Oh, the plans I had for 2004! I bought an enclosed trailer and a truck to tow it, I had more work done on the car to make it safer and more competitive, and I wanted to do 8-10 races and take second in the C Production championship. I also wanted to beat Mike Blaszczak for a class win once or twice. I was going to use a driving coach, get a crew guy lined up, and find some sponsors.
Looking back at 2004
The coaching idea died a quick death, once I realized just how busy Ken Hill (ICSCC Assistant Steward, ProFormance instructor, heavily involved with the local BMW club chapter, locally “famous” [along with his brother Wes] among the BMW E30-chassis race crowd, etc.) was going to be. Despite his kind offer to help me out, I decided that the overall scenario just wasn’t going to work out for me. I didn’t look for a replacement, though, and contented myself with committing a little more fully on the track. That and generally settling in to the car were likely to be the two major areas for work anyway, in only my second season of racing, so I’m not too disappointed in the coaching realm.
Before I had a chance to really look for crew, crew found me in the form of two Integra owners who were interested in helping out where possible. The first one was interested in learning about racing preparatory to getting into it himself, while the second was also an instructor with the Porsche club and excited about working with an Integra racer.
The first was still in college and quickly flaked out on the early season races, citing schoolwork as the reason. (Fair ‘nough.) The second probably had more value as crew, with all his experience, but he was a little too gung-ho for my tastes. Still, by the time his schedule looked free enough to help out, I’d decided that his value as a crewmember far exceeded the benefit I’d gain from it, given my level of performance at that stage of the game. His experience with Carbotech brake pads for Integras that saw track time was dead-on, though, so making his acquaintance definitely wasn’t a waste of time.
Sponsorship actually turned out reasonably well: I was more successful in getting businesses involved than I expected, but got less monetary impact out of the relationships than I’d hoped. I was able to wangle a wholesale deal on Acura parts from the local Acura dealer, I got a good deal on my car’s (and truck’s, and trailer’s) signage, and good rates on my hotel room in Portland.
I also worked out a deal with Peter Emhoff of Peter’s Restorations (206-560-2405) to get his name on the back of the car in exchange for paint and body work on the car. In the end, sponsorship didn’t drive enough race car business his way to make it worthwhile, but I strongly recommend him (especially if you own an exotic or show car) if you need paint or body work.
On the driving front, my plans were to take second in the C Production championship (outscoring Guy enough to do so) and to beat Mike for the class win in a race or two. Well… I beat Guy every time I raced him, which was nice (he’s still faster than me over the course of a lap, but I think my car and I have the measure of him and his over a race distance), but the only time I came close to getting a class victory came during the early-race downpour in June at Portland, and the dry conditions later on put paid to that idea. In the end, though, I didn’t run enough races to even qualify for the championship, much less enough to outscore Guy over the course of a season.
So… I’d have to give myself about a 50% rating for the season. On the plus side, better dry-weather tires and a growing confidence in myself and the car resulted in more competitive races and lap times, as well as more fun. On the minus side, I spent a lot of money in preparation for a season’s plan that never came close to materializing and I was (as last season) my own worst enemy in some of the off-track aspects of racing.
Looking forward to 2005
As things stand now, there’s not a whole lot to look forward to, race-wise. Toward the end of the summer, I thought family and financial obligations were going to force me to hang it up for a few years. Then things changed and, intending to take a totally different approach to racing, I was going to sell the Integra and build an E36 (’95-’99) M3.
Now, though, it looks like some new financial obligations are putting my racing in the “rent-a-ride” category for a couple years: I’ve sold the truck & trailer, I’m selling the Integra, and I’m going to rent a race seat a few times a year just to keep my license active until I can get back into things with my own equipment. I’ll continue to do the enduro, though, and I’m also looking into some other “on-track activities,” such as lapping days and instructing.
When I’m able to start back up again, though, I will be (assuming I remember the lessons I’ve learned the past couple years!) taking a different approach to my racing… in a nutshell, the plan is to stress less and have more fun. It’ll be a more “lean and mean” operation (e.g., no truck or trailer), I’ll do more of my own work and worry less about how many races I enter, and a season’s goals will be process- rather than results-oriented.