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The Driving Ambition Race Report; You are not going to believe this

4 April 2002
Sacramento CA
SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge Race #10 October 9-11 2009
Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey CA

Kip Olson and Shad Huntley, aka the Driving Ambition Acura NSX race team will be taking on 20 other SCCA Pro racers tomorrow at the 10th and final World Challenge (WC) contest of the 2009 season.

The most remarkable fact about this newbie team is that the D.A.’s recent Super Production Qualifying track record is quicker than the WC race track record that has stood for 3 years. Well, not to get too excited since SP runs on slicks and WC runs on Toyo R888’s. Kip and Shad figure that tire handicap is worth about 1.5 seconds based on recent tests they snuck in at Laguna during the last ITE race. Soooooooooo, even though D.A. will be up against quintessential pro drivers like Andy Pilgrim, Randy Pobst and Boris Said, they should be competitive; competitive enough that it’s not a stretch to say that it’s too bad the Rookie of the Year title has already been decided.

Earlier in the week, Kip was predictably relaxed saying he felt no particular pressure and was setting the bar fairly low. Long time observers of KO know that he won’t tell you what he’s really thinking; his wife and Shad probably don’t even know. “I just want to finish and not embarrass myself.” Typical KO. Odds are pretty good, though, that some eyebrows will be raised this coming weekend.

Shad, also non-plussed, was rushing around busy as a bee. When asked, “What’s on your To-Do list ? Got any new whizzy bits to install?” Shad yawned, “Naw, it is what it is. The only big deal is we have to run a single plane wing instead of the old cheese slicer dual plane. Got it from a good source though; it should be an improvement. Then there’s these dad-blamed stickers. You ever seen so many stickers? I have no idea what half of them mean.” (Being an engineer, I began to wonder/calculate how much weight and drag the stickers would add. Being a mechanic, Shad just followed the detailed bureaucratic directions on where and how to put them on.) Figuring the bureaucrats would worry more about stickers, he didn’t change out the tucked in racing mirrors for those “all important” stock side mirrors, like the rules say. He didn’t discuss it with the Kipster since he didn’t think the 49 would be scrutinized in impound while Kip was standing on the podium. For a mechanic like Shad to make assumptions like that, that’s “living on the edge.”

Practice on Friday was safe and predictable. In the first practice session early in the day, the D.A. car was 13th quick with a time of 1.32.216 compared to James Sofronas in a 99 GT3 doing 1.29.660. OK, good enough for first time out, especially with the full Touring Cars on track at the same time. One might wonder what PD :cool: Cunningham thought when Kip’s 49 passed his Touring Car TSX. :tongue:

In the 2nd session, late in the day with the sun going down, the #49 Sweet Pea picked up 2 tenths for a best of 1.32.044, which was only good enough for 16th. This, compared to a 1.29.309 set by Randy Pobst in the K-Pax Volvo

And KO was OK with that. Early Saturday, he beamed; “I’m having a boatload of fun. These guys are so hardcore, all I can say is WOW, this is another world. But hey, the car is good and we’ve got no major work to do before qualifying later this morning. And the best news is that Shad’s dialed back the boost to a measly 6 lbs. If he gives me more, up to 13.5 lbs, I’ll be making good headway, and picking up at least a second. Shad is just amazed at the quality and sophistication of these front running cars. They’re almost Trans-Am cars more than the production cars they’re supposed to be.”

. Late Saturday morning with a cool 52F air temp and the sun just peeking out of the Pacific marine layer, all 21 GT cars rolled out for a 20 minute Q session. Kip flogs Sweet Pea right out of the gate and clocks a flying 1.30.211 on Lap 2. “Damn, just like the big dogs!!!” Only Randy Pobst in the top 8, took 8 laps to get up to speed. On lap 4, Sweet Pea starts to smoke and KO immediately backs off and pulls in. “Geez, I was just getting started !!” But as the checkers came out, you’re not going to believe this, the D.A. time was good for 7th …………………… 7th??? And right behind Randy Pobst and 3 spots ahead of the likes of Andy Pilgrim? Get out !!!! See it for yourself. Check it out; the 18 year old NSX run by that shoe-string team out of …………where? Gold River?..........is in the top 1/3 of the field!!! And Kip is only 6 tenths behind the quickest time of Boris Said. That’s about 100 feet difference in one lap. And in a grid of some serious mega-buck teams and pro drivers, where 1 second covers the top 12 starters.

Man, who would’ve predicted this amazing debut? :eek: You can bet there’s some whispering up and down pit road; “Who are those guys?” :confused: More than a few eyebrows were raised today, you can be certain. But probably not those crusty old SCCA corner workers who have been watching the D.A. team smoke the field all season. :wink: Ha!! They’re loving it.

If you want to see NSX history made once again, get on down to Laguna for the tomorrow’s 2:45 PM race.
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Re: Part 2: Gypsies in the Palace or WC Politics 101

As noted, in the Q session the D.A. boys (Kip, with instruction from Shad) parked the car after 3 laps because they were done: they got out early, ripped off 3 clean laps, had the 4th fastest time and extracted the best possible time out of the tires. The “smoke” reported by corner workers turned out to be nothing.

After the session, Kips strolled on down to Randy Pobst’s paddock to see what a serious contender in this series was like. Turns out he was really pleasant, (well, easy to do with a new-comer) but had an agenda with his small talk about car specs, racing history etc. KO easily derailed that agenda and blew him away with trivia like he’s been racing a grand total of 8 months and little details like he actually has to use a clutch to shift. Randy couldn’t believe the transmission was street drivable !!! Then they talked about tires: ………and OMG what skinny little tires that old car has to use.!!! Kip asked how he liked the Toyo triple-8’s. “Junk..........and we’ve been wrestling with ‘em for 2 years.” KO snickered privately as they had a total of 5 or 6 sessions on them and low grip aisde, ole Sweet Pea was actually kind of “happy” with them.

Meanwhile, the Series Tech Gestapo came calling on the D.A. paddock. You know, just to give the boys a little friendly advice and a reminder that “there is a serious points battle going on all around you on the grid and, well…………you know, there’s money involved, so :wink: maybe you boys had better think carefully about who you pass and who might be trying to pass you.” Being around pro racing much of his life, Shad knew to say nothing, just nod and give the Kid the “shut up” look. :frown: But the tech didn’t stop there. “Not to tell you what to do, but you could do worse than just following Pobst around.” Shad knew it wasn’t that easy; Curran, 5th in points was starting right behind Kip. And Pilgrim, 4th in points would be charging from 10th. :eek: And after those guys had barged on past, Whelen, 10th in points and starting 9th might just be out to teach that rookie whippersnapper a thing or 2. KO rolled his eyes and thought; “$hit, can’t we just all race and get along and see where the chips fall?” (Boy, with 8 months in club racing, this Kid’s got a lot to learn and it’s got nothing to do with race craft or car control.) :redface: The shocking revelation to their first Pro race was that rewards weight and turbo boost tinkering were just the tip of the iceberg and there were some subtle but serious requirements “if you want to come back.”

Well, there it is: starting 7th with potential trouble all around; and we’re not talking tire walls or gravel traps. Fingers crossed, waiting for the 2:45 pace lap and things to really get interesting.

Get your ass down to Laguna to see it all first hand.
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Very nice write up and very exciting. Its 10:30pm when I read this but I just told my wife I got to get down to LS tomorrow and see this for myself. :biggrin:
Nice write up as usual ! I almost feel like I am there watching it all unfold. I wasn't to crazy about the political part in part 2 of your story. Whats up with that crap ??!! :confused: Anyways good luck to you guys today and I would like to just see you do your best instead of "laying down" for the "WC Queenies" :biggrin:
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Re: Part 3 thru ???

At the track and gearing up for the day, this report willl switch to Gonzo mode and be a Twitter type stream up until race time. I won't be able to pull a James Allen and give you up to the minute reports thru the race, as I'll probably be wetting my pants just watching.

Anyway, 9 AM, low marine layer with temps in the mid 50's. The Atlantics just completed their warmup and I cruised the Touring Car false grid, tossing out a few softball questions and "Good luck out there" to Andrie Hartanto (starting DFL due to a motor head tear-down/inspection) and PD Cunningham starting, 4th. Asked what PD thought when seeing the D.A. NSX fly by, he said that was sure neat and "it's good to see you're going quick". I mentioned that Shad and the Kid had the "steward visit" and been "made aware of proper ettiquette" for a newbie caught right in the middle of the regulars going at it tooth and nail. He smiled knowingly and said something to the effect of "yeah, there's a lot going on out there, so keep your spotters informed of who's who." Whew, 10-4.

Anyway, the car is in great shape; getting fresh axles. Brakes were fresh and bedded for Q yesterday. Shad's waxing the top and KO's yelling "Hey, easy on the wax, we're supposed to be slowing the car down."

Everyone's still cracking jokes, but the tenson's building ever so slightly. Stay tuned.
Re: Real Time wins Touring Car

Kleinubing and Cunningham 1-2. Pierre wins Drivers championship. PD as wing man ensures Manufacturer's championship. Lots of action from Thomas in a Bimmer in Turn 4 all race. Should be a penalty for at least one of those door banging passes or attempts.
Re: OK, let's worry about..............

how about the Kid's first standing start since racing karts. Oh, right, that experience should help. :rolleyes:

"So, uh Kip, how many practice standing starts you get so far this weekend?" "

"Well, a couple......... in the hot pit lane.........but not to worry, I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night." :wink:
Re: Let's worry about.........

minimum weight; added 5 lbs. :smile:

old tires: Toyo is supplying tires made in 2007 and 2008. Boris Said complained yesterday he had tires that were almost 3 years old; so he got a new set for Q and went right to the front. my, my, my...........:rolleyes:

Time to kill..........
Re: Neighbors on the grid

Pobst in an AWD Volvo will be outside row 3; the AWD should be gone in a heartbeat. :cool:

Whelen Vettes are next to and behind Sweet Pea on inside of row 4. Next to D.A. on the paddock, KO says they're nice guys. We'll see how nice they are going into T-2. :rolleyes:

Boris in his 'stang will be in front of KO.


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Re: Just about 75 minutes til hammer time.........

The big announcer guy Tom Hnatiw came over immediately after Q yesterday all excited about the surprise performance of the D.A. team. He can't wait to highlight the team on one of his shows. Here's the in-car camera he arranged for. :smile: Nothing but great press. :tongue:


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Re: Nekkid tires get me hot

Atlantic race just concluded. 20 minutes to go. Everyone's cool. :wink:


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Re: Lap 3 restart than disaster

after a 1st lap off and full course yellow (FCY). Kip still in 7th after a so-so launch.

Oh no, he spun in 10 and is now DFL. :mad:
Re: Lap 19 of 28

16 seconds behind the next car but losing time to the leader. Just pounding around, still looking for a yellow. :redface:
Re Mission accomplished.

Finished on the lead lap with the car in one piece. They'll just think we were being politically correct and humble. :wink:
From a spectator's perspective, it was great to see "newcomer" Kip Olsen make such a great first showing. The car and the team made a great, professional presentation. Seeing Kip up at the top of the leader board during qualifying (4th at one point!) was very exciting.

Sure, it was disappointing to see him spin coming out of turn 9, but he recovered well and went to the pits to asses the damage. From our vantage point up on the hill, we were relieved to see him come out of the pits and take to the track again.

To his credit, Kip stayed focused and settled down to re-joining the fray. As mentioned above, he was well back from the pack but he was lapping at about 1 second per lap faster than the rest. He even had a good battle with Boris Said!

Congratulations guys on a fantastic first showing. It was good clean racing and the NSX proved to be one of the fastest cars in the pack.
Re: Video

Where's the video?
We can't post the in-car video til after the race airs on Speed, which is.......Nov 2 or Nov 20th, I can't remember which. We'll post some out of car video soon.

Edit: The Applied Computer Solutions Monterey Sports Car Championships Presented by Bondurant will air on SPEED, Nov. 3, at 2 p.m. (EST).
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Great write up and congrats on trying.....go get them next time.
Great job guys.

Hey Ken, it's "assess"... "asses" are what you stare at when browsing that ... other thread....

Edit: it has come to my attention that some thought I am making fun at someone else's thread by what I posted above. By "other thread" I meant the "hottest girl you have ever seen" thread. Just busting Ken's balls because he is always correcting others' spelling mistakes. That's all. No harm meant to anyone guys!
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Re: Out of the frying pan & into the fire

Check out the "tip of the hat" label on this photo. :smile:


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