Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Daytona has a beach?

As my roommate will tell you, I am not exactly a morning person. So waking up at 7:00 am on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is not ideal. However, when waking up at 7:00 am on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to go and be at Daytona International Speedway, the mornings get quite more jolly.
When my dad first told me that he would be racing at Daytona, I thought the 4 hour drive was not at all worth it. Then the Wednesday before, I had a change of heart. Thank God I did. Last Friday, I drove through the North Gate tunnel to the track and was immediately immersed in a world of happiness. The rumbling of thousands of horsepower flying by at speeds well over the normal speed limit, the blur of colors as the cars whiz by, the perfect chaos of the pits that ceases with one simple wave of the green flag, it all works in harmony to make the race track my own personal heaven.
My dad races the Audi R8, chassis number 607 (same number as Speed on Directv, not a coincidence I believe), a car that is truly more beautiful than any street car. This car, henceforth known as 607, is a car that would make even Dr. Ulrich drool a little bit. Maintained and built by Bobby Green, the crew chief for the car in the HSR series, it is more of art than car. But get it out on the track and open her museum can contain something that great. The car was turning out lap times of 1:40.0 with both Bill Adam (my dad) and Andy Wallace co-driving her.
Speaking of Andy, what a fun guy. With credentials like his, he could race anywhere. He's won the 24 hours of Daytona, 24 hours of Le Mans, 12 hours of Sebring, and Petit LeMans, just to name a few of the big ones. He is this Englishman who is very quiet but his quick wit and intelligence rival that of his racing abilities. His wife, Catherine, is not the typical race wife either. Normally, I'm stuck at the track with the only other women there. These women are usually the wives of the drivers. They are not the brightest people, to be honest. Most are what I call "Helmet Carriers," good for that and commenting on how pretty the cars look. Well, this is not Catherine. She graduated from NC State with an impressive degree in Aerospace Engineering. She is the crew chief on Andy's Daytona Prototype car running in the Rolex series. And man, is she fun to hang out with! Instead of hearing about the pretty color schemes on the Porsche Caymans running around the track as well, she was teaching me about the difference in Tiptronic and DSG. Every lap, she was timing the other cars to compare them to how fast either Andy or my dad was running. But she wasn't some person completely immersed in racing to the point of no return. She would tell stories over dinner about New Zealand (her homeland), or funny stories about how her parents would hide cats in her apartment while she was traveling. She can tell you why it is beneficial for Peugeot to have their closed cockpit at LeMans while at the same time making her fourth cup of tea for the day.
Well Saturday came and went, with Andy qualifying the car as second. Our biggest rival, the Riley and Scott with a V-10 Judd engine, has close to 300 horses more than we do. That being said, our lap times were only seconds apart at worst. The R8 is a much lighter car and has much better brakes, and, in my opinion, much better drivers. Daytona, though, is not a track where braking helps much. Through the infield track, the Riley would lose so much ground because our Audi could handle the turns better. But getting onto the banking, the Riley would just pull away. As Andy said during qualifying, "Lots of power!" Not so funny at the time, Bobby thought he said "Loss of power!" and started freaking out. Catherine, staying calm, got on the radio and told Bobby that the car was still running and not to worry. A "Helmet Carrier" would not have even heard that message, let alone translated it, because the headphones are bulky and definitely not flattering.
Sunday morning started off with a bang...literally. The R8 engine needs to be warmed up before it can be run, so Bobby climbed into the cockpit and started running through the gears. Every time the gear changes, a loud popping sound occurs. That sound is more effective than coffee. Luckily for them, Andy and Catherine weren't there yet. They got their popping sound too. When Ricky (another of the awesome crew members) went to put the tires back on the car, Catherine nearly threw her tea on the car's owner, Jim, for the sound of the air gun. "I hate those things," she had exclaimed, "I swear, they always wait until my back is turned and then do it!"
The race went down much like qualifying did. We turned some great lap times but so did the Riley. On the first few laps, Andy pressured the driver of the Riley, trying to get any mistake out of him. Unfortunately, one can only pressure while on the enemy's back bumper which, at Daytona, is only a lap or two at most. When 40 laps had passed out of the hour and a half enduro, Andy was called into the pits. In HSR, there is a mandatory 5 minute pit stop. This is a rant for another day. When Bobby called Andy in, it was one lap too early. The next lap, one of the Riley and Scotts, the slower of the two, hit a tire wall and brought out a yellow. Then, on the back straight, our brother Audi R8 blew a tire and broke part of the rear suspension. The race was black flagged for the better part of twenty minutes. So my dad sat in the pits in the car waiting to resume the race. The flag was both a good and bad thing. It grouped the now 3 car field back together so the pressure could resume. It also, unfortunately, took a good chunk of the race away from us, taking a potential win. When the green flag fell once again, no amount of pressure could work. There were only 4 or 5 laps after the restart, not nearly enough time to take the win. With a second place finish, we left the track with our heads held high...planning for the victory to come at Sebring in three weeks time.
The worst part of the weekend was leaving the track. I had been showing off my little Celica all weekend and having to drive it out of the tunnel and away from my happy place was torture. I would give anything to have my alarm clock be the rumbling and high pitched whining of cars driving by, the sound of air guns changing tires and mechanics wrenches furiously trying to make last minute improvements, the sound of engines being revved to 6,000 rpm before shutting off instantly, or the smell of burning rubber. This combination makes me more at peace than anything else. The next challenge is finding out how I can skip my final exams to go to Sebring... :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hey Everbody!

Hey. Just wanted to let you all know that I'm going to Daytona to watch my dad race this weekend so I'll post an article on it Monday with lots of pictures! Till then, living life in the fast lane!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Exfoliator, boat 1

As anyone who knows me will admit, I am a big advocate of Eliminator Boats. This is not because they pay me to say this but rather because I believe it all the way to the depth of my heart. I wear clothing with their brand proudly around Tallahassee, Florida, hardly a place to sell a powerboat. Still, I am a member of an elite few. I have gone 144 mph (yes, you read that correctly) in a boat. Not only that but a 36' open canopy boat. It was INSANE! I am the first to admit that 144 mph is a good speed for land, but not water. I do not like anything over 20.6 mph, my wakeboarding speed. But Eliminators feel safe. It was not scary to be going this quickly but rather exhilarating, like jumping off a ninety foot cliff. Once the last foot leaves the edge, there's no turning back. Similarly, once the boat planes, there's no stopping it from reaching full capacity.
The one boat I am talking about today, however, has more to do with racing. This boat, our boat for the summer, is a 27' Daytona. Ironically, it has much to do with the Daytona Speedway. A few years back, Daytona Speedway tried to attack Eliminator for naming their boat after the area. Eliminator, founded in 1969, quickly came back and proved that they were there before the Speedway. In turn, a bond was formed. Eliminator Daytonas, the catamaran versions of the boats, have been at the races in Lake Lloyd. The 2008 Daytona 500 featured the 27' Daytona with a back hatch signed by the starting line up of all the drivers and some of the owners. This boat, with an Ilmore engine, had either a 625 or 700 hp engine (we couldn't figure it out after a summer of use). The 50th Anniversary boat planed as if on air and ran on only 2 tanks of gas for a 2 month period of use. All of the boats have a gel coat paint so, unlike some other boats, running your hand across the colors leaves nothing to the touch but a smooth surface. Moreso than anything else, the pictures speak for themselves. One friend calls the boat the Exfoliator because, well, again it speaks for itself. One ride on these boats will have anyone smiling from ear to ear and proudly wearing the Eliminator badge, even with the nearest power boating junction hundreds of miles away.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Back to reality

Hey everybody.
As the summer ended and university resumed, a new course load and new job ensued. I will be posting much more regularly with so much going on. A new post will go up right after this one and expect one every 3-5 days from now on. Diligence shall persevere! Hope everyone else's summer was productive. Plenty of articles to come one everything from the racing world, new Yamaha PWCs, a super fast boat, and much more. :)

All Z King's Horses

Shuttle launches for the USA take place in Cape Canaveral, Florida. However, at 6:02 last night, one happened in Miami. Was there a count down? Nope. Did the passenger know how much torque the vehicle has? No, but she does now. The engine of the new 2010 Nissan 370z revved and suddenly the outside world became a green blur. Yup, serious power from a Nissan and not a GTR...a Z! With a price tag a good $20,000 cheaper than a Porsche Cayman and the same power, the Z is a new dream car.

It didn't hurt being my favorite color of electric blue either. It was so stunning, in fact, that one lady tried to crash into us because she was staring at the car. Another driver, a Mercedes, nearly rear ended the Ferrari in front of him while flooding his car with envious drool. Can't blame the poor sucker.

As beautiful as it was outside, the Z's engine, with over 380 horses, delivers a roar reminiscent of the Infinity G-35. The coolest aspect of the car was the self matching RPMs for down shifting. While decelerating from 4th to 3rd gears, no touch of the gas pedal is necessary . It would be the perfect car to teach someone to drive stick less thing to worry about initially. But this car is definitely not for beginners. The stiff suspension and bucket like seats made the car feel like a street rocket. As for me, I can't wait to get launched again.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I recently read something in the Toronto Star complaining about how proud parents are shown during F1 broadcasts when their child wins, namely Jensen Button. Jensen’s been racing in Formula 1 for nearly ten years and, prior to this year, had only one victory to his name. This win came after the expected winners all failed out. Jensen has never (until this year) been considered a great driver. He has always been someone in the wrong car at the wrong time. So naturally, now that he’s winning, people like him. It is heartwarming to see the pride on a father’s face as his son receives the checkered flag. To say that it is demeaning or has nothing to do with the racing is absolutly NOT true. Who were the first people to believe in the drivers? Their parents. Who had to drive their kids to the tracks, establish their rides when they were still not street legal to be driving? Their parents. Who is now getting some added justification that their children have made it? Their parents. When Jensen’s father is shown hugging the crew, it is not for the rest of the world to enjoy, it is a moment for the family of the winner. As Lewis once said, “Without my family, I wouldn't be able to do anything. I owe everything to them.”

It is very hypocritical to say that they never do such a thing in NASCAR. When Jimmie Johnson wins a race, the camera goes to his wife with his crew. Well, just because Jensen (or Lewis Hamilton) isn’t married doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get the expression of pride on his family’s face. Why should a driver be criticized because doesn’t yet have a spouse? Why not show someone who’s been there his entire life? Maybe NASCAR should look back through their races and decide if the people responsible for the driver being in the car aren’t just as important as the driver’s spouses. So instead of talking about how pathetic it is to see Lewis Hamilton’s father and mentally challenged brother cheering on their favorite driver from every single track, certain people would rather see the supermodel wives holding an umbrella to keep out of the sun. Oh yeah, that’s quality TV right there.

Especially for this Father’s Day, I hope that when the winner crosses the start/finish line, the producers of the show go straight for the look of glee on the father’s face.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Green flag!

The tires have been warmed, the cars fueled, and the drivers have mentally prepared themselves for this extensive race. To the drivers, it doesn't matter if the race is one lap or a thousand, the goal is the same: to cross the line first. Winning brings a certain element unlike any other. The prize money and trophy are relatively unimportant. What they strive for is the glory, the pride, the knowledge that they managed to hold off other talent and that they are the best. Standing atop the podium is the moment drivers prepare for their entire lives and a moment they will have trouble forgetting.  To get there, however, they must first endure hours of grueling forces on both car and driver, weather conditions that are virtually unpredictable, rivalries lasting decades, wrecks that leave everyone gasping for air, and the mental exhaustion of crews that seep out and make every lap seem twice as long. Despite all this, racing is a dream that many children wish come true. It is a dream I have been living since birth. When other children’s first words were “Mommy” or “Daddy,” mine was “car.” When other kids were going to Disney World, I was going to Sebring International Raceway. When my friends had unrealistic wants of ponies and castles, I simply wanted a go-kart. Upon getting that go-kart, others were doing homework while my dad was standing outside our house with a stopwatch, trying to get my lap time from around our block to cut off seconds. I learned how to read from Car and Driver and by the time I was two, I could name every make on the street. Between a beach day and a track day at Homestead Miami Speedway… well, you know where I was.  Oh, and have I mentioned that I’m a GIRL?!

            People all around the world have been living under the impression that girls can’t know anything about cars for far too long. Well, here I am to change that. Every week, I will explore new cars, the excitement of racing, great new ideas being shown on the streets, and much, much more. So buckle up your five-point harness, flip the ignition switch, put it in to first gear, and away we’ll go!