Racing with SCCA/MARRS

First got to drive the car this past Friday, and raced it Saturday and Sunday. Prior to Friday, my goal for the weekend was to not be last. I know the SSM racing is close because the cars are spec cars with dyno’d and sealed engines, identical suspensions and tires, but during the practice I realized I was both far from the fastest and far from the slowest, so I raised my goal to “mid pack.” Practice Friday was a good amount of track time, but much of it in the rain or a wet track, and none on a truly dry track. That gave me a good sense of the car’s handling characteristics at a reasonably slow speed, and it was quite easy to drive. It still needs some seat adjustment – with work, we can probably push the seat back 2 inches which should make a significant difference. Saturday weather was beautiful and the 12-lap SSM race was last (later afternoon). Qualifying in the morning I got lucky and qualified 21st out of 47 cars. The race was reasonably exciting with a larger spread in terms of speed than I expected, but I was able to pass a few (mostly who went off…) and finished 18th (WOW!). On Sunday, the 20 lap race had me qualified at 23rd based on my best time from the Saturday race, but the race was far more exciting and I really got to play with my race craft. Towards the end of the race, I was close behind another car, but both of our tires were too hot and not working well. I took a chance and backed off – a lot – and then tried to catch back up with stickier tires. Watch the last 5 minutes of the video to see what turned out to be a close finish.

I really enjoyed the weekend and the people with whom I raced.

Here’s the Saturday race:


And here’s the Sunday race (watch at least the last 5 minutes):

First Pic

Here’s a photo of me with the new (to me) car. No numbers/logos yet, and I still don’t quite fit in it… Note the “National Ski Patrol” link on the jacket–season went long, and I was on this hill the next day. Mixing my hobbies.

Bought a Miata


Well, I did it–I bought a 1992 SSM (“Showroom Spec Miata”) yesterday. With the price that these cars go for, it just didn’t make sense to rent for an entire weekend. It has the identical Kirkey containment seat as my 911, so I know I’ll be comfortable in it (after some “adjustments” to get the halo part higher so it doesn’t hit my shoulders. The car had a few podium finishes last year, so I know that if I’m at the back (and I fully expect to be until I’m more comfortable with the platform), it will be the driver, not the car. First race is an SCCA MARRS event at Summit Point on April 11-12 – wish me luck!

PCA Club Race at the Glen

Well, just came back from another fun weekend at the Glen (cut short by a very short visit to my mother on the way home, just 5 hours out of the way). I did my usual mid-pack performance, but I was on RA-1s instead of the much stickier Hoosiers, and still ran a personal best of 2:18 (and consistently 2:18-2:19 without traffic). Unfortunately the most “exciting” part of the weekend was not one of the Sprint races, but during the “Fun Race” on Friday afternoon, as can be seen at about 2:45 in the video.

PCA Clash at the Glen 2014 – Fun Race

Fortunately, almost no damage to either car and no official blame assigned (it was, per the rules, my fault because I wasn’t far enough up on the other car, and should have backed off despite of how it may look on the video–especially since this was just supposed to be a “fun” race…). The weather in the Fingerlakes region was amazingly beautiful.

Changing platforms?

The car is running well – ran a 1:26:low at Summit Point on RA-1s last fall, and can consistently run 1:27 this spring (on RA-1s). The 1:26 beat my best time on Hoosiers – not sure why but perhaps alignment, perhaps driver. In any case, it continues to be fun, and can do nicely in any run group in a DE. Ben (son) and I will be heading out to Mid-Ohio next month which should be fun, as we haven’t driven there in a couple of years. It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and rewards a well-set-up car, without as much penalty for low HP as some other tracks we drive.

All that said, I’m thinking of changing platforms. I love my Porsche, but I also love the thrill of wheel-to-wheel racing, and the consumables (tires!) are expensive if I want to stay in my recently-achieved position of top half of the pack. The money-shift top-end rebuild last fall also demonstrated how expensive it can be to campaign a Porsche, even an older one that one (mostly) works on themselves. So I’m looking at cars in true spec classes, namely Spec Racer Ford (SRF) and Showroom Spec Miata (SSM). Greg C. has been kind enough to really help me out with the former, letting me sit in his car and carefully explaining adjustments to driving position and limits, features of the car, and the impending engine upgrade. SRF is a true purpose-build race car. I sat in 4 other SRF’s up at the SCCA race at Summit Point last weekend and determined that it will be a challenge to set the car up for me to be safe due to my height. Not that it can’t be done, but not easy and my height will definitely be a disadvantage. It’s unlikely I could rent one to try, as none that I’ve seen had a hoop high enough for protection, and there would also need to be modifications to the dash (to not hit my knees) and pedal cluster (to get an extra inch of leg extension) and possibly a custom seat – not something you get in a rental car.


Then there’s SSM (and thanks to many drivers for help with this, especially Scott at SportsCarShop for having me consider it, Chris at Windsor Customs, Mike and crew at Meathead Racing, Billy at Performance Auto Works, and especially Greg Obadia who really walked me through the class). I didn’t think I could fit in a Miata, but sat in over 10 of them up at the SCCA event, and in each one saw how lowering or moving the seat back would have made the difference needed (could easily get a seat low enough for headroom, or could get a seat back far enough for leg room). I found tall drivers, but none as tall as I was, so I had trouble finding a car that was already comfortable and safe. Then I sat in one last driver’s car at Meathead Racing, set up by Mitch Piper (who made my cage in the Porsche) for another tall driver. Getting in, sitting, and then getting out (sometimes an issue with a full cage and certainly important in case of a fire) felt like an Escalade rather than a Miata. Amazing room and very comfortable! SSM is governed regionally and in the Washington, DC region, it is a strictly governed class, with a single spec suspension, spec tires (RA-1s – much less expensive than Hoosiers, last much longer, and no speed penalty since everyone is on them), and engines sealed at 97 HP. These are not powerful cars, but the class records at the various tracks I race are within 2-3 seconds/lap of my fastest times now. And the classes are HUGE. 40 cars at Summit Point this past weekend.

So the plan is to rent a SSM at Summit Point at my next DE there (probably July), and if I enjoy driving it, buy one “ready to race.” Then work with OG Racing and Mitch Piper to fit me into the car and set it up for me. 


SSM photo

Last track event of the season…

Ben (and many others) joined me at Summit Point last weekend for PCA Potomac’s last DE of the season, and we had a great weekend, albeit a bit cold. We got the car back from Billy at Performance Auto Works on Friday morning, and it ran beautifully. Track was in great shape and had plenty of grip, and engine profited nicely from a little extra HP due to the cold. Running RA-1s I was able to log multiple laps in the 1:26’s and Ben improved tremendously over the weekend, too. I had a great student, both personality and driving-skills wise, and really loved his 993. Here are some videos from the weekend.

The first is Friday morning Red run group


The second is Sunday afternoon, combined Red/Black group (only the middle of the session, from when I remembered to turn the camera on until it ran out of battery power).


Summit Point Club Race, September 2013

Not much to say about this one. Missed a shift during the first practice Friday and was out for the weekend. That’s what they mean by “money shift!” Bent my exhaust valves – only checked the compression on one cylinder – 0 (as in ZERO)! After much discussion decided to take the car to Performance Auto Works, and just got word today the car is ready for a test drive. Replaced all 6 exhaust valves, and also needed to replace all rockers (possible damage with an overshift) and my driver’s side cam shaft was shot, too. Will be back at Summit Point with Ben for a final DE :D. Have to put a big THANK YOU to Bob Woodman Tires, who had just loaded a new set of HoHos on my wheels, and took them off (no charge to me) when they heard my car was down for the count and it was my last race of the season. Definitely unexpected and much appreciated.

Here’s the video of the missed shift – main straight, 4->5 went 4->3 as I was trying to keep Sean Foster behind me…

Money Shift at Summit Point

More on NJMP Club Race

I realized I never linked to the third Sprint Race from the PCA NJMP Club Race this year. Like the Sprint 2 video, it includes a long lead-in segment so go right to  the 9:00 minute mark. I was much faster than the day before (average lap time at or better than fastest lap in the first 2 sprints) but unfortunately, so was the rest of the field and I didn’t end up in the top half. Nor could I catch my friend Russell, who was smokin’ that race.

Here’s the video:

PCA Club Race – NJMP Thunderbolt August 23-25, 2013

(cross posted from

Great weather, great compadres, and great racing. This has (so far) been a wonderful weekend.

Several of us have done very well. Evan, Hunt, Ryan, Clarke, and I believe Nadir have all been on the podium. Steve W got a 3rd place for the day even though he had to retire early from the 2nd race (DNF due to broken stub axle–which hefixed right after the race as several of us watched in amazement at his skills and also his collection of parts and tools!).

After a surprisingly poor showing in the Friday practices (even for me – old tires and hadn’t been here in a while but still didn’t expect to have the slowest or second-to-slowest times in a class of 14!), the races were a different story. I had a taste of this with new tires during qualifying Friday, but I got a great start in the first sprint race (video to be posted when I get a faster Internet connection) and held on against an aggressive Russell, who was in turn being pushed by Frank. My goal for the weekend was to finish in the top half (still “mid-pack,” but the top, rather than bottom, half of that “mid-pack”), and I accomplished that with 7th out of 14! The second race was similar except that I didn’t get as good a start, so I did the hounding (and finally passed, but my video conked out before I got around that seemingly very w-i-d-e Carrera #777). Another 7th. But position aside (I know it might not sound great, but I was very proud of it as it shows improvement), this was the best and most fun racing in which I’ve ever been involved. Truly nose-to-tail for many laps on a track that is very technically challenging to race on. I developed blisters on both hands – I think I just might have been holding the wheel too tight.

One little issue (fixed) – during the 2nd race, I took the track-out a bit wide (there are three levels of curbing there with a very punishing 3rd level – and my outside wheels were a bit outside of that on the grass). The crenellated concrete knocked one of the bolts off my sway bar mount in the 3rd lap of the race. Fortunately, it was on the driver’s side so mostly affected left-hand turns, of which there are only 3 on this track. I was still able to catch (and pass) #777.


SPRINT 1 (3 parts):


SPRINT 2 (skip ahead to 7:14 for start of race – also, this is only the first half of race. Lost video before I finally passed Russell…)

New Web Site!!

My site has been moved from Blogspot to Welcome to the new site! Since I recently updated the blog (see below), not much to add. I’m trying to determine what events to do in August-September, but will likely do a DE at Summit Point, and bring my son Ben to drive, too (he hasn’t driven on the track in a while…), then do the PCA Club Race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Thunderbolt. And skip the VIR DE this year (which is just a week after the race). Planning on also racing with PCA at the Summit Point Club Race at the end of September.

The car still has green fenders, but will try to paint them black, and put a stripe on the car to make it a little “different” and also more visible in any rear-view mirrors I’m lucky enough to fill.

Finally, I wanted to again thank OG Racing for helping me get this process going – both the race car, and they also encouraged me to blog (not that I’ve been very good at it). Between OG, Pelican Parts, and DC Automotive, to say nothing of the numerous Dorkis who helped me while I was building the car (and before and also since), it’s been a great experience.