One Hour at Pacific Raceways

Pacific Raceways, located in Kent, Washington, is an incredibly beautiful track surrounded by tall evergreens with snow-covered Mt. Rainier in the background. I had a blast racing the 1-hour enduro at the 10th Annual Car Tender Challenge with IRDC in August. It was a very hot day, 96 degrees and humid, so by the end of the hour long race, I was a bucket of sweat, but had a huge smile on my face! Here is a recap of a lap around the track from my race...

Drafting down the front straight, I am gaining on the car in front of me as we head toward "the kink," a section of the front straight which is pushed to the left then comes back and turns slightly right. I am inches off his bumper when I pop out to the left to set myself up for an inside line through turn two, attempting to make the pass for third place. I brake deep with a quick 5-4-3 gear downshift and we are side by side as we enter the long, banked lefthander. I carry just a bit more momentum into the turn and complete the pass by the exit, tracking out to the curbing.

We're flying down the hill toward two tight hairpins, and he is right on my tail as I brake and downshift to second gear, making sure I don't overshoot the tight right hand turn. A quick burst of throttle and I'm back to the brakes as I turn left  onto a straight amidst an abyss of trees. We zoom along the curves of the pavement as we near the next sequence of turns. With a hill to my left, trees to my right, and some brutally steep curbing, there is little room for mistakes. Braking into the turn with a downshift to third gear, I am back to throttle through the left hand turn. A quick tap of the brakes and full throttle as the car dances around the right hander and settles as we swoop left to head back up the hill into the sunlight.

Photo Credit: Doug Berger @

Heading toward the last set of corners, I've built a gap and know I need a good run on the long straight to maintain my position. I downshift to third gear as we drop down into the banked turn eight and the car is on rails through the turn, drifting out to the very edge of the pavement and stirring up some dust on track out. I am full throttle through turn nine, shifting into fourth gear just before the apex, and carrying my momentum onto the straight. With 15 minutes left in the race, the battle for third continues.

I ended up finishing fourth in class after having some great fun during those remaining 15 minutes.

Up next, the Ferrara Racing team is gearing up to compete for the first time in the 40th Annual 8 Hours of the Cascades endurance race at Portland International Raceway. This is personally one of my favorite weekends at this track, so I am looking forward to it!

Racing for the Roses

As you may already know, this year has been a slow one to getting on track due to scheduling conflicts and family matters that have come up. Thankfully the long wait has come to an end. Last weekend both my dad and I raced our trusty green Spec Miata for the first time this year, and at none other than the 55th Annual Rose Cup Races at Portland International Raceway. It was an entertaining weekend with Dad and I sharing the car once again, him racing in SM and me in STL. With no practice sessions worked into the schedule, we went straight into qualifying. Dad qualified 12th in a field of nearly 30 Spec Miatas, and I qualified on pole for STL and running lap times that tied my personal best. Not bad for our first session on track for the year!

Race 1 of the Spec Miata Grand Prix was incredibly exciting to watch. There wasn't a lap that went by where there weren't cars somewhere going 2 or 3 wide. The top 7 were switching positions throughout the race, all contending for the lead. About halfway through the race a full course caution came out. After watching the cars lap and realizing our car was missing, my family and I rushed down to the pits to see what happened and make sure Dad was okay. Fortunately, Dad was uninjured, but the whole left side of the car was beat up and covered with rubber from the tire wall. What had happened is, as he was going through turn 12, he ended up too wide on exit and hit a dip past the exit curbing, this misdirected the car toward the tire wall at the exit. He tried to get it corrected, but the tires caught grip at the wrong moment and it was over from there. Just before impact he realized it was unsaveable and let go of the wheel. This not only saved him from potentially breaking some bones, but also allowed the wheels to move freely, dispersing the energy and amazingly nothing broke on the car. The front left fender was crushed in and rubbing on the tire, plus the mirror was gone, but all the damage appeared to be cosmetic.

Photo Credit: Frank Hunt
With only one race between his race and mine, we had very limited time to get the car together and determine whether I would be able to go out for my first race. With the help of Chris, Kenton, my dad and I, we were able to check over the car, make sure it was straight, and fix it enough to run my race. Since I drive a Miata on the street, I was able to borrow it for the race. I asked for a hardship lap just before my race to make sure the car drove straight, stopped, turned, and all of that good stuff. The hardship lap is out and back in, just enough to determine that the car was good and I was ready to race!

For my race I was in a mixed group of over 30 cars with a large speed variance, including anything from Porsche GT3 Cup cars to Mazda Miatas and even a Kia Rio. This meant that traffic played a large role in the race. Most of my race was spent overtaking cars that were faster in a straight line, but slower through the turns, meaning I had to strategize how to get in front of them and hold my position. A few times I was able to use lapping traffic to my advantage to get by the faster cars, and using their draft I was able to make those passes stick. I ended up having a great battle with Skip Yocom in his 240Z toward the end of the race. I would catch him in the corners, only for him to pull away on the straights. The white flag came out for one lap to go, and I was on his tail as I got a great run out of the last turn and down the front straight, so he was only able to build a small gap. I could tell he was overdriving the car, and anticipating a mistake about to unfold, I was ready when he got sideways in Turn 2. I navigated my way around him to make a clean pass and was able to run away to the checkered flag.

Photo Credit: Frank Hunt
That was such a fun race for me. The fact that the car had been crashed earlier that day never even crossed my mind; it was purely me, the car, and the pavement, working together to win the race. Not only did I win my class and finish 14th overall, but I ran consistently faster each lap, knocking 1.5 seconds off my personal best time, putting me just a few tenths off of my dad's times. The rest of the weekend went great for me as well. I continued to improve, running consistent laps and feeling more confident than ever. Races 2 and 3 were similar, as I had to find a way past those cars that could beat me in a drag race, but would hold me up through the turns. While frustrating, these situations helped me develop my race craft and build upon my skills. All in all, I won my class in all three races and had a weekend filled with fun racing.

Dad had a great couple of races as well, keeping the car intact, on the track, and in one piece. He ended up finishing 11th in both races, just behind the large front group. He always had someone to chase down and someone else knocking on his bumper trying to get by. Overall, a very fun and successful weekend! Thanks to everyone who came out to watch, support, and compete! It was a blast hanging out with all of our friends and we are looking forward to our next race.

Photo Credit: Doug Berger @

Up next: Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA July 31st to August 2nd

Pacific Northwest Challenge 2014 STU Championship

My goal for 2014 was to win the SCCA Pacific Northwest Challenge STU Championship, and thanks to the help and encouragement from many, I was able to achieve this goal. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to drive with Team KBR for 2014. Team KBR has been a fantastic partner since I began racing in 2011, and I greatly appreciate all they have done for me over the years.They went above and beyond to make sure I had a solid car for each race this year and made it possible to compete for and win the STU Championship. 

It is always rewarding to accomplish a goal, but what really made this year special was being able to share this experience with the many people who have shown their support since the beginning. I am so thankful to be able to share my excitement with my friends and family. Thanks for making this a year to remember! 

Thank you to my 2014 Partners! 
Team KBR,, Moss Miata, Hawk Performance, Drive Away Cancer, 425 Motorsports, Flying Bye Photo, Racers Who Care