Weekend Recap: Car Care Clinic, Auto-X and Slayer

posted Jun 12, 2018, 6:28 PM by Gran Touring Motorsports Club   [ updated Jun 12, 2018, 6:42 PM ]

Article by: Brad N, 6/12/2018 -

Many of you know that GTM is a non-traditional car club with members that have varying interests; from track days to karting and off-roading (and everything in between).

(Above: Members Andrew B, Harry B and Andrew M at the CCA AutoCross)

Well, did you also know that GTM has an educational branch as well? Or that we are working with other groups and organizations to not only grow our sport, but also make it safer?

> Saturday <

GTM hosted our Youth Car Care Clinic (CCC “Level 1”) at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, MD (which happens to be the alma mater of members Brad N and Eric M). At the clinic, volunteers from GTM presented many different aspects of car ownership and maintenance to these new drivers, soon to be college students, and their parents.

The day was broken into two segments, a one hour in-classroom presentation and a one hour hands-on lab. Eric and Brad taught the in-classroom portion and club members John R., Sam H., Kerwin W. (and Robbie), and Judd G. took over with the hands on lab.

Members: Eric M and Brad N hosting the classroom portion of GTM’s Car Care Clinic.

In the classroom, the guests learned all about different car layouts, different noises and smells, what their fluids should look like, the difference between good and worn out brakes and tires, what to carry in case of emergency, and so much more. They were also given complimentary tire pressure gauges and a more in-depth booklet we are calling our “Level 2” material. After they were thoroughly dazed and confused, it was time send them out into the parking lot.

Here, John R. had his car prepped for a wheel change demonstration along with many show-and-tell parts like brakes, rotors, etc, in various conditions. After John’s demo, it was time for them to go over their own cars. Each guest was taken to their cars with a skilled GTM member and shown where to find their various fluid containers and dipsticks, as well as shown how to check their tire pressures and tread depth (the old penny test). They were given checklists to go over with their expert and mark down what they found out about their own car. And when they were done, we had a wheel torquing station (to show what it feels like to properly torque your wheels) and battery jump start demo. Needless to say, in a short two hour window we threw a ton of information at them.

Member: Sam H performs a guided tour of this Infiniti M35, helping its owners build a map of their engine compartment and learn to inspect key areas.

We have to give a big shout out to all our members who came out to help: John, Sam, Kerwin and Judd we couldn’t have pulled this off without you guys... Thank you!

The general feedback from the group was positive and many requested that we do another one and reach out to other schools. GTM is planning on hosting another CCC at DeMatha this fall and we are always looking for volunteers to help us hold these demonstrations. If you have any ideas or would like to see our presentation and course materials, please reach to us at or visit

> Saturday Evening <

To celebrate such a successful first half of the day many GTM members and families headed to Baltimore for dinner at Fogo de Chao, partly because GTM NE Region co-Chief Harry B. was visiting the area for an autocross and a concert. #familydinner

GTM’s paparazzi John R, snagged this shot of Brad N, Harry B and Sam H heading out on the town after dinner. We’re rather impressed by the Chevy Bolts spacious interior. #likeaglove

> Which brings us into Sunday… <

Sunday GTM members Andrew B (C7 Corvette)., Andrew M (Cobra)., and Harry B (Mini Cooper). competed in the June Corvette Club of America autocross event held at Lincoln Technical Institute in Columbia, MD.

The skies were a bit grey, the humidity was high, and the course was difficult, but GTM was there to represent and help out. The morning started out with registration and tech inspection, followed by many course walks. This particular course was very challenging and difficult, I believe throughout the day there was only a handful of drivers that didn’t actually have a DNF. Add to that an illegally parked car on the course, forcing the designers to adjust their map slightly, it quickly became a recipe for confusion. However, that didn’t deter the participants and the field was packed with cars for both heats. Our group of scrappy competitors were driving in heat 2 which meant they were volunteering and working the course during the first heat.

The first heat ended without much drama (aside from a few cone casualties) and after a short 10 minute break and wrangling the heat 1 drivers for their coursework assignments, it was time for our heroes to hit the course. Now, a little bit about our drivers: Andrew M. was driving a Factory Five roadster that he and his father built with their own hands. He just finished installing power steering on the car a week prior and wanted to test it out. Andrew B. was driving his newly obtained C7 Corvette Z51 with which he has logged exactly 0 competitive or performance driving miles on. And Harry B., who was autocrossing for the first time ever using his Mini Cooper S daily driver. So, in a sense, our guys were a little like fish out of water. However, in spite of numerous DNF’s and getting lost on track, each of them was able to set at least one complete run for the record books.

At the end of the day there wasn’t really much in the way of drama but there were a few quotables: “I didn’t know what to expect coming in, but autocross was a lot more fun than I thought it would be” - Harry B; “I can’t wait to get back out there and do some more” - Andrew M; “They wouldn’t let me do donuts, but I still had fun” - Andrew B.

I’d like to give a special shout out to the great people at Corvette Club of America (CCA) for putting on a great autocross event. Their courses are always challenging and fun and they make the most out of the limited lot size they have. If you would like to learn more or sign up for their next autocross (in September) please follow this link: CCA September Autocross. I guarantee there will be more GTM representation there.

After the autocross, Members Brad N., Harry B., Sam H., and Andrew B. went on to see Slayer (and a few other bands) on their 2018 final tour.

Great fun was had by all! #youhadtobethere  #whathappensinvegas

Oh and before we forget, for a handful of other members (Ken E and Brett S to name a few), they were attending the annual "unmuffled day" at LimeRock Park with HookedOnDriving!

What a busy weekend for GTM!

More Pixs from the CCC available here:

More Pixs from the Auto-X available here:

More Pixs from LimeRock available here:

Weekend Recap: Cannonball Run (PITTRace + Mid-Ohio)

posted Jun 1, 2018, 12:53 PM by Gran Touring Motorsports Club   [ updated Jun 1, 2018, 12:56 PM ]

Article by: Eric M, 6/1/2018 -


The Cannonball Run: “A wide variety of eccentric competitors participate in a wild and illegal cross-country road race. However, the eccentric entrants will do anything to win the road race, including low-down, dirty tricks.” -- that’s the premise for the 1981 cult-classic, and the inspiration for the 4-day mid-west adventure ten GTM members set out to complete with CHIN Motorsports at PITT Race and Mid-Ohio Race Courses on May 25-29.

For those of you watching at home -- It’s definitely one of those “you had to be there” sort of stories… so since you missed it, we’ll just roll with the highlights… #insidejokes

Serendipitously, nature called at nearly the same time for our first wave of travelers. From left-to-right: members Erin K, Eric M, new friend Peter Stillwell, Marissa C, Shane S and John R just happened to stop at the exact same rest stop on the PA turnpike at nearly the same time. Some would say it might have been staged, but it was actually luck! The scramble to PITT Race heated up from here. Despite some holiday traffic we made good time and were able to get settled in before dark.

Pittsburgh International Race Complex (PITT Race) offers three track configurations. The North track configuration is 1.6 miles and the South track covers 1.2 miles. The full course is 2.78 miles in length and combines both the North and South track. All tracks feature significant elevation change throughout and were designed to follow the natural terrain. Without going into a lot of detail about PITT Race, we all agreed that “it is a FUN lap” and worth a return trip! (Continue reading for videos of the Track).

Morning drivers meeting: That’s one helluva squatty potty…

"Hey-yo… you see this post from Brad? Whats he talkin’ about?" - Kerwin W

Member Gordon B’s “Cadzilla” (CTS-V Coupe) coming in from ripping up the tarmac at PITT Race.

“So you’re going to have to fit in … >there< Still want to go for a ride?” says member Shane S with his ‘76 Porsche 911 to Gordon B.

Jam-nut backed off the tie-rod… no problem, we’ll just do a quick string alignment #becauseracecar #mastertech

We know member Shane S is used to “agricultural living” in PA but using the 911 as a lawnmower is a whole new twist. #heatcycled #oldracetires

Tania M inspects the splitter and undercarriage for signs of wildlife.

Packing up late Sunday we headed for Mid-Ohio, well... some of us did. The stint from PITT Race to Mid-O is an easy 2-hour drive on the OH/PA Turnpike. “The Commonlaws” (Erin K and John R) headed to Mid-O by way of Cleveland with a quick stop at a 24-hour AutoZone for a new front wheel bearing. #clevelandROCKS! -- Be sure to ask Erin about “calculating fuel mileage remaining and the pita-pit.”

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a road course located in just outside the village of Lexington (nestled between Mansfield and Ontario, Ohio). The track opened in 1962 as a 15-turn, 2.4 mile (3.86 km) road circuit run clockwise. The back portion of the track (including “the kink”) allows speeds approaching 180 mph! Mid-O is a very challenging lap with many nuances, blind turns and gotchas. It’s really a great place to expand yourself as a driver. (Continue reading for videos of the Track).

Hanging out at Kerwin W’s AirBNB just outside the gates of Mid-O.
The proprietors were amazing and offered great food and an even better atmosphere.

Oh baby! Member Sam H caught disrobing after his session.

Temps at Mid-O were in the 90s which meant you didn’t spend any additional time in your race suit if you didn’t need to.

The facilities at Mid-O aren’t aging well, but some of the hardware in the barn-like garages was pretty impressive. #crowdcontrol #saferontheinside

Sometimes, things don’t always go as we planned… worse is when things that affect you are completely out of your control,

like what happened to Kerwin W when another vehicles engine expired leaving all it’s hot fluids across the track in front of him. #nodebrisflag

From left-to-right Kerwin W, Marissa C, Tania M, Gordon B, Erin K, Eric M, John R, Shane S and Peter Stillwell

(taken at PITT Race, while Sam H was still on his way!)

In the end, we had a great time and look forward to returning to PITT Race and Mid-Ohio. We’re happy to share all the stories, and mishaps the next time we see you. It’s always great to go on an adventure like this with friends! We hope that you’ll join us for our trip to Road Atlanta in the fall. #cannonballrun2 #rideordie #roadatlantaorbust #allroadsleadtoatlanta

More pictures from this event can be found here:

And if it’s true that pictures are worth 1000 words, then videos are a filibuster… check out these:

Hot laps (video) from PITT Race

Hot laps (video) from Mid-Ohio

Weekend Recap: To Instruct, or Not To Instruct?

posted May 4, 2018, 7:05 AM by Gran Touring Motorsports Club

Article by: Brad N, Brett S, Bruce S; 4/10/2018 -

There comes a point in an enthusiast’s life where they have gained the skill and experience to do more than just drive at track days. Some people opt to go the competitive route and try their hand at club racing or time trials, others are just happy being weekend warriors and getting out for a few laps on a nice weekend, and then there are those that decide to instruct. They think back to when they first started and how some brave soul sat in their passenger seat and told them things like “look ahead. Brake, turn-in, apex, throttle, track-out. Watch the flaggers.” etc. If that person wasn’t willing to sit in the right seat, then a whole generation of drivers wouldn’t exist, nor would the generation of drivers before them, or before them, and so on… and because of their fond memories of being taught what to do and how they advanced with the help of these instructors, they decide to instruct as well.

Instructing is a way to give back to the track day community. It’s a way to help the sport grow and flourish and bring in new blood. It’s also a way to help keep the sport safe, by passing on the important knowledge we all learned through our experiences. There’s a reason there are so many rules and principles revolving around this sport, it’s all in the name of safety. But instructing has its perks too: free or heavily discounted track time, maybe a free lunch or some schwag. However, these are not the reasons to instruct, and if they are, maybe you shouldn’t.

That brings us to our question: to instruct, or not to instruct?

Instructing is not an easy job but it can be rewarding for you as an instructor and for the sport itself, but you have to be in the right state of mind. Instructors are teachers.

Minds full of knowledge tasked with sharing information with their students as well as being an ambassador for the sport and the club they are representing. Some days, even though an instructor doesn’t have to pay for an event (with some clubs), you may find, as an instructor, that you don’t really have any time at all to even go out on track and take advantage of that free track time. That’s because you are focused on your student, you are helping them grow and become a better driver and all that focus costs time and energy. So much time and energy in fact, that you are often times too tired to even drive yourself. Some instructors show up to events and drive maybe a session or two out of the whole event because of how busy they get with their student and the whole process. As an ambassador of the club and the sport, you are constantly selling to your student either through great instruction or through marketing to try and get them to come back. The student’s success and the club’s success are directly related to your abilities as an instructor and a salesperson.

I mention all this to remind you that instructing isn’t for everyone. And if it isn’t for you, then that’s okay. But be honest with yourself. If you are only interested for the free track time then you might be disappointed and probably shouldn’t instruct. You have to want to teach, to help another driver grow, to help the sport grow. You have to want to get in the right seat of a car you don’t know - with a person you don’t know - and you have to want to help them succeed.

You have to know how to drive. There is a reason instructors are the more experienced drivers at the events. Because they have seen things, have been involved in incidents, and have gained that life experience on track. However, instructing isn’t just about your driving capabilities, you have to know people as well. You have to be able to read your student and recognize their personality. “Is this student a visual learner, an oral learner, should I drive them around to show them the line or have them do it themselves at a slow pace? Is the student understanding my terminology, do I need to change my approach to instructing this student? Can I control this student?” These are some questions you need to ask yourself as an instructor. Like I said earlier, it’s not easy.

For those of you that have decided to become instructors, many clubs offer programs to help introduce you to instructing. The Motorsport Safety Foundation (MSF) has an online exam to prep you for these other schools, and that online test is as much a psychology exam as it is a written driving exam. But if you want to instruct, there are many resources available to you to help you become an instructor. One such program, the SCCA Instructor Bootcamp (, just occurred a couple weeks ago in April.

Member Joe O working with his IC (Member John R) on Shenandoah Circuit

At that event, SCCA veteran instructors took on the role of mentor for the instructor candidates, and the attendees were split into pairs, one veteran and one candidate. The day was broken into a series of classroom instruction and in car roleplaying (veterans played the students and candidates played the instructors). Throughout the day the candidates learned the instructor vocabulary as well as skills to help them recognize the type of students they had (timid, aggressive, etc). The day was long and packed with activities designed to frustrate the candidates to their breaking point and watch them either fail or succeed.

A number of GTM members participated in the bootcamp, some as veterans, some as candidates. Two candidates had the following to say about their experiences at the bootcamp:

Member Bruce S (left) and John R (right); sharing their thoughts during the lunch break. #brucesighting #clipboards

Bruce S. - “During the first session feedback, my instructor could tell that I've coached before. I think this speaks volumes to the training program of getting experience with HoD before attending the SCCA training. We already had the muscle memory in place before this weekend, the rest was just adjusting to (thankfully very minor - if any) changes in SCCA's doctrine. But I know none of us are thick-headed to not be able to change to the situation; reading and adapting to dynamic situations is what this job is about.

I think that coaching is a good way to give back to the sport and to make our (GTM's) mark on the world. We've all had good instructors and we've had not-so-good instructors and this is a great way for our club to lead by example especially during this time of change with the MSF (slowly) getting off the ground and more emphasis on safety. We're in a great position to help change the sport for the better.

I think SCCA has a good balance of classroom to on-track exercises to focus on the different training points without wearing us out riding the right seat at Shenny!. Longer than one day would have turned into a puke-ex. The level of experience of the SCCA instructors ensured they were able to assess our abilities in one day and even to correct any discrepancies they saw with most of the students. The school is highly recommended. Their staff struck the right balance of professionalism and good-natured banter.”

And with a smile on his face, Member Brett S heads to the right seat for another round of instructor training.

Brett S. - “My experience with HPDE instruction began more than 30 years ago, before there was any formal process or curriculum.  I was only about 18 or 19 years old and I was getting in the right seat of student’s cars that were twice my age. Not exactly ideal when trying to be an authority on a topic.

I believe I did a good job, with the tools I was provided.

In those days, after having enough seat time, the chief instructor would tap you on the shoulder and would ask if you were ready to instruct the novices. No formal training, just emulate what your instructors demonstrated previously, and roll with it.

That was then, and this is now.  I took some time off to pursue other interests, but I came back to track events a few years ago, and now I have jumped back in with both feet this year by attending the WDCR SCCA Instructor Clinic at the Shenandoah circuit at Summit Point.  To be clear, this is NOT focused on teaching you how to drive, it is more about the human aspects of interacting with students and creating a great learning experience. Sure, it helps to be a great driver, but it’s just as important to be great with people, and communicate effectively. It’s also about standardizing the HPDE learning process, using the same terminology, and making sure the instruction is “in-sync”.  Having a cohesive team of instructors and coaches makes the learning process flow much better, and helps deal with the interesting personalities and idiosyncrasies that emerge in high stress situations.

The training focused on the personalities and capabilities we may encounter with various students. It helped us realize more about ourselves and how we deal with varying circumstances by creating realistic scenarios with role playing, which is far more difficult than I expected. We were faced with a day of multiple personalities and very challenging situations. Frankly, I was relieved when it all ended.

It was a great experience and I am meeting some of the nicest, most welcoming people. This is a strong community of enthusiasts, and I truly enjoy giving back to the sport.

I’m confident that I am better prepared for whatever comes my way at the next track event.”

At the end of the day, you have to decide what is important to you and if you want to instruct or not. No one can tell you to do it but the sport is definitely in need of good instructors. If after reading this you do decide you want to instruct, know that there are tons of resources out there to help you. Some of those resources are right here within this very club.

Be safe, Keep learning!

Weekend Recap: “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” or “Why I will miss Engines with a Flywheel”

posted Apr 24, 2018, 7:58 AM by Gran Touring Motorsports Club   [ updated Apr 24, 2018, 8:05 AM ]

Article By: Brad N, Eric M, 4/24/2018 -

Let’s set the stage: Andrew B calls Sam H, Sam calls Eric M, Eric calls John R“hey, you want to go karting on the 23rd?” and the next thing you know “Team GTM” is signed up for a 3 hour Karting Enduro at Autobahn Speedway in Jessup, MD. For a few of us this was our first foray into Endurance Karting, but also into fully electric Karts. Being the outsiders and relatively new to Autobahn, we had some quick ramp up to do.

This event was an extension of Autobahn’s league nights as a new Enduro Series. There were a lot of participants, 9 teams ranging from 2-4 drivers who were set to drive a 3 hour race starting at 7:00pm on their “Monaco” circuit. (photos from the event can be found here)

> pause, time for some quick math <

3 hrs = 180 minutes multiplied by 60 that’s 10,800 seconds / 24 sec (avg lap time) = holy smokes… 450 laps, roughly 112 laps per driver! But unlike traditional karting tracks with karts powered by a Honda or Briggs engine, Autobahn is the “way of the future” with fully electric battery powered karts. The race officials had announced that we had a mandatory “15 stops” to make before the end of the race. Wait, what? 15 stops… more math… 180 divided by 15 that’s a 12 minute session per driver (roughly 30 laps). “Hmm… what’s the battery life on the Karts?” asked Pit Chief, Brad N. *more on that later*

The Good - GTM came ready to rock! The team consisted of Kandy (Andrew B), Monte Quattro (Eric M), Crowd Control (John R), and Swipe Right Turn (Sam H), along with a few cheerleaders, which included Mama Quattro, Doug T and Kerwin W. Everyone arrived on time and ready to go... except Andrew, who forgot his GTM schwag and his helmet, no matter, we had extras. During qualifying, Eric M set a respectable lap time of 0:22.704 which wasn’t too far off the pace of the majority of the other teams. Throughout the race, as our team became more comfortable with the track and the karts, each driver settled into a rhythm, surpassing their previous fastest lap with each session. Near the end of the race, the team would set a best lap time of 0:22.343 bring them into the top 5 for overall bests. Because of the pace of pit stops, the team was able to hit the 15 stop requirement with about 30 minutes left to go, meaning the last couple drivers could stretch their stints for as long as possible.

A view of the Autobahn Speedway facility.

The Bad - There is no good way to say this but, the track itself was terribly unorganized. Prior to race day, participants were instructed to arrive by 6:00pm for a drivers meeting, and many people did. The assumption was that they would qualify from 6:10pm-7pm and the race would start promptly at 7:00pm. Reality: The qualifying didn’t start until about 7:15pm and the race didn’t kick off until 8:15pm. And yes, there was still 3 hours of racing, which meant the race concluded just shy of 11:15pm.

> climbing on a soapbox <

Ahem… As motorsports enthusiasts, we tend to be “petrol heads” not energizer bunnies. Petrol, Gas, Fuel… you remember - that stuff that goes “boom” in your engine and creates power and torque? For the sake of argument we’d like to make the distinction upfront: Gas Engine -- Electric Motor, there is a huge difference.

By comparison electric motors are quiet, smooth, clean and can create torque almost immediately. However!, under extreme conditions like Karting (or Formula E) what you will find is that the very “digital” nature of the electric motor, becomes extremely binary. What do we mean by that? First, throttle response (if you can even call it that) is controlled by a voltage regulator by way of a throttle position sensor (rheostat), which tells the system how much voltage to deliver to the motor. That “instant torque” you feel is the ZERO-to-MAX amps that the electric system can deliver to the motor. There is very little “ramp up” in terms of speed, and the drivetrain reaches near terminal velocity very quickly. #ludacrismode

One of the major downsides of electric motors, in racing, appears when trying to modulate corner entry and exit speed -- aka: trying to carry momentum through a turn. As mentioned, the throttle acts more like an on/off switch than what you are accustomed to. Finding “the spot” in the throttle is near impossible since the voltage can fluctuate too rapidly. Unlike a gas engine, when your foot is off the throttle, there is no “decel enrichment” or “part throttle” the electric motor is OFF which means the motor is spinning only because the (direct drive) drivetrain is forcing it to do so. Getting back on the throttle means an abrupt surge of power back through the drivetrain, often resulting in minor wheel spin.

So where are we going with this? The flywheel ... the flywheel has been the keystone to any fuel based engine since the first engine was created in the 1880s. In a way, that disc shaped rotating mass helps keep an internal combustion engine balanced, but it also acts - in a small way - to keep the motor in “perpetual motion.” With a flywheel you have smoother decels, you can feel the engine rev or bogg, you can anticipate “the power band,” it helps to maintain torque, and most importantly (by way of a torque converter or clutch) a way to disengage the engine from the drivetrain. There are many other traits of a gas engine we’ve learned to take for granted that an electric motor does not afford us.

Therefore, based on what you know about gas engines, racing a vehicle with an electric motor becomes a very disappointing and frustrating experience. Not to mention that in the karting world a gas-powered kart can run for hours on a single tank of fuel compared to the “minutes before shutdown” that occurs as the batteries drain.

> takes a breath and steps down <

Member Andrew B entering T1 on the Monaco Circuit

And now, for the Ugly, using electric karts for an extended time, means they will require recharging. The first few sessions went off without a hitch as fully charged karts were prepped and ready for the next drivers. By the end of a run the karts were noticeably slower and underpowered, and later in the evening meant karts were rotating quickly and were only getting a few moments on the chargers. It was a crapshoot as to whether you would jump into a fully charged, half charged or barely charged kart. Our starting stint timer of 11 minutes was changed to 9 minutes due to lap times falling towards the end of each run.

The racing itself was ruthless. Many of us from GTM had never seen or participated in a karting event like this before so we weren’t sure what to expect, but from our viewpoint, it was pretty bad. Bumping, pushing, spinning, blocking, cutting people off, etc. Folks failed to realize this wasn’t a race about position, it was an enduro, which meant it all came down to pit strategy.

At one point team leader Eric M came in a lap early due to incident, being hit and pushed to the point of reactivating an old neck injury. There was screaming, yelling, pointing …  and that was just our team. #beastmode. We know its racing and every second counts, but there didn’t seem to be any driver etiquette at all from the other teams.

Back to the race, we made strides early moving from the back of the pack all the way to to 3rd place for a brief period before a pit stop and then 5th for a while. Our session lengths varied from 15 to 9 minutes depending on the conditions. Brad N did an excellent job managing the team and using his “cherries and berries” police-like strobe light to signal when it was time to come in for a change. Keeping an eye on “last lap times” really helped make the call.

Remember that time when we were fifth?… 63 laps into our 400+

Due to some mishaps and kart issues we fell back into 7th place. At one point the transponder fell out of John R’s kart, costing the team a minute and a half (about 5 laps), dropping us back to 8th. The team was now in a seriously heated battle with the 7th place team. Over the course of the final hour there were several position changes between the two teams, the race literally came down to the wire and had a last-5-minutes pit stop not occurred, we might have pulled it off.

Remember that pit stop strategy of 11 minute stints? By the end we had 2 extra pit stops (total of 17) due to some poorly charged karts. It was really hard to tell whether it was worth taking the 2 second per lap time drop and driving the kart until it stopped completely or coming into the pits for a driver change that could take anywhere for 40-90 seconds (including any penalty holding).  

Upon reflection, the strategy could have hindered the team more than it helped, coupled with the inconsistencies between each kart, the team ultimately didn’t do as well as we had hoped. The lap times were there for parts of the race, but our stints were inconsistent and there were too many issues (black flags, broken karts forcing unplanned pit stops, etc.). The team ultimately came in second-to-last place, a disappointing finish, but a finish nonetheless.

Left-to-Right, Members: Doug T, Eric M, Sam H and Andrew B.

After the bumps, bruises and scrapes... after scratching and clawing their way through the field, fighting for every precious inch of track and lap time, the team ultimately came in 8th place out of 9 teams. Please note, the 9th team quit racing with about an hour and a half left to go. #insulttoinjury.

Learning from the experience, if GTM is going to field a team again for a future enduro, a refined pitstop strategy should be employed. Now that the team has this one under its belts, they have a little more experience moving into the next one. Admittedly, it probably wasn’t the best representation of our abilities as drivers, and there were definitely some strikes against us, but its was a great team building event, we had fun and we are looking forward to racing together … in gas-powered karts ;-) #121jigawatts

Overall, we are proud of our guys and can’t wait to see team GTM do it again. We hope you can make it out to the next one, and if you are interested in participating in an event with other GTM members, please let one of the Crew Chiefs know.

Weekend Recap: Spring WGI - Know when to fold ‘em

posted Apr 19, 2018, 5:34 AM by Gran Touring Motorsports Club   [ updated Apr 19, 2018, 11:24 AM ]

Article by: Eric M, 4/18/2018 -

There is nothing more satisfying than kicking off your season with a spring visit to Watkins Glen International (WGI) Raceway. It’s rich racing history is partnered with a charming, quaint and rustic lakeside town making it an ideal getaway. For several years now, GTM has joined HookedOnDriving to celebrate the coming of spring and opening weekend at WGI.

Before we recap this past weekend, I want to roll back the clock to last years event. Watkins Glen by mid-April is generally sunny, trees and flowers are in bloom, tourist season hasn’t quite started, and there is still a slight Canadian breeze keeping temps in the 50s.

Spring 2017, Watkins Glen.

But as we all know, this years winter on the East Coast has been one for the record books. Some of the coldest “cold” on the books, and winter has definitely exceeded its “best by” date. Even Punxsutawney Phil was way off. For 2018, Watkins Glen treated us with 30 degree temps, high winds, heavy rains changing to sleet and finally snow.

Spring 2018, Watkins Glen.

I think it goes without saying, conditions were “less than optimal” for this event. Due to some administrative decisions on the part of WGI, it was decided that “the show must go on” and therefore the “brave and the bold” set out to get their laps in despite the conditions.

Veteran coaches will say “always keep learning” --  use every opportunity to advance your skills. Driving in these types of conditions definitely ramps up your learning curve. To quote member Kerwin W, “...I thought I knew, but I now know what having ZERO grip feels like.”

Driving in the rain requires patience, constant assessment, planning and above all “being smooth.” Longer braking zones and careful application of the throttle will get you around the track safely even in trying times. Without the proper rain tires you won’t be able to drive 8-tenths, but 6-tenths with street tires and a dash of risk every now and again will get you around the course without disappointment. I have to say it rather amusing to see a front-wheel-drive (or hot hatch all-wheel-drive) keeping the higher horsepower rear-wheel-drive cars at bay. Rain is the ultimate equalizer.

Admittedly, our story takes a bit of a tragic turn towards mid-day on Day 1. Since the late-2016 repave of WGI, the track surface has changed. The previous version of WGI included different grading, added camber, flatter curbing, etc. The new version of WGI (much like other recently repaved tracks) now includes crowning for better drainage, less camber, taller and freshly painted curbing. Despite all the of changes, you cannot remove WGI’s large elevation changes and water will always travel on “the path of least resistance” which means during a heavy storm large pools form around apexes, a lake forms between T9 and T10, and strong undercurrents start to form down the straightways, as well as a small river across “600-hp-Hill” (between T7 and T8 in the sole of the boot).

Member Doug T was the unfortunate victim of the “Hilltop-River” between T7-T8. While under acceleration, his Lancer EVO started to hydroplane and then went into a spin. Catching a wheel off track in an attempt to save the car in an area with little runoff meant a slight chance to not catch some Armco. Unfortunately, even in dry conditions grass is an accelerant - now add water - and there is no stopping a vehicle unless something stops it for you (in this case, the wall).

Dougs EVO before (left), during (center), after (right).

Once Doug pulled the EVO into the garage the GTM crew went into action, with help from Members: Eric M, Sam H, Kenny E and Kerwin W, the EVO didn’t miss a session and was back on track for a shake down run. We’re happy to report that the EVO only suffered cosmetic damage and spent time on track the rest of the day.

Doug’s new front splitter works great as a lawnmower.

By the end of Day 1, the track conditions had worsened with Heavy Fog and Sleet rolling in, and drivers were pulled in early and activity was halted. Many left the paddock with hope that “tomorrow will be better.”

Waking up the next morning to snow fall, WGI made their decision by 8:30am to keep the track closed since temperatures were not forecasted to rise much above freezing, making track conditions perilous. Disappointed, folks began to pack up and head for home. HOD handled the situation masterfully and offered drivers a possible “make up date” or the option to reappropriate their event fees to another weekend later in the season.

You can never predict the weather… and sometimes, we just have to remember what Kenny Rogers told us: “...You've got to know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, And know when to run…” -- remember to always use your judgement before going on track, don’t be pressured to go out in conditions you’re not comfortable with, know when “enough is enough” and come off track. And above all #safetyfirst.

We’ll continue wait for the weather to change in our favor, and hope to see many of you at a sunnier event very soon!

Weekend Recap: SCCA PDX & MBCA Autocross

posted Mar 31, 2018, 2:16 AM by Gran Touring Motorsports Club   [ updated Apr 19, 2018, 4:28 AM ]

Article by: Matt Y; Originally Published: 7/17/2017 -

Great news for the insomniacs, more fodder to put you to sleep!!

For those of you who know, I had some medical issues that slowed me down a bit - no, I'm already slow on the track, it was a different type of slow. Last month, I attended an autocross with the Mercedes-Benz Club in Winchester to gauge my stamina. The good news was that I had a good time but I was so exhausted that I went to bed at 4p that afternoon!!

Fast forward to last weekend. SCCA had a PDX and MBCA had an autocross. Wanting to do both, I decided to drive at the PDX on Saturday and attend the autocross on Sunday. The PDX was short on instructors so I volunteered as a last resort instructor and hoped for the best.

Saturday morning came bright and early-fortunately loading the car was my only morning task (the Honduh doesn't have functional windows). Thanks to Eric for holding a paddock space large enough for my truck, open trailer and race car. For once, I arrived BEFORE the All-Hands Meeting so I had time to make and drink a cup of wonderful Summit Point coffee before hitting the track. Aside from setting tire pressures, the car was ready to go, fresh from it's outing at the Dyno Day. Entering DFL, my initial goal was just to get around the Shenandoah circuit without any drama. By the second turn, that changed as the rear tried to pass the front - nothing serious, just annoying. The rest of the lap was terrible-slow reflexes, late inputs and basically driving like a novice. The crowning glory was pushing too hard on the Stone House Straight and falling off the track. Not my best performance to say the least.

As I prepared to head out for my second session, Eric pointed out that the exhaust was dragging. This made sense since the car seemed EXTRA LOUD in the morning. Hoping to sneak out, I was caught at track-out and did a full lap in order to come off immediately - ugh. Fortunately I have a few friends at the track including the owner of RP Performance in Gasoline Alley. I trundled off to the shop with Brad and Eric in tow. Bret, the owner of RP was at the shop working on Wreck Piñata and was willing to let me use a lift. It's amazing how easy it is to fix a 2-bolt exhaust flange when you can stand underneath the car!!  While underneath the car, I looked at the front tyres and found some rather significant flat spots. That explained why the car handled like crap and why it drummed at speed. After much abuse, Bret pointed me towards some used SM6 Hoosiers. Having been trained by the tyre master himself, Paul Moorcones at Radial Tire, mounted and balanced the two front tyres with Bret's blessing.

Back at the track, I had missed the Advanced session but decided to go out with Intermediate. Again starting DFL, I started catching traffic almost immediately-ugh. Not wanting to spook anyone or cause heartaches, I hung out and just waited. Then the fun began-I started to get back into the driving "grove", following seemingly faster cars like an S2000. I eventually made my way past the slower traffic and got a few open laps which was great for my focus.

Towards the end of the second session, I found myself stuck to the rear of a newish BMW M4. Again, I didn't want to cause problems so I just hung out until the driver gave a point before the bridge. This is the absolute WORST place for me because the Honduh simply has no torque. I hammered the car and fortunately the M4 driver lifted significantly to let me complete the pass. After the session, I ran into the M4's instructor, Marshall Lytle. He commented that the M4 driver wasn't thrilled about giving a point but Marshall assured him that the driver in the Blue Honduh wasn't any intermediate student.

Unfortunately that was my last session because a young man at his first event ever with his WRX suffered turbo sadness. He was there with his parents and younger sister, all of whom were trying to figure how to get the car back to Warrenton. Having been in these situations before, I offered to tow the car home and made arrangements with Eric to bring home the Honduh if I ran too late. Fortunately I was able to get back at a reasonable hour allowing us to make a run for large pieces of cow because Cow Good!!

Come Sunday, I packed my helmet into my '97 Piñata and headed to Winchester. The Mercedes-Benz Club is a bit of a hidden gem-they are much like the Clubs that I remember when I first started down the slippery slope of Motorsports. They are a social club with an automotive problem so while there is competition, it's more about having fun and talking trash. I'm still unknown to most of the MBCA folks which is fun especially after knowing so many folks at other events. Showing up with a plain, stock Piñata is even more fun especially when my times weren't DFL!   I started an informal high mileage suspension challenge - the Piñata has 211k on the original suspension and my closest competition had 208k on his CLK55.

Member Matt Y, napping while standing, why not, you probably are too… LOL ;-)

At the end of the weekend, I certainly slept well on Sunday night but I survived and proved that I have more stamina than I expected.

Hopefully this will give the strength and courage to run the Labor Day Double MARRS. We'll see how that pans out.

Weekend Recap: It's Spelled DYNO Day, Not DINO Day!

posted Mar 31, 2018, 2:08 AM by Gran Touring Motorsports Club   [ updated Mar 31, 2018, 2:10 AM ]

Article by: Brad N; Originally Published: 6/29/2017 -


Someone once said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “dyno days are stupid, what’s the point? I already dyno’d my car for race series XYZ and know how much power I have, it doesn’t even matter”



Well, to that person I say, nothing. I was always told if you don’t have anything nice to say…. But, I can also say just look at the turnout.


What was once considered a dumb idea, turned into a great event and a great showing of GTM members. Apparently more people than we originally thought were interested in seeing how much power their cars produced, so much so that we had to cut off registration in order to fit everyone in. GTM members gathered at New German Performance in Aberdeen MD to hang out, win some prizes, and see how much power their cars had or didn’t have. All makes and models were welcome and the turn-out of participants was a testament to just how diverse this club truly is. We had food, music, good people, great support from a sponsor, and an overall great day.


Some highlights from the festivities

  • John “Crowd Control” R and his better half, Erin “Common-Law” K brought out there squirrel powered eco-boost mustang. And sure enough, with the first pull of the first car of the day, Crowd Control won the contest for best guess of their cars HP number. He hit the number right on the head at 287HP to the rear wheels. Of course, the officials at the corporate office are reviewing this for any cheating. (Just kidding, but not really).

  • Doug “Tic-Tac” Turner and his little orange Miata that could came out ready to fight, and man did they have a temper. That angry Tic-Tac put down an Earth shattering 102HP!

  • At a Volkswagen shop, there were a total of 3 Volkswagens tested. The two MKIV chassis cars from Mike “Fast Beddie” with Chrissy “Crutch” C and Brad “The Triple 6” N. Both cars put down respectable and predictable numbers. However, it was the MKVII GTI of Bruce “Checker Blind” S that was the most surprising showing. The little stage one hatchback hit a whopping 293HP and over 300 torques!

  • Late comer Dave “ZLWON” P took away the “Dyno Queen” prize for putting down a super impressive 479HP at the rear wheels in a BONE STOCK 2015 Camaro ZL1. Not bad for a car that showed up practically factory fresh.

  • The most surprising showing of the day however, was Corey “Semper-Fi” T and her late model Toyota 4Runner off-roader. This thing was built for off-road excursions with a huge lift, big tires, on board air compressor, you name it and the truck had it. With all that weight, you need to have the power to move it, and her 4Runner did not disappoint, putting down a good 229HP at the rear wheels. Had she not guessed 1 higher than her actual number, she would have been the winner of the “Price is Right” guessing game (SUCK IT, RICHTER!)

  • Of course, the day wasn’t without its little disappointments. Kerwin “Freak Show” W had possible tuning issues which resulted in a less than anticipated HP figure. And Andrew “Big Dubz” M couldn’t make the event due to a last minute AWOL dog situation at home. The puppy was found however and all is well. Although I hear the dog has learned a few more curse words than he knew before running away.

  • All in all the event was great with an amazing turnout. I want to thank Eric “Terrible Toad” and Jess “Bread Baker Extraordinaire” M, who spent all night and morning baking fresh bread and assembling homemade Italian sandwiches and PBJ (even though they used the wrong Jelly!). And a huge Thank You to New German Performance for putting up with our motley crew of car enthusiasts!

Photos from the event can be found on Shutterfly


For those of you that missed it, don’t fret, GTM has a number of great events planned for the rest of the year and beyond, so be sure to check back often and review your emails for those dates and details.

Weekend Recap: The Yard

posted Mar 31, 2018, 2:02 AM by Gran Touring Motorsports Club   [ updated Mar 31, 2018, 2:09 AM ]

Article by: Eric M, Originally Published: 7/24/2017 -

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think “Junk Yard?”

Dirty, smelly, piles of trash?

Re-runs of "Sanford & Sons" on TVland?

Or just no idea at all?

"Crazy Rays" Junk Yard, Mt. Airy, Maryland on a sunny Saturday morning.

Having grown up going to Yards more often than I’d like to admit, there are different ways you can look at the experience. First off, there is a huge difference between a Dump, Metal Yard and a Junk Yard (aka: Salvage Yard or Wrecker Yard). Dumps are the “dirty, smelly, piles of trash” you were probably envisioning. A Metal Yard is generally filled with old washers and refrigerators and sometimes cars but it’s main purpose is recycling. However, a dedicated Car/Truck “you pick it - you pull it” Yard is unique. The premise is simple, bring whatever tools you think you might need, pay $2.00 to enter the 30-40 acre yard, scour, search and find something you might need and start your disassembly project.

"Look Yonder" ... members: Brian Y (left) and Daniel S (right) setting their sites on a new find.

For me going to the Yard brings mixed feelings. It’s a somber and humbling place when you view it as a car cemetery especially when you start to dig into the wrecks and car-b-cues. I will say that after a while you start to become desensitized to it. There are times where you will drop your hat in a moment of silence for vehicles that are just shameful to see in the yard, classics, that should have found a home - instead of being regrettably abandoned to the Yard.

The charred remains of a late-model Eagle Talon / Mitsubishi Eclipse -- from what we could tell

Is that K.I.T.T? -- I'd give 'em $50 for it.

Nothing like a BMW inline-6 blocking the path. Was Mike C here?

I will admit, going to the yard alone is a boring experience - like touring a museum about Rust and Corrosion.  But going with other folks can be an awesome adventure! It’s a time to flex your “useless knowledge” muscles about makes/models of vehicles and parts you might know about. Then there is the “find the diamond in the rough” game. The rules are simple: "What is the most standout or odd car you can find amongst the ruins?" -- is it the canary yellow Opel GT? '50s Chevy? Or the random Renault LeCar? … It becomes a real treasure hunt.

Member: "Mountain Man" Dan S (left) searches inside of this square body Chevy Blazer. Our top pick for the "diamond in the rough" not because of it's scarcity, but because it's the Chicken Shack Truck!  Making it our #1 pick for the weekend.

Aside from amassing 11 defrost switches for a late '80s Audi that I’ll probably never use again, going to the Yard does pose a huge advantage for Racers. If you can collect “known breakables” cheaply you can keep them in your stock and for a fraction of the cost you can upkeep your race car easily without breaking the seasonal budget. There are a few other benefits to the yard as well: ability to practice working on a part or section of the car before you attempt the job on your own or ruin something; at the Yard you can mess up and no one really cares. The other upside is “experimentation” update / backdate parts or mix-&-match items if you’re trying to MacGuyver a project. Who knew that a Mercedes 190 radiator fit a late '80s Audi Quattro… on paper no way, after a trip to the Yard -- Heck Ya!

The Yard is the ultimate test in patience, like my father (Nic M) used to say “if you can figure out how to take something apart without breaking it you can put it back together.” -- most people don’t have that same level of discipline, generally destroying 100s if not 1000s of dollars of parts just to get at something worth $5. As member Brian Y puts it “if I have to spend more than 5 minutes on something, and I don’t need it, I just leave it alone -- but if it’s something I want, I’ll spend the time.”

Pictures from this event can be found on Shutterfly

We hope that you can join us on our next Junk Yard adventure!

Until then, Happy Hunting :-)

Weekend Recap: Winter Karting Showdown

posted Feb 19, 2018, 4:25 PM by Gran Touring Motorsports Club

Article by: Eric M, 2/19/2018

This weekend was GTM’s inaugural Karting Showdown held at Mid-Atlantic Grand Prix (MAGP) in New Castle, DE. MAGP is an indoor Karting facility with a 0.5 mile track consisting of 9 turns. The course design has a great rhythm and is a blend of speed and complex corner combinations. We were provided Honda-powered Sodi-Kart chassis Karts which are capable of 40+ mph.

We were very proud to have an overwhelming number of GTM members (as well as their families and friends) register and participate in this event. The format for the showdown was 3 - eight minute qualifying rounds; where the results would determine how drivers were assigned to their teams for a 90 minute mini-enduro. On average, the drivers settled into lap times in the 23-24 second range. Teams would be assigned based on Fast – Middle – Not-so-fast times. Teams of 3 drivers assembled to represent 10 karts using our military inspired naming convention of Teams Alpha through Juliet.  

Should we run our fastest driver first or at the end? We have a 2 minute pit window, When should we pit? -- Pit stops, Driver change and other strategies were left up to the teams to debate on. Each teams’ Kart would be on track for a total of 90 minutes giving each driver a 30 minute stint to complete…

GTM Member: Garrett L (Team Echo) in full attack mode. #peanutbutterjellytime

Lets’ pause to extrapolate that out for a moment: 90 minutes of racing at an average 23 second lap time, that’s roughly in the neighborhood of 235 laps. Which means, each driver would have to complete about 78 laps, not counting their qualifying round… I just want to point out that the “next day muscle pain” becomes ever more clear and present when you put math behind it, right? Two advil and a nap afterwards, really helps.

Qualifying was awesome! Drivers getting immediately amped up, talking about how good they will be, the session and how well they did; The trash talk was pretty epic. But when the rubber hit the road and it was time to race, you really saw the teams come alive, work together and the competition heat up.

What’s the first thing a race car driver learns? How to make good excuses… and Karting really brings out the best of them! Here’s a sample:

-       It wasn’t my fault, my kart was: slow, broken, or tires were terrible.

-       It wouldn’t grip, I was sliding everywhere.

-       Why the heck was I given a penalty?

-       This Kart MUST be defective!

-       Ooof, Oww, Ouch … my back.

There were some great moments throughout the race, a few memorable ones during Qualifying/Round 1 would include: Sam H running out of fuel midway through his battle with John R – oddly reminiscent of his Forza League race just 2 weeks ago. A couple of epic drifts and a spin or two, but let’s not forget the successful 4 wide pass through T9 onto the start/finish straight. I believe Kerwin W put it best “never seen anything like that, that was hella crazy.”

By the start of Round 2 it seemed like there was going to be a runaway win from Team Alpha which carried the pole position qualifier (at 21s) Sean Roberts from HOD; and nearly 3 laps ahead of 2nd place. Most folks were paying close attention to the real fight which was brewing between 2nd through 6th positions; where many drivers were on the same lap. Pit strategy, mechanical problems and other issues turned the tides of the race during the second stint, shuffling the deck entirely. A highlight of Round 2 requires us to take a moment to give a huge shout out to Anessa S the 12-yr-old daughter of GTM member “Mountain Man” Dan S who made her Karting debut this weekend. Qualifying in the 28 second range, she learned quickly, adapted and overcame - pulling lap times in the 23s and giving the more seasoned drivers a run for their money! An absolute stellar performance! Applause.

Anessa S, seen here in the Green Hoodie and Motorcross Helmet exiting T8.

Many teams opted to hold their fastest drivers until the final round; but unlike the previous two stints the facility decided to pull the fleet in and refuel before going back out. This meant the karts were now all together in the pits, would be running heavy and the tires would be ice cold – requiring 3-4 laps to return to normal operating temperature. Realistically, the tires on most karts were heat cycled out, which meant no amount of warm up was ever going to help, but the drifting was surreal.

Round 3: Admittedly, some of the most hilarious or maybe we should say: calamitous moments were during the final stint of the race. Where should we start… ah yes, apparently “rolling start” didn’t make sense to folks which resulted in the first black flag penalty in over 60 minutes of racing. Granted, you’ve had these “caged racers” waiting for over an hour to get on track; there is no doubt that Full Attack-Mode was engaged from the moment helmets went on; and this was the last-ditch effort for a lot of teams to make a comeback. Let’s just say, this “pent up aggression” results in some demolition derby action, pit maneuvers and the like, during the next 6 laps. Bewildered by this sudden uptick the MAGP staff had to quickly take action, which meant each Kart was subsequently brought in for a stop/go penalty of their own. Each penalty stop was anywhere from 5-20 seconds depending on the marshals’ mood at the time. Let’s just say they were a bit miffed.

Once traffic cleared up, the lap times began plummeting into the low 22s as drivers were giving it their all. And all the while trying to make up for lost time (and laps). Each penalty stop puts a smile on your face - when it’s not you - and an additional opportunity to catch up. Unfortunately, biggest upset happened when one of the top teams (Team Charlie), being piloted by John C - in his neon pink hoodie - suffered a mechanical failure which required him to switch karts, not once, but twice, before even leaving the pit … and if that wasn’t enough, he got stuck behind his original broken down Kart which was blocking the exit to pit road – why? Because all 3 course marshalls were still busy dealing with black flag penalties. By rough calculation he lost a minimum of 4 minutes in the pits which shook up the standings once again.

It was really motivating to see everyone standing by and watching intently during the last round cheering on their teams and friends. That sense of comradery really does give you that extra bit of incentive to give it your all. Thank you to all the fans. #goteamjuliet.

1:37 left on the clock; 5 laps to go… there is still hope.

In the end we had some real underdog stories, upsets and broken hearts…

However, Team Bravo, piloted by Kyle Null (long time friend of GTM member: Shane S), Steve Fureman (HOD) and Corey Turner (GTM member Doug T’s wife) were able to come from the shadows and win the race, taking home some very nice trophies provided by GTM Prize Master Brad N and MAGP. The 10th place finishers of Team Golf (Brian S, Parker H and Adam E (son of GTM member Ken E)) took home HOD gift certificates so that they can get some extra practice throughout the 2018 season. Congrats again to everyone, good game!

Left-to-Right: Steve Fureman, Corey Tuner and Kyle Null (Team Bravo) - Winners of the GTM v HOD Karting Showdown.

We really want to thank Mid-Atlantic Grand Prix for hosting us and putting on such a great event. Their facility is top notch and we hope to return. Another shout out to our event co-Sponsor HookedOnDriving for helping us make this event a great success we look forward to working with you again this season. And with special thanks to Mike C for all the great photos from this event which are now available on And lastly to member Mike B for setting up an awesome post-race lunch at Ironhill Brewery. This was really a great way to get psyched for the upcoming 2018 season and we look forward to having another event like this, and seeing everyone very soon.

And remember, Karting is gateway and side effects may include: muscle pain, aggressive behavior, red mist, lower back issues, dehydration, profuse sweating, hpde, time trails and club racing. #redmistracer

Weekend Recap: NE Region Ski Trip (Vermont)

posted Feb 14, 2018, 5:20 AM by Gran Touring Motorsports Club

Article by: Marissa C, 2/13/2018

The GTM Ski Club had a blast skiing in Vermont this weekend! Conditions were less than perfect but the company was awesome! Next year’s trip will be even better! Thanks Harry B and Justine for taking care of the food!!

More pictures available on

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