2012

October, ‘12

In spite of the final result of the past weekend’s racing adventures, we had a wonderful time in the hills of Lake Seneca. Nice fall weather, great racing, family fun, and a blown motor.

For the first time in our history of competing at Watkins Glen, we didn’t encounter a terrible rain storm on the drive from Massachusetts to the track. Instead, it waited until we arrived at registration. After sharing an umbrella with a fellow racer while registration opened, we quickly unloaded the car and gear and set up for Saturday’s activities. The sooner we finished, the sooner we could meet up with our family who was visiting from Florida for the race weekend.

Saturday proved to be just as wet as Friday evening, and even though the rain had slowed to a drizzle by the time we went out for qualifying, the track was still soaked. In light of the fact that it was no longer “raining,” I opted to go out on slicks instead of the rain tires. The track was definitely slippery, but I was able to cautiously make it around the track and secure a qualifying time that put us about mid-pack. I wasn’t aware of it when I went out, but after we pulled back to the paddock, we realized that the oil cooler had a very slow leak (yes, again). Nothing could be done to fix it, but it was small enough that we would be fine for the afternoon race.

The cold front that was producing all of the rain had passed fully, and the track was completely dry by the time we went out for the afternoon race. A great start and some fast driving moved us up into first place after only a couple laps, and we were comfortably in the lead when a long caution stacked the field back up. I don’t know what it was about the caution that the car didn’t like, but something happened during those laps, and after the race started back up, we were noticeably down on power. About two laps later, we pulled into the pits with a sad diagnosis: the blown motor I mentioned above. We were close enough to the finish of the race that we ended up with a second place, but yet again, The Glen claimed one of my motors. One day, I hope to go to that track and not break something.

Thankfully, that was the last race of our season and we have all winter to rebuild the motor and check off some other go-fast items on the list. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

-Sterling

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September, ‘12

What a beautiful weekend it was! Not quite. With a hurricane off the coast, we had some very intimidating weather on Saturday that thankfully didn’t affect our result too much. It sure did provide for a wet evening though.

With the help of Dale at Salem 66 auto body, we were able to repair the car and have it ready for the past weekend’s race. Salem 66 did great work on the car, although I hope I don’t ever have to bring it in for bodywork again!

The first race was a little trying due to the weather that I mentioned above. It was interesting to say the least. Every two or three laps, it would rain for ten seconds or so and make the track slippery for a lap or two. Then the track would dry out, and within another lap, it would rain again. That made it quite challenging to know the grip level of the track. A third place was the best we could muster.

Sunday morning proved to be quite different. It was actually the most fun I have ever had in my racing career. Please take a couple minutes to watch the video posted below, and I’ll let it speak for me.

Sunday afternoon was another good race, but with the retirement of my closest challenger due to mechanical issues suffered in another race, it wasn’t nearly as exciting as the morning. Another second place finish was enough to secure the championship for us.

You heard that correct; for the second year in a row, we are the SCCA NERRC champion for E-production. Thank you to everyone who helped me achieve this feat. I couldn’t have done it without you!

We have one more race to attend this season in beautiful Watkins Glen, New York. Check back in a couple weeks for the final race recap of the year.

-Sterling

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August, ‘12

We have removed some small bits from inside the car to cut weight down, including replacing the rear windshield with polycarbonate. We also fabricated custom front brake ducts to help keep the brake rotors cool and operating optimally. A hood pin was added to the center of our composite hood, since it became obvious that if we didn’t add it, we might not have a hood. The stock incandescent taillights were replaced with brighter and more lightweight LED lights.

All of this, of course, makes no difference when other cars crash into you or your wheel falls off. Yeah, we didn’t exactly have the best racing weekend on our last outing. It was a very hot weekend, and our qualifying session went poorly due to the fact that the tires we were using were well beyond their usefulness, especially given that the track was hot as lava. So, in order to have a good showing in the afternoon race, we purchased a brand new set of tires. When we started the first race, the tires worked great, and we moved through the pack and into second place. However, just as the leader was coming into our sights, the left front wheel came off. Yes, I literally drove the wheels off of the car. It turned out that all four wheel studs had come out, and although we had some damage to our fender, we were able to repair it with some special (Hello Kitty) duct tape and replace the missing wheel studs. Unfortunately, though, it destroyed a brand new tire, and our tire supplier didn’t have any more tires in the size we needed. This meant that for the Sunday races, we would have to use an old tire in place of the damaged one.

The Sunday morning race went well in spite of the old tire, and we wound up finishing in first place after an exciting battle. It was a great start to the day, but the afternoon would prove to be much different.

Starting on the front row, the race looked like it was going to be a blast, but the rear tires quickly showed that that would not be the case. The old tire, coupled with the fact that it was another hot afternoon, made the car very difficult to control. So instead of pushing my luck and risking damage to the car, I decided to slow down and just finish with whatever points I could. On the last lap, we were sitting in 12th place (or 11th, or 13th ? not first, that’s for sure). Going into the third turn, which is a right hander, all of a sudden, I see another car approaching perpendicular to my car. I brake in an attempt to avoid the car, but there was no place to go, and he collected me and drove us both into the wall. Thankfully, we received points for the race because it was the last lap, but the car suffered heavy body damage. Check out the following video to see how it happened.

It was a bittersweet weekend. We had two great finishes, but they came at a high cost. Only a month until our next race, so I had better put down the pen and get back to the garage!

-Sterling

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June, ‘12

It’s been a little while since my last update, and after some recent modifications to the car (some of which were unplanned), we had a successful weekend competing at Lime Rock Park in northwest Connecticut.

I will start out by detailing the new additions and modifications that we have made to the car. We replaced the stock-style mirrors with custom fabricated ones. The new mirrors are lighter, inside the cockpit to reduce drag, and convex to allow a better viewing area. We also added a brand new and more efficient all-aluminum oil cooler and radiator in place of the stock pieces. The new oil cooler was purchased to replace the stock one which developed a crack. Unfortunately, the crack occurred at a race in May and kept us from even qualifying. When we ordered the new oil cooler, we also purchased a new radiator in order to improve our engine cooling. We also purchased a GPS-based lap timer that not only gives us extremely accurate lap times but also allows us to evaluate the racing line of each lap, our top speed, engine performance, and a multitude of other information.

Now back to the racing recap. Our qualifying session at Lime Rock was plagued by a battery with low charge. During the multiple tests of the new cooling system, we ran the battery down and neglected to charge it back to full. As we sat on the false grid preparing to go on track for qualifying, the car ceased all electrical operation. After a jump-start, we were ready to get our qualifying run started, but unfortunately, we lost considerable time and were able to complete only two laps, neither of which was at full speed.

Due to the difficult qualifying session, we had to start the first race in last place. The race proved to be a challenging one, with a light rain falling throughout and quite a few cars going off track because of it. Thankfully, we weren’t one of them. We were able to make our way through a good bit of the field and finished a respectable 7 out of 10. Our best lap time from that race qualified us in 7th place for the afternoon race, which was again spattered with a bit of rain. We kept checking the local radar to determine whether to switch to our rain tires for the afternoon race and, in the end, decided to stick with the slicks. It would turn out to be a wise decision, as we moved up two positions and finished in 5th place. The weather and racing were challenging, especially since it was our first time with the RX3 at Lime Rock and our first time there in 6 years!

We had a great weekend of racing and enjoying Connecticut and the Berkshires, especially once the rain stopped and made way for a beautiful blue sky as soon as we finished our last race….of course.

-Sterling

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January, ‘12

It’s official! We finished first place in points for the season, making us the NERRC E-Production champion for 2011! Even though we didn’t compete in every race, we fulfilled the requirements to win the championship and finished with the highest points tally. What an incredible first year it has been with the new car. We have a few modifications and upgrades to make over the winter break, and we hope not only to make every race in the 2012 season but also to continue our championship-winning ways!
We would also like to announce the arrival of our newly updated website. Please take a minute to check everything out. We have some future plans for the site, so keep checking back for some exciting new additions.

Finally, in the next few days, we will be putting the finishing touches on our 2012 sponsorship proposal. If you have any friends who are business owners or who are employed by businesses that may be interested in sponsoring a regional racing team, please let me know. Team GPRacing competes in the New England and North Atlantic regions and is looking for sponsorship from regional and national companies that may be interested in advertising in these markets. Our 2012 season, which runs from April to October, includes nine race weekends at five tracks. Our sponsorship proposal can either be sent as a hard copy or in digital format.

-Sterling

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