As I sit here in our team Motorcoach Monday Morning, in an RV park next to the river in Austin, TX reflecting on the last few weeks, it all seems a blur.
We first traveled to Sebring, FL, then Birmingham, AL and now we're in Austin, TX for the Porsche Sprint Challenge (PSC) COTA race, yesterday.
Being a new driver, DE as we call Daniel Espinosa, has had a number of ups and downs this year, commonplace with most any aspiring new driver. DE insisted on taking the fast track to becoming a pro-driver. While it might take a lifetime for some, DE has requested that due to his age and including his fathers age, that it be as quick as possible.
Having said that, there is usually a definite point where it all clicks, where the driver gets it, on a subconscious level.
COTA (Circuit of the Americas) was that point for Daniel. Becoming a pro racecar driver takes extreme diligence and personal responsibility. It takes a lot of hard work and only a lot of seat-time will get you there.
We arrived last Sunday a week ago for our two-day semi exclusive test that we contracted through MCR racing, no it wasn't Mike Collucci Racing.
The track and weather were both beautiful. There were about 25 cars in all, only problem was that a large number of them were the all-new 992 Cup car.
The 992 Cup car was predicted to be about 6 seconds faster than last year’s model, meaning it has an even greater speed differential to our lowly 982 Cayman CS (Club Sport.)
We arrived with our total crew including Chassis-Suspension Engineer Jim Bell of Bell Motorsports, Driver Coach Terry Borcheller and Data Engineer Frank Yeung.
Test days are usually very stressful because time is of the essence. As the Navy Seals say, "Plan your dive and dive your plan." Yes I had a plan, not only to get DE as much track time as possible, but to sort the car for the fast speeds of COTA raceway, a 3.426 mile track.
When working with a true chassis engineer such as Jim Bell, you better have your ducks in a row, because if not, he will call you out in a heartbeat. He has a keen wry sense of humor and will call you out, even in front of others, yes even to me, the team manager. Every word you speak better make absolute sense, he's a man who gives no leeway to ignorance. Bell always shows up early, sharply dressed with perfect hair and ready to rumble. Be prepared when working with this man, that's all I can say.
Okay moving on, I had a written plan for the two long test days and was ready for Jim's onslaught. We could only be on track between the hours of 8am-5pm, so the car was prepared, cleaned and warmed up. Even the pro-driver coach Terry Borcheller was buckled in the car for the 8am call time.
We sent Terry out straight away in an effort to properly sort the car for COTA. Jim had supplied me with the setup information he desired for COTA ahead of time and I prepared the car in advance at the Austin, Texas Porsche repair shop named TPWS. Jim required exact settings for the shocks, chassis ride height, ARB (anti-roll bar), Camber, and so on.
Terry went out up to 5 laps at a time depending on what he felt the car was doing and what Jim concluded was occurring. Jim constantly called out set up changes, “front springs up 2mm,” rear shocks rebound 2 clicks stiffer,” front shocks compression 1 click stiffer”, “rear springs down 1mm,” and so on. The car went out on track and then came back in constantly. Just for your information, a test like this can easily cost $30k, or more.
Here’s a brief list, not including overall wear and tear and engine-gearbox time:
-Test day cost ($6,000.00)
-Track garage ($1,000.00)
We only had two days to get our long lists accomplished. The Carrus-Callas team was performing
Flawlessly. And then, a minor shunt on Monday afternoon.
The team stood in the garage waiting for DE to be brought back from the turn 4 incident, he arrived just before the car in an ambulance with the medics saying he’s well. Next, we anxiously waited for the flatbed to arrive with our racecar.
Without knowing the details of the shunt, we calculated where to start first, we brought parts out of the transporter in an effort to fix the car as soon as possible to get DE back out, not wasting a second. The Porsche factory representatives were even present to approve our decision.
Just to summarize, DE had a minor shunt on Monday afternoon in testing, through the heroic efforts of the crew we got the car back together and hours later back on the track for Tuesday Morning testing.
Terry worked with DE to get through this with a “mental reset,” allowing him to move forward safely.
We started yesterday's race in 6th and DE worked his way up and finished second place. WOW, we had a great time, a huge thank you to the Espinosas.