What we do when we’re not shooting a wedding

A few of you have asked what we do in our spare time… so here it goes. Most people go to the movies…which we do sometimes, or go out of town on some vacation…which we do sometimes, but most of all what we like to do when we get a chance is anything regarding motorsports, and driving at the track specifically. Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, TX has been a favorite “getaway” for us when we get some free time to take our two Subarus out to run. Apex Driving Academy run by John Holmes and company has been great for Tem and I to learn over the years, and I finally got a chance to get behind the scenes and work.

I volunteered to run Grid on an Apex school day this month and I now have a whole new respect for the people that make things go smoothly on the track. Where before I may have taken it a little for granted (like many things we do in life) the many things, people, and time that go into making something like an organized driving school run safely and timely.

At first I was a little overwhelmed in that in the Grid position, you’re responsible for (all at the same time);

– Making sure the 4 different run groups are called up to the grid position before their planned track time is to begin with enough time to have everyone ready and instructors in car, and called off of the track when their times are up.

– Watching the track and corner stations for different conditions, flags, and to radio to the staff and the drivers any and all changes in conditions, and scheduling.

– Checking over cars that have put wheels off the track for any debris or damage to the cars to ensure things continue to run safely.

– Communicating with everyone and watching everything as well as keeping the time tables so everyone gets a fair shake and their time on the track.

The many different things going on make for a busy, quick, and exciting day. The flags/corner workers need a big hand as well, as they’re watching out for every driver out there and hardly ever get any recognition or even a wave. Not to mention all of the staff and personnel that go into making everything run.

All in all it was great fun to be part of the machine that makes it all work, and watch some of the great cars rip it around Motosport Ranch. Tem was on hand to document the day of course, so here are a couple of shots from my day working Grid.

This was also a Viper Club day as well, as you can see from the slew of Vipers out.

One of the instructors for Apex Driving Academy brought his R33 Skyline GTR out to run.

Andre in class teaching the students about proper driving techniques and track etiquette.

As I call out radio checks and ask drivers to let me know they are ready to go out I get a thumbs up.

This is Big Bend… one of the faster corners on the 1.7 mile course.

Calling in the cool down laps and end of the sessions.

The following weekend I got the chance to drive on the track again myself during a half day with Apex Driving Academy for the intermediate and advanced students. So after doing my obligatory brake fluid flush, oil change, tire rotation, and brake pad change, we headed out to Motorsport Ranch Cresson again. This time Apex was running the newer, shorter (1.3 mile), more complicated course at MSR instead of the 1.7 mile course that the students ran the previous weekend when I ran grid.

The track is amazingly fun, with some blind crests, and many technical sections that really test your concentration. Tem was on hand again to document my day, as she chose not to drive this time.

John giving us the pre run talk about safety and rules for the day.

Lotus Exige heads the line for us to head out.

Me, passing by on the main straight.

Neil, who is my service advisor at Subaru of Plano, changing his brake pads.

Shane manning the corner station watching for conditions on the track.

Off over one of the blind crests into a fast right hand sweeper. Looks scary from here? The first time you drive it it’s a little scary too, almost like driving off of the face of the earth a little. ^_^

Thanks to Apex and everyone at Motorsport Ranch for a wonderful place for us to go. We can’t wait to make it out there again sometime.