RACING UPDATE-SUNDAY, MARCH 4th. MetroMan-Michael Lauer Wins Rolex 24 in Gentillozi prepared Jaguar. In only three tries, he personifies the spirit of our club, he being a member and my personal friend/client for many years. Trying for so many years, I’m more than envious of that significant Rolex Daytona he will be wearing with pride. Perhaps one of the most qualified sportsman in the field, destiny was apparent years ago in his enthusiasm and spirit with motorsport activities. An inevitable feat! From myself and “our” club-fortuna favet fortibus-“fortune favors the bold!
In similar fashion, I salute Metro members Chris Manfredi, Tom Popodopoulis, together with a personal friend, and NHRA Champion, Anthony Bartone. This year may be their first, but more than likely, not their last race at this field of glory.
“Now, on with Sebring, where just finishing is tantamount to winning!”
My opportunity for admission into the factory program for a new Supercup from Porsche is an acknowledgement of many years of competition with Porsche. Imagination is always part of the journey when owning a unique car and I try, in this passage, to reach those whom may never have the liberty of gaining admission into this exclusive club.
We arrive with an order placed through Alwin Springer, director of Porsche Motorsports U.S.; our contact is the lovely Vera Frank with whom the actual order is processed through. Because of the gradually limited number of new racecars built for customers, their choice of owner becomes more critical every year. Options are few. Color, in my order is always white, however, red and black are additional choices. Sorry, no paint to sample and I suppose anyone placing such a credulous request would not have been on the short list clients at the outset.
Three gear set ratios are available as are additional wheels, requiring insight into what your actual purpose, in racing, will necessitate. Some of the 13 cars, in this years litter, will go to teams in the Speedvision series. “Speedvision” prepared Porsche “Cup” cars will need no options based on the significant modifications they will endure to be competitive in their respective classes. Indeed, the engines will immediately require upgrading to GT3RS specifications for the faster class in the aforementioned races, alongside a radical suspension change incorporating “reservoir” systems for damper control. With the many changes this series mandates the “OEM” Cup car distinguishes itself most radically in lap time capabilities, even with the weight penalty they must endure for the TV audiences attracted to this channel’s concept of a racing format.
A last but most significant handicap to TV’s answer to motorsport parity lies in the “spec” tire and how generally miserable everyone is with their TOYO tire requirements.
Our car will be among the few spared this most unceremonious dismemberment. We will compete in the Porsche Club Racing sanctioning body. The cornerstone of which is to keep these factory prepared 996’s in completely (well almost) stock form. Upgrades to earlier versions have recently been incorporated into the rules. Stupid ME, I pushed for the rules change only to realize that I would have had an “unfair” advantage with this “02” version that would have offered better lap times in the hands of a competent driver!
Taking delivery at the factory of any new Porsche racecar has always been a treat to myself as well as other drivers I know. These machines are completely assembled at Weissach, as such; we travel to this “Mecca” of world motorsport activity to take delivery and or to Stuttgart for a little tour. I like this because of the opportunity to “inspect” all the racecars being delivered around the world within a short time span.
Arranging transport and customs issues can be intimidating if this is your virgin experience. With my contacts already in place, this part of the delivery was the least awkward. To a point! I say that because we lost the keys for the car while in transit only for them to reappear jammed under the on-board fire extinguisher bottle. Whew! A real bummer, although, Porsche would have sent me another set of keys with their knowledge of the code to cut them.
The 02 version has some quality, evolutionary improvements in suspension, brake, aerodynamics, safety as well as significant drive train upgrades. Perhaps the most important may reside within the confines of the engine bay, with the improved valve train and resultant horsepower curve gains, or “grunt”(race guy talk).
March 23 we will all gather at F.M. and view/talk about both the 02, accompanied by driver, Paul Orwicz and his several years of racing tightened into his belt,). We have added the 00 cup car with which we won several races last year, it owner/driver is Bob Glasser (Metro President), who will be glad to field any questions about his new "ride".
The call came. Christmas for Joseph Bartone’s family, friends as well as myself, would be inalterably changed forever! The glib times we live in do not kindly stop for death. Possibly the reason for my own circumstantial defiance lies within the thought of death and curls the corners of my mouth! You see, I want everyone around me to live life large. When called, I’m available. When needed, I’m there. Joey shared in that belief! When a kindred spirit of mine is snatched away, through a horribly simplistic traffic accident, I hate life just a little more. Even the fittest among us survive for only so long. Applying it to words on paper, temper the unfairness we all must endure.
The appropriateness of my feeble attempt to encapsulate Joey’s existence in this journal of Porsche people can only be viewed as one car guy missing another. Yes, Joey was, is, a car guy, as we, who read about him are labeled. Along with his brothers, Tony and Michael they lived cars. He and his family struggled and pulled themselves into a position of managing a burgeoning, tough, ever complicated business; more and more people tugging to get a piece of them, indeed get at them. The solitude of Joey’s opportunities in motor sports activities delivered the much needed relief valve that so many of us enjoy beyond the reach of work and responsibility.
Our lives crossed in the early years of the 90’s. My business had been established in Long Island City for 5 or 6 years, he and his family were consolidating their paving operations in the same zip code. Joey, as the car he drove, a red 78 911 Turbo, was in good shape and set a pleasing picture to one’s eyes. He later gigged as a drag motorcycle pilot along with driving (really drove) a bevy of exotics, doing some of the things everyone dreams about. But in his case there was much more to it than that. Our first encounter led us to drive his Turbo out onto the highways of NYC and bond like car guys are supposed to do-in the Big Apple. The words that came from him were always soft and well natured, never harsh or difficult to listen to, expectations always at the forefront of our conversation. He introduced me to Manducatti’s, a neighborhood Italian restaurant known throughout the city. He brought me to have the finest hamburger in existence at the “airport” diner near LaGuardia. We enjoyed each other. The good are NOT supposed to die young. Myself, as others, witnessed rays of sunshine as he spoke and warmed in his surrounding along with others fortunate enough to come in from the cold, a feeling which, sadly, too many sports car owners project. In retrospect, Joey never took, but gave. Joey embodied a wonderful sense of enjoyment, the continual constrictions of life faded when he was around. The introduction to his older brother, Tony was a giving from Joey. This act allowed myself the addition of a close friend and confidand which, as you know comes few and far between. Our last conversation centered on Joe’s desire to buy another Turbo, a decision which would have moved him back from the army of automotive acolytes and embrace Porsche ownership, thereby rekindling our distant friendship. This irony was closed by the meting out of retributive disapproval in the machine, which took his life.
Irony can be used as a cudgel, as an enemy of subtlety, easy simplicity posing as meaning. It’s why teenagers enjoy it so much. So consider this a plea on behalf of the memory of Joseph Bartone, an appeal to have his name added to a roster of great, cool guy’s who remain remembered, not a momentary reaction equivalent to hustling past a figure surrounded by flowers attached to lines of people paying respect. To paraphrase that aphorism this is another favorite of adolescents: we are all of us subject to the inevitable occurrence of the excretal expletive, and it’s best to remember that no one gets out alive. The wages of everything is death. Sadder still, fewer of us than we care to imagine will expire with anything resembling the dignity we wish for. My thoughts remain for Joseph Bartone, taken from us this Christmas 2000AD, his children, loving wife, brothers and sister, mother and father. “Joey, I’ll meet you on the other side”.
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