Craig’s eye view of the west coast time attack scene….episode 1.5

In episode 1.5 of this column, let’s dig in a little bit and look into what it takes to get involved in TA racing. I have to be honest with you, until last November at Buttonwillow raceway, I was really naive to this thing they call Time Attack. After purchasing my car, a 2006 Subaru STI, I decided it was time to go to the track. After searching around for a track day, I decided to attend an event at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, with Extreme Speed Track Events. When we arrived to the track, wouldn’t you know it, the preliminary round of Redline Time Attack was taking place. With the competitive nature that I have, I was getting in on this.

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However, it wasn’t quite as easy as just signing up and racing. I went to sign up and they started asking me questions about how many track days I had done, what’s my fastest time on this track, what car do I have, and what mods does it have? To make a long story short, they didn’t want some guy they knew nothing about, going on the track, trying to go as fast as he could without any experience. As much as this irritated me, I guess I understood. They were very accommodating though, and gave me the option of riding with an instructor to evaluate my skills. This is where I met my new friend, Martin Choi. I was told that if I could do a certain lap time with Martin in the car, (huge disadvantage BTW…….HAHAHA, sorry Martin), that I could compete. Lucky for me, I was in, despite the extra load in the car….whew!!! I have to respect their concern for safety, for sure. One of the unique aspects of TA is getting to push your car to the limits, and usually not having to worry about running into other cars. In the wrong hands though, this could give a false sense of security.

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To get involved in TA, I recommend coming out to the track for an open track day, HPDE(high performance driving event) first. Typically, there will be instructors on hand and many people that are willing to help out and lead you in the right direction. It really doesn’t matter at first what car you have, either. A bone-stock Honda civic can provide you with a lot of fun, and is a great way to gain experience and car control. In the end, this is a much better way to get your feet wet then building a 500WHP street monster and deciding to take it on the track. Way to many times we see this and it can really limit your learning curve. Another disadvantage to starting off with a highly modded car is when it comes time to enter your first TA event. One wrong mod, and guess what?, Your competing in the modified class. Gaining experience and speed on the track is really done best in small, progressive steps.

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My advice is to get a few track days under your belt on various tracks and take advantage of the instruction that is available. Pick the brains of people that have been doing this for a long time and save yourself a lot of time and money. I know from experience. If I would have asked more questions at the track, I would have spent my money more wisely on the correct things the first time around. There is a wealth of knowledge out there, so use it to your advantage.

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This is going to wrap up episode 1.5 . This was a starter on the first steps to helping people get into TA and helping them understand more about what it is. As we keep digging in, we’ll discuss more about actual TA racing and what’s going on at the local events. Also, stayed tuned in for our ” Inside the Mind Of ” column. Here, we’re going to bring you interviews with people that are influential, not only on the West Coast TA scene, but the industry in general. Our first interviews coming up will be with Paul Leung from YimiSport Tuning, and the man, the myth, the legend, Robert Fuller, the owner of Robispec. We will also be sitting down with one the most well know track couples on the West Coast track scene, Scott VanderHeide and Kerryann De La Boost. We will be ” Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty ” and start dissecting the inner workings on local race cars and street/track cars that you will regularly see at the track.

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I have met some really great people this season at the track and have made some new friends. It’s definitely an extended family.  Remember, the street is not a race track, so get to the track and see what it’s all about. You will not regret it. Fair warning though, you may get addicted. It’s very easy to do!!!!

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