October 13th, 2009:
Racing season ends without a bang… luckily. Now what? P90X… that’s what.

Gina, Glenn and I finished up our 2009 racing season at Mid-Ohio. Though I had to qualify in cold and (sometimes) wet conditions, I had a TON of fun racing. I even met my goal of getting solidly into the 1:49s with my marginally prepared ITA Neon. I’m at the point where I need to spend some money. I’ve gotten by on a shoestring budget with my greatest annual expenses being a set or 2 of tires. It’s time for a new engine, trans, limited-slip differential and coilover suspension, followed by the correct size tires and wheels. Option B is to switch to the class of car that I’ve grown to respect, admire and understand the best: Spec Racer Ford. It’s the same class that Glenn (my father-in-law) races. They’re sturdy, reliable, safe, fast and equally matched. Finding a good deal on a SRF is going to cost about the same as making my Neon semi-competitive in ITA and much less expensive than starting over with a Honda CRX or Integra in ITA.

Gina and I recently began our 3rd week of P90X. While we’ve struggled at times to keep up with every movement in every exercise, we’ve been doing remarkably well. We’re even following the diet pretty darn faithfully. The biggest downside is the length of the workouts. They usually run about 90 minutes and are extremely demanding. “Do your best. Forget the rest.” Can I get an “Amen?!”

- Duane

July 29th, 2009:
IT SPECtacular at Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course Begins Tomorrow

Cincinnati Region SCCA is hosting the IT SPECtacular at Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course this weekend. It’s the biggest Improved Touring/Spec Race/Spec Miata event in the midwest. I’ll be Tweeting updates throughout the weekend (#it_spectacular). Props to Chris at Angry Sheep Motorsports for helping me get ready and coaching me! Go ITA Neons!

- Duane

July 20th, 2009:
Mid-Ohio Race Approaches, Mini-remodeling project nears completion…

July 31st – August 2nd is the IT SPECtacular at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course and I’m racing this year. I’m both excited and terrified: over 30 IT cars have registered, including some of the fastest guys cars in the nation. I’ve never raced at Mid-Ohio before. Luckily, Chris from Angry Sheep Motorsports set up my Neon yesterday, which always makes me feel better.

As noted in previous news updates, Gina and I have been working on a mini-remodel of our den and kitchen. I’ve installed new recessed lighting, other lighting fixtures, run some complicated a/v wiring, and significant drywall work to prepare for our first experience with professional painters. I hate painting… hopefully seeing how easily the pros do it will make it easier to decide to go this route more often.

In other news, I celebrated my 34th birthday last Saturday. Gina made an awesome coconut cream cake, bourbon-glazed ribs and cheesy potatoes. I was able to relax a bit, play some games (finishing Ghostbusters and House of the Dead: Overkill), and get some work done on my race car and around the house.

- Duane

May 19th, 2009:
Neon parts get harder to find. First race of the season this weekend.

I called Brighton Chrysler to order some parts for my ITA Neon (race car) and found out that they’re in short supply. In fact, some of the parts that we replace as part of preventative maintenance are outright unavailable (ACR hub and bearing kits). I hope that Chrysler LLC comes out of this reorganization soon and starts getting parts back in stock. I’d hate to have to switch cars or classes just because I can’t get a $70 part…

In related news, I’ll be racing at Grattan Raceway this weekend. It’s my first race of the season and apart from a few maintenance parts missing (ahem), I’m just about ready to head out on my old tires and get on the track!

- Duane

July 27th, 2008:
Nelson Ledges SCCA Regional Race Complete!

This is my first season away from the comfy land of Spec Neon. Since the class is no longer recognized by NASA, the only place I could have raced in my “real” class was Waterford Hills. It’s a nice, technical track. However, I’ve been touring with my father-in-law Glenn (and his Spec Racer Ford) and it’s easier to tag along, crew for him, and learn as much as possible about racing. So, as mentioned in previous updates, I’ve committed to the improved touring (ITA) class. It’s a regional class with good competition and quite a few Neons. I’m still not as competitively prepared (no coilovers, big wheels, race engine, etc.), but I’ve been able to stay mid-pack.

The mid-pack trend continued last weekend at Nelson Ledges in northeast Ohio. I finished 6th in class and 6th overall both days. I stayed ahead of the other Neons… except for the last lap on Saturday, where I got stuck behind lap traffic (I was prety pissed… and my in-car video shows it…) and was passed 3 turns before the finish. Sunday was better. By mid-race no more Neons were in my mirrors, though the Hondas trounced me handily. Not too bad for my first time at Nelson Ledges. Lap times and positions are here.

Glenn did well, but was kept off pace by his tires. He really showed some amazing car control when it started to rain as he sat on the starting grid. By the 3rd lap it felt like monsoon season. Even though he was on his dry tires and had a spin early in the race (c’mon… it was POURING) he snagged a podium finish.

- Duane