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I think it's time . . . . .

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  • I think it's time . . . . .

    Apologies in advance for a rather long post.

    I think it’s time.

    I started loving cars very young, I think I was six or seven with a slot car set. I recall desperately wanting the E-type Jag, and one Christmas, there it was! In Drivers’ Ed (remember that?) I actually asked the instructor “are the yellow speed signs on an entrance ramp advisory or regulatory?” I was fascinated in cars that turn left and right.

    I remember my first exposure to autocross: it was a flyer for “The Serpentine”, which if I recall correctly was something akin to the Bay Bottom Crawl in or near the Florida Keys. “I’m going to do that one day soon.”

    When I finally did start autocrossing and doing time trials, I was hooked. That was around 1989. Then I bought a ’94 Miata, and I jumped both feet in, going to every event I could get to, including National Tours, Pro Solos, and even twice going to SCCA Autocross Nationals in Kansas.

    I moved over (I resist using the term “graduating”)to track days, entering my first event at Sebring with Chin Motorsports in 2001. As you all know, Chin Motorsports started as an offshoot of the NSX Club of America. Look at what Dr. Chin and Mark, and Vince, and Brian have wrought! And the legions of contributors, workers, volunteers, instructors, and participants.

    I’ve done around 150 track days since 2001, most of them as instructor, and most of those with Chin, and nearly all of them in a Miata, and a few with my NSX.

    I’ve had students that run the gamut: Really, really good, to god-awful terrible (thankfully, most were toward the former end of that spectrum). It has been incredibly gratifying to help progress a newbie who in the morning has no idea which way the track goes, to hitting marks and really making pace by Happy Hour.

    I did have one incident that I kick myself over to this day: a youngster in a pristine NSX who had been to a few single-seat schools and was a bit enthusiastic. We crashed at the first braking zone, first lap, of the first hot session of the day. In retrospect I should have garnered better control of his enthusiasm during the warm up lap, during which he was already driving 9/10ths.

    I like to think that aside from that single encounter I have been a competent instructor and have contributed positively to the sport. I’ve been doing performance driving of some sort for nearly 30 years now. I am under no delusions that I am fast; I am measured, careful, competent, and aware, and at least in my mind, reasonably quick, and I have achieved my goals. But I’m not a “racer”, I’m not blindingly quick, and self-preservation has always, for me, overridden the stopwatch.

    I recall falling asleep at night driving laps in my head. That’s been gone for a few years now. My wife reminds me “Never say ‘never’.” I think I’m done. I can’t say I’ll never be on the track again, but as of right now I don’t plan to. I’m 62 and I think I’ve gotten it “out of my system”.

    I can’t tell you how many people I now consider friends as a result of motorsports, Chin colleagues among them. I’d like to provide a heartfelt “thank you” to Wei Shen, for having the vision and drive to make it happen (is there ANYTHING that man cannot do?), along with Mark, Maria, Vince, Brian, Josh, Jack, Scott, Jim, and oh, god, I KNOW I’ll be leaving a bunch of people out. I consider them my friends, and some of them, my very good friends.

    And of course thanks to my own son DJ, who is my crew chief and competitor in the Track Rat Miata we have shared. (There isn’t much about Miatas he doesn’t know, or Honda, or . . . . .) It’s been a ton of fun sharing this hobby with him. Maybe we can share the hobby with grandkids Madison and Logan, or my stepson Danny’s kids Ryan and Hayden. (Danny’s dad was a knee-dragger; Danny got pretty good at two-wheel road racing before the kids came along, when he gave it up. Danny got moved to intermediate after his very first track day session in our Track Rat Miata, his first day on track in a car. So maybe it’s rubbed off in the right way.)

    Anyways, it was a helluva run. I’m sure you’ll see me hanging around here and there, but truthfully, watching isn’t the same. I accompanied DJ recently and it was a strange sensation. I didn’t feel like an outsider, but it was definitely a different feeling knowing I wasn’t on the track. And when I thought about actually BEING on the track with everyone else, I didn’t really want to do it. Which was the final confirmation that it’s time.

    Thanks for listening and being a fantastic community.

    Doug Sr.

  • #2
    Doug,

    Your story and timeline are very similar to my own. So, what's going to fill that time and space spent doing track stuff? Golf, gardening, grandchildren, travel, Parcheesi...? Whatever it is, I wish you happiness for the future and I will miss seeing you at the track.

    Best of Luck,
    Mike Dayton
    ​​​​​​​Chin Track Days Chief Instructor

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    • #3
      Doug, "The Management" might be one of 6 people on our team that admin the forum. But, this time, it's Mark. All my thoughts of you are nothing but stellar... as a person, a coach, a friend, and an ambassador for our hobby. Thanks for all the hours you've given to Chin. I sure do hope to see you socially at the track, or at NSX Club events. All the best. - Mark

      PS, just look at the "join date" on the profile... The Chin Forum was launched in Feb '06, 12 years ago. Your own join date is not far behind mine....
      Last edited by The Management; 02-22-2018, 03:40 AM.
      Drive Well, The management

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      • #4
        Mike, thanks for the good wishes. Not sure what I'll do, but it will probably involve car shows and such involving the NSX, and Miata club activities. The South Florida Miata Club has been bugging me to organize another road trip to a track day. They really enjoyed spectating and riding with me, and especially the lunchtime track touring laps, the few times we hosted them at a Chin event. I'm sure I can organize one of these and attend when DJ is instructing.

        We owned a travel trailer for a while, and we will likely get another one, but not until I retire, which will be in a couple of years. In the meantime, yes, I will still do car stuff, just not track stuff. And of course, when the logistics allow, enjoy the grandkids. No, not golf, at least that thought has not struck me. Parcheesi? Hmm........

        Mark, I appreciate the sentiments. Someone once said that a man's character can be determined by the character of the friends he keeps. 'Nuff said.

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