SCCA Double Regional at The Ridge

This weekend I drove out to The Ridge Motorsports Park to watch the SCCA Double Regional/Vintage race. This was my first time going to one of the SCCA road races and I was pretty excited to see this one at The Ridge, having driven the track myself recently.

I had a great time at the race and walked around the paddock area and got to see a variety of race cars in the various SCCA classes anywhere from lightly modified spec cars to full open cockpit purpose build race cars. Since this event also featured a vintage race there were some very nice classics to see as well including early Porsche’s, Corvette’s, and Mustangs.

Of particular interest to me was meeting some of the guys who race in  Pro 44, the Pacific NW Porsche 944 series. I got a chance to meet Geg Fordahl from Fordahl Motorsports and the rest of the guys racing 944′s that weekend. One of them had a pretty sweet looking Rothmans 944 which I learned is a rare version of the 944 built for the Canadian Porsche Challenge series in the late 80′s. I had a chance to watch this car run in the vintage race which was a blast.

Rothmans-944

I spent a good amount of time hanging out with the Pro 44 guys and they were all very friendly and kind enough to share some of their experiences running the 944′s. I found this to be very valuable as this is the series I’m looking to get into myself next season.

New Brakes and Rotors

New brakesAfter last week’s track day it was definitely time to replace the brakes. Since I still had the factory rotors I decided to replace those as well. I ordered some Hawk HPS brake pads all around and Brembo rotors online. They arrived yesterday so I set up an appointment at the local auto shop to have them replaced. Earlier I picked up some ATE Super Blue brake fluid so I had everything ready to go.

Acura-on-LiftI’m buying my own parts and just paying for labor as I’m not set up to do the work myself (don’t have the space/tools). Bill, the mechanic at the shop was fine with me hanging around while he worked so I got to observe and see how to do the installation. I’ve done minor things like oil changes but haven’t done a brake job myself so this was good to learn.

So now the squealing is gone, and the brakes feel great. I’m looking forward to the next track day to see how they perform.

How I Got Started

I’m going to go back in time about 10 years to share with you how I got started and introduced to the world of auto racing.

My friend Kenny told me about something called autocross with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) back in the San Francisco Bay Area where I grew up. Technically, this is called Solo2 when you look at the SCCA website. I learned that this was an affordable way to take your car “out to the track” without much risk of damage.

In autocross the track is made up of traffic cones and cars run one at a time pretty well spaced apart so it’s one of the safest environments to test the limits of your ability with your daily driver. A weekend event would run about $35 at the time plus a yearly SCCA membership which is under $100. Overall this was the least intimidating way to get started and still one of the best values around.

One of the most beneficial aspects of this program is just getting out there and meeting others in your local area who are often very helpful and willing to help beginners learn the ropes. If you love cars it’s a great place to go and see what types of cars people race. You’ll find everything from daily driven Honda Civics to race prepared Corvette’s with full roll cages and other go fast customizations. Walking around the paddock you’ll likely find other drivers with the same type of car you have so it’s a great way to get to know people.

The SCCA provides a structured environment for learning and competition. During a Solo2 event you’ll also work the track and learn about various positions such as starter, timer, flagger, or help with registration. This arrangement keeps the event costs low for everyone but also gives you great experience and understanding of what goes into running one of these types of events.

As I got into Solo2 I learned about the various aspects of car control such as looking ahead on the track, looking where you want your car to go before it gets there, smoothness of steering inputs, and vehicle weight transfer. I was racing my daily driver, a 1995 Honda del Sol SI, at the time and was having a blast. Cars are grouped by class based on their performance characteristics so the competition is close. I got to experience the adrenaline rush of acceleration and speed and enjoyed competing for points throughout the season. I did this for two seasons and in between switched to my next daily driver, a 1999 Acura Integra GS-R which I’m still driving today. I placed 3rd in the GS-N (G Stock Novice) class back in 2001 which was quite a thrill.

After a while other priorities came up and I stopped participating in autocross but looking back it was a great foundational experience for my development as a driver. For those wanting to get started in motorsports I’d definitely recommend giving autocross a try. There are other clubs in addition to the SCCA that offer such programs. National Auto Sport Association (NASA) is a similar organization as well as manufacturer specific clubs (Porsche Club of America, BMW Car Club of America, etc) that you may want to look into.

Fast forward to today I’ve come full circle in a way. I’ve got the itch to go racing again but this time in a different format, road racing. This is something I’ve always wanted to do as I learned about the various motorsports styles and I’ll be posting my progress towards that goal here.

Intro


Welcome to My Racing Journey. I’m starting this blog to document my adventures in motorsports primarily to help me see my progress over time. My hope is it will also be of interest and helpful to others who want to get into the sport or are already on that path.

As I share my experiences and take the time to write down my goals, mistakes, and what I’ve learned, I hope to gain insight I might otherwise miss. I also look forward to interacting with readers and learning from you as well so please feel free to comment.

To give you a bit of background on how this all started, I can look back as far as growing up and really being into cars. I suppose most kids are into cars at one point or another and it’s just a phase of we go through as boys. In my case I feel as if that little boy who was fascinated with fast cars never left. Although I did “suppress” it for a number of years as I focused on other things like school, work, and life only to have it resurface with a vengeance now.

What is so interesting about cars after all? What most people see as a means to get from point A to point B, I’ve always seen as much more. It starts with the aesthetics of automotive design. It’s what sets apart a sports car like a Porsche, Ferrari, or Corvette silhouette from one of an average economy car. It’s artistry at it’s best, where form meets function to create a complete experience for the driver. Then there’s the engineering of sports cars; the combination of mechanics, dynamics, and technology to produce something meeting performance, safety, and reliability requirements. These are things I can certainly appreciate as a software engineer myself.

Now take those elements that appeal to me and add skill, competition, adrenaline, and comeraderie found in organized sports and you’ve got the formula for an addiction. I look forward to sharing how I’m feeding my addiction with you in future posts.