Rain was coming down in sheets as I left my client site in Bethesda, Maryland. “Oh great, let’s see how dry this weekend is,” I thought as I made my way down the Beltway to the Dulles Toll Road. Mercifully, a brief break in the downpour allowed a fast trailer hookup (in dress clothes), and the rain resumed right as I did, headed west with Summit Point Motorsports Park in my sights.

Summit Point and I have an interesting relationship. The facility houses several circuits that are all very fun to drive. It’s also where I had a fairly nasty crash several years ago, spinning off into the woods at Turn 2 during a Time Trial session. Since then, I’ve been a bit gunshy about pushing myself or the car, and have always found it easier to get faster at VIR.

Oops.

Thankfully, the rain cleared up overnight, and we awoke on Saturday to a drying track (practice was slow going) and a day that turned a beautiful 75 degrees.

I had run some 1:24.xx laps around Summit Point last year. The 24’s were hard to achieve then, so getting comfortable at that pace, and then picking it up, were both goals of mine at this event.

Saturday’s race went alright, although I blew the start and was caught a bit off-guard when we got to Turn 1. No matter, I stayed ahead of a few competitors and focused on getting a better start on Sunday.

Sunday’s race was looking iffy, weather-wise. All of us had rain tires, jacks, and impact guns next to our cars, ready to swap tires if need be. Thankfully, the rain held off and our “game time decision” to leave the slicks on the cars meant we could have some full-speed fun.

My parents had come to visit, and with Mom in my ears calling the race, I got a great start. As the pack swarmed toward Turn 1, I found a gap and held on, keeping myself ahead of a few competitors while chasing down a few more.

Several laps in, I caught up to Mark (black and red, #88 in the video) and snuck past him. I focused on maintaining the lead I set on Mark, while starting to reel Matt in. But, some brief mid-race rain saw me slow just slightly to maintain control, and the gains I made against Matt were lost. I kept ahead of Mark and finished fifth of eight for Sunday.

A fifth-place finish isn’t all bad, but the bigger news is that I did set a new personal best lap time around Summit Point during that race. I broke into the 1:22s (barely) with a 1:22.96, which was the third-fastest lap time of GTS2 during our race.

I’m still working with Racers360, and sent them my race video for analysis. I’ve got my own theories on how to keep going faster, and I’m curious what Dion will have to say. But, with some more work on my end, I know the “1:20 club” is attainable. NASA Mid-Atlantic will be back at Summit Point later this year and I’m excited to go even faster then.

Photos by Chris Schutze of Finish Line Productions

2 COMMENTS

  1. Congrats on a well deserved personal best! Sounds like you were on top of your game. You said something in here about mom being in your ears and “calling the race.” Is there some kind of communication you guys rely upon throughout the race while she’s spectating?

    • Thanks! There is a challenge that everyone faces in that 1) we can’t always see the start stand for the green flag, given all of the big wings and such, and 2) sometimes track-wide flag conditions change (from yellow to green) while you are between stations and can’t always have one in easy eyesight.

      In both cases, it’s advantageous to have someone positioned near the start/finish stand, telling you about any track-wide flag conditions. A lot of racers use in-car radio systems, that can be activated with a button on the dash or steering wheel, and rely on an in-helmet mic and speaker. Those are expensive, so I throw some earbuds in under my helmet and have a phone call during the race. Cheap and easy, and it’s worked well so far!

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