Dateline: March 10, 1997

74 days until driver’s school!

Well, a decision has been reached and money has been put forth. I guess that makes it official. l will be doing my best to stay out of trouble this year in an SSC 1997 Saturn SC2. Saturn Motorsports lives at last!!! With the car’s recent re-classification to SSC it should prove to be quasi-competitive, even with a green driver like me behind the wheel. At the very least, it should allow me to have a lot of fun while beating up (?) on the Neon crowd. Just look for the bright yellow rookie stripe on my rear bumper as I go by – or as you go by!

The timing for this year is tight – very tight. The car has been ordered and should be here in about 5-6 weeks. The option sheet reads as follows:

1. alloy wheels
2. destination

My first goal is to make the driver’s school at the Glen on May 23-25. Since I’m familiar with the track, it should be one less thing for me to get worked up about. Any of you New York guys free to lend a hand in the pits? Anybody from Michigan want to make a cool road trip? Hint, hint.

This gives me about 5 weeks to get the car put together – cage, chassis set-up, etc. Since it is SSC, I don’t need a lot of work to physically put the car on the track, but detail work will definitely be where the advantages are to be had.

So, there you have it. See you at the track! Now get back to work…


Dateline: March 18, 1997

66 days until driver’s school!

Two major happenings in the world of Saturn Motorsports so far this week, and it’s only Tuesday! Big news 1 – the car has been built and is sitting in Spring Hill waiting for shipment. We should take delivery in approximately 6-8 business days – a lot sooner than the original estimates. This gives plenty of time to break the car in on public roads before it is forced to live at seven grand. We are working with a shop wringing out the details for the safety systems (cage, seat, harnesses, fire system). Those of you following the SS guys will recognize the name – McKenna Industries. They supply a bunch of the Neon guys (the enemy!) with hardware and appear to have a good handle on how to do the job right. And besides, they’re only 30 minutes from my house. With their fabrication expertise and our internal structural gurus designing the cage (kudos, Mark), the combination should be awesome! Target installation is the week of April 11.

Big news 2 – we have our first “major” sponsor on board!!!! This is huge for a first-time racer. The Speaker Place in Rochester, NY has offered to kick in and help support the cause. They will be supplying one set of race rubber (!), all of their vehicle graphics (rear 1/4 panels, nose), and will be paying for a photo shoot to use in their advertising. They want to advertise the team and our activities on their website! In exchange, we will be distributing pens, business cards, and other miscellaneous give-aways that they will provide prior to each event. Feel free to give them a call on their toll-free line, 1-800-NEW-FOAM (424-3680 in Rochester) if you need any speakers repaired or replaced. I worked there for two years during college and know the owners well – I was their only employee for the first year! They have a large inventory, great prices, and know their stuff well – and they’ve been in business for over 15 years. Pass the word and make sure you tell them you saw them advertised on the Speaker Place Saturn!

Well, back to work now. We’re still targeting the Glen on May 23rd. Drive safely.


Dateline: March 25, 1997

59 days until driver’s school!

The car has been delivered. I picked it up from the retailer last night and will be driving it exclusively until I can put on about 3000 miles. With a 110-mile commute each day, that shouldn’t take too long.

Met with the folks from McKenna this weekend. I’m pretty much sold on their stuff. They’re not the cheapest, but the quality of their work looks to be first rate – and besides, one of their cages allowed Eric Herschule (sp?) to walk away from his SSC Neon after he rolled it at the Runnoffs last year in qualifying. That speaks volumes to me. We have a follow-up meeting today to discuss mounting methodology and the like. Timing has been set for installation – April 14 the car goes under the knife. I also have a meeting with the Detroit region chief inspector dude next week to discuss the cage design prior to construction. Sure would hate to get to the inspection and be told that we were in flagrant violation of some obscure rule!

Sponsor update: sponsor number two is approaching critical mass. No press leaks at this time, but discussions yesterday were very promising. We may have commitment later in the week, and details will follow.

One last note to you Delphi guys – how come there is not a part number for Rapidfire plugs for the Saturn motors? I was going to try a set, but we couldn’t find a part number in the official Delphi product listing. Don’t make me run Bosch Platinums ……

Back to work now!


Dateline: April 1, 1997

52 days until driver’s school!

Please note the change in the team name. In order to avoid using the ‘Saturn’ name where I’m not supposed to, I have made the executive decision to rename the team scR motorsports. This allows me to advertise the team and its activities without stepping on my employer’s toes – legally that is. And just in case you’re wondering what it means, scR is an abbreviation for SC2 Racing. Cool, eh? Not one of my most creative moments, but anyway…

700 miles so far on the car. Should be fully broken in next week and off the road by the end of the month. At this point it feels like just about every other Saturn. We’ll have to change that. SOON.

Anybody know a good fabricator? These McKenna yahoos have blown me off twice to talk about the cage, but managed to have two of their sales guys call me to discuss doing business with Saturn Corporation. Guess we know where they’re coming from. Any recommendations are welcome! Today I meet with the Detroit region chief inspector dude to discuss the cage design in general. Maybe he has some references…

Sponsor update: sponsor number two is on board! My local Saturn retailer, Saturn of Ann Arbor, has agreed to step to the plate and help out with both parts and service at reduced rates. Yipee! Hopefully I won’t need to get any body panels through their parts department.

The moment you’ve all been waiting for: the preliminary race schedule. While these event dates are firm, my attendance may vary slightly. We’ll keep you abreast of all updates. Start filling in your calendars now!!!!!

school 1 Watkins Glen (NY) May 22/23/24
school 2 IRP (IN) June 6/7
race 1 IRP (IN) June 7/8
race 2&3 Mid-Ohio (OH) July 4/5/6 (double event)
race 4? Waterford Hills (Ml) July 11 /12/13 (big maybe)
race 5 Road America (WI) July 24/25/26
race 6&7? Nelson Ledges (?) August 1/2/3 (double event) (big maybe)
race 8&9 Grattan (Ml) August 29/30/31 (double event)
race 10&11? Mid-Ohio (OH) September 5/6/7 (double event) (big maybe)
race 12 Watkins Glen (NY) September 12/13/14

Of course, I assume you all expect me to be invited to the RUNOFFS October 6-12 at Mid-Ohio. Hahaha. Very aggressive, but it’s a start. My goal is to make 6 races this year, more if the budget permits.

Back to work now!


Dateline: April 7, 1997

46 days until driver’s school!

1500 miles and counting. Had its first oil change and bath this weekend. Still feels like every other Saturn.

Still looking for a cage fabricator. I have three numbers to follow up with this week, but the frustration is starting to set in. My timing requires that the cage be installed next week, and I’m afraid that short notice will not be welcome at this point by any potential suppliers. We’ll cross our fingers and stay on the phone until then…on lunch breaks only, of course! We’ll be on the track regardless, but we really want the right cage in the car the first time – spend $$$ only once, you know! (thanks, Dan)

Race graphics are nearly complete, for all of you in the sponsor crowd. This past weekend, I received full size black and while copies of all the graphics from my awesome graphics set-up partner, Margaret of Ze Designs. We worked together at Kelsey, and she has a side business out of her home (she has even done Indy cars, believe it or not). In exchange for her art set-up work, she gets her name on the car. Saves me a few hundred dollars. Guess you could call that sponsor #3! Anyway, the car is filling up fast and looks great. Color should add another dimension…

In order to offset some really small portion of the racing budget, we will have available for sale (really cheap) official scR motorsports decals for your own vehicle! Pardon my bias, but they look really, really cool. We’ll have both scR motorsports windshield decals (4″x36″) and the scR ‘R’ w/ flag as a stand-alone 3″x3″ decal. There will also be scR motorsports team T-shirts for sale, courtesy of shift yourself (informally sponsor #4) – they’re the next NO FEAR. Or so I hope – I’m on board from the start! They get graphics, we get T-shirts. Not a bad deal.

Drum roll, please. Schedule updates:

school 1 Watkins Glen (NY) May 22/23/24
school 2 IRP (IN) June 6/7
race 1 IRP (IN) June 7/8
race 2&3 Mid-Ohio (OH) July 4/5/6 (double event)
race 4 Waterford Hills (Ml) July 11/12/13 (most likely) <====STATUS CHANGE
race 5 Road America (WI) July 24/25/26
race 6&7? Nelson Ledges (OH) August 1/2/3 (double event) (big maybe)
race 8&9 Grattan (Ml) August 29/30/31 (double event)
race 10&11? Mid-Ohio (OH) September 5/6/7 (double event) (big maybe)
race 12 Watkins Glen (NY) September 12/13/14
RUNOFFS Mid-Ohio (OH) October 6-12 (haha) <====STATUS CHANGE

Ok, here comes my first attempt to schedule crew personnel. If you can make a particular event, reply via notes or phone – I would realistically be able to use 3 crew members per event. Keep in mind that you are an SCCA member you are of extra value, since you are allowed in the hot pit area, although everyone is welcome at the events. If anyone would like to join the SCCA (and be allowed in the hot pit area) let me know. Membership is $55 / year in the Detroit section. You even get a really cool monthly magazine…

Back to work now!


Dateline: April 23, 1997

30 days until driver’s school!

The cage is nearing completion. The main hoop, forward braces, and window upper support are in place. Tonight, the rear glass comes out so that the cage dude can get to the back sides of the really cool mounting / reinforcing plates we developed. Once the cage is complete (target: April 30th), the interior goes back in, and the chassis work begins. However, before you get the idea that all is rosy, hear this…

After returning from vacation last week, I called the cage dude to check on his progress. The conversation went something like this:

me: Hey Jason, how’s the cage coming?
Jason: (Kind of hyper) Well, I just scared the crap out of myself…
me: Ok, breathe, why?
Jason: Well, I was just welding in the front hoop pads to the floorpan on the driver’s side when…
me: (Cutting him off) You did remember that the fuel lines run under that area, didn’t you?

You now see where this is going…

Jason: Did you know they’re plastic? I’ve never seen plastic fuel lines…
me: (Cutting him off) how badly did you damage the car, Jason?
Jason: Well, I can’t see any damage at all to the underside of the car – it all looks ok!
me: So, why all this discussion?
Jason: Well, there was a little fire on the ground below the fuel lines, but I think they’re ok now…
me: (Mental note: Buy new fuel lines.)
Jason: Don’t worry, it’s all under control
me: (Mental note: Sure, buddy.)

So, tonight I pick up my new fuel lines and get to install them myself. At least the fuel pressure is already relieved. Small consolation.

Reminder: start saving your pennies now for your official scR paraphernalia!


Dateline: April 30, 1997

23 days until driver’s school!

The car comes home tonight after being cut, burnt, welded, stripped, and melted. Looks pretty good for having gone through so much. I stopped by the race shop last night to inspect the final product before delivery. Very, very nice. Don’t let the fuel line incident fool you – Jason is a talented fabricator and welder. Just a little, well, weird. He followed the instructions when it made sense, asked questions often, and made great judgment calls in my absence. He even paid for the lines he damaged. Overall, I would rate the cage a solid A. Best of all, our cool structure dude Mark modeled the final iteration of the structure and has relayed that we should expect a 20%+ increase in overall torsional rigidity. Not bad when you consider that there is only one attachment point per side to the front spaceframe…so anyway, now it’s my turn to start wrenching and such. Those of you with race cars know what I’m getting into.

Only two other big events this week. First: got the tow vehicle last night. Very, very cool. Now I just need a trailer. Second: the car may be changing colors. We’ll keep you posted.

Not much time to ramble this week, but there has been a schedule change. Family conflicts may force the cancellation of the event at Waterford Hills. For those of you in the Detroit area who were planning on attending, I apologize, but I would rather face your anger that that of my mom……and besides, you now have an excuse to travel to any of the other exotic venues with the team.

So, there you have it. Get those crew licenses renewed. Back to work, now.


Dateline: May 6, 1997

17 days until driver’s school! Gulp.

Car prep well underway. Although most of the weekend was consumed by a wedding, I managed to change the fuel lines (all three were completely melted), replaced all of the engine and trans fluids & filters with good stuff, removed airbags, changed the brake fluid (thanks, Dana), installed the window net, and cleaned up all of Mr. Welder’s mess from the interior. Test drove it and all seems OK (at least there’s no fuel on the ground anymore).

So much to do, so little time…but I think we’ll be looking good for the school.

Speaking of the school – who wants to go to the Glen? Dan’s on board to crew for the school, but more are CERTAINLY welcome. This would be a great chance for any aspiring crew members to come out and learn from a seasoned veteran. We will be leaving Detroit Thursday morning and getting to the Glen in time for registration that evening at about ~ 6:00 pm. Anyone traveling from Michigan has free transportation and lodging! Free food! Free fun! I can bribe as much as necessary!! Please help!!!

So, there you have it. Get those crew licenses renewed.


Dateline: May 13, 1997

Stop the presses! Due to circumstances beyond our control, things are going so well that I have had to cancel the driver’s school at Watkins Glen on May 22, 23, and 24. Let me explain…

As of 4:45 p.m. Monday evening, sponsor #4 is officially on board. Please welcome Recaro of North America, headquartered in beautiful Troy Michigan! They get their name on the hood, quarter panels, and rear fascia, and will be using the car as a display piece for a few PR events this summer. In exchange, I get a free 1-piece fiberglass racing seat, mounting hardware, and installation. The only catch is that I can’t get the seat in time to have the bracing welded in place or to mount the harness in time for the Glen school. Small technicality – I have enrolled in the Road America school 2 weeks following the originally scheduled IRP school in June. In addition, I have shuffled an event of two for the duration of the season in order to still run the same number of events as originally planned, so that my other sponsors will still be getting the same ‘air time’ as originally proposed. Here at GM, that’s known as a ‘win-win’ situation. Yahoo.

Of course, all of this gives me more time to final prep the car before it’s big debut. Hopefully, I can run the car at an autocross or two just to make sure that nothing falls off or snaps in half. Better to find out in a big parking lot that in Canada Corner at RA.

Of the prep work – everything is falling into place as planned. I figure about one more week and the body can be reassembled and ready to go. Loctite has been applied generously to just about anything which could loosen and fall off, and everything not absolutely required has been removed. All legally, of course!

More later…


Dateline: May 20, 1997

Well, it’s finally starting to look like a race car….by this weekend the cage will be painted and padded, the body panels and glass will be reinstalled, the interior will be returned to its original state, the Halon system will be functional, and the chassis massaging (all legal, thank you very much) will have completed the first iteration. With any luck, the graphics will go on late next week, the seat will be delivered, and the driver will be absolutely dying to roll the thing on to the track. It’s a good thing too, because all of this anticipation is beginning to stress me out.

As I just mentioned, the final cage preparations will take place Wednesday night and the glass will be installed on Thursday. This means that over the Memorial Day holiday I will not be returning home to visit the family with Dana – I will be on my back underneath my race car. Once the reassembly has been completed, all that remains is an alignment, courtesy of my local sponsor Saturn of Ann Arbor, and away we go. Of course, after the first weekend a million things will come up which will need attending, but that’s the nature of the beast.

PS – I have started to compile a list of volunteers so those of you who would like to show at an event know which need support!