Mid-Ohio – 25-27 April 2014

After looking forward to it all winter, in March I was finally able to register for the first event of my season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It was also warming up a bit, so I could work on the car in the garage without using too much propane for the heater – the price of which had gone through the roof!

So I went through the annual process of changing the brake fluid, checking CV joints, etc. I had already bought four new Yokohama S-drive tires and installed new rear brake discs, as well as changing the engine and transmission oils and adjusting the valves. I also bought two new thermocouples for the cylinder head temperature gauges and replaced the turn indicator assembly which had broken while I was fixing the horn. Then I got a technical inspection and saw that the rear sway bar bushings were badly worn, so I replaced those in April. At our instructor day at Calabogie I also saw that the oil reservoir tank was still leaking a bit, so I bit the bullet and replaced it as well – for $1900!! There’s always one more thing. By the time I was ready to leave for Ohio, I had spent $3600 and the car was as good as I could make it.

We’d had a very long winter with lots of snow, so the weather was still quite cool in late April and most of the melting had come quite late. So the drive to Ohio was pretty cool and it rained all the way to Buffalo. I had left two days early to visit my son and daughter-in-law in North Canton, so I arrived there Tuesday evening and we had a nice dinner. We visited throughout Wednesday until they had to leave for the airport and I killed time until Thursday afternoon, when I left for Lexington. Thursday morning I came out to the hotel parking lot to find that my car and trailer had been totally boxed in by a commercial van! It took me a little while to find the culprits and get them to move the van, but it would have been very interesting if I couldn’t have found them. I arrived at the track a little after 5 o’clock, registered and unloaded the car before checking into my hotel in Lexington. After a long day of driving, I had no trouble falling asleep.

Friday dawned overcast and drizzly and it never improved all day. The temperature was quite low (under 8 C) and the track conditions were as awful as only Mid-Ohio can be. I did 6 laps, in three groups of two – all wet. And I haven’t been this cold since…February! As expected, this place is just ugly when wet. And the patches/sealer areas are so big there’s almost no safe place to go. In my middle stint, I had intended to shoot a demo wet video, but forgot to remove the lens cap! So I had to go out again to get it. It’s really, really slow. At no time were there any more than six cars on track and nobody stayed out long.

Because of the weather, there was lots of time to socialize. I ran into two of the guys I had met there in 2011 and I met my paddock neighbours, including a nice couple from Akron with a 458 Italia and a Cayman S. I helped another fellow tune his PMO carburetors, since he’d forgotten the correct steps to follow and I had recently done mine. At the end of the day, I met my student who seemed like a nice fellow with some familiarity with the track. I had a quiet evening of reading and looked forward to better weather for Saturday.

Day two was clearer but still quite cool – cooler than it had been a year earlier for my son’s wedding in North Canton. I met up with the very nice lady I had met during the wedding weekend and had a look at her three cars – a 2011 Carrera S, a 968 race car and a Ferrari 360 Modena track car, as well as the hauler from her business in Columbus. We had several nice visits through the day and got a good picture of the two of us with our cars, which are the same model and colour but seven generations of Porsche 911 apart.

My student was very good and had quite a bit of experience with the track. We just working on fine tuning. He didn’t  want to solo, although he could, because he appreciates having the instruction – which is fine. My driving was good although I didn’t set any lap records. Just had a lot of fun. I’ve met a lot of instructors my age who feel the same way.

At the end of the day there was a nice meal available, with lots of socializing in the technical shed.

Sunday was another good day, although it was 3C this morning; and windy. My first stint wasn’t until 9:40, so I had to try to stay warm. It got really crazy out there with expanded passing – which means ANYWHERE, with a point-by. Having a slower car, my left arm got a work-out.

Two cool things happened. The photographer caught me on three wheels going through Carousel, so I bought a print.Secondly, I put two tires in the dirt exiting the Keyhole while pointing a few cars by. No damage or loss of control, but the Golf behind me had to eat some gravel.

I left with one stint remaining – enough is enough. Met some great people – with too much money – and made some long-lasting track friendships.

Oh – I shared a hug when I left. Video is available at   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3J6qCtTDoU&list=UUymvezGbFO-lUNTnDuTSZsQ

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