Dateline: January 1998
This article appeared in the Detroit Region’s SCCA newsletter, Open Exhaust, in January of 1998. In essence, we rolled out for the readers exactly what team scR is all about and how much fun we have doing it. Our car was also on the cover of this issue. Needless to say, we considered this yet another major accomplishment for team scR!
team scR – 1997 Year in Review
While calculating the lease residual value of a 1997 Saturn SC2, my Sales Consultant, Ross, asked, “So, James, any special plans for your new Saturn?”
I casually replied, “Oh (pause), I think I’ll go Showroom Stock racing.”
After realizing that I might be serious, Ross said nothing, but sure looked concerned. I think he may have adjusted the residuals as well. Thus, scR motorsports was born.
By now you’re asking yourself, “Ok, so what?” Either that or you have already turned to the back of this magazine and are looking through the classifieds. Well, scR motorsports was asked to write an OE article to share our experiences with those Detroit SCCA members who might be considering the complete financial adventure known as road racing. A ‘Club Racing Helper’ if you will. With any luck, these ‘lessons learned’ will provide a bit of insight, a bit of humor, and will get our race car on the cover of this magazine. So, here’s our advice – take it for what it’s worth:
- Focus on establishing a baseline season in order to judge future performance and set realistic goals for your team. Ours went something like this:
- Build the car and pass tech
- Go to school
- Qualify for a Regional License
- Qualify for a National License
- Finish every race started
Note that our list of objectives did not include things such as winning races, setting lap records, or demon tweaking the car for every session. Oh yea – we also decided that “if we’re not having fun, we’re going home.” Remember, this is Club Racing, and first place pays the same as last place (unless you race, ahem, a Neon).
- Include as many people as possible in your racing addiction. You’re in for an overwhelming amount of work, travel, stress, and emotion. The more people you have to laugh at you, the better (laughing people are good for tightening lug nuts). Caution: these same people will probably consume a lot of beer at your expense. Pay for it – it’s worth it.
- Develop a racing budget at the outset of the season. Don’t forget to include things like tires, gas, entry fees, and all the beer your laughing lug nut tighteners will drink. Now, once you have this budget established, run it by your significant other (the one who actually pays the bills). After getting approval to proceed, multiply your original total dollar figure by at least 3. This will be your actual cash spent.
- Be prepared. If you can’t be prepared, then make sure you pit next to people who are prepared. Of course, you can’t possibly be prepared for every situation you may be forced to face, but a little bit of planning up front saves a lot of stress when you’re struggling to get to the grid on time. True, some people can get away with bringing a roll of racer’s tape and a can of WD-40, but that’s because these same people spent all their money on a 50’ enclosed trailer with wet bar. It’s OK to pit next to them, too.
- Entrust the race car keys to the crew chief (I know, I know – real race cars don’t have keys). Oh yea – make sure Ed the crew chief (that’s just a made-up name, of course) doesn’t leave the keys at the hotel front desk while loading up both hands with free continental breakfast muffins. If he does, keep in mind the round-trip drive from Mansfield to Lexington, Ohio can be made in under 30 minutes.
- If you bolt on rain tires, it will not rain. If you bolt on the race tires, it will rain. Solution? Try mounting race tires on one side of the car and rain tires on the opposite side before you grid. For even more fun, try racing with this set up. Then fire your crew chief for letting you try.
- Race tires on wet grass do not have a coefficient of friction (see #6), the carousel tire wall at Mid-Ohio is a lot closer than one would imagine, and Saturn body panels really do bounce right back, just like in the commercials.
Did it work for us? Well, going into 1997 our team of 30 or so volunteers and 1 race car had just about zero racing experience. Somehow, we survived, car and all, and ended up having more fun than we thought possible. Our end-of-season results sheet read something like this:
- 8 Regional races, 1 Pole, 6 top 3 finishes
- 1 National race, 1 National point
- …and we didn’t crash too badly
Proof that it can be done, except we had to multiply our original budget by 5, not 3. Just don’t tell Dana that!
So, thanks for reading along. Hopefully this article either a) made you laugh or b) made you cry or c) convinced you that Solo II is the way to go.
In closing, look for team scR to step up to the SSC National circuit in 1998. We’ll be the ones in the little white Saturn with a really big ‘R’ on the door. Stop by and say hello – we’re never short on conversation or useless bits of trivia (just ask Tony something). Or better yet, e-mail team scR directly at teamscR@flash.net. We look forward to hearing from you. See you at the track!