Thursday
Mar292012

LeMons 24hrs: Sears Pointless

Just a quick update on some things I've been up to lately. I finally got to try my hand at the infamous LeMons 24hrs race series. For those who aren't familiar, this is a 24hr endurance event, held at different race tracks around the US, with the simple rule that your car can not be worth more than $500 according to the Kelley Blue Book. Beyond that car value, you're allowed to up-rate the brakes and tyres and install a roll cage, race seat and harnesses. It's all in the name of good fun and it allows you to go racing for next to no money in comparison to the usual costs of Motor Racing.

This event was held at Sears Point (or Sonoma/Infineon depending on your preference). So we huddled together and rolled out a 1988 VW Jetta 1.8l 4cyl. In retrospect, it was probably too nice a condition car compared to what else was out there (See pics below) but the judges made sure, once they learned we had professional drivers in our team (Myself and Stephen Simpson) that we started with a 15lap penalty for not being 'LeMony' enough.

With 170 entries for this event it was a busy weekend. I think Stephen and I averaged passing 10-15 cars every lap during our 2hr stints. Day 1 was rainy all day so that made it even more fun. Unfortunately, our fun came to an end with just 2hrs to go on day 2, and back up to 50th spot, when a Datsun tagged the back wheel and two laps later the wheel bearing broke. Without a spare, we were done.

All in all it was a lot of fun and for those who didn't know, there are ways to go racing out there without breaking the wallet, mortgage, and marriage.

 

Thursday
Mar152012

"Indy is 'Miles Ahead'"

One of the many programmes I get to use my racing and professional experience to benefit in my spare time is based right here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For the first time in the monumental venue's 100+years existence they have an in-house driving school and it's aimed at making teenage drivers better, smarter, and safer on the road. The school, Miles Ahead Teen Driving Extensive, is headed up by Stefan Gregoire of Indycar fame and Ted Woerner, racing historian and professional.

I was able to enjoy playing a big part in the development of each of Miles Ahead's courses located inside the Speedway. At first I couldn't believe some of the statistics such as:

 

  • A teen driver is 52% likely to be involved in a crash in their 1st year of driving;
  • A teen is 89% likely to be involved in a crash in the first 3 years of driving;
  • And it blew my mind to learn the number of teen driving deaths each year in the US is equal to a full aeroplane crashing and killing its passengers every 2 1/2 weeks.

 

With that in mind, It's been a thrill to offer expertise and advice that is already helping improve teenagers on the road since the programme's first days back in November and gives me a huge buzz to do something different, now and then, from being just a professional race car driver.

If you're a racing fan or motoring enthusiast what better excuse to come down to the Speedway than to help make your teen(s) safer and smarter on the road with the professional drivers Miles Ahead utilises. And all whilst driving MINI Coopers.

Here's an article on the Miles Ahead programme in Indianapolis' NUVO Newspaper available next Wednesday around the City and surrounding suburbs: http://www.nuvo.net/indianapolis/from-the-field-indy-is-miles-ahead/Content?oid=2431430

Tuesday
Jan032012

2011 Winter catch up

Another year has passed. "But where has Dan Clarke been in open wheel racing?" Well, fear not. I haven't retired. Or maybe keep fearing then. I do kind of miss the old naysayers and nicknames if I'm honest.

I haven't been very public about what I've been doing in 2011 and that's left a lot of you to seek me out on Facebook to ask and offer words of encouragement which was very nice. The truth is I've been looking a lot more at Nascar racing. And finally getting to drive the Nationwide series stock car was awesome. So hopefully this year you'll see more of me there this year.

Thank you to everyone for your support. It was a year of many firsts for me getting to drive a lot of new things outside my comfort zone of open wheel. There were obvious highlights but I had a lot of fun driving everything last year and I hope it continues in 2012. In fact, helping pass on my pearls of wisdom to different drivers perfecting their art this year has proven to be very fulfilling watching them improve too.

The last thing I raced this year was the Indy Karting Classic inaugural race event, December 11th, inside Conseco Fieldhouse (Home of the Indiana Pacers). It was a slippery track and very short but a great effort by all to get the event up and running and hopefully next year will be even better. Hope you guys enjoy the video below until my next post.

Hope you all had a wonderful Holiday and all the best for 2012!

Thanks go to Average Joes Sports Bar, Miller Lite and Gridsport for their support. Also thanks to mechanics and helping hands Tate Wagers, Bobby Dalzell, John Brooks, Tony and Andrew Burton, and Rob Lehmann.

Thursday
Aug252011

NASCAR REFLECTIONS

First of all let me apoligise for not writing on here more frequently. I think a lot of people think I've gone into a deep slumber or slipped away from the racing world. Or both. But I'm still here and around the race tracks at big events keeping my face in the mix and working on the next step for my career.

Also a lot of people have assumed I've switched away from pursuing Indycar racing with this latest foray in NASCAR. Let me say NASCAR was a great experience, I loved driving the car and I would do it again, but my options are still open for where I want my career to go.

Driving the Stock car was a lot more fun than people had led me to believe also, which was a surprise. Don't let people fool you into thinking its a slow 'taxicab'. It's a beast! And driving it fast and on the edge takes a lot of balls and precision. I've already used the analogy 'An Indycar is like riding a unicorn, a NASCAR is like riding a wild bull' and I still feel the same way. So yeah, I'd do NASCAR tomorrow if I could.

I still love open wheel cars though :)

The weekend at Watkins Glen in the Stock car ended with disappointment. Wish the engine had lasted the whole race instead of the 20laps it did. But that's racing sometimes and you can't dwell on your disappointments once you've learned what you can from them.

Practice went well despite only turning 8 laps in the 2 hour session. The team had things to fix. And Qualifying was 5 timed laps which we almost missed after the time it took to get through the huge tech line. By the time the race came around I'd only turned 13 laps in a Stock car. But I don't mind challenges like that and being thrown in the deep end. As a professional driver that's what I signed up for. Being a member of the team and rising to meet the challenges you find yourself facing.

Thanks to everyone who supported me in my recent races and the fans online and on twitter who expressed their well wishes and tuned in to the races.

See you on a racetrack soon.

Tuesday
Aug022011

ONBOARD: BMW 325 - Autobahn Hotlap

From my stint in a NASA Series Enduro race at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL, in July, a New Track record for the E0 class. The car is an E36 BMW 325 belonging to a friend.

The lap is right before pitting on an empty tank. Note the fuel surge on the exit of the last turn.