Team GTI

Racing Project GTI

Roebling Road Raceway
Bloomingdale, GA
12-15 February
Sports Car Club of America
Driver Licensing School

Two schools were necessary first steps toward renewing my long-expired racing license so I took advantage of Buccaneer Region SCCA's double school, outside of Savannah, Georgia.

This event provided 6+ hours of track time and I had the opportunity to work with a great instructor. The weather varied from sunny and dry, through damp, to soaking downpours, providing a perfect opportunity to get comfortable behind the wheel of a racing car again in changing conditions.

The car performed flawlessly, though proved to be somewhat slow on a dry track. While this was mostly the fault of the driver, it was partially a product of the limitations of the Showroom Stock preparation rules and the low-budget compromises made during preparation.

Highlight - Posting the second-fasted time of 46 cars running a very wet practice session.

Scott Giles Photo

Virginia International Raceway
Alton, VA
20 March
Sports Car Club of America
Carolina Cup Pro Series Road Race

Following a layoff of almost 15 years, my return to competitive driving took place on a sunny early spring day at the amazing VIR circuit. At 3.27 miles in length, this track ranks among the best in the nation and it was a pleasure to take on the chore of learning this beautiful circuit.

The day finished with a 45-minute race in which I started 75th of 76 starters - the product of a very rusty driver peddling one of the slowest cars in the race, on an unfamiliar and daunting track. I finished 65th overall - taking advantage of the bad luck of others - and three laps down on the winner, as the only Showroom Stock C car entered.

Highlight - Being complimented by several drivers of faster cars for being "easy to get by" and "not messing up their race." You take what you can get, sometimes.

Shoot to Thrill Photo

Virginia International Raceway
Alton, VA
10-11 April
Tarheel Sports Car Club
High Performance Driving School

I was invited to serve as an instructor for the high performance driving school co-hosted by the Tarheel Sports Car and Triangle Z Clubs, running the south course at VIR. This was a great opportunity to get some time in the car at a low pressure event, while coaching two other drivers in the skills required for driving on the racetrack.

My students were great - friendly, hard working, predictable, and interested in improving their skills - and, while the weather was chilly and on-again, off-again rainy, the event was a success. Once again, Project GTI proved to be most comfortable in the wet sessions, able to hold its own against some higher powered sports cars when conditions got soggy.

Highlight - Concentrated practice on VIR's difficult Oak Tree corner, which should translate into decreased lap times on this wonderful track.

Virginia International Raceway
Alton, VA
7-9 May
Sports Car Club of America
South Atlantic Road Racing Championship Road Race

This SARRC double regional event marks the debut of PhilsTireService.com as a promotional partner of Project GTI. Phil's Tire Service will be working with the team to prepare for and run the Charge of the Headlight Brigade 13-hour endurance race on October - a grueling test of the Toyo racing rubber that Phil's distributes.

Hot sunny weather made for sunburned necks and lots of empty water bottles but Project GTI was again reliable - if still not quick enough to run with the rest of the SSC entries in either of the weekend's races. An oil leak resulted in a slipping clutch in Saturday's event but created less of a problem on Sunday after a liberal dousing with cleaning solvent.

Highlight - Almost four seconds of improvement in lap times over my first visit to the VIR full-course layout.

Breaking News - The Project GTI driving line-up is set for the Charge of the Headlight Brigade 13-hour enduro. Updates to follow.

K. Knestis Photo

Shoot to Thrill Photo

Blue Ridge Sports Car Hillclimb
Laurel Springs, NC
15-16 May
Sports Car Club of America
SEDiv Solo I

My first visit to the Blue Ridge Hillclimb was great - as much fun as I have grown to expect hillclimbs to be. The people were nice, the BBQ tasty, the road fun, and the atmosphere relaxed. The weather and scenery just miles form the Blue Ridge Parkway were both great, too until a storm rolled in and shortened the second day of competition.

I got nine passes on the course, averaging just under 50 mph on the almost-1-mile-long course on my fastest run. The deficiencies of the stock gearing really stand out on a road like this. Some really tight corners and the fact that a hillclimb is, well, uphill makes the gap between 2nd and 3rd gears seem really huge.

The graphics of new promotional partner Bildon Motorsport were evident on the front fenders of the GTI for the first time this weekend. Bildon is collaborating with Team GTI with technical support and as a supplier of both original equipment and racing parts for the ITB update.

Highlight - Steady improvement in time over the two days and a fast time quicker than several drivers in "faster" classes.

Blue Ridge Sports Car Hillclimb Photos

THSCC Rallycross
Four Oaks, NC
22 May
Tarheel Sports Car Club
Non-championship RallyCross Event

Despite 40+ events as co-driver in a rally car in the 1990s, I'd never driven competitively on dirt until I entered a RallyCross with the Tarheel Sports Car Club. Rules for this event required competitors to race on street tires, to preserve the dirt surface of a course laid out in a field with cone gates. Each competitor's score was the total time required to complete six 1-lap runs, plus a 2-second penalty for any cone knocked down.

I ran on my full-tread Toyos from PhilsTireService.com (actually, my road racing rain tires) which proved to be surprisingly effective in the silty soil. The GTI was in its stock configuration, minus the unnecessary seats, and I vowed to apply a conservative strategy, avoiding cone points while increasing speed over the course of the day.

Unfortunately, a lost shift linkage nut stranded me at the start of my third run earning me the "bogey" time of 60 seconds for that pass - on a course that saw my best time in the mid-32-second range. The problem was easily repaired but not before I had dropped to 15th of the 17 entrants in the 2-liter class.

Highlight - Sixth-fastest time in class in the final heat of the day, and no cone penalties or missed gates.

Simon Wright Photo

Virginia International Raceway
Alton, VA
7 August
Sports Car Club of America
Carolina Cup Pro Series Road Race

This is a story of how pounds make a difference - both when the car loses them and when spring rates gain them. The KONI coilover struts and IT-spec springs (500 #/in front, 450 #/in rear) were installed before this one-day regional, as was a large rear antiroll bar. In addition, the car lost 125 pounds of interior and "ITB" replaced "SCC" on the doors - and what a difference!

The rear tires are now well and truly in the game, the car can be balanced in a slight oversteer attitude, and it is faster. This CCPS race was not as well subscribed as was the event in March so a 2nd of two ITB cars leaves nothing to brag about in terms of results. Nonetheless, Project GTI performed flawlessly and the first test of recent improvements means the event was a success.

Highlight - A lap time improvement of just over 5 seconds and much more predictable handling.

Disappointment - Nobody visiting me in the paddock saying things like, "Dude - your car looks like it's going to tip over!"

Project GTI sits lower and corners flatter on its new suspension

Carolina Motorsports Park
Kershaw, SC
14-15 August
Sports Car Club of America
SARRC Double Regional Road Race

The South Atlantic Road Racing Championship event at CMP was marked by threats of heavy weather due to hurricane Charley but - unfortunately - rain was never really an issue. We might have been in the ballpark with a slippery surface but the interim "ITB-minus" spec of Project GTI leaves it struggling a bit.

The two races did however provide an opportunity to play with shock and front anti-roll bar adjustments and to work on the most important component of a racing car - the driver. This track offers a variety of types of corner from fast bends to slow hairpins and it was a great chance to continue adjusting to the new suspension and to work on my line.

Highlight - Two really entertaining races (with cars not in my class, exactly like the stewards tell you to avoid) that resulted in many passes in several different places on the track.

Clark Doggett Photo

Virginia International Raceway Patriot Circuit
Alton, VA
11-12 September
Tarheel Sports Car Club
High Performance Driving School

I enjoyed my last outing as an instructor with THSCC but was worried about getting ill riding with students on the short, twisty Patriot course at VIR, so did this High Performance Driving Event and Time Trial as a "solo" participant.

The Patriot course was new to almost everyone participating and it generally got good reviews, despite the fact that it is just slightly more than one mile long. It has a variety of corners including the deceptively fast Turn 1 - perhaps one of the most exciting and potentially treacherous corners around.

The sessions went great and Project GTI didn't miss a beat. We finished the Saturday TT ahead of the only other ITB car by default - its clutch cable broke as I was bringing the car to pregrid for the driver. Oops. The natural order of things was restored on Sunday however, when we were almost exactly 3 seconds off of his fast lap.

Highlight - People guessing that I was turning 55-second laps based on what they could see in the Turn 1 to 4 complex, when I was actually turning 59's because of the awful uphill turns they could NOT see.

Jason Fedler Photo

Virginia International Raceway
Alton, VA
23 October
North Carolina Region Sports Car Club of America
Charge of the Headlight Brigade 13-Hour Endurance Sports Car Race

The culmination of an entire season of hard work and dedication by a lot of people, this marathon event has to be considered an unqualified success for PhilsTireService.com Team GTI.

Highlight - A trouble free run to an ITB class victory (of six in class) and 28th overall, out of more than 60 cars starting the event. That, and only the tiniest dent and tire mark...

A full report and new pictures are now available.

K. Knestis Photo

Last updated 31 October 2004

Project GTI is headquartered in Greensboro, NC


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