Saturday, April 30, 2022

Lemons Race Weekend With A Bunch of Idiots: Sunday!

    Brian brings #287 off track at the end of the race

Sunday's racing at CMP started with 2 hours on track, followed by 1 hour off when all cars have to be off track (Quiet Hour), and then racing again from noon to 4:30PM. I got to be the first driver, so after getting on track a few minutes before the green flag, the car was still feeling good, full of fuel, and I was hoping to finish all, or most of the first 2 hours. 

    Bunch of Idiots swap drivers as the tow truck brings in another car

    Belt change in 20 minutes on a hot engine? Kyle says "No problem!"

    Luke heads back towards the track

I drove the entire time up to Quiet Hour, but part of that is because there was oil spilled on track some time after the first hour, and it was spread out enough that for safety reasons we all had to come back to the pits. That enabled me to get out of the car and cool down a bit, and eventually it turned out that there was too much mess on the track to get it cleaned up before the mandatory break, so that was the end of that session. During this session I think I kept us in about 25th place or wherever we started on Sunday, and if so then I'm pretty happy about that. Oh, that's because I earned another black flag Sunday morning, but this one was pretty simple and only had me talking to a third different judge for a short time. After getting back on track I just relaxed and backed off a bit, and stayed away from the black flag disease. Oh, there was a close call once when I was passing another car, and as I went past the worker station threw up a black flag with a car number (to identify which car the flag was for.) Believe it or not, the number sign was kind of flapping in the wind and all I saw was two digits, 28, which is what the Bunch of Idiots car starts with (287), but I also saw that the car I'd just passed was #28, so I was about 100% sure that the flag was for  him! Whew!

    Track sweeper on the tractor, job well done!

    Brian and Luke return to paddock after Kyle got in the car at a fuel stop

After my drive, Luke, Kyle, and Brian all took their stints (way faster than me of course) and steadily moved up, and the Bunch of Idiots ended in 12th overall, and 8th in Class A. Those three guys are used to battling for top 3, so you can tell I slowed them down, ands I'm just happy they let me join the team one time!

    One of the faster cars on track, the "Moldy Carlo"

    Sunset at Carolina Motorsports Park. One of the teams goes by the name Duff Beer Racing

    This car was a sort of Back to the Future Delorean, I liked the sticker the best

    We got one of our "___ Is For Suckers" stickers on the judge's stencil

    Friday night Yokohama Lemons Block Party

Overall, I gained some experience both in driving on track and in getting black flagged, so that's good and bad! I was impressed by how all the teams generally will help each other if they need a repair or an extra part, and the folks that do these Lemons races have a great time together. We had a good weekend weather wise with no rain, it was a bit warm, but way cooler than the real heat of summer in South Carolina. Look for the further adventures of the Bunch of Idiots racing team next month in their 2nd Lucky Dog Racing League event in Atlanta.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Lemons Race Weekend With A Bunch of Idiots: Saturday!

    The Bunch of Idiots team rolls into Camden!

We had four drivers for this Lemons Race, and I'm just one of them, so here's my story!

  Remember: Themes Are For Suckers!

Thanks goodness the other three guys are faster and way more experienced than me! I say this because my lack of experienced showed with making some mistakes on track, which earned me TWO black flags on Saturday. A black flag for a driver means you done wrong, get off track, and go explain yourself to the judges. My first mistake turned out to be passing someone in the Carousel (big long sweeping right hand corner) under a yellow flag. OK, my fault, I missed seeing the yellow flag, so I got a "good talking too" from head judge Mental, and admitted it was my fault. On the inside though, the devil-racer-voice on my other shoulder was saying "WAY TO GO, PASSING IN THE LONGEST CORNER ON TRACK!" Ignore that voice is the lesson here. 

 Here's the band in action, Brian on Fire Extinguisher, Kyle on Gas Can, Luke driving and just out of the car

Black flag #2, believe it or not was in the SAME SPOT, somewhere going into the Carousel corner I was too fast, or lost concentration, or was distracted by a car (that I saw coming) about to pass car wiggled a bit and I kept it on track by going way out on the outer rumble strips, while the car behind understandably took COLLISION AVOIDANCE MANEUVER!!! and had to go off track to avoid my mistake. Again, I get the black flag, go into the pits, and to my surprise I see Judge Shellie (AKA: Shellie's House of Speed) one of our SC automotive friends. Oh boy does she have a huge grin when she sees me coming in, and proceeded to really kid me about this. Again, my fault, and my only defense was that I saw the other driver, didn't miss a flag, stayed on track, and ....ah heck, I got a black flag. So, with Judge Shellie on one side, and Judge Mental in the other window, they made me sweat a bit and threatened me with some of the crazy-embarrassing penalties for bad drivers that Lemons racing uses to get your attention.  Yep, they got my attention, just a longer "talking to" and I avoided an even longer penalty that would have kept the team off track more. Bottom line, Lemons is NOT all about racing, because SAFETY has to come first, and they do a good job of keeping dumb drivers like me safe. 

 Let's do the Pit Stop thing again!

 Brian duels with the Z car early on Saturday

So, besides that, it was a blast, and I drove from about 11:45-1:15 or so, managed to pass some cars, let some cars pass me, and did way more actual racing than my previous Lemons race. The Miata felt very solid to drive, and I continued working on being consistent and predictable in traffic, and really worked to avoid another black flag. Auto racing looks easy from the outside, but, there's a LOT of stuff going on in that car while you're gaining experience. It was getting hotter in the car, so I was turning the Cool Shirt system on, and that cold water flowing through the tubes in my Cool Shirt felt great. That didn't really stop the headache I was getting so I told the team I wanted to come in and swap drivers.

 Brian doing the Saturday night brake pad change as Luke lights it up!  

Compared to a normal track day where you drive several 20 minute sessions, or a full day of autocross where you might drive a minute long course 8 times, going full blast for an hour and a half on track with other cars is like being on another planet. Oh, very fun, just lots of things to be doing at once, and I can't wait to do it again.

 This chopped shorter Lincoln was up for auction, complete with oversized hood ornament.

Later in the day Luke spotted the car overheating and returned to the paddock, where we saw that the belt was missing, so Kyle jumped in and had a new belt on in less than 20 minutes, so Luke was back out on track. Apparently the car is eating about one belt per race, so the Bunch of Idiots are planning to just replace it for every weekend as insurance in the future. I can't imagine pulling into a dealership and getting a new belt put on in that short a time, so this is a great example of experience paying off for the team. 

    Luke back in the car

Outside the car, I tried to assist the rest of the team with refueling stops, and other odds and ends the rest of the day. After racing stopped for Saturday at 5PM, it was good to slow down a bit as Kyle and Luke worked on addressing an issue with the car where we were burning more fuel than predicted. This didn't keep us off track, so I think there were satisfied with a few tweaks to get ready for Sunday's racing. Brian mostly took over putting on new front brake pads, and we didn't even have to worry about changing tires thanks to the longevity of the Hankook RS4s that had already survived a Lucky Dog race and Friday's 4 track sessions. I have the same tires going strong on my car at home, and they've done multiple track weekends and autocross events too. 

    Brian ready to go

My goal is to report on stuff honestly here, so since I already mentioned the black flags, now I've got to say the fun part of driving was safely getting through traffic. At one point I was swapping back and forth with a pink Volvo wagon, and leading him coming out of the Carousel I was coming up on two slower cars on the next straight. They ended up leaving a gap right down the middle of the straight, so that's where I went, and I think that allowed me to get away from the Volvo for a while. After watching video from the rest of our team, they were passing that car multiple times per session, so again, I'm slow! With about 75 cars of various speeds on track, every driver has to constantly be checking their mirrors and adjusting to other cars to stay safe. We all have seen bad drivers on three lane Interstates with big lines painted on them, so just imagine a race track as kind of the same thing with no speed limits, no lines, and everyone is trying to get ahead of everyone else. 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Lemons Race Weekend With A Bunch of Idiots: Friday!

Remember: Themes Are For Suckers!

Let's just hit some highlights from last weekend with the Bunch of Idiots racing team. 
BACKGROUND: The Bunch of Idiots have been racing in 24 Hours of Lemons and Lucky Dog racing for a while now, and currently are running their 1990 1st Generation Miata. So, that's what we raced Saturday and Sunday at Carolina Motorsports Park along with 75 other crazy teams of all kinds of cars. Basically everyone is racing on track during about 7 hours per day, and most laps wins. No big rule book on engine size, car weight, etc, just a rough classification of better junky cars in A Class, Medium junky cars in B Class, and cars that will probably break down even more in C Class. We were in A Class, which puts a little 1.6 liter 32 year old Miata at a huge disadvantage, so along with me being the slowest driver on the team, I think that we finished 12th overall is pretty good, and 8th in A Class.  Enough of that stuff, this isn't Sports Illustrated, here's some pictures!

Brian and I were out at the track a day early to do some driving just for fun, and for me to get used to the car. This was my first time to drive it, and only my second Lemons race, so I was way behind the other guys Brian, Kyle Ray-Smith, and Luke O'Hara, but that's OK since they are all quick behind the wheel. We had multiple sessions on track, the car and our safety gear got inspected for Lemons, and then we and all the goofy cars headed to the Friday Night Camden Block Party. This is the only Lemons race across the country where they do a big shindig on Friday, and it was a ton of fun. 
Friday Schedule

All the safety gear has to meet certain specifications, here's the label on my head and neck restraint that shows the date of manufacture in 2018. It's good for 5 years, so next year I have to get it re-certified or replace it. 

Brian and the Tech Inspector go over the details of the car, and it passed the safety inspection. 

Did I mention the Friday Night Block Party?

Yes, racing costs money, and uses gas. 

Back to the Block Party, our friends in the Dragon Ball Z car went all out!

Ready to park it for the block party, no costume

left to right, Luke O'Hara, me, Kyle Ray-Smith, Brian Nixon, and our motoring friend Kyle DeGennaro. Oh and pizza!

This car was dressed as an Eddie Van Halen guitar, complete with microphone gear shifter and "I Don't Feel Tardy" sign. If you don't know what Van Halen song that line is from, you can look it up. 

Then the judges show up and determine what class you will be placed in. 

Kyle, Luke, and Brian (the Bunch of Idiots) tried their best to get downgraded to a slower class, but were once again placed in Class A. 

Once the judges are done with your car, they stencil the race logo on your hood, in this case, "Lemons Block Party."

The Miata got a lot of attention thanks to our free suckers, and free stickers where you could write in your own "_______" Is For Suckers. We thought everyone would take them and stick them on other people's cars, but most of them ended up on the Miata. 

The purple lights on the purple Miata added to the atmosphere, but eventually it was time to head back to the track and get ready to race on Saturday and Sunday. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

NY Intl Auto Show Part 2

I hope you are in the mood for more sights from the 2022 auto show in NYC!

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is getting a lot of attention for being a small pickup-y type of vehicle. I think this and the Ford Maverick are both going to sell a lot of vehicles. 

On the other side of the spectrum from the small trucks, how about the Supercharged Hemi engine in this Dodge! I think it was about 600HP!

This shows you the basic electrical platform from INDI EV, a new car maker in California. They are just starting to take orders for their all electric SUV you can see in the background and the next picture. 

The INDI EV has 475HP and a range of up to 300 miles. There are interior lights that can grow brighter to match the exterior lighting. 

As you can read, the new 2022 Lexus IS 500. Whatever various makers call this type of color, I still like it. 

SPOILER ALERT! This is a Lexus IMSA racer. 

Toyota had this electric concept vehicle, the Rhombus, on display.

Again I hope you can read, so I will point out that GR is the Toyota Gazoo Racing performance vehicles. 

Hyundai had several racy looking vehicles too. 

If you've been around you know the Nissan Z Car is all new, and here it is! Unlike the 240Z, 280Z, 300Z, 350Z, etc, the new one is just "Z."

Also in the Nissan area was this Formula E race car. They were also promoting the Formula E race that will return to Brooklyn in July. 

Whether this is a real car with an engine or just a display show car, I liked the huge diffusers in the rear. 

July 16-17 Formula E will be racing in NYC!

The new Ford Bronco continues to attract a lot of attention, and this big Raptor version of the Bronco was big!

The Corvette has been mid-engine for a few years now, but it's still awesome looking!

Corvette Stingray, the view most of us will have of it on the road. 

This is a Cobra bodied car that is all electric. 

This rental car company had this nice Ferrari you can rent!

Or you can rent this Lamborghini. 

This was an indoor ride-along experience with several brands of electric cars. Other driving opportunities were outside too, and the Ford display had their own ride along spot. 

This gold wrapped VW was on display from a vinyl wrapping company. 

Hummer 1 advertising for the US Marine Corps. 

Mercedes Wagon, that's all I know!

Cobra on display for Toys for Tots. 

Japanese market right hand drive Nissan Skyline. 

This all terrain electric ambulance was part of the display of all electric vehicles. Note the treads that hopefully allow it go anywhere. 

Even this street sweeper is all electric.

You've got to love the name Jetson for this electric mobility company! There are also test drives of these and other brands of e-bikes. 

Ford GT new and old. 

Here's something that is NOT a car, the "Vessel" in Hudson Yards, an attraction not far from the Convention Center. Although the Vessel is not open due to Covid, it is part of a big development that includes shopping and eating spots that are open, and close to the High Line elevated trail.