Many of my friends know that I’m a great fan of arrive-and-drive kart racing. Indoor, outdoor, gas or electric, I’ll take it any way I can get it. Most of the time I’m at or near the top of the charts, but I have to admit that I don’t often compete against the fastest guys in town. Such was the case at my recent visit to the Gateway Kartplex with some friends from the St. Louis BMW Club.
In the first race I was gratified to get the jump on my friend Wayne, the guy in front of me, at the green flag. I lapped most of the pack and took second place. Oddly, the winner of the fastest lap was the guy I passed right out of the box. “Yeah, I think my fast lap was when you passed me and I followed your line,” he said. Maybe that was it, or maybe he’s just faster. I did, however beat Wayne in race #2. We had some great back-and-forth between us .
The second race was also rewarding with lots of passes. I thought I was doing really well. Indeed, the time sheet would show a great improvement; about 1.5 seconds over the first race. That’s a sure sign that I’m on the early side of the learning curve at this facility.
What surprised me in race 2, delighted me in fact, was to see three other guys pass me (at 7:52 and 9:16) like I was a turtle. Sure, I like being at the top, but it was great to see these guys working on a whole different level. I noticed the way one leaned forward in the kart, presumably to add weight to the front, thus reducing understeer, and increasing speed through the turns. A true artist indeed. I’ll be sure to try that next time.
One of my favorite places in the whole world is pit out at Road America. I’ve attended several sports car races there, starting in the days of ALMS. I miss that series, but still enjoy going there for the IMSA races. Being a member of the BMW Car Club of America makes the experience even better.
I’ve often been impressed to see the highly choreographed efforts of the Rahal Letterman Team when the BMWs are pulled in from a session on the track. They work like a finely tuned machine. I had the opportunity to talk with Clay Filson about that when I was at the 2016 IMSA race at Road America.
Clay provides support from the BMW factory to customer teams like RLL. He shares his observations on why the team works so well together, along with some challenges related to working with a car that’s in the first year of its development.
Of the many things I enjoyed about the IMSA WeatherTech sports car race at Road America this year, the hot lap was certainly memorable. I’m glad I got it on video. IMSA has a Hot Lap program, designed to get fans on the track in cars represented by the racing field. The drivers of the 2 BMW M3s, were instructors at the BMW Performance Driving Center in Greer, SC.
I have to admit; It wasn’t the all-out, change-your-underwear mind blower I thought it might be, but it was still great to have that rare experience. I got my ticket (very limited in supply) through the BMW Car Club, of which I’ve been a happy member for over a decade.
When people ask where I’m from, I tell them, “I rolled off the assembly line in Detroit.” Although it’s my city of birth I haven’t lived there (Harper Woods, actually) since 1969. I’m sure my appreciation for the automobile has something to do with those roots.
What goes into the making of a car guy? Something in their DNA? Social influences? Does it happen gradually or in the blink of an eye? Some remember that one single match that started the flame burning. In my case, it was a slow progression. But I think the ball got rolling, however slowly, when I was a little boy.
After decades of having been away, it was time to vacation in Detroit. I visited my boyhood roots, and the seeds that were planted that eventually turned me into a car guy. I returned to Belle Isle, Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe and toured the Edsel Ford Estate and the Henry Ford Museum. Tons of stuff to see at the Henry Ford. Finally, I stopped by the world’s biggest tire on my way out of town.
Check out the video, with a tour of the Henry Ford Museum – Run time 8:13
Spring has arrived in St. Louis. It’s time for us to get our cars cleaned up and ready for the driving and car show season. Mark Parafiniuk of Clear Auto Bra and Saul Davidson of A&G Auto Spa hosted a detailing clinic for the St. Louis BMW Club and the Porsche Club. Clear Auto Bra has a great facility and the perfect venue for an event like this. Mark has installed the clear bra on several of my cars. I’ve been impressed with the quality of his work.
A Porsche owner was the lucky winner of the drawing for a free detail. His beautiful 911 was pulled into the work area for inspection. Saul talked with the owner about some areas that could use a little work. To me it looked like the car was in great shape. But Saul has an eagle eye and works at a much higher level of perfection than I’ll ever achieve.
The A&G crew then washed the car outside while Saul talked about some of the fundamentals of detailing and related products. They then used detailing clay to fully prepare the 911 for closer inspection.
Anything with four wheels and a motor sounds good to me. Add racing and you’ve got my attention. Add a few friends and I’m all in.
Our April karting gig was a blast at Pole Position, the indoor karting establishment here in St. Louis. We pulled together about a dozen people for some friendly competition and pizza. Not sure which I like better. OK, I lied. I like the karting better. But pizza was in there… somewhere, I think.
The gang started trickling in shortly before noon while I got busy setting up my video cameras. One thing that’s nice about a car club is the instant camaraderie easily felt among fellow enthusiasts. It felt good to see some old friends, a few people I’m getting to know better, and several new acquaintances.
The IMSA racing season has already begun with the first race having been run at Daytona in January. This weekend is round 2 with 64th running of the 12 hours of Sebring. It’s the best reminder that spring is right around the corner.
Speaking of spring, I’m getting pretty eager to hit some twisty back roads, as my M3 is in the shop for some important repairs. More on that in another post.
Sebring is always a blast to watch. Frankly, I’m not a guy who pays attention to statistics. I just love watching and going to races. Shame on me, but I barely remember who won the last one. The fact remains, however, that I LOVE endurance sports car racing. A race weekend is always something I look forward to.