An invitation to some madness

Hello folks,

Your tacit approval to become members of this club is assumed, but let me know if you concur. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to have as much fun as we can with our cars without totally pissing off our spouses and/or neglecting our children (completely anyway). 

To that end, the 2014 season is starting to get locked down in terms of driving events, schools, etc so I thought I’d send out some links to make it easier for as many of us to have fun as possible.

I’ll go in order from easy and mellow to things that are a bit more of a commitment of time/money/blood:

Advanced Driving Safety Institute (ADSI)

What: an autocross (cones) course set up on a runway at Quonset airbase. About a mile long. Favors handling over BHP mostly. You can run just about anything (“run what ya brung”). Tech inspection is fairly loose. You probably don’t even need a helmet. Runs many Sundays from March to November. First event is 3/30 and two ACF-types are signing up (Alberto and me) so far. You don’t have to do the full day with class either. You can just show up at noon with $125 cash and run the course as many times as you can.


Thompson Speedway

What: A revived road course (~1.5mi) in Northeast CT about an hour from PVD. Looks like it will be as good as Lime Rock and much closer. Access is either by joining as a member (one ACF member has a deposit down) or by joining one of the various car clubs (BMW even if you don’t have a BMW, maybe Audi but not sure if they have a Thompson date but you don’t need an Audi/VW to join, PCA if you have a Porsche, SCCA, SCDA, or HOD (hooked on driving - who knew, right?))

So far, we have two ACF members signed up for a Sept 6, 2014 track date with HOD at Thompson (they also offer 9/5 Friday if you are a person of leisure…lucky bastards you)

Track events require a SNELL 2008+ helmet usually, decent brake pads, and a brake fluid flush within the last year as minimal requirements. Convertibles are often not allowed, unfortunately.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

What: aside from the NASCAR oval, they have a road course that actually predates the oval (believe it or not) that is almost 2mi I think. Pretty challenging actually and fairly high speeds achieved (130+mph).

Access is again through car clubs.

Lime Rock

What: a lovely, bucolic road course and home of the Skip Barber Driving School up in Northeast CT - about 2.25 hours each way from RI. You can get on through clubs, join the club for a hefty fee (looking at you, people of leisure…), or even rent the autocross course for a day for like $3500 to have it all to yourself. Hold yourself back!

Now there are other tracks a bit further afield like Calabogie and Watkins Glen….but serious family neglect is required so I’m personally going to have to wait on those a bit.

Some other good resources to have around:


Sports Car Club of New Hampshire
BMW Club
The Boston Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America - Boston Chapter BMW CCA
Audi VW Club
New England Region | Sports Car Club of America
Northeast Autocross Clubs
Sports Car Club of Vermont
COM Sports Car Club - Event Schedule & Results
High Performance Driving Events, HPDE, Hooked On Driving - Event Listing


Lime Rock Park
Car Clubs | Events | NHMS
Watkins Glen
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park | The northeast’s premier motorsports and entertainment destination

Karting:, - not for kids except racing leagues that start at age 7. Arrive and drive requires actual driver’s license. And money. And sobriety.

Museum: Lars Anderson Auto Museum (Brookline MA) has some great lawn events/shows that kids can run around at too. Nice place.


Wicked Innovation (Subies)
Banchwerks (BMW/VW/Audi and APR software) (BMW)

Roger’s Tires (Woonsocket)
German Motors (Providence)

10 responses
Oh, dear. What have you started, Sterling. I too would likely be bringing a wagon, a 2 liter passat wagon. I have been debating whether to flash the ecu and buy more efficient exhaust system. This just might cause me to pull the trigger. My 1800es looks like this: But it needs a bit of work to get it running properly.. Sean
Sean; How nice, another tuner, racer, modder type clothed in the respectable disguise of a parent with a "normal" car. From my tuner experiences, I have to say the VW's main weak point is the clutch. Stage 1 would be just an ECU flash (look to Brentuning in Worcester), and of course, if you buy the less restrictive exhaust, you can't just bolt it on, or you'll get check engine lights from the catalytic converter sensors, and boost creep galore. That would be then be stage 2, a less restrictive downpipe allowing the turbo to push more boost, and a tune to make it safe. In other words, you need to reflash the ECU for anything you do to the motor. You don't just get a "bolt on", anything you actually replace needs a relfash of the ECU. Failure to do so can very rapidly grenade your motor! Those VW's (any turbo) can really wake up with a tune, but beware ruining your factory warranty, and running into long term durability issues. Now if you're really motivated, you'll really need to mod everything in unison, starting with motor mounts and the rest of the driveline pitch stops, subframe inserts, differential mounts and bushings, crossmember brace/bushings, transmission/shift linkage mounts and bushings to keep things from banging around and breaking from the extra power. You can go really nuts, but done right, modding has to be across the board to anticipate the increased capability of one part of the car which makes the other parts less safe, or more likely to break. And when you mod those other parts, that affects even more parts that might not be up to par and so forth. It's like waves and ripples across the pond, you end up having to re-do everything, at times going as far as redoing the motor, sending the heads to a machine shop to fit it for softer forged pistons to take the higher power, upgrading the radiator, your clutch, the oil system, and getting a bunch of extra gauges to monitor it all. Don't forget the suspension, if you have a car that used to have ~150 hp at the wheels, and now gets 200+ or more, it may feel uncontrollable, so don't forget the swaybars, suspension bushings, plus or minus springs/coilovers etc. Modding can be done very reliably if you do it this way, but it gets expensive. You can only pick two: fast, reliable, cheap. And if you really want to mod, the most important mod is to save enough money for things that might break, followed by an experienced tuner in your brand/type of vehicle that can steer you to making good decisions. Look for the telltale "no, that mod is not worth it" to let you know that they are passing up further profit to look out in your best interest since mods do increase performance dramatically, making it hard to tell the difference each one would make. Or you can leave it stock and romp around ADSI learning how to drive a nice car to its limits with their instructors and their very challenging course. IMHO ADSI is awesome, anyone can bring anything and enjoy it, wagon, sports car, jalloppie, antique, econobox, tuner race car, super car, whatever. It's really low key and very educational,and the skills you can learn there might save you a crash, and you and your family's life some day. Piacere/mucho gusto/muito obrigado/pleasure to meet you/enchante
While I have no intention of publicly embarrassing our Club’s Esteemed Founder, it would be a disservice to my fellow founding members not to remind our founder that I drive a - let’s call a spade a spade - a station wagon. Very impressive list, below, and I would expect nothing less from the brain of Sterling Vernon. That said, when I recall my speed demon days, cutting through traffic on the rough streets of Manhattan or winding the throttle to it’s max on a broad range of roads, from scenic European by ways to crowded LA freeways, it was always on two wheels. Two wheels, mind you, that were never nearly as lusty and torque teasing as that Italian beast languishing in our founder’s barn. But a decade after having traded those two wheels for two feet and four wheels, I am afraid that a Ducati on one of those courses would require an unsettling review of the details of my life insurance policy. Nonetheless, I am honored to be on the initial list. Do we get team leather jackets (little french flags on the breast)? An annual outing at Castle Hill? A membership card at least…? Signing off with (very) warm greetings from Argentina, and wishes to all for a great holiday break! Rich
Sterling, you're too much! Nice list there. Actually Rich ADSI is a wonderful opportunity that you could enjoy in your wagon. And nothing says wagons cannot be fun to drive, I've got two of them, both turbo Subarus. Truth be told, the overall vibe at the ADSI course was truly a "run what you brung" venue, and while some of us have or have had more aggressive driving tendencies, this is a whole 'nother ball of wax. I saw even antiques, early 80's diesel Mercedes, 20 year old econobox civics all the way to highly modified tuner/race cars trailered in and a supercar or two. This is a course that sees all different cars, and the onus of ADSI is learning how to drive your car fast in a safe environment. In their own words, their customers are: 1. Track people looking to test their setups such as tires, suspension settings etc before a real race or track day 2. People who own cars they'd like to extract more performance in a controlled environment where driving it at the limit is not dangerous and 3. Street racers/aggressive drivers and otherwise Fast and Furious kids to get off the street and get their impulses honed in a safe place. Some people are more than one, but I could totally see a Mercedes E320 being just fine for this course, as the runs are more technical. You'd be faster being a good driver no matter what your car. Check out a vid: We are signing up for 3-30-14. I think you'd have a blast taking lessons and then practicing on the track with your E320 Run what you bring, and have a blast!!!
Rich - I think you have given us our first annual award to aim for - the person who can get the fastest (verified) lap time at Quonset with their most family oriented car hereby dubbed the “Late Again For Dropoff And haulin’ The fam” (LAFT-AT) award. If you can get the E320 up on two wheels a few times, Rich, you may recall your speed demon ways and bring your Teutonic-three-row-special home with the prize. Apparently I’ll also be racing an underpowered station wagon. You’re going to have to really hustle the Sienna, Alberto. Alex’s Nissan may have gravity working against it. But Sean may be the favorite here with some sensible family sedans on offer, if I recall. But his P1800 may be one to beat... I was able to recruit another possible club member today - Miles H. If you happen across any other even mildly interested person, please feel free to drag them kicking and screaming into the ACF.
P1800? Nice car, wow! Actually if it's family hauler I got 3 wagons of different sizes: Big -Toyota Sienna Medium to small: Subaru Forester Small: Subaru Impreza. My personal favorite is the Impreza, but if I had to pick an underdog, as long as you don't give it any gas, the Sienna has a pretty good turn-in for what it is. The Forester ain't no slouch. I like family cars that are fun to drive...... sleepers, Q ships so to speak. But seriously, ADSI is good for all of that. The other tracks would not be good for regular family cars. You'd need a more specialized car. You can get away with a 20 year old Mazda Miata with upgraded brake pads, as a minimum you'd need that and a helmet. Convertibles are not allowed, but you can get an aftermarket roll cage (some have them from the factory and if so that's OK). Tracks aren't so regular family car friendly, but seriously, let me tell you (again), ADSI is a total hoot, more fun than anyone could ever think driving could be in a totally safe environment.
That is so much more than a wagon - a proper shooting-brake in fact - and quite worthy of some wrenching right there. 1 of only 8,077 here in the US of A. Gotta grab you a set of mini-lite wheels and some slicks and its good to go. Gotta love the nickname for the rear window: Schneewittchensarg - Snow White's Coffin. As for what I’ve started, why have just one wife mad at me when I can be hunted down and killed by a mob of them. Have Angela ready the pitchfork… ;-) -S
Sterling; why have just one wife mad at me when I can be hunted down and killed by a mob of them There are two replies for this: A more positive one: “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit.” ― Ronald Reagan or a more Macchiavellian one: Since we are a car club, every man can blame every single other man. In other words Rich can blame Sterling, me, Alex, Andre and Sean to Carolina and so forth. It's always better when not only someone else is the bad guy, but there are a lot of someone else's.
So I am going to interject... First, thanks to Sterling for being the chief catalyst of this emerging car club of ours! Second, I am a complete novice but a fast and eager I am understanding about 80% of this conversation so far but that should grow with a little time... My wife is completely mad at all of this and that's fantastic!!! So I am blaming every single one of you on a rotating basis... Happy holidays to all...headed to Paris with the family so when I get back, it will be time to tune up the BMW and give it a go...looking forward to it, gents! Alex
Hey, no problem. I just spoke with Julia my lovely wife who offers to host all the wives and ladies over. She does not believe that she or the other wives will want to kill us because they get to stay home and drink wine until they cannot hear the kids cry.