Champcar Focus

New Video: Race Car Removal

I placed this Race Car Removal post in both The Journey and My Racing categories as it fits both parts of my blog.

As I wrote in my 2019 Racing Plans post I will not be entering 2019 with any specific plans to race.  My goal in 2019 is to focus on family and the business.  This past racing season was filled with too many distractions which lead to frustrations and a focus on the wrong things.

Not As Planned

On a recent Saturday my wife and I loaded up the race car, its spares and headed east to deliver the car to its owner so that we’d have that space cleaned up to store another vehicle or a place for a project vehicle.  Keep reading to see what is currently there.

The day didn’t go as planned.  I estimated one and a half hours to pack and load everything up.  Spot on with that estimate.  However, the car wound’t move.  Turns out that one of the recently installed axles was wrong!  I swapped out the axle.  While it didn’t take too long to do the job I had to wait for the axle to be delivered.

Champcar Focus Axle Change
Not happy about having to change the axle

“This car fought you ’til the end.  This is a reminder of why you aren’t racing next year.” – My wife

We made it to Erie and dropped off the car without much of a hassle.  However, we missed a good portion of our evening with friends due to being behind time wise, but all in all the race car removal project can be viewed as a success.  The space is cleaned up!

Removal = Focus

The reason I placed this post into the The Journey category is that my involvement in racing is two fold. 

First, I really enjoy the sport as a participant – there’s nothing better than being on track and tuning out the world.  Being at the track with friends is a blast and being able to wrench between sessions is weirdly fun for me. 

Second, I love the business side of motorsports.  Sponsorship engagement, fan activation, promotion – and everything else.  I believe that if I am involved in motorsports it will be good for business.  While I have gained some new business by being involved in racing it’s not a large referral source.

Part of The Journey is adapting and learning and then making adjustments based on lessons learned.  While it can be fun and rewarding to be involved with a race team and to have a reason to be to at the track right now just isn’t the right time.

With as busy as the shop is, my focus needs to be there.  We have so much work to do on including getting the new offices ready.  I very excited that I can now have a clear focus on my business and personal goals

Video of the Race Car Removal Project

What’s in the space now?

Painesville Speedway racecar
The Painesville Car

While I have no specific plans for the Painesville Race Car in 2019 I will prep it just in case.  It doesn’t need much.

So how can I prep this car and still not race in 2019?  While I have no specific race plans for 2019, that doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t race.  Heading out to the Painesville Speedway for a Winter Series Race or a regular season race night will be a last minute decision.   If everything in my life is where it needs to be at that moment, you might find me at the track. 

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So while the ChampCar Race Car is out of my life, that doesn’t mean that cars, racing and projects are 100% out of my life.  In addition to posting updates on my website, I’ll be creating short videos on YouTube as well.

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My 2019 Racing Plans – Do I have Any?

Q: What are my 2019 racing plans?

A: I don’t have any!

Usually this time of year I am planning my off-season to prepare for the next racing season.   However, this year is a little different.  I made the decision during the 2018 racing season that in 2019 I would take a year off from racing to focus on my business and my family.  There were too many late nights and long weekends spent at the shop working on race car items.  That time and energy should have been spent on the business and hanging with the family.  So, my 2019 racing plans are…none!

Had I fully understood the time commitment I agreed to for 2018 I would have said no.  It was so much work and so much time.  While I had some awesome team members working with me – it was still a lot.  I certainly did appreciate the opportunity to be involved with the team and race at Nelson Ledges and Pitt Race in 2018 in the ChampCar series.  However, other areas of my life had to suffer.

2019 Plans

So with no racing plans for 2019 – whatever will I do?

My business continues to grow and with growth comes growing pains.  Being present is one thing, but being able to have undistracted, mental focus is important and I believe that I will now have that.  There are so many ideas that I rarely would be able to work on and see though and now I will be able to work on those.

I also promised my wife that I would not have any project cars in 2019.  Truth is, I am constantly looking for a project car ; E30 or E36 BMW, Focus SVT, or Civic EP or EG hatch are top of my list.  A promise is a promise though so for now I’ll keep looking and researching.

Helping Others

In the last month I have received three offers to be involved with some sort of racing program for 2019.  I have respectfully declined those offers.  It is very hard to say no.  I just finished the Charles Espenlaub episode of Dinner With Racers and he started out doing exactly what I’ve been doing; wrenching and transporting race cars for seat time.  While it has lead him to a successful motorsports career, not sure I can follow that same path.  Well, I could but other areas of my life require focus and commitment.

I do envision that during the 2019 race season there will be a weekend or two where I might have the opportunity to help crew and I’ve offered this to a few racing friends.  It is relaxing to know that entering the season with no commitments I will have more control of my schedule and time.   I really enjoy hanging at the track – it’s my escape.

Painesville Racing

I still have the Painesville Car (that’s the name I have for it) and I can see racing it a few times this Painesville Speedway Carseason.  The beauty of this car is that it will require very little prep.  Plus, the track is close and the racing is fun!  There’s a good chance I’ll fit a few races at the Painesville Speedway into my 2019 racing plans.

The car is currently under a tarp and only requires a few items to be ready to go.  I am hopeful that the speedway will host their winter series in 2019.  This relaxed, racing series is a perfect way to keep the juices flowing.  I ran one of the races in early 2018 and although was spun out on the first lap, had fun.

So this is usually when friends say, “I thought you said you weren’t racing in 2019.”  I have no plans to race, and there are no race dates on my 2019 calendar.

What’s Next?

After writing this I will be transporting the Ford Focus race car to Erie PA and delivering it to its owner with all of the spare parts.  This will free up some shop space and while I am not 100% what will end up in that space I have had some inquiries about winter projects from friends.  We’ll see.

I do have quite a bit of work to finish up in the front space of the shop to get the new lobby and offices ready to go.

Lastly, there’s always tons to do at the shop.

Check back for more updates!

2018 Turkey Leg 150 @ the Painesville Speedway

Painesville Grand Am Turkey Leg 150

Well, I did it…the 2018 Turkey Leg 150 @ the Painesville Speedway.  It came together, two friends and two cars.  It was, of course, a blast and I am already thinking of next year’s race.

My good friend John bought us two cars and we worked to get them ready. No race prep mind you – just getting them ready to pass tech.  When was his car done?  Oh, just 45 minutes before tech.

Typical fashion for me – last minute.

Anyway, it was a fun time.  I put together this video that highlights the journey getting ready and the race.

 

Turkey Leg 150 We Are Racing!

Painesville Speedway Turkey Leg 150
Painesville Speedway Turkey Leg 150

 

Want to watch some great racing this fall?  Check out the Turkey Leg 150 at the Painesville Speedway on Saturday, November 17th at 2PM.

I’ll be there racing a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am.

Racing at Painesville Speedway

More to follow on the builds and prep.  This is always a fun event!!

ChampCar Pittsburgh Grand Prix Recap

Lake Effect Racing Pitt Race ChampCar
Post race weekend picture

 

Here’s my ChampCar Pittsburgh Grand Prix Recap…

This year was filled with many late nights and long weekends at the shop working on a car that would be entered into ChampCar (www.ChampCar.org) racing.  It was a bigger endeavor that I had planned for  and one that, at times, seemed so close yet at other times seemed as if the project would never end.

I am working on a post that highlights the build.  Stay tuned.

Getting To The Track

I was actually finishing up some items on the Friday morning prior to loading up for the Pittsburgh Grand Prix.  Oil change, alignment, transmission fluid change still had yet to be done.  Plus packing.  I was at the shop late every night for two weeks as we worked to get the car ready.  I am very luck to have friends that will trade work for pizza.

I returned to the shop twice after leaving as we discussed a possible brake swap at the track and had to retrieve many parts that were back at the shop.  Tech closed at 6PM and my arrival time was inching towards 5:30.

I arrived to the track at 5:30 and the team helped unload the car, fix a fuel leak I found on the turnpike as I filled the car with fuel and we drove it up to tech.

They only had a few items for us to address and we headed pack to our paddock, grabbed dinner and then worked for a few hours installing the wiper assembly, roll bar padding, changing the fire extinguisher nozzle locations, installing rear window strips, and figuring out an electrical item that would allow ,the car to be shut off with a master kill switch.  I figured it out and then we were good to go.

Let me tell you about the dinner!  One of our teammates, Brian, organized this pot luck dinner and it was awesome.  Tons of delicious food!  Everyone loved it!

One thing I enjoy about racing like this is meeting new people and hanging out.  A group a few trailers down invited us over for beers and we sat around, talked racing, emptied the keg and laughed quite a bit.  It was good a way to end a long day.

Saturday – Race Day

We woke the paddock up at 6:25AM to take the car back to tech to get final approval on all items and we passed.   We set up our pit stall and got the car down to pit lane only for me to realize that we never adjusted the safety belts.  I struggled, contorted into small spaces and managed to get the belts closer to where they needed to be.

I strapped in and set out on the pace lap.  I couldn’t shift the gears easily!  The way the shifter and the seat were made it very difficult for me to shift and to reach the wiper switch which was now actually behind me.  Also, the car was cutting out!  It was sputtering.  I headed into the pits and told the team what was going on.  We sent Paul out, he’s taller, and it was still sputtering.  So we brought it into the paddock for an investigation. I found a loose connection opt the mass air flow sensor and it was good to go.  As I write this I now realized that the connection was moved during the electrical work for the kill switch work.  I bet it became loose then.

We sent the car back out and it ran great until the wheel feel off!  Yup, we had a wheel spacer nut fail on us.  We made the repair, after a trip to the parts store for more, better quality lug nuts.  Got the car back on track and it ran great.  I jumped in for a stint and with a seat adjustment and my booster seat (LOL) I could comfortably drive and shift.

We finished on Saturday!  To me that’s a win!

Back in the paddock we cleaned up the car, checked for any damage, rotated the tires and performed an alignment.  Now dinner time!

I missed my daughter’s homecoming on Saturday night.  🙁

Sunday – Race Day

Sunday was mostly uneventful.  Paul and I ran the car fairly well.  No issues until it was time for me to go in for the last drive. The left front wheel bearing was shot.  These cars are known to go through bearings and ours did.  Although we had a spare bearing we did not have a press.  Day over.

We packed up, celebrated what we did accomplish and began laying hints for next season.

We headed to the awards ceremony and guess what – our team won an award!  It was due to Brian’s organization of the pot luck and our ability to rebound from the wheel falling off.  Well done team!

 

Pictures from the ChampCar Pittsburgh Grand Prix

A Big Thank You

This season would have been possible without the help of many people.  From those that help early on in the winter to those that helped at the track – thank you.  I’d name you by name, but I’d probably miss someone (by accident).  Thanks to my loving wife who basically said get it done and we’ll see you after the last race.

What’s next?

I’ve always joked, “What off season?”!  As I head into the “off-season” I’ll be finalizing my plans for 2019 and will share them very soon.  Stay tuned!

Nelson Ledges ChampCar Race Recap

Okay, okay…I know it’s been a while.  Too long actually.

When I say it’s been crazy busy, it’s been crazy busy.  Many late nights and early mornings at the shop.  I feel very blessed that we are this busy and for the team I have.

We just got internet back at home after not having it for 9 days so I am home on a beautiful Friday night, alone, typing this, catching up on email and recapping the week.  Oh, and listening the NASCAR Xfinity race from Kentucky which we attended two years ago and had an awesome time at.

So in this post I’ll recap our ChampCar race at Nelson Ledges Road Course in northern Ohio.  This was the first 24 hour race at the recently repaved track in quite a while.

As the final weeks drew near on the Focus prep it became apparent that the car would not be ready.  We found out that we needed a somewhat hard to find for the axle carrier and the amount wiring proved to be too much.  I put in a weekend and about 25 more hours into this car in the days prior to the race and we still had items to wrap up.

We had to find another car to race and the team owner made many calls and tried to put together a few deals to keep us on track.  I connected him with one of our driver’s who had a car that we could race.

Thursday night was spent packaging the truck and two of our crew members, Sam and Betsy, went to help load up the car.

Friday I arrived to the track around 7AM and we set up our paddock.  We went through tech and ran a few practice laps.  It was decided that we would replace the axles due to a vibration and the suspension needed to changed to move us out of the EC (fast) class.  In hindsight we should have stayed in EC and took the class win (no other entries).

I left the track to drive all over collecting items we needed and then back up to the shop Friday as we needed more supplies and needed a different seat.  I did not get any practice laps in on Friday.  We worked well into the night and the the early morning to get the car ready.  Slept in the tent and woke to pancakes and coffee and it’s race morning!  I love camping at the track!!

Saturday morning we got through tech and with a little politicking – passed.  For some of Saturday’s race we were in the paddock with a vibration (loose ball joint bolts) and oil pressure and temperature issues.  I changed the oil and the car owner adjusted the brake ducting to the oil cooler and the issues seemed to go away.

Two of my stints were in the dark.  This was my first time racing at night.  My second stint was scheduled to start around 2AM.  One of our crew members checked on me at around 1:20 – I was sorta of awake,  As I geared up and started walking towards the pits I was greeted with a “The car was just towed in”.  I grabbed my truck, pulled the car to the paddock and began looking into the issue. No fuel pump.  I found that the relay had come loose.  Got it running, got dressed and went back on track.

Once I was done with my stint I headed to paddock to prepare breakfast and begin cleaning up.  I joked that if I had a $1 for every empty water bottle I’d have a lot of money!

While the weekend was a hot, long one we worked hard for a 3rd place in class finish and I am proud of that.

It’s 11AM, were packing up, I have two hours of sleep and reflecting on the weekend, I realized that I do enjoy  this.  That’s the truth (see what I did there?)

A lot of work, but I had a good time and that’s the Truth.

Photo Gallery

Great Start On The Race Car

It was great to get the team together to help get the car ready for the 2018 race season.  We got a great start on  removing spare parts from the parts car, pulled the engine from the parts car and was able to get the seat installed in the car.

Below are the pictures from the day.

Search For a Champion

Could I Be A Champion?

Search For a Champion

Make Me A Champion (and help a kid get into motorsports)!

So I’ve entered this contest with Champion Spark Plugs that offers sponsorships to racers and I need your help.  More specifically I need your votes!

Before you vote, let me tell you why you should vote for me.

I am a big believer that our youth should get opportunities to experience things they are interested in.  For example, remember wood shop and auto tech?  Remember home economics and sewing?  Heck, we even had intro to business classes when I was growing up.  To some extend these experiences are harder to find for our children.  If a child has an interest they should have opportunities to explore it.

When I was in college I had the opportunity to work on a regional race team in the summers.  I attended races, worked in pits and visited the shop.  I sometimes reflect back on those experiences and realize how important they were to understanding racing, being prepared and how to work under pressure.

Last summer I had the opportunity to race a bit and was able to open a door for a young man to attend two of the events and help our team.  Boy did he jump right in and was a huge help.  It was great to see his enthusiasm.  I was also able to help a family get on the kart track with their kart last year.  Seeing three kids smile ear to ear after running laps all day was awesome.  I want to do more of this!

Here’s My Plan…

My goal is to include a youth member on my team in 2018.  They’ll get to experience working on race cars, helping in the pits, helping with car prep  and will be exposed to the business side of racing (the money losing part LOL).   It takes money to cover the costs of the crew and to be at these racing events.   I will use the Champion sponsorship money to help cover the costs of having a youth member on the team.

I am still finalizing my 2018 racing schedule.  It will include some endurance racing, some kart racing and some oval racing (winter series mostly).  This team member will be able to attend these events and we’ll share the details here and on social media.

How To Vote

Voting does require registration (hey, it’s for a good cause).  Once registered, voting is easy and you are able to vote one time per day.  Reminds me of voting in Chicago, vote early and vote often!

Check out my entry at http://bit.ly/VoteSnow.  On this site you’ll see my entry and the button to click to vote (which will take you the registration page).  Once registered it will remember you each time you come back to vote – which will be everyday, right?

Thank You!

Thank you in advance for your votes.  I really do appreciate your support and the difference that this will make in a child’s life.

Rad Air Team Gobble Gobble

Race Recap: Gobble Gobble 150

Well, we did it.  We build a car, raced it and it finished.  Our first Gobble Gobble 150 seems to have been a success.

Last month I wrote about Painesville Speedway’s post Thanksgiving Day race and our car prep to get ready for the, not so gentle race.  We survived and some seemed impressed with our first outing.  We finished 4th out of 63 cars that started the race.

Rough ‘No Start’ To The Day

Friday night I had gotten almost everything ready so that all I had to do was load the tools, car and food and then head to the track.  Early Saturday morning I started to pack up the van and then moved it.  I then decided to go grab some more food and drinks and the van would not start.  What?  I fussed with it for a little while and luckily a friend was meeting me at the house to go to the track together so he was able to drive.  Nothing like a race morning frustration!

Once we arrived at the shop we got everything loaded up and made our way to the track.  Check in and pit parking and set up was super easy.

Tech and Wait

I took the car through tech and didn’t realize that we needed the doors either welded shut or chained together.  Otherwise, the car passed tech without an issue.  In fact, I was asked if I really wanted to race the car since it looked so nice.  I replied that we built it to race it!  We figured it would be a target.

Luckily I had chain in the truck and we chained the doors and were ready to race.

It was a bit chilly for race day, but the excitement of the race seemed to numb the cooler temps.  Tech went very quickly so we had plenty of time to walk around, meet people and check out other cars.

Hot Laps

The race organizer ended up allowing hot laps so I was able to go out for two sessions and take two of our team members out to check out the track.  What a blast!  The car handled well and it was good to see the track prior to the green flag.

The Race

It was a pill draw and I pulled number 25 which meant that we’d start 25th out of 63 cars.  In this type of race that could be a dangerous spot.  You have half the field ahead of you.  Accidents, mishaps and breakdowns could all take you out of the race.  My strategy was to just stay out of trouble.  Avoid as much contact as possible and make it through.

The first few minutes were filled with red flags due to breakdowns and accidents.  During the red flags we’d stop on track, wait for them to clear the incident and then go green again.

Watch the Facebook Live Footage

The first third of the race wasn’t too bad.  I knew we’d get rubbed, hit, and slammed, but there wasn’t too much of it in the first parts of the race.  Just kept the car out of trouble and avoided the rough drivers.

Here’s the view out the back of the car for about the first half of the race…

 

The second third of the race was quite a bit rougher.  There were many trying to spin us and hit us. Got spun around once, but was able to get out of the grass and back onto the track.  I knew there’d be some rough racing and coming from a sports car background it was tough to mentally understand the need to hit to try to push another car around, but I learned to accept it and I tried to race everyone clean.  I gave room to the race leader when he came by and if someone was giving me a hard drive I’d just let them by.  It’s a 150 lap race so I figured I’d let them go hit someone else.

As the race went on the track on the north east end got super slick.  It was tough to tell where the track ended and the infield began – all mud!  Slow and steady through here was the only way to go.

The last third of the race saw much less hitting and spinning, at least from my vantage point.  Before I knew it there were about a dozen cars left on the track and we were one of them.  A few more fell out and then  I saw the five to go sign from the flagger.  We were going to finish!  Five laps didn’t give me enough time to make up time on the field, but that’s OK.  A finish was a good show for the team and the car.

The team was super excited and we’re still talking about the race and which one we’ll do next.

What’s Next

We have a few repairs to make to the car.  The battery needs to be relocated, the tires need replaced and we should find a new rear bumper cover – our got dragged around the track for about 40 laps under an Accord that helped it fall off the car.

The Painesville Speedway is going to host a winter series in 2018 and we may enter the car into a few of those races just to have some fun.

Stay tuned for updates on those races and potential ideas for the regular season as well.

Pictures From The Day