The Circuit of the America’s, Austin’s new road course, opens up 2013’s wicked year of racing with GRAND-AM. GRAND-AM comprises of a mixture of production-based road cars and purpose-built race cars, known as the Daytona Prototypes (Which still used production-based motors). For the production cars, GRAND-AM gives us the GT and GX classes, where an array of manufacturers battle your entertainment: Chevrolet, BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, Audi, and Mazda. This is the first major event at COTA since last November’s F1 race. The new course still proves to be a unique challenge for drivers thanks to the new surface, and the course layout lends itself to some great passing, all of which makes for exciting racing. I called up friend of Hooniverse and mildy-insane Pikes Peak racer Brianne Corn as my hot-shoe photographer, and we set out to COTA for a weekend of racing.
Monday, Jeff posted the impromptu video I shot. The death of the Nikon I was using paid off, the Canon I picked up (See that, I just started the Chevy vs. Ford of cameras. You can now argue among yourselves.) happened to shoot 720p video, which I found out on the warm-up lap before the green flag. Along with some iPhone clips, the result was some pretty wicked car-porn for your eyes and ears.
Two out of the three GRAND-AM classes had wins from Texan drivers and teams. We must’ve drank the other guys under the table on Sixth Street the night before, or something. Dallas, Texas based Gainsco/Bob Stallin’s Racing won the Daytona Prototype class in their #99 Corvette powered “Red Dragon.”
The Daytona Prototypes are basically spec-chassis, but with different production-based engines. The most popular were the GM LS, Ford’s 5.0 (Seems based on the older modular design, not the new 5.0), and BMW/Dinan 5.0 V8 based from the M5. They aren’t far-removed from their production counterparts, especially in the case of the LSx motors. They’re heavily limited by GRAND-AM to about 500-550 hp. To put their straight-line speed into perspective, however, they were able to hit 170-mph on COTA’s back straight, where I could barely muster 140-mph in a 550hp CTS-V, in cold air. And they sound awesome. Wicked awesome.
The #38 BGB Motorsports/Mosing Motorcars Porsche Cayman battled hard against the Skyative Mazda diesels for a win in the GX-class with Austin, Texas based Jeff Mosing, along with regular drivers Spencer Pumbelly (Giving the love-tap, above), and Dr. Jim Norman. The Cayman pushed hard and stayed clean to finish with a two-lap lead on the Mazdas.
I had a chance to meet Jeff Mosing for the first time on Friday during the Continental Series practice in his #56 BMW 328i. He runs a local classic car dealer, Mosing Motorcars, and has been a regular of the MX-5 Playboy cup. In the Rolex 24 earlier this year, Mosing along with Lee Davis, Ryan Eversley, and Eric Foss placed third in this same Caymen.
With Texas taking over GRAND-AM, I figured he’d be a good man to talk to.
I met at the car-guy candy store that is Mosing Motorcars. Their lobby is filled with a C6 Z06, Stingray C3, NAPCO Suburban, ’57 Bel Air, ’70 Coronet 440, Chevelle 454 SS, and a Ford GT40 clone with a short-stoke Ford small-block capable of over 500 hp, up to 7,000 rpm… It’s pretty sweet. His office has the walls lined in various awards from MX-5 Cup and many other racing endeavors, a wall dedicated to Hotwheels (of course). His desk over looks the Gulf liveried GT40 clone in the lobby.
Over the last year I’ve met a lot of drivers in varying levels of racing. What always interested me is what drives racers. It’s not always about being fiercely competitive. For some, like Brianne Corn, the urge to race is nearly philosophical: How far can one person go if they put every fiber of their being into one aspect of life?
It is damn-near therapeutic for Jeff:
You get on a road course and it requires a high amount of focus for a long period of time. Over the years I’ve learned that the longer the races are, the better it is for me. I’m inherently ADD, and because of the high level of focus, they call it hyperfocusing, that is required over a long period of time, it’s almost therapeutic for me.
So it was kind of interesting, it was something that I didn’t know; why I was drawn to [road racing] completely. I am competitive, but I always tell people that it’s not so much that I’m out there, in my mind, competing against other people, it’s that I’m competing against myself. If I drive a good race and finish seventh or eighth place, I’m never going to beat myself up. And on the same token, if we finish first, but I still feel like I left something on the table, then I’m hungry and I want to go back and prove to myself that I can go back and do it just a little bit better.
We talked for awhile about people in racing, and how lessons in racing can effect life lessons. To keep doing things as long as it’s fun. And a bit about when racing does get frustrating, including a quick punt to an offending driver at the end of a season, “It was probably the wrong thing to do, but I didn’t send him completely off the track” he joked.
We also talked about the unique challenges that COTA brings to drivers: The racing line on a course with no rubber layed down, and (to Racer139‘s delight), some of the trickier turns on the track.
I realized early on that there was a huge amount of racing room, and that the grip is displaced evenly across the whole track at this point and time because there’s no groove, no wear-in, no burn-in. So I took advantage of that when cars were stacking up going into [turns] five and six, I would just go around on the outside of a couple of them.
Sadly, somewhere I wasn’t recording when we talked about turn-one at COTA, so I can’t quote directly, but basically the uphill climb at corner entry allows you to brake later and harder since suspension is compressing with the elevation change. However, there is a very fine line where if you blow the braking point by 5-10 feet, the course levels off, and the suspension unloads and the car goes very wide. Unlike most corners, where if you blow a braking zone by a few feet, you maybe lose a few tenths, turn-one puts a major hurting on a car if it enters too hot.
Another aspect of racing for him is bringing interest to issues close to his heart. Mosing supports William’s Community School, named for his autistic son, William. What brought Mosing to Austin was the search for specialized education for his son, and the school is the result. The livery sports the school’s logo prominently on the nose of the Cayman to help bring support, and to spread word that there are options out there for specialized schooling.
Mosing’s drive to race is a love for the sport, the challenge, and the state of mind. It helps support many aspects of his life: the dealership, the school, maybe some of his sanity.
I had a blast covering this race in person, and it was a pleasure to break into the mind of another driver for a bit. I often find that the stories around the drivers are a little more interesting than the race itself.