PCA Schattenbaum Showdown at NJMP, 8/21-8/23/15

Drivers shot Fun Race 2 Fun Race Start Hunt and Gibbons Grid Robbie 944 Skoal Bandit Stu 997 CupLast weekend had me in the car taking a road trip to NJMP for the PCA Schattenbaum Showdown club race on the Thunderbolt Circuit. This has been a well attended event since it’s inception in 2009. The race attracts everything from 944s to GT3 Cup Cars. Throw in an advanced driver’s education group and it makes for a busy weekend.

Friday kicked off with practice sessions for all race groups and open lapping sessions for the DE groups. Rookies doing their first race this weekend need to complete all practice sessions, and successfully make it through the practice starts and fun races.

There was some great on track action. The Spec Boxster class had 20 cars in class, which was one of the bigger fields for this class on the east coast this year. The competition was close and a new track record was set for the class. There was also a strong contingent of SP1, SP2, and SP3 cars battling it out and getting in one more race before the 944 Cup Championship race which will be held at the Summit Point Club Race at the end of September.

I was recruited to run the radios for Hunt McMahon in SPB. Since I couldn’t be out there racing with these guys, working radios is the next best way to be a part of the action. It’s also nice to help out a friend and customer. There was some chaos in the first sprint race on Saturday after one of the cars decided to empty its fluids onto the track. After some confusion with the pace car being deployed and picking up the mid pack cars, then bringing them into the pits, the races was called. When the results were made official, rookie PCA racer Robbie Wilson took the win in his SP2 car. Not bad for a “rookie.” On to Sprint 2 where there was a hard fought battle in E class between Evan Close and Clarke Simpson. It’s always fun watching those two go at it.

I was back on the radios again for Stuart Fain in his 997.2 GT3 Cup. Stu had a great start but then his tires got a little over worked and the car became a challenge to drive up front. Adjustments were made in time to have a solid race in Sprint 2. I was able to take a few good photos of the on and off track action. I also spent some time in the General’s Store Pro Shop in the Thunderbolt paddock. If you happen to visit NJMP for a track event, make sure you stop in to visit Diane and Michelle but be careful since they rarely let you out the door without getting you to purchase something. We are enjoying our partnership with them, now in its third year.

Stay tuned for my next report from NASA East Championships at VIR, unless I come up with something to post here prior to that event. See you at the track!

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Mark’s visit to the PCA Autocross in Verona VA, 8/16/15

51 ford blk51 Ford brown914 Ben 914 Corvette kills cone John in 986 Marcy 986 Yenko Stinger CaterhamsLast weekend I was off to the Shenandoah Region of Porsche Club of America’s autocross in Verona VA, in the scenic Shenandoah Valley. The weather was great and over 40 cars turned out for the event. Mixed in with the usual Porsches were a Yenko Stinger Corvair, a couple of Caterham 7s, a Cadillac CTS-V, a John Cooper Works Mini convertible, and host of other interesting vehicles.

This also doubled as “Bring Your Kids to Work Day,” since I brought my boys along to see what dad does all these weekends he’s on the road for work. My boys being budding car nuts wanted to catch a ride on around the autocross course. Autocrossers are a friendly bunch so loaner helmets were procured and the boys got rides in a 914, a 986S, and a 944 Turbo. Needless to say they had a blast, especially my older son who road with a driver who regularly is in the hunt for Fast Time of the Day (FTD).

The course, designed by autocross chair Rick Ebinger was challenging and fast as usual since some cars will get close to hitting third gear. The two run groups each got two runs in the morning and two more after a break for lunch.

After lunch I went on the hunt for car related memorabilia and stopped at the Factory Antique Mall in Verona, just two miles from where the autocross was held. They have lots of cool die-cast cars, and other racing and automotive related stuff for sale. I didn’t go too crazy but did walk out with a 1969 Virginia License Plate and the 1992 Hess Truck that came with a Porsche 911 in the trailer so the stop was worth it. Also saw two nicely preserved 1951 Ford Business Coupes in the parking lot (pictured above).

This week it’s off to New Jersey Motorsports Park for the PCA Shattenbaum Showdown Club Race on the Thunderbolt Circuit. If you anyone who bothers to read my weekly ramblings is going to this event, I will see you there!

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Mark and Johnny’s Travels August 7-9, 2015

Dean and friend Sloan 996 CupJohnny Chump Car  CAR  #466It was a busy weekend for Johnny and I this weekend. It was off to Summit Point on Thursday night for Porsche Fest, hosted by the Potomac Region of Porsche Club of America. Porsche Fest is a multi-event weekend at Summit Point Raceway, which encompasses a Drivers Ed event, autocross, and a really awesome BBQ on Saturday Night catered by Dixie Bones BBQ. If anyone reading this has attended the PCA Club Race at Summit Point in the last 10 years, you know what I am talking about as far as Dixie Bones. Some of the best pulled pork and ribs on the east coast, and the chicken is pretty good too.

Thursday night I helped a long time OG Racing customer and friend install a passenger seat in his wild 964 Turbo race car. The seat install was successful, and the Corona afterwards hit the spot. Back in the morning by 7:30am to make sure I was not late for the instructor meeting. We were met with a morning shower, but the track dried shortly after lunch and the rain stayed away for the rest of the weekend. I did get some right seat time with a few solo drivers to help them fine tune a few things and get a little faster in the process. Mission accomplished. Lots of running around helping in the store, answering product questions, fitting a soon to be rookie club racer with a nice driving suit for her racing debut coming up at the end of September, and getting an AIM Solo working for a 997 driver.

There was an interesting mix of Porsches and non-Porsches this weekend. The paddock was full with everything from 914s, to 991 GT3s. There were lots of Caymans, Boxsters, several C7 Corvettes, a trio of really nice early 70s 911s, three 996 Cup Cars, and even a Crawford DP car with Ford Power.

I got to cap off the weekend by getting a session in the SSI Motorsports 996 Cup Car in the last combined Red/Black Group session on Sunday. This car is an old friend that I got to race a few years back. Felt like I was wearing a really comfortable and familiar pair of shoes, as I felt right at home after just a few laps. Thanks Sloan!

While I was at Porsche Fest, Johnny was down at VIR for the Chump Car World Series Red Line Oil 24 Hour Classic. Ninety cars took the green flag at 2pm Saturday to race for 24 hours. Johnny was racing in the number 110 Team Red Balls, 1992 Honda Civic. As the cars started to get up to pace, the number 466 Break My Wallet Racing Acura Integra rolled at the famous Oak Tree turn. The car was in bad shape and the race appeared over for them. The team went to work and they returned to the race in the 8th hour, although missing all of the windows. They raced on all night while eating bugs. They fought residual rolling problems the entire race and finished respectable 51st overall. Meanwhile Johnny and Team Red Balls brought the Civic home 2nd in class and 19th overall. Job well done.

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Cars Have Come Along Way Since the 1980s

CD 1983 New CarsIt’s always been know that the mind of a gear head operates on a different plane than the average person. Gear heads by definition view cars as much more than just an appliance, and can throw out more statistics about auto racing than ESPN can about football. Gear heads also tend to hold onto anything and everything that is automotive related.

A good example of this is car magazines. I came across a stack of my old 1980’s vintage Car & Driver, and Road & Track magazines. Based on the evidence sitting here in front of me as I write this, I got my first subscription to Car & Driver in 1982. I was twelve years old. So what’s the point of all this? It will put in perspective how far automotive technology and performance has come in 33 years.

Any real gear head doesn’t need to be told that there is a horsepower war quietly being fought among the world’s car manufacturers. There are 500 HP Porsches, Audis, Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Camaros, and Corvettes. All straight off the showroom floor with a factory warranty. Some manufacturers are even encouraging buyers to take their cars to the track for an HPDE. Even your basic Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and Kia Optima can be had with 260+HP. That’s the automotive market place in 2015.

Now back to 1982 and that issue of Car & Driver I found recently. The issue I am referring to is a preview of what was going to be coming out of Detroit for the 1983 model year. For 1983, Ford was touting its new and improved Mustang GT. For 1983, the Mustang GT was getting a new 4-barrel carburetor. For the millenials reading this, a carburetor was what delivered fuel/air to the engine before fuel injection was standard. No Sunday tunes for you racers back in 1983. This new carburetor gave the 1983 Mustang GT an eye popping 175HP, and 247 ft/lbs of torque. The new for 1983 Thunderbird came with a choice of a 3.8L V6 putting out 118 HP, and a turbo 4cyl with a whopping 130 HP. From the land of GM, the “flagship” for Pontiac, the 6000 STE put out 135 HP. The Cadillac Cimarron (a dressed up Cavalier) had 88 HP with a top speed of 100 MPH. It’s wild that today’s grocery getters pack more performance than what were considered performance cars back in the 1980s. That’s enough from me this week. Next week, I’ll tell you all about a little known and quickly forgotten spec series from the good old 1980s.

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Mark and Johnny’s Travels, July 17-19, 2015

Mike Levitas in his well known 964 based 911 Turbo Ben Keating on his way to winning the 2015 UTCC Dez White's 996 Turbo Mike Skeen's ride at this years UTCC

It was a busy weekend on July 17-19. Thursday, I headed to VIR for the Tire Rack Ultimate Track Car Challenge, presented by Grassroots Motorsports, which also kicked off the NASA Mid Atlantic Summer Slam, races and HPDE. Well known professional sports car racer Mike Skeen, driving an ex-Sprint Cup stock car that was re-bodied to look like a Mustang (sort of), and Ben Keating driving a Dodge Viper GT3-R spent the day dueling for the fastest time of the day, along with 48 other drivers in a wide variety of cars.

In the end it was Keating besting Skeen with a time of 1:46.4 while Skeen put a 1:48.5 in the books. Anyone who has driven VIR Long Course knows that turning those kinds of times is no easy feat. Keating’s win this year completed a successful title defense for Riley Motorsports. Spectators also got to see retired NFL Wide Receiver Dez White bring his Porsche 996 Turbo home in 6th two spots ahead of 2006 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona winner Mike Levitas of TPC Racing in his monster Porsche 964 Turbo that isn’t exactly stock.

Complete results can be found here. You will probably recognize some familiar names. Click here to see the results

While I was at VIR, Johnny was down in Bowling Green KY, at the NASA Great Lakes Region event at the National Corvette Museum, which also happens to have a pretty cool 3.1 mile road course which has four different configurations. While there, Johnny interviewed Factory Five GTM driver Gordon McKinney and managed to place a camera in his car for a few sessions. Despite the driving distance for many of the NASA Great Lakes Region members, there were around 200 cars at the event.

When the UTCC ended, it was back in the car for me and off to Summit Point for the PCA Potomac Region Drivers’ Education event. Nothing like a 4.5 hour road trip after a full day at the track. Arrived at 10pm and was at the track bright and early Saturday morning for the instructor meeting. This was a special event of sorts since Potomac Region again hosted the kids from Stafford Junction. Stafford Junction is a home for disadvantaged youths so for them it was a neat experience getting to see some really cool cars on the track. They were each pared with a driver and got to go for some touring laps, rides on the skid-pad, and picked up some cool racing related memorabilia. They also were treated to a great lunch featuring locally grown corn on the cob and fresh fruit.

As per the usual, there were many interesting cars on track. There were lots of GT3s, several C7 Corvettes, and even a Crawford DP car with Ford power. It was typical hot July weather and there was even an early morning thunderstorm on Saturday. Returned Sunday with my kids in tow and they were treated to a ride in a Mercury flat-head V8 powered “1925 Model T” with just a few modifications, from Summit Point legend and long time racer Dave Coleman. The kids got a big kick out of riding in a car older than their grandparents.

This week it’s off to New Jersey Motorsports Park to visit our friends at NASA NE. Stay tuned for next weeks write up. See you at the track!

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Snell SA2015 – What We Know

As we get closer and closer to the release of the latest Snell SA2015 rating, we’re seeing more and more questions on when the helmets will be available. We should be seeing our first shipments in early October, with at least Bell Helmets committing to this timeframe. More news from the other manufacturers as it comes in. For a quick primer on the rating change, and whether it is worth it to wait, check out our previous article on Snell ratings and how they apply to you:

Link: Where’s my SA2015 Helmet?

We also have a better idea on the changes that are coming with the latest homologation from Snell, AND the changes from FIA:

FIA 8860-2010:

The current Grand-Daddy of helmet certifications, the FIA 8860-2010 is mandatory for many professional levels of racing, such as Indy Car & IMSA. These helmets will remain unchanged into next year, with the next update not due until 2017.

FIA 8859-2015:

Formerly known as the 8858 standard, the latest 8859-2015 rating will be required at all FIA-sanctioned events. In the past, FIA-events would recognize helmets with only a Snell-rating – this will no longer be the case. Obviously, just about all US-based events require Snell-ratings only, so this only applies to International racers. The most important safety updates follow:

  • Energy requirements have been updated for all helmet sizes. These are known as “head-forms” in engineering speak – basically, helmets are tested using different sized heads, with each size requiring different levels of protection. FIA 8859 has additional energy requirements for the largest sizes.
  • A permanent mount is required for the chin-strap. The strap cannot be removed without destroying the helmet.
  • The strap’s pull-tab is also not allowed to slide further then 7mm.

Snell SA2015:

The biggest update to the Snell rating is a requirement for Head-and-Neck Restraint compatibility across all helmets. This comes in the form of the pre-installed M6 hardware that was typically only found on helmets with a Snell/FIA rating (formerly known as the SAH-rating). Additionally, all new impact testing is being used that mimics that of the above FIA-testing. Low velocity testing is now required; as is protection against lower impact points, such as strikes against window frames and other lower structures.

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Porsche 918 Vs. McLaren P1

A Porsche 918, a McLaren P1, Randy Pobst, Laguna Seca, and a stopwatch. Can the 918 keep it’s lap record?


Posted in Everything Else

Wounded Marine Will Fight for a Win at Sebring


Half of Liam Dwyer’s clutch leg is gone. His entire right knee has been replaced. A steel plate, a rod, and 23 screws hold his right forearm together. He endured more than 50 surgeries over four and a half years and still requires 10 or more hours of physical therapy every week.

Dwyer is a United States Marine. A Taliban IED hit him on May 22, 2011.

Whenever possible, Dwyer is strapping into a race car, attaching his prosthetic clutch leg, and blazing out on track to compete for position with drivers who have four complete appendages. “I have no regrets,” he says. “I would do it again knowing this would happen.”

Dwyer is a professional race car driver. He has trophies to prove it.

How the Foot Works

Liam Dwyer

His current clutch leg attaches securely, and includes a quick-release for fast exits. Photo courtesy Liam Dwyer.

When Dwyer had first returned to racing, he simply attached his regular prosthetic foot to the clutch pedal with Velcro. However, a bumpy section at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix shook his foot loose, forcing him to pull off course.

A corner worker walked over to the Sprite and Dwyer had to explain that no, really, he was OK; his leg had just come off. “He looked at me like I was crazy, but I was able to reattach my foot and wrestle the car back on track.”

It was clear then that he’d need a more specialized solution, and he made it happen. His new clutch leg isn’t like a prosthetic leg at all. It’s a straight aluminum post with a heim joint in place of the foot. The joint slips over a shaft attached to the clutch pedal and a cotter pin holds it in place—no more Velcro.

He says operating the clutch isn’t a problem at all now that he’s developed the skill, but one question remains: Is it safe?

Liam Dwyer

Dwyer can bail out of a flaming car as fast as anyone. Photo courtesy Mazdaspeed/Al Merion Padron.

Driver changes are required in the Continental Tire series; with the new prosthethis, Dwyer can trade places with Carbonell in 30 seconds. They’re working to get even faster. Dwyer also has an easy bailout procedure in case there’s a fire or other emergency that requires exiting the car. “I have a quick-release to release my body from the joint,” he says. “I just pull a separate pin, detach myself at the knee and throw myself out of the car.”

Once and Always a Racer

Dwyer has loved cars, he says, “since before I could breathe.” He’s determined to one day have a third-generation Mazda RX-7 similar to the one he used to own. He began time trial racing in 1999 and autocross in 2004, earning wins and setting records regularly. Then that bomb hit him. A physical therapist said he’d never drive stickshift again. His own dad stopped talking to him when he insisted on pursuing a racing career.

Liam Dwyer

Dwyer returned to racing in a Sprite and this Z-car. Photo courtesy Liam Dwyer

But nothing would get in Dwyer’s way. Less than a year after the blast, he was vintage racing an Austin-Healey Sprite and also competing in NASA’s Spec 350Z series. He pursued a partnership with OG Racing for safety gear and found a sympathetic ear in Bill Love, the company’s founder.

Love is a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient. During the infamous assault into the Plei Trap Valley in March 1969, Love received two AK-47 bullets: one in the chest, one in the hand. When Love was hit, he had to wait a full 24 hours before it was safe for a helicopter to transport him out, to eventually be treated at the old Walter Reed medical facility in Washington, D.C.

This experience has inspired Love to choose veterans to represent OG Racing whenever possible. The company currently has one other veteran on staff: Salesman Johnny Cichowski served in Iraq as a mechanic and built goodwill with local children by tossing them goodies like Sylvester Stallone pudding.

“It’s my way of putting out a hand and helping somebody up from that situation,” Love says. “Having been there and gone through the whole thing, I realized the military and the public aren’t gonna do a whole lot for ya.”

Love was compelled by Dwyer’s story, which is similar to his own but from a more recent military operation. Love was impressed by Dwyer’s tenacity and didn’t hesitate to get involved. OG Racing initially gave Dwyer a Sparco M-5 racing suit, Sparco Slalom SL-3 racing shoes, Sparco Tide Nomex gloves, Sparco WTX-7 Air helmet, and a HANS Sport II; OG Racing’s support continues today.

Finding Success One Lap at a Time

Liam Dwyer

Dwyer and OG Racing employee Brian Hair competed in One Lap of America together. Photo courtesy Liam Dwyer.

Brian Hair, one of OG Racing’s sales specialists, helped Dwyer get fitted with his new safety gear on his first visit to their shop. Dwyer later found out that Hair had competed several times in One Lap of America.

Dwyer had always wanted to compete in One Lap, so it was natural that they join forces. The two have raced a 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 in the grueling event for the last two years, finishing first in class and seventh overall in 2014.

That was about the same time that people were starting to notice that a veteran with a prosthetic leg was winning races. Freedom Autosport invited Dwyer to test at Sebring in front of team manager Tom Long and representatives from Mazda. The team’s name reflects their dedication to charities that help injured veterans; Dwyer’s story combined with his exemplary lap times earned him a spot on the team, racing a Mazda MX-5 in the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge for the 2014 season.

His successful season, marked by a win at Lime Rock and many other strong finishes, brought him back to Freedom Autosport for 2015. This Friday, Dwyer will drive that MX-5 in the Continental Tire Series race during the Sebring 12 Hour weekend. He’s co-driving this season with Andrew Carbonell.

Continuing to Serve

Liam Dwyer

Though Dwyer is retiring from the Corps in May, he continues to help other veterans find purpose through Racing4Vets. Photo courtesy Liam Dwyer.

During all these pursuits, Sergeant Dwyer has remained an active-duty Marine. He’s scheduled to retire from the Corps on May 30, but will continue racing. He also helps other injured veterans get involved in racing via Racing4Vets. Dwyer believes that working toward a common goal with a supportive group of people really helps injured vets to deal with what’s happened to them and to begin feeling accomplished and useful again.

“Everyone has different injuries,” Dwyer says. “Some people will look at a veteran and say, ‘You don’t look injured,’ but they might have traumatic brain injury or suffer from PTSD. This program gets people back in a team setting with an ultimate goal in mind; a lot of these guys, including myself, are truly grateful for that.”


Look for Dwyer and Carbonell driving the Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 in the Continental Tire series at Sebring International Raceway. The green flag waves for the 2.5-hour Microsoft Visual Studio 150 at 1:05 p.m. Eastern on Friday, March 20. Watch the race live at IMSA.com, or catch the broadcast April 5 at 9 a.m. on Fox Sports 1.

Posted in Company and People, Event Posts, No Category

AiM LearnFast Seminar

This past weekend, OG Racing held it’s first AIM LearnFast Seminar. Presented by Roger Caddel, AiM Sport’s National Training Manager, the seminar is designed to help users analyze and improve lap times by understanding the what, when and why’s of vehicle behavior. Starting off with Practical Data Acquisition topics that covered the basics of Data Acquisition and hardware installation, the day progressed into Advanced topics and in-depth use of the powerful Race Studio 2 software.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Click here to view a gallery of the event.

We’re hoping to hold more of these events in the future – Stay tuned!

Posted in Event Posts

TraqGear Underwear – Extra Protection for EveryMan?

Friend of the shop, Roger Burdette, contacted us late last year to introduce us to his new line of racing underwear, TraqGear. His products have been making the rounds at local events for the past couple years, and Roger wanted to take it to the next step. In all honesty, I saw it as just another line of underwear to fall into an already saturated market. Each of our major lines offers several different lines of fire-proof underwear, with at least 2 offering models to cover all 3 price ranges (budget, regular, and $$$). Roger’s line was intriguing – he wanted to come in at an “Everyman” price that seemed to fit in around most competitor’s “Budget” lines of underwear. His product was even more intriguing – an extremely lightweight material that felt remarkably similar to high-tech athletic garb, and that promised to wick just as well to keep the driver cool. In summary, a fine looking product that was lighter then the competition’s, complete with SFI-approval, at a non-sticker-shock inducing price. We decided to take a chance, and his products are now available for shipment from our warehouse.

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Posted in New Product Releases, Product Related Posts