, and now my sleep is all screwed up. Must get into the bed so I will be well-rested and fresh for another day at the track.

More tomorrow!

Left-Handedly,
VroomGrrl

It’s On

Posted in Me, Track Days on May 29, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hey Pat,

Well it’s been a long day. I picked up my 911 first thing this morning. It’s running like a dream and handling better than ever, but it’s filthy as hell! I was hoping to be able to take my lunch break to clean it up a little but I wasn’t able to do that. After work I made my stop at Wal-Mart to get a few essentials for the weekend that I didn’t think to keep with me during our move. Camp chair, sun screen, gatorade, etc. Then I came home and cleared out and track-prepped the 911, ran thru a few basic tech items myself (oil level, tire pressures, battery tie-down, and torqued my lug nuts now that I am reunited with my torque wrench!). Then I grabbed my tech forms and my helmet, and headed over to Barber to get registered and to get my car teched.

It’s only eight miles from our short-stay apartment, which is awesome. I drove around the paddock saying hi to some of my friends and to see who was where, then headed down to tech, also full of my NASA-SE coworker friends from the past year. It was great to see everybody. Lots of awesome hugs and a little catching up. They’re all used to seeing me there to work – this is the first time I’m driving with NASA and I got lots of great encouragement. And TONS of ribbing about “Uh oh – a worker driver! A WOMAN worker driver! Look ouuut!” Haha! I loved it.

So armbanded and windshield-stickered, I was out of there. I found my 944 racer buddy and he had saved me a parking spot. I’m traveling light this weekend, so it’ll be great to have a place to store some of my stuff while I’m out on the track. And my buddy has an awesome set-up, huge motorhome with a mini-garage in back. He’s got a huge air supply (haha that’s what SHE said…!) and…and! He’s got some awesome portable car wash stuff so I hope I’ll be able to get my car cleaned up a little before I take her out and get her all crapped up again.

Meanwhile, the deal on our new house is in a precarious spot right now. Technically the contract expires in an hour and ten minutes and the seller is making like he won’t extend it. Even though we heard back from the bank today and there are minimal hoops for me to jump through to get my loan finalized. So I’ll have to be checking in with my real estate agent and mortgage broker while I’m at the track this weekend. I was hoping to have this all taken care of by today, but I do not run the universe, so I’ll just have to deal. I was so tense about this thing falling apart, I felt like I was finally able to breathe once I got that call from the lender. At 8PM! It’s not done, but I am definitely much less anxious than I was for most of today. I could hardly swallow a bite of dinner, I was so knotted up about the whole mess. I’m at the point where I’m just having to zen out about it. If it works, great. If not, there will be another house. There’s always another house. I would hate for us to be in this limbo much longer, but we’ll do what we have to do.

Hey I did get hold of that awesome driver (Mike) who’s offering some coaching this weekend, and I’m definitely getting a couple of sessions with him. I am so excited, I can hardly stand myself! I will have an assigned instructor for the weekend thru NASA (Greg), so I will have to see how he feels about having a session off. And frankly, I’ll have to see how I feel about it. If we work well together, I may not want to give up a session. He may have a plan for how he likes to use the sessions over the course of the weekend. I’ll meet him first thing tomorrow and we’ll work it out. If it’s at all awkward, no problem. I will be more than happy to stick with my assigned instructor per the plan, and use my 2 coaching sessions to have Mike drive my car and let me ride along in the advanced sessions. Either way, SCORE!

So are you in France yet? I thought I had the complete schedule but I can’t seem to find it online now. Well, wherever you are, I bet you are keeping busy and having fun. I’ve enjoyed your online updates & will continue to look around to see what you’re up to between now and Le Mans. I’ll be going to a 24 hour geekfest where we’ll be watching the race, and running our own 24 hour race on a couple of simulators. Maybe I’ll actually get to pretend-drive this year!

Alright – must go. 5AM will be here very soon.

Be well, take care,
VroomGrrl

Around and Back

Posted in Me, Track Days on May 25, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hey Pat,

I still have no clue what you’re up to this week. Perhaps I’m not looking hard enough. Honestly I’ve not had much time to websurf. Busy busy!

So just yesterday I was feeling a little spooked about driving Barber this weekend. And then…then! Then I got word that one of the most awesome local drivers around is offering “a la carte” coaching at Barber this weekend. I’m hoping I can get in on some of that fun. Woo! One reason I like this is that it’s a concept I suggested to him a few months back when he and I brainstormed by email about novel ways to market his coaching services. He loved the idea and said he was going to get right to work on the details – and apparently he did just that.

And the main reason I love this is that it didn’t look like he was going to be at any of the events I’d be doing this year, so it didn’t look like I’d be able to take advantage of this once he worked it out. But now he is! This weekend! I’ve emailed him and I hope I’m not too late to book a session or two with him. He reminds me so much of you, what little I know of both of you. He’s so sharp, so quick, he is one of those drive-anything drivers. I am so so so so excited about the possibility of getting into a car with him and soaking up some of that good stuff.

I don’t have anywhere to work on my car right now, so I’m going to have to have my car guys do my tech. Then if I can work out the logistics with my husband, I can get my car out to the track Friday night and get teched, leave it there, and be ready to go bright and early Saturday. If hubby’s not into doing the weekend with me, I can drive back and forth easily since I am only 15 minutes from the track now. Woohoo! In fact, if I can work it out, I’ll take Friday off, since there’s an Enduro race that day. Love those. I can always find somebody to crew for, or I could work it and rack up some more worker credits.

Either way, I’m psyched out of my gourd, and not a moment too soon, huh?

Hey I hadn’t read all the way through my most recent Panorama, but there’s a great feature in there on GT2 Porsches in ALMS this year, with some nice stuff about you and the Lizards and your awesome performances at Sebring and Long Beach.

OK, back to the grindstone tomorrow, so I’m outta here for now.

Sincerely,
VroomGrrl

Right Round, Baby

Posted in Me on May 25, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hey Patrick,

It’s been quite the week around these parts. We got moved out of our old house, our stuff went to storage, our pets are at the sitter’s, and we are in our temporary apartment. We love our new city and are happy to be living here, even in this rather ghetto little short-stay apartment, until we close on the awesome new house in a week or so. Yay for all that! Continue reading

Lizards Do It Again!

Posted in Me, Pat's Races on May 17, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hey Patrick,

I made my way to my home-office in time to catch the start of today’s race on Radio LeMans. Sounded like a rough one! By the time the race was over, I was hefting my 12-string guitar up three stories in the house of our neightbors-to-be for safekeeping until we close on the house next door and get moved in. They were so kind to offer to hold our art and musical instruments until we can get in there. So as I was hauling stuff, I heard my cell phone jingle that I had a text message. There it was – “Spoiler Aert! Lizard News: No. 45 wins in GT2 at the Utah Grand Prix. No. 44 is sixth…” I let out a hoot, then had to explain myself, which I was happy to do, because this led to me talking about my own car. And we all know how much I love talking about my car! Continue reading

Any Minute Now…

Posted in Me, Pat's Races on May 15, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

Any minute now there’s going to be a knock at my door. My husband will want to know what I’m doing sitting here at the computer when there’s so much to be done. Truth be told, I’m worn out, and taking a break here at the keyboard. I’ll be back at it soon enough. We are engaging in that all-American endeavor known as the GARAGE SALE tomorrow. God help me, people better come and buy every bit of this crap, because we are moving out Tuesday and we need to be cleared out of here. I’d invite you to our exciting garage sale, but you’re a little busy this weekend. Once again, I’ll be busy when the race is underway, and I won’t be able to catch the tape-delayed broadcast either. Moving, moving, and moving. While you are driving Miller, I will be hauling our art to a friend’s house for safekeeping until we can get into our new place. And taking the critters to their temporary accommodations. Busy Sunday all around.

There’s a nice interview with you in the Salt Lake Tribune. I love what you say about how relatively safe you feel on the track as compared to driving the 405. I can so believe that! I joke with my racing friends all the time that I feel like putting on my helmet before getting into metro-Atlanta traffic. And that I feel much safer on the track because you can be sure nobody is on the phone, punching iPod buttons, eating a burger, or anything else but being totally focused on driving.

Today I took my car to the shop to have them redo the half-assed second part of my oil change that I did with my friend, leaving out the crush washer. I do have a little leak back there because of it, so I’ll feel better knowing it’s all put back together properly. They’re going to fix my ebrake shoe also – either that or the ebrake sheild is making the most annoying scraping sound in my driver’s side rear wheel. It felt so, so good to drive my 911. It was a gorgeous day, and once she was warmed up, I laid into it good. I left extra early this morning, so I had lots of open road. Which I used with the ultimate discretion, I assure you (coughcoughcough).

I guess my break is over. Can I interest you in a lovely shower curtain? Chain saw? Cigar box? Two-ton television?

If I don’t get back here, I will be with you in spirit Sunday. Give ’em hell and show ’em how it’s done, my friend. I’ll look for the good news in the recap after. Goooooooooooooo Lizards!!!

Drive purty!
VroomGrrl

Reeling It In

Posted in Me, Pat's Races on May 9, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Heya Pat,

It’s been such a crazy week. I’ve been enjoying your updates at your PCA blog, your website, and SpeedTV (links to the right). Your PCA blog, especially, got me thinking about several things, most of which I will not have time to get into today.

One theme that resounds through your writings and interviews is the importance of the team. You seem to have a great fit with the organizations you’ve aligned yourself with. You have succeeded at surrounding yourself with people who manage to make each other better when their efforts are combined. That is so awesome. You seek out people who will challenge you to greater heights, and because of your own special qualities, they seek you out. The combination, when it works, can result in fantastic accomplishment. You and your teammates in all directions are such a great illustration of this principle. Continue reading