10-19-2008 Gateway International Raceway PDX

By October 21, 2008 Neil, Racing

This weekend was my second SCCA PDX event at Gateway International Raceway.

Gateway International Raceway

Gateway International Raceway

We arrived at the hotel in Collinsville, IL Saturday afternoon and discovered that Jes forget her bag (doh!) so after a quick trip to Wal-Mart for the essentials we decided to grab some food.  Now Jes and I are not usually ones for fast food, but it seems like a ritutal that when we go to Gateway that we grab some White Castle because it is directly across the street from the hotel.

The food was greasy and good as usual and a great way to put you asleep when you must be in bed by 9pm in order to wake up at 4:30am to make it to the track.

Waking up was hard when the alarm went off at 4:30am, but knowing you will be racing all day makes it a lot easier than waking up for work.  I showered, grabbed coffee, and waited for the rest of my crew (Jes, Aaron) to get ready.

We headed out to the track ON TIME.  We arrived at the track at 6:05am and it was odd because sunrise was not until 7:15am.  You must be early and on time to the track if you want a good garage space and we did manage to get just that.

Garage Space

Garage Space

I was assigned to the Intermediate class this go around and I was surprised, but eager to learn more and push myself.

Getting started on the day I was assigned an instructor who was pretty cool and directed me well on some points to get me going quicker.  The first session out I started slow.  The track temperature was still quite cold and cold tires lead to some very dangerous situations.  So I took it easy and gradually started pacing faster.

After my first outing, my instructor wanted to show me a few tips so I let him in my car and we went out for a spin.  All I can say is “wow”.  He really drove my car and showed me how much the car has in it and what lines and braking points I could make.  This inspired a ton of confidence in me because now I knew how fast the car could go with the right line and confidence.

My next outing was very different than the first.  After seeing what the car could do I pushed my speed a lot harder and focused on my line and keeping my driving smooth.  And it worked well.  I was passing everyone in the pack and challenging the fastest runners in my group.

Passed the Porsche

Passed the Porsche

As I got more confident in the car I started moving faster and faster.  During my 3rd session a Porsche boxter and a 2007 Corvette I was able to pass and challenge the whole session.  It feels good to tail a 400 horse power Corvette and then him wave me to pass in my 287 horse power car.  I was really getting into a groove.  Having a car right on your tail is fairly unnerving.  I focused on keeping him in mind but keeping my eyes ahead and reading ahead and down the track.

When under pressure a lot of people tend to drive abnormally or over drive.  Unfortunately for this Subaru it ended very badly.  Just prior to this I was behind him and he was driving very erratically.  I think he was nervous and driving beyond his skill.  I passed him and by the time I came back around the track the corner workers were waving black flags (black flag means slow down something bad happened).   I soon came to see what happened.

Subaru crash

Subaru crash

Aaron was doing some timing on his watch and saw one of my bests at 1m:14s for a lap.  That was one second faster than the $70k Nissan GTR’s time.  I was proud of that, but wasnt too worried about everyone else, but focusing on my own line and driving.

Aaron doing some timing

Aaron doing some timing

By the end of the day I was completely exhausted and very satified with my driving and the day in general.  Its going to be a very long off-season as I already cant wait to do another event.

Here is a complete gallery of all 250 pictures from the day.  Please use the password “skidcity”.

http://s58.photobucket.com/albums/g259/nkohler/10-19-08%20pdx/

Also, please take the time to watch the video of some highlights from one of my sessions.

Higher quality: http://www.vimeo.com/2018321

Youtube low quality:

Neil