MazdaMovement Meet ‘n Greet at Roger Beasley Raceway at Harris Hill

Just recently announced, upcoming event at Roger Beasley Raceway at Harris Hill, formerly known as Harris Hill Road (H2R).  This will be facilitated by MazdaMovement:

MAZDA Raceway at Harris Hill logo

COME DRIVE WITH US!

Roger Beasley Raceway at Harris Hill is happy to invite you to our first driving event. The get-together will be Saturday, December 10, 2011 from 10AM -3PM.

Here’s what we have in mind to keep you busy at Harris Hill:

10-11 Coffee and Classroom-Learn some techniques that you will use both on the track and in your everyday driving

11-1 Parade Laps and SKYACTIV Demonstration

1-2 Lunch with Drifting Demonstrations and Right Seat Track Rides

2-3 Service Lane Competition with GREAT Prizes!

Roger Beasley Raceway at Harris Hill is located at 2840 Harris Hill Road, San Marcos TX 78666.

Please RSVP to RSVP@texasmazda.com or, for more information call Terry Drake at 512 406 7515.

Here is the Facebook link!

This should be a GREAT event to enjoy.   I also look forward to seeing what the MAZDA Beasley branding has done (& will do) for H2R.

Racing Ready expects to see you there…regardless of what marque you drive!

Dan

Austin USGP Salvation We’ve Been Hoping For?

I happened to hear my phone announce a text during our Thanksgiving meal & I couldn’t resist.  I almost fell on the floor with the following press release from Circuit of The Americas (COTA):

Circuit of The Americas News Release banner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 24, 2011

Circuit of The Americas™ Ready to Pay Sanctioning Fee
and Offering More Proposal Satisfies 2012 Request,
Accelerates Payments for Subsequent Years

AUSTIN, Texas – November 24, 2011 – Circuit of The Americas has responded to Formula One Management’s contract requirements by agreeing to an immediate cash payment of the sanctioning fee for the 2012 United States Grand Prix (USGP). In addition, Circuit of The Americas has offered to establish an advance payment schedule for USGP races beyond 2012.  The offer comes after several weeks of talks, and once accepted, will secure the USGP on the Formula 1 race calendar.

“We have been ready to send Mr. Ecclestone a sanctioning fee check for some time now,” said Bobby Epstein, founding partner of Circuit of The Americas. “He hasn’t received it yet because the new contract presented to us two weeks ago contained unrealistic and unfeasible demands. We have signed and returned a contract similar to what we anticipated receiving. This race should be a reality, but if we are going to make the 2012 race date, we must receive a countersignature in the coming few days. We believe the teams, fans, sponsors and local business share our enthusiasm and hope that their voices will be heard.”

So, this gives us F1 fans some serious hope.  But, I’m left with the question:  Are we to expect the Austin USGP to occur in 2012 or 2013?  This next week we may see…

The biggest surprise to Racing Ready is the timing of this announcement.  Is this meant for us to truly “give thanks”?  We hope this is not another tease…

Dan

Very Concerned About Circuit of The Americas Recent Extremes!

I’m very concerned about the feast or famine extremes I have recently witnessed at Circuit of The Americas (COTA).  Ten days ago I was SO very pleased to see hundreds of COTA track workers’ trucks in their parking lot.  This was true witness to me that building & track construction was ramping up at a furious pace.  Here’s a panorama shot from Piland Triangle Road.  (Click to enlarge…)

COTA - BIG Parking Panorama!

Another indicator of progress, growth & potential was the reclaiming of private land for future entrepreneurial use.  At the right angle corner of Piland Triangle Road, the previous homeowners mobile home had been removed, and signs of investment opportunity were put up.  Again, to me these were signs of positive belief in the progression of COTA construction.

Former trailer lot, bordering COTA's southeast corner on Piland Triangle - any takers?

Here’s another shot, looking north across to COTA, as witnessed by my trusty steed, Karlino.

Karlino with investment property on the corner of Piland Triangle with COTA in the background...

Then comes today’s bombshell from COTA, e-mailed by Hahn, Texas Communications, the PR firm working with COTA.  I’ll let their words suffice to explain:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2011

Circuit of The Americas(TM) Suspends Construction
Pending Race Contract Delivery

Readiness for Formula 1(TM)
United States Grand Prix(TM) Not Yet Affected

AUSTIN, Texas – November 15, 2011 – Organizers of Circuit of The Americas, a premier motor sports racing and entertainment venue being developed in Austin, Texas, are suspending further construction of the project until a contract assuring the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix will be held at Circuit of The Americas in 2012 is complete. The race contract between Formula One and Circuit of The Americas has not been conveyed to Circuit of The Americas per a previously agreed upon timetable.

While construction at Circuit of The Americas has progressed as scheduled with over 300 workers at the construction site daily, all work will suspend immediately. The delivery of the Formula One Grand Prix race contract will allow construction operations to resume.

“We have spent tremendous resources preparing for the Formula One and MotoGP™ Championship races, but the failure to deliver race contracts gives us great concern,” said Bobby Epstein, founding partner of Circuit of The Americas. “We believe the United States is vital for the future of Formula One and its teams and sponsors. Given the purpose-built Tilke design, creating a unique fan experience and iconic challenge for drivers, we hope that Texas will not be left behind. More than 100,000 fans have expressed an interest in purchasing tickets for Formula One alone.”

“It is in the best interest of all parties to reach a timely resolution,” said Red McCombs, chairman of McCombs Enterprises and founding partner of Circuit of The Americas. “Local businesses, fans and the State of Texas are counting on us.”

My first reaction is… although the folks (& their investors) at COTA have a LOT on the line… Bernie Ecclestone could probably care less.  If his past history is any indication, this immediate work stoppage will not help things to move forward at all!  He’s already mentioned the possibility of maybe delaying the race till 2013…

To say that I’m concerned is an understatement!  Racing Ready wishes that everyone could all just get along.  Unfortunately, when big money is involved, playing nice goes out the window.  We will all need to closely follow where this goes.  Later today, Full Throttle Productions, Tavo Hellmund’s company that got this all started, put their 2 cents in…

Full Throttle Productions Statement
Regarding Suspension of Construction
at Circuit of The Americas

Nov. 15, 2011

Austin – Full Throttle Productions released the following statement today regarding the suspension of construction at Circuit of the Americas:

“After years of effort in getting F1 to Austin, Full Throttle Productions and city, county and state officials have done all we could. It is the responsibility of Circuit of the Americas to bring it across the finish line. For the sake of everyone, we are hopeful that they can reach an agreement with Formula 1.”

I’m sure Wild Bubba is concerned, as well, but will still put on the greatly anticipated  “Wild Bubba’s Meet, Great & Eat” event this coming Saturday evening.  Blogged details here!  I hope to see you there supporting the continuing building & eventual arrival of the Austin USGP at Circuit of The Americas next year!

We WILL move this forward, & Bernie, you’re invited! 😉

Dan

Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient – Extreme Hypermiling & Serious Karting!

This is the 3rd installment documenting the specific happenings & details of the Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient event that occurred 2 weeks ago.  We met, 3 bloggers & 3 drivers, at the Chuck Nash Auto Group dealership,  just north of San Marcos, at http://www.a1garagedoorrepairmilwaukee.com Texas.

Chuck Nash Dealership, San Marcos, TX - starting point of Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient

We were introduced to the inner workings & interesting details that set the new Chevy Volt apart.  Craig Eppling, Regional Manager of GM Communications, gave us a well-informed overview, with unique specifics when we inquired.

Craig Eppling, GM Communications Regional Manager, explaining the Volt's technolgy & inner workings - Photos by Russ Ham

As part of the welcome packet for this event, GM & the crew at Fleishman-Hillard included an actual Monroney sticker for our perusal.  I figured they’d want you to know ALL the details, so click on the image below to enlarge…

Chevy Volt Monroney sticker

In simple terms, it’s not a hybrid.  Upon initial full charge, you can drive up to 40 miles on the electric mode of propulsion, alone.  Beyond that, the 1.4 liter, 4-cylinder engine will kick in to charge the onboard lithium batteries (there are 280 small cells, not unlike laptop batteries with an eight year, 100K miles lifespan guarantee).

Racing Ready Dan studying Chevy Volt battery storage - Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient, by  DrivingTheHeartland

The general layout of the Chevy Volt is open & clean.  Teammate Jeff & I were positively impressed by the car’s spaciousness, interior layout & overall fit & finish.

Spacious, inviting Chevy Volt interior; with audio & video recording devices, Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient, by DrivingTheHeartland

The 3 teams settled into our first Chevy Volt challenge of driving efficiency.  As you can see, strategically-placed GoPro HD Hero video cams caught our interior actions & comments.  I felt like I was participating in a reality show, of sorts.

All 3 Driver/Blogger Teams (Baker-Ham, Warden-Scanlon & Umscheid-Choate) enroute in Volt - Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient, by  DrivingTheHeartland

There are all variety of onscreen menus & status displays to encourage you to drive the Chevy Volt in a “green” manner.  They were actually engaging & really helped Jeff drive the Volt most efficiently.  Part of this first challenge was a Chevy Volt themed scavenger hunt within the environs of San Marcos, TX.  Our first stop was to Dick’s Classic Garage, a rotating collection of serious 65 plus vintage classics.  They can boast a nice variety of cars previously enjoyed in the last century (from the years 1929 to 1959) – even a pristine Tucker!

Dick's Classic Garage, San Marcos, TX - featuring this 1959 Chevrolet Corvette

This was a very nice collection, but Jeff & I buzzed through in less than 5 minutes – we had a challenge to complete!  We agreed we’d like to come back & spend time at a more leisurely pace here.  It will be worth a visit back to this nicely preserved gathering of classic cars.

The Teams were to gather visual proof of at least 2 items as part of this first challenge.  The more notable items we had to find/do were the following:

  • Find a retail store with plug ins for electric vehicles
  • Another Chevy Volt
  • Volt & Team member at a place that represents Texas
  • Volt & Team member at a place that represents speed
  • Find the cheapest gas
  • Team Volt with another Chevy vehicle of the same color
  • Take a picture of a Camaro or Corvette
  • Volt & Team member with something that represents green energy
  • Team member with item/activity that “charges” you

We had about 1 hour & 20+ miles to complete the museum visit & above challenges.  The end goal of this first section of the challenge was to get to the Thunderhill Raceway, outside of Kyle, TX, before 6:30pm.  We did so & were all  successful in completing our driving/scavenger hunt challenges.  So successful, in fact, all 3 teams were tied with perfect scores!  So the deciding factor of winning this overall challenge was to do well in the NasKarts of the On Track Xperience (OTX).

OTX - On Track Xperience - Feel the NasKart Thrill at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, TX

All 3 drivers have extensive karting & other experience running the track at Thunderhill Raceway, a 3/8-mile, D-shaped banked asphalt oval track.  Chris is an OTX managing partner & driving instructor there.  Jeff participates consistently in a NasKart League & is an autocrosser. Not to be outdone, here’s visual proof of David’s experience – he won a SportMod feature race just 2 months ago!

David Umscheid - SportMod Feature Race Winner at Thunderhill Raceway, Kyle, TX - 10-SEP-2011

My previous karting experience was an impromptu 10 lap baptism, on a tight, 1/3 mile, circuitous track at Alamo Karts.  I’ll just say it wasn’t confidence inspiring.  But that experience was not at all any sort preparation for NasKarts at OTX – WOW!

OTX NasKarts waiting for us to run them ragged - Photo by Russ Ham

These miniscule single-speed karts, run with a powerful Honda engine, take you up to speeds of 65MPH, with your butt just an inch above the asphalt track.  They say it feels like 100MPH – I can concur!!!  Here’s a helmetcam screenshot of the tight, at speed racing OTX calls bump drafting.  This is not for the faint of heart.  Remember, this is at over 60 MPH!  Oh, & by the way, there’s no seatbelt or harness to hold you in place!

Proper (& brave) NasKart bump draft racing with OTX at Thunderhill Raceway - Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient, by  DrivingTheHeartland

In preparation for the speed part of this event, Jeff had previously e-mailed me the following sage piece of advice:

As far as the Karts, I race there in a league and I will definitely do all I can to help you out.  Full throttle, never let off.  That’s the rule. Don’t be afraid.  I think we will get to practice, but I am not sure.  I’ll be able to tell you the line depending on the track.  If it’s slick, it’s a high entry late apex kind of thing.  If it’s tight it is as low as you can go.  The rule for both is to never lift!   (Emphasis mine…)

Well, this advice did not assuage my concerns…

So, as they say, there’s no substitute for the real thing.  We had two 10-lap sessions.  The first session was slated for practice, the second to be the actual racing where the times counted.  I was quite apprehensive during the first session laps, not at all trusting the on-the-edge, lack of control of drifting & feeling like I was going to spin out around the banked corner.  In short, yes, I will say I was scared…but I kept on it.  Witness the my blurred, TOO high racing line result below:

That yellow blur is Racing Ready Dan at TOO high a racing line - Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient, by DrivingTheHeartland

After the first session,  Jeff came by to continue to offer the “never lift” advice.  We reviewed the proper racing line, both corners working best with a late apex, especially in the cooler, dusty/slick track conditions we were experiencing.  I felt I did a little better during this racing session.  I kept telling myself to push it down to the inside edge of the each corner, then coming out to the short straights only to realize I was breathing SO very fast.  Also, at that speed you really experience the sensation of tunnel vision.  I was so wrapped up in what I was doing that the I didn’t realize the 10 laps were over & I was still at full throttle for almost 3/4’s of the cool down lap – sorry guys!

So, Jeff & I placed in the mid-pack, earning second place, as announced by Katrina.

Katrina Steffensen, of Fleishman-Hillard, announcing our final challenge standings - Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient, by DrivingTheHeartland

This was quite a rewarding event for me as a blogger & wannabe racer.  I found out some of the depths that a racer must go to push himself beyond his perceived limitations.  I’m sure I still left a lot of room on the track to push even further.

In addition to giving me some personal racing satisfaction, the winners Chris & Russ donated their NASCAR Texas Motor Speedway races weekend prizes (2 pairs of race tix & a nice hotel stay).  Chris give up his to Aaron & myself for participating in something new.  Thank you, Chris!!!  Russ offered his for the SPOKES autocross club to raise additional funds for the Bastrop fire victims.  Also, Chris & Russ were able to enjoy a week long free rental of a Chevy Camaro & Corvette, respectively.  Here’s Russ’ blogged writeup of his Corvette experience.  In addition, Aaron did a nice writeup of this whole experience, from a more EV point of view!

Many thanks to Katrina, Vicki, Matt, & Craig – among the unsung others at Fleishman-Hillard, General Motors, Chuck Nash Auto Group & the Driving the Heartland Chevy blog.  Many of the above images were captured from the tightly edited video displayed below – thanks Rhea!  Here’s the recap: Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient video, by Driving the Heartland

This is an e-mail excerpt I sent to my fellow Team bloggers & drivers  after the event:

Although these tickets don’t include the AAA Texas 500 “real” NASCAR race on Sunday, seeing the Truck Series & Nationwide Series racing will more than suffice.  I am an admitted non-NASCAR fan, except for the Watkins Glen & Infineon Raceway NASCAR contests.  Seeing this high speed racing phenomena, in person, has a strong possibility of changing my opinion.  Also, screaming around the Thunderhill Raceway in the OTX NasKarts at over 60MPH, was WAY beyond my perceived limit of pushing myself!!!  I gained a further appreciation of what a racer has to do to win.  All of this should make for more interesting blog posts at RacingReady.com.

So, yes, I will be soon writing up about my impressions of a NASCAR weekend immersion experience.  As a teaser, my opinion has changed to a more positive position about NASCAR – seriously!  More later…

Racing Ready enjoyed the opportunity to learn about new technology, partake in different activities & make new friends.  I will say this, I was impressed by the new Chevy Volt.  Thank you Chevrolet & GM!

Dan

For more info please visit http://www.a1garagedoorrepairmilwaukee.com.

One Year Before the Race – Wild Bubba’s Meet, Greet & Eat!

Wild Bubba's Meet, Greet and Eat - 'One Year Before The Race'

This past summer, Wild Bubba of Wild Bubba’s Wild Game Grill, kicked off the first Wild Bubba’s Meet, Greet & Eat.  It was a quality get-together of Formula 1 race fans & an interesting variety of people involved in the Austin area racing community.  Now, here’s the important event announcement on Facebook!

Wild Bubba's Wild Game Grill - Meet, Greet and Eat - 'One Year Before The Race'

Here are the specific details about this event:

All Racing Fan’s…This is the one event you don’t want to miss! Racing fan’s from all over will be meeting and greeting while dining on delicious Burgers from Wild Bubba’s Wild Game Grill.  Shiner Beer will be available as well as soda and water.
The event will feature:
– 2 F1 racing simulators for your racing pleasure
– A fashion expo from Congruent Style
– Booths from various social media organizations
– Door prizes including a Grand Prize to be drawn
– Live Music featuring “The Volente Beach Boys”
– Cash Burger and Beer Bar.
Come out to the Hitchin’ Post, which features a huge outdoor deck with plenty of room to mingle and talk F1.  You never know who might show up.
😉

The Hitchin' Post

Don’t make the mistake I did last summer.  This event will not be at the actual Wild Bubba’s Wild Game Grill location in Elroy, TX.  The Hitchin’ Post is about 1 mile north of the ABIA Airport, off of Tollway 130 at 12100 FM 969, Austin, Texas.  Here’s a map – click to enlarge…

Hitchin' Post map

Racing Ready will be there.  If you are at all interested in the Austin F1 USGP, this countdown kickoff party will BE the place to be!  You want to, need to show!!!

Dan

BBC Sport Version of Austin F1 Coulthard Video

BBC Sport – Coulthard Drives Off-Road
on New Circuit of The Americas

This is the BBC version of footage depicting David Coulthard & the F1 Team Red Bull crew descending upon Austin this past summer.  Although it’s not as slick as the highly edited Red Bull video, I like it better as it has a LOT more fulfilling content.  It’s very enjoyable & informative!

Coulthard drives off-road on new Circuit of The Americas - by BBC Sport

Visit this BBC Sport site to open & view their 5 & 1/2 minute video.  You will get a good review of some of the very interesting personalities behind the USGP Formula 1 coming to Austin next year.  🙂

In addition, this was the exciting buildup of information surrounding the filming & preparation of the original Red Bull Racing Team Austin F1 video – some good snippets here that you won’t see in either of the other 2 videos!

San Antonio F1Club - Celebrating the Formula 1 Fiesta!

Racing Ready is stoked about F1 racing coming to Austin.  We’re SO so enthused, in fact, there is in formation a new San Antonio F1 Club that is gaining traction, here!  This is a grassroots effort to bring together like-minded fans, to have F1 race watching parties & much – follow here for more information!

Dan

San Antonio F1 Club - Celebrating the Formula One Fiesta!