“Look Ma! I’m a Pro Driver!” Part 2

Grand-Am Koni Challenge Series: Part 2 

Raceday on Saturday was a typically pleasant and warm Virginia fall afternoon. No rain in the forecast. The run up to the race was spent watching Drift Cars, Stunt Bikes and Time Attack. I was eager and ready for my professional debut. Our strategy was to keep me in the car until we needed to stop for fuel. That would probably be around the 1 ½ hour mark. Ok, no problem, that’s only an hour longer than any of my previous races. Strapped in, fired the engine and the next thing I knew I was speeding into the first turn and the race was on. I rounded the first couple of turns cleanly and fell in near the back of the pack. I found a good rhythm and concentrated on lowering my lap times. When a faster car passed me I pushed hard to keep up without risking going off course. My first goal was to finish my stint with a raceable car and gain experience. Soon the leaders came up to lap me. I was aware that this being the last race of the season, a championship and good point positions were going to be decided today. I didn’t want to screw over a contender by making it hard to get around me. That usually worked ok for the first car or two, but then the cars following felt the need to keep up with the leaders and would pound on my bumper to get by. I couldn’t just disappear; I needed to get through the turns too! I gathered that’s why the cars have fenders and bumpers. “Rubbin is racin” came to mind. One  particular Acura driver felt a heavy shove would work and I was pushed off at the Oak Tree hairpins. I skidded and slid off onto the grass towards the tire wall and stopped just short of it. I scrambled around and returned to the track, hot and bothered but thankful I was still running. The Acura was not so lucky, a black flag and a busted radiator put paid to his day. My lap times were dropping and I was actually catching and passing other cars. At about the 1 hour and twenty minute mark the yellow caution flags flew and my low fuel light came on so it was time to hit the pits and hand the car over to Jerome. I had survived my first encounter with the voracious and predatory pack of Koni Challenge racers and had lowered my lap times by over 10 seconds from Friday. The team was happy with my performance and I felt satisfied with my effort.

OG RACING is the best source for Motorsport Racing Safety Equipment!

Unfortunately the other drivers in the SDS Dodge suffered difficulties. When the car was run wide off turn three the right front tire scrubbed up against the curbing and was damaged. Subsequent hub and stud damage led to drive shaft and clutch failure and the car was retired one hour short of the full distance. A possible top twenty finish was denied the team and Derrick, Steve and the crew were disappointed and dejected. Although the hoped for finish was not attained, I left VIR a much improved driver and had made a strenuous transition to professional road racing. I had learned that I didn’t have all the answers I would need in the future and I had to be open to new ideas and information if I was to progress. Now the question became: what’s next and where to?

Shop for Continental tires at Tire Rack.

thanks to Grand -Am and Juha Lievonen


Tire Rack- Revolutionizing Tire Buying