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Cole’s Corner: Three Hours

VIR Prayer with 10 minutes to go “I have a vibration, getting worse.”

“Cole’s Corner” is a series of posts written by MAAP founder Cole Scrogham and an exciting look into his world of motorsport and restoration.

My typical drive to Virginia International Raceway takes about three hours, from Harrisonburg to Alton, Va. I’m not really into constant radio listening, although Sirius XM sure gives you the opportunity, so it’s mostly a time of reflection and preparing for the task at hand. The task this weekend was to help the JDC-Miller Motorsport team and their Audi RS3 tackle the very fast and challenging 3.27 mile circuit at Virginia International Raceway.

Since VIR is in Virginia, albeit just barely, and I lived nearby for almost 5 years in the early 2000’s while setting up a new team onsite, this is what most people refer to as my “home” track. Ask anyone in the industry and they will usually tell you that having aspirations at your home track isn’t a great formula for success. It’s hard to win at home in motorsport.

As I left the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley and traversed Route 29 through the hills of Virginia, everything still looked pretty familiar. I’ve made this trip hundreds of times over the years and as a creature of habit, stop at the same fuel stops and often at the same pump, get the same snacks and follow the same familiar path. One thing was missing for me this year; this is often the time I would call my Dad and have a nice chat along the way, once up and once back, discussing the race week and other things without the pressure of time. His passing this spring left a hole in my pre-race planning.

The race week went pretty well, other than a few hiccups along the way and some pretty intense moments late in the race while leading and hearing “I have a vibration, getting worse” with 10 minutes to go. Somehow she stayed together long enough to secure the win at VIR. I tried to stay calm and be precise with information on the radio to assuage everyone’s nerves in those closing moments, but the anxiety was palpable. I have won races here before, but for the majority of my young team this was a first, and a very significant first for a few of them. Our MAAP Intern Jack Gavin was also on hand due to a last-minute opening on the team’s Covid roster, and who experienced a first-hand look at “real” race data and damper technology from our supplier ZF-Sachs, but also witnessed a nearly perfect race for our IMSA Audi Touring Car team. He likely thinks this is how it always will be…

Post-race celebrations seem awfully short these days, after a trip to the podium and tech, it’s back to work packing up, the glamorous part of motorsport. After most race wins, the car is typically very clean and undamaged, rolling through technical inspection easily and back onto the trailer with the full complement of equipment. For me, that was all followed with the same pathway home that started the week. Three hours of contemplation, the same but different, and really happy for all the guys and girls who put in all that work that often goes unrewarded.

Inside view of IMSA Pilot Challenge win for #17 Audi TCR JDC-Miller team.

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