Michele and I built a Factory Five Racing Roadster – Cobra replica – about 12 years ago. We started driving it on the track about 10 years ago; and we started racing in NASA Rocky Mountain TTU about 6 years ago. Three years ago I started instructing, and that has just been a hoot (punctuated by moments of fear).
When I started, I had a lot of driving experience – street cars, motorcycles, tactical and emergency vehicles, off road trucks, etc. When I was active duty, my friends and I were having a contest to see who could get certified on the most vehicles. I don’t remember who won, but I did manage to get a rather eclectic collection of vehicles; including a farm tractor. If it had wheels or tracks, I could drive it.
But I had no track experience at all. It looked kinda fun, and it didn’t look too hard. I was wrong on both counts – it is more fun than should legally be allowed, and a lot harder than it looks.
My first instructor was a big guy (the Cobra is small). He drew the short straw and had to ride with me. You see, it was April, we were expecting snow flurries that day, and the Cobra is without a top or a heater. Brave man. And his helmet stuck up above the windshield. But, he toughed it out and taught me well.
So here we are 10 years later. It has been great fun. We’ve managed a few track records here and there, we’ve got 6 championship trophies, and one Instructor of the Year Trophy (which I am most proud of). More importantly, we’ve had a great time and met a lot of great people. NASA Rocky Mountain is a great group to learn and race with.
It seems that the racing schedule has taken over our lives. We have to schedule everything around the NASA schedule (not a bad thing). When I go to the track, I try not to miss a single minute of available track time. On occasion, I have been the only car on the track at the end of the day on Sunday. If extra sessions are allowed, I take them. For that, I have earned the nick name, “Iron Man”. I like it, it makes me laugh every time I hear it.
The Cobra has been a great learning tool. It slowly developed from a fun street car, to a fast track car. I’ve learned a few tricks that work well, and learned a few things that didn’t work well. I’ll try to translate some of that knowledge into the Exocet.