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!