Archive for the Worker Fun Category

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

Enduring

Posted in Me, Pat's Races, Worker Fun on August 3, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hey Pat,

I’ve been checking your various haunts and I see your new SpeedTV blog is up, dated July 30. You seem to compartmentalize things, no mention there of the NASCAR outing. I’m sure there is a reason for that. Anyway, no surprises in your latest column. Feeling pretty well out of the competition just four hours into a 24 hour race has to be a huge mental challenge, but you guys hung in there, your spirits more resilient in the end than the car. I wondered about the weather at Spa – what little news I got made it seem like it was constantly changing. Apparently it was!

Well I’ve just signed up to work pit & grid at Road Atlanta this coming weekend, Friday through Sunday. I was hoping to get an inside job, they tried all last season to assign me to something in the tower to cross-train me in timing & scoring and race control, but I held them off – I didn’t want to leave the vroom out on the track! The heat has been so hard on me lately, tho, so I asked for an inside job.

But by the time I signed up, all the inside jobs were covered. So I may well be out on the grid Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I know how to take care of myself, and my “pit boss” is good about letting me skip out when I have to cool off, which I only do when absolutely necessary. I’ve gotten pretty good at dressing right, and bringing stuff with me to mitigate the heat. I’m already gathering my stuff, including my rain suit, for the weekend. I can’t wait to get back to Road Atlanta, my “other home track” next to Barber. I grew up in Atlanta and while it was before I did any driving, I always felt like Road Atlanta was my home track.

Tomorrow I go to traffic court to deal with the ticket I got when I totaled my husband’s car. I didn’t get a moving violation, just a citation for no proof of insurance. I actually had the card in my wallet, but was so rattled I couldn’t put my hands on it when asked. I had one in my wallet, and another in the glove box of the car. I guess a concussion will do that to you. Hopefully tomorrow when I show all my documents they will clear the ticket.

On that note, I’m outta here.

Happy driving, wherever you are!
VroomGrrl

What Are the Chances?

Posted in Track Days, Worker Fun on April 7, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi Patrick,

I started this on April 3 but current events got in the way. I recently found out that one of the events I’m working in a few weeks is going to offer a bit of drive-time to us workers as a perk: one 20-30 minute session at the close of each day. Seat time! Yay! Technically I’m not signed off to drive solo anywhere yet. But my “real” coach just emailed me back saying he’d be happy to come over there and grab a quick coaching session with me, at least one of the days. It’s kind of weird, I guess. Just twenty minutes! But I’ve worked with him on this course before so it will be a good chance to just touch base behind the wheel, and assess where I am early in the season.

I have visions of not driving like the granny I was the first time I went out there with him last year!   My driving friends don’t believe me when I tell them this, but in my very first session with my coach, he had to really work on me to get me to break 5K RPM. It wasn’t as much about speed as it was about my total lack of familiarity with running the car in that kind of rev-range. You just don’t do much of that in everyday driving. I didn’t, anyway (I do now! ha!). I could barely get myself to do it in any sustained way that day. It just felt plain not right to run the car that hard.   In my note about Barber, I said that I had “met my rev limiter,” and nobody knows what a sign of my that is better than my coach!

I was looking at the title of this web site and wondering how my real coach would feel about me having an “imaginary coach.” He is a great guy, and kindly took me under his wing as I was just getting started with the whole driving thing. He was the brave man who rode shotgun on my very first outing last October, the week prior to my first “official” track day.   For all our planning, we’ve actually only worked together two or three times. But for me, they have been transformative experiences. It makes such a difference to have one-on-one time with somebody who can teach me something! And he’s always got my back on tech issues, too, which I appreciate so much.

I used to email my real coach occasionally, but I soon learned that he doesn’t really do email. Plus, I tend to get all wound up and go on and on. As you may have noticed! That’s one reason I can feel better about “writing to you” here as opposed to actually sending you these too-long things. And actually, that’s a very good reason that I’m sure my real coach would be happy to know that I have an imaginary coach to whom I can send all my verbal output.   So this web space is basically saving you both a lot of my rambling emails!  

From time to time, I take a look at the PSDS schedule to see what’s going on over there, and I noticed this week that there is another Legends class in the works for June. So now the wheels are turning and I’m wondering:  what are the chances I could get a ride with a “Legend”? I have never asked, but I am guessing this course is not set up for tag-on Hot Lap rides like the regular courses are. Even if I had the $10K to drop on the Legends class, I don’t even qualify, not having taken any of the prerequisite courses and being such a beginner and all.

elford130I was talking to Coach about the “Legends” who instruct these courses, and he asked me which one I would want to ride with if I could have my pick. My answer surprised him – his money was on you. Now don’t be offended, but I did not pick you first! I think Vic Elford would be my first pick for a ride with a “Legend” (keeping in mind that I have already had a ride – Hurley Heywood took me out on my very first visit to PSDS last year – and I had no clue who he was!). And the reason is very pragmatic: Elford is in his seventies and who knows how long he’ll be doing things like this? You have another good fifty years on you at least! Of course, any one of us could be hit by a bus this afternoon – but I’m sure you see my point. Plus…sorry, but..VIC ELFORD! You’ve written about how humbling it is to be in this group of “Legends” at PSDS, and how you were awed by the giants who are your instructor colleagues in the Legends class. So I am sure you understand. It goes without saying (but I’m saying it because you know, it’s always a good thing to let the universe know what you want…) – you know I would be inexpressibly thrilled to get a ride with you.

Holy hell, I just looked at your schedule. The Legends class is June 24th. You have races straight through from now to then, and in the two weeks prior to the 24th, you’ll have done the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Lord only knows what kind of testing, promo appearances, tech work, and other stuff will be crammed in all around the races. And in your 3/6 SpeedTV article, you wrote about a project car you’re building from the ground up – that you were going to trot out at St. Pete (did I totally miss that?). Busy, busy boy! Eegads! Yeah, so I’m sure you’ll be in the mood to give your biggest fangrrl a ride around Barber!

Tell you what. We can do something completely different. I can be there on 30 minutes notice, helmet in hand. Instead of going around in one of those run-of-the-mill brand new 2009 smooth-as-silk PDK Porsches they have out there, why don’t we take my 1988 911 out? Doesn’t that sound like a fun way to end your visit to Barber? I’ll bring it to Birmingham on the day of the Legends course…and my coach has my number….just in case. Yeah, I know – the chances are slim. But I have to say, my Porsche Princess luck has been pretttty awesome so far.

Sincerely,
VroomGrrl

PS – our LeMons car did NOT live to see another day. A few of us lobbied hard to send the car back out on three cylinders until it died a natural and complete death, but the car’s owner wanted to salvage what was left of it and turn it into a loaner track car for NASA-SE. We spent Sunday working on our own cars using the lift in the hauler, and I loved playing “garage apprentice” for a day more than I dare admit.

Make LeMon-ade

Posted in Pat's Races, Worker Fun on April 3, 2009 by vroomgrrl

Hi Patrick,

I’m up way too late already, and not close to finished packing up for my trip. I’m leaving for CMP straight after work tomorrow, which means I have to be ready for my trip when I leave here at 6:30 in the morning. It’s been stormy here all afternoon and evening, but there were a few breaks which allowed me to get out and clean my husband’s stuff out of his car, and start moving mine in. We actually swapped cars about a month ago but haven’t really “moved.” Anyway, I’m just waiting on laundry to finish, then I’ll finish packing my suitcase and get it, and a few other things out to the car. Continue reading