Dateline: Thursday, October 5, 2023

Second-place result?
Look deeper and realize…
a first-place season.

Q: It’s been more than two months since Indy. What gives?

A: Sorry, but I needed some time to think about this one. And I needed to finish a book I was reading.

Q: A book? I didn’t know you were a reader.

A: Well, generally I am not, but more about that later.

Q: I’m guessing from the delay (and the Haiku) that you guys didn’t win the 2023 SRO GT4 America Pro/Am Championship?

A: No, we did not win the Championship. We missed it by a single point.

Much as I love Indy, it’s been a very one-sided relationship.

Q: But didn’t you have a 19-point lead going into the weekend?

A: We did. Then this happened:

Either I am pointed in the wrong direction here, or the rest of the entire field is.

Q: So, you needed some time to decompress before writing? Is that it?

A: Well, that was the idea. In the months since the race, I have started writing this newsletter three separate times. Each time, though, I felt like it was going in a decidedly pessimistic direction. So, three times in a row, I stepped back, put it aside, and collected my thoughts for a while. I just could not break out of the negativity that I took home with me from Indiana.

But this time was going to be different! Surrounded by the sights, sounds, and other remarkable joys of Christmas Day and the New Year that followed, I felt like I had the proper perspective and could, with honor, kindness, humility, and grace, share the story of our incredible 2023 journey! Yes, there was going to be a melancholy ending to the season, but I thought that I could finally put the proper positive spin on the whole affair.

Q: You are talking in the past tense.

A: Yes, because immediately before sitting down in front of the computer to write this, my son Zachary (“the teenager” who is now 21 years old) creamed me in a game of Scrabble that I should have won hands-down. And while it’s probably bad form to let a silly board game cast a dark veil over the day of Jesus’ birth, well, here I am. And thus, here comes the final newsletter of 2023, completely unfiltered.

That’s 737 combined points on the board. But second place once again.

Q: Well, this should be entertaining.

A: I’ll try to not be too negative about it, but I need to start by venting about how we got unceremoniously crashed out of the first race on Lap 3 by an anonymous competitor who drove into our left-rear fender at the exit of Turn 7, breaking the axle in half while spinning the car around a full 360 degrees. I won’t name names, but the image below might give you a clue about 1) who may have been involved and 2) what I think of their race craft.

Image taken directly from the NBC Sports live feed.

Q: Is that a cruise missile?

A: Yes.

Q: Oh. That’s pretty direct.

A: It’s unfiltered.

Q: So, in the first race y’all got how many points?

A: That would be zero. And it gets even better. Our closest competitors, Matt Travis and Jason Hart in the #47 Porsche, finished the race in second place while we got towed back to the paddock with a broken axle. Which netted them a solid 18 points in the standings to our goose egg.

So much broken stuff. The crew was far, far too busy this weekend.

Q: So, with one race to go you were leading the Championship by one point?

A: One point. 181 (us) to 180 (them). It could not have been any closer.

Q: Since we already know the ending here, was there anything positive to say about how the second race played out?

A: No, not really. It wasn’t our most heroic drive, but Tyler and I did move up from 17th overall / 10th in class to 9th overall / 6th in class at the checkered flag. The problem was that Matt and Jason finished 8th overall / 5th in class in their Porsche, giving them the one extra point they needed to claim the 2023 SRO GT4 America Pro/Am Championship, 189 (us) to 190 (them). It could not have been any closer.

The points speak for themselves, unfortunately.

Q: What are you taking away from this weekend as a positive? I’m trying to give you some softballs here.

A: Besides the fact that we lost the Championship by one point?

Q: Yes, besides that.

A: < thinking >

Well, we had incredible friends from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana all come out to cheer us on. That was awesome and should not be trivialized. Thank you! And I finally got to tour the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, so I checked that item off of my bucket list. And…well…that’s all I got. We lost the Championship by one freaking point.

Walking to the stage with Tyler to receive our runner-up trophies at the SRO Gala.

Q: Oh, come on. Second place isn’t THAT bad.

A: I’m going to stay unfiltered for just a moment longer, here. It actually IS that bad if you had a legitimate shot at first place. This would have been my first championship in 27 years of this ridiculous sport. I had never been closer. So, give me a little space to be disgruntled.

But we went to the Gala like we were supposed to, accepted our trophy semi-graciously, thanked the Academy, and proceeded to get moderately drunk somewhere in downtown Indianapolis that I don’t remember. Because, as you suggested, second place isn’t THAT bad.

Moderately drunk. Only moderately. Yet I have no idea where we were.

On the topic of the Gala, I do have to give a big shout out here to Matt who, in leading off his Championship acceptance speech said some very, very kind things about me, Tyler, and the entire BimmerWorld effort. Of course, he then immediately adopted his Talladega Nights alter-ego and said something to the effect of, “Winners get paid, Winners get laid!” While that’s not exactly my style, he and Jason earned those trophies and the right to channel his inner Rickey Bobby one more time, I suppose.

Q: How about an epilogue? You can’t end on that note.

A: Well, we did have this follow-on event a few weeks ago where BMW corralled up all of their customer race teams for some end-of-year recognition. It was there in Munich that we were reminded once again that we lost the Championship by one point. But I got a nice little glass trophy and a keychain, so, you know, it softened the blow.

Notably, Tyler and I did not get any trophies with a ‘1’ printed on them.

Q: But that sounds like it should have been a lot of fun.

A: If I were to stop being so grumpy for a minute, I would agree with you. Hanging with Tyler, James, and Charlie in Munich for 48 hours was simply fantastic, but sitting for hour after hour after hour at the Munich airport during a record 80-year snowfall event was a tribulation surpassed only by United’s surprise rerouting of my Houston flight to Newark at two o’clock in the morning. It was an epic travel fiasco.

Oh, and then there was the rogue fire alarm at 3 A.M. Sunday morning which forced us all outside into the sub-zero temperatures, an experience made so much more enjoyable by my emergent hangover which had not yet developed into a proper hangover. That wasn’t so much fun, either.

Q: I hope there was some good German beer responsible for that emergent hangover.

A: Heck yes. But to be fair, we only got moderately drunk. Again. Well, except for James, Tyler, and Charlie. And, come to think of it, is Charlie still partying at that Rave next to the hotel?

< pausing to check text messages >

Seriously, has anybody heard from Charlie? Do we need to go back to rescue him?

Did I mention we drank a lot of good German beer?

Q: Seems like you packed a lot of good stuff into a quick trip overseas.

A: There actually was so much more. I didn’t even get to mention the clandestine trip on the subway without tickets, Charlie trying to sell his dog food to our new friends on the subway, the snowball fight, Charlie falling asleep adjacent to his bed, Charlie waking up adjacent to his bed, Charlie not remembering being adjacent to his bed either asleep or awake, the second snowball fight, rationing the bathroom tokens (this, my friends, is the most terrifying part about Europe in general), Ubering to the airport at 130 MPH in the snow, James unknowingly buying a round of non-alcoholic beer after the bar had closed, or Charlie partying at the Rave next to the hotel.

Q: You actually did already mention Charlie partying at the Rave next to the hotel.

A: Have you heard from Charlie? Do we need to go back to rescue him?

Q: Now that we’re finally heading in a positive direction, why don’t you circle back around to the book you mentioned?

A: And that’s a proper thing to do here. Because I really don’t want to brood any more on second place.

The book was called Never Stop Driving. It was given to me as a gift by a friend, was written by a friend, and references, quotes, and shares the stories of several dozen other mutual friends. Thumbing through its pages caused me on several occasions to ponder the overlapping circles that compose my personal Venn Diagram of car guys. And that made me smile more than once.

But then the book literally came to life for me the week after Indy when about a dozen of us gathered to simply “play with our cars” (there is no other way to truthfully represent what we were doing). I had known a few of the guys in the group for more than 25 years, but some I had only met at the dinner table the night before. But it didn’t matter from which circle they came from on my personal Venn Diagram of car guys – we were in the middle of the Smoky Mountains for three days with nothing to think about except a steering wheel and a squiggly line on a navigation app. No stopwatches, no egos, no competition. Just a bunch of car guys celebrating the culture of driving and the organic bonds created along the way. And it was therapeutic beyond belief.

Meet one of the circles on my personal Venn Diagram of car guys.

The roads were spectacular, the food was delicious, the driving was fantastic, and I managed to completely forget about finishing second place in the championship (ok, that’s complete bullshit, but it works in context with the rest of this paragraph, so stay with me, folks). Not that this group would have given me any sympathy about that anyhow, as all know the thrill of victory as well as the agony of defeat. You do this sort of thing long enough and you’ll receive an equal measure of both, right?

And that’s sort where I need to come down on this. Second place sucks only because we are a legitimate first-place team. I am so thankful for everyone in the BimmerWorld camp for making this, without a doubt, the most successful, if not the most enjoyable, season I have ever spent racing. Daniel, Tyler, James, Charlie, Michael, Zach, Dave, Dave, Dave (we have a lot of Daves), Wayne, Rich, Steve, Bob, John, Austin, Carrie, Jason, and everyone that I am forgetting, I love y’all. Thank you for making 2023 so very, very special for me.

Q: Wow. That’s an amazing string of positivity from you! But aren’t you forgetting to thank somebody?

A: For sure. Why Dana lets me do this year after year after year boggles the mind. While it’s not sensible that I continue to do this, it’s far less sensible that she goes along for the ride. So, can everyone please send Dana a personal e-mail thanking her for allowing all of us to continue with this madness? I’m sure she will appreciate it. Well, maybe.

Q: Does that mean you are continuing with this madness?

A: It does, but details on the QT for the time being. As a preview, I think next year’s theme will be, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in your shoe.” Stay tuned for more information.

HK wants that championship in 2024!

Q: And now, before you wrap this whole thing up, how did the Instagram competition end up with your dog Axle?

A: It depends on who is counting the votes. As it turns out, our entire family was actually discussing this during a layover at the Chicago airport a few days ago. I was rather boastfully commenting on how I had recently passed the 300-follower mark when Shelby snatched my phone to verify this. She proceeded to jump to the conclusion that many of my followers were “bots” and subsequently took it upon herself to delete any accounts that she deemed to be fraudulent, inappropriate, or generally not of human origin or descent.

Turns out that she flushed nearly one-third of my followers. In spite of this fact, @teamscr34 still holds a narrow lead over @axle_sweet_magoo by a count of 214 to 197. Fragile at best, but at least I didn’t come in second place once again in 2023.

Thank you so much for following along this season. See you at the track!

#82 GT4
@teamscR34 <- click here to follow us!
@axle_sweet_magoo <- click here to follow the dog!