“If You Need a Straight, Make a Straight” – Unkefer Memorial at VIR

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The late Chief of Instruction, Dan Unkefer, had a saying he’d frequently utter to his HPDE students in the classroom. “If you need a straight, make a straight.” We lost Dan a few years ago, but our August event at VIR is named in his memory.

All of us who have ended up with racing licenses started off in Dan’s HPDE program and taken that phrase to heart over and over.

My trip to VIR started on a good note, though traffic quickly became unbearable. College move-ins, beach travelers and the upcoming solar eclipse meant everyone felt the need to be on I-95 on Friday afternoon. Thankfully, things eased up once I got past Richmond.

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Guest Video: Chasing Down a Mustang and a Porsche at NCCAR

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We always love seeing what others are doing with their weekends in motorsport! Jake’s friend Aaron spent a few days turning money into noise and horsepower at the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR). Aaron is a member of the Greater Washington Section of the Mercedes Benz Club of America, and a sister region invited the GWS group down for a weekend of HPDE.

Aaron has progressed through the ranks and now consistently drives in the Advanced group in a variety of Mercedes.

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Red White and Blue Golf R – 4th of July Autocross

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Towards the end of the last autocross event my friend Alex mentioned to me that he had the itch to try out a RWD car on-course. Alex is a Volkswagen guy having had his share of GTI’s, and currently owning a Scirocco and Golf R. He’s been autocrossing a bit longer than I have, but never in something powered by the rear wheels. It didn’t take much convincing on either of our parts when we decided to swap cars for an event. So this time at Bader Field, Alex would be driving my red E36 while I drive his blue Golf R, in the most German tribute to the 4th of July Bader Field has probably ever seen.

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Bader Field Autocross: Co-Driving With an Instructor

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After the last two autocross events in the spring it was clear I needed to order tires. I managed to track down one of the last sets of RE71R’s before the giant backorder issue made them unavailable through the end of this summer. My friend and autocross instructor, Mike mounted and balanced them for me. After a quick alignment we were ready for event #3 at Bader Field.

Mike co-drove this event with me, which means we shared the car for the day. My seats are not adjustable, so we had to do a bit of interior decorating to the E36 in the form of a memory foam pillow in order for Mike to reach the pedals.  

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NASA Mid-Atlantic “June Joust” at Summit Point

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It’s officially summertime and the weather at Summit Point was a constant reminder. It was H-O-T all weekend.

Saturday’s qualifying was cut very short by a Spec E46 who dropped a wheel around T8ish, spun and stuffed it nose-first into the tires on driver’s right. The car looked mostly fixable but the track was put under full-course red and every tow truck, ambulance and fire truck was sent out.

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Spring 2017 Autocrosses in Atlantic City

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Over the off-season I admittedly did nothing to my E36. It was the first winter in quite some time that the car didn’t actually need any work to participate in the spring events. And given New Jersey had such a mild winter this year, It was driven to school and work quite often. The one thing I did was store my Bridgestone RE71Rs in the basement in attempts to preserve the compound of the tire. As I found out at South Jersey SCCA’s opening autocross event, it didn’t quite work.

Our events are held at an abandoned airport right on the Bays of Atlantic City. There is constantly a sea breeze, so most early-spring events struggle to reach the 50s.

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“Spring Showdown” at Dominion Raceway

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Second race weekend of the year and my second provisional weekend! I kicked it off on Friday afternoon with a little jaunt down I-95 (only two hours to go 50 miles, wow!), unpacked and headed to the Holiday Inn where Jeff was giving the Instructor Clinic. I passed and now have my red hat, and can hop in the right seat to yell at all you students who come out and do Hyperdrives/HPDE 1.

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Competition School & First Race Weekend

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My driving progressed over the last year or so to the point where I (and others) felt that I was ready for wheel to wheel competition. I decided back in November that 2017 was the year I’d finish the car and do Comp School, and that I’d want to do it at a track where I was very comfortable, so that I could focus on the school as much as possible. I got the car prepped (ish) and headed to VIR on Thursday afternoon.

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