Tejas Miatas – Jester King Brewery & Salt Lick BBQ Run

 Tejas Miatas logo

This past weekend my wife, Isa, & I enjoyed a brisk, pre-spring, sun-filled drive around the southern environs of Austin, TX.  What prompted this was an announcement from the Tejas Miatas, one week prior:

Date: Sat, 18 Feb 2012
Subject: [tejasmiata] Jester King Brewery-Salt Lick BBQ run Sat Feb 25th

I have been talking about going out to the Jester King Brewery for awhile so I have decided to plan a run out there next Saturday and then head over to the Salt Lick in Driftwood for some BBQ afterward.

You can read about the brewery here:  http://www.jesterkingbrewery.com
and The Salt Lick here:  http://www.saltlickbbq.com

We will meet at 2:00pm at the Y at Oak Hill which is the intersection of Hwy 290 and Hwy 71, in the Planet Fitness parking lot,7100 W. US Highway 290.  We will leave at 2:30 sharp so that we make it to Jester King by 3:00, have some time to look around and then take the last tour at 3:30.

As most of us know about the Salt Lick, it is CASH ONLY.  No credit cards.  No separate checks.  I do think they have an ATM but I would get cash before the trip just in case.  It is also B.Y.O.B. so bring your ice chest and favorite beverages unless you just want water, tea, coffee, or sodas that they have.  Please RSVP by Thursday Feb. 23rd so I have an idea of the size of our group for the brewery tour.  Don’t fill up on lunch since we will be having an early dinner as we want to beat the crowds.

President – Tejas Miatas
2006 Galaxy Gray GT

Since it had been a couple months since last traveling up the Austin-San Antonio corridor, I decided it would be good timing to make some visits.  I spent some time to visit my racing friends at H2R, now known as the Mazda Raceway at Harris Hill.  Although there was no event going on, there was a good amount of activity in the clubhouse, & on the track.  In reviewing raceway events progress with Philipp, things are moving forward well.  A lot of their growing exposure has been due to the sponsorship brought onboard with Roger Beasley Mazda – it’s been a win-win for both parties!

MAZDA Raceway at Harris Hill logo

Continuing north, I was able to assess the construction progress at the Circuit of The Americas (CoTA), from Piland Triangle.  As the November 18th, 2012 Austin F1 USGP event gets closer, I’m sure somebody influential will get that little triangular road renamed.  Any suggestions?

Austin USGP Formula 1 Track Site - Piland Triangle STOP sign.  This was prior to track construction, dated 14-NOV-2010.

Check out the latest vertical construction along the future CoTA front straight!
(Click to enlarge – click twice for best detail!)

CoTA Construction Progress panorama - 25-FEB-2012

As is usual for my visits to CoTA, I stopped in for lunch at Wild Bubba’s Will Game Grill.  Isa & I split a very tasty Southwestern Grilled Chicken Sandwich.  It was the least “wild” item on the menu, but both my wife & I agreed it was VERY tasty!!!  In addition, I was able to visit with my friend, Wild Bubba (Wyman Gilliam Jr.), & discuss future promotional opportunities that may be forthcoming.  I ALWAYS enjoy my visits there!

Wild Bubba's Wild Game Grill

Next, we traveled west to where Highway 71 & 290 split, at a Planet Fitness parking lot.  This was the starting spot for this Tejas Miata Run.

Getting organized for the Tejas Miatas run - 25-FEB-2012

Karlino awaiting the Tejas Miatas run start with clubmembers - 25-FEB-2012

The first leg of our run was drama free & taken at a leisurely pace.  We had little trouble keeping our mostly Miata group of about 14 cars (I think) together.

The Tejas Miatas run group, dominating the road to Jester King Brewery - 25-FEB-2012

Part of the Tejas Miatas run group, enroute to Jester King Brewery - 25-FEB-2012

From there we headed out, as a group, to the Jester King Craft Brewery.  This, to me, was the highlight of this afternoon’s run.  Located to the southwest of Austin, this craft-style brewery is following their brewmeister passion.  They are garnering a strong & growing fan base for specialty craft-brewed beer.

Tejas Miatas run parking, at Jester King Brewery - 25-FEB-2012

The Jester King Brew House, visited by Tejas Miatas - 25-FEB-2012

Tejas Miatas run, at Jester King Brewery parking lot - 25-FEB-2012

Josh gave us a tour which really explained their passion, which does not follow standard logic.  He is a former graphics designer (Josh is responsible for the unique brewery graphics & artwork); the founding partners are a former lawyer & a former investment banker.  Regardless of the practicality of their brewing direction, in less than 2 years in business they are doing well!

Josh, explaining their brewing process basics at Jester King Brewery - Tejas Miatas run - 25-FEB-2012

Josh, sharing the barrel room fermenting passion at Jester King Brewery - Tejas Miatas run - 25-FEB-2012

Here’s some of Tejas Miatas run group after Josh’s barrel fermentation room explanation.  Thanks Jon!

Partial group shot of Tejas Miatas at Jester King Craft Brewery - Courtesy of Jon Etkins

Later, once Josh found us out to be Miata driving enthusiasts, he confessed to enthusiast driving urges of his own.  He blamed viewing past episodes of Top Gear.  There’s nothing wrong with that, I say!  We even encouraged him to consider getting into autocrossing with his daily driver Honda Civic.

Josh, of Jester King Brewery, admiting his reawakening car passion with Tejas Miatas run participants - 25-FEB-2012

After having sampled some of Jester King’s unique brew libations, we then traveled further southwest to the Salt Lick BBQ, in Driftwood, TX.  We had only to wait 20 minutes for our 2 & 1/2 tables of seating.  (Again, click to enlarge…twice for more detail!)

Salt Lick BBQ casual seating - Tejas Miatas group to the left...

Everyone enjoyed a variety of Texas BBQ’d meats!  They had this interesting circular pit where the succulent meat fixin’s originated.  I hear you could order “burnt ends” – that’s what I’ll hold out for, next time.

Salt Lick BBQ's smokin' fire pit, a Texas meat lover's paradise - a great way to end the Tejas Miatas run!

This was a beautiful day to get out & about to see different things, reacquaint & make new friends.  Racing ReadyKarlino enjoyed this day immensely.  It was 217 miles well spent!

Karlino, my 1999 Mazda Miata, basking in the fun of a Tejas Miatas run...

Thank you Tejas Miatas!


Respecting What a NASCAR Driver Has To Do, Via Kart Racing

Thanks to a kart racing experience, at high speed (60+MPH is fast on a ProKart with your butt 1″ above the ground), on a banked circle track last year, I can appreciate what a NASCAR driver has to do to be competitive & win.  I felt it appropriate to discuss my revelation now, since NASCAR’s inaugural race of the 2012 season, the Daytona 500, runs today.

2012 Daytona 500 - The Great American Race

If you are a frequent reader here, you know my previous opinion for NASCAR racing was not of the highest regard.  This post title is contrary to my previous point of view of NASCAR.

I now have an improved change of opinion about the NASCAR series & their respective drivers. That came about last Fall.  I shared with you the Chevy Volt & OTX (On Track Xperience) blogger/racer promo I participated in last October 2011.  Russ, the fastest of the three of us bloggers, wrote this nice piece about the Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient event.

I learned that to succeed on a banked circle track race, in a ProKart, you need to stay on the gas…whatever you do, never lift.  For me, that was very hard!  My tendency was toward self-preservation.  It was a very insecure feeling to to be tucking into the bottom apex of a corner, at speed, with the kart’s rear end consistently on the verge of spinning out.  I tried, but lack of confidence, fear, centrifugal force, driving on a lit up track at night, the 50 degree cold weather – all conspired against me.  Even with the assurances of my kart racer partner Jeff, with multiple seasons of league karting experience under his belt, I wasn’t sure I could do this.

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

Fast forward 2 weeks.  Through the goodwill of the winning racer of this event, Russ, I received & made use of tickets to see NASCAR racing at the Texas Motor Speedway (for 2 races & a hotel stay).  This was on Friday & Saturday, November 4th & 5th, just north of Dallas.  It was a long drive, almost 5 hours in Karlino, to get to the hotel & make my way to the track.  Ya gotta love Dallas’ constant challenge of highway construction, fooling you as Google Maps shows you the “right way”, regardless of the menacing lane switching detours.

My Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR Races tickets - Thank you Chevy/GM!

To make a long story short, I got to experience 2 NASCAR racing events:

  • NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racing on Friday night
  • NASCAR Nationwide Series racing midday on Saturday

The Texas Motor Speedway complex is, in a word, vast!  Even before going into the track entrance gate (one of many), I was impressed by the sheer size of the facility & free parking.  I kinda felt out of my element, not wearing any gear that identified me as a NASCAR fan.  I was still proud to wear my AMSOIL colors, although AMSOIL is not all represented in NASCAR.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway - November 2011 - Panorama

Arriving late Saturday morning, I could see SO much more!

Texas Motor Speedway facade & parking lot, November 2011

NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway - November 2011 - Panorama

So, you ask, how does this huge track & NASCAR event have to do with my karting last year?  Although the comparison is weak, the ProKarts handling felt like the racing stance through that TMS track at speed.  It’s a very slight, but steady controlled drift, looking as if it’s ready to scoot out from under you at any minute & scarily head for the wall!  I realized then & there that the NASCAR racer’s job is to go fast, turn left (mostly), but keep it at the ragged edge of control.  I respect that!  In addition, I saw a lot of the PR activity the NASCAR racer has to go through for both their fans & their sponsors.

See the moving stance of the NASCAR racers at speed - it's a very slight, but steady controlled drift, at Texas Motor Speedway - November 2011

The spectacle of the “side show” around the phenomena know as NASCAR is also quite something, too!  The promotional aspect of the race is a well-oiled machine, offering hearing protection, special radios for the fans to follow the action throughout all the noise & other NASCAR-themed paraphernalia fans just cannot live without.

Hearing protection which made NASCAR watching almost bearable...NOT!

NASCAR race scanners & more - a good example of the NASCAR-specific technology for the race fan, at Texas Motor Speedway

Check out the pricing of the scanners, etc. from sales trailer of R.E. Racing Electronics!

Again, I offer my thanks to GM for inviting me to participate in the Chevy Fast & Fuel Efficient event last fall.  Thanks to them, I experienced part of the NASCAR world in person & gained an appreciation for it.

Racing Ready is always open to learning & forming new opinions.  Although I will have to say I’m still not really a fan (except at the NASCAR road races of Watkins Glen & Infineon Raceway), I now very much appreciate the skill, ability & risk involved in driving within the world of NASCAR.


Humbled by SASCA 2012 Autocross #2

For me, 6 opportunities was not enough to get a good run from today’s autocross course.  In fact, I’ll say I did lousy, with my first 3 runs resulting in succeedingly slower runs each time.  To say I was frustrated (& humbled) is an understatement, especially after really enjoying my perceived success during last month’s SASCA autocross.

Karlino, awaiting to compete at the SASCA AutoX 2012 #2

John (with guided expertise from SASCA VP Chris & Pres Ricky) put together a challenging course with his first foray into autocross course design.  He included 2 very different chicanes connected by a frustrating (to me) long, right-hand sweeper that was open to a variety of racing line interpretations.  That quick left-hand pin turn caught many of us out, as well.  I will say it was a good track layout – fine job John, on your first course!

SASCA AutoX 2012 #2 - At the trailer, waiting to walk the course...

Competitors waiting to do a coursewalk at the SASCA AutoX 2012 #2

That was the effect that today’s 2nd 2012 SASCA (San Antonio Sports Car Association) Autocross had on me.  It seems most of my fellow competitors were in less of a funk than I & many enjoyed the challenge.  Oh well, it was a well-run event & we had great weather.  The event started in the predawn darkness in the mid-40’s & got into the comfortable high, sunny 60’s plus.

Novices listening to Jason at the SASCA AutoX 2012 #2

The previous 2 days of rain did a nice job of clearing the dusty parking lot surface.  But contrarily it pooled up trailings of fine gravel that caught out me (& others) if you went off the main, developing race line.  Even with course workers brooming off the majority of said gravel, being in the first run group left to us the task of blowing out a relatively clear path.  PANTS! caught my drama with this shot! 🙂

Karlino & I drifting thru post rain gravel, at the SASCA AutoX 2012 #2 - Thanks PANTS!!!

Here’s some general views of the Retama Park site & some of the cones, out there…

SASCA AutoX 2012 #2 - Grid

SASCA AutoX 2012 #2 - Start & Finish panorama shot

SASCA AutoX 2012 #2 - Start

Today’s autocross course taught me that this sport continuously challenges you.  It confirms that no matter what level of equipment you bring to the track (which is newly designed each time), working on that ‘nut behind the wheel’ is the ultimate experience in realizing you still have SO much more to learn.

Karlino with competitors on grid, at the SASCA AutoX 2012 #2

Karlino's tortured, daily driver street tires...post autocross!

Racing Ready looks forward to the SASCA 2012 AutoX #3 event, scheduled to take place next month at Retama Park, on Sunday, March 4, 2012.  Till then, I’ll lick my (Karlino‘s) tortured daily driver tires’ wounds, eat humble pie & see what next month’s event brings…


F1 Drivers Anticipate Racing at Circuit of The Americas

Flaming Circuit of The Americas logo

Here are some actual impressions from current F1 drivers, anticipating the Austin USGP F1 race this coming November 18th, 2012.  It’s going to happen – in our back yard!

Mark Webber: “The track looks awesome.  It is a little bit old school, which is good because there are some sharp turns.”

Mexico’s Sergio Peres: “I’m really looking forward to racing in Austin…and to discover more about the new circuit.  It will be the closest race to my home.”

Jenson Button: “I remember racing in the States before in Indianapolis which was a good circuit.  But the steps that Austin have taken to make sure this is a proper F1™ circuit, I think we’re going to love it.  It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Racing Ready is also in anticipation.  Circuit of The Americas (CoTA) is less than 90 minutes away…
Follow what’s going on locally at my other blog – SanAntonioF1 Club.com

SanAntonioF1Club - Celebrating The F1 Fiesta!  (SAF1C Blog header)

See you there!


SASCA 2012 Autocross #1 – Starting Over…

After 5 months of my autocross inactivity & a set of new street Falken (M+S) tires for Karlino, it was good to get back into SASCA autocross competition at Retama Park, last Sunday, January 29th!.

SASCA 2012 AutoX #1 - 2 AutoX Mazdas with AMSOIL livery!

There were quite a number of new faces, which was good to see.  In my CS class, I had 4 competitors, a father/son team sharing driving duties in James’ 2006 Nissan 350Z, a ’99 Miata that looked like mine (but with the factory Hard S suspension package, 15″ wheels & R-compound tires), & Tom’s 2004 Mazdaspeed MX-5 (Miata).  I had co-driven this car with Tom back in the summer of 2009.

Tom's Mazdaspeed at speed during SASCA AT&T during summer 2009 autocross

The SCCA car classification rules do their best to equalize competition between dissimilar cars.  Although I am in a stock class, there are a number of items that can be changed to optimize your competition capability.  In my case, I can:

  • upgrade from 14″ to 15″ wheels with certain rim width restrictions
  • change tire width & go to R-compounds within a certain limit of the stock width
  • install a larger front (not rear) sway bar (up to 1.25″)
  • upgrade & replace the exhaust from the cat (catalytic converter) back, with a higher flow (& more aggressive sounding) muffler

All it takes is money!  None of these are in consideration for Karlino except for a possible wheel/tire change – and only for autocross/track events, not daily driving.

SASCA 2012 AutoX #1 - Morning Novice Orientation w-Jason

For this autocross I went with a cheap & easy “upgrade”.   I got a full tank of premium gas a couple days prior.  Karlino normally runs fine on 87 octane, but I decided to try 93 premium for the first time.  It took about 30 miles to notice the improvement in throttle response – nice!  I expect to do this again before the next autocross, but my next tank will be back to 87.

SASCA 2012 AutoX #1 - Positioning Grid Pano-1

In some ways, I equate autocrossing to playing golf.  Say what?  Well, I’m not a golfer, but I have some buddies that enjoy duffing the ball.  They say golf is a very personal game – you are actually competing against yourself.  So, in autocross, since my car is still factory stock & not as “equal” to others in my stock class, I take solace is getting a better time with each subsequent run.

SASCA 2012 AutoX #1 - a launch from the starting box...

The SASCA 2012 AutoX #1 was that kind of event for me.  Being the course designer gave me a bit of an pre-emptive heads up of how the course would go.  But as always, at speed the course is very different.  This time round I was pretty satisfied with most of my 6 runs, clinching my best time on my last run.  To me that was very satisfying.  I placed 3rd out of the five of in the CS class.  That’s okay with me.  I did the best with the abilities & equipment I had…

Karlino's auto-x launch , at the SASCA 2012 AutoX #1 - Courtesy of Alex Studenroth

Racing Ready is looking forward to see what February’s SASCA autocross course will be like.  I hear rumors it will be filled with slaloms…  The date of the next event is February 19, 2012.  It will again be at Retama Park