Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Indoor Karting in Richmond

While back home in Richmond, VA for the holidays, I always like to hit up GForce Karts for some indoor kart racing with my Dad and some friends from high school. I blew tons of money (some mine and some my parents) at this place during high school while dreaming of owning and racing my own racecar or kart so it's fun to go back to one of the places that fueled my passion for racing. It's also nice to see how I've made progress on the driving front by comparing results now to results then. I used to struggle to make the Top 100 times, but today was able to run the 4th fastest time overall (26.721) on their reverse track - (www.gforcekarts.com/top100_adultreverse.htm). I will probably head back there so I can run the regular track before heading back to an indoor-kart-track-less city in Texas.

Check out this picture from back in the day. It is of my two best friends from high school, my Dad, and I standing on the podium after a 2-hour enduro at GForce:



If you a racer in the central VA area, I would highly recommend GForce Karts for some not-too-expensive fun. Here is their homepage with some onboard video - www.gforcekarts.com/index.htm.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

ClubSport Pedals for iRacing

I got an early Christmas present from Ali a few days ago because the UPS man came while she wasn't home and the product name was written all over the box...silly Germans. I've been iRacing more recently and my old Logitech Momo steering wheel is just not cutting it, especially the braking feel. With the Momo pedals, your braking in iRacing is based on pedal travel not pressure like it would be in a real racecar. This makes trailbraking and passing under braking very difficult to do consistently. I've been wanting the Fanatec Clubsport Pedals for a while now and was quite surprised when the Fanatec box arrived from Germany. The Fanatec pedals use a load cell on the brake pedal so braking is measured by force not travel which makes the sim racing much more accurate, easier to control, and ultimately leads to quicker lap times. I've tried the ClubSport Pedals for a few sessions now and have been very pleased. Thanks Ali!





The ClubSport Pedals are very sturdy and fully adjustable (pedal travel, pedal spring stiffness, braking linearity, pedal height, pedal spacing, and even color). Weighing in at about 11 pounds, they are made out of what looks to be laser-cut or CNC aluminum pieces. In typical German fasion, there is no slop whatsoever in the pedals and they have Porsche-like precision. If you are into sim racing, I would highly recommend these pedals. They will take some getting used to, but will be worth the money when you start lapping faster and dive-bombing people into Turn 1 without crashing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Overall Victory in the WTKA 2-cycle Karting Enduro Race

The West Texas Karting Association is based in Midland, TX with Rimrock Raceway as their home track. As you have probably seen in previous posts, I have practiced several times at Rimrock, but this would be my first race on the 10-turn 0.4 miles track. Despite it's small size, Rimrock is a blast to drive with a good mix of corners with top speeds reaching 61 mph. However, the surface is extremely coarse and rough on tires despite not having a ton of grip. I was worried this would factor into the enduro because my strategy was too stretch my tires and fuel to the end doing my best to avoid pit-lane.

I was hoping for more of the WTKA shifter kart drivers to show up, but only three 2-cycles entered the race. However, driving a 1-hour enduro in a demanding shifter kart is a challenge in itself so the race would still be interesting. We drew numbers for the starting grid and I started on pole against the two other 2-cycle karts which consisted of one other Honda-powered shifter kart and a Yamaha Pipe kart. Just like at NTK last weekend, I had a poor start which allowed the other shifter kart to pass me at the start. I passed him back entering turn 2 and opened up a comfortable lead as I pulled away from the P2 shifter and he started to encounter problems. He made three pit stops totaling 15-20 laps down and I was able to pass the Yamaha kart 3 times in the first 30 minutes. By this point, I knew I had a comfortable lead so I backed the pace down to save myself and the kart for the end of the race.

Despite the reduced pace, I started to pick up a violent vibration when shifting from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd and my water temp started to creep up shortly thereafter. I was worried something catastrophic was happening, but it felt like one of my engine mounts had failed which didn't explain the water temp issue. I pulled into pitlane for damage assessment at the 35 minute mark with a 4-lap lead over the Yamaha. I was quickly apparent that the front engine mount bolt had sheared and my radiator mount had failed under the violent shaking caused by the engine mount failure. With the kart up on the stand and gloves off, I quickly found my spare engine mount bolt and replaced it while two of the local racers attacked my radiator mount. With good ol' duct-tape and zip ties, they fashioned a jerry-rigged mount that seemd pretty solid. Thanks guys! The repairs took about 5-6 minutes and I was back on track. At this point, I had no idea where I was in the order but I knew the most important thing was to run for the rest of the race problem-free. I dialed in a reasonable pace of 35.5 - 36s laps for the final 20 minutes. The Yamaha's clutch failed with 15 minutes to go so it was down to just the two shifter karts competing for the victory. Luckily, the "custom" radiator mounting held up and I was able to finish the 1-hour enduro with no other issues.

When we got the checkered flag, I still had no idea what the finishing order was. Whenever you are in the pits while cars are passing you, it feels like an eternity so I thought I finished several laps down to the other shifter because it felt like he passed me 40 times while I was in pitlane. After about twenty minutes, I was informed that I had won the race and the $60 in prize money with 84 laps completed with the other shifter kart completing 75 laps for 2nd place and the Yamaha finishing 3rd with 64 laps.

Here is a fast-forward video of the full 1-hour enduro:



Monday, November 22, 2010

North Texas Karters Fall Race # 6

I travelled to Dallas again on November 13th and 14th to race in the final NTK kart race of the 2010 season. I ran 56 practice laps on Saturday in preparation for Sunday's race and it really paid off. The kart worked flawlessly which helped me to focus on tuning the kart and working on my shifter kart piloting. My fast lap at NTK before this weekend was a 39.22 which is a few seconds off the pace. The experienced NTK shifter kart drivers can lap NTK in the low 36 second range. These drivers like Nick Lucido, Jordan Musser, and Jake French are some of the top shifter kart drivers in the country so I have a lot to work up to. My goal for the weekend was to be able to run consistently in the 37s. I almost achieved my goal on Saturday and was able to click of a 38.14s lap with my 5 fastest laps all within a tenth. These time are still off the pace, but at least progress is being made. Thanks to Ali's Dad for making the trip out to Denton to take some photos. Here are a few photos from Saturday (credit - Charles Rutherford):



After Saturday's practice, we made the hour trek back to Denton for the last race of NTK's Fall race series. This was my 2nd race in the shifter kart and the first one with the kart working properly so I had high hopes of really improving my competitiveness in the new kart against the experienced NTK drivers. It was a sunny cool day with temperatures around 60 degrees. This made for treacherous conditions on the opening laps of each session until the tires came up to temperature. I started out with a 37.90s lap in the first practice which achieved my lap time goal for the weekend. I adjusted the seat rail and rear bar for the next two sessions trying to find some more rear grip, but ended up running exactly a 37.90 in the 2nd practice and in qualifying. If you can't make progress, at least you can be super consistent...

My 37.90 lap put me in 4th spot out of 6 shifters for the heat race with Andrew Perkins leading the way with a 36.2s lap. I bogged on the standing start as the P5 shifter kart rocketed past me into Turn 1. I knew from qualifying that I could run about 1 sec. faster than him so I needed to move back into P4 quickly to have any shot of keeping up with the top 3 karts. I made the move on the front straight and was able to duck into 4th place in Turn 6. After the poor start and getting passed, I had dropped about 5s back from P3, but was slowly reeling him in for the first 4 laps of the 8 lap race. My progress stopped on Lap 4 when I bicycled badly exiting Turn 8 leading on the front straight. I counter-steered sharply as I went up on two-wheels to avoid flipping, but had an off-track excursion as a result. I managed to hold onto 4th place as I merged back on track and stayed there for the final 4 laps. This put me 4th on the grid again for the 12-lap feature race. By this point, the sun was setting and the track was cooling off dramatically. We ran under the lights so after a quick setup change and visor swap, I was ready to go. I got a better start, but the P5 kart was able to dive under me in Turn 2. After the first lap, my water temperature climbed to above 140 degrees telling me I had covered too much of my radiator to compensate for the cooler temperatures. Pulling off radiator tape while steering, shifting, and trying to pass another kart is difficult. After two failed attempts, I took back 4th place on lap three in the same spot as the heat race. By this point, the top 3 had stretched out a sizable lead and I was not able catch up so I cruised home to a 4th place finish.

Overall it was a fun weekend and I made a lot of progress with my shifter. I have figured out a lot of the small problems that have been plaguing me and feel much more comfortable working on and driver the shifter. Now that I have a good baseline set, time to get to work on getting down to the 36s.

Here is a compilation of onboard footage from Sunday's race:

Lots of new Photos on Flickr

Bondurant Schootout photos on my Dad's Flickr Account


Here are a few examples:



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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

All Sports All Weekend in Dallas

I've recovered from a fun weekend in Dallas with Ali. We left straight after work on Friday with the trailer and hustled to Fort Worth to watch the NASCAR Camping World Trucks race to 147 laps under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway. Unfortunately, we had to listen to the start of the race on the radio as we rolled into the gigantic (everything's bigger in Texas right....so cliche) parking lot. All in all, we missed the first 20 laps and we arrived under caution starving and glad to not be driving. The race wasn't too exciting as Kyle Busch clicked off another victory, but it was still cool seeing race trucks average 180mph around the 1.5mi oval two-wide at night.

TMS on Friday night with Kyle Busch's burnout smoke lingering after 20 minutes

After a few hours of sleep, we trekked backed to TMS early the next morning to watch Sprint Cup practice, peruse the pits, and watch the Nationwide Series 200 lap race. Carl Edwards won an exciting afternoon race. Here are some pictures from Saturday:

Fried PB&J for Ali

Penske Racing Pitbox

The Great Clips Nationwide team getting their car to grid

NASCAR Spring Cup Garages and Haulers at TMS

Carl Edwards mid-backflip after the race

After the race Saturday, we went straight to The Kart Shop in Sachse, Texas to pick up some race fuel for the kart, grabbed dinner, and headed to the American Airlines Center to watch the Dallas Mavericks play the Denver Nuggets with Ali's sister and friend. Thanks for the tickets Brian! Sunday Morning we were up bright and early again to drive to North Texas Kartway in Denton, Texas for some testing in my Stock Moto Shifter Kart. I ran 40 laps over 4 sessions on the day but struggled with fuel pump issues. My fuel pump-around system which pumps fuel out of the carb and back into the tank was not pulling enough fuel causing me to run very rich and bog coming out corners with lower RPM exits. I ran new MG Yellow tires (SKUSA and NTK spec tire) on my kart for the first time to prepare for my race next weekend. I needed to get a feel for the kart on fresh rubber to start tuning and really lowering my lap times around NTK. After the 4 sessions, I was 1 second quicker than my last trip to NTK 5 months ago, so I was pleased with that. However, I still have lots of work to do to be competitive with the top NTK shifter kart pilots who happen to be some of the best in the country. For my next trip to NTK, I will be tuning the the chassis to be more balanced on corner exit. It's current setup too knife-edged and not very forgiving. I also need to work on smoothing out my inputs, slowing down my hands, and clicking off consistent laps so I can better tune the kart.

Shifter Kart with fresh MG Yellow sneakers


Video from Sunday's Shifter Kart Practice

Friday, November 5, 2010

NASCAR and Karting this Weekend

My girlfriend and I are traveling to Dallas this weekend for a motorsports-filled weekend. First stop is Texas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race - The WinStar World Casino 350k. The truck series has always been my favorite NASCAR series, but I've never been to one so I am looking forward to tonight's 147 lap race. The race trucks are close to my heart from our LeMons build and the series produces some really close racing.

Qualifying Results for the Trucks: http://www.nascar.com/races/truck/2010/23/data/lineup.html

On Saturday, Ali and I head back to TMS for the NASCAR Nationwide Series race. We have good front-stretch (so we can see pit-lane) seats and pit passes so it should be a good time. Sunday, I am going to do a test and tune at North Texas Kartway in my stock moto shifter. I have some new MG tires mounted for the first time so hopefully I can make some big improvements to my lap times around NTK. I'm also 22lbs lighter than my last time at NTK so that should help also....

Weekend Schedule: http://www.texasmotorspeedway.com/Schedule/Event-Weekend-Schedule.aspx

New Dirt Biking Spot in San Angelo

One of my co-workers introduced me to the off-roading trails around the Twin Buttes Reservoir in San Angelo, Texas. This a great spot for desert-landscape trail riding which I really enjoy, and it's only 5 minutes from my house. The site has miles of trails with different terrains (mud, loose dirt, packed mud, rocky, sand), elevation changes, wide-open beach sections, and tight, technical courses rutted and winding through the trees.

I've been out there a couple of times over the past few weeks with my 2-stroke Kawasaki. I'll take some pictures and video next time out. I've heard there are many more spots like this surrounding San Angelo so hopefully we will have more places to explore.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Best $250 Dirt Bike in the World

video

I brought my 1992 Kawasaki KDX200 out of mothballs last night. With a fresh spark plug, fresh gearbox oil, a coolant flush, and some fresh 93 octane pre-mix, the Kawi was good to go on the 3rd kick after not being started since I moved from Ohio one year ago. I love this bike.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lots to Learn from the 2010 Bondurant Driver Search Shootout

All of the Shootout Drivers and Judges

The 2010 Bondurant Driver Search ended last week and I had a blast participating in the school's first competition of this kind. I've been back home for about a week so sorry for the late post. Its been hectic catching up on work and boring non-racing stuff around the house that I've been ignoring for two months.

Anyway back to the shootout, I did not finish in the Top 3 so I did not bring any hardware back to Texas. Looking at the lap time results, I was 2nd fastest overall in the Corvettes on Day 1, but only 6th quickest in the Formula Mazdas on Day 2. I was about 1 second off the pace in the Mazdas and that ended my chances at winning. Despite this, it was a VERY positive experience and I learned a lot about how to develop my skills on and off the track to achieve my goal of racing professionally. I received excellent feedback on my driving from the Bondurant instructors and the shootout judges. Basically, I need to dig deep for the that extra couple percent, slide the car around more, carry more entry speed, and push hard for that last tenth in each corner.


Thanks to Alan Rudolph, Bob Bondurant, the Bondurant staff, and all of the shootout judges (Jeremy Shaw, Lyn St. James, Larry Pond, Neil Alberico, and Darren Law) for providing a great opportunity and learning experience for young racers!

EFCN Bondurant Shootout Article

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bondurant Driver Search Shootout Day 1 Recap

Day 1 of the 2010 Bondurant Driver Search Shootout is in the books. We had 4 sessions of Corvette driving evaluation and an interview with the panel of judges. I did well in the interview and scored big points on professionalism which should help me make the Top 5 tomorrow when they make cuts.

I think I drove well enough in the Corvettes to put myself in contention, but tomorrow's driving sessions in the Formula Mazdas will be key. It looks like we will have rain storms tomorrow which will throw a curveball to the competition.

Me Driving the Vette on the Bondurant School Course in the Wet Afternoon Session

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bondurant Driver Search Shootout Starts Today!

I am in Phoenix bright and early today for the 2010 Bondurant Driver Search Shootout. Today is the first part of the 2-day competition pitting 20 young drivers against each other to compete for a full-ride in the 2011 Bondurant Championship Race Series in the school's Formula Mazda racecars.

Today we will have interviews, mock media interaction, and driving evaluations in C6 Corvettes and Skidcars. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

In-Car Video from BCRS Race 2 and 3 from last Sunday

This is in-car video from Races 2 and 3 of last weekend's BCRS Formula Mazda races. I had to split each race up due to Blogger's upload limit.


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September BCRS Race 2 (1st 5 laps)

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September BCRS Race 2 (Last 6 laps)

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September BCRS Race 3 (1st 5 laps)

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September BCRS Race 3 (Last 5 laps)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dave Ogburn Wraps up the BCRS Race Weekend with 2 2nd Place Finishes

Getting focused in the garage before Race 3

After an exciting Day 1 of the BCRS weekend and taking home the victory in Race 1, I tried to focus on really improving my formula car driving on Day 2 and do my best in Races 2 and 3 while staying clean and bringing the car home intact. We qualified for Race 2 on Sunday morning during a wind storm that brought debris and sand all over the 2.5 miles track. This made quick laps risky and difficult and I was struggling with rear grip in my #14 Formula Mazda. I made a rear anti-roll bar change before the session, but it was not enough so I continued to soften the rear bar for Race 2 and Race 3 to compensate for tire degradation and track conditions. I qualified 3rd for Race 2 and was disappointed with my pace, but I knew I had the racecraft and speed to pass Ayrton Triolo, who qualified 2nd in the #17 car, during the race.

At the start of Race 2, I settled into P3 and stayed with the leaders for opening stint of the race. After Lap 5, #17 started to make some mistakes and have braking issues with his Mazda so I closed the gap, got on his gearbox, and waited for him to make another mistake. On lap 8, Ayrton spun in Turn 4 and I was able to get by unscathed despite having a close call with the sand outside of turn 4. I stayed in P2 for the last few laps and cruised to a 2nd place finish.

Dave Ogburn in the #14 in the Pits before Race 3

This put me 2nd on the grid for Race 3 with Matt Maddox in the #6 FM on the pole. Matt won Race 2 so we were tied for the weekend overall lead with Race 3 deciding the victor. I tucked in behind Maddox at the start and pushed to stay close with him. However, Ayrton in the #17 was fast and pressuring me from behind. He went for the pass on the entry to Turn 4 on Lap 3, but I was able to pull an over/under move on him and retake 2nd place at the exit. Our battle for 2nd place let Maddox check out to a 4sec. lead. I pushed hard for the next 8 laps and was able to maintain 2nd position, but could not challenge Matt for the lead. This gave Matt Maddox the overall victory with 2 wins and 1 2nd place finish to my 1 win and 2 2nd place finishes. Congrats to Matt on the win!

Podium Ceremony on Sunday

Overall, I was very pleased with my first race weekend in Formula Mazdas. From the advice of Alan Rudolph (BCRS series director and stud karter/racing driver), I switched from right-foot braking and using the clutch on downshifts to left-foot braking and clutchless upshifts and downshifts on Sunday. I started the new braking/shifting technique in Sunday morning practice and stuck with it for the remainder of the race weekend. I was able to keep running similar laptimes with the technique change, but still need to work on my smoothness with clutchless shifts. I learned a ton about driving and racing formula cars and feel much better prepared for the Bondurant Driver Search Shootout next week. Thanks to the Bondurant staff, mechanics, and instructors for making the BCRS a great experience!

I will post some more in-car video when I have time after the shootout.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dave Ogburn Takes Pole Position, Leads Every Lap, and Wins Today in the Bondurant Championship Race Series

Today was Day 1 of my Bondurant Championship Race Series weekend in Chandler, Arizona. Running our races with ASA Road Racing, we had two 15-minute qualifying sessions, one 15-min. qualifying session, and a 20-min. race on the schedule. My pre-race preparation paid off and I was instantly quick in the 1st practice sessions. By getting to the know the track well beforehand, I was able to focus on improving my driving in the Bondurant Formula Mazdas instead of working on the line and where the track went. This helped me get a good start on the weekend and a jump on the drivers who also had not raced on the Bondurant tracks before. I was in the top 2 for both practice sessions with a fast lap of 1:57.916 in the 2nd practice. Top practice time was set by Matt Maddox, a competitor in last year's Bondurant series, with a 1:57.234. I knew I was giving time up in several corners and was confident I could make the time up in qualifying. However, Maddox missed the qualifying session so that boded well for me grabbing pole and possibly a race win.

Qualifying went smoothly and I ran clean laps without traffic for the full 15-minutes. I really improved my driving in this session and corrected some of my errors from practice. This helped me qualify in Pole Position for Race 1. From our morning practice sessions to the afternoon qualifying, the track and ambient temperatures rose causing our Formula Mazda slow down with the engines making less power and tires struggling with the increasingly greasy track. My qualifying time was a 1:58.701 which was 0.6s ahead ahead of Ayrton Triolo in P2. Ayrton is a 16-year old Formula Ford and kart racer from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada.

My plan for the race was to lead into the first corner and then push hard to build a gap on the field in the opening laps. Maddox was the only driver who could match my pace today, but he was starting back in 5th place. I knew if I could build up a gap while he fought through traffic, I would have a good shot at the win. At the start, Ayrton in P2 got a jump on me and led into turn 1. I was able to get by him in turn 11 on lap 1 and take the lead. I then put the hammer down and worked hard to build up a lead on the field. Behind me on lap 2, two drivers got together in turn 9 and then Maddox started to get open track after he moved up to P2. After the first 2 laps, I had built up a 3 sec. lead, but then Maddox started to slowly reel me in and finally caught me on Lap 6. We battled for the next three laps swapping position several times on the long drag strip straightaway. The key moment of the race came on lap 8 as Maddox and I approached a lapped car. I decided to make an aggressive pass on the lapped car in turn14 because I knew Maddox would not be able to follow me past the lapper. This strategy worked and helped me to build a 1 sec gap that I was able to hold onto for the final few laps. In the end, I crossed the finish line 0.214s ahead of Matt Maddox and almost 35s ahead of 3rd place.


In-Car Video from the Formula Mazda Race Today

Today's race was my first wheel-to-wheel race in anything other than a kart so I was very pleased with the result. Despite picking up the win, I made plenty of mistakes that I can learn from to improve my race driving, racecraft, and race starts. Tomorrow, we have one practice session, one qualifying session, and two 20-min. races. I have several different corners that I know I can make up significant time in and will be experimenting more with left-foot braking, so it should be a fun battle tomorrow with Maddox and Ayrton.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dave Ogburn racing in the Bondurant Championship Race Series and the Bondurant Driver Search Shootout over next two weekends

Back in August when I attended the Bondurant 4-day racing school, I applied for the 2010 Bondurant Driver Search Shootout which is a competition for 20 young drivers to compete for a full-ride in the 18-race 2011 Bondurant Championship Race Series (BCRS). The BCRS is a feeder Formula series using the Bondurant Formula Mazda racecars and is run at the 4 Firebird/Bondurant complex tracks in Chandler, Arizona.




I was selected for the shootout soon after I applied and I have been working hard to prepare myself for the competition since. My main preparation goal was to get seat time in a Formula Mazda before the shootout. To accomplish this, I have entered a one-off (not part of the 2010 championship) BCRS race this weekend September 25th and 26th. I will get 4 sessions each day including 1 race on Saturday and 2 races on Sunday. We will be competing on a combined circuit comprised of the Bondurant School track and the Firebird Main track. This is the first time this combination has been used for racing in over 8 years. It will be a new track for every driver which should make things more interesting!

I fly out this Friday morning to Phoenix to start an exciting two weekends of racing. I will update my blog with in-car video and race recaps as much as possible during the Formula Mazda BCRS race weekend and the shootout. The shootout could be a huge step in my racing career, so I am working my hardest to prepare and maximize this opportunity.

Bondurant/Firebird Combined Track Map

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My New and Improved Race Team Logo.......

My new racing logo was completed today. I worked with Media Jaw in San Angelo, Texas. They did a great job and I am super happy with the end product. Over the off-season, I will be transitioning everything from Yaw Moment Racing to Ogburn Motorsport - which will be my team name for the rest of time......

Here it is:


I would like this to be the final design, but I have the illustrator files so feel free to post any suggestions or just let me know what you think. I wanted to get this logo done in time for my next two race weekend because they are big ones for me - more on that later.


Thanks,

Dave Ogburn

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Pages Added to My Blog

See the links right above this post for three pages added to the blog. I've added a page showing the members of the Yaw Moment Racing team, a page detailing the main vehicles I have owned, built, and raced since I turned 16, and my driving resume. I've been having trouble with some of the photos not loading on the car history page, but I think it stems from Blogger server trouble because it has been different on each computer I've tested it on. Anyway, enjoy the improved YMR Blog!

The Yaw Moment Racing Team

YMR Toys: Past and Present

Dave Ogburn Driving Resume

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fresh Driving Suit

My new Alipinestars GP-1 driving suit came in the mail a few days ago. I can't wait to hit the track in a light suit that breathes.....my current Ultrashield suit feels like putting on a lead vest.

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I also picked up a new chrome silver Bell visor from OG Racing and some other accessories to keep my Bell helmet fresh. Thanks OG!

Congrats to the Edison2 Team for Winning the Progressive Insurance Automototive X-Prize

The Edison2 Very Light Car in action

Congratulations to the Edision2 team from Lynchburg, VA on taking home $5 million as the winners in the Mainstream Class of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize. I worked with several of the team members while I was a student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. I spent a lot of Saturdays with the team's Chief of Supplier Relations, Julian Calvet, at his workshop in Charlottesville. Julian ran a Porsche 997 in the Grand-Am Koni Challenge in 2007 when I met him at Daytona. I helped him fix and prep his car after the Daytona 2007 race. He eventually sold the car that season, but it was a good learning experience for me at the time. I met Edison2 Founder and CEO Oliver Kuttner through Julian because they are close friends and Oliver's shop was across the street from Julian's. I remember Oliver talking about his interest in the X-Prize back in 2007....I guess he was VERY interested and that worked out for him pretty well.

Julian's Porsche at Daytona International Speedway (#30)

Autoblog Article on the Edison2 Very Light Car

http://www.edison2.com/personnel/

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Week in Lincoln, NE for the 2010 SCCA Solo National Championships

My Dad and I in impound after our Day 2 runs

After a 14-hour return drive to Texas, Ali and I got back to San Angelo around 10PM on Thursday. I've had a few days to get back to normal life and go over video and results from the week long excursion to Lincoln, Nebraska. Overall, Ogburn Motorsport (aka my Dad and I) had a great experience at the 2010 SCCA Solo Nationals Championships - we learned a lot, met some people, saw some cool cars, got to spend time with family, and got to turn a few laps around two of the most fun autocross courses we have raced on against 54 other STX drivers.

Me in the Starting Box on the West Course

On Day 1, STX class raced on the "West Course" which was more technical and a bit tighter than the fast, flowing East course. The course should have suited the Mini's small stature and kart-like handling and steering, but I did not perform as well I expected. I ended up with a fast-time of 64.192 in my last run which put me in 29th place and 2.5s back from Andy Hollis who had a 0.8s gap on every non-Civic STX car. Basically, Andy dominated Day 1 and left it to everyone to play catch-up on Day 2. The field was extremely tight from P15 to P30 with the biggest gap from any driver being 0.12s - most gaps were around 0.05s! With the tightly packed group from 15th to 30th, I knew I the had potential to move up with a good run on Day 2. Day 1 was a good learning experience for me because I learned truly how much I need to attack the course on both days to not get myself behind. I was too cautious with my three runs and tried too hard not hit cones in certain areas. On a bright note, I had several people compliment me on my slaloms because I wiggled two cones in one of the slaloms on every run. The course workers would go and check each time, but they were always in the box!

Entering a wall slalom (wallom) on the West Course

Lifting a wheel in an East Course Sweeper
With lessons learned from Day 1 fresh in my mind, I set out to attack the course on Day 2. Day 2 had STX on the East course and I had much better day overall. I was a much more aggressive, thinking driver on Day 2 and it showed up in my lap times. Again, my third run was my fastest clocking in at a 64.865s. Sebastian Rios in a 1991 Honda Civic had the fastest STX time of the day with a 62.983. My run was 19th fastest out of 54 drivers on Day 2 and moved me up to 22nd overall from 29th. Unfortunately, I did cone away my fastest run on Day 2. Without a cone, my 64.258 run would have put me 17th on Day 2 and 17th overall out of 54. With 54 drivers in our class, the SCCA was awarding trophies back to 15th place in STX. I had two goals coming into my first Solo Nationals: 1) My "I'll be pissed if I don't achieve this goal" was to finish in the top 50% of my class 2) My "reach" goal was to finish in the trophies. I achieved my first goal, but was not quite quick enough to get in the trophies. At least I was the fastest Mini in STX!


In-Car Video of My Fastest Runs from Both Courses

When I look back on my first Nationals it is easy to be disappointed because I didn't come back with any hardware, but I keep having to remind myself that I have only driven the STX Mini 3 times, it was my first nationals, and our car is under-prepped for the class. This year will serve as a great building block for continuing to race and develop the Ogburn Motorsport Mini JCW for STX class. We are waiting to see if there will be any significant rule changes in STX for 2011, but we have already made plans to improve the car significantly for next year.

I have to thank the following people for making my trip to the 2010 Solo Nats possible: My Dad and Mom, my girlfriend, Courtney Courmier, OG Racing, AutoX Cooper, and all of the Solo Nats event sponsors. Thanks!

In the staring line on the East Course with our stickered up Mini. Thanks Sponsors!

Here are some more pictures of a variety of cars at the Solo Nats (photo credits- my Dad and Ali Rutherford):

A fighter jet taking off by the Solo Nats Paddock

My Dad ripping up the West Course in the STX Mini

Jeff Kiesel in his Goodyear sponsored E-Mod Turbo Rotary Sprite

Michael Kuhn in his good-looking STX RX8

A B-Stock Acura NSX in the paddock

John Haftner's A-Mod TUI Super Vee
Another A-Mod racer in the paddock

Good-looking flares on a BMW

University of Maryland's FSAE racecar in the paddock

A gorgeous X-Prepared Datsun in the paddock

I bet this was fun to drive!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day 2 at the 2010 SCCA Solo Nationals - High Winds and More Testing


Day 2 at the 2010 SCCA Solo Nationals is in the books. My Dad and I ran another 2-hour test and tune session and made some good progress on our driving and the car setup. Our base suspension setting is good so we made minor adjustments to the tire pressures to fine tune the car's balance in steady-state sweepers and transients. I watched several STX competitors run the test and tune course, including the 2009 STX national champ, and I was running times competitive in the Mini. My goal is to trophy (top 15 out of 54 drivers) and this certainly looks possible. Tomorrow will be the true test as we have our first official runs. We will run three competition runs on the "West Course." 3 more runs on the "East Course" on Wednesday will decide the championship. Wish us luck!

Thanks to Courtney Courmier for his advice and feedback on our STX Mini and driving technique.

Here is my fastest lap around the test and tune course: