That time we raced in the Pirelli World Challenge series

J.G.
By J.G. Pasterjak
May 14, 2022 | Ford, Endurance Racing, fiesta, Pirelli World Challenge | Posted in Features | From the Feb. 2014 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: Chris Clark

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of Grassroots Motorsports.]

This is how we envisioned our Ford Fiesta project car series wrapping up: After first tasting speed at autocross and track events, we’d take it professional road racing–B-Spec racing, to be specific. How’d we choose a staff member to sample the limelight from behind the wheel? We simply drew straws, and J.G. won the seat. He’s raced for money before, but this was his first stint in the Pirelli World Challenge series. He lived to tell the tale.

I’m a huge fan of a podcast called “You Are Not So Smart.” In it, host David McRaney explores various logical fallacies and self-delusions. He also interviews various learned types who spend a lot of time thinking about the way people think.

On this particular episode, social psychologist Elizabeth Dunn presented her research on the relationship between money and happiness. While I won’t spoil the whole thing for you–it’s really worth listening to on your own–I’ll say that her conclusions show that you get the most bang for your buck if you spend your money on experiences rather than things.

Things fade. Buy a new TV, and it’s obsolete by the time you unload it from the truck. Despite its physical presence, “stuff” is remarkably transient and tends to lose its luster rather quickly.

Experiences, on the other hand, tend to get better with age. A fancy ring can be lost or stolen, but no one can ever take your memories. And sure, memories fade, too, but that almost always improves them. We tend to forget the stuff that wasn’t so good and hold on to–even embellish–the stuff that was. 

In that spirit, I’ll discuss and, in an unqualified way, recommend the experience of professional sports car racing, warts and all. Yes, there are a few warts.

Pro-Test

First, we need to discuss how we define professional sports car racing. I took our B-Spec Ford Fiesta to Mid-Ohio to compete in the Pirelli World Challenge Series, which is one of America’s premier professional road racing series. 

But what does that mean?

It’s probably not a stretch to say that there’s really no such thing as professional sports car racing–at least, not in the way we think of other professional sports. When we think of pro sports, we think of paid athletes who compete at the highest level and can earn their entire incomes from doing so.

Why? Because they’re exceptional at what they do. For their entire careers, these superhumans have been monitored, groomed and recruited by scouts. They’ve had their skills shaped by trainers and coaches. When they aren’t competing on the field in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans, they’re honing their skills for the next game. 

Put another way, I know when I watch an NFL game that the guys on the field are among the best 1600 or so football players in the world. There’s no check I could possibly write that would allow me to play wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles. I could, however, stroke a check that would allow me to run the Rolex 24 At Daytona, or at Le Mans, or in pretty much any other “professional” sports car series in the world. That check would bounce higher than a superball, but you get what I’m saying.

So “pro” racing really isn’t a pro sport as defined in traditional stick-and-ball terms. What is it then? Well, the simplest explanation is that pro racing brings the illusion of professionalism to sports car racing. And while that sounds derogatory, let me explain why it really isn’t.

Professional sports car racing would not exist on its own. It exists because it’s a user-supported community of people who want nothing more than to see the sport they love displayed on as big a stage as possible. That’s not to say there isn’t money to be made in the sport because there’s plenty. But in general, pro sports car racing is its own economy, and if someone is making a living in the sport, it’s because someone else in the sport is paying for it. But we’ll get to some of those details soon enough.

We Go Pro

The plan all along for our Ford Fiesta project was for it to conclude with a run in the Pirelli World Challenge series. B-Spec has been one of their fastest-growing classes, and we needed to see what all the fuss was about.

But we wouldn’t be able to do it alone, so we recruited our pals at Capaldi Racing in Michigan. The Capaldi crew provides race prep, trackside service and support, arrive-and-drive rentals, and everything in between for various pro series, although this past year they mainly focused on World Challenge. 

Craig and Chris Capaldi–sons of team owner Leo–also compete in the series in a GTS Mustang and a B-Spec Fiesta, respectively, so they know what it takes to make the field. If you’re looking for a model for making a living in this sport, Capaldi Racing fits the mold perfectly. Between their arrive-and-drive customers and their development work for Ford, their longtime partner, they make a nice living while helping some folks have a lot of fun. 

Though our Fiesta had an SCCA Club Racing logbook, we wanted it to go somewhere it could get a true World Challenge-level pre-race prep. Exotic Car Transport delivered the car to the Capaldi shop a week or so before the Mid-Ohio event, and they set to work. (True, we could have hand-delivered it, but we figured our time was better spent making magazines, not driving 2200 miles.)

Before our race weekend even began, our Fiesta got a thorough going-over at Capaldi Racing. This included a complete nut-and-bolt inspection, and an alignment, all according to the team’s copious checklists. Photography Credits: Mike York

While most of the prep had been done–and B-Spec is a relatively limited-prep series to begin with–there were a few outstanding jobs. Our door glass was still installed–something World Challenge regs do not allow–and our stock steering wheel was still in place–preventing anyone taller than 5-foot-5 and heavier than 140 pounds from getting behind the wheel without serious organ damage. Capaldi removed the door glass, installed a Sparco quick-release wheel, and had the car corner-weighted, nut-and-bolted and freshly fluided before it hit the transporter bound for Ohio. 

The Capaldi team is thorough and regimented, and they operate according to checklists and call sheets. While that may seem like overkill, it exposes one of the universal truths of pro racing: Everything is done to an extremely high standard. 

 

Even if you have a small crew, the complex nature of pro racing mandates a crew chief. Brian Vinson was our guy. He put up with our noob questions and handled the logistics of the weekend. One of the most valuable things he did was debriefing the drivers on their data acquisition after each session. TOP: Here, he discusses the Race-Keeper data with Chris Capaldi. BOTTOM: Brian was also in charge of assuring that our car was tech-compliant. This meant making sure our 34mm restrictor plate was in place. Photography Credits: J.G. Pasterjak

This is not merely for the sake of being fancy, but rather because the level of preparation is extremely high across the board. The least-prepared car on the grid is not all that different from the most-prepared car on the grid. Everyone brings the best equipment available, so there’s no room–and no excuses–for cutting corners.

Indeed, the setup that I was confronted with upon arriving at Mid-Ohio was nothing if not professional. With five cars in their stable for the weekend, the Capaldi compound occupies some serious paddock space. There were two trailers, each with their own awning–one housing three Mustangs and the smaller one housing two Fiestas. There were uniformed crew guys, a delicious catered spread, and a general sense of order, though I simultaneously understood that this was a highly complex operation.

I also got to meet my crew chief, Brian Vinson. Actually, I had met Brian two weeks earlier at VIR at our Ultimate Track Car Challenge. He sneakily neglected to mention that he’d be my crew chief at Mid-Ohio–probably because that gave him time to bail if he saw that crazy “I’m gonna sniff some glue and wreck the car” look in my eye. I didn’t have that look, thankfully–or at least, I never took off my sunglasses long enough for him to notice it.

Pro People

Oh, and when I say that Brian was “my crew chief,” that brings me to the next undeniable truth about pro racing: Everyone has a job, and that’s what each person does. 

If you look at the best teams, you’ll notice something in their pits: Not a lot of folks are talking about what they need to do. Sure, there’s plenty of conversation about the cars and the weekend and the approach to the event, but rarely will you hear someone tell someone else what they should be doing. This is largely a result of everyone knowing what they should be doing, which sounds obvious enough, but is all too rare in the amateur ranks.

So Brian’s job was basically to make sure I had whatever I needed to make my weekend go well. That’s usually a scenario that makes me a little uncomfortable, as I’m just not the kind of guy who likes to have a fuss made over him. But the truth was more utilitarian than that, and that brings me to two more undeniable truths of pro racing: The first is that pro racing is a show, not merely a race. The second is that the driver is merely a single part of that complex show, not the focus.

Clearly, both of those statements require some explanation.

See, in club racing, it’s all about the drivers. They measure their skills against one another with stopwatches and track positions. The winner gets the glory, the trophy, his name at the top of the results sheet, and–well, that’s pretty much it. 

At the pro level, the racing is just one act in a complicated production. Every facet of the weekend is carefully sculpted to deliver a certain message to the fans, the marketing partners, and even the teams involved. 

While this sounds sinister, it really isn’t. It’s the difference between a traveling carnival and a theme park. Both have thrill rides, but when you step off a whirling saucer at a theme park, you’re still taking part in a larger, cohesive experience because the entire environment has been manipulated to exude that. When you step off the same whirling ride at a traveling carnival, you’re just in a parking lot. The overall experience is very different.

And the drivers in the pro ranks–while they may be highly visible to the fans–are merely more cogs in the overall machine of the production. As a driver, you’re not there for attaboys, or some personal goal, or the glory of fame. You’re there to do your job, which is to drive the car as fast and competitively as it can be driven. Notice I didn’t say “as fast as you can drive it.” If “as fast as you can drive it” doesn’t match up with “as fast as it can be driven,” well, you’re not the person for the job.

When you’re driving in the pro ranks, don’t be surprised when people suddenly find you more interesting and actually want to talk to you. Everyone loves to hear good track stories from the men and women who experience them. They may even want your autograph, even if you have to explain to them who you are. But there are perks, and under the Capaldi Racing tent, that means top-notch homemade meals. It’s difficult to perform at your best if you’re full of trackside chicken nuggets and fried corn on the cob. A good meal brings a touch of calmness and comfort to the otherwise chaotic surroundings of the race track. Photography Credits: Chris Clark (top, middle), J.G. Pasterjak (bottom)

All this may sound like I’m trying to talk you out of an experience like this, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, pro racing encompasses so much more than actual racing. Yes, as a driver, you may just be a talking piece of hardware to the crew. But to anyone who bought a ticket, you are a hero, and that’s a legitimate part of the experience.

For the last 20 years or so, I’ve been performing improv and standup comedy at local venues with some small degree of success. In that time, I’ve done shows where the number of performers on stage outnumbered the audience (a condition that anyone in a ska band is certainly familiar with). I’ve also done shows for several hundred people. No matter what the turnout, I performed to the best of my ability and drew a great deal of satisfaction from a strong performance–regardless of how many people were there to see it.

But while doing the art for art’s sake is perfectly satisfying, doing the art with the support of a huge crowd is a different experience altogether. Doing your thing in front of a crowd becomes a collaborative experience between you and the audience, and that’s the most lasting impression I take from pro racing. 

I signed the posters, hats and manboobs of probably 350 people at the World Challenge autograph session, and nearly every one of them was excited for me to do it. And I’m nobody!

But not to them. 

Pro-Duction

That’s not to say they were duped into believing that the guy in the GRM shirt sitting at the autograph table wasn’t just some schlub with a mortgage and five parrots and a wife with a serious shoe-buying problem. No, I was a driver. I was there to facilitate their weekend experience and take part in the production they paid good money to see. 

By the way, don’t expect to play prima donna and skip the autograph session because your false modesty has convinced you that nobody really gives a flip about getting your signature. First off, they do care. Second off, attendance at the autograph session is mandatory for drivers, which brings me to the next undeniable truth of pro racing: It takes huge teams of people to pull off a pro-racing production.

At the Mid-Ohio event, there were roughly 75 competitors in four World Challenge classes. Servicing those competitors were probably 35 to 40 dedicated SCCA and World Challenge staff members. They made sure everything happened in the right order, at the right time, and with as little ambiguity as possible. This large staff is necessary because of the weekend’s tight schedules and many contingencies.

Even in pro racing, there’s a hierarchy, and even though the Pirelli World Challenge series is one of the premier road racing series in the country, when you’re sharing the weekend with Indy Cars, you’re not at the top of the food chain. This means inevitable schedule changes and reactions to how the main event of the weekend makes adjustments. With a large and professional staff, the World Challenge crew can absorb those changes and keep things on track for their teams with minimal drama.

The complexity of the proceedings extends to the teams as well. If you were hoping to take your brother-in-law, your barbecue grill and your open trailer and go pro racing, you probably won’t have such a great experience. 

Being in compliance means more than nuts and bolts. There are meetings to attend, and attendance is verified. Subjects include on- and off-track procedures specific to the weekend, sponsor considerations, last-minute schedule or procedure adjustments, or general series management that drivers and crews need to know about. There’s also homework: Each team must deposit their telemetry data cards into a box in the tech shed shortly after each session. Our crew chief Brian made sure this got done. Of course, the car must also be in spec. Chris Capaldi made sure our camber settings didn’t exceed the maximum allowed by the series rules. Sandi Capaldi kept everyone well nourished. Photography Credits: J.G. Pasterjak

First, you’ll be relegated to the farthest corner of the dirtiest paddock on the property. This is pro racing, after all, and it’s all about creating an experience for everyone involved, including the nice people who bought tickets. Teams must maintain an appropriate level of professionalism.

That means matching uniforms (If half the L.A. Lakers were wearing street clothes on court, would the game still make as much sense?), organized paddock spaces, and a certain amount of interaction with the fans in the paddock. Teams who provide a better fan and partner experience will find themselves assigned to better paddock spaces.

This is where that big World Challenge staff comes in: They make sure standards are adhered to across the board. Tech is stringent not just for rule compliance, but for appearance and professionalism standards as well. 

Got an old sticker on your car? Sorry, it’s coming off. Forgot your fireproof socks back at the hotel? They don’t care if you’re the defending class champion, they’ll need to check the condition and brand of those socks before they can sign off on your gear tech sheet. Blow off fans asking for an autograph on your way to the Porta-John? You’d better hope an official didn’t see that. Next time, learn to hold it, or invite the fans in with you to give them a race weekend experience they’ll never forget. Actually, you’d probably get yelled at for that, too. Just sign the damn autograph.

Yes, There Was a Race, Too

So far I’ve spent a lot of time talking about everything besides the racing. But yeah, that happened, too, and it was also an eye-opener.

First off, I’ll say that this whole B-Spec deal is pretty cool. I’ve always had a soft spot for “slow” cars, and our Fiesta scratched that itch perfectly. Adding insult to injury, we also had to install our World Challenge-mandated restrictor plate–at just 34mm in diameter, barely big enough to pass a quarter through and get about 10 cents of change–which choked the Fiesta down to around 105 wheel horsepower, according to the Capaldi crew. It means I really only had two modes for my right foot: full throttle or brakes. Anything in between was just wasting precious time.

I had two main challenges when it came to my approach to the race. The first was that I had never even sat in our Fiesta project car until I got to Mid-Ohio, and the second was that I had never been to Mid-Ohio until I got to Mid-Ohio. So I was faced with learning both a car and a track before undertaking a high-profile, televised sporting event. No problem.

Luckily, I had a great support system in the form of Brian Vinson, who was patient, knowledgeable and supportive, and Chris Capaldi, who had spent the entire season until that point campaigning a B-Spec Fiesta of his own. Both gave me some pointers about Mid-Ohio, along with some in-car video and line diagrams, which promptly went out the window when I went out for my first practice session. 

Those of you who know Mid-Ohio will know exactly what I’m talking about here, but for the rest of you, let me say that I made the mistake of going out onto a wet track in the rain on non-rain tires. I just wanted to see where the track went. To get a feel for the rhythms and flows of the corners. To see how well they matched their digital counterparts that I’d been rehearsing on for a few weeks.

But it was really more like driving a Teflon bicycle down a path paved with snot. I’m convinced that if you parked a car at the bottom of Madness in the wet, you could push it sideways across the pavement with one hand. It’s hard to say how many times I actually spun while idling around because it was really more like one long, extended spin that lasted around three laps.

At any rate, I got some feel for the sightlines and gear choices, and learned that Mid-Ohio is more like a paved math test than an actual race track.

Flag girls add to the festivities, but they like to be compensated for their time. Add this to your race expense list for the weekend. Photography Credit: Mike York

One of the most important skills to master is looking cool while you’re hanging out before the race. Chris Capaldi has honed his skills after a couple of years in the World Challenge series. We still look a bit stiff. Photography Credit: Chris Clark

Brian Vinson did a good job at taking the edge off before race time. Last-minute strategies and contingencies were the topic of discussion just before we rolled out to the grid. Once the green dropped, though, you’re pretty much on your own, despite radio contact with your team. It’s up to you to keep it on the paved part and keep the painted side up. Photography Credit: Chris Clark

Photography Credit: Chris Clark

The next day, at the official practice and qualifying sessions, the track was comfortably dry. By then, I was a little more familiar with the car and more willing to lean on it a bit. B-Spec is a bit of a balancing act because you simply don’t have the horsepower to drive your way out of overly aggressive maneuvers, but you have to operate at the limit all the time just to keep up your momentum. Thankfully, the Pirelli slicks were up to the abuse and did a fine job of staying consistent throughout a session. It’s nice when a series specifies a mandated tire, and it’s a great tire.

By the time qualifying rolled around, I managed to get within about half a tenth of Chris Capaldi. On one hand, it was nice to see that I was pedaling our mostly unsorted Fiesta at a competitive clip, but on the other hand, it did mean that I’d be starting right next to the last car on track that I’d ever want to hit.

Both of our qualifying times put us in the back half of the field, but there were several cars between our Fiestas and the end of the line, which was also a bit of a confidence boost. The time difference from the front to the back of the pack, though, was remarkably small.

That brings me to the next undeniable truth of pro racing: There are no tourists. Everyone there is fast. Although many of the drivers in the field are not full-time professional racers, the level of competition is so high that even the “gentleman” racers have their skills honed to a razor’s edge.

And this may be even truer in B-Spec. The cars are so evenly matched, so horsepower-challenged, and so easy to drive that the competition is absolutely brutal. 

Once the green drops, there is no quarter given, and absolutely none should be expected. Unlike club racing, where you can occasionally make a pass by simply filling someone’s mirrors until they’re convinced that you’re faster, the pro ranks have no such simple progression. From the front of the grid to the back, positions are attacked and defended with unparalleled ferocity. 

To complete a pass, you must impose your will on the car you’re passing to such a degree that you simply break the spirit of your competitor. You also have to be ready to trade some paint, because everyone else out there is, and if you aren’t willing to play by those rules, you may as well keep it on the trailer. 

This doesn’t mean that the driving is dirty–just unforgiving. And, honestly, that’s a rather fine distinction. There were some penalties handed out for overly rough driving, but mostly the contact is incidental, and if you take a shot, you usually realize that you put yourself in a situation where you were relying on the decency and common sense of the other driver, which simply doesn’t exist in this world–nor should it. 

It wasn’t until the start of the second race that I finally figured this out. If you race scared, you simply won’t succeed. The only thing that will help you succeed in this environment is exceptional situational awareness and the firm belief that you deserve the position you are trying to take. In pro racing, you cannot wait to take what you are given because it will never come.

At the start of that second race, I simply took my own theory to heart, held the throttle open, and aimed for daylight. Whether or not that daylight was paved was inconsequential. Your entry fees cover both the paved and grass parts of the facility, so you may as well use them all. By the third turn, however, my heroic start turned out to be all for naught, as the field went into an extended full-course yellow to clean up someone else’s mess. 

By the end of the weekend I had largely retained my dignity, moving from 15th to 16th in the first race and 16th to 15th in the second–out of 23 entrants. 

The Cons of Pro

Now we come to the question of why you want to do this, which brings me to the next undeniable truth of pro racing: It’s complicated and expensive. 

An arrive-and-drive weekend in a B-Spec car like our Fiesta will run you well into five figures, and that’s before any repairs or additional damage. Yes, you can do it on your own, but there are so many moving parts that you’ll need at least some crewmembers just to make it through a weekend. For example, each car must turn in their memory cards with their data system records after each session. The SCCA even has a neat little deposit box for just such a service. But 30 minutes after each session, that box is locked, and if your card isn’t in there, you can expect penalties to be heading your way.

You also have to remember that you’re part of a show. If your crew guys are all dressed in cutoff jean shorts and wife beaters, expect not to be invited back until you can present the proper appearance to the crowd. 

Those attractive young ladies who hold the flags at the start of the race in front of each car? They don’t just magically appear. Each team is responsible for providing its own flag bearers for the prerace ceremonies. And when you call a local modeling agency and say, “I need a good-looking girl for a quick flag job,” be prepared to explain yourself.

And just when you think you’re done spending money, be prepared to spend more money. In fact, cost is certainly one of the common complaints we hear from competitors in almost every pro road racing series. It’s not just that the costs are high, but that a series frequently sees its competitors as an additional revenue source instead of a revenue generator. The easy answer to this is “Capitalism!” But the more complete answer is that if lots of people are concerned about it, there may be a genuine issue brewing.

Still, there’s a variety of ways to make a living in pro racing.

Pro racing is big business, and you’re expected to present a professional-looking front to make the show better for the fans. Paddock areas need to serve the teams’ needs for servicing their cars, but also give the fans a degree of access. A half-disassembled Audi R8 may seem like a complicated and expensive proposition to get back on track, but when you’ve got sponsors counting on exposure, you do what you have to do to make sure you’re in the show. Although your car will likely make a few visits to the tech shed, the tech crew also makes house calls. The World Challenge staff will pay a visit during the weekend to make sure your car and team are in compliance with some of the many appearance and safety regs of the series. Photography Credit: J.G. Pasterjak

Lawson Aschenbach is one of the very few people on the World Challenge grid who could be considered a full-time professional racing driver. Even then, it’s a difficult lifestyle for him. While he draws a paycheck as a driver (actually as an independent contractor), he must supplement his income through coaching and other marketing opportunities to make ends meet. 

The Capaldi team is a more common model: A shop preps cars for arrive-and-drive customers and provides services to a major manufacturer–in this case, Ford. This allows them to fund some of their own racing, although both Craig and Chris Capaldi are putting plenty of personal funds into their efforts.

The more grassroots version of that model is the approach of drivers like Shea Holbrook. She’s gone from being a driver to a team owner, now with a stable of cars she either owns or services–or some combination of the two. The additional exposure from multiple cars, along with some legitimate marketing savvy, has allowed her to bring on marketing partners willing to fund some of the effort. What was a family expense has turned into a family business in the last few years.

Still, though, if you look down the grid of most professional sports car events in the U.S.–heck, even the world–the last name of the person in the driver’s seat likely matches the name of the primary sponsor of the car.

Yes, You Should Try It

I hope what I have described for you hasn’t dulled the luster of pro racing too much. While I feel that this is a realistic view, just describing the facts of the situation does little justice to the actual experience. As I mentioned previously, our memories tend to improve our versions of events over time, and not just because we’re selectively picking out the good parts and throwing out the bad, but because we see better how these experiences fit into the bigger picture of our lives. 

Ask someone to describe the facts surrounding the birth of her child, and you’ll hear a horrific tale of pain, screaming, blood and gore straight out of an Eli Roth movie. Five years later, you may well have the exact same event described to you as “the most amazing thing that’s ever happened.” It’s not a matter of facts; it’s a matter of perspective.

If you want to go racing, go racing. If it’s track time you’re after, the pro ranks are not the place to find it. Your laps-per-dollar value will be much higher at an SCCA or NASA club race weekend. But if you want to have an experience–and share it–with several thousand screaming fans who are all there to watch you, I beg you to try this at least once. 

Photography Credit: Chris Clark

At one point, I tried to make a pass on young Jack Murray coming over the hill in Madness. I thought I could use my superior experience and age advantage to intimidate him out of my way. He simply shoved me aside as we crested the hill side by side, then took the more advantageous line into Turn 6. 

Over our quiet cars I could hear the crowd gasp. Sorry, maybe that makes me shallow and starved for attention, but that was pretty cool. Those folks on that hillside paid for a good show, and even though we were battling in the bottom half of the field, we were giving it to them. You get to play the same game you love, but you get to do it for a much bigger audience.

So if it’s competition you’re after, there are plenty of places to find it. But if you want a sense of the effect that that competition has on the fans, the marketing partners, the manufacturers, and the many other entities that make up our world, this is where you’ll get it. It’s a new way to look at a sport we love, and an experience that will only improve in your memory.

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Comments
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trigun7469
trigun7469 SuperDork
1/20/22 1:03 p.m.

Did you sell it?

hybridmomentspass
hybridmomentspass HalfDork
1/20/22 2:54 p.m.

WOW, what a great article!

Im glad this popped back up

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
1/20/22 2:57 p.m.

I once did a similar type of event..............I found being asked for my autograph just so weird.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
1/20/22 3:07 p.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :

I bet that is pretty strange.

On the flip side, I can't recall the number of times I've just shoved whatever card/picture/piece of paper I was given at the front of the line to every single driver in the autograph line. It's like a weird knee-jerk reaction or something.

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
1/20/22 4:47 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

I've only had one stranger; years ago my wife did a film short that was featured at CineVegas, naturally I was on of the actors. after it played I was in the bathroom, and as I was washing my hands a guy tells me great job (you're watching me take a wee?). It took a second for me to realize he was taking about the movie..............as JG noted, for a working shlep it's just odd to be thought of in any sort of celeb status.

racerfink
racerfink UltraDork
1/20/22 8:29 p.m.

It's too bad both IMSA and SCCA killed B-Spec with their stupid slick tire rules before it had a chance to take off.  Had Pirelli and Continental not pushed for slicks, I bet B-Spec would be going strong on the Pro Racing front.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/21/22 9:13 a.m.

Also, when B Spec launched, the manufacturers were involved. We were there with them. Today, though, you can't buy a new Fiesta, Mazda2, Fit, etc. 

fusion66
fusion66 Reader
1/21/22 10:53 a.m.
racerfink said:

It's too bad both IMSA and SCCA killed B-Spec with their stupid slick tire rules before it had a chance to take off.  Had Pirelli and Continental not pushed for slicks, I bet B-Spec would be going strong on the Pro Racing front.

B-Spec had a 61 car field at SCCA run-offs this past year (2021). That seems pretty healthy. It saw a big decline but has had a significant resurgence over the past few years despite many manufactures no longer producing the cars used in the series.

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
1/21/22 1:18 p.m.

In reply to fusion66 :

I love B-spec............mainly becuase I race a car with the same rate of unaccelleration. 

fiestafrank
fiestafrank New Reader
3/15/22 10:52 a.m.

In reply to trigun7469 :

The car currently resides in Detroit Michigan but the current owner has not had it on track for a number of years

fiestafrank
fiestafrank New Reader
3/15/22 10:53 a.m.

In reply to racerfink :

Ummm, we are not dead. www.b-spec.org.  61 cars at the Indy Runoffs in 2021.

fiestafrank
fiestafrank New Reader
3/15/22 10:56 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I would argue that the B-Spec community works together today and delivers a level of support beyond what the manufacturers provided back in the day.  Did any of them lift a wrench to help a rookie at their first race repair his car when hit by a Miata? LOL

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/15/22 3:49 p.m.

"If you race scared, you simply won’t succeed. The only thing that will help you succeed in this environment is exceptional situational awareness and the firm belief that you deserve the position you are trying to take."

I've never done any pro racing.  But this quote very much applies to the local circle track racing I've done.  You need to be very aggressive and deliberate to make a pass.  Scared won't get you anywhere.  Great read!

HapDL
HapDL New Reader
3/16/22 10:38 a.m.

I ran a "pro" series once upon a time for a season, it pretty much bankrupted me and ended my racing for a while.  The level of BS going on was spectacular, lawyers and accountants walking around like real race car drivers, wearing their fire suits 24/7, I'm sure some were sleeping in their suits.  Talent was not the issue, money was always the issue. 

There were maybe 3 guys out of 60 who were real pros, the rest of us were just paying the bills and filling the grid.  And that was obvious from the start, we were largely ignored by officialdom and the racing press, it's like we weren't even there.  There were 4 or 5 headline drivers and it was all about them.  We did get to run at some big races as support series, the F1 grand prix at Montreal and some good stuff at Watkins.  But largely it was an exercise in BS and ego stroking. 

Truly some memorable experiences though, I got a couple of hard fought 3rd place finishes in class, so close to 2nd yet so far away, about $15K short of reaching first or second place in class.  It was well worth doing at least once.  If you're a club racer, it'll open your eyes big time when you go racing with the big boys.

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