It is difficult to sum up an entire season of racing in one article, with so much excitement and drama, how do you decide what to talk about? I first heard of the Time Attack from a friend at work who had casually attended a race as a spectator. Wanting to do some competitive racing and avoiding SCCA due to their strict classing I came out to the first “Practice” event which was held in February and utilized the “Optima Batteries Ultimate Street Car Challenge” course that Pikes Peak International Raceway hosted the previous season. I was pumped! I had had my first taste of racing at High Plains Raceway just a few months before and wanted to test my mettle against my peers.
Around 7:30 am I got through the gate, they classed me in front wheel drive B (due to my power to weight ratio, and tire tread wear) and lined up at staging, I did my five runs, the day ended, and I hated it! So what went wrong? First, the staging took too long. Time between runs was dreadfully long and the classes moved slowly. We were there all day, I had gotten up at 4:45 am for the 1.5 hour drive to the track to make tech inspection and it was about 5pm when we finished last runs. The quick runs, and long wait times really took me out of the event. I couldn’t focus on the next run and started to lose interest and my lap times suffered. I came home beat down and negative. I had told myself I wasn’t going to attend any more, but after speaking to Damir he convinced me to give it another chance and I went to Round 1 of the competition championship series.
Two months had passed since my first experience and the team at PPIR seemed to have smoothed out the edges, they purchased new timing software and equipment helping speed through the staging process giving us quicker times between runs per class. They also added a practice course on the other side of the track, and by mid season they had paved new sections of the infield track to allow for more course configurations! I had started to make friends with the other drivers and learning from them was a huge part of my success.
Before Round 3 I had my ECU tuned and put down some more power, I decided to notify the track staff and was bumped up to FWD A where I was up against some seriously fast competition. Class leader Jaryd Thompson was laying down times faster than most GT Class cars. I was out of my league for sure, but I kept pushing. Late in Round 5 I had snapped my lower motor mount, causing my downpipe to crack on a bad weld from the fabricator and I called it a day early, which placed me 7th in class. 845 Motorsports sent me a new downpipe and a dump exhaust and I had swapped over to the Hankook RS4 at this point, so I was ready for the final 3 rounds, but only moving up one position in standings as I was still driving as poorly as I had started. I was lucky enough that some of my competitors had missed a few races so I was still climbing the standings with my poor performance.
Before Round 7 an opportunity had presented itself for me to obtain a limited slip differential from Pierce Motorsports, I also snagged a 6 puck clutch, lightweight flywheel, and stiffer springs on all four corners. Install took a couple weeks but I was ready with time to spare and break the diff and clutch in. Sadly Round 7 was ruined for me by bad weather and cold temperatures. The tires took a long time to warm up and my inexperience driving a car with a race clutch type differential caused me to hit second to last place for the day with many off track and spin out scenarios. Yet my points standings allowed me to bump to number 4 in class.
Round 8 was by far the best driving experience I have ever had. As I was staging, SCCA Champ Hsun Chen was walking down the staging lineup and as he passed asked if I wanted him to ride along with me. As we pulled up to the start line he explained the course to me, offering some tips on the best line and approach to some of the corners. We launched with some wheel hop and ran the course with Hsun yelling “Full throttle!”. I captured my best time and position of the entire series beating another driver for 4th place by a hundredth of a second! I ended up 4th in class for the season.