Dateline: March 26, 2019
So, it has been about one week now since the concrete wall in Turn 9A made a significant impact (I’m here all week, folks) on our inaugural TCR racing season. While this wasn’t exactly how the team had planned to head into our six-week break prior to VIR, we have not lost sight of the TCR Championship and have a plan in place to arrive at VIR faster and stronger than before. To this end, a large cast of characters is owed a great deal of thanks. Thanks are also due to the hundreds of people that have reached out with an encouraging word, an uplifting thought, or an offer to assist. I have done my very best to reply individually to each and every one, as I have been flattered and humbled by the support.
What follows below is a compilation of the most universal, humorous, and insightful sound bites that have transpired from this experience. As a bonus, I have sprinkled the text with some new photos of the weekend before, well, the wall thing happened. Enjoy!
Q: Do you know what exactly went wrong?
A: Yeah. I brushed a wall that I should not have brushed. Disaster ensued. I’m not going to do that again. Promise.
This is me not hitting a wall. Love that glowing front rotor.
Q: Is this the end of scR motorsports? (submitted optimistically by my mom)
A: Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
Q: How exactly are you feeling?
A: My favorite response (I have been given a LOT of opportunities to answer this one) has been, “Better than I deserve to.” However, that reply belittles the fact that dozens of people are directly responsible for having made this potentially disastrous experience one that has been remarkably tranquil and serene. I can’t list everyone here, but the adult overnight supervision (Al), the chauffeur service (Tony), the fruit basket (the SRO staff), the deft hands of the surgeon (Dr. McCullouch), and even the lady that had to partially shave my chest before surgery (totally forgot her name, but hey, I was heavily sedated) all made the foreseeably difficult times so much easier to process.
Q: Your chest is partially shaved?
A: And my right armpit. Talk about collateral damage! About 25% of my entire frontal area, and a similar area on my back, needed to be trimmed away for the surgery. Which was kind of overkill, in my humble opinion, since the actual incision was only about four inches long and about one inch wide. I won’t include an image of myself following the shave (that’s something nobody needs to see), but if you have ever taken in a favorite pet for surgery, you get the picture. No muscle shirts for James this summer.
Warning: you’re probably considering Googling “male shaved chest” right now. Don’t. There’s some disturbing stuff out there.
Q: Wait, you would normally wear a muscle shirt? THAT sounds disturbing.
A: No. But it’s reassuring to know I don’t have to make that decision for a while.
This is me not hitting a wall again. What a great-looking car it was.
Q: Where is the x-ray of the titanium plate installed in your collarbone?
A: I don’t have one of those yet. But clearly it needs to be included in a future newsletter. I did ask the surgeon if he could somehow laser-etch a little Hello Kitty somewhere on the plate. He then mentioned something about me obviously being heavily sedated.
Q: What does Dana think about all of this?
A: I truly don’t deserve that woman! Naturally, she was the first one I called from the trackside medical facility. I knew that she and the kids had been watching the race live and would be expecting my call. The thumbs-up out the window was purely to let them know I was OK before I could find a phone, so thankfully she was not in a complete panic when I was finally able to talk with her.
This is me almost hitting the car next to me. But notably, not a wall.
Q: She must think you are nuts.
A: That wasn’t a question.
Like anyone that lives with an addict, she knows what she is up against. She was there 22 years ago when scR motorsports was first created and has supported me every step of the way. That’s not to be confused with her being thrilled by the fact that I am completely consumed by this hobby, but beyond reason she has accepted that this is who I am and this is what I do. So much, in fact, that her very first text message to me that night before we talked simply read, “If you continue to crash into walls, you’re not allowed to race anymore.” Which sounds to me like she loves me in spite of me.
Q: Have you seen the car yet?
A: Following my surgery on Wednesday morning, the nurse gave clear instructions to head straight home, go straight to bed, and consume a liquid diet for at least 12 hours until the anesthesia wore off. Which, of course, meant that Tony and I went straight to Chick-fil-a for lunch and headed to the Risi race shop afterwards to inventory the damage.
I won’t lie, it’s pretty jacked up. But looking at it with my engineering hat on, the car performed perfectly in protecting me from the violence of the crash. So while everything forward of the firewall is toast, the occupant compartment (or the tub, as it’s known) is virtually perfect. All of the doors open and close like nothing ever happened. The roof and floor appear to be completely undamaged. Heck, the windshield didn’t even crack. Which is all a testament to how well-designed and well-executed the little Giulietta TCR really is.
I might have mentioned it before, but the people at Romeo Ferraris put me in an incredibly fast racecar. But they also put me in an incredibly safe racecar. Mario, thank you once again for taking such good care of your drivers.
Another major award!
Q: Does this mean you can fix it?
A: Definitely maybe. But not in time for the next race at VIR. The Risi crew is already compiling a parts list to see just what will it take to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if the car is not returned to active duty before the end of the season. Mark and Miles are miracle workers.
Q: So will you miss VIR?
A: Barring unforeseen circumstances, no. Risi already had a second car ordered and on the way, so the most sensible plan is to turn that car into #34 for VIR. Lots of moving parts here, but assuming that my collarbone heals up as planned, we should have a brand-new car ready to go.
Q: Back to your collarbone. Is it healing up as planned?
A: Amazingly, yes. It’s less than a week after my surgery, and I have already weaned myself off of the heavy pain pills. In fact, the collarbone itself is virtually pain-free. It’s only the bruising that continues to give me a hard time. As long as I don’t laugh or cough, I’m fine.
Q: Where do you sit in the championship?
A: That depends on who you ask. The online results indicate we are in fifth place overall, but in talking with SRO this afternoon there will be an adjustment made shortly to differentiate between the TCR class and the DSG CUP class. By the new accounting, it seems like we will be in third place, 19 points out of first place. That’s easily made up in the course of one successful weekend. We’re still in the hunt with three-quarters of the season still in front of us.
Kind of ironic that my digital display board reads “WAL,” right?
Q: What do you think about the VW Bros?
A: They seem to be a class act. Following the crash, both wandered over to the trailer to see if I was around for a word of encouragement. Finding that I wasn’t there, they both reached out to me on Monday and made sure that they passed along well wishes. That doesn’t mean we’re going to show them any less pace at VIR, but it is kind of cool having a level of respect there that transcends the on-track interaction.
Q: Should we expect an update before VIR?
A: Most likely. But who knows. Once we have a plan in place, you will be the first to know.
Q: What time will you be racing at VIR?
A: On Saturday, April 27 we take the green flag around 3:55 PM EDT. On Sunday, April 28 we take the green flag around 3:15 PM EDT. At least, I think those times are EDT. Virginia is EDT, right? Don’t trust me on that one.
For the full weekend schedule, just click here. Like all of our races, you can check out the live streaming through the portal here.
See you at the track!