24 Things To Do At The Rolex 24 At Daytona

This weekend (January 30-31, 2010) will be the 48th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.  This motorsports event always seems to inaugurate the racing season, getting the racing ball rolling, so to speak.

Below is a related, useful & interesting “things to do” collection came across my e-mail, from this site.  These activities would surely keep you busy for the entire 24 hours!  I thought it would help inspire the racing gears in your head to start whirring…

DAYTONA BEACH, FL. – Below is a compilation of suggested activities and events at the highly-anticipated 48th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. You can make race weekend plans with like-minded fans in “The Garage Connection” forum on the GRAND-AM Community.

  1. Take a walk through the Rolex Series garage and see the teams working on the cars and photograph a few of the drivers.
  2. Stop by the vendor area to get a look at the latest in motorsports books, posters and apparel. Be sure to visit the GRAND-AM souvenir trailer to look at the slot cars and die-cast cars. It’s a great opportunity to get a t-shirt of your favorite driver, or perhaps a GRAND-AM sweat shirt if it gets chilly during the evening.
  3. Visit the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge garage to see the many new cars that will be racing this season.
  4. For a special treat, join the Champion’s Club inside the Daytona 500 Club, and enjoy either a two-day or four-day exclusive package for VIP treatment throughout the Rolex 24.
  5. Get your picture taken for free with a Daytona Prototype and the Rolex 24 At Daytona trophy in Gatorade Victory Lane.
  6. Walk the infield of the circuit during Thursday night practice to find your favorite viewing locations for the race.
  7. Stop by the Rolex 24 Heritage Exhibition to celebrate cars made famous in past runnings of the Rolex 24. Also tour the Goodyear Legends of Racing display honoring sports car, stock car and motorcycle competitors who made history at Daytona. Then watch the cars on track Saturday morning’s Rolex 24 Heritage Exhibition and re-live the history of the Rolex 24.
  8. Visit the Grassroots Motorsports tent, try your hand at slot car racing or tackle a racing simulator.
  9. Visit Daytona 500 Experience to see Lyn St. James’ new Women in the Winners Circle exhibit.
  10. Run in Saturday morning’s Daytona 5K – one lap of the road circuit – so you can tell your friends you raced on the same course that was used in the Rolex 24. You might get the opportunity to rub elbows with a few of the crewmen or drivers along the way! Another option is walking the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
  11. Don’t miss Saturday’s giant autograph session in the Sprint FANZONE. You will be hard pressed to find another place in the world where the greatest drivers are all signing autographs at the same time.
  12. Visit the grid prior to the race to see the cars up close and crews make final preparations in the pits.
  13. Stand or sit in the infield trioval grass to watch all of the drivers cross the stage in driver introductions.
  14. Find a seat in the grandstands overlooking turn one for an overview of all of the action early in the race. Then, move to the center of the grandstands to watch the action in the pits for a round or two of pit stops.
  15. Stop by the Fresh From Florida Activity Zone to sample the Chili Cookoff – then vote for your favorite!
  16. Visit the Wine and Cheese party and taste a variety of cheeses while sampling a few exquisite wines while the sports cars buzz in the background.
  17. Go to the infield to sit in the grandstand by the East Horseshoe to see the drivers tackle the challenging turn up close.
  18. Sit high in the grandstand near the West Horseshoe to be able to see the drivers tackle the infield, and then turn around to see them transition to the banking.
  19. Visit the infield carnival and take a spin on the largest Ferris Wheel on the East Coast. Watch the race from 150 feet above the action! Other amusement/carnival rides will be available, too.
  20. Find a seat high in the main grandstands to watch the sun come up and the race transition from night into morning.
  21. For a really unique view of the action, purchase a parasail ride on Lake Lloyd. Visit the Centurion Boats pier located behind the Camping World Center.
  22. Enjoy Uncle Robbie’s Breakfast Garage to fuel up for the exciting climax of the Rolex 24.
  23. Head to your favorite viewing location to enjoy the final thrilling laps of the Rolex 24 and watch another chapter of history being made in America’s premier sports car race!
  24. Head to Gatorade Victory Lane to view the pageantry of the Rolex 24 post-race Gatorade Victory Lane ceremonies.

Racing Ready also has many things to do.  I’ll be out of pocket for the next few days.  Expect light blog posting here – thanks!


The Drivers Edge School, 2nd Time At H2R

This past Saturday, a coworker (Jason) & I, went up to Harris Hill Road (H2R) in his Mazdaspeed3 to see the goings on at a The Drivers Edge (TDE) 2-day school.  We got there at 8am & they had already started the initial drivers’ meeting.  I don’t know how many drivers has signed up, maybe 50 to 60 or more.  All I know is that the main gathering area of Harris Hill Road’s Club house was full!

This was Jason’s first visit to H2R.  It was The Drivers Edge’s second HPDE event at H2R (their first event took place last May).  I introduced Jason to all sorts of people & showed him all around.  We were both there in observation (“sponge”) mode.  So, in addition to reviewing all the cool more-than-street, almost & real racing cars there, we had the great opportunity to sit in on a few of the good training sessions.

TDE divides it’s students into green, blue, yellow & red categories, in that order, from entry level to advanced.  Unlike the other Texas road tracks TDE teaches at, no novices are allowed at H2R.  That’s how technical their course is.  Therefore, those who were in the green group were not true novices – they already had some track/HPDE event experience.

Unfortunately for Rick Schwalenberg, The Drivers Edge President & founder, he had previously broken his ankle in 2 places.  He was on the mend & not able to get around very well.  Fortunately for me, I was able to get some good semi-one-on-one time with him, as he was somewhat confined to the class room for most of the morning  track sessions.  We got some refreshing insight from him and the other instructors in the classroom.

Here’s what Rick said about the challenges of the Harris Hill Road club track:

I learn most tracks in about 3 laps; H2R took me a half day!

I shared with Rick that Bo Rivers (H2R owner/creator) had explained to me his track is even more technical in the CCW direction & doesn’t flow as smoothly, i.e., it’s that much more challenging!

By lunch we were able to get in “parade laps”.  I accompanied Jason driving his upgraded Mazdaspeed3 (almost 300WHP!).  He got in 5 laps & I was able to put in 1 lap, learning such a different car feel of FWD on-track, versus the RWD of Karlino on track 7 days prior…I gave Karlino the day off & rode up with Jason (thanks dude!).

There was a very nice silver Datsun 240Z, that was clean & looked like a “sleeper” racer.  That is to say, it looked pretty stock, but the owner had completely rebuilt a new motor, fully upgraded suspension, brakes & exhaust.  Unfortunately, after the warm up parade lap the car broke (no idea what happened).  This is not the way you want to come off the track!

I can’t justifiably explain all the concepts & knowledge that was shared in the training sessions.  I DID begin to learn a lot of new concepts & reinforced others.  The advanced class was very interesting, with explanations of car attitude, how & why to settle the car in preparation for the next corner approach to the apex, & so on.  At this H2R track, all but 2 of the 11 turns are of the late apex variety & many are off camber.  It’s a thinking man’s track…

Tracks drives the car, cars don’t drive tracks.

That is, the track course layout dictates how you will drive the track’s best line.

Racing Ready enjoyed this day as a laid back learning event.  I was also good to share all this knowledge with a friend.


Start the Racing Season With Track Instruction

Say Goodbye to Old Man Winter!

Yes, this is a blatant copy & paste promotion from my e-mail.  But, I know this would be of interest to many of you out there, wanting the clear out the winter non-racing cobwebs!

Apex Driving Academy announces our Spring Track Event on Sunday, March 21, 2010 at MotorSport Ranch in Cresson, Texas on the 1.7 mile CCW track.  Come join us to say “goodbye” to Old Man Winter, and “hello” to a season of fun!!

This BYOC (bring your own car) program includes classroom instruction and up to two and a-half hours of track time. This is a great value and some of the most fun motorsports enthusiasts can have, and still be legal!!

Don’t miss out! Space is limited so enroll today.

Sign up online or if you have a gift certificate to use, please give us a call at 469-236-0940.

See you on track day!

Thank you,

Miss Claire
Apex Driving Academy
Phone: 469-236-0940

Here is some additional Helpful Links Apex refers to:

If you’re wondering (like I did) what “the 1.7 mile CCW track” is referring to, the answer, my friend, is found in the graphic below:

Racing Ready again emphasizes the need to improve your driving ability first, before furthering equipment upgrades.  In other words, invest in your racing self first!


Real Racing Ready Cars From The Showroom

A number of manufacturers are coming out with very best convertible car seats that are very race track capable.  One is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe – 2.0T Track Edition!

I know local autocrosser, Sherman, has a black one that he entered into competition for the first time at the “FrozenCross“ put on by SASCA earlier this month.

Here’s another great dealership-available car, and a diesel at that, to consider – the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Street Edition.  A few years ago this idea would have been laughable.  Not anymore, where you have the 24 of Le Mans winning by a diesel-fueled race car as well…2 years in a row!

It’s no secret what a racing Jetta TDI can do in a race, but what about a Jetta TDI that you would find at your local dealer?  We’re sure you’d agree that there’s really only one way to find out:  SETTLE…

Here are 2 racing ready diesels: VW Jetta TDI – Stock Car vs. TDI Cup Race Car !

I wrote of this Jetta TDI Cup series last month.  It sure looks awesome (and honestly, it makes me envious).  Anybody have one of these Jetta TDIs & want to take it out to Harris Hill Road (H2R) for a spin?  Better yet, register & bring yours to the hot, new Chrono-X time trial series!  As a matter of fact, I haven’t seen (or heard, or smelled) a diesel at any of our autocross events recently.  Any takers?

Racing Ready wants to play with racing ready cars available at your local showroom!


Autocross Most Interesting Man Award

Subtitle:  Inspiration from An Unlikely Source

I consider Craig one of my Miata inspiration mentors…he’s one of the few steadfast SASCA members that stays involved, many times beyond the call of duty.

Craig's Teal Turd, blowing through cones at a SPOKES SMA autocross.

Craig has been having fun autocrossing, not taking things at all too seriously, for some time.  Originally he campaigned a Mazda RX-7, but now he enjoys plying the challenges of car/engine mods and autocrossing with a 1990 Mazda Miata.  He calls it the Teal Turd.

At the recent SASCA End Of Year Party, partly in seriousness & partly in jest, Craig was awarded the 2009 SSM Most Interesting Man Award.  Thanks to Stanford & others in the SSM Class crowd for all of the following:

(Cheesy Latin voice-over)

  • He drives forward… sideways.
  • He once experienced a moment of understeer… just to see what it was like.
  • The sound of his car at WFO, on snow tires, makes crowds cheer (and course-workers run).
  • His in-car dash-cam faces the passenger, capturing life’s fine line between terror and euphoria.
  • He cares not how he places, but instead he lives to entertain the course workers.
  • He is… the 2009 SASCA Most Interesting Man.

“I don’t always drive sideways… but when I do, I prefer a screaming rookie next to me.”

(Craig has given the most ride-alongs in 2009 overall and undoubtedly has hooked more rookies via his ride-alongs than any other club member).

  • Produced the number 1 rated SASCA YouTube video “Spin Cycle”.
  • Only SASCA car to be in Drift, AutoX, Drag Racing, and Harris Hill events.
  • More Hello Kitty stickers per liter than any car in Texas.
  • Only fusion powered MX5 on record. (note the photo of his car carrying the welder, above)
  • On video beating a motorcycle at San Antonio Raceway.
  • Can organize a fun run / group drive with a single silly grin.
  • Isn’t joking when discussing mechanical considerations for putting turntable floor in a garage.
  • Took the most interesting picture on the SASCA website. With a cell phone no less.
  • Produced balls of rubber the size of a baseball with 1.2 liters of displacement. (See the famous “rubber snowballs” after the RX7 burnout, above)
  • Can turn an EZ-Up into a tropical rain forest with just the stuff found in a Miata trunk.
  • Makes parts disappear from one friends car and reappear on another friends car.
  • Accused on another forum of having the fastest NA RX8 for a while.
  • Never uses the same wheel / tire combination twice.
  • Able to estimate maximum range of a Ruger LCP if you were to lob the shot.
  • Led SASCA’s only partial license plate number search based on rear bumper impressions.
  • Happened to have a “spare” hard fuel line around to help a friends SC install project.

He coined the phrase… ‘Let’s duct tape it.’

Racing Ready credits Craig’s inspiration for my becoming a Miata owner, last summer.  If it hadn’t been for a relaxing conversation with him over some stouty beer, I’d still be trying to save up to repair my old Nissan Maxima, to then sell it at a loss.

Thanks again Craig – you ARE a Most Interesting Man!


SMMA Air Traffic Control Tower Project Update

Leaving Harris Hill Road (H2R) last Saturday afternoon, I drove over to the San Marcos Municipal Airport (SMMA).  You may recall that last Spring/Summer 2009, the SPOKES club had 3 great autocross events there.  It was a huge expanse of a variety of concrete surfaces that was loved by all competitors.  We were not able to compete there beyond those 3 events.  The airport did not have any problems with how the events were run, but they were concerned about safety.

This is an active (although low volume) airport.  From time to time there would be an airplane taxiing just off the apron from where our course was set up to compete.  When that happened we would stop the cars on course & wait for the plane to finish taxiing.  They decided the possible safety threat was the deciding factor in discontinuing to have autocrosses there.

It was mentioned that with the construction of a new air traffic control tower, the safety issue could possibly be more easily addressed.

The new $2.2 million control tower will be part of the Federal Contract Tower Program and staffed by four to six civilian Air Traffic Controllers. The 9-story (100′ in height) facility will have 2,295 square feet, including a base building, elevator, and control cab where professional air traffic controllers will manage flights in and out of the reliever airport.

Here’s a shot of Karlino, bravely “addressing” a vintage fighter jet, just outside of the Confederate Air Force (CAF).  I know this was a set up shot, but, I thought it was cool!

So, here’s the new tower construction progress, from a variety of angles…

The air traffic control tower looks to be just a few months away from completion (my guess).  We’ll see what the SMMA & SPOKES powers that be decide about future autocross activity there.  Should be interesting…

Racing Ready is looking forward to future autocross events back at the San Marcos Municipal Airport!


P.S. – Here’s proof of further progress – updated photos from January 23, 2010:

Harris Hill Road First Time Ontrack Instruction

Continuing this past Saturday’s activities at Harris Hill Road (H2R), w/Steven Johnson

After spending some business/co-promotion time at the H2R office, it was track time!  This was to be my third time out on the H2R track with Karlino.  My first time out on track at Harris Hill Road was for my birthday, almost a year ago, in my Big White Whale (2000 Nissan Maxima SE).

What made this track time special & a real learning experience was that I was going to get some instruction.  I asked Steven Johnson to accompany me & instruct me in the following:

  • The correct line racing line
  • How to set up for the each turn’s apex
  • Where & how hard to brake
  • Other track position pointers

Suffice it to say, the way the track should be run, at least for a small RWD drive car like a Miata, in some cases seemed counter-intuitive.  But, after going a round a few times (I think at least 6 laps at speed), the lines Steven showed me started to make sense.  It was cool & something that warrants further study.  Click to enlarge & scan…

See the Harris Hill Road track map below (from one of their classrooms):

  • The purple line is the racing line
  • The orange marks are corner pointers and/or apex points
  • The blue X’s are braking points (more X’s – harder braking)
  • The brown circles are where most people who go off the track, end up.

Driving Karlino, top down in sunny 50 degree weather at speed was fun, if but a bit disconcerting.  Even though I upped the tire pressure to 33PSI, I was still running on older, BFGoodrich TA Traction (NOT!) tires with about to 25 to 30K miles on them (high treadware 620!) & street brake pads of unknown vintage.  Therefore, I didn’t push it extremely hard.

You see, although the track surface was dry, there were at least 6 locations where there was some water run off going across the track.  It made for some interesting race line variations, with occasional back & forth steering wheel counter-lock corrections to compensate for all-of-a-sudden traction loss.  The good news is – I kept it on the track!

Steven was a very patient & helpful instructor.  It was a little difficult to hear him with the top down, at speed, engine whining, tires grabbing for grip & both of us having full face helmets.  But I can wholeheartedly give him a 2 big thumbs up as an instructor!  Thanks Steven!!!

Racing Ready caught a little piece of what you have to do to push a machine to race…