Some experiences in life are just a small bit of luck. For me, that luck comes in the form of my wife who thus far has provided me with two separate racing experiences in my life that I cannot forget. My first one was last year when I was able to take a rally racing course in Snoqualmie Washington, and the latest one was my opportunity to autocross a Ferrari, my marquee of choice in the automotive world.

There is a company based primarily out of the east coast supplying the well to do with luxury amenities such as chartered planes, exotic cars, yachts and luxury rental properties.

The company is called Imagine Lifestyles and another aspect of their business is to travel the country allowing us normal people to autocross an exotic Italian supercar from the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. In this case, they made their way to western Washington and my wife bought me 3 laps on the autocross course.

The F430 or the Gallardo are your options, but they do have a backup car in the form of a 599 that they weren’t allowing people to drive that day.

I was lucky enough (and schemed to) get my ride in the Ferrari F430 Scuderia, which happens to be the street racecar with carbon fiber interior, increased downforce and power, carbon brakes and other small touches making it a true racecar for the street and the ideal ride for my short time in the supercar.

Below is the blow by blow from us showing up, to me getting into the car, getting out and ending with my dumb grin that didn’t go away for hours.


Playing in the dirt – Dirtfish Rally School

Because of my good luck and an even better fiancée, I was afforded the opportunity to try my hand in the world of rally racing.

It was an early morning as I was to be in snoqualmie at 8 am to start my class. When I arrived, I was greeted by some of the rally worlds most iconic 4 wheeled stars.




Here we have Colin McRae’s early 2000s ford focus, a classic ford escort, and Richard Burns gc8 impreza.

After we had all checked in and signed away our potential well being and lives, we were brought into a class room to be instructed on what exactly we were to learn today. A quick power point presentation and white board drawing trying to help me comprehend weight shifting, oversteer/understeer and braking points and I was confused enough for me to pretend to understand what they said and convince them that I should try to race around in one of their rally cars.

Our chariots would be the Subaru Impreza WRX Sti. A light rally prep with a roll cage, 5 point harnesses and an expensive rally suspension setup. The engines are stout enough making 305 horsepower. And they come in this dashing shade of orange.

Step 1 was the skid pad. We were told to drive around in a circle, hit the gas a little, then let off. The rear of the car would slide out. Then add a little speed, feel the rear slide out again but this time hit the brakes with your left foot. It causes the rear of the car to slide a little faster which helps rotate the car in tighter corners.

Learning the left foot breaking stuff would come in handy later on when we were unleashed upon the slalom course. There was a succession of cones in a straight line and we were to steer around them practicing our turning using the technique we learned on the skid pad. Accelerate, lift, turn in and feel the rear of the car slide out. When the car was pointing in the right direction, give it a little gas to accelerate towards the next cone. Rinse and repeat. It was actually a lot of fun and I learned a lot. Soon we were told to add a little more speed and use the left foot breaking technique to get the car to rotate a little faster.


After a while I got pretty comfortable and started to try to add speed more and more. It was really fun getting the back of the car to slide out and squeeze on the gas toward the next cone, but I can’t say (neither can my instructor) that I was really good at it. My favorite part of this exercise came after a few laps. They let us use the exit of the course as a tight 90 degree corner. We were told to come in with a little extra speed towards the corner, hit the brakes to slow and then rotate the car in and apply the brake again to rotate the car hard. After a few tries I felt like I was getting it.


Of course the wet weather didn’t help much for keeping the cars clean, but the real issue became when parts of the course would get too soggy and the cars would bog into the wet ground and start to create ruts. It would have been nicer to have a more consistent course, but I’ll take what I can get to have this much fun.

When they say smile, do it fast, otherwise you get half of a smile in.

The last part of the day was on a small course that let us practice the skills we learned. The course had a few tight hairpins and the back “straight” which was really a long sweeping corner that got you near the top of second.

Sliding a car around at speed……..is exactly as fun as it sounds.

I seriously recommend this to anyone who has the means to do it. Even if you’ve never driven a car in anger, the staff can eek out just enough skill from you to make sure you have fun.

I am seriously considering taking the 2 day course if I can somehow find the money, it’s just too much fun and I want to do it again.

Senna – movie review

Promise I’ll tell you more when it’s over.

Update: My review

Were you ever able to see Jordan in his prime? Or how about Tiger play a round before he ran his car into a tree running from his wife? Being lucky enough to watch those who can be called the greatest ever is something that few are able to claim.

If you want to see the driver who is thought to be the greatest in F1 history, this movie is the best way to do it.

I was a wee one back in 1988 when Ayrton Senna won his first F1 championship, so my ability to go back that far and recall those events is impossible for me. My affinity for F1 over the last 6-7 year has led me to look back into the history of the sport, and in all my findings the name Senna has always come up. Listen to anyone who has been following F1 for more than 20 years and they will mention the name. Watching some youtube clips shows glimpses of what people talk about, but never has the whole picture been put together for me to fully understand what it all meant when he was called the greatest.

I’ve seen Michael Schumacher race in the rain. I’ve seen Vettel or Hamilton or Alonso make dangerous late braking passes (and crashes). What made him special? Why was it different for him compared to these drivers that I watch now?

After watching the movie, I feel like I have a better understanding. The movie follows Senna from his karting beginning in ’79. Then it jumps to 1984 with his first F1 races with Toleman where he took an uncompetative car at Monaco and raced in the rain to claim 2nd, quickly jumping to 85 with Lotus and his first win. Then it jumps to 1988 where he joins McLaren and Alain Prost as his running mate and future rival. This is where the story really settles in. The movie goes into some depth about the rivalry that developed between Senna and his McLaren teammate Prost, the agressive racing and politics surrounding them. From 88-93 the two locked horns, and in these 6 years the two drivers claimed 5 or the 6 championships.

The movie also gave you a glimpse into the personal life and personality of Senna. It showed a charming side of the man who was easy to like. It also showed his passion for racing and winning, and his disillusion of F1 when politics got in the way of racing. During an interview in the movie, Senna is asked what driver was most exciting to race against. He answers looking back to his karting days in 79-80 against an Englishman. He says that there was no money, no politics. It was just racing.

The story is something that was really engaging, the politics and drama almost didn’t need a racing background to be interesting. But, that’s what the movie is about, a race car driver. And it doesn’t disappoint. Even if you don’t want to hear about the politics or personal life, there is enough racing footage to keep you excited. Over the shoulder footage watching Senna fight with the tiny wheel at Monaco, then downshifting the car into the corner with one hand on the wheel at the most famous race track in the world. Or the footage of him in the 1991 Brazilian GP where Senna lost the gearbox and you watch him drive the whole track in 6th gear only for the last 10 laps. The exhaustion was so much afterwards that he could not lift himself from the car and had to be removed. Some of the best was the footage of Senna and Prost racing each other, many ending in crashes even when they were teammates.

I don’t have much to say to criticize the movie. Maybe if you don’t like documentaries it might be an issue as this is essentially what the movie is. It is done with little to no narration. There is commentary from family, friends, colleagues or coworkers of Senna throughout the movie, and lots of interviews with these people as well. Some on screen text to give context to the race or interviews you are seeing. It all feels very authentic as these are all people that lived in the world of Senna.

Overall I thought the movie was great. If you are interested in racing or F1 this is definitely worth watching. Crystal isn’t an F1 fan but was able to enjoy the movie, so I think that the story and personalities it covers in itself is interesting enough for those who don’t care about racing.





Forum Fest

Busy busy. In between soccer games, cars, family parties, birthdays, I have little time to waste. This is a good and bad thing. I would love nothing more than to watch crappy tv, catch up on my DVR, play video games and the like, but it’s nice to be active too.

With all that going on, the car event I went to Saturday morning was the NOS Forum Fest at Pacific Raceways. I offered to help out my friends at Drift Office at the drift portion of the event which is on the back side of the track down the hill from the drag strip. Spent some time watching the drifting go by, but I had my fill at let someone else take my spot and headed up to the car show portion.

I luv hipstamatic

It’s been like 2 years or something since I’ve been to a car show. It’s more of the same really to me, some cool cars, some over the top that I don’t understand, but to each their own. The really cool stuff was the race cars, some being shown and some were there for the drag event.

I’ve always wanted a DC2 type R with the JDM front end. Always in championship white.

Some of the drag cars had the coolest work done on them. This was a K20(24?) powered civic with ITBs. Some really cool fabrication work.

I love Porsches, so here is the GT3 race car in the Speedware booth. They set up some serious race cars, and sell all the driver equipment you could ever need. I bought my Sparco seat from them way back in the day.

I really wanted to buy a Z4 hardtop coupe, or the M coupe I guess it was called. This is another Speedware car setup for road racing.

Here’s a good video I found by Taylor Hawkins covering most of the stuff that went on.

Global Rallycross – Snoqualmie

This is a little late, being it was on April 16th.

Snoqualmie was the destination for the Global Rallycross Round 2 event held a Dirtfish Rally School. Drivers like Tanner Foust, Rhys Millen and Dave Mirra racing rally prepped Ford Fiestas, Hyundai Veloster and Subaru Impreza STI respectively. The course is set up so that you can see 80% of the race from almost anywhere with a 70 foot jump in the middle, it was really entertaining. Lots of door to door racing, lots of dirt and a few flipped cars made for a high energy atmosphere and really did make for a fun day of racing. Other than a little rain the weather wasn’t too bad. Maybe next year move to a May date or something? I didn’t get to stick around til the end as I had a dinner to attend, but it was a lot of fun and I’ll be sure to go again next year.

Quick vid I put together from my iPhone.

Formula D – Evergreen Speedway via Vaughn Gittin JR

Here’s the event I attended a few weeks back, from the viewpoint of JR.

Awesome video. I wish there was more media of this quality to help grow drifting. It really gives you the drama of what a driver goes through during the FD weekend, and gives you a face and someone to root for, as well as awesome footage and angles that you can’t get anywhere else.

Someone step up on this for the other drivers and make it a tv show.