• Protip: Profile posts are public! Use Conversations to message other members privately. Everyone can see the content of a profile post.

The Driving Ambition Race Report: It’s Always Something

4 April 2002
Sacramento CA
SCCA Double Regional Race Sept 18-20, 2009
Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey CA

In case you haven’t been paying attention, these boys are going somewhere. And in a hurry. The D.A. team of Kip Olson (KO or the Kid) and Shad Huntley kind of shuffled into the very fast ITE and the really mega-fast Super Production (SP) class of SCCA this past spring with an “aw shucks, we’re just gonna have some fun” press statement. And some of us poor schmucks :redface: actually fell for it. Not any more…………no siree bob; not after this past weekend. They are on the campaign trail and running for high office. Hang on to your holly-hocks, the roller coaster :eek: has left the station. Stay tuned for an important announcement. :wink:

This past race weekend was gonna be a doozy; running 2 race classes on a doubles weekend with a bonus race on Sunday added up to ……………..lessee here…………11 sessions in 3 days. And, on top of that, they were signed up to be the “Meet the Team” show at the SCCA social hour !! And don’t even mention that Shad takes care of Rylan Hazelton’s blown S2000. Needless to say the DA paddock was in full tilt boogey from Thursday nite thru Sunday nite.

If you’re not a racer, you may not appreciate the phrase, “It’s always something”. The weekend’s first of several examples was a hurried Friday morning alignment. Ya see, they had been getting so fast and so dialed that the inside of the rear tires were showing cord in just a few laps. So Shad had to scrounge up parts and reduce camber for that little compromise. Of course, getting the parts a typical few days late meant doing a complete re-alignment Friday morning before the first practice. Fortunately, it came out all right according to that tractor driver, Kip. :smile:

ITE: Q session #1

As expected, the nemesis of the D.A. team, Darrell Anderson (the other D.A. or ODA) was on hand. A likeable guy, but when he disarmingly said he wouldn’t run stickers for this race and then magically showed up with some, well, let’s just say that qualifies as a “cheatin’ bastard” in the Doug Hayashi world . But never mind that, he was having his own problems; like he’s got no low end- off corner grunt; and he’s about 3 seconds slow. So, with that welcome news, KO strolls to the pole with a 1:31.4. Which is not bad for a greasy track on a hot day. :cool: T-11 is especially bad, which is the worst since it enters the straight and a slick T-2 ain’t no picnic as it threatens to throw you into a monster gravel trap. But the Kid keeps it clean on the black stuff.

Back to ODA who’s been dicking around with all sorts of FI and carbs. At the moment he’s got a big ass Weber on it and it ain’t workin’ too well. :frown: Shad, ever the nice guy, goes over to help out. (It’s always something.) Whispering to me :tongue: that he don’t really know $hit about carbs, he tinkers with this and wiggles that. Now if it was anyone but Shad, Darrell should be highly suspicious of any “help” from the opposition. And especially since Shad doesn’t really know squat about something as archaic as a 1885 invention. But he’s a loveable mechanic (“ain’t no Dilbert engineer, ya understand” :wink: as he says) and so he sprinkles a little mechanic’s magic dust around, gives ODA a big wink and says “yep, that’ll be much better now.” And by golly, it was too. Cut almost 2 seconds off his lap time. Helping the opposition, what’s up with that???? :eek:

It’s always something……………

So, here it is, Friday night. While everyone’s down at the SCCA social, drinking beer with the corner workers, I drag my ass into the D.A. paddock with a cold beer or 2 and look around, wondering “Where’s the hired help?” Kip’s the only one in sight, bleeding brakes and inspecting pads, (Pagid Black) which hold pretty dang well; like for this entire race weekend!!! (Illustrating once again kids that it helps to use more “go” and less “whoa” pedal). Chris, the D.A. go-fer is gathering mundane parts and Shad’s back over at ODA’s paddock helping him with something else which makes it a little tough to complete his aggressive maintenance schedule. Which is absolutely necessary to keep the #49 at full song all weekend. Not knowing squat about cars with fenders, I pull out the laptop and commence to pound out some of this crap. :redface:

Did I mention an aggressive maintenance schedule? Well, after all the axle failures and Kip not backing off and cruising but whipping Sweet Pea for all she’s worth, now the axles get rebuilt every 3 or 4 sessions (every day in this busy weekend). Here’s what the little buggers look like. And here’s why Shad doesn’t mind doing them. Fun huh? Even the tractor driver gets involved. So, about 6 PM on Friday, Shad begins pulling the axles to swap out with a fresh pair and finds a leaky “jack shaft” boot. Uh-oh. Can’t just reinstall it and call it good, ‘cause Kip’s gonna wanna know why it happened and what if this and what if that ???????........etc. So, like Frodo on his quest, we all start wondering where a new seal is gonna be found on Friday nite? Shad’s never seen one that needed to be replaced, but then this is an 18 year old car never designed for such hard service. Shad gets ahold of Ryan back at the shop where they happen to have one out and available; so now the question is, how to get it down to Laguna, 3-4 hours away from the Gold River shop. (the D.A. helicopter has not been ordered yet, but I’m thinking it most likely will be as K.O. will make that decision by, oh, Sunday night on the drive home). I called the few racer friendly Sacto NSX guys I know for ideas. Everyone called back. Got to give a big shout out to these guys who either offered to help or wished they could help; Big Al Terpak, Calvin Douglas, Jeff Fong, Larry Cao. (Hope I didn't forget anyone) Thanks guys. In the end, Kip’s weekday job go-fer, drove the part down that night and Shad burned the midnight oil getting it in.

ITE RACE #1 Saturday PM

Well, not much to say; Kip walks, no, runs away from ODA. Watch this. Having dispensed with old Darrell, the Kid has some fun on his way to winning by 22 seconds. Unfortunately, ODA finishes 2nd so KO only picks up 2 points on Darrell who’s leading the ITE class because the #49 has had axle woes.

ITE RACE #2 Sunday AM

The Qually and race #2 were a carbon copy of Race #1. Like clockwork, the Kid pounded out 131.5 laptimes and ODA was 2.5 seconds/lap back and finished a full 22 seconds behind the #49. Ho hum. But again, the Kid only picked up 2 points on ODA. :mad: Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

ITE Bonus Race Late Sunday PM

Well, by this time, after 11 sessions, the Kid was getting a bit tired and maybe the tires were too. Lap times fell off by a good couple of seconds, but no worries since Darrell was also off the pace an equal amount. And once again, after dodging all the wankers, KO finished 22 seconds ahead of Darrell and whittled the points lead by another whopping 2 points. Whoopee……….. The D.A. team was a little jaded by this point with this weekend’s triumphs. Not to say it was easy, but they got it done. Here’s a typical D.A. post race celebration: pretzels instead of champagne. :rolleyes: All business.

Check back for part 2 when we’ll go over the SP races and the Meet the Team shindig. Oh man, they’re almost famous.
Looks like I missed a fun-filled weekend at the track. If I can get away from my honey-do's, family stuff, and maybe Steve gets his axle fixed, then I'll be at the season finale for sure! Way to go Kip and Team DA:biggrin:
Last edited:
Re: Report Part 2. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better.

{deep breath} So, to summarize the ITE situation, the D.A. team is some points back of ODA for the season championship even though Kip has had the upper hand when the car has been running at full strength. On the SP side of things, things were interestingly and ironically a lot different. The championship is all but in the bag, but the each race is anything but in the bag with Elmer Shannon or Frank Emmett on track. And this race was no exception.

SP Race #1. In the Q session, Kip ran off a 1:29.55 on number 3 of 5 laps, just 0.08 seconds off Frank Emmett’s qualifying track record. :)eek: Rookies; no respect !!) Frank himself could do no better than a1:30.7x. :redface:

As the green flies on race start, Frank predictably drag races KO through T-1 and leads into the T-2 Andretti hairpin. As they rip around at near qually speeds, the Kid is right on Frank’s rear bumper. Unlike other high HP drivers, such as Elmer Shannon, who don’t handle pressure all that well, big Frank comfortably relies on his kick-ass HP to pull out several car lengths on the front straight. This goes on for several laps as the Kid throws out the anchor much later in almost all corners and really takes a look on the outside going into T-2, but to no avail. This goes on lap after lap and the corner workers are getting tense knowing that this kind of intensity often ends in tears. :frown:

Meanwhile Shad, not being behind the wheel, is getting a little tired of this monotony. :rolleyes: Ever the calculating one, he notes that Frank holds KO up in the all important T-11 and punches a big hole in the air. Now, he reasons………. if Kip can get off T-11 a bit quicker, maybe he can really suck up into the draft and suck up a few of those HP induced car lengths before they arrive at the hairpin in a cloud of brake dust. Kip picks up on the plan easily and with 3 to go, he adjusts the gap just right coming out of 10 and into 11, so that he’s not held up thru 11 and onto the front straight. As the 45 lumbers thru T-11 with a big tail wag, gets straight and punches it, Kip rockets thru 11 and sucks up into his draft. With Kip being a few car lengths closer, Frank guards the inside line a bit tighter than before. Kip, taking the outside line per usual, keeps the go pedal buried longer into the brake zone and is cleanly past the big black Corvette at turn in, claiming the line and the pass cleanly. Frank, hemmed in by his early apex line, gets a bit rattled, drops back 8-10 cars lengths. But he gathers it back up with the race’s fast lap of 1.29.7 and the race is now down to one lap. But as usual, the Kid doesn’t put a wheel wrong and takes the checkers by 0.2 seconds.

Afterwards, in the imaginary interview room, the Kid characteristically took it all in stride.

But wait there’s more. :smile: Besides an awesome win, this race turned out to be the bonus that Club racing is all about; a bonding experience. You see, Frank Emmett, besides being independently wealthy, is also pretty independent and hard to approach. But Kip stopped by his paddock later to find Frank talkative, congratulatory and beaming, saying this was the most fun he’s had in years. With virtually no challengers for quite some time, racing had become less than thrilling. A clean but hard racer, he was thrilled to finally have a worthy opponent. And sometimes that’s better than a plastic trophy and victory lap. :tongue:

Meet the Team. Then, the real work began; talking to a crowd of racers, emergency crews and corner workers used to seeing the 49 go by at warp-speed and wondering what sort of maniac drives with that quickness and precision and what sort of mechanic-wizard extracts all that speed from an ancient and civilized sports car that 99.9 % of the U.S. public cannot even identify. The venue was a “Meet the Team” presentation at the 5 PM happy hour/social. And it was probably better attended than most. Here’s the boys, minus Rylan Hazelton who was off to a wedding or something pretty dang important. Being the fastest thing on track with fenders that day, the Kid got a bunch of questions from some very ancient corner workers. These guys and gals, bless their :cool: soul, bust (and risk) their butt out in the elements all weekend and man, do they have some stories to tell. They’ve seen it all and don’t mind letting you know that watching guys like KO race cars like the #49 is what they live for. It was hard work cleaning up the car (and the Kid) and getting them over to the social, but it was good exposure for Driving Ambition.

SP Race #2.

Believe it or not, big Frank Emmett doesn’t like double race weekends and never stays for the 3rd day. :confused: So, after that heart-stopper of a race, KO looks around and sees no particular challenge for race #2. With nothing else to do, he straps in for the Q session, goes out and burns a new track Q record of 1.29.17 and hopes that will keep Shad happy for awhile. :rolleyes: All in a day’s work, as they say. As he climbs out, the look on his face seems to say “Ho-hum, I guess being handsome and blazingly quick ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.” (JK, he's lovin' it)

On Sunday, a GT-1 lines up next to Kip with a Q time of 1:30 something; just about a second off Kip’s Q track record. Huh? Where did this guy come from? He’s traditionally been 6-8 seconds off the pace, so, uh, where’d he find a big bucket of speed? Oh well, nothing to do about that except make sure he doesn’t get the hole shot and lead into T-2. The start goes as planned and the #49 pulls out another second on each lap over this guy’s big ole’ Monte Carlo. With a fast lap of just under 1:30, it’s all well in hand late in the race. Back markers are scattered all around the track like cones on an auto-cross course and Kip’s driving around them drama-free. So, you can imagine the shocked look on his face when he gets pulled into impound and informed he’s gonna be docked 3 places in class for a pass under standing yellow. Turns out it was the inside of T-2; where it’s virtually impossible to notice a standing flag if you’re passing the usual gaggle of SM’s and not looking directly at the stand. Turns out that’s what happened. And, worse yet, I had the video card in my pocket this time, so we could not verify the infraction. Shame on me. :mad:

Well, that’s the way the weekend went; damn near picture perfect for final results and gathering points. As noted, SP is in the bag. Still, there’s one more race to catch that Darrell guy for the ITE championship. Unfortunately, it’s not all within D.A.’s control; ODA will have to DNF for D.A.’s dream to come true. Check back for that Thunderhill race the end of October.

World Challenge next weekend. I’m sure you, like me, will be on the edge of your seat next Sunday about 2:45 PM, when the boys, back at Laguna, jump from the frying pan into the fire and take on professional racers who have been at this level for some time. Boy Howdy, can’t wait to see how that all goes down. Let’s hope we’re all clapping at the end.
Great reports on our track stars!
Love reading these reports. Would have liked to have been there but I was on call all this week/weekend.