Triangle Chapter Report – March 2015

The Triangle Chapter meeting for March was a rousing success, despite it being only a couple of days before our first race of the season. While many regular attendees were absent, no doubt working feverishly to get the cars ready for the “March Into Spring” event, those who came out got to visit with our resident pro driver Tom Long. Tom was in town and also planning to attend the race because he had a couple of clients he was coaching. Let’s hope they do well!

In any event, Tom told us about his recent drive at Daytona in the SKYACTIV Mazda prototype at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Just a couple of weekends ago, he became the first man ever to lead the 24 in a diesel-powered prototype. What’s it like to drive? Well, while it doesn’t make the rip-roaring noise of a traditional gas-powered car, he told us, the diesel makes an awesome amount of torque, over 700 foot-pounds from just a small, 2.2 liter aluminum block. “It goes pretty quick,” Tom said with a smile. Too bad he had to retire with an overheating issue. Like Tom, the entire Chapter is expecting a win for him in that car sometime soon, most likely at a tighter track, like Sebring or Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California. Go Tom!

In response to questions, Tom also reported on the move of his father’s business, Long Road Racing, to Statesville, NC, which was recently completed. LLR will start building the new race cars for the MX-5 Cup out of the brand-new fourth-generation Mazda MX-5, just as soon as the new cars start arriving at the shop. They haven’t even gone on sale in the US yet, but a run of those first produced will be shipped to LLR, stripped and made into race cars, even before the first customer takes delivery of his street car. We can’t wait to see ‘em.

And speaking of things we cannot wait for, there’s that race this coming weekend. We had a visit from soon-to-be returning member Tom Gilmore, formerly of DC Region, who’s looking forward to volunteering at VIR this weekend. Tom brought his wife Linda to the meeting and we were happy to make their acquaintance for the first time. Welcome folks! New member Warren Lapham also said he’s eager for his first event. And while not at all new to the Club, but new to our Chapter meetings, Ken Waters said he was eager for the season to start, even if his Spec Racer Ford wasn’t going to be ready for the first event. Well, the weather will be warmer in April, Ken. See you then!

Another eager face was new driver, Paul Spencer, eldest son of Assistant RE Mike Spencer, who just completed his driver’s school at Savannah last weekend. He will co-drive a Spec Miata with his dad in the ECR for his first race this weekend. Way to go, Paul! And the Chapter applauded another Spencer as well. Mike’s daughter Ericka (yup, the same one who got an Outstanding Service award for Pace Car Communicator) passed her boards and just got hired as an ER nurse at Wake Med. Since her father, brother, significant other (Justin Deffenbaugh) and various other friends were there, RE Rex Deffenbaugh suggested that the Chapter meeting might well have been called “3 Degrees of Separation from Ericka Spencer” since everyone in the room was either related to her, involved with her, or good friends with someone who was. Ericka took the joke with her customary good humor. Way to go Ericka!

There wasn’t any real business news to report, since we had not had a Board meeting this month due to inclement weather. We’ll wait for the next one to report on how things went at the National Convention in Charlotte. But plans are coming together for the second annual “VIR Spring Sprints”, our SCCA Majors event, April 17-19. In fact, on-line registration will be open by the time you read this. And we’ll all be anticipating that weekend at the next Triangle Chapter meeting, April 1st. So why not join us then and see how things are going? I’ll see you there…or at the races!

James Shanks
Triangle Chapter Coordinator


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