Let's get a couple of things out of the way. First, testing is very boring. Testing a race car has to rank right up there with taking an SAT test. Hell, taking the bar exam might even be more exciting than a day of testing. Having said all that, you need to face the reality that, if you expect to do well, you have to test. Races are won in testing sessions. You don't win the race on Sunday. No, you win it weeks before the actual race takes place. You win it with your testing program.
A lot of you also need to consider what you do at track events. Track events are really just like an extended test day. What brought this home is when Danny Kellermyer of DJ Racing explained to me that his drivers don't go onto the track to "learn the track." Danny's drivers need to be very specific about what turn, or braking zone, they intend to work on during a track test. As Danny puts it, the most important part of testing is having a plan. You need to approach track days the same way.
A lot of people just go out on the track and drive around-never getting any better. Then there are people who think they can get better if they just buy more parts. Hard as it may be to believe, you can actually get better with concentrated and focused practice. It's not always necessary to buy thousands of dollars in parts that don't do anything. Try a focused day at the track next time you're tempted to reach for your Visa card.
Danny Kellermeyer is one of the people in Corvette racing that everyone listens to. Danny has set more than his share of track records around the country, but I still think of him as the best crew chief I've ever worked with. After a couple of laps with Danny at the Waterford Hills course, I'll add driving coach as well. Danny is also the mayor of Waterford. During the weekend I spent with DJ Racing, I think everyone in the paddock came over to see Danny. Most had a technical question and left with an answer. No one is more giving than Danny. I loved watching him switch from being the mayor to being the professor of road racing.
Even though DJ Racing has a new C6 back in the shop, this particular weekend was for the C5 cars. Actually, at most tracks the C6 is no significant improvement over the C5. That one inch of added wheelbase on the C6 makes a real difference in the weight on the rear wheels. A difference that is not always good.
Both the #37 Corvette and #39 Corvette were built in 1999 (sort of) and were part of the Corvette kit car program. Remember that between 1998 and 2000, you could buy a Corvette that was delivered to you in boxes. You got the chassis, and the rest came in a bunch of boxes. Some assembly was required. That's a story for another issue, though.
Today's test is very focused. It's time to see if all of the effort that's been expended in the past few weeks actually works. The #39 car (Jeff Cauley's Corvette) has a brand-new engine and the #37 (Danny's Corvette) has a new transmission and rear axle. What really strikes me right away is that there are more cars than people at this test day. This is a new experience for me. Every team I've ever worked with has had more people than cars. In the ALMS, it used to get really silly with about 15 people for one car. Here I am looking at three Corvettes and just Joe Cauley and Danny Kellermyer. This 3:2 ratio is unheard of in racing.