Archive for December, 2009

More Exciting News for 2010

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

Hi Pat,

What a nice Christmas surprise for your fans – a TRG/Flying Lizard team-up for the Grand-Am Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Test days are January 8-10 and oh how I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that! If I could get away from work, I’d love to catch the race. Alas, it looks like things will be at fever pitch for me at work. But you never know.

Anyway, the TRG guys are awesome, which I know you know since you’ve worked with them before. I got to meet and chat with several of them over the summer when they displayed some team cars at the local Porsche dealership in a pre-race event. I’ll be great to root for some of my favorite drivers in the 24-hour race. And wow what a stellar line-up. You guys will ROCK.

It’s a really lovely Christmas here. We drove an hour west to spend the evening with my husband’s family. We made a few other stops around Tuscaloosa as well. The weather was pretty rotten, with unusually high winds and rain. We got back home after midnight to find that part of our tall wood privacy fence blew down. We got it stood back up for now but we’ll be shopping repair estimates first thing next week for sure.

I’ve repacked some stuff, and gotten other stuff ready to pack, and in the morning, we’re off to Atlanta to spend some time with my family. It’ll be our first time with all four of us siblings together in quite a while – we’re all looking forward to it.

Merry merry Christmas!
VroomGrrl

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Porsche to Ferrari

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

Well everybody’s abuzz today with news that Flying Lizard Johannes van Overbeek is moving to Extreme Speed Motorsports to drive a Ferrari with Scott Sharp. Wow will that make things interesting! Flying Lizard sent out a press release on it today, and there’s a little more, including reaction from his new team, over at AmericanLemans.com right HERE. As usual, I have no clue what more this might mean, what’s gone on behind the scenes. I hope it’s a good thing for everyone.

Not much going on here. Still working through noon on Christmas Eve. Then I’m off for a few days. I put on a Santa hat yesterday, fired up the 911, and went to several Porsche-related destinations to drop off little packages of Christmas candy – my mechanics, my friends at PSDS/Barber, etc. I have a few packages lined up by the door for shipping around the country (Colorado, Arizona, Georgia, Maryland) but there’s no time to get them posted until tomorrow if I’m lucky, maybe not until next week. We’ll be off to Atlanta this weekend, looking forward to that.

Where are you? In Cali with family? Doing fun car stuff? Back from Germany? Zipping around in your Cayenne doing your holiday shopping – or do you have PEOPLE to do that for you? Hahaha! Well wherever, whatever, you know I wish you all the best for a Merry Christmas and super Happy New Year!

x0x0x0
VroomGrrl

Who’s On First for 2010?

Posted in Me, Pat's Races, The Car! The Car! on December 16, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

News from your personal corner of the world has been quiet these days. That’s OK – you deserve a break after the year you’ve had! Actually I have a feeling you’re not exactly on “break” either, to tell the truth. I suspect you may still be over in Stuttgart for the Night of Champions which will close the big week of festivities at the new Porsche Museum this week. Busy busy boy!

Even so, the first news from Porsche AG is out!

STUTTGART, Germany – December 11 — Porsche will remain loyal to its successful customer teams and drivers in major international GT series around the world for 2010, including those in the North America.

In the American Le Mans Series, factory drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) will defend their championship drivers title with Flying Lizard Motorsports in the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, the most successful GT vehicle worldwide in the 2009 season.

So there we have it. Of course, this is the Porsche factory view. I’m delighted to know you’ll continue your successful team with Jorg for Flying Lizard. But I also know you are involved with several other organizations, teams, cars and series. Will you drive with IMSA Matmut at the 24 Heures du Mans again this season, or with another of your teams? I wonder if you’ll continue in the NASCAR Camping World Series for 2010? I loved seeing you bang it up with the NASCAR folks, holding your own and giving ’em pure unadulterated Pat Long HELL.

Things are quiet with me and my car just now. She’s been parked since we got back from Road Atlanta, and I’ve only been out to be sure she still starts up a couple of times during our recent cold snap. I think we may take her on the short romp to a family party this weekend. Must be sure she gets out & gets her legs stretched occasionally.

I’m going to be ordering up the free Hawk brake pads I won for my front axle, and I am pretty sure I have a back-up set of OEM stock pads for the rear. Once I have that together, I’ll get with JB and we will do pads all around, and a flush and bleed of my brake system.

Of course, I need to get a good look at my tires – but God help me (literally) if I need new ones anytime soon. Let’s just say that the employment fairies are not yet smiling kindly on my husband, and it’s going to be a home-made kind of Christmas for us this year. I can’t even THINK about new tires right now, and am kind of glad that I didn’t drive hard enough this year to need to replace them to start next season, embarrassing as that kind of is. Silver lining and all.

We’re really enjoying the season with what we do have. I have Griswold-ified the front of our house with colored lights, and decked out the inside with all kinds of tchochkies. After a weekend blitz of baking, I will hope to delight family and friends with gifts of my special home-made Christmas candy which we fondly refer to as Christmas Crack. My mother refuses to utter the phrase “Christmas Crack,” but is demanding her plate ASAP, “extra large, please, I love that stuff!” she says. Crack indeed! Hee!

I love making the stuff, putting it into holiday packages, and delivering it to friends and family. I’ve got my local repair shop on the list, and if I can work out the logistics, I’ll be sure to drop some by my new friends at Franz Blam Racing. Their redesigned website looks sharp!

Work is nuts one day, less nuts the next, but overall pretty stressful just now. Boy could I use some good hard fast….driving! What did you think I was going to say?? Hee!

On that note, I’m outta here for now.

Happy warm fuzzies to you wherever you are,
VroomGrrl

Looking Ahead

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

OK well the announcements are starting to trickle in about the 2010 season. Flying Lizard just published a press release saying that you and Jorg will be back in the #45 for the coming year. I keep hearing that Kevin Buckler/TRG is trying to get you into one of their Porsches, but no big announcement there yet. The 24 Heures du Mans invites went out a month or so ago, and I know you probably have several options there – or not, depending what agreements you already have in place. I guess I will just have to sit tight with the rest of the world to see what’s up for 2010!

Of course, I tried to get Franz Blam talking about 2010 when I was in the shop on Monday. With a gleam in his eye, he admitted that it will be quite a big job to make the Flying Lizard Porsches competitive with some of the teams whose 2010 cars are already out (BMW, Ferrari, I think…). I think he said there will be another Ferrari team, too? I have refrained from any further prying and brain-picking. See above re: patience (not my strong suit, can you tell???).

One interesting tidbit from the week concerns the infamous Danica Patrick. She is signed on with a team to drive in some of the “junior” NASCAR races this year, while keeping her IRL schedule. Here in Birmingham, Alabama, we are super excited about Indy cars coming to Barber in April. And for my birthday, no less! Thank you, IRL! Haha! Danica has her fans and detractors, to be sure. If she were dog-ugly, I think she’d actually have it easier. Instead, she’s accused of pretty-girling her way to the top. Personally, I think that is BS. Either you can drive, or you can’t. And let’s face it – the girl CAN drive. Danica seems to have some talent, and she seems to have earned her stripes.

Now in some cases, criticism is warranted. Women in motorsports are always going to stand out, always going to be lightning rods for criticism and controversy. In this regard, I do wonder about Milka Duno’s talent and ability. She hasn’t really earned her way up – she’s been handed some awesome opportunities. She has the power of the Venezuelan government (and CITGO) behind her, and has the best of everything at her disposal. On the one hand, Duno has blazed some trails for women in motorsports, scoring the best finish for a woman driver at Daytona and things like that. On the other hand, she seems so inconsistent, and occasionally displays some serious gaps in her performance. I get the idea that Milka is one who HAS pretty-girled her way to where she is. Which pisses me off because it makes it that much harder for truly talented women to compete and make their way through the ranks.

How did I get onto all that? 2010! Yeah. So anyway, hurry up and tell us what you’re doing. Your fans have plans to make! Oh how I’d love to be at Daytona, or Sebring…sigh! I’ll have to see the schedule for the year and see if there’s any way. As of 2010, I am officially saving for a trip to Lebanon (my late father’s homeland) so big travel will probably be limited, or very budget-minded. In the meantime, I’m so lucky to be within an easy drive of both Barber, Road Atlanta, and even Talladega. So I can always get to something close when the urge strikes.

It’s a cloudy, bitter cold day today. I hope you are warm and snuggly, wherever you are!

DeGrinching as I Type,
VroomGrrl

I Love My Car

Posted in The Car! The Car!, Worker Fun on December 9, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

I probably shouldn’t be so attached to my car, but man, I love my car. She was great fun over the weekend and I really enjoyed having her off for a nice road trip.

It was very very cold over the weekend, but at least we didn’t get rained on. You know how much fun Road Atlanta is in the rain! I had all my layers on, and was just fine. We ran both sides of the track, with the racers paddocked and gridded on the “pro” side (infield) and the HPDE folks on the outer paddock and grid. I liked my assignment at grid-in on the DE side, close to the tower and to my car. I ended up being the runner to get the grid sheets from the tower to the DE grid for time trials, so I got to get out and about, and walk the entire length of the grid multiple times – best way to stay warm! Perfect!

One of my favorite cars had its passenger seat in – a 1966 Mustang. LOVE that car. LOVE. The driver is a really great guy. I went to the guy in charge of signing up for charity laps, and I got myself signed right up! Sadly, I couldn’t get in until Sunday afternoon, and I was not at my best. Worn out, and just after lunch. Add a face full of fumes, and I lasted four laps! But oh, they were four laps of heaven. We were alternately chased by and then chasing a GT40. Yow – music to my ears, both of them!

So there we were, late Sunday afternoon, slowly breaking down and packing up as the last DE sessions went out. For HPDE1 at 4:35, there was ONE car on the grid. I was on the radio all, “I think I’m going to take my car out on track in this DE1 session…” The response was “You need an instructor – good luck with that.” There happened to be an instructor standing not six feet away. listening to the whole thing. He said he’d go with me. “Got that covered, and grid-in is covered…” To my suprise, they said, “OK go for it!”

I had five minutes to track prep my car which had been sitting dead cold all day long. Of course I was up for it -Road Atlanta!!!! I would get out late in the session but even if I got ONE lap I was thrilled to do it! I went to start my car up and…..DEAD BATTERY. Yep. Left the defroster on and didn’t turn the key all the way off and several hours of that drained the battery so completely that it wouldn’t jump start. So I spent that last few minutes of DE1 pulling power off a kind friend’s battery to charge mine enough to get a start. Oh well – next time! I do like that they let workers get out on track when it can be arranged – I’ll be sure to keep that in mind in the future.

For my lunch break on Sunday, I ran over to the pro-side to check out my friend’s new race car. He had stopped at my spot on grid in his breathtaking midnight blue Cayman S, and I asked if he’d traded his 2000 996 for the Cayman. Silly me! This is his DD – his race car was in the paddock. This is the guy who crashed his “brand new” car late last season at Road Atlanta in the rain. By “brand new” I mean “recently completely refurbished and souped up.” He got lots of the guts out of the wrecked car, and got a new tub & chassis, and went to work. Or rather, his builder-buddy went to work.

The outcome is stunning. His car sounds like a ferocious howling beast on the track – awesome! He says he still has the passenger seat, and he’ll be sure to bring it in the trailer next season. This is the guy who gave me the nearly life-altering (in a good way) ride at Road Atlanta last year, and I’ve enjoyed keeping up with him and his progress. He’s left Georgia for Michigan, but this club is his home, and RA his home track. It was super fantastic to see him!

Of course, the very best part of the whole weekend came on Monday. I finished taking care of business with my mom by noon, and then it was off to Tucker to take my car to…Franz Blam Racing! I was due for an oil change, so I thought this would provide a good opportunity to have them meet my car. Lucky for me, they had time when I got there (Thomas had warned them I might be by Monday afternoon). I also had my new wireset in the car, and they made time to put that in for me as well. Finally, all the messing with my battery on Sunday had resulted in a couple of blown fuses which left my stereo inoperable. They tracked those down and replaced them for me. So when I left there late that afternoon, I was good to go!

I had no clue what all had to be undone and moved around to properly install my spark plug wires. It almost looked like it’d be as easy to drop the engine. Very tight in there. Of course, Franz knew his way around everything in there like the back of his hand, and he showed the tech how to twist things this way and that to use bendy tools and snake things around to get everything well-seated in there. Franz himself chased my electrical demons from the battery connections to the front of the car where the fuses are. I confess, it was pretty awesome to see THE FRANZ BLAM shoulder-deep in my engine bay.

The work took a few hours, and I brought what I needed to entertain myself – my laptop with broadband card, and a new book to read. There’s a nice seating area with a table and chairs and I was completely comfortable. But I ended up chatting with Connie (office manager) and Melvin (service manager?) off and on for much of that time. I made a few trips into the shop to watch the guys work, and to snap photos of all the pretty Porsches in there.

The drive home was great – it was a crisp, clear afternoon, and once I got past the Atlanta rush-hour log-jams, I was driving into a lovely sunset all the way. It was just dark when I got home, and I was tickled to see that my husband had begun stringing Christmas lights around the porch. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Turns out the Flying Lizards were at the 24 Hours of Thunder Hill over the weekend, I believe supporting the Team Mercer Motorsports bunch who came out victorious! I notice that Johannes van Overbeek was one of their drivers, and now I know what Thomas Blam was doing in California. Franz was so proud to tell me when I got to the shop on Monday. He has been pretty quiet around me – very kind and sweet, but kind of quiet. I had paid up and left the shop on Monday, and was standing in front of my car, going through the contents of my purse which I had dumped out on the hood (DON’T ASK). I didn’t realize he’d come out the front door, and I turned around to see him coming toward me, arms outstretched for a hug. What a sweetie!

Well I really enjoyed that car-centric weekend. Now time to focus on work things and family fun and all the rest. Hope you are happy and well, wherever you are!

x0x0x0x
VroomGrrl

This is What I Do for Fun

Posted in Worker Fun on December 5, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

I’ve made it to Road Atlanta safe & sound, a couple of hours ahead of the snow. My husband sent me this photo of big fat flakes falling at our house in Birmingham just as I was crossing the Georgia state line. The weather looks potentially nasty for tomorrow morning. I have packed tons of layers, and will leave here tomorrow in long underwear, long sleeved T-shirt, sweater, hoodie, another fleece if necessary, and a hooded rain-jacket/windbreaker, over all-weather pants over tights and leggings. Two pairs of socks. Hat, two pairs of gloves (one with no fingertips). Lord help me, I’ll be out on the grid lining up cars at 9:00, and I’ll be out there all day long. We may get rain or snow between 5-9 tomorrow morning. Things could get very interesting!

The PCA party was really nice. The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum provided a stunning backdrop. It was very well attended, and great fun to see everybody. I was introduced as the new Membership Chair. La ti da! I do look forward to playing a more active role in the club. They are a great bunch of folks.

I’d packed my car for the trip to RA and hubby and I drove separately so I could leave straight from the museum after the party. It was a very pleasant drive. I wanted to make the best possible time to beat the weather, but it was flashing blue lights everywhere I looked. So it was a speed limit ride the whole way. I’m tucked into my hotel room now and winding down.

Surfing the web, I see a little mention that you are in Stuttgart this weekend at the Porsche Museum doing an autograph session with some of the other factory drivers. You do get around, don’t you? What fun that must be. I could look back and see, but I can’t recall if you guys do your big annual fitness camp in the winter? I would think so. I can’t wait until further along when folks start to announce what they’re doing in the coming year. The GT2 competition in ALMS has gotten VERY interesting. It should be a great year.

I’ve got a couple of opportunities to drive coming up, and I may take advantage of one or both: an autocross, and another track day at Little Tally, coming up in the next couple of weeks. Must see what the work schedule and pocketbook will allow! For now it’s time to hit the hay. I have an early all-hands meeting, then a long, damned cold day out on the grid. I cannot wait to see all my friends and their cars – I’ve missed this bunch!

Ready for a weekend of Brrrrrrr!
VroomGrrl