Dateline: Thursday, March 30, 2023
Welcome to the second celebration of the 25th anniversary of scR motorsports! And while so far it pretty closely resembles the first celebration of the 25th anniversary of scR motorsports, don’t be fooled by what you read in the press. There’s a bit of fake news out there obscuring just how strongly our 2023 GT4 America Pro/Am championship campaign has begun.
Q: I’m just glad to you finally got around to writing a newsletter. It has been a while.
A: Me too. But this has given me ample opportunity to thoughtfully reflect on our 2022 campaign. Of course, every time I think back to last year, this is basically where I end up:
An impressionistic rendering of our 2022 season-ending race at Indianapolis.
Q: That’s funny but mean. Didn’t Tom Capizzi actually apologize for that?
A: Sure, he did, and I completely appreciate it. But he’s no longer racing in the series, so I feel like I can throw a few darts his way. Although now that I think this through, he’s still on the newsletter distribution. I’ll tread lightly. For now.
Q: So, how did Sonoma go last week? That’s the headline, right?
A: Slow down! We have not yet had the grand reveal of our 2023 livery.
The grand reveal of our 2023 livery. Ta-dah!
Q: Wow. That’s a pretty, um, busy graphics package, there.
A: I can’t say you’re wrong. But I love it. Insert overused hands-forming-a-heart-emoji here. The idea was, in part, to pay homage to some scR vintage hardware. We have historically run reds, blacks, grays, and whites, and this is like, well, all of that thrown in a blender along with some Red Line Oil logos. Set to frappe. And then we slapped a big honking Texas flag on the roof.
A: Because God Bless Texas. That’s why.
The grand re-reveal of our 2023 livery. Ta-dah!
Q: Independent of the, ah, frenetic assortment of trapezoids, this racecar looks different from last year’s.
A: Ah, yes. This is the all-new G82 M4 GT4.
Q: What’s the G82 mean?
A: That’s BMW code-speak for “It has an insanely large nose.”
Q: Well, I like how you have disguised that with all the black vinyl around the grille openings.
A: Not an accident. But if all that air entering the radiator does not eliminate the old F82 M4 GT4’s chronic overheating, nothing will.
Q: What’s the F82 mean?
A: That it did not have an insanely large nose.
Q: Besides the insanely large nose, what else does the new racecar bring to the table?
A: All of the usual things that are promised when a new racecar is homologated: more reliability, better handling, increased tire life, improved aerodynamics, simplified maintenance, a completely legit swan-neck rear wing, and easier chassis adjustments. Oh, and upgraded air conditioning which will self-destruct if you actually use it, so DON’T TOUCH THAT BUTTON UNTIL WE GET THE UPDATE FROM BMW, JAMES.
This is me reminding Tyler to turn off the air conditioning lest it catastrophically disintegrates.
Q: Wait minute. Tyler? Who’s Tyler?
A: Mr. Tyler McQuarrie will have either the pleasure or burden of sharing #82 with me this season. I’m sure he will let us know sometime mid-season which descriptor is most apt. He has been a professional racecar driver for decades and has picked up a championship or two along the way, and while I would love to brag him up at greater length, go ahead and Google him for yourself – that’s what the internet is for. But truth be told, that’s not really why he is here.
Q: So why is he here?
A: Because, fair readers, this season we have goals. And I’m not talking about some cheesy little “Let’s go win a championship!” kind of goals. I’m talking about things that matter. Things that count. Things that transcend the sport itself and can potentially change the very world around us. I’m baring my soul here and perhaps getting a little too personal, but it’s time for real change. And Tyler has been hand-selected to lead me through that change.
Are you ready for this?
Q: No. But keep going.
A: Ok, then. Deep breath. My singular goal is…to attract more Instagram followers than my dog by the end of the season. There – I’ve said it! Oh, it feels so good to get that out in the open. The shackles have been tossed aside!
Q: Your dog has an Instagram account? Really?
A: Yeah, he does. Of course, Shelby is the real mastermind behind the operation. Either way, people seem to want to follow him. Whatever that means. I mean he’s cute and all, but he’s a dog. This is perplexing to me, but I am seeking to understand. My mind is open. Lead me, Tyler.
Poor guy has no idea of the celebrity status he has attained.
Q: You realize that everyone is going to start following your dog now, right?
A: Calculated risk, but I have Tyler in my corner. I mean, he rides his mountain bike and POW, it’s on Instagram. He’s at his son’s basketball game and WHAM, it’s all over Facebook. He cruises with the family in the Grand Prix and POOF, there’s a new story. Or is it a reel? I still get them confused, but I mean, whatever, this is pro stuff! If he can’t help me, nobody can.
Q: How many followers do each of you have, exactly?
[Note that I’m not entirely sure I used the @ symbol there in the proper way, but I’m trying.]
So happy that Daniel has come back to take care of our ride in 2023!
Q: So far this newsletter is as busy as your racecar’s graphics. Any other goals you care to share with us?
A: Well, since you asked, back in January Mr. Clay challenged me to a “weight bet” where we were both to give up alcohol for three months in an attempt to lose 20 pounds (each, not collectively) before race season began.
Q: And how did that turn out for you?
A: I cheated. Slightly. And lost the bet. But there’s always next season. Let’s not discuss this any further.
Sent to Mr. Clay from Epcot’s relatively authentic German Biergarten.
Q: Looks like Disney World was part of your downfall. Was that part of your pre-season training?
A: Indeed, it was. Dana and I even held an off-season strategy meeting with our unofficial official team mascot.
Dana gets full credit for this picture. Note the team colors.
Q: Can we finally get around to the racing?
A: Yeah, let’s go there. Last weekend was our season-opening event at Sonoma Raceway. You know, the track that historically hates BMWs. Doesn’t matter if it’s an F82, a G82, or a Q82, it’s a circuit that simply does not favor racecars with a Roundel on the hood. That said, we walked away from Sonoma with our best-ever northern California points tally and a booster shot of optimism for the rest of the season.
Oh, and I set a personal best in qualifying. With significant traffic, even. So, while the new #82 might still be a BMW, it sure seems like a better BMW thus far.
If you stare at it for a while, it doesn’t get any less busy. But your eyes might water.
Q: A personal best in qualifying? That’s pretty solid. Where did that put you on the grid?
A: Let’s set the table, first. This was the opening round of the GT4 America series, and a total of 42 cars were entered for the event. In case you are wondering, that is a LOT. Like last year, the cars are divided up into three separate categories based on driver rankings. Entries in the “Silver” category are piloted by two professional racecar drivers. Entries in the “Am” category are piloted by two amateur drivers. And entries in the “Pro/Am” category combine one professional driver (that’s Tyler) and one amateur driver (that’s me). All of the racecars are identical in specification and balance of performance, so in theory (this part makes me laugh) the mechanical performance potential of all 42 entries should be similar, if not identical.
Please pause while I laugh for a minute.
OK. I’m done laughing. This past weekend we were competing against 16 other Pro/Am teams. I qualified first and managed to lay down a 1:47.4 which really should have been a lowish 1:46 had there not been a slower car obstructing all of turns 9 and 9A on my flier lap. Nevertheless, this was enough to place me 8th in class and 18th overall. Nothing to write home about on its own, but we knew that we were easily fast enough to have been up around 3rd or 4th in class.
This is Tyler trying to explain the difference between @ and # during qualifying.
Q: How did Tyler fare in his qualifying session?
A: Eerily similar. His 1:45.9 was his best of the weekend, and when stacked up against the pointy end of the field it was enough for 8th in class and 13th overall. But like my effort, his true rolling fast lap would have put him up several additional spots on the grid had the opportunity presented itself.
Q: Hey, last year you hyperlinked your lap times to the online data. Why aren’t you doing that here?
A: Because this year, our sanctioning body changed the way they handle timing, scoring, and session data. It’s equal parts terrible and useless. So, I simply don’t have anything meaningful to link to. Sorry about that, data nerds. Grab your pitchforks and torches and go storm the SRO castle.
Q: Well then, how did the races play out?
A: Oh, the races. Yeah, those were, well, a hot mess. Between the two days, I saw a total of five green flag laps. Five! This has inspired me to throw down some old-school scR motorsports lamentation-style Haiku.
Frantic energy, unleashed?
Nah. We parade. Sigh.
Q: More Haiku? I thought we were over that.
A: Sorry, but until I actually get to race somebody this year, the Haiku is here to stay.
On Saturday, the race started at approximately 4:50:00 P.M. At 4:50:18 P.M. there was a three-car incident in Turn 2. I was fortunate enough to avoid the fiasco but lost a few places in the melee that ensued. I gained back two or three positions pretty quickly, but then the YFS (that’s the dreaded yellow flag syndrome) began its infectious spread.
Once the messes were finally cleaned up about 30 minutes later, I handed off the car to Tyler sitting in 6th place in class. He did the best with what he had, but with so little time remaining and a few caution laps of his own, he brought #82 home in 6th place in class and something like 11th place overall.
At least, that’s how I remember it. I would normally reference the handy race position chart to make sure I had that right, but did I mention that the new timing, scoring, and session data is equal parts terrible and useless? So, I honestly don’t remember exactly how it went down, but I am pretty confident that we got a 6th place finish out of the deal. In any case, I really hope you didn’t spend the time to watch it live.
There’s a 006 on the digital display board, so let’s go with that.
Q: Wow. That thing does have an insanely large nose.
A: True story.
Here’s Axle unknowingly doing a G82 M4 GT4 impersonation.
Q: Sunday’s race was more of the same?
A: Oh no, it was worse. But then better. But then worse again.
Tyler got off to a great start and pounded around in 6th place before the YFS flared up again. Apparently, it can lay dormant overnight. But to our good fortune, Tyler managed to keep his nose clean (and as you know, that’s a tall order with a nose that large) such that when I took the wheel with something like 20 minutes to go, we were sitting squarely in 3rd place in class. That’s something!
And then, more YFS. Two laps into my stint the entire track went yellow and that’s how the race would end. Under full-course yellow. Now normally that would have resulted in a 3rd place finish, which would have been s-w-e-e-t. But no. That’s not the end of this story.
Somehow at the very end of the race, while under the full-course yellow, three Pro/Am competitors running well behind us were able to pull into the pits and re-enter the race in front of the entire field. This effectively moved the cars running in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd back to 4th, 5th, and 6th during the caution period. Don’t ask me to rationalize that or provide any additional detail, but know that it makes me very, very grumpy. Do you have a spare pitchfork or torch that I can borrow? I have a castle to storm.
Q: That doesn’t seem right.
A: Because it isn’t right. But that’s how it went down. And because the race never went green again, we never had the opportunity to regain our position. And just like that, our podium finish became a 6tth place trophy (I’m just kidding, you don’t actually get a trophy for 6th place).
Q: But come on, a pair of 6th place finishes in a BMW at Sonoma really isn’t all that bad.
A: And that’s the truth of it. We ran hard, stayed clean, and were relevant at a track that really isn’t supposed to treat us very well. So yes, this was a huge weekend for us with great results even if we were rudely knocked off of the podium at the end.
#sonomaturnthree #bmwm4gt4 #morefollowersthanmydog
Q: What does the rest of the race season calendar look like?
A: You can check it out at teamscR.com, but if that’s too complicated, here’s the full seven-round, 2023 SRO GT4 America season-at-a-glance.
|April 1-2||Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, California|
|April 29-30||NOLA Motorsports Park, Avondale, Louisiana|
|May 20-21||Circuit of the Americas (COTA), Austin, Texas|
|June 17-18||VIRginia International Raceway, Alton, Virginia|
|August 19-20||Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin|
|September 23-24||Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Florida|
|October 7-8||Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, Indiana|
Q: Looks like last year, but somebody swapped out COTA for Watkins Glen?
A: Correct. And while I might not fancy COTA as much as the Glen, this gives the Houston hometown crowd a chance to come out and be a part of the fun. If you’re in the great state of Texas that weekend, here’s your personal invitation to come out and join us in the paddock! It would be amazing to have you there with us.
Here’s Jason (or J-Dog, as he prefers) signing up to follow Axle on Instagram.
Q: Final question if I may. Where do you stand in the Pro/Am championship?
A: Well, I would love to tell you, but the new timing, scoring, and session data is equal parts terrible and useless. I may have already mentioned that. We still have not yet seen a final results sheet from Sunday’s race let alone a table of the current Pro/Am championship points. So, in short, I have no idea where we rank compared to the other 16 teams out there, but I am confident that we are in neither first nor last place.
See you at the track!