After weekend after weekend of staying home being quarantined, I was excited to make my way down south to Virginia International Raceway for NASA Mid Atlantic’s (officially renamed for 2020) Not-So-HyperFest. While it kinda felt like a cheat weekend, restrictions were put in place to keep everyone safe from viral spread. I was mildly concerned about how closely people would follow these orders, but overall I was impressed with how the procedures were followed.
Since the race weekend was taking place, many workers were needed in order to ensure that the event was held safely. That’s where I came in, since my job was to verify that cars were prepared to proceed onto the race track. I worked entirely during the period that cars were on track, which gave me little time to take breaks to practice my photography. With this in mind, I decided to take advantage of the foggy atmosphere that greeted us every morning.
Each day I awoke early to get photos and breakfast before I needed to be ready to work on the grid at 8:15, when cars would begin to arrive for the 8:30 session. I am always amused with the variety of vehicles that are present. The ability to go racing on the weekends is a privilege. That said, there’s still a significant range of budget when it comes to track vehicles.
On the lower end of the budget spectrum, there’s this E23 BMW 7-series that’s been prepped for LeMons. While it was one of the slowest vehicles on the track, it was driven by a pair of instructors with plenty of on-track experience. Instead of carefully placed sponsor stickers on a professionally designed livery, crude scribbles and drawings were randomly distributed over the aging sedan’s fading paint.
Lots of points for character on this one.
On the other hand, there are cars like this Audi RS3 LMS - a race car that’s factory prepared to meet TCR specification. I spoke to a member of their crew on Friday morning and made sure to let him know I thought it was a really good yellow. I was tired.
There was no shortage of vehicles present that were well prepared and well maintained. Here’s a taste.
There’s something to be said about the practicality of driving a car on track that is common. Spec racers in E30 BMW’s and Miatas really thrive here. When a wheel bearing or axle gives out, you know someone in the paddock has one in inventory that they’re willing to sell to you for you to get back on track.
The Fiat X1-9 does not have that benefit.
Despite being one of my favorite cars I spotted at Not-So-HyperFest this year, I was told that it unfortunately never made it out on track for the Grassroots Motorsports Ultimate Track Car Challenge due to a mechanical issue. While it may have only made it out of the trailer and not out of the paddock, I’m glad that there’s people willing to nurture uncommon cars for the race track, if not only to keep things a little more interesting.
Speaking of more interesting, I was really pleased to see this baller hauler with an assortment of electric race cars. The rig is an American LaFrance, who produced fire engines. At some point, this truck must have been converted into a towing vehicle.
It transported three electric race cars, which were available to rent to those who could afford it. When these vehicles took off from the grid, all that was audible was the fires on the pavement. I love loud cars and the small of gasoline, but for the first time I had an appreciation for something that didn’t blow my ears out when I was trying to listen to my handheld radio. I’m not getting old yet!
One of the vehicles I naturally pay special attention to is Edgar Morales’ Subaru BRZ. He is an excellent driver - at one point, he drove my FR-S at Summit Point and showed me how much more I’m leaving on the table. Someday I’d love to get back out there with Edgar in the passenger seat so he could give me some pointers.
This time around he was showing off his new lightweight doors from Lithuania. Since the roll cage makes up for the structural integrity that a door provides, he’s free to replace the relatively heavy OEM doors with empty panels that weight just a couple pounds a piece.
While his build is an inspiration to mine, my novice level of experience on track would not remotely justify such commitments. Yet.