All posts by Dan

This site/blog inspires fulfillment of the desire & vision of the wannabe auto racer to become a successful racing competitor. That's me, too!

Caveat Emptor, Let the Buyer Beware

You always have to remember to try to keep your eyes open when shopping online.

Snake Oil 2.0

I currently have 2 different packages slated to arrive soon, one for tomorrow & one I’m really anticipation on Friday.  Both were ordered via the Internet & I’m currently tracking their separate UPS Ground paths to my home.  Technology is grand, ain’t it.

In the few years I’ve ordered and received items through the Internet, I’ve never had to return anything.  I guess that is because I researched the item thoroughly to make sure it was correct, and was what I really wanted/needed.  UPS & FedEx do a great & efficient job of shipping.  Their boxes are sturdy & nothing has ever arrive damaged.

There are some things I don’t think I’d order via the ‘Net.  Shoes – you have to really try them on & walk around in them.  I might think the same for a helmet.  I’ve pretty much narrowed down the helmet I want, and am saving for.  Since it is manufactured locally (Simpson Performance Products in New Braunfels, TX) I might make a field trip of it.  I wonder if they have a “factory tour” & store front.  I don’t know – their website makes no mention of it.  Then again, its only about a 45 minute drive.

So, my advice for product ordering via the Internet, first research the heck out of what you want.  Verify what they say it is from at least 2 or more sources.  Another benefit of looking around like this, is that you’ll usually find some better pricing.  Other times, you’ll want to spend more money because of the company’s services, guarantees or other “warm fuzzy” thing that makes you feel more comfortable ordering from them.

Whatever you order, just watch your back & double check things – always be aware when shopping online, especially when you are striving to become Racing Ready!


Pace Car, Inspirational?

Yesterday, during the IndyCar race at Watkins Glen, there were a number of caution laps.  These are laps when the competitors are required to slow down due to some sort of ontrack incident – essentially because of an accident or other unsafe situation.  These laps are lead by a pace car, usually a current model vehicle that may be modified for track use for safety reasons, and maybe some performance alterations. 

IndyCar Pace Car - Honda Accord Coupe

The IndyCar pace car is the 2008 Honda Accord Coupe.  For this vehicle, modifications include a safety roll cage and high-performance wheels and tires for racetrack use.  Hmmm, not what I would think of as a performance vehicle to lead the field on caution laps.  It looked nice, featuring a rich blue paint scheme (with some red & white thrown in for visibility), and “performance” IndyCar graphics.  I was willing to consider it.

Honda Accord Coupe

In fact, I saw a three Honda Accord Coupes on the way home from work, today.  I did not see these as inspirational vehicles.  I thought to myself, “Is this a vehicle I could see myself enjoying both as a daily driver AND a competative autocross vehicle on weekends?”  I came away thinking, not!

Oh well, so much for Honda’s insprational marketing…I don’t feel this model of Honda is Racing Ready.


Watkins Glen Indy Car

This afternoon was an interesting racing competition – the IRL Watkins Glen race.  I watched it on the ABC network.  I took a whole page of notes & ideas about all sorts of things to share with you, my blog reading audience.

Watkins Glen Logo

First, I’m glad the Champ Car (CART) vs. Indy Racing League (IRL) rift has “healed”.  Many times during the broadcast the term re-unification was mentioned.  All references were how it was a good thing.  All along since Tony George’s IRL came about, I was always a fan of CART (later called Champ Cars).  The reason being that the IRL was all about ovals only, whereas Champ Car had a variety of venues: ovals, street circuits, and road courses, all around the world.  You know they had it right as the IRL started to add these venues later in their series.

I have never been to the Watkins Glen circuit, but I’ve been to the town a number of times during my youth.  I was raised in Upsate New York, near Syracuse.  The Watkins Glen State park is a beautiful place, with a wonderful hike through the gorges.  During the race you could see glimpses of the hilly Finger Lakes landscape, the wine country alongside of Seneca Lake.  I sure miss that variety here in South Texas.

Watkins Glen International race track is also know for its large  number of regional and national SCCA events.  The original course ran through town and was 6.6 miles long.  It even crossed the railroad tracks in 2 places and they had to interrupt train service during races!  Today’s high speed track is 3.8 miles long, in the Indy Car configuration.  It has a grand variety of turns and elevation changes.  Many drivers, both past and present have stated how much they like racing at this track.

Watkins Glen International ranks right up there with other tracks I respect in this country.  It may not rank up there with the 14 mile Nürburgring (aka Nordschleife), but its in the same respected company as these great road courses: Laguna Seca, Infineon (formerly known as Sears Point), Mid-Ohio, Elkhart Lake & Road Atlanta.

As a wannabe racer, I aspire to visit these tracks as a spectator & even in a racing or a high performance driving event.  I hold these locales as inspiration to become Racing Ready !


Informed Online Research

What did we do without the Internet 10- 15 years ago?  Not a day (or even hour, at times) goes by that a member of my family does something on the Internet, besides checking their e-mail.

Computer on the Internet

In just the last 3 days:

  • I’ve started researching the ignition coil parts for my Nissan Maxima revitalization project
  • One daughter was looking for a replacement part for her car, after a quote from her local dealer (she was able to find the equivalent part at about a 25% discount!)
  • my other daughter is looking to replace the tires on her car; we automatically visited the Internet to to see what our options are

I have gotten very comfortable with researching & purchasing things on the Internet.  But, just because its on the Internet, it doesn’t mean its always true.  You have got to bring along some common sense caveat emptor, let the buyer beware!

So, what have you researched lately, on the Internet – is it something to get you closer to being Racing Ready ?


Freedom to Race and RSS

Although my audience is international, and so am I (born in Canada, married in Mexico) I’m proud to be a citizen of the United States of America.

Waving US Flag 

We have many freedoms, but essentially we are free to do as we please (within legal and common sense reason).  We can spend our free time in the pursuits of many different crafts and hobbies.  One of my pursuit is to race, with this blog to inspire me to go beyond the wannabe racer.  This blog serves also to be a guide to assist you toward a path of actual racing participation.

The part of becoming a successful competitor is up to you.  My plans include providing the resources necessary to give you the opportunity to learn to be a good and satisfied competitor.  Some may be saying, “Hurry up, already!”  Well, I’d like to have the extra time available to fully develop this quickly.  Its going to happen one day at a time.

RSS Logo

Here’s another freedom for you, dear reader.  You now have the convenience to sign up for my blog’s RSS feed, either through an RSS reader or via you personal email.  Please take advantage of the daily snippets I will be providing.  This is all the better make you Racing Ready !

Happy Fourth of July!


Check Engine Light Update

My 2000 Nissan Maxima is back on the road!

Waiting for the tow truck...

I found an honest mechanic!  Late last night I had the tow truck operator drop my tired sedan off at a shop.  This shop had a mechanic a family friend had used & had good confidence in.  Today we found out this guy was no longer there.  A young guy, Andy, the current mechanic seemed okay.  At first he ran the diagnostic codes & said it needed a new alternator, total about $350. 🙁

He later called back and said its all fixed and it will be only $90! 🙂  It was just a broken alternator belt he had to replace.  I then asked him the labor cost to replace the coils (that have been misfiring for some time now) & plugs.  He went to the computer with the manager & came up with a very fair cost.

Okay, now I’m excited!  I’ve a now reachable saving goal which will make my vehical capable to compete in autocross.  Oh boy, I’m finally going to get my “poor” Nissan Racing Ready !


Mental Tool Box

One of the sites I visit, once in awhile is  Althought they are aimed toward competitiors of drag & stock car racing, they have some gems which are worth mentioning for the autocross & other high performance driving event competitor.

These tips are from a recent article of their’s that is worth posting here – this is from Tami Eggleston (c) at  At a workshop in January of this year she asked the following question, “If you could give just one piece of advice to a racer to help them win, what would that piece of advice be?” Here are the answers she shares:

1.) Stay Focused. Concentrate. Stay in the present. Focus on the task at hand. Be in the here and now! Don’t be distracted. Don’t let your surroundings interfere with your concentration. Take it one round at a time.
2.) Be positive. Have a positive mental attitude. Give it all you got!
3.) Race your own race. Never be intimidated by the other car or driver.
4.) Be the same all of the time. Be consistent. Have a good routine.
5.) Practice. Seat time.
6.) Preparation. Prepare everything. Check and recheck everything!
7.) Visualize. See what you are going to do.
8.) Be comfortable in your car. Know your vehicle. Have the best car you can.
9.) Relax. Stay calm. Don’t get stressed. Don’t choke. Keep cool (have a cool head). Relax and do your thing!
10.) Have confidence. Believe in yourself. Learn to trust your gut. Make your moves on instinct.
11.) Have fun.
12.) Don’t give up. Be Patient!
13.) Don’t be afraid to lose. Deal with losing. Learn from failures.
14.) Listen to people that know what they are doing.

There are some good items here to concentrate further on to make us Racing Ready !