When the worst happens

Until last weekend I would have never thought someone like myself would have an accident on track. I’ve been HPDEing for several years, and racing for nearly 2 now, so I consider myself a very good wheel man. I normally don’t take the big risks that only reward in a tenth of a second, but I will go after the big time savers. I’ve been able to race wheel to wheel while not once swapping paint, racing in some of the closest battles I’ve ever seen. I’ve driven numerous cars, on all sorts of tracks and I always do well. This weekend was somewhat of a knock back into reality for me. I’ve seen people wreck in front of me, on TV and even had a few close calls myself, but nothing would have prepared me for this weekend.

As many of you may know I’m the driver of PTuning’s Time Attack tC, which has been transformed from an award winning show car, to the fastest modified fwd car in the country. Hundreds of R&D hours were put into the car, with measurements taken, CAD specs sent to and from machine shops, and the best parts being custom made for the car. On the stock motor they guys were able to extract 340hp on a Dyno Dynamics dyno. That’s a LOT of power in a car that weighs 2700lbs! Not a single thing was left to chance and the car was built to support our goal of close to 500hp! The car was really a piece of art, and I was the lucky guy that got to drive it.

As the car was finished up we were headed off to Nashville Speedway, where we eventually won our class. The car was fast, and the setup was nearly perfect, but needed a little tweaking. While we were a little less than a second off our goal, the car and driver were one. I was surprised how easy the car was to drive, and how much fun it was. A month later the Time Attack at summit point was closing in, new parts were added and the car was going to be even faster! The car was great, handled so well, and while there were a few problem with the new hubs, the guys worked well into the night to get the car up to par for the sunday sessions.

After setting some blazing times in the modified session I was really tearing it up in the unlimited session as well. I was having a great lap, when it happened…. red mist. I jumped the jump, and kept my foot in it to long. As soon as I applied the brakes I knew I was going for a ride. I slammed into the bowl and popped right out of it. I slid though the grass into the tires and concrete barrier. The impact was so forceful that the windshield shattered on impact and the passengers side mirror was ejected from the car. F*CK! it happened! I turned the car off and cursed at the top of my lungs for a good minute.

What was I thinking? I knew better? I wonder how much this is going to cost? What will the guys say? What will people say? What have I done? Will we make the next event? What will happen? All of these questions and more were flying though my mind at light speed. I eventually put my hand out the window and waved, but I was not going to exit the car until the EMS crew arrived. When they did they asked “How are you?” my reply was “I’m Pissed!” The guys laughed a little and before I knew it the car was being hauled off into the paddock. As we crested the bridge with all the spectators, it seemed they all turned in unison and they started taking pictures. Just great, I thought, I’ll give it 10 minutes before its all over the internet. The car was put down near our paddock spot and before I could even sit down I had everyone asking if I was ok? The entire crew asked, before then even looked at the car. Shortly after the damage was assessed. While it was not a terrible accident, it was very expensive. The Ptuning Crew were disappointed, but we had one our class, and I was ok. They all assured me that the car was fixable and that they would have everything done before the next race at VIR.

This was truly my worst nightmare as an amateur driver, to wreck a car that does not belong to you. I believe it was Randy Pobst that said it best when he commented about the job of a Pro Driver, was to “drive fast, win, and don’t wreck.” Clearly I got the first two down, but that last one, not so much. I knew I had no real obligation to pay for the damage, but I had an unspoken obligation to the team. The guys were very disappointed that it happened but, they were not even thinking about that, they were thinking about Version 3 of the car. We met the next night and went over a list of the things we were going to need to get the car up and running again. It was at that meeting I realized, they never even thought about me not driving for them. It was clearly a mistake, and it can be forgiven. When I realized that, I realized just how lucky I was, and it really cemented PTuning as my family.

PTuning has given me the chance of a life time, and they stand behind me 100%, which is rare these days. There is no way I can ever fully repay PTuning for what they have given me, for what they have allowed me to do, but there is one thing that I intend to do for them. I will drive that car to the podium, I will make that little tC the fastest Modified FWD car in the country.

I think I strayed a little from the point of this article but I’ll try to finish it up as simply as possible. Given enough time and pressure on track, you will have an altercation with something. You are beating the odds if you have not already, but when you do you’ll understand the way we all felt. Everyone I’ve talked to has been though something like this, and they are all still racing and having a blast! Its important to look at it as a growing experience, and get back on the horse as soon as possible.


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