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“My Journey Through Racing” Part 2

Enter Alex Roy and Polizei… I thought he was pretty crazy when I first met him! Those of you who know him know I am right. But it didn’t take long for me to discover that he had something and I wasn’t sure even he knew he had it. He was doing a great job promoting his book at the time but it seemed what he was really promoting was himself. He is a great personality and a wonderful speaker, not to mention he has done things most people can’t even dream about. The rest of us are trying to prove our self worth by “extreme sports” or “extreme stunts” as I call them, as nowadays it seems if your willing hurt yourself on TV someone will watch. There is no other rhyme or reason to it all. It’s just silly! Anyway back Alex…he sat around with 7 people and planned something outrageous, secret and daring yet executable! He was going to drive from NY to LA in less than 32 hours!!!!!!!! And guess what folks, he did it!  You can never take that away from him, NEVER! In all this I saw something resembling an opportunity. Alex had notoriety from his exploits of Gumball etc. and he got it from interacting with his fans while he was doing it. I didn’t much care about the notoriety but the idea of interacting with fans and getting information to follow his every move seemed like something that should be being done in racing but it’s NOT! So why can’t we do it? Alex said there was no reason we couldn’t, so guess what folks, we did it!!! Ok here is something else; Liz Moses meets Alex Roy at my urging and after a few months, she heads on a drive across the country with him. Who would have thought a girl from Wall Street would go there? Must be a New York thing! Anyway as she earned it, Alex gives her a Polizei 144 jacket. She wears this thing around the country, in airports, restaurants and business meetings! Multiple times a day, by all walks of life, she gets asked where she got her jacket.  Well you don’t have to hit a girl as smart as Liz over the head twice with good idea. She starts thinking there is a brand here, Polizei 144!!!! Liz and I start throwing ideas at each other and realize that my racing concept and her brand concept are actually one! Alex has been doing this all along just not on a large scale.  So, Alex, Liz and I sit down a talk and talk and talk well, Alex talks! Seriously, we had discussions on the idea and agreed to do it together.  Unfortunately we need a platform. We can’t just make a line of merchandise and not promote it or the brand; we have to go racing to do that. Meanwhile and completely unrelated, Henri and I are having one of many racing discussions and tells me he wants to go Grand-Am Rolex GT racing with me. Now that’s a good idea, I thought. (Wouldn’t you if you were me?) A few weeks later I introduced Alex to Henri and I don’t want to put words in my co-drivers mouth but I am not sure Henri was that impressed with Alex. I found a commonality among race drivers who meet “the driver” and most of us are skeptical at first, I think it’s an ego thing. Anyway, the smart ones like Henri and I quickly realize that the logic behind Alex is actually brilliant. So, Henri, Alex, Liz and I all worked out the details on how to get it done and go to Laguna. This brings me to the race team because if you want to go racing, you need a racing team. Henri’s Porsche relationship was with The Racer’s Group, so that’s where we went. Imagine yourself walking into Kevin Buckler’s office at TRG to tell him you want to run a car in Rolex GT that looks like a fake German Police car! We were not sure how this was going to go over but Kevin listened to our story of why, how and what we wanted to do, I think it intrigued him. I don’t think he gets a lot of people through his door with a business plan to with the racing. Even though our plan involved; a crazy guy who dresses up in tights as a foreign police officer, a Wall Street genius, a tech company CMO and a former race driver/current race school instructor! Somehow we managed to get Kevin to agree to let us do it!

There we were at Laguna Seca with all the Grand-Am regulars unloading their transporters and we are patiently waiting for team to unload or shiny new (to us!) real racecar/fake German Police car! We were not sure what the reaction would be but as usual in racing, there is little emotion and everyone just goes about their job, quietly.  No reaction at all. As Friday morning comes it is time to get in the car for practice. I had 1 day of testing at Infineon Raceway in the car and I cannot thank Lonnie Petchnik from Flying Lizards fame, enough. He was instrumental in getting me as close to “up the speed” as possible in a short period of time. He gave me the knowledge I needed to grow from a “seat cover” to a “driver” in our crew chief, Mike Fox’s eyes.  You have no idea what a relief it is to have your crew chief, the guy in charge of your racecar, believe that you can drive! It gives them a bit of incentive when they think the car might come back in one piece! As the guy with zero Porsche experience now has 1 day in the car, Henri (who has Porsche experience thankfully) has zero time in this car. So you can imagine we were starting from a point significantly less advantages to the other teams. I was hopeful with Henri’s experience and my track knowledge we wouldn’t be too far off the pace. Henri went out first and did a fine job putting in respectable laps times. Then it was my turn. I went out and tried to gain knowledge about the car and figure how it was going to work around this place I knew so well. By the end of the 1st practice, we were both within a few tenths of each other so it just showed that we are a good match in the car. The second practice was a bit more frustrating for me. I went out first this time and I was trying to pick the pace up slowly. Taking small bites out of the braking zones as I knew that was an are I could gain time. After 6 or so laps I still hadn’t put down a complete lap and the black flag came out stopping the session. I sat for 11 or 12 minutes then went back out but I only did 3 more laps as it was time to come in and hand the car over to Henri, who did the rest of the session with no issues. It is regimented at TRG that as soon as the drivers make it back to the paddock we must go to a debrief with the team engineer and talk about things. I think this is great as all the drivers share their input and everyone benefits from the mass amount of information. We are able to try or discount set-up changes more easily. After the debrief I made it over to look at the data and was surprised to see how slow I had gone. I don’t think I broke 1.32.3, which is just plain off the pace. As I looked at the data it was obvious that I had made improvements in brake zones but things were very inconsistent. That worried me, so I started to go over each moment of the session in my mind. Incidentally, when I do this in my mind, outwardly I appear worried, distant and concerned. People are constantly asking if “things are OK?” Usually the answer is yes as I am just reliving moments. It is quite interesting how the human mind can slow down things that happen so fast. That is why this sport is very Zen to me, even know the only knowledge I have of Zen is from a very insightful but long-winded book from the 60’s. However it is defined, to me is it about doing something that comes so completely natural to oneself that conscious thought of the act is unnecessary. If you can understand how that relates to racing then you either agree with me because you yourself put absolutely no thought into driving to work each day and you manage to pull it off and think you know what it’s like to race OR you have read a bit about Senna. If it’s the first please go to a racing school, any racing school; if it is the latter read more about Senna and racing, then go try it yourself and you will see. If you don’t get it then chances are you weren’t trying! Ok where was I? Right, Friday practice. I actually stewed about it for a while and as I reached my conclusion about traffic being the key factor, I stewed some more just to be sure I wasn’t fooling myself. I worried about it for the rest of the day mainly because a driver needs confidence to perform and it had shaken mine or at least stunted its growth. Saturday morning and it is just beautiful weather at Laguna, uncharacteristically good weather. We had a good amount of track time to look forward to so we were quite comfortable with our chance to make progress. Lonnie Petchnik texted me as a drove to the track and let me know he would be there. This calmed me a bit as he was my “man behind the curtain” the all-knowing Wizard that would have an ingenious answer to all questions Porsche! We had a 60 minute session that morning and Henri signed us up for some rookie award thing that got us 45 minutes extra practice all before qualifying. As I left the paddock on Saturday things looked good. I spent the good part of 45 minutes putting things together on the track then came in to hand to Henri. He went out and was going great, both of us improving over the previous days times. Then it happened! Mike and the mechanics (I love this and will continue to use it forever!) were running to the trailer to wait for Henri. He was coming in with no drive, we figured in was an axle. Problem was it happened to him out of 6, which is uphill, so he had to be flat-towed to the corkscrew and then he was released to roll into the paddock.  Mike and the mechanics (still love it!) were on that car like, ummm…I am terrible with metaphors. I should have watched more Dennis Miller, how about women on a sale? Too sexist? I got it, they were all over that car like 4 mechanics who gave a crap! Yup, terrible metaphor but these guys really cared and I loved it! They found the problem and it was an easy fix, replace the right side axle. The guys went to work and in no time (15 mins) Henri was headed back out, awesome! Uh OH! Henri was on his way straight back in. Turned out there was a problem with the upright on the same side. The guys did everything they could to get it fixed in time but unfortunately we missed the rest of the practice including the extra session. Henri was pretty disappointed and I don’t blame him. We both needed every lap we could get and he was now further behind the curve, at least in his mind, I knew better. It was decided that I would qualify the car, as I was the last to drive it quickly while it was healthy. I am sure it was a simple matter of lack of confidence that led Henri to ask me to qualify the car but who would blame him. I had just logged 45 minutes more in the car so his rational was sound, I should qualify the car. In Grand-Am it is the usual strategy to have the “slower” driver qualify the car; the driver that qualifies also starts the race. As a majority of cars are run with a “pro guy” and a “gentleman driver” it is logical the one who is paying should get to drive first and start the race. In our case there are 2 things wrong with the normal scenario, the first we covered, the second was that at this point there was so little difference between my lap times and Henri’s that we had to throw everything out the window but common sense. Now the pressure was on. It is one thing to race when you have not raced in a while because you know as the laps go by things will get easier and better BUT qualifying is a whole other animal. There is no time to get used to things, there is no figuring it out as the laps go by, it is simply go out and go as fast as you can until the 15 minutes are up. That gave me about 8 laps around Laguna to go as fast as I could! OH and did I mention that this whole weekend had been preceded by concerns about “additional costs” and the desire to avoid them?                                                                  Ok now here’s the scene, you’re strapped into a 400 hp factory built Porsche GT3 Cup Car, it is stickered like a fake German Police car which isn’t exactly “flying under the radar”, you’re at Laguna Seca, all eyes are on you including live streaming video to the world via the internet, you have a total of about 2 hours of track time in the car or any one of its type, it’s 87 degrees outside, 135 degrees in the car, your surrounded by some of the worlds top drivers AND you draw #5, which means you are one of 5 cars sent out in front of everyone else.  To quote Bugs Bunny, “did you ever have the feeling you was bein’ watched?” NOW GO!!!! Remember the Zen thing? What I meant by that was exactly this moment. All those things that I just mentioned; not one of them entered my mind. I just sat in pit lane and waited for the session to go green, when it did my only concern was making sure I had enough heat in the brakes and tires. Especially the left front, which doesn’t get used much at Laguna. If you don’t pay special attention to that, you will end up on the way into turn 10 on your first flying lap and realize you have no idea if the car will turn in or not. As you might guess, I gave it a good hard warm-up lap then, just put my head down. I had one of the Sahlen Corvettes in front of me and at first it was no problem. Then as I started to push harder, I realized I was catching him. I had to make a decision, keep pushing to try a put in a fast lap before I catch him or back off for space.  I decided that if I back off, I would lose the tire temp I had and it might take me another lap to get it back. I didn’t want top risk it so I just kept pushing. I caught him going into turn 2 and passed him on the inside under braking. As I did I thought, I must have qualified quicker than him, which made me feel good. The session ended and I realized instantly how hot I was! I had never worked so hard in such a short period of time. Looking back, I can’t really explain why it felt this way. I had driven for longer periods of time but something was different. Then I remembered and it all came back to me. It was Qualifying!!!!!!!!! It is so very intense, pushing each brake zone a micro second later each lap, getting on the power earlier in every corner, staying flat where you lifted before. All to find a couple of tenths of a second, amazing!!! That my friends, is why I do this! For all that drama and effort and energy, we wound up 14th.  Not great but not bad consider our starting point, which if remember was only yesterday in reality. I was happy because my quickest lap was my quickest lap of the weekend so far. That is what it’s about, personal best! Pushing yourself to do better each time. As I came into the paddock everyone seemed happy and so was I. We had accomplished a lot and it wasn’t even Sunday yet!

More to come....

Enter Alex Roy and Polizei… I thought he was pretty crazy when I first met him! Those of you who know him know I am right. But it didn’t take long for me to discover that he had something and I wasn’t sure even he knew he had it. He was doing a great job promoting his book at the time but it seemed what he was really promoting was himself. He is a great personality and a wonderful speaker, not to mention he has done things most people can’t even dream about. The rest of us are trying to prove our self worth by “extreme sports” or “extreme stunts” as I call them, as nowadays it seems if your willing hurt yourself on TV someone will watch. There is no other rhyme or reason to it all. It’s just silly! Anyway back Alex…he sat around with 7 people and planned something outrageous, secret and daring yet executable! He was going to drive from NY to LA in less than 32 hours!!!!!!!! And guess what folks, he did it!  You can never take that away from him, NEVER! In all this I saw something resembling an opportunity. Alex had notoriety from his exploits of Gumball etc. and he got it from interacting with his fans while he was doing it. I didn’t much care about the notoriety but the idea of interacting with fans and getting information to follow his every move seemed like something that should be being done in racing but it’s NOT! So why can’t we do it? Alex said there was no reason we couldn’t, so guess what folks, we did it!!! Ok here is something else; Liz Moses meets Alex Roy at my urging and after a few months, she heads on a drive across the country with him. Who would have thought a girl from Wall Street would go there? Must be a New York thing! Anyway as she earned it, Alex gives her a Polizei 144 jacket. She wears this thing around the country, in airports, restaurants and business meetings! Multiple times a day, by all walks of life, she gets asked where she got her jacket.  Well you don’t have to hit a girl as smart as Liz over the head twice with good idea. She starts thinking there is a brand here, Polizei 144!!!! Liz and I start throwing ideas at each other and realize that my racing concept and her brand concept are actually one! Alex has been doing this all along just not on a large scale.  So, Alex, Liz and I sit down a talk and talk and talk well, Alex talks! Seriously, we had discussions on the idea and agreed to do it together.  Unfortunately we need a platform. We can’t just make a line of merchandise and not promote it or the brand; we have to go racing to do that. Meanwhile and completely unrelated, Henri and I are having one of many racing discussions and tells me he wants to go Grand-Am Rolex GT racing with me. Now that’s a good idea, I thought. (Wouldn’t you if you were me?) A few weeks later I introduced Alex to Henri and I don’t want to put words in my co-drivers mouth but I am not sure Henri was that impressed with Alex. I found a commonality among race drivers who meet “the driver” and most of us are skeptical at first, I think it’s an ego thing. Anyway, the smart ones like Henri and I quickly realize that the logic behind Alex is actually brilliant. So, Henri, Alex, Liz and I all worked out the details on how to get it done and go to Laguna. This brings me to the race team because if you want to go racing, you need a racing team. Henri’s Porsche relationship was with The Racer’s Group, so that’s where we went. Imagine yourself walking into Kevin Buckler’s office at TRG to tell him you want to run a car in Rolex GT that looks like a fake German Police car! We were not sure how this was going to go over but Kevin listened to our story of why, how and what we wanted to do, I think it intrigued him. I don’t think he gets a lot of people through his door with a business plan to with the racing. Even though our plan involved; a crazy guy who dresses up in tights as a foreign police officer, a Wall Street genius, a tech company CMO and a former race driver/current race school instructor! Somehow we managed to get Kevin to agree to let us do it!

There we were at Laguna Seca with all the Grand-Am regulars unloading their transporters and we are patiently waiting for team to unload or shiny new (to us!) real racecar/fake German Police car! We were not sure what the reaction would be but as usual in racing, there is little emotion and everyone just goes about their job, quietly.  No reaction at all. As Friday morning comes it is time to get in the car for practice. I had 1 day of testing at Infineon Raceway in the car and I cannot thank Lonnie Petchnik from Flying Lizards fame, enough. He was instrumental in getting me as close to “up the speed” as possible in a short period of time. He gave me the knowledge I needed to grow from a “seat cover” to a “driver” in our crew chief, Mike Fox’s eyes.  You have no idea what a relief it is to have your crew chief, the guy in charge of your racecar, believe that you can drive! It gives them a bit of incentive when they think the car might come back in one piece! As the guy with zero Porsche experience now has 1 day in the car, Henri (who has Porsche experience thankfully) has zero time in this car. So you can imagine we were starting from a point significantly less advantages to the other teams. I was hopeful with Henri’s experience and my track knowledge we wouldn’t be too far off the pace. Henri went out first and did a fine job putting in respectable laps times. Then it was my turn. I went out and tried to gain knowledge about the car and figure how it was going to work around this place I knew so well. By the end of the 1st practice, we were both within a few tenths of each other so it just showed that we are a good match in the car. The second practice was a bit more frustrating for me. I went out first this time and I was trying to pick the pace up slowly. Taking small bites out of the braking zones as I knew that was an are I could gain time. After 6 or so laps I still hadn’t put down a complete lap and the black flag came out stopping the session. I sat for 11 or 12 minutes then went back out but I only did 3 more laps as it was time to come in and hand the car over to Henri, who did the rest of the session with no issues. It is regimented at TRG that as soon as the drivers make it back to the paddock we must go to a debrief with the team engineer and talk about things. I think this is great as all the drivers share their input and everyone benefits from the mass amount of information. We are able to try or discount set-up changes more easily. After the debrief I made it over to look at the data and was surprised to see how slow I had gone. I don’t think I broke 1.32.3, which is just plain off the pace. As I looked at the data it was obvious that I had made improvements in brake zones but things were very inconsistent. That worried me, so I started to go over each moment of the session in my mind. Incidentally, when I do this in my mind, outwardly I appear worried, distant and concerned. People are constantly asking if “things are OK?” Usually the answer is yes as I am just reliving moments. It is quite interesting how the human mind can slow down things that happen so fast. That is why this sport is very Zen to me, even know the only knowledge I have of Zen is from a very insightful but long-winded book from the 60’s. However it is defined, to me is it about doing something that comes so completely natural to oneself that conscious thought of the act is unnecessary. If you can understand how that relates to racing then you either agree with me because you yourself put absolutely no thought into driving to work each day and you manage to pull it off and think you know what it’s like to race OR you have read a bit about Senna. If it’s the first please go to a racing school, any racing school; if it is the latter read more about Senna and racing, then go try it yourself and you will see. If you don’t get it then chances are you weren’t trying! Ok where was I? Right, Friday practice. I actually stewed about it for a while and as I reached my conclusion about traffic being the key factor, I stewed some more just to be sure I wasn’t fooling myself. I worried about it for the rest of the day mainly because a driver needs confidence to perform and it had shaken mine or at least stunted its growth. Saturday morning and it is just beautiful weather at Laguna, uncharacteristically good weather. We had a good amount of track time to look forward to so we were quite comfortable with our chance to make progress. Lonnie Petchnik texted me as a drove to the track and let me know he would be there. This calmed me a bit as he was my “man behind the curtain” the all-knowing Wizard that would have an ingenious answer to all questions Porsche! We had a 60 minute session that morning and Henri signed us up for some rookie award thing that got us 45 minutes extra practice all before qualifying. As I left the paddock on Saturday things looked good. I spent the good part of 45 minutes putting things together on the track then came in to hand to Henri. He went out and was going great, both of us improving over the previous days times. Then it happened! Mike and the mechanics (I love this and will continue to use it forever!) were running to the trailer to wait for Henri. He was coming in with no drive, we figured in was an axle. Problem was it happened to him out of 6, which is uphill, so he had to be flat-towed to the corkscrew and then he was released to roll into the paddock.  Mike and the mechanics (still love it!) were on that car like, ummm…I am terrible with metaphors. I should have watched more Dennis Miller, how about women on a sale? Too sexist? I got it, they were all over that car like 4 mechanics who gave a crap! Yup, terrible metaphor but these guys really cared and I loved it! They found the problem and it was an easy fix, replace the right side axle. The guys went to work and in no time (15 mins) Henri was headed back out, awesome! Uh OH! Henri was on his way straight back in. Turned out there was a problem with the upright on the same side. The guys did everything they could to get it fixed in time but unfortunately we missed the rest of the practice including the extra session. Henri was pretty disappointed and I don’t blame him. We both needed every lap we could get and he was now further behind the curve, at least in his mind, I knew better. It was decided that I would qualify the car, as I was the last to drive it quickly while it was healthy. I am sure it was a simple matter of lack of confidence that led Henri to ask me to qualify the car but who would blame him. I had just logged 45 minutes more in the car so his rational was sound, I should qualify the car. In Grand-Am it is the usual strategy to have the “slower” driver qualify the car; the driver that qualifies also starts the race. As a majority of cars are run with a “pro guy” and a “gentleman driver” it is logical the one who is paying should get to drive first and start the race. In our case there are 2 things wrong with the normal scenario, the first we covered, the second was that at this point there was so little difference between my lap times and Henri’s that we had to throw everything out the window but common sense. Now the pressure was on. It is one thing to race when you have not raced in a while because you know as the laps go by things will get easier and better BUT qualifying is a whole other animal. There is no time to get used to things, there is no figuring it out as the laps go by, it is simply go out and go as fast as you can until the 15 minutes are up. That gave me about 8 laps around Laguna to go as fast as I could! OH and did I mention that this whole weekend had been preceded by concerns about “additional costs” and the desire to avoid them?                                                                  Ok now here’s the scene, you’re strapped into a 400 hp factory built Porsche GT3 Cup Car, it is stickered like a fake German Police car which isn’t exactly “flying under the radar”, you’re at Laguna Seca, all eyes are on you including live streaming video to the world via the internet, you have a total of about 2 hours of track time in the car or any one of its type, it’s 87 degrees outside, 135 degrees in the car, your surrounded by some of the worlds top drivers AND you draw #5, which means you are one of 5 cars sent out in front of everyone else.  To quote Bugs Bunny, “did you ever have the feeling you was bein’ watched?” NOW GO!!!! Remember the Zen thing? What I meant by that was exactly this moment. All those things that I just mentioned; not one of them entered my mind. I just sat in pit lane and waited for the session to go green, when it did my only concern was making sure I had enough heat in the brakes and tires. Especially the left front, which doesn’t get used much at Laguna. If you don’t pay special attention to that, you will end up on the way into turn 10 on your first flying lap and realize you have no idea if the car will turn in or not. As you might guess, I gave it a good hard warm-up lap then, just put my head down. I had one of the Sahlen Corvettes in front of me and at first it was no problem. Then as I started to push harder, I realized I was catching him. I had to make a decision, keep pushing to try a put in a fast lap before I catch him or back off for space.  I decided that if I back off, I would lose the tire temp I had and it might take me another lap to get it back. I didn’t want top risk it so I just kept pushing. I caught him going into turn 2 and passed him on the inside under braking. As I did I thought, I must have qualified quicker than him, which made me feel good. The session ended and I realized instantly how hot I was! I had never worked so hard in such a short period of time. Looking back, I can’t really explain why it felt this way. I had driven for longer periods of time but something was different. Then I remembered and it all came back to me. It was Qualifying!!!!!!!!! It is so very intense, pushing each brake zone a micro second later each lap, getting on the power earlier in every corner, staying flat where you lifted before. All to find a couple of tenths of a second, amazing!!! That my friends, is why I do this! For all that drama and effort and energy, we wound up 14th.  Not great but not bad consider our starting point, which if remember was only yesterday in reality. I was happy because my quickest lap was my quickest lap of the weekend so far. That is what it’s about, personal best! Pushing yourself to do better each time. As I came into the paddock everyone seemed happy and so was I. We had accomplished a lot and it wasn’t even Sunday yet!

More to come....

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