PacNW928 Track Attack III Invitational

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David Schmidt, Guards Red '90 GT

It's hard to know where to start, but I'll try.

On Saturday, April 20th, the PacNW928 ( group (NOT club!) again invaded Spokane Raceway Park to appreciate the high speed handling of our favorite example of German automotive engineering.  (The Porsche 928, silly!)  After attending two of these events I expected to have a great time but for this, our third Track Attack, my expectations were far exceeded.

Our first two Track Attack events last year were limited to just 928's and our "half engine'd" 944 cousins.  They are run as "test and tune" events, with cars allowed to enter the track at will when the track is live though we have some instructors for a few track novices.  However, due to a price increase from the track ($1000 more than last year) we decided to keep the price the same but to invite experienced drivers of other cars to our event.  This gave us about twice the number of cars as our previous events, but there was still ample room on SRP's 2.5 mile road course for all to have a great time.

Our weekend started with dinner arranged by Chris Ford (thanks Chris!).  I had someone actually follow me into the parking lot, look over the 10 or so 928's and then ask me the *brilliant* question: "is this a car club or something?".  I was tempted to tell him "no, just coincidence" and see if he believed me.  At dinner we put some faces to names and talked cars over dinner.  I passed around the two pieces from my in-tank fuel pump to show folks why in-tank pumps should be inspected every year.

I had offered up my house for those that wished to save on hotel costs and for this event 7 of the attendees took me up on my offer.  After dinner we formed up a convoy and headed for my place up in the hills.  7 928's together headed for my place with one car getting cell phone directions after following the wrong 928 after dinner.  As the lagging shark got close we pulled over to wait causing a few cars to do REAL slow passes to check out the 7 sharks on the side of the road.  All joined up, we headed into the hills.  With my driveway looking like Schmidt's Used Car Lot we proceeded to the TV room to watch track videos and (of course) talk 928's.  Rob Fossett again came to a shark's rescue and helped BJ diagnose and fix his passenger seat's "over reclined" condition so his instructors could see over his dash at the Track Attack.  Unfortunately Rob and his '85 S was unable to attend the Track Attack itself because of a previous engagement.  He drove from Seattle to Spokane and back just to join us for dinner and the videos at my place.  We missed you at the track, Rob.

The alarm sounded much too early, but by 6:30 my neighborhood resounded with the sound of 8 pieces of German engineering eager to hit the track.  The picture in my rear view mirror as we drove through some rolling hills made me wish I had a photographer with me.  Our invasion of the local fueling stop again garnered us quite a few awed looks (in addition to a few glares from those who arrived immediately after us desiring fuel).  After re-grouping we headed for breakfast where the waitress asked us if we had been there before last year.  No, she didn't remember our faces but the parking lot was a dead give away!

After breakfast we headed for SRP to find the paddock already filling with 911's, 944's and a few other various makes.  Scott Adare, who was responsible for all track technical issues, conducted the driver's meeting while I frantically collected fees and handed out our collectable nametags (sure to be seen soon on E-Bay selling for obscene amounts).  While our track "first timers" received some additional instruction the rest of us finished prepping our cars and headed for the track.

Of course, our 928's still outnumbered the other cars and the Porsches were the predominant make due to our "targeted" invitations.  Of course, the king of the track was Don Hanson's stroked monster.  There was no mistaking the ROAR when Don puts the pedal down.  Tell me, Don, do those new "wings" on the front help the car fly like it does?  Don's car also did a photo shoot for an upcoming issue of the 928 Forum so subscribe now if you want to learn more about the phenomenal car he's put together.

Black sure seemed to be the predominant 928 color with three more black 928's present in addition to Don's.  Tom Middleton's black '87 S4 Auto had a roar second only to Don's stroker.  I had a great session driving with Adam Birnbaum's black '88 Auto.  I started out leading and Adam passed me after 3-4 laps to get some great laps in front of my video camera.  Larry McMullen with his black '88 S4 5sp had that huge first timer smile for most of the day.  Are you hooked yet, Larry?

Chris Ford showed off the fruits of all his winter labors with his "Burgundy Beast", an '87 S4 5sp which spent much of the winter in pieces.  I know the bottom of his car better than the bottom of mine after Chris's motor mount install followed by an oil pan gasket replacement.  I'm happy to help in return for learning a lot from Chris about working on our cars.  His fresh interior looked great and obviously all the parts got back into the right places judging from the way the Burgundy Beast was tearing things up.

It's lucky for Garth Hadley that he's such a nice guy.  Otherwise some of us might be tempted to take that pretty green '93 GTS of his away from him.  Garth showed up with his entire family as pit crew as he swapped all four wheels for some bigger rubber.  Quite the family with smiles seen on every face.  Of course, was it really necessary to set us all up with that weight penalty by having one of his girls pass out those tasty cookies?

Even a sinus headache couldn't keep Curt Nichols off the track with his Grey ("I spell it with an 'E'") '91 GT.  While I myself prefer the Design 90 wheels on my GT, his Cup wheels did have me thinking that a change couldn't be ALL bad.

Randy Robertson looked to be having fun in his white GT (year?).  He'd originally planned on bringing his 944 turbo but obviously saw the light and brought the right vehicle.  Hopefully it will get him to reconsider his choice for a track car as the GT is a blast on the track.

Mark Keirnes and Barry "BJ" Johnson were our other 928 "first timers".  Mark's gray (or is it grey?) '89 S4 Auto has what must be the most comfortable ride with his gorgeous custom interior, but it didn't appear to slow him down any.  I didn't get a chance to see BJ after the event to see how his first track day went, but I saw a smile on his face so I hope that's a good indication.

Our "half engine'd" cousins in their 944's did a fair share of terrorizing the track.  I got a ride-along with Barry Wood in his red '87 turbo and returned the favor shortly thereafter.  Barry's an honorary PacNW928 member and hasn't missed a Track Attack yet.  Sorry we didn't match up to drive each other's cars later in the day.  I owe you a drive in my car, for sure.  Pat Aylward was fast as ever, and I spent three laps one session watching him get larger in my rear view mirror and was proud of myself for holding him off that long.  Bill Addis couldn't be convinced to bring his Ruf Boxter (300hp?) but did bring his '86 944 turbo.  Shane McCrorey rounded out the 944 gang in his white turbo.  This was Shane's first track event and he looked to be enjoying things.  I took Shane for his first 928 ride and hopefully showed him why we love our additional 4 cylinders.  Steve Dowd decided not to instruct at this event and so was able to spend all his time in his '89 944 S2.

Our "hydraulically challenged" friends weren't to be outdone however.  Our favorite 928 mechanic, Leif Johnson of Autowerks NW in Woodenville, WA brought his friend, Jeffrey Freeman with his RS America 911.  Unfortunately, Jeffrey's car suffered the lone mechanical failure of the day with a broken clutch after his first 5 minutes.  Jeffrey wasn't too upset because his car's previous track time was a 12 hour enduro at Thunderhill.  He was just glad it waited to break until a non-race event.  Jeffrey took his first 928 ride in my red '90 GT and was heard to say "This is a GREAT car!".  (You can't deny it, Jeffrey.  I have it on tape!)  He looked to be having as much fun as the rest of us doing ride-alongs all day.

Ron Harris, our PCA region's president brought his creme '72 911 which sounds *almost* as good as our 928s.  I wish I'd asked him for a ride-along.  Barry Ramsay's bright yellow 911 couldn't be missed and Stan Kohls brought his pretty, white '88 911 Targa.  Bob Westmoreland was out in his Gray 911 Turbo while his son, Brian Westmoreland and his '76 911 Carrera spent most of the day battling with Tom Smith and his blue 911.  The "Tom and Brian Show" is a regular at our local track days.

Larry Chmura brought his '356 hybrid (911 engine) for the day.  Larry was my first track instructor and I still remember his lessons, especially on braking HARD to learn the braking points of the track.

Our BMW friends weren't to be outdone with Scott Adare, Steve Cassel, Tony Longinotti (and son) and Elwanda Groves were out in their various BMW's and Ken Groves braved the event in his Subaru.  Ken was great about letting the faster cars past at every opportunity.  Brad Chinn brought his new Honda S2000 convertable.

We really have to thank Scott Adare again for making this day possible for us.  Without his contacts at the track and his expertise at running safe, fun track events this wouldn't have happened.  I just took names and collected money but Scott made this event possible.  This is the third time he has helped this group of Porsche 928 owners do this event, though he did take a *few* opportunities to show us that his M3 is also a fine piece of German engineering.  I encourage all of you to try out one of his BMW-CCA track weekends.

As for me, I had the best day at the track I've ever had.  I started out slow as it's been 6 months since I've been on the track.  As I got my "track legs" I found that my previous brake bleed hadn't been quite enough as I was finding the pedal quite mush.  Leif helped me do a proper bleed and it made quite the difference.  I still was getting fade after 4-5 laps with my stock front pads, but I was braking harder and longer after the bleed.  Thanks Leif!

By the end of the day I was in the groove and was hitting the corners harder and faster.  I was able to anticipate the brake fade and adjust the start of my braking to enter most turns at a speed which would get the tires singing.  My tire pressures felt perfect and the car was telegraphing itself to me like it never has before.  The highlight of my day was my last session.  The "Tom and Brian Show" came up on me as I got behind a slower car and I let them past as we past the slower car.  I can't believe that I actually kept up with Tom and Brian for about 3 laps before Brian came in low on fuel and I came in with fading brakes.  Better yet, I even have it on the video.  Next time I make sure I have a set of track pads so I can stay out with them a bit longer.

I got home last night and jumped into the jet tub to loosen the sore muscles.  I barely dragged myself to bed about 6:30 and slept until 9:00 AM this morning.  We now have 5 months to recover and prepare for Track Attack IV which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 21st.  I don't see how it can top the Track Attack III, but I sure hope it comes close.  With this group of enthusiasts, I'm sure it will be another stupendous success!

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Modified 04/30/2002