Porsche Pilgrimage: Day 5 – Austin to Lafeyette
More race cars and a short stint on the road, the car has its first failure.
At the track at 7:30AM there are hardly any other folks around. The track opened up at 7:30, so it was basically the essential personnel, plus the track workers. People don't start funnelling in earnestly until about 10, which makes sense as there isn't much on-track action until after then anyhow. When I pulled in to Lot A, where the "media" parking is, I was waved into the Porsche Corral parking area, where I was one of just two air-cooled cars (the other was a brown 930). The day opened with a Lamborghini Super Trofeo race, which I didn't pay much attention to, then a GT3 Cup race, which I did pay attention to.
I am an unequivocal fan of CJ Wilson and his recent efforts in motorsport. He's a really nice guy and he's really humble about how his racing career has begun. He did really well in Friday's race, but got caught up in someone else's nonsense in Saturday's race. If he maintains this attitude, and continues to try to learn with every on-track session, he'll do well in racing. He's dedicated to the craft, and he has the right mindset. I spoke with him before the Saturday race, and he was a cool customer, to say nothing else. Plus, he's just got phenomenal hair.
Following the morning's races, I was given the opportunity to ride around the circuit in a new Porsche 911 Turbo S, and being that I've never actually been around COTA in the three times I've been to races here, I jumped at the chance. The car was fast, like mind-boggling fast. I've driven the new 911 Turbo variants, and I know they're fast, but there is something otherworldly about right-seating in a rocket ship like this one. I really felt the rear-steer working through the complex that goes around the tower. I'm sure the video doesn't portray even half of what I felt, but here it is anyway.
If you look over to the left on the start of the video, the grid walk is going on already. When I completed my lap in the 911 Turbo S, I proceeded directly to the grid walk to see some of the drivers and check out the new cars up close. I'd seen them running at Long Beach already this year, but I was less rushed this time and got to inspect some of the details.
Following grid-walk, I talked a friend of mine at Michelin into letting me drive their golf cart around for a few minutes. I was intrigued, because the one they brought to the track featured a new set of TWEEL-style tires. These tires are not inflated, but rather have an inner structure that completely negates "flat tires" ever. Michelin have been running viability tests for cars for over a decade, but they're rolling them out in industrial applications first. Skid steers, golf-carts, fork trucks, some John Deere lawn equipment, etc. have been fitted with Tweels. It's pretty cool to be able to say I've driven something with Tweels at COTA, even if it was just a golf-cart.
The race was less than spectacular from a Porsche perspective, considering one car was knocked out altogether. None of the handful of Porsches entered won their class, or even ended up on the podium. Even with half of the GTLM field taken out of the race, the best they could manage was fourth. We'll have a full race recap shortly, but for now here are a few photos from the race.
Then, as soon as the checkered flag fell, I said goodbye to COTA. It feels like the weekend just began, but I've got a long way to go and a short time to get there. I'm eastbound. Just watch me run. As I-10 skirts Trinity Bay just off the Gulf of Mexico, I was rolling through about sundown. The setting was too gorgeous to pass up the opportunity to stop to capture a few snaps. The magic hour.
If you're eagle-eyed, you might notice that somewhere between COTA and this stop, I lost on of my exhaust tips. The far left tip had been hanging on by a thread for a while, with much of the bottom of it scraped off over the years, and the top of it rusted off. I'll probably cut the other three off and clean up the exhaust exit when I get to Atlanta, and will fit a new Bursch setup soon after I get home from this trip.
I kept rolling until just before Lafeyette, Louisiana where I camped out for the night. Another late night, I rolled in at about 1 in the morning. Gotta get back on the road tomorrow early. No rest for the wicked.