Cars and Coffee in Charlottesville

944 and 911 fire Audi MGB Porsches and Benz split window vette z28 and Evo VWsAs most of you know, I do a lot of traveling to various track events up and down the east coast as part of my job working for OG Racing. I meet and occasionally race with a lot of interesting people which is one many great things about working and playing in the racing world.

I have been lucky enough to be seated in the room when Brian Redman told a story about the first time he drove a Porsche 917 at Spa. I met Randy Pobst when he was walking around the paddock at the Sebring PCA race a few years ago looking for a ride in the Sunday enduro, and one of my track friends invited him to co drive the D class 911 SC he was driving that weekend. Unfortunately a mechanical issue with the car cut the race short.

Since December isn’t exactly full of track events in the Mid Atlantic region, I ventured out a few weeks ago to a local Cars and Coffee in Charlottesville VA where I live. Several of my local Porsche Club friends are regulars at this event so I decided to check it out. I was happy to see my old 1986 944 present. It’s undergone a semi restoration since I sold it in 2010 and looks fantastic. There were also some neat classic muscle cars, a 1963 Corvette Stingray Coupe, a 73 Camaro Z28, and even a vintage fire engine. There was also a nicely kept chrome bumper MGB, a couple 911s, and some more modern and modded Subarus and Mitsubishi EVOs.

I got to talking with the owner of the Z28 about cars in general. Turns out her Z28 is her daily driver. She then tells me she drove it over 11K miles recently on a book tour. Turns out I was speaking with Maggie Stiefvater who happens to be the author of the Shiver Trilogy and among other books, the Scorpio Races. Her husband and children were the ones who rolled up in the fire engine. Maggie is a certified car nut, and in addition to her Z28, has a hot rodded EVO, and her father is into Porsches. She expressed interest in getting one of her cars out on the track so we talked about the various car clubs that have HPDE programs. She was also kind enough to give me a copy of her book, the Scorpio Races, autographed personally for my son. So you never know who you could meet at a Cars and Coffee.

As we head into 2016, there is lots going in the racing world. Porsche finally decided to build a factory racecar out of a Cayman. Look for them to debut it this week at the Roar before the 24 test at Daytona this weekend. The cars will also be raced in the GT4 Cup Championship at the major PCA races. Ford will be returning to LeMans with their latest iteration of the Ford GT to mark the 50th Anniversary of Ford’s win at LeMans. Renault is back in Formula One as a constructor. The new Dominion Raceway is set to open by summer and it is apparent based on the photos circulating around social media that there will be cars on track this year.

So 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year in the road racing world. See you at the track.

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ChumpCars at VIR

190 944 work 944 Acura and Nissan Audi and BMW Audi and Ford Audi pack Big Ford BMWs Chevy c10 Chevy truck and Honda e36 e30 work fixing the tirewall Ford and chevyThe 2015 track season may be winding down in the Northeast, but that didn’t slow things down at VIR the weekend of December 5-6. The ChumpCar World Series was in town for some “low budget” racing action at the historic Virginia International Raceway.

For those of you who haven’t heard of ChumpCar, it’s an endurance racing series built around low budget cars. Aside from the necessary safety gear, like a roll cage, racing seat, harnesses and fire suppression, the car you enter cannot be valued at more than $500, based on market value. The rules are very clear. You can’t add a bunch of trick race stuff like adjustable shocks, big brakes, and other go fast parts and be within the rules. Tires are required to be DOT approved and with a minimum tread wear rating set in the rules, so don’t attempt to show up with 3 sets of fresh Hoosiers or Toyo RRs.

Races range from seven to 36 hours. Teams are required a minimum of 3 drivers, four for the longer races. It’s also a good idea to have a few crew members as part of your team. Given the low cost of your race car, some will need some late night repairs so bring your friends who know how to work on a race car.

One of the great things about ChumpCar races is that you can count on seeing an interesting mix of cars in the paddock. The VIR race was no exception. In addition to the usual mix of E30s, Miatas and several Honda products, there were a few cars not typically seen on a road course. The most interesting was perhaps the Ford Galaxie 500 convertible. This might be the first time I have seen a Ford Land Yacht coming around the snake onto the short straight before turning up the hill. They were running the North Course so didn’t get to see if negotiate the climbing esses. Included in the show of older Detroit Iron, there was also a Chevy Nova (not the front wheel drive Toyota based variety, and a C-10 pickup truck. There were even two Ford Probes and a Nissan 300ZX that had their roofs removed to make them more aero dynamically efficient. And even a first generation Toyota MR2. Since I am partial to 80s and 90s German engineering, it was neat to see someone crazy enough to run an Audi V8, a Mercedes-Benz 190e, and two Porsche 944s. Variety certainly is the spice of life. So as always, ChumpCar put on a good show.

Also, it appears that a least one person out there actually reads what I write for the OG Racing Blog. I got a call last week from Steve Coleman. The same Steve Coleman I referenced in a blog post a few months ago about the Renault/Koni Cup. Glad to see that someone is reading my posts.

So as 2015 is coming to a close, all of us at OG Racing want to wish all of you Happy Holidays! See you at the track in 2016!

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Wine, Women, and Racing

Morais 1 Morais 2 Morais 3 Morais 4 morais 5 Morais 6 TB1 TB2 TB3 tb4 tb5 TB6 tb7 tb8 TB9 TB10 Tb11 TB12 Tb13 tb14 tb15The 2015 track season is winding down on the east coast (unless you live in one of the southern states. Racers always deal with the conundrum of how to keep their spouse or significant other happy so they can keep racing during the season. Some bring them to the track with them to watch and crew for them during a race weekend. That usually only goes so far. But, every now and then there is an event that the spouse or significant other will be happy to go to. There was one just such event recently at a local vineyard and winery in Bealeton, VA.

The Morais Vineyard & Winery opened in 2011 and its proprietor, Jose Morais is also a car guy. His son-in-law, Antonio Conceicao is a PCA member and club racer, so he thought why not have a social gathering, wine tasting, and invite all his PCA track and non-track friends out to Bealeton for some wine, music, BBQ, a car show, and bench racing. That’s exactly what he did on November 21. The weather was perfect and attendees were treated to a tour of the wine making facilities, and then headed over to the tasting room to sample their current offerings. It was a wonderful setting and even the racers significant others enjoyed themselves.

A few days later, it was back to Summit Point for me for the Turkey Bowl. Vintage Racer Group hosted the 19th Annual Turkey Bowl at Summit Point November 27-29. It’s a vintage racing event, but don’t worry, if you have a non-vintage race car you can still come out to play since they have a race group for you as well.

The Turkey Bowl is a fun race event since it’s the last race of the season and it attracts racers from many different sanctioning bodies like SCCA, PCA, BMWCCA, NASA, etc. It gives racers in the Mid Atlantic area one more race weekend before they put their cars away for the winter. It’s a relaxed environment, but the racing action is great and some interesting cars tend to show up. I was there Friday to work our trackside pro-shop, but did manage to make it out to snap some photos of the action. It’s been 12 years since I got to race at this event so I hope to be racing in it next year. If you are looking for a fun, laid back race weekend and want to squeeze one more in before the season wraps up, then put this one on your calendar for 2016. Hope to see you there!

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Spec Racing in the 1980s

Renault Cup 1 Reanult Cup 2 Renault Cup 3Lately it seems spec racing is all the rage. On the amateur level there is the ever popular Spec Miata. PCA Club Racing has Spec 911, Spec 996, Spec Boxster, and new for 2016, Spec Cayman. Both NASA and BMWCCA have their versions of Spec E30, E36 and Spec E46. And all these are just some of the Spec classes a grassroots racer can play in. On the professional level there is the GP2 Series, which is a stepping stone to Formula One. In sports car racing you have the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge where racers compete in “equally” prepared Porsche 991 and 997 Cup cars. Over the past few years there has also been the Prototype Challenge class in the Tudor United Sportscar Series and formerly in the America LeMans Series. I know there are a lot more spec series I haven’t mentioned, but I want to get to the point of this story before people start falling asleep.

While going through boxes of my belongings that spent the last 20+ years in my parents’ basement, I came across some of my old Car & Driver magazines. In the back of the October 1982 issues, I came across and interesting story about a spec series I had never heard of, the Renault/Koni Cup. A Google search turned up zero, zip, nada. So the only details I have are what I read in the article.

As some may remember, Renault brought the R5 to the U.S. market in 1976 as the “Le Car” to compete with other compact cars like the VW Rabbit and Honda Civic and they were sold through AMC (American Motor Company) dealerships. The Le Car was successful in SCCA racing is the SSC class. That led a racer named Steve Coleman to propose a low cost, one marque racing series to Renault USA Competition Director Baltasar Clar. The cars would be closely policed and few modifications outside of a bolt in roll cage, and racing harnesses would be allowed in order to keep costs down. At the time, Renault USA was asking Clar to come up with a way to promote the brand in the U.S. so the timing was right. Clar presented the idea for the Le Car Cup to management and Renault USA and Koni came on as sponsors. Clar’s plan promoted the dealers sponsoring and providing the cars, and supplying parts at cost. The dealers also paid the entry fees.

IMSA added the Le Car Cup to its calendar with races being run on the undercard for its Camel GT Series, which meant spectators in the seats. The series was highly successful since racers could race on the same weekends as the likes of John Fitzpatrick, Danny Ongais, Hurley Haywood, and Derek Bell. Fifty one Le Cars were on the grid for the inaugural race at Road Atlanta.

All allowable modifications to the car came in a single package. You got bigger torsion bars, sway bars, Koni dampers of course, a MOMO steering wheel and wheels, shaved Goodyear tires, harnesses, window net, a bolt in roll cage, and a fire extinguisher. There is no mention of a race seat, because drivers raced in the stock seat! And of course you got the requisite decals and driver’s patches as part of the package.

There was even prize money involved. The purse for each race was $8,000 and paid out for 1st through 20th place. An additional $1500 in contingency prizes was also part of the deal. The top six finishers in each race received points and at the end of the season, the top three finishers won and all expenses paid trip to France to compete in the European Renault Cup Finals.

So what happened to the series? Not sure since I couldn’t find anything online about it. The series probably closed down after 1983 when the Le Car was replaced in the U.S. market by the R11 (Renault Alliance). After reading the article, it sounds like it was a well attended and fun series, in a quirky French car. So if anyone bothering to read this post knows more about the Renault/Koni Cup, please share it with the rest of us. See you at the track.

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Helmets Off to Heroes on Veterans Day

Flag and Caterham HOTH 2 HOTH 3 BMWs HOTH Mustang HOTH V8 QuattroOn Veteran’s Day last week I was invited to instruct at a very special track event held on the Jefferson Circuit at Summit Point. Helmets Off to Heroes is an event for retired and current members of our Military organized by Miriam Schottland and her company Drive Lab. Miriam has been organizing and putting on this event for several years as a way to get our troops out to the track to have some fun and learn a few things about high performance driving. She pulls in instructors from many different car clubs, like PCA, NASA, BMWCCA, Audi Club, BSR etc.

We got things going early with tech opening at 7:15am. The drivers then had chalk talk in the classroom while final preparations were made for each of the exercises the drivers would be doing in the morning sessions before being turned loose on the track with their instructors after lunch. After their classroom session, the participants went through three stations, braking, skid pad, and a slalom exercise. There were a wide variety of cars on hand. Some notable ones were a hot rod Lotus Exige and Elise, a Dodge Challenger Hell Cat, a Hemi Charger, several BMW M3s, a Jaguar XF, XKF, an Audi Quattro Coupe that had a 4.2 V8 stuffed in it, and even a Volvo XC90 SUV.

After lunch, it was time to hit the track. After the instructors got to play while the troops got another briefing from Miriam, they turn some laps with their instructors in the right seat. Smiles were everywhere. My student Ryan was driving his daily driver Jaguar XF sedan. While the car was big and fast, its brakes were not too happy. That didn’t temper Ryan’s enthusiasm and he seems to be hooked since he was talking about getting a car more suited for track days. And his father, who came along to watch, was more than encouraging him! I think it is safe to say Ryan will be doing this again.

Once again Miriam put on a top notch event. Everyone there had a great time. The weather was perfect, smiles were abundant, and it was nice to give something back to the men and women of our armed forces. I love working this event, and was honored that Miriam invited me to instruct and show some of our soldiers a good time.

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Packers Win, and NASA Mid Atlantic Fall Finale at Summit Point

Trophy 2 Packers 2 Packers 1 Blue Mustang BMW and Acura Corvette and Pantera E36 M3 NASA GT3 GTO leads Jack BMW NSX NASA Pack in 5 P71 PD Autowerks Scion Viper NASAPackers Win! I have to open this post with this since my 9 year old son’s football team won the won their championship game and finished the 2015 season at 8-0. The Louisa County Boys Football Packers defeated the Cowboys in the championship game on Sunday playing under the lights in the Jungle, the field of the Louisa County High School Lions. The Cowboys finished the regular season in second place at 4-2, while the Packers were the number one seed for the playoffs because of their 6-0 record. The Packers defeated the Steelers a week earlier, while the Cowboys put away the Redskins, setting up what was sure to be a great game.

The Packers scored first and took an 8-0 lead into halftime. The second half was tough but after scoring again to go up 16-0 the Packers kept the Cowboys in check and added one more TD in the 4th quarter to go up 22-0 after the Cowboys held them on the two-point conversion. We were heading for a shutout but the Cowboys managed to score TD with under 2 minutes to go and got the two-point conversion, but it was too little too late and the Packers took the win 22-8 to wrap up a storybook season. So now you won’t have to listen to me talk about kids’ football.

For those of us in the Mid Atlantic and Northeast areas of the country, the 2015 track season is winding down. Last weekend, NASA Mid Atlantic finished up their season at Summit Point, with an HPDE and Time Trials event. No racing since the region champions were crowned last month at VIR.

The event started off cold and with a little rain and the first time trials session was black flagged early for a few offs. The HPDE students got to experience a damp Summit Point for their first run session, but conditions improved throughout the day. Pro racer Tristan Herbert showed up with his recently acquired Pirelli World Challenge Camaro to spend the day getting familiar with the car. He did comment that the power delivery is pretty much instantaneous and lots of it thanks to the car’s V8 power. NASA Mid Atlantic director Chris Cobetto took the weekend off leaving the event in the capable hands of Jon Felton who was actually not in Florida this weekend. Chris was there though, supporting his 14 year old son Jack, who was participating in his second HPDE is dad’s Spec E30. Jack showed good form and I think it is safe to say we could be seeing him racing against his dad in a near future.

When the track went cold, it was time for dinner, awards, and adult beverages provided by Natty Green’s. Those who stuck around got to enjoy some really good BBQ and maybe the best Mac and Cheese on the east coast. Time Trials awards were handed out and season champions recognized. NASA Mid Atlantic had another great season. Hopefully I can get my act together and do a race or two next year! We shall see.

Stay tuned for my report on Helmets off to Heroes coming soon.

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3 Tracks in Two Weeks, and Some Football

Dp car KJ 996 Porsche test drive Scott GT3 Sloan GT3 Mustang VIR GT4 VIR Subie and Targa Air and Water VIR Packers 2 Packers score Packers Win!The 2015 track season may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean there is a shortage of track events to get your last couple runs in before you put the car back in the garage and get ready for the holiday season.

In the last three weekends I have visited three different tracks at events hosted by four different clubs. Two weeks ago it was a trip to New Jersey Motorsports Park to visit with NASA Northeast. Visited with Diane and her staff at the General’s Store Pro Shop, got to see the Elan NP01 in action as the new prototype car was there to do some laps and help generate interest in this new car that will have its own class in NASA Racing. Got a day in there then hopped back in the car to get back down to Summit Point to run our track store with the Reisentoter Region of PCA was running an event on the main track.

The following weekend it was back to Summit Point for PCA Potomac Region’s final Drivers Ed of the season. There were a lot of neat cars turning laps as usual, including four 996 Cup Cars, several 991 GT3s, an Audi RS4 and even a Crawford DP Car. As usual, Potomac Region put on a great event. Lots of track time, and a social hour on Friday and Saturday after the track went cold. I even got to take a few laps around the Shenandoah Circuit in a few of the current Porsche product offerings as part of the Porsche of Tyson’s Corner customer appreciation demo they were putting on in conjunction with several instructors from the Porsche Driving Experience. Participants were greeted with a catered lunch and fresh deserts. I was lucky enough to be invited to tag along. I got to drive the Macan Turbo, The Cayenne Hybrid and the Panamera 4. Would have gotten to drive a few 991 981 variants but had work to do over at the main track so I had to depart after the first rotation.

Last weekend, I headed down to VIR for Northern New Jersey Regions annual fall event on the VIR Full Course. It was another good turnout with drivers and instructors from other regions getting in on the fun that is the VIR Full Course. A few of our friends from Potomac Region also made the trip south to get in one more event on this historic track before the 2015 season for those of us who live in the Mid Atlantic and northeastern states. There were no DP cars at this one, but in addition to the ample number of Porsches, there were Corvettes, BMWs, a few Mustangs, a Gen 2 RX-7 and even a Subaru BRZ.

It’s been a while since I posted an update on my son’s football team. I am happy to say that they finished the season 6-0 after a hard fought close game against the Redskins with a 14-12 win that went down to the wire. The win meant they were the number one seed for the playoffs, and last night the winning streak continued with a 30-0 win against the Steelers. Meanwhile in the first game, the Cowboys pulled off a 36-30 upset win over the Redskins. So the Packers will face the Cowboys next weekend for the championship. Go Packers!

This week I will be off to Summit Point for the NASA Mid Atlantic Fall Finale. This is an HPDE and Time Trials weekend only, since the champions were crowned last month at VIR. So if you are heading to Summit Point, I will see you there!

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One of the Many Great Cars I have Seen in my Travels

JW1 JW2 JW3 JW4 JW6 JW7 JW5As some of you know, I spend almost every weekend at the track in my official capacity as a field representative for OG Racing. Over the last five plus years, I have been lucky to meet a lot of you out there who share a passion for road racing. I have also made many great friends along the way. I have also gotten to see some really cool cars on tracks up and down the east coast and as far west as Texas. I’ve even gotten to drive a few of them in races with PCA and NASA, and in HPDEs. Last weekend while at New Jersey Motorsports Park visiting our friends in NASA Northeast, I got to see another really cool car and spend time speaking with its owner.

This particular car was a Nissan 300ZX. The car started life as your typical 80s 300ZX, but over the years, its owner (we’ll call him JW) has transformed it into a really neat road racer. From afar, it looks like one of many 300ZX’s Nissan produced from 1984-89. But even you see it up close; you realize it is much more than that. One of the first things that you will notice when you look closely is that the name “Paul Newman” is on the roof above the doors. Speaking with JW, you will find that this isn’t entirely a tribute car to the 300ZXs that Paul Newman raced in the 1980s in the familiar red, white, and blue livery many old school racers will remember. The body panels on JW’s car are actually off of one of the cars Mr. Newman raced. JW said he was offered the bodywork some years ago after being told about it by a friend. He grabbed it up pretty quickly and set about grafting it onto his 300ZX.

It’s a neat car up close and he races it with NASA, SCCA and in vintage racing. If you have been to a race at NJMP, chances are you have seen this car running through the Octopus, the Light bulb, or just sitting next to JW’s trailer while he takes a break between sessions. Enjoy the photos.

Next up is PCA Potomac Region’s last Drivers Ed of the year at Summit Point which I hope to report that I actually was able to squeeze in a few laps on track. The season is winding down on the east coast, but there are still several events left for me to visit before everyone puts their race cars away for the winter. See you at the track!

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NASA OctoberFast at VIR

Spitfire spec e30s McClure and Wonger Cobetto Harris JC in pack Beau's Mustang Jake and Kristina Product for blog Corner Worker Grace DJ M3Marshall 997 FordsLast weekend it was back to VIR for me for NASA Mid Atlantic’s OctoberFast. The NASA East and West Championships have come and gone, and the National Champions crowned for 2015, but for Mid Atlantic there was some unfinished business. Region champions needed to be crowned in the racing groups.  For those of you interested in Time Trials, season champions will be crowned at Summit Point at the final event of the season on November 7-8.   This year NASA Mid Atlantic invited the NASA Southeast Region to join them in the fun that is driving VIR Full Course.

The drivers were greeted with cool temperatures Saturday morning when the All Hands Meeting began at 7:30am. The weather forecast was not looking good but other than a few periods of very light drizzle, the rain stayed away. The race, time trial, and HPDE groups were all well stocked with participants and an interesting mix of cars. OG Racing’s Johnny C. brought his LS1 powered Miata up from Georgia to compete in time trials in TTU class. Johnny took second on Saturday and first on Sunday in TTU. NASA Mid Atlantic regular DJ Fitzpatrick showed up with his new to him E46 M3 to compete in GTS3 after racing a year in Spec E46. There were several retired stock cars configured for road course work, the usual large contingent of BMWs, Corvettes, Mustangs, an Aston Martin, and a few Porsches, plus an early 70s Camaro and a 1967 Mustang running time trials.

There was some great racing in American Iron, and in GTS3 in the Thunder race group. Beau Dunnivant was back in his Mustang after taking a little break from racing and he put his car on the podium. The first GTS race saw Brian Ward lead the field in his GTS4 Porsche 997. DJ Fitzpatrick took the race 1 win in GTS3 over 12 other cars in class, which was a great result since it was his first race in this particular car. No surprise though since he frequented the top step of the podium when he ran in GTS2. Spectators got to see the largest field this year of Spec E46 cars which is great news for this growing class.

In the Lightning race group, there was some very close racing throughout the field in Spec E30 which had twenty cars show up to race this weekend. The lead changed hands several times through each race between, Sandro Espinosa, Robert Grace, and Ryan Whitinger, with Espinosa taking the win. In Showroom Stock Miata, Harris Levitas head his right front fender pealed back which created a lot of drag for him on the straights.

That night at the OG Racing/Convenience Car Care Awards Party, the day’s winners received their trophies and got their photos taken with the NASA trophy girls. NASA Mid Atlantic Director Chris Cobetto then presented the season championship awards, along recognizing several staff and racers for special honors for 2015. Complete race results can be found at www.nasaracing.net.

This week I am off to NJMP to visit with NASA NE and NJMP’s General’s Store Pro Shop. I will also visit the PCA crowd who will be holding a Drivers Education event on the Lightning Circuit. See you at the track.

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A Wet Weekend at Summit Point with SCCA

911 Turbo Alfa Civic Corvette chasing Miata Formula car 2 Formula car Front straight ITA Miata Kopp front straight SSM Start Workers Worker 2 scirocco Neon 2 Miatas NeonIt was a rainy Saturday last weekend at Summit Point. WDC Region of SCCA’s MARRS 10 got off to a wet start. Friday practice was canceled due to heavy rains so the racers went straight to qualifying on a very wet track Saturday morning. Attendance was down due to the weather conditions. With a lot of racers deciding to stay home the race groups were much smaller than a typical MARRS race weekend. The drivers handled the slippery track well and there was still some good close racing, especially in Spec Miata and Showroom Stock Miata, as well as in the IT classes. The challenging conditions made it difficult for racers to put the power down, especially for the higher horsepower Corvettes and the one Porsche 911 Turbo that took the green flag. There really isn’t much more to say so enjoy the photos.  In case anyone is wondering what happened with the Louisa Packers football game, they were rained out and will make it up later in the season.  So for now, they remain 3-0 for the season.

This week it’s off to VIR for NASA Mid Atlantic’s OctoberFast event. It will be your typical NASA weekend with racing, HPDE, and time trials. Look for my report on that event next week. See you at the track.

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