Archive for September, 2009

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

Posted in Pat's Races on September 30, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi again Pat,

I was looking around at more Petit le Mans race reports, and I ran across one that really put things in perspective for me. My world is so small – THE world is so big!

The #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche driven by Wolf Henzler and Dirk Werner took 3rd place in GT2 at le Petit le Mans. They got Porsche the manufacturer’s title for this season. The RS Spyder, likewise, took 3rd place, another Porsche podium finish. And! Our own #44 Flying Lizard Porsche ran on Ethanol E85 fuel, and in so doing, took the Michelin Green X Challenge for the season.

So there is some silver lining to the clouds from the weekend. I’m sure there are many more. You were so philosophical when interviewed:

We ran really well today, and pressured to GT2 leaders for the whole race. I have to offer congratulations to the Ferrari for coming in just at the right time for rain tires. In those last two laps in the rain, they went from fourth to first, and we went from second to fifth as we had to skate into the pits for rains. We are still in the drivers seat for the championship, and we will now turn our attention to Laguna.

Indeed. It’s going to be a great race to the finish, and I’m already excited for you, and I hate I’ll have to miss it.

VroomGrrl

Driving is a Team Sport

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

So what are you up to? Aside from preparing to kick ass at Laguna Seca, of course. I’m back to the old daily grind, and things with work are up in the air. So all my driving plans are likewise up in the air. I hate it when that happens!

My Real Driving Coach has been elusive lately. He had said he’d come out to my 10/10 event as an instructor. He’s not technically “in the club,” so there are weird aspects just to getting him signed up like that. I don’t think that’s going to be the way to go. I am going to float another idea by him. He’s offered to do this for hire, so I am going to see if he is interested in coming to the 10/10 track day with me as my tech. I am happy to pay him for his time, and I really could use his help in terms of doing things like making adjustments in my tire pressures. I can do the labor part of that, but I mean I could use his knowledge about how my tires appear to be performing and wearing, and what I should do to improve and maximize their performance.

Oh, I am happy to report that my not-so-new-anymore-tires got rave reviews in Grassroots Motorsports Magazine. Back in March I replaced my Michelin PS2s with Dunlop Direzza Z-1 Star Specs. Where do they get these damned names?? Anyway, I had to get educated about tires pretty quickly. I got lots of good advice, and took the plunge on these. I have found them to be excellent in every way. Their only downside is that they are a little noisy. I am willing to sacrifice that for a good street/performance tire.

Anyway back to My Real Driving Coach, I can see his work calendar online and it is insane for the weeks before and after my track day. Thus, I think it is unlikely he will come out, but it’s certainly worth a try. I am ever the optimist! If not him, I’d like to arrange to paddock with some other people. I learned this my last time out at Barber – driving truly is a team sport. It’s not really meant to be completely solitary the way I sometimes find myself doing it. It can be done, I guess, but even the best, smartest, richest can benefit from the feedback of others. The whole experience of the last weekend at Barber hanging out with my Oh-Forty Racing team was just…something else entirely from doing it alone. I hope some of those guys will be out for the October thing. In fact, the Englishman who kept egging me on to “block em, block em! why you lettin em by on the front straight?” – he’s back! He’d moved to Germany several months ago, but I hear he’s back and i am going to email him right after I post this to you.

I’m so excited to be going back to the track where I first cut my teeth last October 25th. While my driving experience over the year has been inconsistent, I know a whole lot more today than I did the first time I went out. If nothing else, the energy that went into first-time jitters and nightmares about getting my arm out of the window for all that pointing-by (I sit so far forward that I have to lean back to reach out), my seatbelts hurting my boobs, all that is ovah. I am very much more at home in my car. She and I are one in terms of comfort level. I could not say that last October when I’d only owned the car for three months.

I’d like to have my in-car camera by then. Which is next week which means I’ll have to order it with express shipping like, tomorrow. I better get right on that!

Well I guess I’m just babbling. It’s been quiet on the Flying Lizard front. I submitted my photo and video links to the fan page and thanked Jennifer for the awesome job she does with all the media updates. You will be racing for the GT2 championships while I am toodling around Little Tally – I will look forward to her text message updates to keep up with you guys.

Alright I’m outta here. Be happy and well, wherever you are!
VroomGrrl

Randomness

Posted in Pat's Races, Track Days on September 27, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hey Pat,

Well what did YOU think when you woke to the picture-perfect racing weather this morning?

Yeah. So random.

But then…I don’t know. Perhaps my naivete is showing again, but it seems to me that with all the advance info we had on the weather and local conditions, the officials could have had a back-up plan that accommodated the weather, whether it was racing later into the night, coming back the next day, something.

I don’t know squat about how all that works, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Turns out I have car things for three weekends in October – 10th is my 1-day DE at Little Talladega. The 17th, or local Pcar club is having what they’re calling “Octoberfast” or something like that. A shine & show, bbq, then a nice long drive on some fun local roads. Then on the 25th there’s another autocross. I may have to adjust my plans, since some things at work look like they’re going to mushroom in complexity through the month. We shall see!

OK I’m just home and I need to get unpacked, and then repack some stuff to leave for a short work road trip tomorrow.

Happy trails wherever you are!
VroomGrrl

Petit le Mans Race Day

Posted in Pat's Races on September 26, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

Well I’m sure I made a great impression introducing myself as your stalker blogger! Thanks for the autograph. One of my racer friends assures it’ll take a good two seconds off my lap time. Hee!

I’ve uploaded a batch of photos – CLICK HERE to see them.

OK so rain red flag right now. In a few minutes, we will know whether they will go green again for the final hour and change. It’s been rain red flag for about three and a half hours or so. Bringing the Porsche was absolutely the right thing to do, and I do not regret it. But it did require some special care. The Porsche corral turned into a big mud pit. Cayennes and 4WD cars were spinning around like tops out there. There was a little car carnage, even. So I decided to get my car out of there before the rains began this afternoon. I was blocked in, and ended up pulling out just as it began to fall.


Actually, it was pretty much a one-shot deal making a way out of that mess, a series of exactly-right decisions would be required. I handed the keys to a much better driver than me and he got the car to the hard pack. Once out of there, there was nowhere else to park. All of the usual parking is muddy, and you may have noticed that every bit of available hard surface had vehicles parked on it. So I came back to the hotel. If the race goes green again I am going to go back over to the track. I’m just 5 minutes away, and I’ll call ahead to the guy in charge of the Porsche corral and be sure I can get a spot on the hard pack there. If not, I’ll bag that idea. But I’m glad I got a re-entry pass just in case.


I’m not talking about the obvious, which is how frustrating a day this has been. Risi got their rain tires on early and somehow ended up with a lap on the rest of the class. You were at P5 when they called the red flag. If we go back for any amount of racing at all, I know you guys will go after it like nobody’s business. I got to talk to several of the pit guys, and your desire to finish the championship work today goes right down through the ranks. It looks like mission impossible, but I know that this is when you guys do some of your very best work. I hope we get some more track time. I want to see you go after it! We’ll know in about 20 minutes.

More later,
VroomGrrl

OK, this is the more later.

They called the race at 8:05, with that damned 62 in the lead, and you guys back in 5th. You are still in the points lead by 19 points, but I know you wanted to finish them off tonight, rather than going into Laguna Seca cutting it that close. Gah! The universe is making you work for this one. I really thought we were going to get some more time. In fact, after I posted the first part of this entry, I got right back into my car and was just pulling up to the track when I heard on the radio that they’d called it and waved the checkered flag. Bah humbug!

Well as always I appreciate Jen’s blog updates – she is great with the quick summaries (and the shout-outs to Lola – that was cute!). I’m packing up now and I’ll head out of here in the morning. I don’t even know the date of the next race, I’ll check the schedule. I hope you guys have a great trip home or wherever you go next. I’m off to see my mother tomorrow, and then on back to Alabama for me. The day is not a total sports bummer – at least the Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Arkansas Razorbacks. Small consolation in that. Very, very small.

Glad I brought some hefty bags to pack my red-clay-stained clothes for the trip home,
VroomGrrl

It’s the Driver, Not the Car

Posted in Uncategorized on September 25, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

OK I know the car CAN make all the difference. But a shit driver in the best car is still a shit driver, and unlikely to win just because they have the best car. On the other hand, the best driver can win in the shittiest car because, well, he is the best DRIVER. It’s the driver, not the car.

Not that David Murry’s Ford was a shit car. Clearly, it was not. But earlier I was all “WTF???” about a Ford taking the pole – until I PAID ATTENTION to who was behind the wheel and understood more about his history. Murry took the pole. That makes sense.

I am reminded (again, have I said all this before?) of a violin lesson I had with this crazy Lituanian professor back in the day. I was whinging on and on about how I couldn’t do this particular technique (two notes at the same time) any better because I had a crappy violin. I was all out of tune. And I have perfect pitch, so it was especially excruciating and humiliating. On this memorable day, my teacher quietly said, “Geef me your vioLEEN.” I gave it to him. And let me just say here that it truly was a piece of shit. But in the moment, that was not my problem, and my wise professor knew it. He took my vioLEEN and he played the thing I was working on, and it was so fucking perfect, the intonation was so dead-on that the overtones cut through me like a knife and shoved salty tears out of my eyeballs.

Hey. I know this blog is named after you, but we both know it’s all about me.

I thought I learned that lesson. Dammit I’m 48! I have learned it in many ways, but here again is another layer. I have learned it to the extent that I don’t go around whinging that I’m not a better driver because of my car. I know very well that my little stock car has pa-lenty to teach me yet. Ultimately I guess it was more a reminder of how naive I am about the whole world of professional driving.

I think I can safely say that if you are actually reading this thing, you have figured that out!

OK I’m getting punchy. Big day tomorrow! Now, sleep.

Goodnight,
VroomGrrl

Near and Far

Posted in Pat's Races on September 25, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hey Pat!


Wow what an O’Henry twist in qualifying today! Ford on the pole? Well hellooooo there! Looks like your car qualified around the middle of the GT2 pack, and I need to look and see if you are ahead of Risi? It’s bizarre that I was actually right there at the race, actually standing behind the Flying Lizard pit, when it all busted loose in afternoon qualifying. I could hear the hooting and hollering, but the announcer, not so well. It was something involving the Risi car, I think. And I’m just to my hotel and haven’t read up yet to see what that was all about. Embarrassing but true!

Oooooook – just checked Jen’s blog, and the #62 had a tire puncture and that fried them for qualifying (no tire changes). Sounded like he almost got hit or almost hit somebody, though? More reading up later. I see from the results that it was the Ford, then the two Vettes, then the two BMWs, then you, and Risi six spots behind you, I believe. Well as long as you stay one to either side of the #62, you have the championship, if I am not mistaken. Ten hours is a long time, so you are fine to be able to do that, though I know the variables encountered in a ten hour race can make it anybody’s game. And let me just add that despite the outcome of qualifying, I think that on the grid for tomorrow, Feinberg/Hall should be behind Law/van Overbeek/Neiman – JUST BECAUSE (JOEL I AM LOOKING AT YOU). And also, is that Jag actually going to leave the paddock tomorrow?

I don’t want to get much further without addressing the title of this entry, which refers to the fact that I was about twenty feet away from you for a good while today, but the timing, she was all off. It was the middle of qualifying and it was busy over there to say the least. What an awesome operation you guys have. And boy, was it hot today or what? Dayum. Not as bad as we’ve had it here at Road Atlanta, but you know, once it’s damned hot, it’s just damned hot!

A real high point of the day was that I did get to finally shake Thomas Blam’s hand, which was fantastic. His shop was so good to me awhile back, sight unseen, and I just really was happy to meet him. He and another race engineer or whatever you call them (Mr. Ingraham I believe, I am sorry I can’t really remember your name) did a great presentation to the PCA folks gathered at the Porscheplatz. The publicity for the event included “drivers” so I was hoping to meet some of you guys at the Porsche tent. That was not to be today!

So after my stint working the parade laps registration table was up (and after I drove parade laps, woohooo!), I headed down to the paddock to see if I could see you guys. But again – timing, off. Plus, once I trudged down there, it was just too damned hot (did I mention? it was hot!) to hang around. I actually came up on a golf car flying a Porsche flag, and hitched a ride back up the hill. I saw the end of qualifying live and in person from high on our little hill, and then I beat it out of there to grab my hotel room before they gave it away.

It was a fantastic drive over, with dramatic morning skies resulting from loads of fog lifting off the roads heading east. And I mean very early morning skies – I left at 2:30 and got to the hotel at 7:00 (hour time diff in there) and was at the track by about 7:30. The part of the interstate that was under flood waters two days ago was clear and there was no sign of it havign been flooded – except the stench through there. Yow. When I got to the track, and back to the Porscheplatz, the registration tables were indeed low on personnel, so I hopped right in there and helped out with parade laps registration.

We didn’t register our 100th car until five minutes before we staged to head out there, but we had an impressive array of cars, old and new, racers and garage queens and daily drivers and everything in between. And I hardly took any pictures. I was too busy working, and running around hugging people, and OK, I confess, that was me, standing at the edge of the tent, waving my arms and hollering, “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” all NASCAR-style. Yeah, baby! Hey, what the hell. It was authentic and inspired – I really do love the sound of race cars in the morning. And I was so tickled when the GT2 cars were out and I got to see the great gaggle of Porsches come around. I get all excited like a five-year-old, I swear.

It’s good to be five.

Speaking of which, I got a big kick out of parade laps, of course. One of the PCA officers from my home club was here, but without his Porsche, and he asked me if he could ride along with me. I was happy to have the company! Though it took some doing to rearrange all my crap that was still in the car since I didn’t stop at the hotel to totally unload first (just dropped off those tree seedlings). He knows Road Atlanta well, and he had me take the actual line through there and talked to me about each of the corners. I have to say, I find it so disorienting to have the whole place so full of people. I hardly recognize my usual landmarks. Two laps at 40 mph was not really a way to learn this track, but I enjoyed the holy hell out of it. I figure every minute I can spend on the actual track will help me when I eventually get out there for real. I let the cars ahead of me get some distance as I got to the turn 10 complex the second time, and with a little coaching from my passenger, I actually used the opportunity before me to really drive it. Awesome!

And the opportunity to really accelerate provided an opportunity for me to have somebody who knows something feel what my car is doing. It’s hard to describe, but “hiccup” says it best. Like I have water in my gas, or a bad fuel filter, or even a skip or miss in a cylinder. It’s time for a valve adjustment anyway, so once I’m able, I’ll have to get a good look at that. My passenger side window quit working for awhile, but I hoped it was just waterlogged. Once the car had dried out some, it worked, so for a number of reasons, I really need to see about the whole car-taking-on-water thing also.

I was going to title this entry, “Your Stalker Blogger Awaits You.” But that would be a little too stalkery. I really was hoping to get to shake your hand, though. And get some driver autographs on my helmet, dammit. I’ll get there early tomorrow and maybe I’ll luck out then. I buddied up to Paul from Porsche AG today – hee! And while I have your manager’s cell number, I am loathe to use that. Too stalkery! But I know he’s here. In fact, when he emailed me back to say he’d be here with Shane Mahoney, I had to laugh at the Irishness of it all! But it would be great fun to put some faces with all these names. So if you or Thomas or Sean or Jen happens to see this, feel free to call me at two oh five-three one zero-seven zero zero one, and hook me up! Actually I will probably drop Thomas an email. Why not? When else will I be in the same town as you guys? Another year, in all likelihood. I may have actually learned how to drive by then!

Alright, well since I’m finished early today, I am thinking about heading out tonight to take care of that little gardening project I wrote about last time. Then I can have a longer visit with my mum on Sunday. Eat well, sleep well, and drive like I know you can tomorrow, all of you! Really, the very best, luckiest luck to you Lizards!

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 🙂
VroomGrrl

PS Hey on the topic of luck, do you have any lucky charms you take along when you drive? A four-leafed clover in your pocket, a family photo, a troll doll?

All Systems Go!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

While you were out doing your thing on the track today, I was slugging away in my office doing my thing. It was an extremely stressful day, and I was glad for a few breaks when I could get online and see how practice was going. I hate to miss night qualifying tonight, but I will be packing up and catching a nap so I can be there in the morning.

I feel soooo much better now that my car is cleaned up. I was very very very (!) upset about her leaking and getting some mold in there. I’m bringing towels and tarps in case we get rain this weekend. Jen wrote in the Lizard blog that it was hot and humid today. Well just hang in there, the forecast is calling for temps in the 70’s on Saturday. Hopefully not driven down by cooling rains! But that should make for a very nice cool day. We rarely get a break from the humidity so forget that!

OK well I have so much to do before I can get my rest and then hit the road. And I have to remember to bring something special that showed up at the last minute. My father died a couple of years ago (sniff! it still feels like yesterday), and he’s where I get the Lebanese half of my heritage. He loved the Cedars of Lebanon, majestic trees. So when we chose his cemetery plot, we chose one at the edge of the cemetery where we were told we could do some of our own planting. We decided to put some Cedars of Lebanon there, but we couldn’t find them anywhere. I ended up having to order them six months ago over the internet from a nursery in Pennsylvania who had just two seedlings that they said they could ship in September. We’d hoped to get them planted by my father’s birthday on September 21st, but that didn’t happen. Of course, they arrived yesterday. So I will be carrying this precious cargo along with me as well, in addition to some hand gardening tools so that I can plant these on Sunday morning after the race.

Just to keep things interesting, of course! Now comes the fun of de-tracking my car and packing it up with everything I need for the weekend. I can’t wait to get there.

Now…you and the Lizards – I see the BMWs are not going easy are they? You guys probably hardly care about them as long as you come out ahead of the Risi gang. I know one thing, the way things have changed up with the BMWs coming in so strong, and the Corvettes nothing to sneeze at either – as you said early on, the late season would be very exciting, and you were right.

OK must go – see you soon? Hee!

Getting ready for a 911 road trip,
VroomGrrl