Archive for January, 2011

Can’t Always Get What You Want

Posted in Me, Pat's Races on January 30, 2011 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

vroomgrrl and FLM45 DP car 2011 daytona garageWell I know this weekend had its ups and downs! From Joerg putting the car in pole position in qualifying to Seth’s rotten luck on his first stint Saturday. The team got the car back on track, and you all did an admirable job climbing back through the pack, but it just wasn’t to be this time. Just goes to show – you can have every statistical advantage going in, but it’s a 24 hour race. The good news is – anything can happen. The bad news is: ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. I was so sad to see the car retired in the 23rd hour! All your fans were. And I’m sure nobody was more disappointed than you drivers & the team. I sincerely hope that Flying Lizard campaigns the DP car as many Daytona 24s as it takes to win one. Next year!

All that said, it was a spectacular weekend of racing! The days were bright and clear, just warm enough, with a light breeze. Last night was mostly clear and cool, and the early morning brought a shroud of fog so thick the caution lasted over two hours. The finish was pretty amazing, too! A real dogfight for 2nd place.

skeenMy friend Mike Skeen had his disappointments this weekend as well. The #56 Bennett Racing Ferrari F430 Challenge car was out when I checked around 3am. It had been in and out of the pits for several hours, and at some point it retired. I’ll have to go dig around for the details. Anyway, it was so fantastic to see Mike and his band of buddies who put this effort together. Just taking that driver introduction walk at the beginning and getting to drive a few stints – I know for sure he is a very, very happy man.

So next year is the 50th birthday of the 24 Hours of Daytona! That’ll be a perfect endcap on what I have decided is THE YEAR OF ME, my own 50th year. I’m “jus doing it” all year long, and this weekend was my first step in that direction. It would have been great to have had my husband along with me. But racing is not his thing, and the weekend is the busiest time for his job (taxi driver) so he took a pass on this one. He and I will have to head to the beach together soon.

IMAG0160In the end, I decided to keep my hotel room for the night. I didn’ get much sleep last night. In fact, my worker friend picked me up in the van and took me to the coolest spots behind the scenes on the track, just like last year. The inside of the bus stop! It was so cool with the cars flying by so close. Once all that fun was done, I moved my car over to the nearly deserted Porsche corral and parked. I fired up my computer for a little while to see Liz Moses doing her live trackside 24 hour marathon coverage, which was a scream. She is awesome. During that two-hour caution for fog, I wrapped up in a jacket & blanket, grabbed my pillow, and went to sleep for a bit.

And woke up a 10:00 surrounded by hundreds of cars, with people milling all around me. Ha! Nice 4-hour nap! I quickly got my shit together, went to the restroom, got some breakfast, and enjoyed the rest of the race. Bittersweet in a way, but I have good friends involved with TRG, so it was great to see them get on the podium. IMAG0170

I took my time getting back here, and actually moved to a much nicer room where I should be able to get some sleep tonight. Then I made use of the last of the beatiful daylight to get my car ready for the long trek home. I took her out and ran a few errands to get her up to temp and checked the oil. Perfect. Tire pressures are all good. I torqued my lug nuts, gave the glass and mirrors a real good clean-up, got the trash out, and got everything sorted to leave by five in the morning. Now a bite of something for dinner, then early to bed. I’m whooped!

me and my 1988 Porsche 911So I’ll have to start digging around the web to see what my favorite driver is up to. I know you’ll be doing the full ALMS season with FLM but you are into so many other things, and you don’t exacty publish your full schedule on your website! (not saying you should either). I’m sure you’ll be going in a thousand directions and I look forward to following you for what promises to be another incredible year.

Wishing you safe travels home,
x0x0x0
VroomGrrl

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Live from Daytona!

Posted in Pat's Races on January 29, 2011 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat!

IMAG0119 It was great to see you this afternoon on the grid, and to wish you luck in person. And to identify myself as the person on the other end of Ernie’s phone call last night. Eek! Anyway, I’m back at the hotel for a little rest before I go back for the night. When I doubt I will get any rest!

IMAG0090It’s off to a rough start for you guys. Of course, I was in my car heading back to the hotel when your car went off at the bus stop and messed some stuff up, requiring repairs, and putting you down around nine laps. 16th place last I checked. I have it on TV of course. Well 24 hours is a long time, and you just never know what will happen.

IMAG0109I had the car number wrong for my friend Mike Skeen. It’s FIFTY SIX. Bennett Racing. I’ll come back later with links. And they thought they were down for the count when they crashed the car in practice. But their team put it back together and they were down to the wire this afternoon, taping and pulling and pushing and grinding and bending and a guy weaving all around them slapping on decals and stickers as the various places were “finished.” And…..they’re out there! So! The #56 Bennett Racing Ferrari for the GT class win, and the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche Riley for DP and the overall win!

Now I’m closing everything down and getting some real sleep. I’ll be up all night, and through the race tomorrow. I’ll get another nap, but then I’m heading back on the road home right after the race. IMAG0120

Keep at it – you have the fastest damned car and 20 hours to pick em off! GO GIT IT!!!!!!
x0x0x0
VroomGrrl

Ernie and the Telephone Call

Posted in Uncategorized on January 28, 2011 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

IMAG0072OK look that was really weird! I thought Ernie Becker was kidding when he handed me the phone and said, “Here. It’s Pat Long. Yes, really! Talk!” I could not believe he just pulled you away from whatever you were doing to talk to your #1 Fangrrl. The first thing I said was that I was sorry we’d interrupted you and you said, “NO APOLOGIES!” and so I just made the best possible use of my brief chat with you and told you I was looking for you to take the whole thing tomorrow and good luck!

Wow that was pretty cool. But also a little embarrassing. Come on. I’m just shy of fifty years old. Squee does not look good on me! Well, what can I say. Squeeee! Haha! Thank you for being so gracious. You have some fantastically wacky friends! All that aside, I am really looking forward to seeing you and Jorg pilot the DP car tomorrow to a great big-ass win!

Ernie and I met at dinner this evening at Daytona Ale House. Some of us who frequent the 911 forums at http://www.pelicanparts.com had a little Daytona meet & greet. These are boys, I’m usually the only girl, and as often happens it fell on me to see to the details. Which was fine! We had a great space reserved on the patio and a super server. And name-tags! And a sign! And a really, really good time. Ernie was there with the rest of his RedLine Services gang, who kindly shared him with us for awhile. It was great to see everybody, and meet some new folks. Some of them are drivers, some crew, some vendors, some Porsche-owning race fans. Great bunch of guys, and a really nice time.

The drive down here today couldn’t have been better. It was a beautiful day, and my car was flawless. And fun, fun, fun! There’s always this little nagging doubt when I take my car on a long drive. It’s 23 years old, anything could happen. But ten hours and 600 miles and she was ready for more. I swear, I have never had a car that was so, so solid. LOVE my car! IMAG0064

Ok well I’ve got some homework to do here. Some of my friends are out, others placed really well. Two people told me a Ferrari bit it today, and I just hope Mike Skeen and the #86 Bennett Racing Ferrari are in good shape for tomorrow. Of all the drivers out there, I want to see Skeen take GT.

GO PAT! GO MIKE!

I’m going to go check the stats for today then hit the sack. Early start and long day and I cannot wait!

GO GET IT!!!!!!!
X0X0X0
VroomGrrl

Daytona, Here I Come!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2011 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat!

Wow what a day for you guys. DP TRACK RECORD AT DAYTONA! POLE POSITION FOR THE RACE! Sorry I’m shouting. But that is just so great and I am so proud of you guys and over-the-moon happy for the whole team. I cannot WAIT to get there and see the whole thing in action.

And I’m SO excited! I got my favorite worker assignment – worker shuttle driver on the midnight shift Saturday night. That means I am scooting all around between the corner stations, often with unparalleled views of the action from perspectives few get to see. I AM STOKED!

So as I knew it would be, the week was a bear, since I am taking tomorrow off to make the trip down. I met all my goals at work and got all that behind me, then had a whole shitload of errands and appointments and other personal things. But I managed to get my hair done! I swore after looking at photos from last year that I would not be caught looking like a dead rat ever again! I don’t know what I’ll be looking like after my overnight work stint, but by God, I am stepping it up a little bit this year.

And I am tickled to be driving my 1988 911! I had my shop give it a pre-road trip once-over, and I got their blessing. There are never any guarantees, of course, but I have done all I can to be sure everything is in tip top shape for the trip. So!!

TRG is doing 24 hour trackside commentary, hosted by the awesome Liz Moses. I am really looking forward to seeing her again, and the whole crew. Lots of catching up to do with everybody. Speaking of which, I still have a million things to do before I can get out of here, not the least of which is to get some sleep ahead of the 10 hour drive in the morning. Up at 4, out the door at 5.

SEE YOU IN DAYTONA!!!

Moving Target

Posted in Uncategorized on January 23, 2011 by vroomgrrl

Hiya Pat,

I was all ready to post a little note here about how the excitement is building as I get closer to Thursday, my departure day for Daytona. I’m sure you are already there, or soon on the way! Anyway there I was minding my own business, reading some stuff on the internet, and I came across something that bugged me. I think it might bug you, and if my suspicions prove true, this is going to bug Porsche Cars of North America most of all.

Apparently, when the City of Austin, Texas is trying to conjure up an image of the biggest asshole drivers on the road that they can think of, they think, “PORSCHE.” Check this out:

Can you even believe that? On the one hand, I find it hard to imagine a city creating and hanging something like that without getting the proper permissions. I suppose it’s entirely possible that they are legally licensed to use the Porsche image on their poster.

On the other hand, though, would Porsche do that? I know they like to partner with local law enforcement in different ways. But this is such a negative portrayal. I would be hard-pressed to come up with anything more negative, actually.

They don’t use this image on any of the print materials in their online e-toolkit for this initiative. There, it shows a truck with a little red convertible sportscar in front of it, no Porsche. Maybe this banner is old news and Austin is posting last year’s stuff. Still! If Porsche went along with this, I’d be surprised. Now I’m curious as hell.

So ask around up there in the stratosphere at Porsche and let me know, wouldja? Because in the meantime, all the Austin, Texas area Porsche owners are worried that they have a target on their backs.

Thanks!

Now – back to DAYTONA! Nothing new there for me right now except I will be really crunched at work this week to get all my work done before I leave. Which I think will have to be between 2 and 4AM on Friday. Stay tuned!

x0x0x0x
VroomGrrl

Twice Around

Posted in Me, Pat's Races on January 17, 2011 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

winterfahrtWell things are picking up here in VroomGrrl land! I had a great 911-centric weekend! Saturday was our annual multi-car-club winter drive. As usual, there was snow and ice the week before the drive. In front of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, we assembled a great collection of about 40 cars from the British, Mercedes and Porsche clubs. While we had a Plan B, we took off on the planned route to the summit of Alabama’s highest peak, Mt. Cheaha, assured the roads were clear.

Of course, we found out soon enough that there was some treacherous ice to be navigated. We had about 40 cars and miraculously, we all managed to stay together until about a mile short of the mountain summit, where a good bunch of us bailed out in the face of a passage that looked like an uphill glacier, and we headed down the “clear” way. It turned out to be not so clear when we set out, but once we got off the mountain, the roads were fine.

Whew! We were ravenous at lunch, and passed the time waiting for our meals by reliving our most grueling “pucker moments” from the drive. Everybody made it to the designated lunch spot except the Brits, all of whom tried to make it to the summit, but had to be pulled out by the rangers (four of them, I believe). No cars or people were injured, and everybody who participated had a good time. The organizer had some stickers made up, and as we picked them up, we joked about how we’d just earned our merit badge in ice driving. Another great Winter Fahrt is in the books!

On the way home, I stopped by Barber to see my buddy at Porsche Sport Driving School. I’d given him my copy of Vic Elford’s 911 High Performance Driving Handbook which he thought he might be able to get autographed by the author for me. It’s been about a year, and I have seen Vic Elford twice since I left the book with my friend! I thought the upcoming Daytona might present another chance so I stopped by to get the book back. He was there on Saturday because PSDS was having a weekend school session.

IMAG0022I had never seen the 2011 Porsche 911 GT2RS in person, and really enjoyed ogling this one, along with all the other awesome cars out there. After the day’s driving, I was exhausted, and headed back home after a quick visit. Sunday I got a call from my friend – when I picked up the book, I dropped my gloves! Dammit. Did I want to come pick them up? I was still in my pajamas and since I had to be back out there next weekend anyway, I said I’d just come get them next weekend. Did I want to come pick them up at 3:40 and take a hot lap ride? Oh hell yeah!

IMAG0021

Sometimes I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I quickly got my shit together, hopped into my 1988 911, and zipped over to Barber. My buddy lined me up for a 911 Turbo ride with John Lewis at the wheel. As I got into the car, my friend said to John, “OK, she’s done this before, she’s ready for the advanced ride if you know what I mean!” and they both laughed. I was in for a good one! And a good one it was! It took me a minute to get comfortable, but holy hell the launch on that car just about peeled my face off! It was awesome!!

John said he’d been dying to cut loose and I was his last ride of the day. We were going twice around, and I was sooo tickled about that because it meant that I got to experience how he’d tackle Turn 15 into the front straight. This is a famous spot for folks to do a little hot-dogging, aka drifting, if they are of a mind to do a thing like that. John did not disappoint! Then he took a rather…playful line down the front straight to amuse the guys standing at the track wall, and ended up on a rather…interesting approach to turn 1! WHEW!!

This was a great reminder for me as the year begins. Once again, I am reminded of what the world is like at speed. What Barber is like at speed. Man, that is a fun little track. My favorite turn is the corkscrew, the roller coaster, Turn 8, the “Museum” turn. LOVE that thing! Obviously, it’s very different from my 1988 911 to the 2011 911 Turbo. Man the speed we carried into that thing, the drama of the weight transfer with some rotation at the bottom, the thrill of shooting out of there…fun, fun, and fun! More fun to drive, of course, but I absolutely enjoyed it as a passenger with John. I would never see it quite like that in my car!

Things are getting very busy with my local PCA, and as the Secretary this year, I have some work cut out for me. These guys are fantastic, and there is some great energy to try new things. The leadership that’s transitioning out are all racers, and they were not much on recordkeeping. It’s a nasty job, but somebody’s gotta do it! I hope to institute some document retention policies and put some simple systems and templates in place to cover our recordkeeping bases. Having more and more people coming out to new events is, hokey as this will sound, all the reward I could want for the time spent on the back-stage paper-shuffling that comes with a big national organization. It’s not just the cars, it’s the people!

Wow that was boring. Moving right along, things are falling into place for Daytona. I’m bringing my SCCA-worker whites and buddying up with the same friend I did last year to sign up in with SCCA as Worker Support Workers. Last year, the work was about the most fun I have ever had, riding around on a golf cart from midnight to 7am delivering water and hot coffee to corner workers, and ferrying corner workers to and from their corners, while the race was ongoing. I loved it, and hope to do that again. Finances are not as tight as last year, and while I have not plans to spend a wad of money, it’s just going to be nice to take this trip without the stress of pinching pennies like I had to in order to make the trip last year. More boring! The best part is I’m driving the 911. I got fresh wiper blades today, and everything else is good to go.

The really really best part is the 24 Hour Race, of course, twice around the clock! And your team in a DP car flying the #45 Flying Lizard colors! I wasn’t sure if and how involved Thomas Blam would be, but I shot him an email after Roar and sure enough, he’s all up in the middle of the Daytona effort. I’ll definitely take him up on his invite to come by and say hello in the pit!

And to add to the excitement, a friend I’ve talked about here, my buddy Mike Skeen, will be in the GT class in the #56 Bennett Racing Ferrari F430 Challenge along with Jonathan Allen, Michael Davidson, Jean-Francois Dumoulin, and Glynn Geddie. When I ran across him in the GRM corral last year, he was so excited about a plan he was hatching with his buddies to do this race. The guys who ended up on the team are not the guys he started the plan with, and I will have to ask him what happened to the Grassroots Motorsports Magazine plan to document their truly grassroots effort. But by God, he’s going to be out there racing in the 24 Hours of Daytona! I’m over-the-moon thrilled for him, and so excited I’ll be there to see him race and cheer him on. Oh my and let’s not forget my buddy Spencer Pumpelly in the #67 TRG Porsche! I believe they posted fastest time in GT for the night practice.

And last but not least, Hurley is back! And a PCA-bred racer and local hero by the name of Leh Keen will be teamed up with him in the #59 Brumos Porsche GT3 along with Marc Lieb. They looked great in testing, posting the fastest time in GT in the 3rd session on Saturday.

Heaven only knows what you are up to between now and the race. I should be scouring the NASCAR schedules, shouldn’t I? Ha!

OK well that is quite enough for now, don’t you think???

Be well, drive purty!
x0x0x0
VroomGrrl

Under the Lights

Posted in Pat's Races on January 9, 2011 by vroomgrrl

Hi Pat,

It’s been a busy day! I see you guys have been hard at it, running some awesome times, 1:40.724 was the last I saw posted on the race notes blog. From what I can tell, it’s been a busy weekend of adjusting and trying to find the sweet spots in the set-up. Must be working – looking good!

I love that Flying Lizard has Jen in place to do all the various media updates. She does an awesome job juggling everything, doesn’t she? I always love team radio on raceday, too.

Last night you guys ran Daytona under the lights, and this great shot is by Bob Chapman Autosport Image via the Flying Lizard website, .

I noticed in Jen’s last post that folks were scrambling with their travel arrangements due to the crazy winter storm heading toward the east. That storm is dumping a load of sleet on us here in Birmingham as I type. I’ve got my cars tucked in, a roast in the crock pot, cookies in the oven, and we’re tucked in for the night.

There’s been lots of great press on you lately:

  • Most recent PCA blog
  • A informative interview from your visit to Australia at feedmesportscars.com
  • And here you are the roving reporter, interviewing drivers at the Gold Coast 600 Launch Party
  • A nice piece in Sports Illustrated about your 2011 Daytona aspirations
  • I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I’ve got for now.

    Godspeed in your travels. See you on the 27th in Daytona!
    VroomGrrl