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March Madness


That is what the National Auto Sports Association (NASA) called their Utah Motorsports Campus (UMC) March 25-27 track event.

In a pell-mell rush, I got myself, my gear and my car down there for some quality track time. The video on the right is a narrated slide show of selected photos from that trip.

First the bad news: The newly replaced rear main seal in my engine leaked oil onto the new clutch disc so I could not get much of the acceleration from my engine to the pavement … and was quite distracted trying to feather the throttle enough to keep it together during my first and only turn on track.

The Utah Motorsports Campus (UMC) Outer Track was ours for the weekend. It strongly favors powerful cars that can stretch their impressive acceleration on the generous straight stretches. Even if all else was right, my GT50 would have found me intensely watching my mirrors as 180mph cars zoom up on my 125mph max. Then there are all these markedly different corners that look very much alike on the flat Utah desert landscape. On top of that were numerous changes to the GT50 that I had not felt before taking to the track, making the feel and handling of this car new to me then and there.

GAME OVER upon handicapped completion of my first track session. I was finished after the first of four Saturday sessions and missed Sunday’s altogether. I get to start over almost from ground zero with April Acceleration next month.

Plenty of good news follows. I had a very nice time. I met lots of neat people and learned a great deal about the track, cars, competition and priority setting in an auto-racing world.

For a Car Guy, particularly fond of sports cars and road racing, there was a tremendous amount of eye candy and surprisingly friendly people attached to them.

THE BUCKS there were literally awesome! I have not tallied it, but probably have around $4,000 into my GT50 (the nickname I gave to my 50-inch-tall Honda CRX as acknowledgement of the Le Mans winning Ford GT40 named thus because of it measured 40-inches-tall). I thrilled to find an original GT40 also in silver/black paint and snagged up that photo op.

Ian Lacy, the owner of that million dollar machine came out, chatted me up, invited me to look around at his other cars (most faster than the vintage GT40), and impressively remembered me and my car’s nickname as I wandered the paddock the next day.

All the other track cars there had their own stories. I doubt any cost less than mine and guess that around $15,000 is the entry level with ten times that being common.

I talked briefly with both Ian Lacy and Reardon Racing who make nifty business of preparing and servicing customer race cars for several thousand dollars per race weekend. If you have a ton of money, I can imagine hundreds of less interesting things to do with it.

As far as vacations and hobbies go, mine was not a basement dweller, but certainly cost less than a European vacation, week on a cruise liner, equestrian event or others that often snag bits of middle-class savings accounts.

While I leisurely loaded and strapped my wounded GT50 to the car hauler, the UMC track manager stopped by to chat and tell me that I was his favorite competitor of the weekend for running my unpretentious Honda and having as much fun as anyone there regardless of car capabilities and money spent.

I asked him to snap a photo of me. He had me give him a thumbs up.

Does this look like a guy who was bummed out by mechanical failure?