1 (edited by professional.dreamer 2009-05-05 01:25 PM)

Topic: Newbies Welcome at Reno-Fernley

Hi Newbs -

Get comfortable and have a little patience because this is going to be a little long.  Old guys like me tend to ramble on and on.  We mumble a lot.. but sometime, every now and then, some valuable word of wisdom comes out -- usually disguised or muffled by the 2006 Sycamore Creek Cabernet Sauvignon that we've been sipping on.  Good stuff.  Damn good stuff.

You don't know me... but I know you.  I was you (a Motorsports Newbie) some 38 years ago.  Since then, a lot of Castrol R has flowed under the bridges of many a race track now long gone, but never forgotten.  Places I've driven... raced... and times I had with some great guys who, well... some of them were Newbies just like you.  And, like you, some of them either "got it" or they didn't.  If they didn't... they were gone.  If they "got it" they shared in the Castrol R as it dripped from some leaking orofice to the pavement below.  Hallowed streams of black muck flowing by gravity in rivers towards somebody else's pit space.  Wonderful stuff.  Wonderful times.  And, they continue.

I've posted comments -- sometimes lengthy diatribes -- on the (now) old Yahoo Group e-mail conversations that were... well, somewhat critical of you greenhorns.  If I had a dollar for every Newbie that wanted to know what tires to use, or what brake pads were best, or how to mount the damn kill switch... sh*t... I could fund another Miata Lemons car from those funds.  (They are plentiful for under $500 if you know where to look!  But, I digress and that's a whole other can of worms!)

My belief; no, make that my philosophy about racing is that no one... NOBODY ANYWHERE... can GIVE you some "Magic Answer" about motorsports that will make you successful.  It's called living it.  It's called learning by trying it out.  It's called making mistakes.  It's called... EXPERIENCE.   And. there is no short-cut for experience. 

For that reason, when some Newbie asks me for the "Magic Answer" to tires, or brakes, or the right line to drive, or shift points... I will always -- ALWAYS -- be the first to give some smart-ass answer... unmistakenly the wrong answer!  Forgive me but it's in my DNA.  Regardless, I am still gobsmacked at how many Newbs take my answers as some mystic revelation because some of you feel my racing history has some success to it.  Bullsh*t -- it's 90% luck and 10% preparation, with an emphasis on the latter. 

As far as I am concerned in dealing with most Newbies... P.T. Barnum was not only right, he was a genius!

Okay, so we're now 2 weeks (more or less) away from the Reno-Fernley event.  By now, your entry has been accepted, you found the "perfect" car and you've either found your "Magic Answers" or (for most of you) you're winging it, based on a best guess or (with any luck), you've bought and devoured all of the Carroll Smith books on car prep and driving.  Another genius.  Wonderful man that I had the priveledge to know.  His books comprise the old and new testament... they are the bible of motorsports.  Learn from them.

Anyway, as I said, I've been pretty harsh on you Newbs... and I will continue to do so anytime a Newbie wants someone to GIVE him or her the "Magic Answer."  What a crock.  Nobody in F1, IndyCar, NASCAR, Atlantic, TransAm or any other pro series ever GIVES anything away.  Nobody in the SCCA that's running for a National Championship or even a Regional Championship GIVES it away.  You want it?  Earn it.  Work for it.

Okay, so... as I said (remember, us old guys ramble on and on...), now you've been accepted, you've got a car and you'll be showing up at the track -- running what you got, based on the best guess of what goes where and what trick set-up will work... all based on whoever was the most sober that night in the shop. 

Congratulations for making it this far! 

You are soon going to enter the "got it" zone or, like some, you'll be vanquished to the outer fringes of apex hell... so far off-line that no amount of correction, camber or power will bring you back to the safety of the fold.  I hope you survive.  I hope you have fun at the track.  I hope, more than anything, that you come to the track to learn.  Don't race -- not at your first event.  Learn.  If you learn, then you can proudly say that you "got it."  You can throw that Newbie title in the dumpster (along with all the NOS parts that the dealerships rid themselves of -- oh, wait, that's another can of worms that we don't want to go near!). 

Anyway, if you learn -- if you "get it" -- you will be a Newbie no more.  If you don't learn, not only will you remain a Newb, you'll be a Stupid Newb.

So, here's my offer:

(1) IF you actually have grease under your fingernails; (2) IF you actually have a knuckle or two that's bleeding from the occasional outbreak of "idiots rash" (Definition of Idiots Rash: when the adjustable wrench you chose, instead of the Snap-On 9/16" box wrench, slips and your hand finds the sharp end of some sheet steel plate that you strategically placed for just such an occurrence); (3) IF you haven't whined and pouted because no one gave you the "Magic Answer";  (4) IF you tried something and it didn't work but you learned why it didn't work and what the right answer might be; (5) IF you helped out your fellow competitor knowing that he was going to beat you into Turn 3 and maybe win the race because of your help; (6) IF you took the time to learn rather than focus on putting down the fastest lap time...

If you've had the pleasure of any or all of these experiences, then you've "got it." 

"Getting it" means that you're free to come by the #31 Lemons Fire Department (Miata) pit and ask any question, borrow any tool, see if I have the right hardware that you need, use our welder, or let us know when you need an extra hand to replace that transmission that failed at the 3-hour mark of the race.  "Getting it" means that you'll have earned the respect from all of us old guys who "got it" many years ago.  We're here to help.

There's only one requirement.  You have to pass it on.  You have to maintain the same philosophy -- nobody gets anything that they don't work for.  Nobody gets any "Magic Answer."  However, when they earn it, you must give it freely.

See you at the track.

All the best -
John Condren

"Age only matters if you're a cheese."  Helen Hayes