Friday, October 11, 2013

Proving Grounds 2013.2!

I'm not sure if it's just because I've been there a few times now or maybe it's just a great place.  All I know is there's something about Brainerd that feels like home to me.  It's a great place to visit and an even better place to have a car event.  Liquor stores everywhere, plenty of food choices, oh and of course the bad ass race track!

It was Saturday morning and time for the day to start.  Left the hotel and went straight to the track, made sure to arrive a bit early, then unloaded my car and went to the drivers meeting. This one was going to be something special.  They changed up the layout by doing a "key hole" by moving the barricades back and adding an extra section to the layout.  It sure did pay off to add it too, been the best layout yet.  Starts off with long straight, enter into a right hand corner, switch to a left corner going around a light pole and keeping close to the outside walls, a quick chicane, then back into another left corner with some dirt dropping madness on the outside and finished up with a nice manji.  It was setup for a nice fast entry, easy sweep, and a touch of technical switch backs.  After the meeting I went back to the pits to apply my Shiomi Garage decal!

Having been my third time at Proving Grounds the locals there have begun to know me and know what my driving is like.  This landed me a spot in the Advanced group right away, no need to do a million single runs and prove myself, instead I could jump straight into tandem trains whenever I wanted.  That I did too.

Started off by doing a quick feel of the layout, I did really bad, these Maxxis MA-V1 just had too much grip.  So I quick drove to the pits and bumped up my tire pressure more than anyone should ever have to, came back and that made all the difference.

Happy with the car it was time to get myself into some tandem sessions.  Many of which were done with new Big Country Labs wingman, Chris Gonzalez, aka Gonzo.

I must say the runs I had with him were by far the best tandem runs I've every had!  I couldn't have asked for a better way to start off the event, this shot my confidence through the roof and rid me of any nerves I had.

After throwing down some wicked fun back to back runs, Gonzo ran into some over heating issues and had to sit out a few for his car to cool.  While he was doing that I decided it time to see what I was capable of.  It was time to see if I could pull off a backwards entry.

First run was pretty extreme, but not convincing enough for me.  So I came back and went for it again.  This time throwing it down like I've done this before.  Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any pics of it, however there is video.  Erik Blume I can't thank you enough for uploading raw footage of the event, if it wasn't for you I would still be here scratching my head wondering if I pulled it off or not.  To see the clip skip to 10min 57seconds.

After that the rest of the morning was pretty much all out madness.  Tandem sessions left and right running multiple cars deep, Becca hit up the course, and everyone was having a blast!

Took a quick break for lunch, then after having filled my face full of food it was back to the action... Well, not right away... It had began to sprinkle, then rain, and just as quickly as it came, it went away leaving the track a mixture of dry/wet.  With that having happened and knowing my front tires are extremely worn down on the outside I decided to put in a few solo runs to feel it out.

Then it was back to the tandem runs!  This time I was able to jump into the other groups session so I could run with the Brett, Matt, and Luke.  Gotta get some runs in with my fellow Des Moines dudes!

Did some more Tandem runs with another dirver.

Then it was back to the Des Moines crew!

After a few runs they switched it over to "Advanced only demo sessions" this consisted of only people who were chosen by the event organizers... Oh and I had Luke sneak in behind me for a few.

First day of driving down, time to park my car in the pits then head back to the hotel to relax since I had been deprived of so much sleep due to leaving Des Moines late.

That night was full of the usual, drink your face off, listen to loud music, and roam the camp sites.  They also had some night drifting going on to watch.  (sorry for not having pics, I had a few drinks in me and the last thing on my mind was to take pictures.)

The next morning Becca and I woke up to it raining.  Checked the forecast for the day and saw nothing but more rain... Looks like it was going to be a rather slippery day, not exactly something I wanted to experience with the day being the day of the competition.

Oh well, nothing you can do about the weather, and I for some reason have always found a way to drive well even in bad conditions.  However I still like to play it safe by getting some solo runs in.

Right away I realized it was going to be pretty sketchy for me, my car wasn't too happy.  The day before during my last few runs I had my turbo to downpipe gasket blow out for the millionth time, only this time no gasket handy and I had tack welded the bolts in place so they wouldn't back out which meant I couldn't tighten them down and would have to deal with a massive exhaust leak.  This is what really made things interesting, the car was running super rich because of this making me lose all of my bottom end power, and my front tires didn't want to grip anything in the rain.

Even still I managed to drive just fine, but this made me uncomfortable and not wanting to tandem  since I saw others were having similar issues.

After getting a quick feel for the rain I shut the car down and jumped in with Becca to see how she was going to cope with the conditions as well.

She was nothing but smiles!

Her fronts had plenty of grip, plus with the rain it was making it easier for her to hold a drift.

Not long after it was time for a quick lunch break.

Then as we came back we found the competition had been cancelled.  Majority of the drivers had already called it a day, there just weren't enough people out there to hold the competition plus with the conditions it wasn't exactly something everyone wanted to do.

Instead it turned into a anyone go whenever you want and just have fun!

And not too far into it, there was an ugly wreck between Adam and PK.

The day ended a while after that.  I decided to sit out to help Becca with her driving, then let Tomas who's running Circuit Breakerz borrow my helmet so he could get some ride along video footage with Becca.

All in all the second day was rather pleasant.  It was nice watching Becca improve throughout the day and I was really happy to see her get so much seat time.  Plus it was a nice chance for me to hang out with all the other drivers and talk with people rather then just drive behind them.

Once the day was over it was time to go back to the hotel and relax.

And of course prepare for the trip home in the morning.

I must say I was incredibly happy with this event.  It was way better then the last one and I really hope they continue to be this much fun for the remaining ones throughout the years to come.  It was nice meeting more drivers and getting to drive hard with a bunch of cool dudes.  I can't wait until next time!

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