July 6th & 7th, 2013 – VIR

So again we took Friday and Monday off for the 14 hour drive to the track in Virginia, and as anyone knows who has traveled on the American interstates, driving down there is a pleasure.  Lots of amazing smooth roads cross crossing the country, great scenery, gas stops, fast food and lots of billboards!!  Even though it’s July were still not at the height of summer heat, so heading south is a treat!

IMG_1330

IMG_1332 IMG_1334 IMG_1336 IMG_1345 IMG_1359

 

Blue sky and warm temperatures…what a better way to welcome our new car!!  She’s a silver beauty…and since we are home builders and and only decal we have is a sold sign…that’s what she gets!

Mike gets out for practice and qualifying and quickly figures out the car…..I’m a bit nerved up due to our last race weekend here and the famous flip…and after chiropractic and massage treatments, Mike is doing great!

So great he finished in 4th place..just out of the podium position.

Saturday – June 1, 2013

I’m sitting under a few large oak trees, hiding from the ferociousness of the 91degrees heat.  I’ve got a bottle of cold water, a bag of honey mustard pretzels, a fantastic John Grisham novel and a comfy lawn chair.  Nope it’s not the cottage….

Mike and I are at VIR, Virginia International Race Track, in between practice sessions on the south course.  It’s a 2 day race weekend with practice, qualifying and a race at the end of each day.  So a cool thing about this track is that it’s a club.   You join the club, not unlike joining a golf course, and you get to use the services and have the privileges of a club member.  The services include driving on a great race track with full marshals and safety crews, the use of the spa and townhouses / hotel facilities, a shooting range and go kart track.

After a long time away from the car race scene, Mike is renting the car for the weekend off of TMI.  TMI are the constructors of the Aerial Atom, you know the car the guy drove on Top Gear and was amazed at how fast it was.

A drivers meeting in the timing and scoring tower followed by open lapping then a meeting for the Aerial Atom people where the daily schedule was reviewed.  Just like a pro race team, Mike was in and out of the pits during his practice, adjusting this and that (shocks, springs, tire pressure etc.).  Hope he doesn’t get used to this treatment!!!!

Two practices, qualifying and the 16 lap race.  Mike did a lot of figuring out …track and car and managed to improve his times so he was running top 1/3…..only problem, the transponder was not working…oopps.  So without an official time he got to start from the back.

With approximately 20 cars on the grid the start was impressive, actually the entire race was impressive with 3 or 4 races within the race.  Mike continually moved up and finished 13th.

Champaign, trophies, Honda bucks to the top 3, and the award of one set of tires available to anyone who has entered the race, were all given out after the race.

In much need of beer we went for dinner and drinks at the plantation house where we sat around on the big wrap around porch for about an hour of bench racing then dined on gator (yup you read it right), lamp chops and filet.  Again wow…this is racing?

P1150262 P1150282 P1150293 P1150295 P1150300 P1150305 P1150312

 

Friday – May 31, 2013

Ok so another 6 hours to go to make it to the track today, and with a wonderful hot complementary breakfast complete and the car gassed up, we headed south for the last part of the drive.

We arrived at the track around 4:30 and got the grand tour of the TMI facility; office, assembly, manufacturing and maintenance area.  It’s probably the cleanest best-organized shop that I have ever seen.  Most of the 22 employees were busy moving cars over to the track or getting things ready for the weekend of racing.

We were introduced to Jeff, who was working on the finishing touches of getting Mike’s rental ride back together, and Jenson the engineer who would be using some of the data from Mikes car for future analysis.

After the shop talk it was off with another M&M (mark and Megan) for a great dinner.

The assembly line Lined up and ready to go trackside Pace Car! P1150230

 

Thursday – May 30, 2013

Were off the Virginia!  Ok so we did not get away from work as early as we wanted to but just beating rush hour makes a huge difference in the City.

3 hours from the office we were driving through beautiful Ellicottville USA.  It has a beautiful old downtown, complete with trendy shops, great looking places to eat and stately old houses.  It’s clean, lush and full of beautiful gardens; we’ll have to make plans to ride the bikes here in the future.

We drove on route 219, which would make a fantastic bike route to the track, but it’s a bit much when trying to put some miles under our belt.  We stopped for the night around 11:00 at a Hampton Inn.