Leland-West Insurance
Laguna - 25 Feb 09.

Laguna - 25 Feb 09.

Dodge Magnum - 2009 Track Schedule

Less than two weeks after my last day on this track, I was ready to reach a personal goal: A sub-1:50 lap time.

I was allowed to run in the Advanced group alongside fully race-prepped cars; one of the few street-legal vehicles in the bunch. I had looked over my in-car video from my recent run and had a good idea of where I could make up time and where I needed to explore new limits.

Happily, in a group largely consisting of genuine race cars I was able to acquit myself well. Some I passed, some I blew by and some blew by me. In all I was able to claim middle-of-the-pack status... which is perfectly fine for a guy driving a station wagon on a world-class track. With open passing allowed anywhere on course and few of the courtesy restrictions usually placed on slower or less-experienced groups, it was quite a step up in the driving environment, but again I managed rather well; staying out of the way of the fast guys and managing not to trade any paint withanyone or anything.

I got into a good rhythm very quickly. The first run of the day yielded a time of 1:50.10. So very close to my goal, but not good enough. Later sessions showed me consistently stuck in the 1:51's, with a 1:50.8 mixed in.

I was getting a little more attention than usual given the speeds I was running in, and the group, and while in the paddock I swore to the racing gods, in front of witnesses, that if I could just get a 1:49.99 I would be happy and quit for the day.

The next session was after lunch and a fully prepped Mustang racer that I had shot past a couple of times earlier in the day now had his issues sorted out. He was advancing from well back, and quickly he would be on my tail. While a track day is not racing, there is still a bit of competitive spirit involved, and I decided to make him work for the pass. What followed was a 20-minute game of tag that saw me stay well ahead of him. I know he had as much fun chasing me as I had being chased based on the wave I got (with all fingers extended) as I pulled off-track; a victim of brakes pushed past my comfort zone.

When I checked the chronometer its best lap read 1:49.64. Goal achieved. And I did quit, although I don't really believe in racing gods. Fact is I had just reached a long-chased milestone, and having this little triumph freshly in hand was also a distraction from staying safe on the track. My concentration would not be where it should be... so I quit. But just for the day.