Story and Photo By Vickie Miller
For your racing dollar, Watkins Glen International (WGI) is an Extreme Coupon shopper dream deal! For $75, a race fan was treated to a three-day weekend event whose entry list included 17 Lamborghini Super Trofeos, 35 Porsche GT3s, 25 Prototype Lites, 59 Continental Tire (CT) Series cars, and 55 in the TUDOR class. Mixed in between all the racing were BMW car hot laps and on Sunday a parade of 100 Corvettes! Oh yea, free parking and free admission to the paddock area.
The WGI track after this past weekend had more padded rubber than the Michelin man after a big Thanksgiving dinner! There were always cars on track. It was amazing to watch the gate officials keep up with the flow of cars coming and going in/out of the track to a timed schedule event weekend. Very impressive! As a result, each race series laid down its own unique tire rubber and with no rain to wash away the buildup, the beating sun added heat which lead to a slick and fast flowing track surface. The heat was also a factor to the drivers, with several reporting issues with their cool suits.
The two primary races included the CT series on Saturday and six-hour Tudor race on Sunday. The beautiful blue skies both days served as a perfect backdrop to the exciting racing. More on the CT race to follow in this recapâ€¦. When the TUDOR race was closing, a full-course caution threatened to force a yellow/checkered flag ending. But the track crew, cleared up the debris and the race finished with a big battle between Oak Racing and Spirit of Daytona!
While it was a struggle for me to find a negative comment on WGI, it was not impossible. This year found a new process of police stopping cars on the road at gate entrance, checking each car before driving to the admittance gate (bad idea). The police mysteriously disappeared at raceâ€™s end, with no one at the main road to direct traffic (worse idea).
For a few drivers/teams this was their first visit to WGI. I chatted with several newcomer driver/teams, and heard a common theme, â€œhistoricâ€. Everyone has heard of WGI and felt the sense of history this track brings to the world of motor sports. This year was the first visit for race car fan, Paul Peters, who made the trip from New Jersey. After driving through the rolling green tranquil hills of upstate New York, Paul spotted the shiny metal grandstands of WGI which reminded him of the Dover Delaware track. Paul was instantly impressed.
Once inside the track, he experienced the Saturday morning practice and was impressed with all the sight lines available. On many road course tracks, the spectator is only able to view the racing right in front of them. While sitting outside turn one, Paul could see the cars coming toward him, take turn one and continue watching as the cars raced their way up the hill towards The Esses. With many passes zones, Paul was surprised it was not a â€œfollow the leaderâ€ style of track. Over the weekend Paul noticed the campground area was very organized (better than Pocono) with the lot number actually in the ground and clear lot bounds. For the ticket price, Paul was impressed with all the different types of cars running in one weekend, and he will return.
While at the track, Paul decided to visit with a team at WGI for the first time. Paul caught up with Delta Wing engineer, Skitter (cool nick-name). Paul has always taken an interest in the Delta Wing which has a weight distribution of 70% rear and 30% front, and recently switching from a Nissan to Mazda engine. Other than the engine and gearbox, the rest of the Delta Wing car is totally unique. During a race weekend, similar manufacture teams (Chevy, Porsche) might rely on each other for a part, but 90% of the Delta Wing is custom. If you didnâ€™t bring the part on the hauler, you canâ€™t run to NAPA Auto Parts to get it.
To prepare for WGI, the Delta Wing team tested at Road Atlanta which is about 15 miles from the team shop and is a good comparison to the elevation changes at WGI. The Delta Wing started WGI with the Road Atlanta test setup as a baseline. The car is built with an extremely small cockpit area which is in the center of the car for better distribution and balance, also allowing for interesting driver changes. Donâ€™t let the odd shape fool you. This car still uses regular engineering as any race car with no massive amounts of under-steer.
This year was also the first visit for team Autometrics Motorsports Porsche Cayman in the CT Street Turner (ST) class drivers Adam Isman and Remo Ruscitti. While I have seen both drivers race before, I knew little about their background. I had the pleasure of chatting with Adam and Remoâ€¦join me in getting to know these two drivers.
Adam and Remo, both grew up in Vancouver Canada, been buddies for over 6 years, and see each other away from the track. Adam still remembers when his dad took him to the Indy race at Vancouver at age 5. Adamâ€™s dad was a track worker/flagger with the Can-Am races. The Canadian-American Challenge Cup or Can-Am, was an SCCA/CASC sports car racing series from 1966 to 1987. As time passed, Adamâ€™s love for racing grew and at the age of 14, he started karting on a local level. By age 18, he was karting competitively with the Italian Motors team. In karting, Adam started with 4-stroke competition and then eventually progressed to Rotax. From 2012 to present, Adam has successfully raced in Canadian Tour Car Championship, PRO3 Challenge Series, and the Continental Tire Series.
Adam is well rounded young man with a Mechanical Engineering diploma from British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Vancouver, and currently attends University British Columbia pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree. It might take a little longer, but Adam enjoys and learns best in a classroom environment over the online option.
To prepare for WGI and other tracks, both Adam and Remo, like many drivers, use the iRacing track simulator equipment. After a few laps around WGI, Adam realized the track simulator was very close to WGI, providing a fast flow. The Boot is his favorite part, while it was a throwback to see the historic blue rails he remembers from watching F1 on television. The track does not have much run off areas and the elevation changes offer a unique experience which cannot be duplicated on the simulator. Through a connection from his father, Adam is honored to have DE Labs as a sponsor and be partnered with Autometrics Motorsports based in Charlotte
Remo began with a love of model cars and hot wheels. By age 8, Remo started in karting and by age 10 found him racing nationally with Italian Motors. Remo has many racing accomplishments including 2011 Gold Cup Regional Series Champion in both Shifter and TaG Senior classes. Remo moved into the Skip Barber National Racing Series and by 2013 Remo was the Pirelli World Challenge Rookie of the Year! Remo raced the full 2013 Pirelli World Challenge season where Remo learned, â€œyou need to make sure your choices are right in the first race so can make the second race.â€
Both Remo and Adam value weekly time on the go kart track as an excellent training/practice for an upcoming race event. Karting is very physical and keeps your mind sharp mentally with very close racing, fast reaction times, and the strong importance of hitting your marks on every turn. Karting is an excellent activity to learn and value the craft of racing and both are preparing for the SuperNationals November 19-23 event in Las Vegas. If you want to see how many professional race car drivers value karting, just look at the entry list for the Nationals event, which in the past has included Jamie McMurray and AJ Allmendinger.
Both Adam and Remo credit Michael Valiante (2014 Six Hours of the Glen winner) and fellow Vancouver native, for their continued success in karting. Michael has been a strong influence and continues to be a coach at the CT races. Michael will take the lead during CT practice and Remo or Adam will try and follow his line, learning the moves and flow of each track, turn, and straight. And I bet even Michael would admit he gets a sense of pride when the pupil busts a move on the track to (cleanly) pass the teacherâ€¦.did you catch the racing between Remo and Michael during the CT race at the Glen? It is a great sense of comfort to know Michael is at the track just in case the students need a little schooling. It was a regular Michael Valiante love-fest! The CT race will be broadcast Sunday, July 6, 10am EDT on FoxSports1
iRacing teaches Remo the concept of â€œpass or be passedâ€! True to the iRacing experience, Remo found WGI fast flowing and the ability to carry so much speed. The speed of his Porsche Cayman helps to push other cars to improve. WGI is close to Sonoma with elevation and The Esses. Remo is also attending BCIT to pursue a Certified General Accountant (CGA) degree. Remoâ€™s ultimate dream would be racing in an open wheel series. Both Adam and Remo would be happy advancing into TUDOR, but bottom-line, they will race anything! As Remo says, â€œIf you can drive fast in a go kart, you can drive fast in anything!â€
These CT races keep getting more and more exciting! CT is like college basketballâ€¦. Yea, professional basketball is thrilling and drama-filled, but the college players are hungry, struggling, anxious, and ready to give it their all! Iâ€™m pretty sure Remo would have sold his sister for a gallon of precious GAS! When you are racing for the lead or win, one of the most dreaded commands from the car chief is â€œsave fuelâ€! Congratulations to friend of the show, Ryan Eversley and Kyle Gimple for the win for team C360R. How did this team do at Watkins Glen? Adam/Remo were second fastest in first practice, 7th in 2nd practice, qualified 9th and finished 25th. The next race should be exciting since Adam and Remo are in their homeland of Canada!
For more information, please take a minute and check out:
Ryan Eversley race recap: http://sportscar365.com/features/commentary/eversley-watkins-glen-debrief/
Learn more about Adam from website http://www.adamisman.com/
Interesting read on Adamâ€™s karting background: http://ekartingnews.ca/news_info.php?n=7714
Learn more about Remo from website: http://remoruscitti.com/
Thank you all for reading and I welcome your comments. I have no affiliation with IMSA, TUDOR, etc. just a fan. There are many blogs and websites where you will find statistics, results, and scoring from the race; this is â€œjust the way I see itâ€.
Got a response? Follow and tweet me @viclovesracing