Automotive Ramblings

Larison Rock 2005

Shana and Heather didn’t join us, so Paul and I had an all racing, all man’s weekend at this year’s Larison Rock Hillclimb. And once again, this proved to be a well hosted, well run, perfect weather weekend.

We both took off work Friday to prepare the car (apply stickers) and drive it down to scenic Oakridge. Yep, we drove the car! Truth is, the cup suspension with 55 series tires isn’t that harsh, and Paul said he actually liked the racing seat for the journey! Biggest problem with driving the car down there is being responsible on public roads while race gas fueled exhaust keeps wafting in the window at stops 😀

We arrived at the hotel about 3ish to find we had been booked into a smoking room, and we weren’t getting out of it either. However, we were assured that the room had recently been converted from non-smoking to smoking just one week earlier. Well, I don’t know how much smoking folks do in Oakridge, but whoever was in the room the week previous must have smoked non-stop! Se la ve, we sucked it up and inhaled and exhaled the stale motel room knowing it would take more than that to spoil our weekend!

But it didn’t take long for someone else to try us! Registration and tech wasn’t set up yet, so we went out to the course to get Paul acquainted. While taking our survey runs, this dickhead in a Z06 nearly ran us off the course as he was coming back down. Obviously here for the event and practicing himself, we both shook it off and figured ‘whatever’. But when we went for our next survey run up the hill, Z06 boy appears in our mirrors from behind. Mind you, surveying the course has to be done at the 35mph speed limit as the race isn’t until the following day when they shut the course down to public access. He gets very close filling my mirror completely, and then in an instant, he passed us on a single lane road!! Unbelievable!! Paul gives him the bird and I try to remain calm. Continuing to the top of the course, guess who we find… Yep, Z06 boy has managed to fishtail his barge and high center it on the edge of the road. He then has the audacity to ask for help pushing the car out! We end up helping out, but then he’s going to just leave with no mention of his very dangerous pass earlier – which is when I decided to stop him. I politely explained it was foolish and unsafe and that it was just the kind of thing that could end this event for everyone involved. During the lecture, I couldn’t help but wonder what this 50-something year old must be thinking as he’s getting the 3rd degree from me, LOL! He apologized half heartedly and continued on his way. Sadly, after the weekend was over, he ended up posting the fastest overall time of the event. Unreal!

We ended up making probably a dozen survey runs before heading back to Ray’s to stock up on supplies. Getting back to the hotel, it was time to get checked in and tech’d. While Paul was getting up to speed in the novice meeting, I got unpacked and got the essentials in order:

Paul returned from the meeting commenting once again that my instruction on the hill was more valuable than that of the official novice meeting where beer was consumed and water balloons tossed about the room! Noticing I had Ultimatebet ready to go, he wasted no time in getting into a couple games:

And then we discovered what broadband internet is in Oakridge: Shit! Our connection was getting dropped every 5 minutes, and getting worse. When I inquired at the front desk, I was informed that it was peak hours in a rural area, and it wasn’t getting better. I thought to myself, that’s odd, they advertise wi-fi access right on their readerboard. By the time we left that weekend, the signage was taken down, LOL!

The next day, we arrived at the hill to find we didn’t have any work assignments as we weren’t members! This put us with a run each in the morning and afternoon. Paul was up first, and was suddenly very nervous. I did my best to play coach, but he wasn’t having it. Then Brad took a turn talking him down as well:

Paul’s run went great though, and came back down with a huge shit eating grin, as I knew he would. Excited to get back out there, he’d have to wait until the afternoon for his next chance.

I was up next and lined up on the grid. As I got underway, I suddenly felt like it had been 10 years since my last run up the hill, not 2. Plus, this car is much lighter than the 337 was and felt like it could skip off the course at any time in comparison. Of course it wasn’t going to, but I definitely took it very easy on the way up the first time out.

But while waiting at the top waiting to come back down, there was an unexpected break in the run group as the next car hadn’t arrived at the top at the next 2 minute interval. Then the radio started buzzing that a car hadn’t passed checkpoint 8 yet, and it was quickly determined the car had to be between checkpoints 7 and 8. A long time passed before we heard what had happened, and the first words we heard were, “Does anyone have a camera?”

After the corner workers and tow truck cleared the wreck, the car was brought up to our meeting area where they would turn around. Here’s we saw the nearly brand new Evolution RS nearly completely totaled, with only the driver compartment remaining:

I asked the owner later about the car, and he explained it had an aluminum roof to save weight, and they didn’t have a rollbar. I later got some more shots at the bottom where the car rested during lunch:

Needless to say, next on the list of things to buy for the car is a rollbar!

Our afternoon runs were both much improved, especially Paul’s time, which cut 13 seconds off for a best time of 2:25 for the first day. I was only doing slightly better at 2:22. My best run in the 337 was 2:15, so I was looking to destroy that mark the next day with the rabbit having 85% of the same power, and probably 1200 less pounds.

But my first time the next day was actually 2:23, a second slower. This was starting to get discouraging as I really expected sub 2:10 times by now, and i only had one more run to try to improve.

In the meantime, Paul surpassed me with a 2:22 and followed that up with a 2:18! At this point, our Panama Brown rabbit was familiar and folks in the scoring booth noticed we were trading fast laps and it became the battle of the two new guys in the rabbit.

I really pushed it my last lap, and even still, I could only best Paul by 1 second with a 2:17! Nice runs Paul, I have my work cut out for me next year!

We ended up placing 10th and 11th in the OSPU class. I chose the OSPU class because the last time I went up, most of the rabbits ran SM, and some of the mods on our car didn’t quite fit those rules. But in my 2 year absence, most of the SM guys got more serious about their cars and modifications, and now run the more generic OSPU class. As a result, we were waaay outclassed here as these guys had taken full advantage of the loose rules, and cars ran full slicks, fiberglass and plexiglass components, completely stripped interiors, and very slick race suspensions.

Nonetheless, we assured ourselves we were just racing the clock and not our competitors and had a great time. Major kudos to Emerald Empire Sports Car Club for hosting another fantastic event, can’t wait to come back.

Larison Rock 2005 Gallery

Crappy Rabbit Video 1
Crappy Rabbit Video 2


Automotive Personal and Family Ramblings

Birthday Trip to Jaguar Wine Country Classic

I’m waaay behind on my blogging, so here goes!

Shana surprised me last minute with a trip to Napa valley for the Jaguar Wine Country Classic Historic Car races. The feature this year was late 60’s/early 70’s trans-am cars. Mustangs, Corvettes, Camaros and the like were all in attendance representing the last of the good years from SCCA racing. And what a display of beautiful examples, these cars were all in perfect and restored condition — and then they ran the shit out of them! I have a lot of respect for that!

We drove down very early on Friday, and stayed in nearby Petaluma. Shana found this quaint little European-style hotel, Metro Hotel & Cafe.

The room was an astounding $89 a night and was cleverly appointed with bright colors against white walls, and just enough amenities to make your stay comfortable. And with wireless internet, I played a little poker… Naturally!

While in Petaluma, we discovered that their downtown is experiencing renewed growth and is starting to resemble the surrounding valley towns, with new shops, restaurants and bars. We had Sushi Friday night at Hiro’s, and it was probably the nicest Sushi place I’ve been to. Attention to detail was to the extreme, and the sushi was only the best of the fish. The downside is that the best part doesn’t equal a large portion, Amatsu has spoiled me!

Saturday night after the races, the cars make a parade lap through Sonoma and park on the square. This sounded like a good time, but the square was loaded with people. We decided to find a place to sit and have some appetizers and drinks on the square to watch the cars circle by. The place we found was the Ledson Hotel.

We were a bit under dressed to say the least, and the pompous waiter did his best to appear unamused with our decision to visit his restaurant. But we stayed nonetheless and had some of the most decadent appetizers I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling. Shana had the fresh spinach ravioli w/ grilled asparagus, and I had the appetizer sampler with fresh spring roll, and some other delicacies I can’t recall. And in honesty, the bill of ~$40 with a few drinks was quite reasonable. We’ll have to come back and stay there sometime, only $400 a night 😉

And of course, no Sears Point visit is complete without a stop by the ‘The Meat Store’. I got the prosciutto sandwich, and it’s just as good as I remembered, piled about 2 inches thick! Angelo makes his own meats, olives, salsas, jerky, and seasonings. So when you stop in, the portions are very generous, and being only 10 minutes from the track is the perfect location!

A wonderful and relaxing weekend getaway from my wife, Thank You Honey!

Complete gallery.


Automotive Ramblings

Audi Club Track Days at PIR

The good: The Rabbit cannot be stopped, and in fact, it can pass S4 owners with twice the horsepower due to the amazing corning abilities of this little car! That’s no BS, Paul and I both were flagged by because some of the ‘intermediate’ skilled drivers with 350hp+ don’t know how to drive. And I swear, the harder we beat the car, the better she performed. We did have to replace an exhaust hanger and bleed the brakes between days, but otherwise that little car took abuse from two drivers in separate sessions for two days straight without complaint! Can’t wait to go again, thanks again Paul for a beautifully constructed car!

The bad: It would appear the Audi Club chose profits over safety this particular weekend. The event was supposed to be limited to 50, and over 70 were in attendance. Furthermore, they only had a total of 3 corner workers available, which didn’t inspire any confidence either. But the worst was the complete inability to effectively manage this many people and the poor attitude of senior club members. The first day, no one had a clue and didn’t seem to care to get one either. My honest overall feeling of the event was that this was a much needed fundraiser to afford a track day and that they would have to put up with the nuisance of everyone else who was paying for their day.

As usual on track days, no one knew where to be or what to do without stumbling around. I’m used to that, but usually things come together by the driver meeting. Not this club. Paul and I were both new members to the club and paid our membership with the track day fee. Luckily we had our email receipts because this total asshole never got confirmation on the 15+ new members who paid the same way did and wasn’t going to let them out without paying again or proof of payment. What kind of bullshit is this, we’re using your email form and submitting CC numbers — get your act together!!

Then it’s Paul’s turn to go out and he’s required to have an instructor. He queue’s up and gets an ‘instructor’. Well apparently, instructors are club members who pay only $50 for the track day, but agree to ride with novices. And the guy Paul got was apparently totally lousy. Paul was ready to leave and I can’t say I blame him. These ‘instructors’ were just be interested in a cheap track day rather than helping novice drivers. My solution worked to keep us at the track: Since no one has a clue what’s going on, I’ll ride as Paul’s instructor. And it worked! No one noticed, and I got Paul the info he needed and after that he ran by himself. No one questioned it, and he was never flagged for bad judgment, driving or otherwise because by now he knew what he was doing and passing guys in $50k cars. The next day, they start barking at him for trying to go out without an instructor and he has to explain to 4 or 5 people that he was out all day yesterday w/o one. Luckily the instructor they forced on him next was actually helpful and day 2 was saved.

Long story short, I won’t be going back to their events. I was glad to get the time on track, but we have options.