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Formula Motorsports

Hysterical Heat in a Cup

“Unrelenting, the weight in this air NEVER lightens up”, I mused as heavy perspiration punctuated my planning and execution at Mosport. It was not far from the envisioning I held within, based on many previous competitive excursions to this most northern racetrack on our racing schedule. As regrettable as ensuing on track transgressions would become; prior pontification in respecting the weather would not engage my own natural on-track behavior in overcoming the “delirium” that would soon occur. An inefficient Lacing of driving shoes ran parallel to caution, as this tepid climate would never terminate the over focus I was suffering through. Not only was I held hostage to heat, it created an event in my competitive driving life that would alter my arrogance and aggressive nature in racing forever more. As our ever-charming Andy Spray looked upon this continuing suit up, I sparked in a most gallows humorous manner, Andy, it’s a real torch out there, can you hand me the ice!

Somehow, the 996 Cup car version of the production series Porsche 911 has been a playful nymph to the motor skills I still manage to possess, albeit not quite what they once were. This skill set continues in its deliverance toward a station in a life of semi-retirement wrapped in the embrace of all my senses piqued. To be short about it, this machine did everything I wanted it to do and then some. This car became a transport to Valhalla.

That is, until hallucinogens created from the intense heat of the cockpit, delivered mind, body and a magnificent metallurgical steed to Hell. I traveled to a place most appropriately described as purgatory, remaining there for 20, possibly 30 minutes. Chemicals inside my head were dancing, dictating, and indeed demanding overdrive. My resulting resolve, “I’m going faster every lap until the fuel runs out!”

Short lived would mark this delirious thought process, that is until I climbed out of my bent masterpiece and threw up on the course worker. Reaching that almost fatal left hand corner, immediately prior to entering the front straight, the ensuing shunt pulled me back from the precipice, chancing me a spot somewhere between recrimination and “do over”.

A tick faster than any “cup” could enter; this somewhat benign, relatively slow ninety-degree roll to the left snapped my steed around trading “carrera-white” paint with concrete as we were streaming along to barrier wall. My machine suffered relatively minor, yet event ending damage. Sheet metal, suspension parts, the “this and that’s, all parts easily replaceable in a collision repair, would be the order of the next few weeks based on “my cups runneth over”. Facing ever more challenging and heavy chassis repair is one of my stronger skills in Porsche service; it would not be necessary in returning this racecar to fitness. Facing what created the weaknesses behind the wheel would require more serious deliberations.

Some may say, how can I he able to make public his mistakes? Because I can! Because, I have a room full of trophies proving my worth as a driver. Because I not only have driven in every major race in the world, I am able to correctly service the machines I have driven, many of the greatest drivers cannot say that! Most important to this article and why I am outing myself lies with a desire to have you experience my mistakes and take them with you the next time you arrive ready to race on a 100 degree day!

Not only is youth helpful but having proper equipment also holds true to a successful competitive outing. One of my failures and the ensuing heat complications could have been overcome by using the pre-existing air ducted helmet arrangement that I, yes ME, installed for the regular driver, Paul Orwicz. I had failed to bring that additional helmet along and declined the use of my co-drivers headgear. The closed cockpit aerodynamic package that we utilized in previous races would become the greatest obstacle that weekend. Although, it was instrumental in my wreck, serious argumentation could prevail in the simplicity of excessive ambient heat, as many other drivers were not fairing much better than I. There are a wide variety of “cool suit” arrangements on the market and an even greater amount of opinions as to there individual merits. Complication in installation and maintenance aspects of these devices continue to prevail in motorsports activities. Therefore, I make no individual endorsement to any or all of them. The bigger picture in being properly prepared must be directed to physical fitness in this type of exhausting environment, as well as rest and a proper diet during the prior and ensuing days events. Remembering that too much fluid, and the type thereof, is as bad as not enough. In between practice sessions and additional on-track experiences, keep yourself as cool as possible and avoid heavy physical work on the car. When I have been paired on professional teams we NEVER turned a wrench while attending the race! If you do to both, remember what I’m suggesting. Also, as the ambient temperature rises for a given event, age of the participants take on a greater differential in competitive stature. Finally, remember, this Mark is one who has been on both sides of the proverbial wrench!