A few people asked "where's the Puffalump?" on my horse review. She's been quite busy. I couldn't pry myself away from my LeMons build in Austin long enough to sneak along with a friend for the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona, so I did the next best thing—I sent Fluffy.
This marked the first event (not race yet, but event) of the merged Tudor United SportsCar Championship series, as it was the big test day for both the TUSC as well as its support series, the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. The cars and classes may have slightly changed, but aside from that, it seemed to be business as usual.
My friend Michael Johnson was testing the #11 Mitchum Motorsports BMW 128i that will run in the CTSCC race that happens right before the Rolex 24 at Daytona and offered to stow Fluffy away in his luggage.
If he looks familiar, it's because he's one of the other people who didn't get to race my 944. Oops.
The Roar Before the 24 is scheduled much like a normal, run-of-the-mill track day. Different classes of cars are separated out into different run groups, giving everyone an opportunity to shake down their cars at Daytona before the series start racing in a couple weeks.
Evidence of Fluffy's arrival quickly appeared on my iPotato, via PotatoMessage.
The Roar Before the 24 is also an opportunity for drivers to promote themselves, just like anything else that involves a large number of racing drivers in one place.
For Michael, this meant getting up early to talk with a local news station about the Roar Before the 24 test, the upcoming Rolex 24 race weekend, the Mitchum BMW and—something I've never seen before—Johnson's attempt to crowdfund a sponsorship for his CTSCC ride.
While I've seen several crowdfunding attempts from club racers and LeMons/ChumpCar teams (shoot, we've even got a "buy us kolaches" link on Fluffy's page), this is the first time I've seen anyone at the pro level try to crowdfund more seat time using a service like Kickstarter or in this case, Fundrazr.
So, if you've ever wanted to sponsor a professional driver and don't have thousands of dollars, here's your chance to throw in as much or as little as you want.
This is either going to be an interesting sidenote or become another way for racers to reduce the expensive barriers to entering costlier series like the CTSCC. Only time will tell.
The rest of the day was testing, testing and more testing. Many teams have drivers for the Rolex 24 weekend who may or may not be signed on for a full season, so this is an important opportunity to get some much needed seat time in for those drivers.
Whenever Michael wasn't driving, he took Fluffy around to tour the facilities. One of the best things about both ALMS and Grand Am was the open access to the pit area and all of the cars, so I'm glad to see that return as part of TUSC.
Mmm...one of the Turner BMWs. Fluffy wants.
Fluffy's ability to be used as a projectile makes it easy to toss her between different garage spaces.
Fluffy even got to test a couple of the cars herself: the #11 BMW 128i and the #62 Camaro GS.R. Never mind that she couldn't reach any of the pedals.
Mitchum hasn't run their Camaro in a while, but they brought it back out for the Rolex 24 to give winners of the Sunoco Daytona Challenge karting competition the opportunity to drive in the Rolex 24.
When Michael had to go back out on track, Fluffy curled up in one of the many convenient rabbit holes at the track.
While I would have much rather been wandering around Daytona myself, all of these status updates on Fluffy's location made for a pleasant distraction from hitting my 944 with a hammer. Best idea ever.
To find out more about Michael Johnson's plans to race in the CTSCC and elsewhere, look for updates on his Facebook page here.
Photo Credits: Michael Johnson