The Z transformation pt 1 – Prologue

By October 22, 2010Automotive, Neil, Racing

The end of a long day racing...

Photo via Austin Strifler

A quick note: This winter, not only my car, but also myself, will undergo a transformation from dabbling in auto sport racing into a serious hobby of chasing my dream to one day compete in a professional race as an amateur. I thought I would write a series of blog entries to not only document my story, but perhaps interest and educate some people in the world of auto racing.

The Beginning:

A lot of people find it silly when you talk about a car like it is a member of your family. But most car enthusiasts however don’t.

Sure, its just a bunch of nuts, bolts, metal, plastics and other little things, but when you put them all together you can have as much character as a human being. After all, this car has been a large part of my life longer than most people, aside from my high school friends and family. It can also be argued that this car got me to where I am, considering that Jessica and I met at an automotive event.

Couple all that emotion with the fact that when you race a car, you and the car literally become one functioning machine with which to be successful you must learn every aspect, quirk, and characteristic of your car. Now you have a piece of metal that does seem to begin breathing a little life.

Naturally the beginning is a good part to start.

The Mustang

I have never been a stranger to sports cars. My first car was a 1965 Mustang Coupe, 3speed on the floor.

Abandoned

{Photo via Austin Strifler}

That car was very rough but it sure did define the quintessential relationship between a boy and his first car. I knew that I had to hit the bright switch (on the floor no less) twice to get the hi-beams to go, and that it had a bad pull to the right under hard braking (thanks drum brakes). I knew every little quirk about that car.

It got me through high school and through it I learned how to drive a standard. My family and I picked it up in Arkansas and my dad plopped me in the driver seat with a friend in the high school parking lot. Knowing nothing about driving a standard I learned nearly everything on my own. The scariest, but most perfect way.

The first Z

Next came a 1991 Mustang GT, and then a 1991 300zx twin-turbo (below).

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So really it was very little surprise that when the 350z debuted in 2002 that it was a dream of mine to have one. After a bit of waiting, and saving, I purchased one in 2004.

The Z

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Day one. This is a picture the day I brought it home new. Of course being the OCD person I was, this was immediately after a wash. I picked it up ┬áin St. Louis after I caught a great deal and decided to jump on it. My instincts told me this was a little impulsive, but when you are buying a sports car, isn’t all just a little bit bonkers?

Naturally, I was into autosports almost immediately. With my other cars, I merely dabbled in quarter mile drag racing here and there. To me, straight line autosports are somewhat bland. Pushing the “Go Pedal” and holding a car straight just wasn’t doing it for me, so I began to research my options.

The safest, cheapest, and most importantly, 100% legal driver-based racing a newbie can begin with is Autocross, so that’s where I started.

COMING NEXT POST – Part 2 – Autocross, modding, racing.