Some of you may remember the orange Miata that Daniel G and I used to parade around the cones. He & I both started doing autocross around 2005 in our MINI Coopers, and after he got MUCH better than I, I convinced him to come teach me his secrets in my 1994 Miata. 4 years later, I managed my first PAX win and set my sights on different goals.
I'd been going to the track once or twice a year since the beginning, but in 2009 things got very serious after my first wife died. I spent many weekends at the track, and fewer in the cones. By the following year, my auto-x program was down to only 2 or 3 events, while I was spending 9 weekends at VIR & Summit Point.
It was during that Summer that I began doing Time Trials and instructing with NASA Mid-Atlantic, and though I started half-way into the season, I managed a 5th place finish overall for 2010. Last year I improved on that with a 2nd place trophy for the season, and was hired to drive the big truck at the Ultimate Track Car Challenge at VIR (read about it in GRM).
This year, barring major mechanical problems or physical injury, I'm bringing home the big trophy, and moving into wheel-to-wheel racing.
Autocross, rally, and the nurturing spirit of VMSC took my passing interest in cars and turned it into something bigger. My instructors at the track haven't always liked what I brought from the cones, but the car control I learned running with this organization has been the only thing that's kept my race car off the walls.
As much as I've wanted to come back and run the car in its current configuration, the demands of Time Trials on tires & brakes are such that I can't justify the expenditure (Hoosiers are 'spensive, yo!). Not to mention classing it would be a nightmare.
I'm working on a new car now, though, that I hope to shake down with you guys soon. Yes it's another Miata, and no I don't have a problem--I can quit any time.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank you guys for the opportunities, the experience, the instruction, everything! Not signing off, but I hope to see you at the track! Take what you've learned here and apply it to more. If you haven't done a rally, try one. If you haven't done a track day, you owe yourself the experience. All of these skills will come together and make you a much better and safer driver.