Tag Archives: roanoke

Michelin GT Challenge Biscuitville Grand Prix IMSA at VIR the debrief

People often ask what’s my favorite race track, and it’s a hard question to answer because I frequent some of the best of them in the world. VIR though is one of the very best in my book! I can say that with confidence and I would encourage people to come and check it out for themselves.

The IMSA at VIR event was my second trip to Danville, Virginia/Milton, North Carolina this year. Of the two this was arguably the bigger event and it showed with amazing crowds of spectators that showed up in force. For the third time now I failed to read the instructions given to volunteers to camp in the South Paddock and instead did what I did before and set up my spot in the North where the usual spectators camp. I say the usual, because most of my neighbors were there for PWC weekend earlier this year, and they were there last year for IMSA as well. One of the spectators made a comment complimenting my Miata saying he remembers it from before… COOL! I even got a visit from a “Mazda Santa” this time who mysteriously dropped off a few new Mazda lanyards by my tent. ALSO COOL!

My first accomplishment of the trip was finally getting to try out Biscuitville… I’ve seen their restaurants before in this area but they were always closed by the time I had free time to visit.

To my surprise Biscuitville sponsored the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race, which is nice to see. Local businesses supporting the Motorsport activity in their region.

We were extremely fortunate this weekend to be blessed with perfect weather. It wasn’t too hot or too cool. It didn’t rain. It was perfect. Our pit fire team consisted of a bunch of visiting marshals from Daytona which was very neat. Some very experienced firefighters that follow the NASCAR circuit around.

And then there was me in their midst. Good educational experience.

Nothing noteworthy happened in the pit boxes I was responsible for. But I’m happy to say it was a lot to see right in front of me from the Weathertech Series down to SCCA Pro Formula 4. And specifically the ITM sponsored Kiwi Motorsport driver that hails from the part of the North Island in New Zealand where I got my start as a marshal. It was very cool to see them in action, and even though the guy didn’t win he certainly crashed enough… as the saying goes, if you’re not crashing you’re not going fast enough. He was fast!

I already mentioned this in a previous post but for some reason the burgundy Acura NSX really caught my eye this weekend. It was easily the nicest car on the grid. And it just so happens I was manning their pit box.

The blue one looked pretty neat too… neither did particularly well unfortunately.

Big thanks to IMSA for sending out an ice cream lady with free refreshments during the big race. They did this last year too, and it was a very nice gesture at a perfect time. This was neat!

My local New Jersey dealership sponsored Lamborghini team expanded again, with the paddock growing from 3 cars to 5 now. They didn’t do so well except for one. Which I guess was good.

All the usual NC Miatas had a great race too, but a NISSAN won, which was somewhat appropriate as VIR is NISSAN sponsored track. Nevertheless I enjoyed watching them race.

I didn’t get a chance to check out the infield with all the displays and such, but I did get a chance to walk past the local SCCA region tent which had this car on display…

Figures that the local club would feel this paint job was appropriate to attract new members. But whatever.

All in all a fantastic weekend. Car was covered by an inch of dust by the time the event was over. I would love to be back again at this track… what an amazing facility. As the Radio Le Mans commentators put it, “its a very old school track, no run off areas… you make a mistake and you’re off in the grass”

Happy I was a part of this race weekend!

1,500+ Mile Road Trip from Pennsylvania to Texas in a Ford Crown Victoria

I was getting ready to leave for a short 500 mile road trip to Watkins Glen for their Motorsport Safety Seminar training when a friend messaged me for a favor. He’s currently working/living in China as an expat but every time he comes home to Texas he tends to buy a cheap eBay find to tinker with during his time off. This time it was a Ford Crown Victoria from Pennsylvania which he arranged to get delivered via uShip for like a ton of money, but they were dicking him around and he asked if I can drive it down for him instead.

I said SURE!

I had driven cars for Wes before, last time more than ten years ago. First was a Mustang GT from Miami to Houston, then a Crown Vic from Salem, Oregon to Houston. It was a fantastic way to see the country and he generously paid my way including flights, fuel, food, etc. So this time I jumped on the opportunity to organize an impromptu foodie tour of the south paying special attention to the BBQ offerings in Tennessee and Alabama as well as Cajun cooking in Louisiana and Texas. Boy was that a fantastic experience! I wrote a separate blog post just about food.

But what about the car? Buying something on eBay is tough. You never know what you’re going to get. Sure it may look good in pictures but there’s no way of knowing if there’s a major mechanical problem that the seller fails to mention.

Luckily with this 2011 Ford Crown Victoria LX model, there was no issues. The only thing that didn’t work was the A/C but since there was a cold front in the south, the drive was totally manageable. And being it was an LX model, the ride was very soft thanks to it’s suspension and leather seats inside. Very different from my Miata Road Trips that I’ve grown used to.

Naturally same principles applied to driving someone else’s car as I do with my own. So I only used brand name fuel along the way, and I tried to work out the best gas mileage I could get planning my fuel stops based on the Gas Buddy app. Though I owned ten Crown Vics of my own in the past, I couldn’t really remember what to expect. The first low fuel light came on shortly after I picked up the car, so I figured after the first fill up I’ll have a baseline. It only took 14.5 gallons which surprised me, I knew it had a nearly 20 gallon tank which is double of the Miata’s. But compared to the Mazda 2.0L inline 4, the Crown Vic had double the engine size: 4.6L V8. And despite early readings of 30mpg’s which is really respectable, the mileage just kept on leveling off into a lower figure rather than climbing. It went down to 29mpg after the second fill up, then 28mpg the next day, down to 27mpg before climbing back up to 28mpg on Texas flat roads.

Driving into Alabama was a bit of a worry too. There were severe storms on the forecast with Tornado warnings in affect when I drove in. Crap! I didn’t want to sustain any damage to the car especially since it’s not mine. Luckily I managed to escape unscathed. I didn’t even hit any rain along the way. But after checking into a hotel in Tuscaloosa and turning on the News, they reported baseball size hail that hit the same Interstate highway I had just driven through an hour before. Holly Shit!

Besides the threat of weather I had no other surprises along the way. Generally I lucked out with traffic too. Missing most of the rush hour hold ups, spending only a few minutes bumper to bumper in Baton Rouge because of an accident that just happened at the junction of Interstate 12 and Interstate 10. That was it.

Overall it was a super relaxing trip and I’m very grateful for the opportunity it happened.

The seller replaced the Crown Vic with a Police Package Taurus.

Popped the hood, checked to make sure it had an engine and I was off on my two day, 1,500+ mile adventure.

I was sticking to brand name gas stations along the way. Shell seemed to be the cheapest most of the time. But I also used BP and Exxon Mobil where Shell wasn’t the most economical option.

The Travelodge in Winchester, VA where I spent the night really surprised me. The quality of the hotel room you get for the price was way better than I expected. And just a few dollars more than Motel 6 where I stayed on other occasions the rooms were night and day difference. So props to them!

Though I’ve flown through Nashville a few times this was my first time driving through Tennessee.

On the highway to HELL… 666…

When the fuel consumption gauge started leveling off.

Rolling into threatening weather. Luckily the clouds is all I saw, no rain, no tornadoes and best of all no hail that I hit.

Didn’t even realize I’d slice through the edge of Georgia.

Home Sweet Home… Alabama!

The Gas Buddy app fooled me a few times. The price of fuel would be shown at $1.99 a gallon but $2.09 by the time I showed up. Either they changed the price for the higher or someone reported BS price.

Hello Missy Pissy!

That’s another state I didn’t realize I’d hit on this trip. But sure enough the Interstate sliced right through it.

And finally Lone Star State!

Watching the sun set over Texas.

Next day once one road trip ended another one started. My buddy invited me to a club event he was going to with another one of his vehicles. A Ford Power Stroke Diesel retreat north of Dallas. So we switched cars and hit the road again.

The car wash before the trip was a bit unnecessary because… bugs!

Shortly after arrival a few trucks, a convoy of F250’s and Excursions rolled out for their traditional dinner at Sonic.

It was cool as hell to be a part of yet another car community, a group of enthusiasts that had a ton of passion for their wheels. People brought family… their pets:

And just like that it was over way too quickly… next day flight home!

What an amazing trip!

through ten states:

  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland
  • West Virginia
  • Virginia
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
  • Texas