It's the middle of November and track season here in New England is just about officially shut down. There is one last ADSI autocross event on 11/29, but I'm going to miss it to uphold my ACF pledge of not neglecting my family (too much) for racing. I'm sure the groans I here are all commiseration, right? So what are we planning for the next few months and beyond you ask?
Karting, Ice Racing, And Plotting and Planning
That is exactly what we have in mind. We did a pretty fun karting event up at F1 Boston last year and it would be great to do another one this year. It's a pain in the butt to organize these things because I end up on the hook for the full price of the event even if it gets snowed out - which happened last year. I had to pull some serious strings to get rescheduled! But it is such an accessible form of racing that it has great appeal to do another one. Who's in?
Ice racing has been on my list of "that looks like outstanding fun even if I know I'll be freezing my nards off" things to do. AMEC and the BMW club (imagine?) have events over the winter where you drive your car on a lake (ok, a frozen one...hopefully) with a course set up like an autocross. BMW like to go for times. AMEC is wheel to wheel!! But AMEC is also in the Adirondacks. Not sure I'm cool with waking up at like 2am to drive to NY to race on ice. I guess I've done crazier things, so maybe?
On the plotting and planning front, I have to get this out: I have to be able to say I raced wheel to wheel on a race track before I die. I just have to. It's irrational and rather pointless. But that's who I am. I've got to make peace with this thing and see if it's for me. I've been learning a ton over the past couple years about how to driver better. But it's time to start to figure out how to race. I don't need trophies. Heck, I don't even care if I'm that fast. I want to get into a race car, line up on the grid, start those engines (ladies and gentlemen), and have at it. No one has any idea why I have to do this, including me, but it is what it is. So I need to go to race school.
Luckily there are a few race schools out there. Most will give you a provisional SCCA valid license after three days and about as many thousands of dollars in instruction. Go the Porsche route and you'll no doubt get an amazing experience, but you'll also be out about ten thousand. We're on a budget here folks. None of that fancy shrimp cocktail racing for me. We're going to drag and scrape our way through to the track.
Skip Barber has a good program at tracks all over the place. I've done their High Performance Driving class at Lime Rock. It's comical to look back on that now with all I've learned. But it got me fired up back in the day. It's nice that they have mini Formula-style cars and also spec Miata's to drive on track. Bertil Roos is the other major contender in my mind. They run some good schools at quite a few tracks too. They have some patented slide cars to get you to the edge of adhesion faster and more predictably without a wreck. Not a bad thing, me thinks. The big challenge is getting three full dedicated days together plus travel and lodging to get to a track where I can do this stuff while the snow flies up here in the Northeast and be ready to hit the track right after the thaw.
And how will I be hitting the track? That's the subject of more plotting and planning. I've got some compatriots in Fred, Alex G, and Alain T. Alain even has his provisional license already from the seriously fancy Porsche School in Birmingham! I'd love to be able to pull in some of the great folks I've been enjoying track time with these past few years - Attilio, Pierre, Mike W, Rich S... Anyone else in for some more serious craziness? Endurance racing anyone? Helping with pit communication and wrenching? Just cheering us on while drinking beer? All good.
The End Goal
My goal is to get to the point where I can run races with AER. They seem to be the premier endurance racing outfit at the moment and they run a series that has the flexibility, fun, challenge, and right level of commitment that seems to hit the mark for me. Got a fast car? No problem. You'll be classed with other fast cars. Got a slow car (or slow drivers)? No problem. You'll be classed with others of similar speed and skill. The result is fun, competitive racing for all. How can you get better than that?
There is always sprint racing with NASA and SCCA too. There is something called SCCA Club Racing apparently that appears to be pretty appealing. All of these series seem to be moving toward making sure all participants have a racing license. And that's not a bad thing. But it's a bit of a barrier for most folks who don't already bleed gasoline. Chumpcar and LeMons might be the last two endurance series that don't require a license for entry. Chump is worth a serious look. LeMons is a bit of a spectacle (you need a theme for your car and costumes and quite a few other shenanigans to get in) but I wouldn't turn my nose up at a seat if presented with one. Especially if I get to hang with Speedy Cop.
I'm stirring the big cauldron and throwing in strange things hoping that it will cast a spell that allows me to do some endurance racing (ok, so maybe it's more like cooking up a Google Sheet of racing info). I'm also hoping Santa sees fit to help me into some additional safety equipment too - full race suit, Simpson Hybrid head-and-neck-restraint, helmet with posts to work with the Hybrid, and some more fireproof undergarments. Just about everyone requires that stuff. And no one likes to have toasted girly bits.
So it should be an interesting winter trying to figure all this out. I hope you'll join me for some if not all of it!