Dateline: April 21, 2017
Is this thing on?
*tap tap tap*
Welcome back, fans, family, and followers of scR motorsports! It has been a LONG while since our last newsletter update, but here we are ready to fire this thing back up for Act III. But first, a brief scR motorsports historical montage to refresh your memory and get you back up to speed…
As our long-time followers will recall, scR motorsports first turned a wheel in the spring of 1997. That’s right, exactly 20 years ago. Competing in the SCCA’s Showroom Stock C category, our brand-new (and leased – how did we ever get away with that??) white 1997 Saturn SC2 was our entry into organized road racing, culminating with an *almost* top-ten finish at the Runoffs at Mid-Ohio in 1998. We learned, we grew, we figured out how to compete, and we, ahem, never won a race. But #34 was christened and the legend began to take shape.
Switching to the Improved Touring A category in 1999 brought with it a whole host of changes. Like a new car. And high expectations. And a blown motor at Road America in our grand debut (timing chain literally into the hood, if you recall). And then there was that whole separate back story about running out of gas in the tow vehicle on the trip back home. Our inauspicious start was not a foreshadowing of things to come, however, as multiple class victories and *almost* track records gave us hope that every weekend we had something to fight for. Wearing the now-famous #34, the red 1992 Saturn SC competed valiantly for five years until…disaster struck.
Babies. Too many babies. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. I suppose that someday I will forgive them, but at the time moving on was the right thing to do. If I say that enough will I eventually believe it like my therapist says I will?
With the sale of the ITA car on Saturday, March 13, 2004 at 11:31 AM (roughly) came an influx of street cars used to “keep my skills fresh” while attending and instructing at a variety of high-performance driving schools. A diagnosis of automotive ADD is fully really realized when looking backwards, as evidenced by the eclectic chronology that played out:
2003 : A Subaru WRX hatchback
2004 : A Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (my first truly “fast” car)
2005-2007 : The dark years (this, my friends, was painful)
2008 : Discovered the magic of a 997 GT3 (my Renaissance period)
2009 : Bummed a ride in both a Spec E30 (thanks again, Robert!) and Spec Miata (thanks again, John!) at Road Atlanta
2010-2015 : The Porsche GT3 RS era
2011-2014 : The Saturn ChumpCar era (thanks again, Mark!)
2013 : Almost died racing a 1968 McLaren M6B CanAm car at Laguna Seca (thanks again, Bob!)
2015-2016 : Learned to speak Italian when the Germans bailed on me (see also, end of Porsche GT3 era)
Clearly I am leaving out lots of detail, but I owe a huge THANK YOU to everyone that loaned me a car, rented me a seat, or otherwise kept my racing aspirations properly incubated. Act II wasn’t racing as I had known in the past, but the limited time I was able to spend at the track during this period kept me from doing anything drastic for the better part of 13 years.
But now it’s time for something drastic. Much to the chagrin of my wife, my mother, my small business advisor, my insurance guy, and my own common sense, it’s time to go racing again. In earnest. And this time, we’re not fielding a Saturn.
Through a variety of unexpected opportunities and experiences, I have somehow found myself in a position to compete in the 2017 Ferrari Challenge series. Thankfully, I have two decades of Saturn racing experience in my back pocket to prepare me for this, right? Fun fact: the 458 Challenge racecar that I just bought makes as much power in two of its eight cylinders as the Saturn ITA motor made. Ever…even with all of those illegal modifications I never fessed up about (sorry, Chris).
The elevator speech is that the 458 Challenge racecar is a purpose-built creation not legal for use on public roads, but is based on the road-going Ferrari 458 Italia. About 570 horsepower, about 2,950 pounds, and about as far from a Saturn as you can imagine. And then, six times per year, the people nuts enough to buy them get together and race each other at some of the most famous racetracks in the country.
While the racecar is still making its way to Houston, preparations are already being made for the first race of the season (more on this immediately below). Since I have absolutely no spare time to tend to the care and feeding of a proper racecar, my local dealer, Ferrari of Houston, will be supporting me in this endeavor. Racing under the Risi Competizione banner, they are considered by many to be the premier Ferrari race team in North America. I have not yet determined if they will be willing to accept dinner at Outback Steakhouse and/or dessert at Dairy Queen as reimbursement for their services, but you know I am going to try. It’s a tradition, after all.
May 12-14 at Mazda Raceway (the track formerly known as Laguna Seca) in Monterey, California
June 9-11 at Circuit Gilles Villenueve in Montreal, Canada (Formula 1 support race)
July 14-16 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (the track formerly known as Mosport) in Toronto, Canada
August 11-13 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
September 15-17 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas (our current “home” track)
September 29-October 1 at Homestead in Miami, Florida
Q: Will the new car bear #34?
A: Do you have to ask?
Q: What does Dana think about all of this?
A: Do you have to ask?
Q: Seriously, you’re going racing again? (submitted anonymously by my mom)
A: Aren’t the grandkids soooo cute in their Easter church clothes?
Countdown to Laguna Seca
Preparing in earnest for racing for the first time in 13 years has brought back vivid memories of just how much there is to do in preparing for a race season. Licenses need to be renewed, physicals need to be performed, equipment needs to be purchased, travel plans need to be made, and then there is the whole deal about having a racecar ready to go when the green flag flies. Whether or not this ends up as a triumphant return or a complete train wreck is yet to be seen, but no matter. Let’s go have some fun behind the wheel.
See you at the track!