Friday, August 9, 2013

"I'm Off..."

Pilote's personal fan favorite: the Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia.  Racing 458's make a glorious shriek at high revs.

(OK, blog readers, no cracking-wise.)

I'm going back to Elkhart Lake for a pro race, my first since the CART glory days.  Only ALMS GT and Road America could get me to spend the big bucks again.  (Well...I did "bucket list" Petit LeMans last fall with my Cuz.)  It's more fun and a lot less expensive to watch and bench race with club members I'm personally acquainted with.  Another reason I haven't been back to Road America for a long time is because I wanted to avoid over-writing my memories of the awesome speed of CART racers there. Nobody is likely to come close to Dario Franchitti's absolute lap record of 144 m.p.h. any time soon. (Reynard-Honda, 1999.)

Anyway.  The charm of ALMS GT's is that they are authentically production-based and there's an "avoidable contact" rule.  In ALMS, rubbin' ain't racin' (mostly).  It's old-timey sports car racing in a modern, medium-tech, wrapper.  I want to watch the GT's one last time before the NASCAR-dominated merger into the United Sports Car Racing series screws up the rules.  (USCR promises to leave the ALMS GT class alone, so the cars will still be legal at LeMans.  I don't believe them.)

Maybe I shouldn't worship at the altar of Road America so devoutly.  There are several world-class courses in North America.  But R.A. still seems to me to be the pinnacle.  There is something about watching a pro driver brake a pro car from top speed and stuff it into Turn 5 hard, then hare up the hill into the blind entry of Turn 6.  In a fast car, the segment from the Carousel to the front straight is one of the most challenging piece of road in the world.  The club racers I know who've driven Road America get a wistful look in their eyes or a "1000-yard stare," depending on their personal experience of the challenge.  Some of them gulp.  I would.  Back in the '80's, Hotshoe drove a couple of fast-ish "track tour" laps in his street Mustang and completely used up the brakes.

I hope to return home with some pix for the blog and some memories to go with my fine ones of CART.

Road America: "four miles of fun," as the promos used to put it.

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