Decisions for 2020 – Back to Basics

The plan for 2020 is to get a lot more track time. I need to work on my technique. Over the last two years with my GTB1, I have only been driving practice sessions, and races. I am looking to see if I can find the holy grail, a completely race ready car that is streetable, probably too much to ask. I want to be able to drive down to Harris Hill, COTA, Driveway, MSR Houston, or Cresson do DE’s or work with an instructor, then drop off the car to do an arrive/drive for long distance races. I want something that has a clear class definition with all of the sanctioning bodies (SCCA, NASA, WRL, AER). Additionally, I am interested in learning the racecraft associated with running in a Spec class. The GTB1 class I have been running with in PCA is a modified class, and can feel a bit like an arms race.

So far my research has led me to two possible choices, which have similar price points, and are philosophically aligned to my goals: Spec MX-5, and Spec E46. Both have reasonable price points both in terms of the up-front cost, and TCO. Both are well defined, with lots of cars on the market. So part of the decision will be build vs buy. I am leaning toward my previous approach which was to buy something proven.

Along side the desire to go Spec racing, and have a streetable track car, I am also going to pursue renting a seat in a couple different classes within the SRO, or possibly even the upcoming Creventic 24hour race here in Austin. There seem to be a number of seats available in TC, TCR, or GT4 cars. I am interested in learning how to drive a touring car, there might be a good opportunity for this, more to come on this topic at a later date.

The GT4 program that Danny, and I were planning is not going to happen, we could not close the funding gap, which was significant. Here are a few stats on what we were able to accomplish between Jun, and Oct of this year. We prospected over 125 opportunities, of that number we disqualified 35 (with the goal of: “get to no, fast”). We closed contracts with 10 partners, and have an additional 3 contracts pending, we progressed 17 deals into contract/negotiation, and built a number of very strong partnerships along the way. These partnership will bear fruit over the course of 2020.

Our goal was a 1-2% conversation rate on 1000 opportunities, at just slightly over 10% of the total opportunities prospected our conversion rate was 12.5%, not too bad. The real challenge was prioritization. I have a full-time job, a start-up, a family, racing, and my health. Adding the sponsorship/partnership activity on top of all that was very challenging from a time management perspective. I am happy with what we accomplished, and learned a lot about the business side of motorsports. I plan to continue down a more focused path for 2020.

#soufiyard

As usual things are pretty busy, was able to take a small break, and get to the track this last Friday night. Edge Addicts runs an awesome event called COTA Under the Lights that starts at 3pm, and runs until 11pm. It got dark around 9pm, and both Danny, and I were able to get a session in the dark, turn 7 is epic. We made some good memories!

My old computer died, need one to get ready for Road America. So I finally decided to upgrade, got some pretty good kit, makes for a nice workstation, and looks rad with blinkenlights too.

I have always been a big fan of AMD, went with a Threadripper 2, and a newer NVIDIA card, I usually try to buy the previous generation, or mid-level spec, and give myself room to upgrade. This machine has 32-core, and 32GB of memory with a 2070RTX. I can expand up to 128GB of memory, and add another 2070 in the future if I decide to do some more development outside of the cloud.

We continue to work on proposals for partnerships, hope to start closing the gap by the end of this month, will hopefully be able to share more soon on that front. Training has been going really well, stepped up to 4-days per week about a month ago, and have already dropped another 10Lbs.

Soufi, Yard, Et Al

The GT4 Program is coming along we are working on our partnership strategy, I am currently tracking over 50 active opportunities. I have negotiated sponsorship arrangements with a couple key partners, and will start running contests, and giveaways to test out some cross promotion, expect to see offers for OGIO, Spy, Neff, Skullcandy, Highbrew Coffee, and Clif Bar, and Co.

We decided to make a landing page for the Soufi / Yard collaboration, and are working to get the site up, and running, we will let everybody know when its ready to launch. Our next event will be at COTA Under the Lights, really looking forward to driving at night again, it reminds me of the exhilaration I had when I first started driving.

On a related topic, I was selected for patient of the month by Optifast, and am being featured on their facebook, and instagram feeds, I joined them last year in New York and spent the day with the team.

After Action Report – COTA

Overview: Very successful weekend, two podiums, and a track record! Gradient Racing is making a big difference, I am able to focus on my learning.

Goals and objectives: My goal for the weekend was to learn, progress, test my fitness, and prove to myself that I am capable of running at the top of the field.

Analysis of outcomes: Really happy to be at my home track, made me feel very relaxed. Armed with the Advanced AIM workshop materials , and the process-based approach to breaking down my goals, from the work with David Murry at Sebring, I was able to work achieve some excellent outcomes. I used my video to come up with areas of improvement, and then used a couple user profiles to quickly analyze my data, and understand what needed to change. This approach coupled with time spent in iRacing allowed me to develop a game plan for setting the track record.

Analysis of the performance shown on critical tasks: This weekend consisted of practice sessions, warm-up sessions, and dedicated qualifying sessions, along with two sprint races, and a 60-minute enduro. My tire strategy was to run the scrubs, during practices, and warm-ups, and then in practice session 3 run the stickers, to see where I was compared to the field. The starts were critical in the race, and I wanted to make sure I secured as high of a starting position as possible, this worked in both of the races, more so in race 2 where I got a really great run up the outside. The start in race 1 forced me to the inside, and put me over the turtle in Turn 1 which broke the mounts on my exhaust, where mid-race it fell off completely in Turn 2, it got VERY LOUD.

Sunday morning I felt very confident, and decided to use another set of stickers to try and get on pole for the Enduro, the warm-up session was a bit damp, and cold. In qualifying I felt determined, a 981-based GTB1 car took the 4 year-old record on Friday at 2:22.4. We tried a tire strategy, running with a bit more pressure to have them come in faster, I was able to get close with a 2:23, I then came in to take out a couple pounds, and ultimately was able to achieve a 2:22.1. Based on the data analysis, I knew that I was capable of this accomplishment.

Summary: I was able to accomplish my goals of getting on the podium, and setting the track record. My investment in my fitness level was excellent (thank you Phil Gephart) applying the process that I learned from working with David Murry, and the advanced data analysis techniques, and tools learned from Roger Caddell, really helped me to excel. Based on the learning from Sebring, I am stocking a fully spares kit, including rotors, pads, axle shafts, wheel studs, etc…

Recommendations: During practice, and warm-up we need to do multiple drive through timings to make sure we can execute our pit stops successfully, without penalty. I need to rework my braking technique slightly to help with the ice pedal/lock-up in the heavy braking zones, or potentially investigate a newer brake servo that doesn’t not suffer from this issue.

Preparations for 2019

Continuing my work on track notes, I have a working prototype, just need to clean up the UI, and then start working on the iPhone cross-compile, I hope cordova works well for that.

I started a new 6-week workout block with two HIIT days, it is pretty rough from a recovery perspective, I do 45-minutes of HIIT cycling on Monday/Wednesday with 30-minutes of weight training, on Tuesday/Thursday I run, and do weights for 30-minutes each, on Friday I swim, and then do endurance focused weight training. Talking to my nutritionist about a Ketogenic plan to go with my training platform.

I keep adding to the backlog of reading materials, going through the bibliography of Michael Krumm’s excellent:  Driving On The Edge: The Art and Science of Race Driving

I have made some significant breakthroughs on my upmarket product, currently building out the underlying development platform, and pipeline using the cloud credits from FFL.

I am dying to get out in my car for a test day, looking at the next edge addicts event, or maybe just a session out at Harris Hill (which would be my preference). Hopefully, I can get that setup over the next couple weeks.