An Early Start
“When we're off to the track, it's always an early start to the day and I think about how the events of the day will unfold, what we'll be testing, what we're hoping to acheive, and what we're going to learn. As the car evolves and the team evolves, we're always amazed at how technically involved motorsports can be. It's a constant progression of learning for everyone. Working side by side with several pro teams has helped us glean knowledge that would have taken us many years to acquire on our own and really highlights the value of experience.”
Preparation Is Key
Time and resources can be very expensive and good preparation is key to success. Making sure everything is prepped and ready to go the night before, unpacked and set up in a timely manner, etc., allows us to make the best use of our time at the track. We make use of checklists and log books to make sure nothing slips through the cracks, such as equipment batteries being charged, to major things, like being able to predict part failures. We use just enough process to be efficient and minimize our risk of costly errors - something we learned early on.
An Exciting Place To Be
We spend most of our time at Mosport International Raceway, which is one of the top tracks in North America. We feel fortunate to have such an incredible track so close by, and being in pit row at Mosport can be an exciting experience - it's a very volatile and fast-paced environment. Once the day starts and the cars and drivers are on the track, we change our focus to many different things from tweaking the configuration of the car to keeping the driver updated on track traffic and conditions.
2011 Focus On Learning
“Three primary areas of learning for 2011 are around data acquisition and analysis, dialing in the suspension, and the tires. Working with experienced pro teams has been essential to helping us learn some of the intricacies of car setup.”
The wide body, brakes, rims and the change in tires for 2011 have brought about more changes and the need to relearn. We've stayed with CCW rims, however, we have switched from the SP20s to the C10s to accommodate the bigger brakes. We're running a wider tire and have switched to the Hossier R100s from the R6s.
“With tire pressures, for example, the cause and effect relationship of very minor adjustments can be directly seen in our lap times. We save a lot of time and energy by leveraging the knowledge of others, such as John and Devon Powell, when it comes to the trial and error process of tire pressures. Working with experienced teams, such as the Powell RaceShop has been the most effective way for us to acquire a lot of knowledge in a short period of time.”
The same principles apply with other areas of learning. While Mark gets a lot of his instruction and mentoring from ALMS, Grand AM and NASCAR drivers, Gary and I work with pro pit crews or consultants to assist us. Gloria Eng from the Powell RaceShop, for example, has been a huge help with data acquisition and analysis.
“Data acquisition and analysis is a skillset that is acquired through years of experience. The technology is the easy part, especially having a technical background, however it is the interpreting of the data and the resulting decisions that result where we have relied so heavily on others. Reading through two huge race car data acquisition textbooks has helped me fall asleep, however, it has been the skill and experience of others that has moved us along the fastest. The learning curve is steep, but it is one that we are all willing to climb.”
Sam D 'Elia