The Three Levels of Connections: The Journey Begins

So, at the beginning of the year, I had promised myself that I would start blogging more.  Again.

Granted, to be fair…I’ve been busy.  Work has changed my responsibilities and given me new, unique, exciting challenges.  NEO Racing News has been an interesting challenge this year, but is trending towards being another successful year of track visits, photography, and videography.  For an example of that, see the video I got July 25th at Sandusky Speedway.  Norm Taylor, the driver seen flipping through the air, was able to get himself out of his modified and was OK after a check with the ambulance.

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Despite Wreck, Hahe Maintains Asphalt Assault Points Lead

Wow I really put myself in a hole with a poor qualifying effort Wednesday night at Richmond.  I started 18th, and maybe restarted on the inside line once.  It took some pit strategy to get up front, and that was when everything went to Hell in a handbasket.

One of the new drivers in Real Sim Racing decided to attempt passing me while I attempted to pass the leader into turn three.  We made contact and I got knocked up the track.  Going into turn one of the following lap, me and another driver made contact, wrecking five of six cars in the process.  This resulted in me dropping from 2nd to 27th in the course of two laps.

Don’t ask me how, but I somehow managed to get back on the lead lap.  Well I know how…skipping three minutes of repair and catching a lucky caution (taking the wave-by) tend to help.  I just worked my way back up through the field while driving a car with broken steering.  If it weren’t for a one-lap shootout, you’d see an eighth place finish.  Except there was, and there was a wreck to survive…couple that with a missed shift and I get a tenth.

As Pat Shurmur would say, I “battled”.

With the Top Ten, I maintain a six point lead over second place.  Eight more races to go, and I need a confidence boost.  Still doubt I can maintain this lead.

Hahe Claims First RSR Win in Asphalt Assault Opener

After using some pit strategy and restart strategy (mixed with a bit of luck), I claimed my first Real Sim Racing league win in the Asphalt Assault series.

With about 30 laps to go I decided to not pit, having pitted the caution before.  I was betting on there being more cautions, which there were.  I would time the restarts to get a jump on the field, and pray that nobody could catch me.  They couldn’t.

I was pulling away from the rest of the Top 5 on each restart, maintaining a comfortable .2-.5 second gap.  Each restart and each racing period left my nerves more shot.  While beating a field of 12 at Iowa was great, beating a black stripe (driver who have qualified for iRacing Pro Series) and a field of 28 other drivers would be my biggest win.  It was.  A late-race caution sealed the deal.

If I had to recap my iRacing career in 2012, it would be the following list:

  • Achieved A License in Oval Racing
  • One Official Late Model win at South Boston
  • Four Official Truck wins: One at Richmond and three times at Atlanta
  • One Can-Am Racing Series Win (SK Mod Series at Iowa)
  • One Real Sim Racing win (Asphalt Assault at Atlanta)
  • Three LNR League Wins (Two LNR Pro Series wins [Phoenix and Charlotte], One Silverado Saturday Series win at Las Vegas)

Merry Christmas, 2012!

MerryChristmas

Custom creation I threw together from a few Digital Juice “Juice Drops”.  Hope you guys enjoy.  May offer it up as a Christmas Card for next year.  Best of wishes to you and your families!

Paid Forward

We didn’t start the fire…Ann Curry did.  But it has gone on and on, spreading across the nation via social media.  The concept was simple.

This was expanded through Twitter to the hashtag #26acts (although #20acts was the first hashtag Curry used).   In fact, Curry’s simple tweet/post has even led to NBC News marketing the quote and curating the deeds that participants have done in their pursuit of happiness through kindness.

It’s amazing to see the things that people have been sparked to do, led on by a dream in less than 140 characters.  Some have been simple, some complex.  Instantaneous, thought out.  Strangers, friends, nobody seems forgotten based on the examples listed.

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Win at Iowa in SK Mod, 5th at Phoenix in Late Mod

Great couple weeks in Can Am Racing…

Nabbed my first win in the league last Saturday in the Can Am Racing Series SK Mod Series, beating a total of eight cars to the checkers.  Surprisingly won the pole, led the most laps, and held on for the win.  Spent the last 10-20 laps holding off the second place car, which was quicker due to the draft.  We’ll see if my luck continues this Saturday at USA International Speedway.

CARS_SKWin

This past Sunday night, I worked up through the field from near 30th to a fifth place finish.  Got put a lap down early due to some weird pace car issues.  The game said pit road was open, but the field had not caught the pace car, resulting in the field passing me while I snuck in for extra fuel.  It was a mostly clean race, but my bonus points flew away near the end of the race.  Most of the leaders got in a big pile-up off of turn two, but I managed to continue on with minimal damage.  On the last restart, I managed to grab a couple spots from damaged cars.  Could have had fourth, but some weird warp prevented me from making the pass.  Fun race though!

Where Would 37,000 Miles Take You?

OK, so I decided to find out how far 37,000 miles would take you.

If for some odd reason a “Highway to Nowhere” was constructed around the equator of the earth, I would have easily driven around the earth.  In fact I’d nearly be halfway through a second lap, still looking for a rest stop with a clean bathroom and decent vending machine food.

If for some reason I decided to set upon an infinite back-and-forth journey from New York City to Los Angeles and back, I would have done that six times.  There’s a .6 something in there too, so I guess that means I’d be stuck in some fly-over state on the return trip to NY for a seventh time.  Each round trip between the two cities would take 81 hours.

More adventurous?  How about more than four loops of the country.  Four loops of New York through Miami Florida, Los Angeles California, and Seattle Washington.  The loop takes 115 hours each (without stops), and uses major portions of I-95, I-10, I-5, I-90, I-94, and I-80.

Or my usual 500-600 mile treks each week for about 12 hours a week.  I think I will stick with that.

One Year = 37,000 Miles

One year ago to the day, I walked into Ron Marhofer Hyundai in Green after finding a used 2011 Elantra with 5,000 miles.  A week earlier, focused on a Ford Focus, I had decided to hold off until after the auto shows.  The theory was that by waiting, more cars could potentially come off short-term leases and end up on lots with slashed pricing on recently-used 2012 cars.  I was also grappling with the (at the time) potentially awesome Subaru Impreza revision.  But this Elantra, with a low price and a few thousand miles on the odometer, charmed me into shunning the tech I had desired for an opportunity to get in that day.

The car was listed below Kelly Blue Book (for a reason, we’ll get to that…) and seemed like quite a deal with only 5,000 miles on the odometer.  Listed at 40 MPG highway, this seemed like the perfect car for the impending mileage.  At the time, I was still part time, but doing the 500+ miles a week I knew would be ahead of me each week.  The PT, by my own fuel mileage estimates, would get 21 MPG combined at best.  I was sold by the dreams of doubling my fuel economy, and thereby saving gas money each week.

So that day one year ago, Ruby (yes, I nickname my cars…you should too) was sold and Elle became my willful companion.  Elle has been with me on nearly weekly roundtrips between Strongsville, Pittsburgh, Stow, and Vermillion.  She gets monthly oil changes (Hyundai recommends oil changes every 3,000 miles in Ohio…7,500 in places more fortunate) and has never been a problem child.  Marhofer’s service associates nearly know me by name at this point, and tell me that I am only second to a woman in a 2006 Elantra in mileage accrued in a year.  In fact, some upcoming service will be done for the first time on a 2011 Elantra at Marhofer…on my car.

Elle is slightly less stock now, although they are definitely enhancements.  My Elantra received a proper spare tire for emergencies.  While I do have AAA and it is only a “just in case” item, I felt more comfortable having a normal spare tire replace the standard-issue air pump with fix-a-flat goo kit.  Also for my birthday, she received a remote car starter.  While not necessarily what I had expected for my birthday, the gift has definitely been helpful now that Old Man Winter showed up.

There have been several hiccups with my Elantra so far.  First of all, my driving revealed that the front bumper had been previously repaired at some point.  The issue had not shown up via CarFax, which had only shown that the vehicle had been repossessed from its previous owner.  After taking pictures and having the damaged looked over, the dealership (Ron Marhofer) decided that the damage had not occurred while they had the car, and would not repair or replace the bumper.  Although they did offer me a $1,000 replacement if I wanted to have it fixed properly.  Nah, no thanks.

Secondly, I didn’t have a memorandum title until March.  The dealership had to send me a second temporary tag due to the delays, which was more of a headache than a true problem.  They shipped me the memorandum title and plates as soon as they arrived…it just took forever on their end (or the state’s end, or the bank’s end, who knows…) for some reason.

Lastly, the car has become eligible for Hyundai’s Fuel Economy Reimbursement program.  While I am grateful that the company has offered a solution to owners who are receiving less MPG’s than advertised, it kind of sucks when you find out that the car you bought for 40 MPG highway is now only rated at 38.  And in reality, the days of 35+ MPG are long gone.  Usually I project about 350-360 MPG before needing to refuel for 10-11 gallons of gas.  The trip computer usually shows between 30-34 MPG’s in what I would describe as 70% highway driving.  I will gladly take Hyundai’s reimbursement over a class-action lawsuit, though, and am happy that the program continues once a year for the length of time the car is owned.  The only thing I wish I could change is that the payments would come via check instead of prepaid debit cards.  But I digress.

My Elantra has been a good car, and I expect to drive it until 100,000 miles.  Hyundai’s powertrain warrantee ends at that point, which makes continued ownership slightly risky.  If my levels of driving are reduced, I could potentially change my game plan  but we’ll see what the next year holds.  of course, I guess we also have to get past “Wacky Mayan Day,” right?

13th at Dover

Not much to say about that race. Wall glue ripped my rear axle off about 15 laps in.  After 30 laps of repair, just logged laps.  Blew a right front because of how screwed up the car was, lost another couple laps.  Managed to work my way from last place to 13th due to attrition.

Not a Clean 11th Place Finish at Indy

Title pretty much says it all.  Didn’t wreck, but had some heavy contact throughout the race.  Was aiming to get a Top Ten, but finished on the cusp in 11th.