Our Two Cents: Favorite on-track moments
The feedback was impressive on our last installment of Our Two Cents, and everyone here at Hagerty Media is thrilled to know that our staff’s collective knowledge over decades of automotive history has an audience in you!
This week we took a different angle, looking into our favorite moments in motorsports. Not all of us have track experience, but we still love racing, so not all the moments shared star the contributing staffer. And then there’s my slanted take on racing … but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Let’s get right to it!
GT2 at Laguna Seca
Our director of video, Matt Tuccillo, raves about this famous point of contact during the finish of a GT2 race at Leguna Seca back in 2009. Encountering this video online is, according to him:
… equivalent to having movies like Goodfellas, Heat, Days of Thunder, etc. on a TV as I walk past. I’m gonna stop and watch it to the end. That moment has good commentary, great camera angles, all on an exciting track. The vehicles are relatable and you can feel the full-on red mist at that moment!
2019 Hoosier Hundred
Cameron Neveu, motorsports editor, remind us that Indiana lost a famous race track four years ago.
Luckily the track wasn’t shuttered, nor did it become the site of a new strip mall. Rather, it was covered in gravel for horse racing. Since 1953, the Indiana State Fairgrounds in eastern Indianapolis has hosted the Hoosier Hundred, the Circle City’s second most-famous race.
Typically held a couple days before the Indy 500, the 100-lap dirt race on the mile-long flat track welcomed the hottest shoes in open-wheel racing. Drivers such as Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt battled in front-engine roadsters similar to the cars they raced later in the weekend across town. Jeff Gordon even won the race in 1991.
Before the track owners terminated auto racing, they held one last blowout in 2019 and welcomed all vintage open-wheel circle trackers to make spirited parade laps in the dirt.
My buddy Andy Root put me in a midget for the event. The pint-sized car was built by 1950 Indy 500 winner Johnny Parsons Sr. at Red Caruthers shop in Anaheim, California, and is powered by a Pontiac “Iron Duke” engine. Turning laps in a famous car at a now-closed famous speedway still sparks chills when I remember it.
Driving off of the fourth turn in front of a packed grandstand, pretending I’m “Super Tex” Foyt—that’s gotta be my favorite moment on track.
Barber on foot and on bike
Editor Kyle Smith recalls his time at Alabama’s Barber Motorsports Park, with a special mention for being able to do a walk on the famous race track.
It sounds odd to point out, but keep in mind it is fairly rare to get the chance to walk the track at Barber. When presented with the opportunity, I felt it was a literal “cannot miss” moment: being that intimate with such a technical track, having the chance to soak up the details and understand what’s happening with the surface is a godsend to me as a rider.
Going through museum corner (turn 9) at speed only allows so much time to learn. This is in contrast to walking, as I was blown away at just how much the track falls away as you turn in to the right, as your suspension is settling from coming off the curbing of turn 8. I stood still and focused on where there were good reference points, what the surface was actually doing, and how I could take advantage of what I was learning.
The fact that one of my bikes blew up the first session (after the track walk) has a factor on why my favorite on-track memory is walking, but walking the hill between turn 12 and 13 looking into a beautiful Alabama sunset was an experience like few others.
Even a photo of turn 9 cannot capture the off-camber nature of the pavement, so listen for the scrape of my motorcycle’s bellypan in the above video.
300 mph in a pickup
Special projects editor Steven Cole Smith clearly earns first in the top-speed category, if not an overall win for making it happen in a 1957 Chevy truck!
Favorite time on a racetrack? Man, that’s covering some territory. It could be a Neon Challenge race at Lime Rock, but I’d pick an event that took place at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base runway in North Carolina.
I was a passenger in Hayden Proffitt’s Hot Streak 2, a twin-jet-powered pickup truck. We hit 303.7 mph in a test run. Not many people get to go 300 mph on four wheels—or six, in the case of this 1957 Chevrolet pickup truck—and it was a thrill and an honor to get to do it with Hayden.
The whole experience was oddly anti-climactic—when there’s drama, something is going wrong, and there was none.
One hot lap in a Z06
Todd Kraemer, our creative director, lived a previous life in the world of Mad Men at an advertising agency. But creating content isn’t only hard work; sometimes you get the opportunity to blast around a track with blessings from the right person.
I was doing a photo shoot for Corvette at my former ad agency gig. We were at Sebring in February for pre-season testing with Corvette Racing (and a smattering of other teams), and they brought along a then-new Ron Fellows edition Corvette Z06 for us to photograph with Ron himself and the C6.Rs.
The team broke for lunch, so that was our time on track for motion photography with the Z06. I drove the Corvette as photographer Evan Klein shot out the back and side of a minivan. As we burned through the hour on track, and were finishing a final burnout shot over the start/finish line, the track radio next to me chirped. The Corvette Racing team was ready to come back out. I was a couple feet from the pit lanes, so I asked if I could simply back up into the paddock.
The track marshall said, “Absolutely not, go all the way around.”
I said “10-4,” set the radio down on the passenger seat, and did a hot lap, alone, around Sebring in the Z06.
Quality time with modern Mopars
Stefan Lombard, managing editor of Hagerty Drivers Club magazine, spent the day with Dodge’s latest Challengers. Suffice it to say, this moment clearly made a mark:
I don’t have much track experience—or seat time in 800-hp cars—but my favorite day at the track came at the 2.5-mile Club Motorsports track in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It’s a stunning place, and I was there to drive the new-for-2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody. Dodge had manual- and automatic-equipped cars on hand, and it was great fun to drive them back to back. I have so little to compare it to, but I came away thoroughly impressed by that car’s chops on a twisty circuit.
My first victory!
Senior editor Eddy Eckart “spins a tale” of his first race win. Well, presumably without any spinning on his part:
In August 2014 at Mid Ohio, I had been within sniffing distance of first place the whole weekend. The start of Sunday morning’s race came off cleanly, and I held position on the inside of the track (heading into the Keyhole turn that opens up to the back straight).
Toward the turn’s exit, the leader’s pristine white second-gen RX-7 began a lazy rotation. I watched him countersteer, clawing to correct his too-early throttle application. For me, moments of hyper-focus like this happen so slowly and the observations are detail-rich to the point of questionable relevance. But I remember calmly narrating to myself, “Oh, it looks like Mark’s going around. Man, he sure keeps that car clean.”
He did indeed go around, momentum carrying him toward the outside of the track. For the first time, I was leading a race!
I hadn’t much practice driving in my mirrors while still trying to lay down laps that would keep me at the pointy end of the field, but I managed. 25 minutes have never taken so long. There was sweat in my eyes as I crossed under the checkers. I swear, it was sweat!
Good fortune had opened the door, but I was able to back it up. The seal had been broken and I followed that first win with another later that day, and a couple more that fall. It was my best year of racing, and it started with my swoop to the inside of that sliding RX-7.
Historics for the history books
Senior vice president of Hagerty Media, Larry Webster, has his favorite moment recorded for all of us to enjoy:
This is a compilation of all my mistakes during a Formula Ford weekend running at my favorite track, Laguna Seca. I love it for many reasons, mainly because I laugh every time I see my boneheaded moves. In one instance, I was so choked by red mist that I didn’t realize there was a yellow flag: So that’s why I was suddenly faster than everyone else!
The video also reminds me that the car is so tight I have to shuffle-steer but it’s such a great-handling thing that I push it. Also, sometimes you just get lucky and miss the wreck that happens in front of you.
In a Viper, feeling the “Blur”
We’re lucky that community coordinator Eugene Leeds doesn’t take things too seriously, because there’s no need to get worked up when you’re behind the wheel of a Dodge Viper. Right?
How about that time I beat Joe DeMatio and Larry Webster around Lime Rock? Okay, that was on foot …
But in a car?
When I was just starting out I found myself at Pocono Raceway though IMPA in a new Dodge Viper. I had the radio on as I was waiting a while for my turn. Just as it was time for me to go, I pulled up to the line and Blur’s “Song 2” (from BMW Films’ “Star”) came on the Viper’s speakers.
Wow. It wasn’t my finest lap but I sure had a big smile around my face.
Who hoo. Who hoo, indeed.
Also Sprach Zarathustra and Lemons
My favorite moment is basically any moment in crapcan racing. As a judge in the 24 Hours of Lemons for the past decade, I’ve witnessed hilarious highs, laughable lows, and even moments of the same intoxicating “real racing” you’ll find in other race series. So here’s my pick of the Lemon-y litter:
- Take a GM Dustbuster minivan.
- Theme it to look like a space ship.
- Get it to pass tech.
- Blow up something in the powertrain that’ll cause a smoke show without immediately killing it.
- Let a fellow racer get race video, and play Also Sprach Zarathustra in the background.
Lemons isn’t like the other race series; it wholeheartedly encourages stupidity and lampoons norms of the racing world. You can’t have fun when you’re being too serious, and perhaps that’s how racing should be.