Club Lotus NW track days at Portland International Raceway are always really great days. This year’s event (last weekend) was no exception. It was an amazingly laid-back day with really only a handful of street cars. It’s a test-and-tune day for the vintage racers in front of their fall race weekend.
In recent years, there have been fewer and fewer street cars at these events. There were almost no actual Lotus cars running with us. Very strange. My nephew Alex and I ran our matching white 2016 Focus RS cars in the street car group with about 7 other cars tops out on the track at the same time. There was a very fast factory-built racing Mustang GT350 (I think), a couple of BMWs (one lovely M2), a race-prepped spec Miata, a BMW 2002 vintage racer, a slowish exotic that I cannot remember what it was, and a couple of vintage Cortinas that tested in our group, one very fast Europa, and one Exige. That’s it. But all those cars were never out on the track at the same time. The last two sessions involved maybe 4 or 5 cars total. Lots of nice practice time with virtually zero pressure from passing vehicles and very little traffic. And perfect weather. Ah. With that in mind, Mark set it for passing on all the “straight” parts, even the very short bits. Very nice. Thank you so much to Mark Viskov for running these days.
The emphasis at the vintage events has been on Formula Ford of late, so there were a number of small-bore open wheeled cars in a run group devoted to them. Then there was a separate closed wheel race-car group — and our group. So good.
There was one car that I really wanted to see run around, but apparently it had just been assembled and did not do anything more than take a little parade lap around the paddock. That was a Ford Sierra RS500 (really a Merkur XR4Ti dressed up like an RS500 as was suggested by one Focus RS forum member). I did not get a chance to talk with the owner, but I did snap some photos. It had a big turbo and was probably rear-wheel drive, although I could not tell by inspection.
Pictures of a lovely Ford, no matter what you want to call it:
If there is one thing that you should add to your track day car, it’s a fire extinguisher. I’m on my third (and probably last) track car and they’ve all had fire extinguishers — although I’ve never had a reason to use one. Thankfully.
The SVT Focus had a Spa Technique fire suppression setup, activated by pulling a handle mounted on the dash that was attached to a long cable (and the bottle). That cost some $$$. The Fiesta ST has a Safecraft bottle mounted with a custom bracket attached under the passenger seat, so that it travels as the seat slides. It stays out of the way nicely for a passenger. It is very slick, but pricey to get done. I really liked the quick-release mounting assembly provided by Safecraft, but that was also expensive.
So, now with the Focus RS, I’ve made a compromise. I liked the quick release concept and the Safecraft PB2 bottle, but I was not keen to spend so much on mounting the thing.
I found a Scott Drake quick release mount that I mated with a Kap Industries bracket specific to the MkIII Focus. I got all the parts this week and, with a little help, I was able to adapt it all today and here is the result:
Thank you to Paul at Tacoma Screw in Kirkland for a couple of free fasteners and to Jon at TLC Auto Care for snipping the excess t-bolt threading so the thing would actually fit flush to the floor as intended.
No affiliation whatsoever to the mentioned vendors. They’ve just treated me well. So, thank you, all.
The first car that I ever drove was a 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT. I learned to drive a stick, and really how to drive in general, in that car. And what a fun car that was to drive.
A bringatralier.com ad for such a car popped up in my iPhone news feed this morning as a sat on the porcelain throne. It was a virtual mirror of the car my family owned. I had to read about it. While updated with shocks, brakes, etc., it is still a nicely rehabilitated (comparatively faithful) car. Oh, how I wanted to join the bidding on that car. You have no idea. At this moment, 6 or so days from ending the bidding, it sits at about $20,000. There are (so) many better cars that you could get for that kind of money — and I’m sure that it will in fact fetch more as the deadline nears. I am very happy with the hatchbacks in my garage, but that little car has a special place in my heart. As an Alfa loyalist once suggested in the paddock at Pacific Raceways, yes, my newer car (then a supercharged 2004 SVT Focus) was a better car (nearly 40 years of engineering advancement after all), but it just did not have the “cachet” of the little GTV we were ogling. No it did not. I remember sitting in traffic along the Lawrence Expressway on the way home from my summer job, happily listening to the little AM radio, just loving being in the car. When the Warriors swept the Bullets in 1975 for their first NBA Championship, I was driving that car to a family dinner in Berkeley. My parents, sister Sandy, and her husband Harvey were in my dad’s Chrysler Newport just ahead on the Nimitz freeway in Oakland. I honked and waved, figuring they were listening to the game as well. They had no idea what was going on — and were frankly a bit distressed. Hah. So many little memories bubble back thinking about that little red car.
Hooked on Driving has been around the Pacific Northwest for a number of years. I never was able to connect with them back when I had my old SVT Focus, but finally got a chance to attend an event at The Ridge last weekend. What a great group. The day was very well run with the right balance of structure and driver freedom. After a few events where I was starting to lose my sense of why I was attending track days, this day really helped me remember why I liked these days. There was enough open track to really practice adjustments to certain areas of the track. There were knowledgeable instructors who were able to provide insights without needing to control every moment of the experience. Just the right balance for me. The run groups were relatively small, so unlike, say, Audi events, there was room to breath on the track. I’d rate them right up at the top of the organizers for my purposes. YMMV, but for my $300, they’re a good investment. Kudos to Paul, Lane, and team.
Got this from Tom Pritchett via MotorsportReg.com:
We have been asked lately what Late Apexing is. Well, at least our format. Late Apexing is an event held on several Wednesday evenings through out the season. Between 2pm and 7pm, you can come and enjoy the warm afternoon air blowing through your open windows as you hear the howl of the car next to you pass by. Or is it you passing the other car? Anyhow, this was a success in the 2017 track season and we will continue with it in the 2018 track season. We begin our first one next Wednesday on April 4th and then again on April 18th. All of our Late Apexing dates are open on http://www.motorsportreg.com for registration.
Here are the dates
April 4th, 18th
June 6th, 27th
August 15th, 29th
September 5th and 26th
This gives us an additional 10 more track days for the season and as a plus for these days, they are only $200.00! Now if you can only convince the boss to leave early…
We have been asked if there is a T2 season pass for our drivers. Living so close to Snoqualmie Pass and understanding the draw that this has for skiers, I have been trying to figure out how this may work. The challenge is how we work in our diverse events into something that will work for our drivers. I have decided to use a system that we came up with a few years ago. We will create packages of 10 or more days for 10% off the package. You decide which days and what kind of days you want and what kind of mixture of those days you want! Seeing that we have 28 regular track days available right now, there is a lot to choose from. Just plan them out, or just commit to days and figure out the days later. No problem! We will make it as simple as we can for you.
Have a great day and I hope to see you at the track soon!
To see the calendar for the 2018 season, it can be found on http://www.turn2lapping.com
Last fall, Mark Viskov suggested that Club Lotus NW might be done with track days at Portland after the 2017 event. His optimism had sunk some due to rising costs and other issues.
I was bummed.
However, the clnw.org website suggests that a 2018 event is in the offing.
AND: In fact, a Club Lotus NW event actually shows up in the PIR calender as well, so I’m VERY hopeful. Maybe I’ll take my daily driver hatch down for a spin.
Looks like the All British Meet weekend was pushed out in September due to the Verizon IndyCar Gran Prix coming to town on Memorial Day Weekend.
Yay! Club Lotus is my absolute favorite club-based event organizer. Mark Viskov is the man!
The folks at Pacific Raceways published a listing of all the road course events. That listing also presents the ProFormance Racing School dates in a separate table.
Link: Pacific Raceways Road Course Schedule