Saturday, July 3, 2010


Hi Race Fans!

Sorry about the delay in getting something out about Mid-Ohio. Coming back into the rest of my world - a lot was waiting for me. Getting a book written adds another entire layer to everything – and the economy is presenting some challenges!

Mid-O was a blast! It is a very technical track that requires precise driving and a fairly precise set-up on the car. As has become the norm through these past several weeks, I learned the track quickly on practice days and qualified well, just a half second from 7th spot. That put me in 12th for the race. I was really happy with my qualifying time.

Encouragement and tips from Karl Thomson at Compass360 were so helpful and welcome. The Compass360R teams did very well in the race. Zach brought the car in P1 and Ryan Eversley finished with a hard-fought 3rd. Mid-O was Zach and Ryan’s fifth Grand Am podium in a row. That doesn’t happen very often at this level of competition. Right On, Guys!

My own race was less than I had hoped. In practice the morning of the race, I spun out twice at speed. Neither time did I hit or hurt anything, except my confidence. I ran a very conservative race. My times showed it. I brought the car in without any damage but without much to show for the effort either. My usual aggressive style was on the back burner so I wasn’t very happy with the performance.

Let me red flag that. Our primary goal is to learn the tracks and get me ready to compete in the Continental Tire series next year. We continued to make good headway on the larger goal. I definitely learned the track and know how to be fast there. I learned something about racing as well. I need to have a fairly high level of confidence in the car in order to be aggressive.

I’m really pleased with all that I’ve learned so far this season and my relationship Zach, my Rock Star Coach, has grown leaps and bounds. The friendship I have with Karl is just terrific - his wisdom about the sport at this level continues to be invaluable and inspiration.

I won’t be racing at New Jersey though. Very happily, my son is taking me fishing in La Paz, Mexico for my 60th birthday that week. Nothing is better than your son wanting to spend time with you! We tried to make the logistics work to be in Mexico the first part of the week and race the last half but it wasn’t possible. So I’ll be thinking about the team – Karl, Zach and Ryan – and wishing them the best while Seth and I count our fish and drink some more cervezas!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen is the starting line for sports car racing in America. Grand Am, NASCAR and basically all other sanctioning bodies make annual pilgrimages to The Glen. It was the site of the first sports car/road race after WWII. A foot note to The Glen – when you are in the town of Watkins Glen, make a visit to the International Motor Racing Research Center. You’ll find a treasure trove of information about every aspect of our sport including some one-of-a-kind books and photographs from racing’s greatest moments.

For me, it was love at first touch. After the weekend at The Glen, I have a ready answer when anyone asks, ‘what’s your favorite track?’ Building speed out of Turn 1, uphill through the high speed S’s, down the back straight through the amazingly fast bus stop/chicane, through the carousel , on through the challenging and tight ‘boot’, flat out with a breath of the throttle through Turn 10 and again building speed through Turn 11 for momentum on the front straight. The talk among the drivers is that it is fun and, at first, intimidating.

My times quickly dropped and speeds came up as I learned the track. We are clear that the goal is to learn the Grand Am tracks in a momentum car so I can be ready to drive with Zach and compete for the Grand AM ST championship next year and we are making great progress toward our goal. Once again, Zach (Lutz) and Ryan (Eversley) were outstanding coaches – thanks guys! These two young professional race car drivers have been both generous and relentless in their coaching. Zach and I are very pleased with my progress.

We had a rain squall come through just before the race which passed in time for us to stay on dry tires. If Lime Rock was a new experience then Watkins Glen was the real experience. I started 12th and was in the thick of the race from the start. Over 19 laps I moved up several positions, got very fast in key points on the track and was turning in race laps as fast as the front 5 cars – 2:09’s.

I learned what it really means to race at this level, running very close with other Mustang Challenge cars, trading a little paint when it couldn’t be avoided, holding my own in traffic, looking for mistakes by other drivers while driving my own race lines. I learned a lot of race craft in very close quarters at very high speeds and learned so much about gaining position in a momentum car, which is very different than my old days in GT cars in SCCA, etc.

Winning is so much about being ‘fast in’ and ‘fast out’ of corners, building momentum, driving very close to the competitors and creating passing opportunities in key spots on the track. Patience is not my strong suit, maybe as all of you know, and the only way I’ve found to ‘wait’ is to Breath!

‘Fast in’ is my bogie. After several years of braking in the approach to turns, coming off the brake immediately, then rolling onto the throttle to full throttle at the apex if possible, I was coached to go slow in and fast out – which is fine in some cars and in some series. It won’t do in the Mustang and it won’t do in Grand Am. I am breaking this habit and replacing it with (very) high speed going into the corner, trail braking while turning in, often all the way to the apex, then back on the throttle as soon as possible. Braking at high speed while turning into the apex at first gave me some real pucker moments. I’m still not doing it consistently but I will be this coming weekend at Mid-Ohio! At The Glen, I did get there on several turns, especially the high speed bus stop/chicane on the back straight. That was at first a scary Turn and is now one of my favorite Turns. I started out braking at #5 and in the race was braking well after #4! Whew! Breathe!

Only two things can even come close to this, one doesn’t include clothes (sorry to embarrass Marty!) and the other is spending time with my son, Seth. This is as good as it gets! I thought I was hooked on racing until The Glen – now I’m beyond recovery. As Zach says, we’re addicted and we plan to stay that way!

We did very well until the 19th lap (out of 21). Coming out of Turn 7 the car pushed hard much like late in the race at Lime Rock, I took two off, scraped the guard rail and my race was over. No regrets, though, my pace of learning and what I now know about driving momentum cars at The Glen is priceless. Zach, Bob and John have the car back in top form and ready for Mid-Ohio.

John, Zach and I have talked through the set-up of the car and believe we can make a slight change to help prevent or diminish the late race under steer and I’ve learned how to react when it happens. I’m really excited about Mid-Ohio, where we will have several practice sessions to work on set up. It was only a short few months ago that I nothing but a broken down GT car in my garage (still there and for sale btw) and no racing on the horizon. Now I’m in the midst of racing the better part of the Mustang Challenge Series season! The law of attraction works!

I have to tell you all about one highlight of my race. Building speed through the last turn, Turn 11, as you come onto the front straight is critical. I’d been working on it each lap. Well, on one lap I had a little too much speed in very close traffic, touched the safer bearer at track out, as I ‘bounced’ back on the track fortunately was headed straight and at full throttle passed two cars on the front straight! Had to replace the mirror and the door panel, but was it worth it. As Jaime Eversley said – ‘you left your mark on Watkins Glen!’. I don’t ever need to do that again, trust me, but what a moment!

Compass 360 Racing News from The Glen:
Karl Thomson’s Compass 360 Racing Honda ST team proved their mettle and race intelligence with 1st and 2nd place finishes. Congratulations to Zach and Ryan for their second place finish and the same to David Thilenius and Lawson Aschenbach for their victory!

Bottom line, the Compass 360 Racing Team knows how to win. Outstanding drivers combined with superb race strategy make them hard to beat and has put them in position to win the ST series for a second year in a row.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Lime Rock Rocks!

Lime Rock was a great experience. Very short, very fast track! Challenging to understand, internalize and race but a ton of fun when you get it! A lot of very’s are needed to explain Lime Rock! It’s a 1.5 mile track contoured to follow the landscape of NW Connecticut. Fast, tight with a hard right hander up hill and a hard right hander on the other side going down. A ton of fun!

Zach and I were very pleased with the progress I made learning the track and getting into race. The normal practice day, usually on Thursday, was not available so we practiced and qualified on Friday and raced on Saturday. The pressure was on to learn the track very quickly and it went well. My times steadily dropped through the day on Friday and my best time was 26 laps into the race.

I took the checker flag, drove the car into the paddock and shut it off, whole and untouched, which is big at Lime Rock. I started 12th and finished 12th. After running off briefly in Turn 2 with about 10 minutes left, the toe on the front of the car went out by several degrees, which made the car very difficult to drive in the corners.

During the race, Zach coached on the radio and made a real difference in how well I ran. Overall it was a very fun and successful weekend. Now we need to put it all together, finish well and have all the progress show up in the finishing places.

While Marty and I were in the tower on the front straight watching the start of Zach’s Street Tuner race, Michael Lauterborn, a freelance writer from Connecticut interviewed Marty and I about our entry into Grand Am. Fun stuff! On the Compass360home page, the picture of us and a link to the story are 3-5 items down as you scroll the page: I’m so glad Marty was able to make at least one of the races. Makes the experience all that much more real when we are talking about it at home.

Good times and rock and roll with the boys (and one girl, Jamie Eversley) at Lutz Motorsports Industries and Compass 360 Racing!

On to Watkins Glen!!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

On to Lime Rock!

On to Lime Rock!
We are headed to Lime Rock today for the upcoming Grand Am Mustang Challenge Race at Lime Rock in Connecticut. Karl Thomson, Team Principal at Compass360 Racing, has done a great job of promoting the Mustang Challenge Series and is excited about having a Mustang Challenge car to the rapidly expanding Compass360 portfolio of Grand Am entries.

If Karl is excited, you can imagine how I feel! I am very excited to be a member of the Compass360 and Lutz Teams and look forward to making my own contributions throughout the season. Several news organizations have picked up the story, just adding to the fun and excitement. This from the Inside Track Breaking News Blog:

A note about Roebling Road – the test went very, very well. It was a great opportunity to learn the car and how to get most from this great Mustang. The car was extremely well prepared by the Lutz Team – Zach and Bob Lutz and John and Jaime Eversley. Thanks to all of them for making it a great weekend.

Thanks to Zach’s great coaching and data analysis we dropped my lap times by 5 seconds from the first run on Saturday to Sunday am. Sunday was very fun and challenging as the track became very slick and lively. That may be a good tune-up for Lime Rock if it rains as predicted this weekend!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Roebling Road

The first street car I ever drove was a 1964 Fastback when I was 14 yrs old so Mustangs and I are coming full circle. Can’t wait to drive this ‘Stang!

Zach and Bob Lutz, John Eversley and I are headed to Roebling Road outside Savannah this weekend (May 22-23) for some seat time in the #33 Mustang. We created this an opportunity for me to learn as much about the FR500S Mustang as possible prior to the season beginning for me at Lime Rock May 28-29. It is also a warm up for us to work as a team. Racing is a team sport and we expect this team to rock!

This is a NASA event, so it is an opportunity to bring my NASA membership and license current. We decided to only do the Time Trials rather than the race. Our focus is to learn the car and bring the team together. We’ll be racing hard at Lime Rock and beyond so we aren’t doing the NASA race.

Data acquisition, learning the car and coaching from Zach are the orders of the day. It's going to be a great weekend!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Grand Am Mustang Challenge Series

So many good things came out of the Barber Race – great relationships, great learning and growth as a driver and a future in Grand Am.

First, Zach Lutz and his father Bob, who together own Lutz Motorsports Industries, have asked me to drive their #33 Mustang in the Mustang Challenge Series this year. This is a great series and a great car and a great opportunity. We expect to do well in the remainder of the series this year and use this opportunity to learn several of the major road tracks used by Grand Am. A great added benefit of racing with Lutz Motorsports is that, through a partnership with Compass360 Racing, the Mustang is supported and paddocked with Compass360 at all Grand Am races.

The Lutz Motorsports Team is pro racing at its best and I am proud to be part of their Team this year. Check out Zach’s career and great pics of #33 Mustang at the 9 hour endurance race at Road Atlanta last year at Zach and his co-driver, Ryan Eversley, recently won the Grand Am ST Class race at VIR.

Secondly, I want to thank Karl Thomson, the Team Owner at Compass360, who has been generous beyond all expectation providing advice, opportunity, opened doors and support. His plan, as well as Zach and my plan, is to co-drive one of the Compass 360 cars next year and compete for the Championship Grand Am ST in 2011. So , race fans, that is what we are going to do! Also, later in the 2010 season, I will be driving with Compass360 at the Continental Tire Series race at Miller in September.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Grand Am at Barber Motor Sports

My first Grand Am race was a great experience at Barber Motor Sports. Mike McGovern who is the Head Instructor at Bondurant in Phoenix, hooked me up with Karl Thomson at Compass 360 Racing out of Toronto. They run four cars in the Continental Tire Street Tuner Series. They won the championship in 2009 and have two cars in the hunt for the championship again this year.

The drivers could not have been more generous with advice about the track and the cars. Zach Lutz and Ryan Eversley who drive the #75 were especially supportive and helpful. David Thilenius and Lawson Aschenbach are two great drivers who are currently leading the series and helped a lot as well. Great guys all! FYI, Zach and Ryan won at VIR.

Karl runs a great organization – cars are in top condition, crew chiefs and pit crews are excellent and the willingness to share information and insights runs throughout. As I said, it was a great experience.

I was teamed with a very good up and coming Grand Am driver, Alex Kirby. Alex and I had a great weekend together, learning the cars, etc. We got our driver exchange down to 25 seconds!

We had so much fun - here we are signing autographs in the paddock. Zach is on the left (,
then me,
Ryan Eversley (

With the help of data acquisition and pro drivers’ coaching, I dropped my lap times steadily through practices session and qualified 19th of 34 cars. I was pretty happy with that and so was the team.

The race itself was a bit more frustrating. My times stayed competitive throughout, passed a few cars and managed the track with the much faster GS cars. At the start a GTI driven by a guy new to Grand Am and from racing in Australia, was in front of me and lagged so far behind at the start that we were a good 1/3 lap back when we got to start-finish (there is no passing until you pass start-finish in Grand Am) This guy pulls into the pit just before the front straight - he could have let us all go buy when he knew he had car issues, but for some folks there isn’t anyone else on the track but them.

I stayed well into the lead lap and ran a good race. The Honda’s are very strong on the top end so with Barber Motor Sports’ shorter straightaway’s, the Honda’s are disadvantaged. Zach and Ryan pulled off a podium with 3rd and David and Lawton got 4th.

The end of my race was very disappointing. An hour in and only 7 minutes before giving the car to Alex, the same guy who held us up at the start punked me off the track coming out of Turn 5. He was 4 laps down while I was on the lead lap. I passed him coming into the turn, was a car length ahead of him coming out and he got into my left rear about 6 inches into the car. Naturally, I spun off and unfortunately into the guard rail. Car was hurt and happily I wasn’t.

Alex’s father, Gene, had it on video so Karl was able to take it to the Series and raise some cane about the other driver’s conduct. Karl and I and Alex were really pissed to say the least. Some strong words were exchanged after the race and the driver made his apologies. I felt most badly for Alex who didn’t get to drive in the race. Fortunately, Alex went on to a top ten finish in at VIR. Great guy, great driver.

So what’s next? Caught myself on this one and had to laugh. I had really only planned for the one race! Short sighted perspective that! Karl invited me to drive his cars anytime this year or next. Zach and his father still own the Mustang Challenge car Zach drove last year (5th in the Series) and they have asked me to drive their car in the Mustang Challenge this year. So let’s expand the horizon on racing! Even more, Karl and Zach have proposed that Zach and I team up to drive the #75 and go for the Grand Am Street Tuner Championship for 2011. I’m all about it!

So the plan, race fans, is to drive in several Mustang Challenge races in 2010 and go for the championship with Zach and Karl in 2011!