Personal Comments

Challenging Start of 2017 Season, But Ready to Fight!

Racing certainly has its ups and downs and unfortunately, sometimes, those downs can really take a toll on you. Not only financially but also mentally. I have learned one thing in my time in the sport and that is it’s important to learn and bounce back stronger. The first two races in Trans Am have been downright horrible. The part that is so disheartening is the setbacks have been mechanical issues with our Dodge Viper!!  I know, very odd.  That doesn’t happen to the Vipers usually so that has all of us scratching our heads a bit.  Only getting in three laps at Indy and finishing fourth at Brainerd isn’t up to our standards.  Flat out sucks.  We will learn from it and come back stronger. 

I have had so much success with the durability and reliability of these cars that when we have any kind of mechanical problem it surprises us.  However, this particular problem is one we haven’t seen before.  It is a very odd fuel pressure issue that keeps cropping up and taking us out of the game.  I have been truly blessed at having some of the smartest people on our team to figure things out.  So for them to not be able to pinpoint the issue, well, it’s alarming.  But what has been interesting is that I have found myself in a much different role the longer this problem goes on.  The engineers and crew were getting frustrated and a feeling they were letting me down.  Yes, it was embarrassing coming in only after two or three laps.  However, I needed to put the team first over my personal disappointment.  So I became the chief “motivator or cheerleader”.  They needed to hear how much I supported them and we race as a team.  Both on and off the track.  I would go around and talk at length to every single member of the team and give them encouragement and be keep their heads up.  And I can promise you, every one of these guys has come up and patted my on back when I was frustrated and felt I had let them down. That is how a TEAM wins and that is how a TEAM overcomes the struggles. 

Have also added a new student to our Lux Performance Group team.  Dirk comes to us after many years of traveling the country driving some wicked exotics in a bunch of HPDE events.  So over the winter, I had to design a multi-year program that would take him from a track day guru into a full racer.  So far, he has done everything I have asked and more.  He ran a couple of spec Miata races in Portland before I would even let him drive his brand new Viper ACRX on track.  He had never experienced the world of a “momentum” track car and it opened his eyes immediately!  Everything is a building block and so far I am really encouraged by his progress.  I am always impressed when a real pro, an expert and a leader in his world, takes on a new challenge where he is back learning the skills at the basic level. When they can be open to learning and stay focused on the process, you know that is someone who wants to succeed and do it right. 

Probably the hardest part of the year emotionally for me and for the team was at Brainerd.  We lost a Trans Am competitor during the event weekend.  Mel Shaw was pulling double duty and running a SCCA Club race just prior to his Trans Am race on Sunday.  Something happened on-track and Mel didn’t survive.  The entire Trans Am community – competitors, officials and fans – were devastated.   Our race was delayed several hours for the investigation to take place.  During this time, it rudely reminded me on how precious life can be.  I have to be honest; I struggled getting back into the car when officials gave us a 5 minute signal.  But to honor Mel and his family, racing was the right thing to do.  I have never driven with such a heavy heart during a race.   We take racing for granted at times and this was a huge reminder for me……………….. this sport is dangerous. We all live much closer to the edge that we care to think about at times. 

Camaraderie in the paddock can really make a difference in a race weekend, whether it’s getting help unloading the trailer, working on a mechanical problem, or sharing racing experiences at the end of a successful day.  I know I have made some of my best friends in motorsports, and I’m very grateful for that. You are quickly reminded that we all share something special as human beings when faced with the events of Brainerd. As racers, we all feel it that much more. 

I am really looking forward to our race coming up at Road America in August.  Hopefully, this year it won’t be quite as wet during the race!!   Make sure you follow along on our Twitter, FB and Instagram for updates throughout the year.  There is no filter at time so just be forewarned.  

See you at the track.