Thursday, October 29, 2009

MPG Track Day 2009: Along For The Ride

Signature logo tower of the Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California. The track, originally known as California Speedway, holds the distinction as having the fastest recorded qualification and at speed during the race, speed records ... both records were established by CART IndyCars on the main 2.0 mi (3.23 km) "D-Shaped Oval". Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

MPG Track Day 2009: Along For The Ride

I took a ride with a photo-journalist named Jon Barrett around the infield road track at Auto Club Speedway during the recent 2009 Track Day put on by Motor Press Guild (MPG).

Star Mazda Series standout, Joel Miller of Hesperia, California, sits in the driver's seat (P1) as we check out the track and get some driving tips from a budding professional open-wheel race car driver. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

A carload full of Journalists ready to see the infield road course at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Actually, I was able to take several rides with people (journalists, and professional drivers) throughout the two days of testing new automobiles provided by manufacturers for the motor press writers to get to know, and write about. To be able to drive ... then ride, imparts balance and perspective.

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

I write about the ride with Jon because this was a man who was prepared to document his experience through the use of a pedestrian style (nothing fancy) digital camera. He had a friend who had designed a specialized camera mount that employed a large suction cup to hold the camera to the inside windshield of any car Jon decided to drive ("guesstimated" cost at about $70.00).

Motor Press Guild's Track Day 2009: Every year, the Motor Press Guild (an association for people involved with motorsports, automobile manufacturing & marketing, and observers of automoblie culture) organizes a day on a race track for its members. /// The automobile manufacturers bring out many of their new cars, trucks and SUVs, and full journalist members of the MPG are invited to drive them on the track and on the streets that surround the track. The event is a great opportunity to drive vehicles that occupy the similar demographic back-to-back for direct comparison, to explore the incredible range of vehicles available, and to refresh one's journalistic memory about what's out there to meet the demands of a consuming public. /// Additionally, it's a fantastic networking and social event, a chance to see old friends and make new ones. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Director Of Communications of Mazdaspeed Motorsports, Dean Case (left), ducks in to consult with Mazda professional driver, Jeremy Barnes just before having me sit in the passenger seat for some "hot" laps around the track in the Mazdaspeed 6 Safety/Pace Car! Video Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

The car was the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR-Touring sedan and one of the more interesting activities a Journalist could participate in is to fill the P2 seat in a track test car driven by someone who is familiar with, and likes the car they are taking out onto the track. The process allows one the additional dimension to take in the emotional involvement of the driver, himself ... along with the behavior of the car in a road test stress situation in the many and varied corners laid out by MPG track management members, Don Fuller and John Dinkel.

Infield course a pictured by Auto Club Speedway. The course, as laid out by Don Fuller and John Dinkel, restructured some of the corners on the West end (left side of photo) of the track to allow the challenge of a double apex. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR-Touring sedan on the infield track at Auto Club Speedway. On-Board Video Credit: MPG Member, Jon Barrett (2009)

It may seem strange to say that sitting in the passenger seat was as satisfying an experience as actually driving a nice, road-worthy vehicle (many, actually) but isn't that the ultimate position a chronicling observer takes ... P2, with a view?

2009 CURB/Agaganian/3G Racing IRL driver, Richard Antinucci and NowPublic's Motorsports Feature Page manager, Edmund Jenks, after three laps in a $290,000, 680hp, Murcielago Lamborghini LP670-4. An "E" ticket ride to remember ... and Richard loved the experience too. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

For any MPG Track Day, being in the passenger seat is an opportunity and position never to be missed. It was really special to be along for the ride.

... notes from The EDJE

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