Archive for February, 2010

Pat’s Take on Sebring

Posted in Pat's Races on February 24, 2010 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

You’ve got an update on your site with your post-Sebring comments. Got me thinking about how dynamic these race weekends are. Especially with the crazy competition this year, practice and qualifying will yield information that will be immediately put to use tweaking and seeking perfection in car, driver, and team prep. In the first few races especially, there are ways in which it will ALL happen in practice and testing, the plan will take shape, the Thomas Blams will take it all in and spit out the winning strategy. You said the 12 hour race at Sebring was almost tougher than the 24 Hours at Daytona. I’d be curious to know how that works. Seems 24 hours would be twice as tough as 12 but math is not my strongsuit!

There are a couple of autocross schools being offered this spring, and while I wish I could do the 3-day, my schedule won’t work with that one. I found a one-day in Atlanta on March 21 offered by PCA. This will be after my AX test & tune, but before my first points event. Perfect! Maybe I will keep it a secret (except from the two readers of this blog!) – it’d be fun to come out looking like I’ve figured it all out and see all those jaws hit the pavement. I guess that’s the good thing about setting expectations low. I really want to at least pick up where I left off last year, having shaved about 20 seconds off my first run as compared to the earlier part of the year. I don’t want any of that 20 seconds back! I hope to pick up close to where I left off or even better, and make some progress from there.

The classing in autocross mystefies me. I am honest about mods to my car so I am in one class. Others “fudge” about their mods and they are in whatever the fuck class they want to be. Everybody knows it. This doesn’t happen in regional and national events, but locally, I don’t know. There is no heavy that I know of to put others in their correct classes. They have added a tire class you can add on to your car class and my head is already spinning trying to figure it out! I will make a few calls in advance of Saturday and make a decision about which class to run in. Last year I was in BSP (novice). Technically I would still be in BSP this year, maybe in a tire PAX class. Do you see the smoke coming out of my ears? Ha!

OK well I’m on the road and have a super early morning so I’m outta here for now. I am really looking forward to seeing you do your thing this year. Am I going to have to search out the camping world event driver lists east and west to see if you are running any of those this year? How about Le Mans? NOT THAT I’M IMPATIENT OR ANYTHING!

Bye for now,


Sebring Test Days

Posted in Pat's Races on February 23, 2010 by vroomgrrl

Dear Patrick,

I did my best to keep up with you guys this week, but I wasn’t able to do much of that. My job demanded most of my time and energy today. But it was a nice little respite when I could check in, to read Jenn’s FLMS blog entries through the past couple of days. I will assume that things are going well – lots of changes, tweaks, back and forth to the garage – which would be why the call it TESTING! For real, I know that your engineers and mechanics have a big job this year. The class is so competitive, and seems to be ever-changing! Hopefully you guys are figuring out how to get all the go-fast out of those Lizardmobiles possible. Great machines, great drivers – should be a great season of racing!

Email brought awesome news from my friend Mike Skeen today. I’ve mentioned him here before. He is a driver of rare talent, a true sportsman, and just a great guy. The kind of guy you want to see make it. Well! He’s hooked up with Bennett Racing, and they are campaigning a Ferrari F430 in Grand Am! I am over-the-moon thrilled for Mike. The Bennett Racing Ferrari will debut in April at VIR, where Skeen and Skip Bennett will drive. The Bennett team will do the rest of the season without Skeen, who’s committed to Agee Racing for the 2010 Trans Am season. But he’ll be back with the Bennett guys for the 2011 24 Hours of Daytona. Looks like I’ll be making a return visit to Daytona, and whom will I be cheering on then? My real life friend and one-time driving coach? Or my imaginary driving coach? Well, of course, I’ll be cheering you both on!

OK, this post has been up on my computer all day. Time flies! Hope you are happy and well, wherever you are!


Le Mans 2010 Test Days

Posted in Uncategorized on February 17, 2010 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

As usual, I’m a little mystefied by the relationship between “Le Mans” and “American Le Mans.” Le Mans still has the same classes as last year; ALMS has streamlined. I saw a headline that the list of cars for Le Mans Test Days was out, and of course, went to see if and where your name came up on it. I’m not freaking out this year at not seeing your name! The #76 IMSA Performance Matmut car is there with Raymond Narac and Patrick Pilet listed as drivers – that’s the car & team you did Le Mans with last year. So I will chill out and see how this develops over the next few months until the race. Test days are March 6-7.

Following you on Twitter, I see that you escaped Boot Camp for…was it Amsterdam? Now there’s a town! I have only spent a single day there back in the late 80’s but I will never forget it. Incredible town, and I was young and crazy enough to really enjoy it! Anyway I don’t know if you’re done boot camp or where you might be but I know things are starting to heat up for the season.

One thing I’ve been curious about, and shame on me for never asking when I’ve seen you in person, but would you consider a spot on the USF1 team if it were offered? I don’t know all that much about it, except that F1 is an international class that’s considered by many to be the most prestigious and most exciting in all of auto racing. You’ve driven the prototypes, and you’ve said many times that you want to follow in the footsteps of other world-class drivers who have mastered all forms of racing, including F1. I don’t really understand the politics of it all. Perhaps I should study up before I actually do talk to you about it.

Which I will, one of these days.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, my first official event is in less than two weeks! My local club’s autocross test & tune. I’m getting so much encouragement from my autocross friends, which is fun. Enough of them have driven my car to have figured out that with a fast, skilled driver behind the wheel, the car can be competitive! No excuses. I’ve got work to do this year!

Track events will take something of a back seat this year as I’ve said earlier. I’m still trying to juggle things to get out to autocross events in other areas that are still less than two hours away, east and north. I need to get the last schedule that just came out, sit down with my calendar, and make a plan. My husband kind of blows off any kind of planning, but the way the world works, I find that without some planning, all sorts of opportunities are missed. Too many other people are looking way far ahead enough in life that if you don’t do some of that yourself, you are left behind! And I’m not one who likes being left behind. I’m all for impulsivity and going with the flow, but at the same time, I find real value in having a plan.

Speaking of which, we have our cash flow situation in better shape, and my very first impulse was to grab the calendar and find a weekend we can take to the BEACH! My husband and I love love love taking road trips together, and we both find time at the beach to be completely restorative, for us as individuals, and for us as a couple. It’s been a HELL year around here, a couple of those actually, and man are we ready for some restoration. We have taken just one weekend to Atlanta together in the past year, no beach time at all since my father’s death in 2008 come to think of it. That’s not good. And we’re about to correct it by planning our little beach break. We usually go to Dauphin Island, but I think we’re going to check out the other side of the Gulf at Fort Morgan peninsula this time. More on this later.

The Olympics are my constant background media right now. So very exciting. I love the winter sports. I’ve never skiied myself, or ice skated for that matter, but I love to watch. Speed skating may be my favorite sport. Figures, huh? “Acceleration out of the turn is where he pulls away from everybody…” The parallels with driving are many and fun to explore. Love seeing an African American take gold, Shani Davis takes the Men’s 1000m speed skating gold medal just now. Awesome!

This weekend it’s all about the Hondas, our daily drivers. I finally took my husband’s Honda to the axle shop on my day off and got the left CV boot redone, and those guys put new front brake pads & rotors on for me “while they were in there”. That car needs new front shocks and a front-end alignment, and that should have it 100% roadworthy. On my Honda, I need new front brakes & rotors, too. They could both probably stand to have the brake systems flushed, we’ll see how much time my weekend mechanic has and knock out as much of this as we can.

My 911 died from the cold, just the battery, and once I got it jumped off on Sunday, I took it out and had the most awesome little fun run around town. I love that car way, way, way, way too much! Felt so good to get her out. I’m still trying to get the correct Hawk performance pads to put on there, and when I get that done I’ll get the brakes flushed & bled and that car will be ready to go.

OK I’m just rambling now. Hope all is well with you, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing!

Itching to drive,

Boot Camp

Posted in Pat's Races on February 10, 2010 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

I'm sure this helped!

I’m finally looking back into Twitter, signed up following you there, and I think that’s where I saw that you were off somewhere for fitness assessment, and then off to Porschewerks factory driver boot camp in the Canary Islands. Not much of a break for you! I am really looking forward to hearing more about your plans for the coming year. I know you’ll be in the Flying Lizard #45 with Jorg again, and that is going to be a great slate of races. I love that the ALMS season will end with Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta! But how about NASCAR for you this year? Any plans to run in the Camping World Series East and West again? I got the biggest kick out of seeing you heft those stock cars around the ovals, and you were awesome!

My own season is shaping up. I’ll post my plans here once I have things buttoned down a little better. I think I’m going to stick to my idea of focusong on autocross, and so I am currently looking at events at two sister clubs within a couple of hours of here to mix in with my local club autocross season. These clubs actually got together to coordinate their schedules to minimize conflicts, as there’s a big bunch of folks who try to run and actually compete in all three clubs. For me, this means opportunity to do an autocross event every week if I wanted to! No shortage of seat time. And I will be doing some track events too. I’ve had an invitation to get involved with a rallycross team as well, which I would LOVE and will definitely do a little of. So many possibilities, so little time!

Spencer was AWESOME in the 24H of Daytona, leading the GT cars for a good while.

Another thing I’ve wanted to try is a Darkside DE program out at Roebling Road. I’ve avoided going out there as it’s a seven hour drive each way, with a weekend of hard driving in between. I worry about killing my car! But man, I really took to heart what I saw on the grid just after the 24 Hours of Daytona was over – these 911s are TANKS! As long as I’m on top of basic maintenance, I should be fine for a long drive. I go back and forth about saving tires, and not wanting to tempt fate: the same analysis I applied which resulted in me taking the Honda to Daytona instead of the 911. Only the slightest regret about not taking the 911 – she’d have been fine, I think. So I’m reconsidering this whole long-drive-avoidance thing. Trailering is another option, but I’m not quite ready to go there yet.

Great to make a new friend in Liz Moses from Team Polizei

Seeing photos of myself from Daytona was jarring. I’m pretty unhappy about putting on a bit of weight in the past year, so I have fired up my own damned boot camp. It’s called working out five days per week at the gym I’ve joined (cardio and strength training). And hiring a trainer. This is the success recipe that’s worked for me in the past. I’m too easily put off by my unfamiliarity with my new gym, the machines and their set-up and all that, and I have just not gotten into my workout groove since moving & joining the new place. It’ll be a little longer before I can arrange the trainer situation, so in the interim, I’ve picked up some at-home strength training DVDs and fired those up in the guest room using my exercise ball and hand weights. It’s a nice slow start back to my routine. Hopefully I can find a trainer who likes early mornings, since knocking out my workout first thing in the day is how I like to roll.

But it’s on! I’ll be so much more comfortable in the car, and sharper I’m sure. And I have a longer-range goal, too, which I’ll discuss another time, maybe. It might be oversharing. Let’s just say that my post-gastric-bypass-surgery body is in need of some surgical alteration, and I’m seriously considering it. Dropping the excess pounds and getting my musculature shaped up is key to success there. OK sorry if that’s too much information…

I’m still waiting for my friends to post their photos from Daytona. They all had these fancy cameras with telephoto lenses and all that, and they took thousands of photos. But that’s also the problem – they have thousands of photos to sort through before they can be uploaded. Some of the Thursday shots are up, though, and there is some great stuff in there!

There you are, giving an interview in the pit during the last hour of 24H of daytona.

One of these days I will not be quite so starstruck when I am near you, and if circumstances permit, I will actually have an intelligent conversation with you. Imagine that! Hahaha! So far it’s been, “Do you mind?” and holding out my camera to snap a photo with you. The many things I’d love to talk to you about fly out of my head. Well there haven’t exactly been chatty opportunities, either. Five minutes before race start is not a good time. I’d make the shittiest news reporter wouldn’t I? Maybe I should think about it like that. For the blog! For the blog!

Wow this got long. I know you’re shocked.

As if you are even reading! I slay myself!

Enjoy your gorgeous Canary Islands weather – nothing but snow & cold stateside!


Recovering from Rolex

Posted in Pat's Races on February 7, 2010 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

Well I had to jump right back into work this week and it’s taking me awhile to get up to speed. I ran on adrenaline all weekend and crashed hard once I got home. Wow what a weekend! I am still playing catch-up. Let me just say that I feel like a total Cinderella again. For a totally impulsive trip, the whole thing could not have been better! Well maybe if my husband had come along, that’d be nice. But otherwise it could not have been any better.

I’m waiting for my friends to get all their photos posted, and I’m working on putting some video together. I’ll say this, unless a person is hooked up with a team, it is hardest to keep up with the race while actually at the track. It’s easier to watch it on TV if your aim is to actually follow the race. Of course, there’s no overnightcoverage of the 24 hour race.

Days later…

Let me go ahead and get this video up. Still catching up and recovering! More soon…

Oh – of course, I was out of the loop for your Daytona 2010 race notes posted to your PCA blog over the Daytona weekend. Doh! Nice to read them in hindsight, thought.


Rolex 24: WOW

Posted in Uncategorized on February 1, 2010 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

The only times I’ve been around you have been at the most exciting points in these big races, or right before, when it is just not the time to start up a get-acquainted conversation. All the same, I was absolutely thrilled to get to wish you luck in person! What an incredible weekend. Absolutely overwhelming if I am honest. I’ll be back with more updates later, call this a placemarker.