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Archive for the year 2005

Permanent link to archive for 17/07/05.Sun, 17 July 2005

Airport Cruise In II

The main hangar where the BBQ was held

A local boy checks out the remains from a Chicago Crew burnout

Catch of the day, the guts of someone's back tires

The second annual Airport Cruise In is an event where the Chicago Crew Corvette enthusiasts caravan out to the New Lennox airport and basically use the airstrips for Autocross, Drag Racing and burnout contests with a nice BBQ thrown in so no one goes hungry.  This was my first time to the event, and I can't believe the crazy time we had.

The morning consisted of runs on the autocross track, which is basically a course setup with safety cones.  I think everyone was getting a laugh out of either trying it out for themselves or just watching others try.  The certainly were a variety of techniques, from cautious to letting it hang out large.  Simon Stern, spinning your Z16 1.5 times through the finish line, killing the engine and coasting back into the owners pickup truck was the best I saw!  No damage done.

Video of some of the Autocross action

After the autocross session we went back to the hangar and I grabbed a quick bite to eat with Jimmy P.  He didn't autocross but was real excited to go drag racing.  I had never done any drag racing with a full tree light system, and doing it on a airstrip was even cooler in my mind.  So we went out first and started taking runs for fun.  I could quickly see Jimmy was right at home on the drag strip as he schooled me on each run, but I was still giggling like a 16 year old boy with a new drivers license.  Soon others belted down their BBQ and started joining us, we were just calling out each other and lining up, it was a blast.  When everyone was out they setup the single elimination drag racing contest and we started for real.  I made it through two cars before I was eliminated, better than I thought I would do.  Most of these guys are much better on the drag strip than they are on the autocross course, and their cars are setup for drag racing.  I thought the best part was just the informal call out drag racing we did before, but it was all good.

Video of some of the Drag Racing action

A brief shower cooled down the temperatures after the drag racing

We got a bit of rain as we finished drag racing, most of these cars never see rain but that didn't seem to bother many.  It was so hot out all day (well over 105) that the rain felt good.  We let things dry out a bit and went into a burnout session/contest.  Tommy trailered in a vette just to do this, guys in the Chicago Crew do things as big and large as they can, I am always amazed.  Starting things off was Randy, who spun the tires off of his wifes vette.

Video of Randy's burnout

This was followed by a burnout from Tommy that wasn't going to be out done by anyone that day.

Video of Tommy's winning burnout

This is what was left of Tommy's tires

This is why I like to hang out with the Chicago Crew, these guys really know how to have fun with their Corvettes.  Here is a photo gallery of some of the better shots I took during the day.

Permanent link to archive for 09/07/05.Sat, 09 July 2005

NASA HPDE - Autobahn Country Club

The Autobahn Country Club temporary members club house

This was my second weekend at the Autobahn Country Club race track, and I was feeling better prepared this time.  This would be an High Performance Drivers Education (HPDE) session for both days this weekend, held by NASA.  This means I had an instructor in the car with me, and I am sure I will pick up a few more tips.

My Z06 sporting a new set of Nitto R2's ready for the track

We were going to run the South track on Saturday, and the North track on Sunday.  My instructor also drove a C5 vette, and was the guy that seemed to be responsible for running the show there on both days.  He was busy beyond belief, but when he got in the car 100% of his attention was on me.  The first session was just a shake down cruise that was cut short due to another car putting 4 wheels off and getting stuck.  I could really tell the difference with the new tires, I was pushing harder than I ever could the last time I was here, and I wasn't close to the limits.  Impressive, this was money well spent.

The pits were busy during the day

In the second session my instructor showed me a great line in turn one, to really set up two and three.  And he also showed me that I could full pedal it through the kink in the back straight.  I was starting to find the limits of my new tires in this session as well, I can't believe how good they are once they warm up.

The third session was very comfortable, I was getting used to the new tires and the South track.  We were passing everyone in the session.  I could tell my instuctor was liking what I was doing, heck he was encouraging me.  I was really pushing the short straight into four and I felt the car drift a bit, my instructor was yelling "GAS GAS GAS", but my years of bad street driving instincts made my foot let off and we went for a 360 spin down the straight after turn four.  And then went four wheels off and two more 360 spins in the grass, they aren't kidding when they say it feels like it accelerates when you get in the grass.  I didn't panic, kept the car running and moving, regained control and watched the corner workers and made sure I re-entered the track safely.  We have had incredible heat and drought in Chicago and the grass was very dry making for dusty conditions, I looked over at my instructor and he smiled at me as he patted his chest to knock all the dust off himself.  My windows were down on both sides, and every inch of my car was covered with thick dust, including the interior, driver and passenger.  Four wheels off means back to the pits for a mandatory inspection, so that's what we did.  I was a little upset for not giving it gas, I knew I should have done it but didn't.  My instructor said I handled myself well after the spin and not to worry about it.  That was my first "four off", I guess I found the limits of my tires.

I had one more uneventful session on Saturday, and I was signed off to NASA level two.  This would allow me to drive solo on Sunday on the North track.  A bunch of us hung around for a BBQ, and then got a good nights sleep.

Here is a photo gallery of pictures I shot on Saturday.


Permanent link to archive for 26/06/05.Sun, 26 June 2005

Chicago SOAR Northsider vs Southsider F3J Practice

The Chicago SOAR club held a "Northsider" vs "Southsider" F3J practice today.  This teams the guys that fly at the north Hampshire flying field against the guys that fly at the south sod farm field.  It really makes for a good practice session for all involved.  I was flying on team "Northsider" with "Boss" Jim McCarthy, Tom Kallevang, Jack Strother, and Steve Schneider.  Team "Southsider" consisted of Richard Burnoski, Bill Wingstedt, Karl Miller, Ben Roberto, and Robin Meek.

You wouldn't think putting a bunch of strong attitude alpha males on the same team would work, but it does for us.  We were all serious today for some F3J practice, that takes time to setup and arrange and we were here to make the most of it.  Everyone has their jobs and responsibilities on our team, McCarthy keeps it moving, it just works.  No yelling, confusion, arguing or debating rules on our side, we were launching on the horn and flying it all right to the tape.  Maybe an occasionally smile if we make a good move in the air, otherwise just some fist pounding on the hunskies. 

We started early and ended around noon so we didn't cook our towing team in the 100 degree afternoon sun.  It's always fun to fly with these guys, we know each others flying styles so well it's all automatic and smooth.  It's really nice to be on a team that works on that level, we all parted with a smile on our faces.

Jim McCarthy throws Tom Kallevang's F3J ICON "Big Red", Jack Strother is the timer.


Jim McCarthy throws Capn' Jack's ICON Lite, Steve Schneider timing.


TK keeps Capn' Jack advised on remaining flight time.


Capn' Jack on landing approach over the tape with his rare Cobra Lite 2, TK calls on the clock.


"Boss" asking Capn' Jack if  he is ready to fly yet.  Tequila Sunrise ICON Lite on the line.


Permanent link to archive for 25/06/05.Sat, 25 June 2005

Chicago Crew cruises to Bloomington Gold

A double row of Chicago Crew vettes cruise to Bloomington Gold

Another busy but good week at work, and I am home this weekend.  That will be nice, but there is still so much to do in June.  Saturday morning the Chicago Crew is meeting and going to cruise in together to Bloomington Gold.  The pace was regulated, the LEO is always out in force on this weekend.  We got a special reserved parking spot for the forum members that worked out real well, so we all got to enter through a special entrance, and park as a group together.  What a way to make an entrance, there are some special cars in this group for sure.

The new C6 Z06 in orange

I wanted to go see the new C6 Z06, one was supposed to be here.  And I wasn't disappointed, they had an orange one on display.  It looked like it had been driven, it wasn't that clean but it sure was impressive.  This is the second time I have seen one in person, it sure is growing on me.

I like the flaired fenders on the new Z06

Sneidley and I walked around and hunted deals, but not before we stopped at the food court and had lunch before the crowds all decided to do the same.  Last year I found a custom mount for my G-Tech Pro that replaced the ashtray, and we both ended up going to a high performance driving school ( that we met the owners of last year.  The spread is huge here, you can literally spend all day walking around seeing and buying Corvette stuff.  This year I was looking for a good deal on a set of long tube headers.  Sneidley is a good guy to go shopping with, we narrowed my deal down to a set of SuperMAXX headers, and a call to my vette tech. Rick, ( to make sure it was compatible and that would install it, and struck a deal.  Sneidley was easily finding all the stuff he wanted, and I could see him wondering if he should buy some headers too.  It was really hot out today, well over 100 so we decided we would head out before the mass exit of cars and crank up that air conditioning and enjoy the drive home.

Here is a photo gallery of some of the shots I took today at Bloomington Gold.

I was able to get home and relax for a bit before Rae and I got in the vette and headed down to Big Fish's annual Bloomington Gold BBQ.  This was the first time we went, but I heard it was not to be missed.  We followed his excellent online map from the forum, found it easily, and were guided into the parking spot, the neighbor yard across the street!  Apparently he was car crazy as us, as you can see by the size of his garage in the background of the picture below.

My Z06 parked at the Big Fish BBQ

This was one of the best BBQ's of the summer for sure.  The food was excellent, as well as the company.  Big Fish's son was over, and asked his Dad which vette he should go in for a fast ride.  I was his first choice... heh heh heh, it was a compliment with all the vehicles in attendance, but he knows I drive mine like it should.  It turns out he was a motorcycle racer, so it was pretty cool little cruise, he knew of the local roads where we could wind up the car a bit.

Chicago Crew vettes at the Big Fish BBQ

I got back to the BBQ, found Rae and we had some dessert and socialized with the crew some more.  We finished the day by taking a nice route home, it was just a beautiful clear summer evening.

Here is a small photo gallery of shots at the BBQ.  I shot more, but many didn't turn out because it was dark out.  I need to work on getting better at night shots.


Permanent link to archive for 20/06/05.Mon, 20 June 2005


There are just too many soaring events this month.  TK already told me he can't get away for the OVSS #3 weekend in St. Louis, and I completely understand.  We have been to Ft. Wayne, IN. and Montecello, IL. in the past two weekends, and to take another away weekend road trip is pushing the limits.  We have been pushing very hard at work too, I have not been sleeping much.  Getting away, concentrating on competing, and doing well has been keeping me energized during the weeks, I guess it's an intense balance.  I have two good OVSS contests in the bag, and I really can't afford to miss a contest this close to home.  Close being a relative term, it's about a 4 hour drive.

I accomplished a lot during the week, Friday was upon me, so why not, I'll go for it.  I loaded up Rae's Explorer which is the newer of the two that we own, figuring it would be the best for a road trip like this.  It's been a while since I have took a road trip by myself, I had a lot of time to think and unwind the week on my drive down to St. Louis that night.  I found my hotel, checked in and got a good nights sleep.

Flyin' Brian in the zone at OVSS #3

Flyin' Brian was in and wandering down the pits telling everyone that would listen that all he had was his AVA, just an RES ship against all our unlimited hardware.  I keep reminding him that I understand age, wisdom and treachery will over come youth and enthusiasm, especially on the soaring field and I would have my eyes on him. 

That's my green and magenta ICON lite in the forground, MVSA pits.

What a contest day.  The MVSA club did a fantastic job running the seeded MoM format for their first time.  We flew off the Emerald sod farms, a beautiful place to soar from.  The air was light and cycling in irregular patterns, it was separating the scores in rapid fashion.  Flyin' Brian was just playing poke and float, nose into the wind, while we all chased thermals.  I left one out late in the contest which ended my day, didn't make it back to the field.   Brian always seemed to have altitude with that AVA, I have to admit it got a bit frustrating at times.  I was really having to work hard tracking thermals, but I was learning this field rapidly.  Brian beat us all on Saturday, by a lot of points.  I will always remember the leap and scream of Brian's wife on the last landing of the day, it was wonderful.  They knew they had it right then, it was cool to see that.

Butch kept an eye on me while I was feeling ill at the field

I went out to a great BBQ shack Sat. night with a group of pilots and ended the day in style, or so I thought.  I woke up in the middle of the night completely sick and never got anymore sleep.  I made it out to the field, a red light appeared the dash as I drove on in the sod farm and I felt like a wreck.  I would have to remember to check that light later.  I built my model and laid down under Johnny's tent.  He laughed and asked if I had too much to drink last night.  I told him no, I was sick and Johnny being the friendly guy he is got me some Asprin for my head ache.  Johnny's dog Butch curled down next to me and we napped until the pilots meeting.  I think Butch could sense I was not well, he was hanging around me.  I really didn't know how I was going to get through this day, my head was pounding and I had very little energy.

It was windier today, the Flyin' Brian was going to have his hands full with that AVA.  Those ten minute task times were the only peace I had all day.  No time to think about being sick, that ten minutes of contest time is pure, focused decision making, and today if you chose unwisely you got spanked hard.  Jim Frickey and I dueled all day long, we had some nice conversations during our flights as we specked out and left the pack behind several times.  Cool thing was, we were doing in mostly in our own air on different ends of the field.  I think it split the flight group several times in spectacular fashion, although I am sure Jim was not intending that to happen, I wasn't.  The wind kept picking up, and the landing zone was very turbulent, we were driving them in hard on the turf.

Marty felt the pain of  a high speed landing in the turbulent wind.  Yes, that was an ICON wing.

I had made it into the money round on Sunday sick as a dog, but also top dog on the leader board.  In some ways I don't like that position, because it can make one fly defensive.  We all specked out in a spectacular thermal which just let us think about how important the upcoming landing was going to be.  That's all that my timer Steve Meyer was telling me, "It's a landing contest now, dude."

Richard Burnoski, the current OVSS champion nails a hunski line landing.

So we are all on approach, and Meyer is giving me the countdown and telling me guys are getting pounded and landing short. I adjust my speed and the turbulence is incredible.  The model is shifting several feet in altitude rapidly in the gusts, Meyer's countdown fades away as I concentrate on just making the landing tape.  My ICON races over the tape and I spike it in, I'll take that.  I turn to my left and watch Frickey make his approach which looked much like mine, the plane jumping all over the place and Jim expertly making a nice landing.  We shook each others hands, that was one heck of a contest that was going to be separated by a few inches on a landing tape in that last round.

It ends up that Jim Frickey had the better landing, he flew an excellent contest.  I rarely get to fly with the gentleman, it is always good.  Considering the condition I was in, 2nd place wasn't bad.  It's a shame to be that close to a win and not capture it though.

So we pack up, and a number of the guys from the SOAR club decide to caravan it home to Chicago.  That sounded great to me, we used the walkie talkies to communicate car to car, and that would keep me going on the way.  We also planned on stopping for a big steak dinner.  About 15 minutes down the road the temp. light comes on in the Explorer, so I turn off the A/C and the temp. goes down a bit, the light goes off, but I am baking in the car.   (It was over 100 on the field today).  Another 15 minutes and the temp. rises again so I turn on the heat!  I am really baking in the car, my shirt is soaked with sweat, I am even more sick than before, but the temp. goes down on the engine and we keep going down the road.  Finally I tell the guys over the radio I can't take the heat anymore and lets stop for that steak dinner, and then look at my car.  We all agreed and had a big dinner, man it was nice to get inside in some air conditioning and get some food.

After dinner my car had cooled down and we all had a look at it.  Luckily I was traveling with a bunch of guys who know cars, but we couldn't see anything obvious so we headed out.  We didn't get but a few miles down the road and my car was going to over heat for sure so we pulled along the highway.  It wasn't the safest place to be but my friends stuck with me, we let it cool down and then struck off for the next exit.  We made it on the verge of over heating again but we got off the highway, unfortunately in farmland USA with nothing at this exit but a small road.  We all decided the thermostat had crapped out so I back tracked with Robin Meek to last exit we were at, and went looking for anything we could at a Walmart that was there to fix the problem.  We couldn't find a thermostat, but we got the parts we needed to bypass it.  So we got back to my car, and Pat Crosby, Karl Miller and Ben Roberto had already got a good start on disassembling the parts to get to the hoses.  In short order we had the thermostat out and the car rigged to flow coolant in an unrestricted fashion.  We got back on the road and I hoped for the best.  The temp. shot up again and the light went on.  I told the guys on the radio that I was going to have to get off at the next exit and find a hotel and get it fixed on Monday, and I didn't want to hold them up any longer.  They agreed and said they would follow to make sure I could get the car somewhere safe.  Not a minute after that was said the temperature started cooling rapidly and I radioed back to keep going down the road, the car was cooling off.  The temperature returned to a normal level but I still never turned the A/C back on, I just wanted to get it home.  We all stayed in the caravan all the way home and talked on the radio, it's great to have friends like that, I could have really been stuck out there.

That was the hard way to get OVSS points, but I got another keeper... three contests without a drop and I am now in the lead for the series.

I got home, unpacked Rae's truck and went directly to bed.  Next week was going to be more busy than last, but I will be ready for it.

Here is a photo gallery of some of the better shots I took over the weekend.


Permanent link to archive for 12/06/05.Sun, 12 June 2005


TK and I made the trip to Ft. Wayne, Indiana on Friday after work, not really a long drive but we didn't want to do it early in the morning before the contest.  This month is just too busy with contests and events, but this is a contest that I need for OVSS and I like to fly with the LOFT guys.  This club understands how to do a good seeded man on man contest.


The conditions were light, and I was glad to be flying my ICON lite.  Many rounds were decided by the last man down, not the task time.  I like that.  I placed second on Saturday, behind a guy I never heard of before, Paul Sherman.  He also flew an ICON, but flew top of the line Futaba gear.

Now What? 


On Sunday Jimbo showed up, just to mix the results up a bit.  Jimbo barely beat Karl Miller and myself for a Chicago SOAR club sweep of the wood.  A good showing for Team JR as well.  That also gave me enough points to score overall weekend champion and two JR DS 368 servos, thanks JR!

This will be another strong weekend as far as OVSS points are concerned.  No throw outs yet.

Here is a photo gallery of shots I took over the weekend.


Permanent link to archive for 04/06/05.Sat, 04 June 2005

JR Aerotow

TK, Jimbo, Capn. Jack and Karen and I traveled down to Montecello, IL. to the JR Aerotow this year.  This is an event we all have been trying to make for the last two seasons, but this year the dates worked out.  This has to be one of the most fun events I ever have been to, you just fly until you are tired of flying.  And when people are handing me the sticks to these big beautiful scale models, I don't get tired very rapidly.



Here's a music video I put together from video I shot during the event.

And here's a photo gallery of the pictures I shot during the event.


Permanent link to archive for 22/05/05.Sun, 22 May 2005

OVSS #1 - CSS Memorial

TK picked me up Friday morning in his new Dodge Caravan, similar to his last one even in color, but this one has all the deluxe options.  I am certainly enjoying the new leather seats up front.  We will certainly be riding in style to Cincinnati.  This is the second time I have flown at the new CSS field at the Voice Of America park, it is a nice facility to fly from.  And the CSS club are always great hosts, and know how to put on a good seeded man on man contest.

It's always a great reunion going to the first big contest of the year, and this was no exception, everyone was there.  Including unlikely out-of-towners like my buddies JT and Bubba.  Two perfect weather days for soaring, and TK and I took advantage of them.  When it was all over, I placed 2nd on Saturday and TK placed 4th on Sunday, both of us bringing back wood to Chicago.  That's a decent start for the OVSS season, these scores will count.  Here is a link to a Photo Gallery of some of the better shots I took this weekend.

I shot the picture below from inside the van, somewhere in Indiana along route 65 on the way home, it was simply a beautiful sunset.


Permanent link to archive for 15/05/05.Sun, 15 May 2005

Great Lakes High Speed Series 2005 - Autobahn Country Club

Back again after a fantastic day on Saturday.  Today we get to drive on the South track at  I am much more relaxed today, and after the drivers meeting I went out on the track with Jimmy and Johnny and started to learn the line.  The south track is longer at just over two miles, and with several nice straights the speeds are faster.

Johnny checking out the Red Bull machines at the track, you know I like this!

We took a break and let the vettes cool down, I had a Red Bull and we discussed the lines we were trying and driving.  Johnny wasn't with us on Saturday, so he's even more amp'ed up than we are.  Our group is announced and we go out for another 20 minute session.  This is even better, the track is flowing and my Z06 is feeling at home, this car is so comfortable on the track at speed.  I got to running with a Grand Sport in this session, he was running race tires and I wasn't.  Eventually he ran me down in the curves so I waved him by but stuck with him and watch his line.  When we hit the straights I could make everything back up and also easily out brake him.  A few laps of that and I think he overheated his brakes (they were smoking like crazy at the end of the long straights, there's nothing like that smell), he waved me by and I easily walked away.  Maybe I was just learning the track a little better.  We got the checkered flag and took a cool down lap, and drove back into the pits. 

I was inspecting my car after the session, and noticed both of my front tires were corded on the inside tread.  I still needed to drive home, so that was the end of my day.  Rene did offer me a set scuff Hoosiers to finish the day off, but I forgot my safety key for the lugs so I really was finished.  I really did appreciate the offer, very friendly people in the Corvette community at the track.  Jimmy ran the time trials and I helped work the corners and shot pictures.

Jimmy braking his Z06 hard into the corner

Working the corners gave me a chance to watch everyones lines and take a bunch of pictures.  Here is a link to picture gallery of the shots I took today.   I did make it home on my worn out tires, and I am ready to get a new set of Nitto R2's, they sure seem to be working for Jimmy.


Permanent link to archive for 14/05/05.Sat, 14 May 2005

Great Lakes High Speed Series 2005 - Autobahn Country Club

Here it is three weeks after my first driving school and I am on the track again.  But this time it's in my own Z06 and on a track closer to home.  In fact it is a brand new track built out by the NASCAR track in Joliet, actually two tracks that can be combined into one track.  

I've done what preparation I could in that time.  I've purchased a helmet with the correct rating.  I asked Rick at to do a thorough once over on my Z06, and do one of his famous $50 oil changes (plus he overfilled it a quart in preparation for the track).  He also completely bled my brake system and replaced the fluid with some high performance, high temperature fluid.

I went out with a few Chicago Crew friends and we joined the Great Lakes High Speed Series.  My car passed tech inspection easily but my car was modified so I could not run in the stock class.  I wasn't worried about lap times, I just wanted to get some track time in.

When we got there, we were surprised to see a new C6 Z06 mule pull into the parking lot at the track.  It was driven down from Michigan for the day, but it was not going on the track.  What a sharp looking car, and what a lucky chance to see this car in the flesh far before it being released.

"MTI 427" Jimmy was there with his Electron Blue '02 Z06, his car looks very similar to mine, although he has a Kooks header system and some different cat backs, and some Nitto RII's for tires.  His car is also much louder than mine!  We figured we would continue with that being similar scheme, so he was number 17 for the weekend, while I took number 71.  We went out together for the first test and tune session, he wanted to follow me to learn the line.  I told I have never been here before, but he was convinced I would find it faster because I just got back from driving school.  I figured it's good to have a friend on your six, so out we went on the North track for the first time.  You could tell the track was new, the surface of the track was so smooth.  We took a warm up lap and then started picking it up lap by lap.  Next thing we knew the 20 minute session was over and took a cool down lap and back into the pits.  It was all smiles for sure, this track is a blast!

We enjoyed another 20 minute test and tune, where I worked on going faster and smoother.  I find turn 1 sort of awkward on this track as it is just a little bend before a very tight over 90 degree turn 2 after the fastest straight on the track.  I watch good guys take 1 without apparent braking and late break hard into 2, I just cant find the right line or cajones for that move.  The rest of the track is a spirited drive in third, with a shift to forth on the straight which I was regularly seeing well over 110 mph.

Next it was into the timed sessions.  We left the pit backwards, took a U turn onto the track and took a flying start through the start / finish line.  One hot lap and then take another U turn on the track and exit, it sounds weird but it worked with the layout of this track. 

We got three timed runs in, Jimmy and I compared times and managed to out do each others time on each consecutive run.  I found it fun to be out on the track by myself, trying to go as fast as I can and make as little mistakes as possible.  They had a score board up after each session so you could see how you were doing as well as others.  I thought we did OK for our first outing at the Autobahn Country Club.

The Michigan club that was sponsoring this event had a BBQ and Sam "the Kid" and I hung around for some burgers and chili, all the food was good.  Jimmy had to run to take car of some business obligations.  Someone said the track was going to be open for one more 20 minute test and tune session, and Sam and I looked at each other, smiled and said lets go!  This was a very enjoyable session for me, I was comfortable with the track by now, it wasn't crowded, and I was letting the car hang out a bit.  The Z06 feels in its element on the track, the car is meant to be driven like this.  The session ended and we took a cool down lap and exited to the pits.

Jimmy called on the way home and said I-55 was a parking lot and we would do good to avoid it.  I mentioned this to Sam, and he followed me out of there on backroads after we stopped for some gas.  I went through most of a full tank of gas on the track in a few hours.  I need to get home and relax a bit, and then give the car a good once over, as we have another day at the track tomorrow!

But for now, here are some more pictures that I took today.


Permanent link to archive for 20/04/05.Wed, 20 April 2005

High Performance Driving School

My friend Steve "Sneidley" whom flies R/C sailplanes with me also has an interest in Corvettes.  Last year we both decided that it would be fun to take a high performance driving school to learn how to drive our Corvettes better, and to learn the limits safely on a road race course.  It was something we both have been wanting to do for some time.  So we scheduled last weekend in Savannah, Georgia, the 18th and 19th and took our class at Sports Car Driving Experience located at Roebling Road Race Track.

I'll start off by saying I should have done this right after I  bought my first vette, these cars have so much untapped performance that never gets appreciated on the street it is amazing.  And I rapidly learned how much I didn't know how to drive, and I have some very bad habits to untrain myself of in the future.

Each day started with breakfast made to order in the classroom, and then a classroom session mainly instructed by Peter Argetsinger.  I really enjoyed the physics lessons in high performance driving, weight transfer, driving the correct line, into corners slow and out fast, and how much that affects the top speed on the straights.  But it never got overwhelming, it was always down to earth with plenty of question and answer time.

The next thing I know I am getting help getting into and getting strapped tight into a race prepared Z06.  This is a race prepped version of the car I drive now, strip out all the interior, full roll cage, race seats and 6 point harness, race tires, fire extinguisher system, race prepped 460hp engine, and really LOUD and MEAN sounding.  My instructor straps in next  to me, and our helmets have an intercom system so we can communicate over the lope of the small block nervously idling.  The first lesson is an autocross course setup on the main straight.  The race Z06 is amazing, anywhere I point it, it just sticks and goes.  I am sure I was slow and wide, but I completed the course without knocking down a cone.  It is really informative and comforting to have an instructor in the car in communication with you the entire time, this makes the learning process happen so quickly.  And the instructors at this school are top notch, every one of these guys went out of their way to make sure you understand the lesson, in a very positive and fun way.  It felt like we were all family in a very short period of time.

The days were split with an awesome BBQ lunch each day (lots of food southern style, you wont go hungry here!)  And then after lunch another short classroom session, and back in the cars to apply the classroom lesson on the track.  On Saturday this was going to be a lead - follow exercise where each driver will get  a chance to follow John Sturm in his Porsche 996 for a lap to learn the line, and then slide to the back of the line of vettes on the track.  I wasn't in the first group, and as I was gawking at John's Porsche in the pits and he asked me if I wanted to come out and drive with him.  I instantly said yes and strapped in.  Now this is the first time I am seeing the entire Roebling Road race course from inside a car, and John is telling me the story of how he bought this car out of state over the Internet with a robotic web cam after I told him about my business in virtual microscopy.  Mind you he is negotiating this course as smooth as silk as he talks to me, and I quickly realized the deal about heal toe shifting.  Eventually I get my turn in the lead-follow exercise and that ended the first day.  We went back to the hotel for a swim and Jacuzzi and then out to a very nice restaurant in downtown Savannah.

The next morning it was the same routine, a nice breakfast made to order, some interesting classroom time, and then out to the track.  We are divided into three groups so there are not a lot of cars on the track at once, and so I happen to be in the third group so I initially find a little time on my hands.  As I wandered through the pits taking pictures I notice that Henry Gilbert is setting up his race prepared Z06 and looks like he is going to drive it.  Henry Gilbert of Gilbert Racing is a very cool guy, fun to talk to with lots of knowledge and stories.  Henry was talking about doing stunt driving for the new Miami Vice movie, and working on past movies such as Transporter 2, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and being a driving instructor for the Fast and Furious movie.  I asked him if he was going to take the Z out, and he said he was setting it up for a race next weekend.  I said "Cool!", and he said, "Wanna ride along?".

I don't think I even replied, it was just a big smile as I went and grabbed a helmet.  We get helped climbing through the cage and into the race seats, and I get strapped in TIGHT, the guy just pulled the harness in about as hard as he could.  OK, now I understand what strap in tight means, I am not going anywhere in this seat.  Henry gives me this smile before starting the engine, I know this smile.  I have had pilots give me this smile before riding in their planes for the first time, with skiers about ready to show you their favorite local run on a mountain that you have never skied before, the smile guys show you when you are about ready to do your first F3J tow launch in soaring...  it's a rite of passage, I am going to change your world kinda smile.

I notice Henry doesn't have an Instructors helmet on, he has a full face with a HANS device and a A/C tube, and we don't have an Intercom.  The Z comes to life and sounds mean, nasty, ah, the smell of racing gas...  this is going to be good.

Henry takes a warm up lap that was just a little faster than the lead and follow exercise we were doing yesterday, and then the second lap he just hits it.  I have never been full out on race track before, and let me tell you Henry is getting it on.  OK, I never knew this car had so much in it, the G's are incredible in braking and cornering.  Henry is taking the race slicks to the limit and on one corner all the tires break loose and he does a full drift, never backs out of it, right to the limit, this is just unbelievable to me.  I looked at him and this huge smile (SEG), and he briefly looked at me and I think he was smiling too.  A few more hot laps, then a cool down lap and back into the pits so Henry could have a few more adjustments made.  That was it, I was hooked, I want to learn how to drive like that.

I eventually got my first time on the course, and although I didn't push it very hard, it was considerably faster than what you would drive on the street.  It's nice having an instructor sitting next to you on a intercom system so you get live feedback on what you are doing, and guidance for the correct line, etc.  Just like in flying sailplanes, being smooth is important.  And there are subtle correct ways of doing things, as compared to forcing them or doing them incorrectly.  Not only do you have an instructor by your side, but they also shoot in car video so you can check out how you did. 

Here is a video of me taking a few laps around Roebling Road.

Gradually you get used to the track and are able to push it harder and harder, but everything is at your own pace at this school.  I really didn't want to go off course, and I didn't know how far to push it, but I did take it to the tires squealing around most of the corners and braking to the threshold of the ABS system off the straights.

At the end of the second day we did the autocross course again, but this time they brought in a fire truck and they hosed down the course to make it nice and wet.  Everyone completed the course in less time then they did they day before, in worse conditions.  That goes to show how much we accomplished in that short period of time.  The first woman that ever attended this school drove the fastest time through the autocross course, although she had a bit of experience doing this as she was the current SCCA national champion in autocross.  I was quite pleased with my close second place, I don't think this will be the last time I drive on a race course.

If you drive a Corvette and have never been to a high performance driving school, I highly recommend you check this school out and find out what your vette will really do on the track.  If you have ever wanted to know what it was like to drive on a race course, or just understand how to drive better, I highly recommend a high performance driving school.  I should have done this years ago.  Check out Sports Car Driving Experience located at Roebling Road Race Track in Savannah, GA., John Sturm, Henry Gilbert and their crew will take care of you in top notch fashion.

(Special thanks to my friend Sneidley for taking most of the above pictures)

Permanent link to archive for 03/04/05.Sun, 03 April 2005

Hooters Run

The first event of the season with the "Chicago Crew".  It was a long winter, and I think a lot of people were ready to get out and blow the carbon out of their vettes.  We met up at one of our meeting points for the cruise to Hooters.  Pretty good turnout, there is a lot of horsepower sitting in this parking lot!

Click to enlarge


Speaking about blowing out the carbon, in fact I caught Sam's supercharged Z06 belching flames during the cruise on my miniDV dash cam!

Click to enlarge

Yes, I made another "Hooters Run" video, email me if you would like the link to see it.  I also put some of my best still shots into an online photo gallery, enjoy.


Permanent link to archive for 28/03/05.Mon, 28 March 2005

Version 1.6 of the COOLSCOPE VS Software Suite was released today.  This is by far the best software for the COOLSCOPE yet, and is ready for some upcoming firmware upgrades that are going to make things much faster.  The user interface is simpler, the software has more functionality and is faster, enough said.  There was a lot of hard work that took place in Chicago and Tokyo to make that happen.  And it is really nice to be able to distribute this software automatically to COOLSCOPE customers, we have a system in place that handles that with ease now.


Permanent link to archive for 25/03/05.Fri, 25 March 2005

What a busy month, in fact this year has just been incredible.  I've been wrapped up in some interesting software development, time just flies when you are having fun.

I've had very little free time for some of my favorite diversions, basically R/C Soaring, but there isn't much of that going on in the winter in Chicago.  Not that we don't find other things to fly if we get a chance.  With all the advances in battery technology, (NiCad's are old fashioned, so are NiMH, LiPo is the rage now) micro electric indoor flying is becoming very popular.  One thing that has always interested me is helicopter flying, particularly micro helicopters, for instance the Pixelito or the Proxflyer.  Imagine being able to pilot an R/C Helicopter small enough to easily fly around inside your house.

Lately, my living room has been my "flying field" in the evenings.  I've been flying a commercial version of the Proxflyer known as the BladeRunner.  Although it is sold as a kids toy, (and it really is one including a low price), it is easy to find web sites and documents online where the average kids age is closer to mine and they are hacking and modding these models to improve their performance.  I have to say, it's a lot fun to take a five minute break with one of these.

Here are a couple of videos of me being silly and flying around inside my house.


Permanent link to archive for 23/02/05.Wed, 23 February 2005

I just read a nice write up of the COOLSCOPE VS in the CAP TODAY.  Stan Schwartz of Nikon Instruments was interviewed, and I thought he gave an excellent description of many of the diverse applications the COOLSCOPE VS has, it really is quite a flexible machine.  And as you can see from the price mentioned in the article, quite a lot of bang for the buck.

I am just wrapping up our next major release of the COOLSCOPE VS software suite, and it will be on display at the USCAP show that starts this weekend.  This is a really sweet update, which includes an even simpler user interface that has a really snappy look with the use of transparency in all the right places.  Improved scanning speeds and a more streamlined workflow, it's just been used heavily by bunch of salespeople and customers over the past year and we have listened to the feedback and tweaked and or improved the software in many ways.

Permanent link to archive for 17/02/05.Thu, 17 February 2005

There is a new product brochure available for the COOLSCOPE VS online at the BLI web site.






Permanent link to archive for 11/02/05.Fri, 11 February 2005

Have you seen the new Google maps yet?

I find the delivery mechanism and the user interface very interesting. 

If you can operate a virtual microscopy viewer of my design, you will be very familiar using Google maps.  The map data similar to digital microscope slide data is immense and is delivered in tiles, the user can scroll around the map by clicking and dragging with the mouse.  The user can also center the view with a double click of the mouse, my viewers use a single click because I have found that some of our users have problems with a double click.  Zoom is controlled with a slide bar on the left, thus also acting as an indicator of the current zoom level.  There is currently no thumbnail or concurrent overview of the image as you navigate, but I guess they will eventually have that as well.

Interesting that they chose to deliver all this with the built in scripting engine of the browsers.  On the positive side, they don't rely on any plugin to be present on the users system, like a Java VM or Flash, but on the negative side they become very specific to certain browsers.  For instance this doesn't work on the Safari web browser on the Mac yet.


Permanent link to archive for 20/01/05.Thu, 20 January 2005

The 3rd annual International JR Aero Tow will be held June 2-5.  As Peter Goldsmith said at the last Nats that featured a weekend of scale aero tow cross country, he was also going to include a cross country task at his event.  I have to tell you, cross country with scale aero tow sailplanes is about some of the most fun I have ever had in the sport.  By all means, if you have an interest in R/C soaring you should check this one out.

I have put the flyer online for your downloading convenience. 

Click Here (Adobe Acrobat is needed to view this)


Permanent link to archive for 15/01/05.Sat, 15 January 2005

Corvette C6 Z06This was one heck of a week for new products.  Chevrolet officially announced the C6 Z06, yes we have seen the pictures floating around the net, but the embargo is over now and the pictures turned out to be real.  Here is a gallery of the new Z06 pictures.  Could this be my next car?  I guess it depends on the price which has not been announced yet.  I like my '02 Z06 quite a bit, I hope Chevy can hold on to a similar price performance ratio.

Apple Mac miniApple was at it as well, announcing a variety of new hardware and software products.  Some of their products were also prereleased on the net, and the rumors of a headless Mac turned out to be true.  The new products that caught my eye were iLife '05 because I use that software often, the new flash based iPod shuffle, and the new Mac mini.

I have a first generation 20gb iPod, that I use all the time.  I have a mount for it in my Z06, but I could see buying an iPod shuffle, loading it up and leaving it in the car.  I will buy iLife, I use that software all the time and I want the upgrade.  The Mac mini is cute, I want a reason to buy one (and may find one) but I already have a pretty good G4 based iMac.  My next Mac should be dual G5 based, ready for all the 64 bit goodness of Tiger, the new Mac OS. 

As many of you know, I use a Mac side by side with my Windows computer, developing software applications.   Any of my friends looking to try out a Mac, the mini looks to be a great deal.  This looks like it's going to be a great way to try that out for yourself, it's better than you think.


Permanent link to archive for 08/01/05.Sat, 08 January 2005

I've been reading Adam Curry and Dave Winer's blogs for years now, so it's safe to say I watched these guys hatch and develop the podcasting idea.  I listened to Adams first podcasts from the castle, good idea and I liked how he was blending technologies, but it didn't hook me as a user.  I understand that some people like talk radio, I guess it's very seldom that I have something that I do that I can listen to talk radio, for instance a long daily commute. 

On the other hand, I do like to listen to music when I am at the computer developing virtual microscopy software, or working in the shop.  My iPod or iMac running iTunes faithfully serve that purpose. 

Well, I think I found a podcast that works for me, not that I was looking for one... I stumbled across it.  I'm using the new beta version of NetNewsWire that has the built in support for downloading RSS enclosures, such as a podcast and hands it off to iTunes.  And I read about Coverville on another blog, (I wish I could remember where), so I decided to test NetNewsWire with it and it works, better than expected.

Coverville, I like this podcast (radio show), check it out.  

(You don't need an iPod to listen to a podcast, just something that will play a .MP3 audio file such as your computer)


Permanent link to archive for 01/01/05.Sat, 01 January 2005

Happy New Year!


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