First Race

Don and myself’s original goal was to run the school, get my license, and anything other than that was a bonus. So far, the entire cost of bringing the car up to spec, the school and race entry fees, and other misc things is less than a weekend at Skip Barber that would net me the same license (the same one Don has, as he went to SB and ragged on their cars).

Soooo…The idea of racing on Sunday left me more excited than a senator in an airport bathroom, namely that this is my first wheel-to-wheel race, with other drivers actually trying to win (rather than the less-aggressive school days).

The day started as usual – remove the spark plugs, use a blow-torch on them to get them hot, push start car and let it warm up. It takes a while for the car to warm up, as today is about 45 degrees with a high of only 55. There was talk of snow on the forecast a few days ago, but it seems to have passed. This is a good thing, given my issues with rain tires and slicks, I don’t need any other complications.


The day has 5 groups/classes of cars, each with their own 35 minute qualifying session, and 22-lap race. My qualifying is just after 9:30am. Qualifying is a little more relaxed, in that, I can show up a few minutes late, wave to the grid-starters and just drive out into the pit and onto the track.. Given our starting issue (lack therof starter), this is nice as I don’t have to stop the car, and risk the chance of stalling it.

I head out for qualifying, just behind the big group of cars that were lined up waiting. We all have cold tires, and my car isn’t fully warmed up yet. Driving cold slicks on a cold track is much like ice skating. You don’t steer the car so much as you suggest which way you’d like it to go, then eventually, maybe, or not, it will go that direction. Or, it will snap around on you before you can say “hitting-that-wall-is-gonna-cost-alot”.

I feel good during qualifying. My only hiccup was that even though I taped over part of the front radiator intake, in order to get the engine temperature higher on this cold day, I still didn’t get the car above 150f degrees. The engine really needs 180-190 to be able to blip the throttle as required during downshifts. This resulted in some squirrelly downshifts – where the engine would drag the rear tires down pretty quickly, upsetting the traction on the rear of the car. Some corners left me looking more like a Ricer-Drift-Central video game than road racing.

Anyhow, I qualified with a 121.something. That put me 12th position out of 26 cars. Not too bad!


My run group, group 4, gets to race around 3:30pm. Group 4 includes Formula 500, Formula Vee, Formula First, Formula Ford, and Club Formula Ford (me). Most of the cars are equally matched with just a few seconds difference in laptimes. It makes for some close racing, which is always good with open-wheeled cars that will flip/do crazy things when you touch wheels with each other. Most generally avoid doing that. Those who don’t avoid touching other cars wheels generally only do it once.

I will write more about the actual race when I get some spare time.. For now, look at the pretty pictures. I should also have some better race pictures up, courtesy of my instructor who has a camera that costs as much as our race car.

Out of the 26 cars in group 4, I started 12th, and finished 10th. My fastest lap time was a 120.6xx. Which, I think is respectable for my first time out. A well prepped car and good driver could do 1:15-1:16. Not too bad for 1.95 miles (avg 84-86mph).

Don\'t I look snazzy?
If you’d like a signed poster of this, let me know. No, really.

Bruce Lindstrand drove this car (customer car, I recall) amazingly quick, even without a clutch.


  1. John Studdard Said,

    May 1, 2008 @ 9:56 pm

    Great stories! I need to start taking more pictures at the track. The challenges off the track always make the good times on the track that much sweeter.

  2. Jim Hobart Said,

    May 6, 2008 @ 10:40 am

    I’d like a signed poster. You’re my hero, Mr. Racecardriverman. Looks like fun. Maybe even more fun when it warms up a bit…?

  3. Cindy Lindstrand Said,

    May 7, 2008 @ 11:39 am

    Glad you guys had a great weekend and made it through the school and race. Yes, Blackhawk is really cold in April and October.

    Thanks for posting the picture of Bruce in Allen’s car also. We had a great weekend too!

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