Porsche at the Point and Runoffs in Daytona, and Some Football

944s Amico Bryant Chris and Stuart Scott B Close evans WilsonsLast weekend the Porsche Club of America took to the track for their annual race at Summit Point. It’s the 24th anniversary of the first PCA race held at this historic track. Potomac Region puts on a great event every year. The hard work of all the volunteers, corner workers, and generous sponsors combined makes for a great event.

The cool and cloudy conditions made for perfect conditions for turning fast laps and as a result several track records were broken. Those who were watching got to see a certain E class Carrera turn G class car times and break the class record. Nice job Evan! There was some great racing among some of the 997 Cup drivers at the front of the pack in their race group. Chris Musante, Stuart Fain and Mike Levitas put on a driving clinic at the front of the pack swapping positions and fast laps multiple times over the course of the weekend.

The 944 Cup also held their season championship race in conjunction with this event. Over 30 944s spread across SP1, SP2 and SP3 had their own race group and put on a good show. When the dust settled, Damon DeCastro was crowned 944 Super Cup Champion for 2015, finally breaking the streak held by Canadian drivers from the North Chapter. In 944 Cup, rookie racer Robbie Wilson took the checkered in first to claim his first title. Robbie has been hanging around the track for years crewing for his dad who runs in Super Cup in his 944T. Now that he’s finally 18 years old, Robbie got to play in the PCA sandbox and put on quite a show to take the win and he showed us old guys that he’s a more than capable racer.

While I was at Summit Point, Johnny was down in Daytona for the SCCA Runoffs. It’s the Super Bowl for SCCA and takes place over nine days. Racers in each class compete in two qualifying races, and then their championship race. The schedule is arranged so that a racer in a given class generally has to be there three days. They get there races in, and then can pack up and make room for the drivers coming in who race later in the week. Over the course of the event, nearly 500 competitors hit the track in the various classes to compete for national honors. Safe to say this is the largest road racing event in the country and the racers put on a great show for the spectators.

And from the gridiron, the Louisa Packers moved to 3-0 with a hard fought close win over the Redskins 14-6. The Redskins took the lead early but the Packers fought hard and ended the game with a 4th down stop at their 10 yard line as time expired. They face the Cowboys again this weekend, weather permitting.

This week I am back at Summit Point for the Washington DC Region of SCCA, MARRS 10 race weekend. Hopefully Hurricane Joaquin won’t wash out the track and the event. We will see. I’ll let you all know how it turns out next week.

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American Endurance Racing at Summit Point 9/18-9/20/15

Audis 635CSI E30 and Audi Jetta and MB Mercedes and Saab Jetta Nice e36 M3 and Acura Benny TE Packers DereekLast weekend it was back to Summit Point for me to see what the American Endurance Racing series is all about. So what is AER? It’s an endurance racing series with simple rules, whose goal is to provide a place for experienced racers who want to run endurance races in almost any production based race car. They have five races on the calendar for 2015, with the last round coming up in October at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The previous rounds were held at NJMP, Palmer Motorsports Park, and VIR.

The rules are simple. Cars run a qualifying session and then are grouped into three groups based on posted qualifying times. There are formulas in place to prevent sandbagging, and to account for any pro level drivers who may be part of any of the teams. These guys clearly take the racing seriously, while also having fun doing it. There were racers from PCA, NASA BMWCCA, SCCA etc, racing in a variety of cars. There was a three car contingent of Audi 90 sedans, several teams running E30 and E36 BMWs, a VW Jetta, a Mercury Cougar, a few Miatas and even a SAAB. The format for this event was an open qualifying session on Friday to set the grid for the first of two 9 hour races on Saturday and Sunday. During each race, teams were required to make five 3 minute pit stops. One of the teams I spoke with said they can complete a driver change, fuel and service in less than 3 minutes. I can tell you from talking with the drivers that these guys take the racing seriously and they are there to win. The organizers do not want car to car contact so keep your racing clean. Everyone I spoke with likes the simple rules package and the action on track is worth the price of admission. It allows all us club racers to experience running a long distance race that requires a team effort much like we see at the professional level.

So if those of you reading my ramblings this week have considered doing some endurance racing, AER puts on a good event, with simple rules that allows you to get maximum track time at a reasonable price. And they even provide dinner. So for complete information on American Endurance Racing, please visit http://www.americanenduranceracing.com/

Now for my son’s football update. The Louisa Boys Football Packers moved to 2-0 after their 42-0 win over the Steelers. The boys played well on both sides of the ball and it showed. Great job guys! I missed my older son’s baseball game on Saturday but they were victorious as well with a 19-7 win. Hopefully I will be able to catch the next one.

This week I will be back at Summit Point for the PCA Race which also includes the 944 Cup Championship Race for both Cup and Super Cup. Weather is looking good so even if you are not racing and live nearby, come out and check out the action. See you at the track.

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SCCA, PCA, LS Fest, and Some Football

Camry HPDC Ferrari HPDC GT3 slide 930 HPDC GT40 VW in the rain LS-Sun-2015-163 LS-Sun-2015-174 Packers game 1 Packers game 2 Packers 4 Packers 5Last weekend was a busy one at Summit Point Motorsports Park. The D.C. Region of SCCA hosted a PDX (Performance Driving Xperience) on the main track. The PDX is an educational event similar to a PCA, BMWCCA, NASA, etc drivers’ education event. Drivers are paired with instructors and spend time on track and in classroom getting instructions on how to safely navigate the race track, while also learning vehicle dynamics, and car control. Drivers were greeted with moderate rains all morning and into the early part of the afternoon. Because of the weather, most drivers chose to find somewhere dry to congregate until the rains passed.

While the SCCA PDX was taking place, over on the Jefferson Circuit, PCA Potomac was hosting their annual Fall HPDC (high performance driving clinic). This event is tailored to first timers who have never driven a car on a race track. You can show up in any car truck or SUV as long as it passes grid tech. The morning begins with classroom instruction, followed by skid pad, slalom, and braking exercises. After a delicious lunch of homemade sandwiches made fresh by Potomac Region member Pat Kaunitz, the rains passed. Students had one more classroom session while the instructors took to the track to dry it out. Then it was lapping sessions with their instructors. Same format you would experience at a typical drivers’ education weekend. When the last car exited the track, students got to share their experience while partaking in some refreshments.

While I was running back and forth between the tracks at Summit Point, Johnny was at the National Corvette Museum for LS Fest. What is LS Fest? It’s a multi-event weekend extravaganza for not just Corvettes, but any other make of car that has had a heart transplant and now propels itself with Chevy LS V8 power. Johnny even brought his LS1 powered Miata along for some fun.

The Annual LS Fest is a fun event like HyperFest, but every car is eligible to participate. The only requirement is that the car has a Chevy LS engine. The activities include autocross, Track-Cross (point to point race like autocross but on the NCM track), drag racing, Dyno challenge (just as the name implies. highest hp wins), and 3s Challenge. The 3s Challenge is more commonly called pro style autocross. It’s when two cars run next to each other on mirrored tracks. The 3s Challenge is tough to drive but a lot of fun to watch.

“I ran this year but got smoked. The last two years (2013/2014) I won the Autocross Shoot Out event. This year I went cheap on tires and ran a set of Hankook RS3’s. They were no match for the BFG Rival S. I wound up finishing somewhere in 45th place,” said Johnny when I asked him how it went. His finishing position wasn’t too bad considering there were 160 cars in the event.

Also, I am happy to report that the Louisa County Virginia Youth Football “Packers” won their season opener 12-6 over the Cowboys. My 8 year old son plays for them, and though he is one of the smallest players on the team, it doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm. It was a close and hard fought game and the Packers scored on their last possession to take the win. The game was played under sunny skies at the Louisa County High School field affectionately known to us locals as “The Jungle” home of the Louisa Lions. Way to go Packers.

This week I will be at Summit Point for the AER (American Endurance Racing) event so I will let you know how that goes next week. See you at the track.

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NASA East Championships Take Over VIR

944s audi DP and Mustang GTS Miatas JL S2000 Mini Morris more 944 Mustangs NP01 Sitting on DP SLC and Sparco spec e30 Vern PMWBeginning in 2014, the National Auto Sport Association split its National Championship event into an East and West Championship, after spending the previous years alternating between Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, in Lexington Ohio, and Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele Utah. This year, the East Championships were held at the historic Virginia International Raceway.

Things started last Thursday with the optional test and tune. Most of the out-of-towners took advantage of this opportunity for extra track time to get ready for the show that started the next day. VIR is definitely one of those tracks where local knowledge is an advantage for those who live close enough to drive it semi-regularly. The paddock contained cars from just about every class NASA has to offer. There were Spec Miatas, BMWs and Porsches. Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes, stock cars, a pair of Daytona Prototypes, and even two Audi A4s. The racers had to deal with a little Southern Virginia rain on Friday that made for some interesting moments in the first qualifying races of the weekend. Most everyone made it through and into Saturday for the second round of qualifying races.

Along with a usual contingent of racers and time trials drivers, running in GTS, AI, Spec E30, etc and all the TT classes, NASA also took this weekend to show off the new Elan NP01 spec prototype racer which will have its own class racing with NASA beginning in 2016. The prototype was on display in the paddock and turned laps around the track several times during the event at the hands of NASA’s Jeremy Croiset.  Since the standard seat was a little too big for him, Johnny and I fixed that for him by fitting him with a BSCI foam seat insert to make him feel more at home in the cockpit.  It’s the ideal solution especially for cases where two drivers of differing body types want to share the same car.  The NP01 is a new chassis designed by Elan Technologies (think Panoz) which looks like a Daytona Prototype (sort of) and is powered by a slightly massaged Mazda MZR engine mated to a Sedev sequential gearbox. With 185 hp, weighing only 1650 and making that magical thing called downforce, the NP01 is capable of turning lap times that cars costing over twice the price would be proud to post on a timesheet. Cars are available has complete kits in which the buyer can assemble themselves, or as turnkey and ready to do. More information on the NP01 can be found here: http://nasaprototype.com/the-elan-np01/

If you want to know how the Championship races played out, I’ll let the folks at NASA tell you how those played out. You can find complete results and drivers’ quotes here:

This week I’m off to Summit Point. See you at the track!

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Porsche Club BBQ in Maryland

356 and cab 997T and SC Cayman foreground circle Deans 911 Front yard GT3 Kremer and 964 old and new race carsOn weekends as most of you know, I am usually at the track at various events walking the paddock. Sometimes I instruct. Sometimes I actually get to drive, whether in a drivers ed or a race. Last weekend, instead of going to Summit Point, VIR, NJMP, etc, I went to Middletown MD, to a different kind of gathering of track people. It was a cook out at PCA Potomac member Mike and Dawn Smalley’s house with around 100 Porsche and track junkies.

The front lawn and driveway was covered with Porsches, a few Ferraris, a Studebaker, and even a Lamborghini. Mike had multiple grilles going, and there were plenty of desserts and adult beverages to go around. Rather than ramble on and on in writing, I’ll let you enjoy the photos. Next event write up will cover NASA’s East Championships at VIR. See you at the track!

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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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