December, 2018 Track Report

From the Blog

December, 2018 Track Report

Jack Stands

Esteemed Drivers,

Your track chair was MIA from the November issue of the Nugget because he was, well, over there…    …doing that water polo stuff again. Polo relinquished its grip on him November 15 with the conclusion of the NCS championship games.

Your track chair won’t bore you with any irrelevant (to our track driving) water polo details, but he will share with you that his team of too-young-for-varsity varsity players discovered depths of themselves that they didn’t know they possessed, took on the section’s #1 seed (who was supposed to cruise through the tournament), and took a tie score into the fourth quarter of the section semi-final.  That their discovery (that a championship was within reach) was the source of their joy at the end of that game has inspired them to keep exploring – deeper and with more conviction.  A captain who will be returning in 2019 charged the coaches with “Start us off hard next year!”

Oh, to compete!

Just prior to that, however, the weekend of October 27-28 saw another successful PCA Club Race at Sonoma Raceway.  It was the last club race of the 2018 season hosted by GGR.  Forty race cars, excellent support by our track team and the national stewards, and excellent weather.

The club race concluded the 2018 GGR track series season, and even though GGR’s series is now up on jack stands for the winter, we are glad that many of you continued with the West Coast Racing Series, and did one more buzz of Laguna with the Diablo Region.

But, back to “oh, to compete!” Do we know what we’re truly capable of as drivers?  Did we meet the goals we set for ourselves in 2018?  Did we exceed them?  Did we not quite reach them?  More importantly do we know why (or why not)?  What did you discover?  What is holding you back?  What is your plan to address those matters that need to be addressed?

Why is your track chair so nosey? Because we of your track team are asking ourselves the same questions.  We’re listening to your comments, questions, and suggestions.  We can (and should) improve the series, just as you should improve your driving.  It’s the “no stone unturned” thing.

Your track chair appreciates the chance to sit down, figuratively, and merely look the series over, not dissimilar to pulling up a chair in your garage or shop to just take in the imagery of your track/race car (aka the season that just concluded) – to review the notes taken throughout the year, make some more notes, and to ponder 2019. The fellow motorheads of your track team have already arrived at the shop, lifted the hood, slid underneath on their Jeepers Creepers, and without emerging, holler “Hey, what about this?” Ahh.  What about that?  More notes.

As with any race car, how do we make this machine accelerate better, brake better, turn in better? How do we make it more reliable, so at the end of a day of competition all we need to do is clean the windshield, put gas in it and maybe a new set of brake pads?  We’re putting the screws to ourselves to make 1) our instructor training more effective;  2) our instruction of students more comprehensive and effective;  3) our oversight of the events a little more focused; 4) our management of the series more team-based than it already is.  How can we all have more fun?

Off the jack stands, and onto a lift.

While we ask ourselves these questions, it is rewarding that we have had a constant stream of requests (from within and without) for more events.  Well, alrighty then, we’ll see what we can do.

The 2019 track series calendar below is a result of a lot of influential people across the country making a lot of phone calls and having amazingly productive conversations about how to make our sport, and specifically the GGR track series, better.

February 16-17 Instructor Training / DE No. 1 at Thunderhill Raceway (2 mile west course)

The focus of this event is as it is titled.  Our efforts will be on evaluating new instructor candidates and the ongoing development of our already experienced instructors.  With our instructors committed to each other, we cannot accommodate students at this event.

March 23-24 DE No. 2 / Club Race No. 1 at Thunderhill Raceway (3 mile east course)

…with a format and schedule you’re already familiar with.  Diablo will be running their DE on Friday March 22.  You can make it a three day weekend!

April 26-28 DE No. 3 at Thunderhill Raceway (5 mile)

Yes, three days.  We don’t run the 5 mile often.  Specific scheduling for learning this expanded course will be in effect.

May 18-19 DE No. 4 / Club Race No. 2 at Buttonwillow Raceway

Ah, Buttonwillow.  Your track chair’s favorite course.  (Come fly with me through Turn 9!)  Central Coast will be running their DE on Friday May 17.  Another three day weekend!  The club racers promise to make this weekend exciting!

July 18-21 Club Race No. 3 / DE No. 5 at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca

Four days, campers.  103 dB.  This is the event that PCA National has been seeking for several years. GGR is pleased to be afforded the opportunity to host.  (Reference “influential people making important phone calls” above.)  There may be a DE run group or two for advanced drivers only.

September 7-8 DE No. 6 / Club Race No. 4 at Thunderhill Raceway (3 mile east course)

Not exactly a repeat of March.  The sun will be at a different angle.  Some cars will be trying different tires, alignment, and/or brake pads.  Some race cars will have had their drive trains out, reworked, and reinstalled.  Racers will be a bit more focused on the season championship, so they’ll probably be a bit less sociable.  DE drivers will think Thunderhill is old hat by now (which means they’re not competing with themselves enough).  Diablo will be running on Friday September 6, so it can be another three day weekend for you.  You’ll also need to wait one more event for the 2020 season pass…

October 18-20 DE No. 7 at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca

Three days.  92 dB.  That’s all you need to know.

October 26-27 Club Race No. 5 (w/ NASA) at Sonoma

This is a great event at a great track.

The 2019 schedule is a direct result of the requests we have received to expand the series, and represents a growth of approximately a third over the 2018 program.  This means that not only are your tire and brake pad budgets going to increase, but also the associated “budgets” of your volunteer track team and the already significant amount of time they contribute to facilitating our events.  The four day club race in July will have a life of its own.  It will require much support to handle the large number racers from across the country.  To make the entire 2019 schedule work, and work well, we’re going to need to go into the bench much deeper than we have before.  Yes, you.  Make sure your shoes are laced up tight!

Other ideas are being stirred into the pot for 2020, because your track chair just can’t leave well enough alone.

Words are so insufficient, but your track chair must express many, many, many thanks to all of you who have so generously supported GGR’s track series in all the ways you have.  It has been a most enjoyable privilege to serve as your track chair this year.

Now it is time to lock myself in my garage until February.  I wish you all safe and happy holidays.

Humbly,

Jim

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