Race Weekend – Thunder at the Ridge

Table of contents

  1. Event overview
  2. Weekend in details (with photos!)
  3. Video
  4. PRO3 gallery
  5. The Team and people that make it all possible
  6. Socials and links

 

 

Event overview

It finally happened – my first race weekend!

I was hoping to start the racing career (🙂) earlier in the year, and already planned for weekend at Pacific raceways (event details), but unfortunately I contracted Covid a week before that. But all is well that ends well – and the time came, after 7 fun years laps of lapping and autocross events, to try myself in the races!

You can find all the details of this event on MotorsportReg:
https://www.motorsportreg.com/events/thunder-on-ridge-irdc-race-weekend-motorsports-park-road-course-events-473724

And if you’d like to view the copy of the schedule, I’ll share it here as an archive – I’ve looked at this schedule many times over those 2 days, to make sure I’m on time for everything… After all, racing is all about timing!
2022 IRDC TRMP NOVICE

 

As you’re browsing the photos – I was driving blue 2001 BMW 330ci, with #5 (Saturday) #51 (Sunday), and #52 and #53 are also in our team:

 

 

Alright, let’s see how it all went!

 

Weekend in details (with photos)

Friday

Friday is when Test and Tune sessions take place. Unfortunately, as a holder of Novice license, I was not eligible to participate in that event before completing first race under observation.

So instead – Friday was my travel day.

The car got filled up with necessities:

And I hit the road. Unfortunately, Friday afternoon drives can turn into a lengthy adventure – instead of estimated 1 hour 50 minutes the drive should’ve taken, I arrived at the destination in… 4h 30min. With 7 accidents adding to the delays along the route.

I rented a room in a waterfront lodge less than 15 minutes drive from the track, and it made for a nice base for the night:

In addition to room available to rent, they also have cabins and RV parking spots:

If you’d like to check that please out, visit:
https://www.skokomishtourism.com/waterfront-at-potlatch

The sunset looked nice and peaceful – encouraging a good night of rest before a very eventful weekend…

 

Saturday

I arrived on time – sleeping close to track definitely made for a less hectic morning. Now – as a holder of Novice license, I asked myself: “how does it all work?”.

I found my crew on the paddock, we all said hi, had a cup of coffee, checked the schedule for the day, and got to action.

First: tech inspection and registration.

Different clubs do tech inspection differently – it may be a designated space somewhere in paddocks for you to visit, or it could be a “walking inspection” and someone will come to you. Ask fellow races/neighbors if you’re not sure.

I brought my gear for the inspection, got my sticker on the racing license, then filled up tech form in registration and I was all checked in.

As a Novice, we have few additional meetings, that were lined up through the day. The first one: track orientation and Novice driver’s meeting. The orientation started with a delay, but it was a valuable time at the start of the day – we jumped into 2 pickups, and club representatives drove us around the track, making stops and pointing out interesting places, sharing their strategies and reference points. Last time I’ve been at the Ridge in May (3 months earlier), so I had a good memory of all the details still, but it did serve as a great reminder.

The meeting that followed immediately afterwards was a briefing for Novices, with License Director, Bill Ecker. We covered the basics, discussed group assignments, and got all our questions answered (thank you, Bill!).

Now, things started to get real. First group began to line up on pre-grid – and I started learning how it all works. Our mentor, Manfred, answered all my questions, and things very quickly stopped being intimidating. I couldn’t have hoped for a better start into racing 🙏

Here’s a quick look at Miatas lining up, before going for qualifying:

And another group, in which we had 3 drivers running in our cars 🏁

Qualifying sessions are the chance to get best lap time and secure high starting position on the grid for afternoon race.

They were going well for most groups, with couple black flags, but everything ending in a safe manner.

We had another meeting for Novices at noon, immediately followed by a Driver’s meeting for everyone. This is where we learn about the remainder of the weekend, any special events planned, changes to the schedule, reminder on any specific rules/considerations, and maybe hear about upcoming events. It’s also a great opportunity to thank organizers and volunteers for their work, as they all make such fun weekend possible!

We also heard about the stakes – there’s been some fierce competition for Championship in some groups. With the point difference leading to things still being possible for few folks. High stakes. My takeaway – I’m a Novice, here to learn and have fun – let’s make sure we don’t impact the outcome of the Championship 🏆😇

And in the afternoon – time for races.

The excitement continued to build up. I was also getting a bit stressed before my first race… Best thing is to simply be ready early. Allow yourself the time to quiet down and focus, without having to rush and worry about things. Well, at least that’s the theory. And what followed was – my car was running with another driver (go Gopi! 🙌 ) in a group before mine, so I was already preparing for a quick driver swap in between, when… the car came back to paddock smoking. Turns out the coolant expansion tank blew up. My first thought – it’s good that everyone is alright, that’s most important, and it’s OK if I miss my first race, things happen.

But – our amazing crew doesn’t give up easily!

Manfred and Josh jumped into action immediately, a brand new expansion tank emerged from the trailer, tools started flying in the air and – what felt like a minute before my race, right as I was already sitting strapped in driver’s seat (whatever the outcome, I didn’t want to be the factor for missing the race – least I could do is make sure the driver [me!] is where he should be, ready to go 💪)…

… the hood got closed and I got thumb up to drive to the pre-grid!

I arrived after the 5 minute mark, which means the position from qualifying is forfeited and you start from the back of the grid, but – as I’m use many drivers would agree – starting from the back makes for lots of fun and learning (unless you’re really competing for the final, make it or break it, championship points, that is).

I managed to gain few positions, have amazing time doing so, and ended my first race with a big smile 😁

I think my first words when I came back to the paddock to my cheering crew were: “sooo, can I go again?” 😄

 

Results from Saturday

  • Qualifying – group 5:
    • Top:
    • My results:
  • Race – group 5:
    • Top:
    • My results (overall):
    • My results (in class):

Detailed results available under:
https://racehero.io/events/2022-thunder-on-the-ridge/results

 

The excitement remained high through the day, as we continued watching and cheering for others in our crew. We still had some technical difficulties (broken lug bolt, broken thermostat) on top of lots of maintenance going on through the day (swapping tires, brake pads, refueling). It’s never boring even in the paddocks!

There was also an endurance race where Kenta, Ron and Gopi were battling with each other – a great spectacle 🙂

Later in the afternoon, with last group on the track, Todd and I went to check out couple viewpoints:

 

Last thing to take care of was a debrief meeting for Novices. This is where we can share our impressions, hear about any feedback other drivers or corner workers may want to share with us, ask any questions. This meeting was very informal, great way to share some thoughts after an exciting day. And this is where we also get the credit for races, as we work towards the Senior license.

As the day was coming to an end, the time came to look for a comfy place to spend the night. Unfortunately I was only able to book 1 night in the Waterfront at Potlach (it’s summer, lots of places have such limited availability on weekends…), I booked a room in Hilton Garden Inn in Olympia – a bit further from the track, but 30 minutes drive in the morning is still much safer, and convenient, than having to drive over 2 hours.

The hotel was nice and clean, but the view didn’t compare at all with previous location – all I got to see from my window was few trees and a road.

Remember to air out your fire suit 😉

Phew, what a day.

Let’s do it again tomorrow?

 

Sunday

Start of the day was much easier – less stress having a bit of experience with the procedures. No need for tech inspection and registration, and no Novice meeting (just a quick “Hi” with Bill instead 😉) allowed for a bit later start into the day.

I was able to improve my lap time during qualifying (down from 2:06 to 2:04), and continue working on the lines.

Worth mentioning that Todd absolutely dominated qualifying and got 1:59! Well done 🙂

Many drivers use lap timers/data loggers and we had a session to review and compare results. Garmin Catalyst and Aim Solo 2 are among the most popular devices here. Interesting to see how each driver approaches various turns – differences in lines, speeds, braking and more. Lots to learn from each other!

Technical issues remained a presence on Sunday as well. Ron first reported a vibration/repeating sound at speed from front wheel, which – after his race, turned out to be an issue with wheel hub that had to be quickly replaced. Manfred and Josh did their magic yet again.

As my race was approaching, I geared up and was ready to do a quick driver swap – unfortunately because of the car running in 2 adjacent groups, I arrived past the 5 min mark again, and hard to start from the back. Luckily no technical issues contributed to the stress and – as the day before – I had a blast fighting for the positions, and I managed to jump few spots ahead. I do have a GoPro footage showing it all, but still need to edit 📽️ stay tuned!

Just at the end of my race, the voltage light blinked on the dash few times, and went off again. And as I was nearing the checkered flag, it came back on and stayed solid! We investigated in the paddock and turns out the alternator stopped charging the battery. Quick battery swap from another vehicle allowed us to keep the car running for next group.

 

Results from Sunday

  • Qualifying – group 5:
    • Top:
    • My results:

  • Race – group 5:
    • Top:
    • My results (overall):
    • My results (in class):

 

Detailed results available under:
https://racehero.io/events/2022-thunder-on-the-ridge/results

 

There was one more scary incident that day – Kenta has lost… the whole wheel! There was no contact with other vehicle or anything, the rim simply gave up due to forces/material wear. Scary – but luckily the driver was unharmed! The vehicle pulled off the track, and a patch of dry grass caught fire, but thanks to emergency services, situation was under control very quickly. Everyone was safe!

After all the groups completed their races, we had a final, short debrief with Bill. Got the race credits in our books, shared some thoughts on how it all went, and said goodbye to one another while still smiling and remembering the 2 days packed of fun and action.

On the way back to paddock,  I chatted with another novice, in black Porsche 944. We had a great battle during the race – overtaking each other couple times. He said I had balls of steel coming at such speed and overtaking into turn 1, which I will certainly take as a complement  😉 nice driving out there, Tyler!

I stayed and helped pack everything at the end of the day – lots of gear, tires, had to pack and strap the cars, helped Todd secure a car on his trailer as well. It’s a big operation, and Manfred has an amazing control over every important detail. Experience shows, and thanks to his guidance everything goes so smoothly… I certainly appreciate having the honor to be a small part of it.

And here’s a fun quote I saw on the way driving home from the track…

The whole weekend came to an end so quickly… so much has happened, all the excitement, new friendships, so many memories…

Can’t wait for the next one! 🏁

 

 

Video

Coming soon!

 

 

PRO3 Gallery

PRO3 cars have undeniable presence – they look, sound, and – obviously – drive well! 🙂 Great community.

Here’s a selection of few snaps I took during the weekend:

 

 

 

Tips & Tricks

How can You help your teammates?

Check out few handy ideas on how You can help your teammates. Racing is a team sport! And there’s so much going on, it’s easy to miss a detail or two. But it all helps make it an amazing and memorable experience for everyone.

  • Offer water after the race – as your team members and friends are pulling from the track back to paddocks, being welcomed with a bottle of ice cold water is like receiving a trophy itself 😉
  • Help the driver strap in – on top of practicing good “hygiene” when leaving vehicle (keep harness straps in a place easy to reach, etc.), it helps to have someone to ensure the shoulder straps go over Hans properly, help reach for the gloves if they’ve been accidentally kept outside of the reach and driver is already strapped in, maybe assist with the window net… All that is even more impactful during driver changes for shared cars in adjacent run groups, where every second counts!
  • Wash windshield – good thing to remember as day progresses. Especially if you’re sharing a car, since those vehicles see more track time == more opportunity to get dusty and covered with debris,
  • Help while reversing – when driver is all strapped in, with Hans devices limiting range of motion (I’m using NecksGen Rev2 Lite – and I can’t turn my head fully to the sides), let’s help each other by keeping everyone safe and spot a car backing out from the paddock,
  • Keep an eye on the hot pits during the race – if someone needs assistance and they pull to the hot pits, they need their crew to be there and know about it! Plus, vicinity of pits is always a good place to watch the race from (depending on the track).

All of the above is my observation from the very first race weekend.

I was very lucky to get introduced into this sport with a wonderful, supporting Team 🙏 and I observed them doing all of the above (and more!) very naturally, without anyone asking. Such details help ensure everything is going smoothly, and we can focus on the driving.

 

 

The Team and people who make it all possible

Huge thank you for all members of our Team 🙏

Manfred makes it all possible, shares his knowledge and expertise, while being an amazing teacher and a leader. An amazing driver, skilled mechanic, natural mentor 🙏

Todd, Kenta, Gopi and Ron are great folks to race with, learn from, and enjoy the company of! 😎

Special thanks to Josh for fixing anything that comes his way, with amazing attitude, quick thinking on his feet, and always knowing where each and every specialized tool is 🛠️ and most importantly: how to use it! 🦾

Always great to see familiar faces – I can learn a lot about racecraft from Colton as well 😇

And great to getting to know and race side-by-side other novices – nice driving out there, Michael (BMW 325i, #147), Christine (BMW 325, #21) and Tyler (Porsche 944)!

Important to recognize the contributions from all our volunteers. Making sure the event goes smoothly is a heroic effort – from tech inspections and registration, through race stewards, flagging stations and more! Thank you.

I’d also like to say thank you to my loving Wife 😊 For her support and encouragement through-out 💗

The amazingly welcoming atmosphere, camaraderie and support can’t be underestimated and help navigate the world of racing with smile on our faces. Thank you.

 

Drivers/groups

Todd W.,     car #5/51, group 1
Kenta Y.,     car #52, group 1 and 4
Ron T.,        car #53, group 1 and 4
Gopi D.,      car #5/51, group 4
Bogdan B., car #5/51, group 5

 

Cars

Here’s a quick look at our cars. They’re very comparable when it comes to performance, swapping drivers between them yields very similar results 😉

 

 

 

Socials and links

Check out my post on IG!
https://www.instagram.com/p/Ch2VgPlLMia

To learn more about the clubs, visit:

To learn about the Novice racing license, visit:
https://www.icscc.com/novice.php

And to sign up for this and other events, head out to the trusty:
https://www.motorsportsreg.com.

 

Can’t wait for the next race! 🏁

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