I had a rare relaxing weekend of watching racing & drinking beer at Laguna Seca with friends and family planned, then got a call on the preceding Wednesday to work on one of these for O’Gara Motorsport in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo series. I’ll take it. Fortunately I already knew & had previously raced the Thunderhill 25 with 5 guys on the team, which greatly helped in getting me more or less up to speed as quickly as possible. By Sunday morning I was starting to feel comfortable within the operation. Overall a successful weekend, and I was happy to try my hand with a new team and car type. I do love racing, hard work though it is, so any opportunity to work at the track is a good one because it gets me out from behind the desk at the shop. O’Gara has an amazing operation coming together, it was a pleasure to work for a properly set up team. What follows is more or less a photo journal of my weekend.

I got to the track at about 10:30pm Thursday, having closed up the shop and done payroll before jumping in the truck & pointing north. Fortunately I was sleeping in the truck and didn’t have to set up much, so after a bite to eat and a couple of beers I turned in. The next morning, I had this to look forward to:

Friday morning, 6:45am: After a quick run out to Will Call in Seaside for my IMSA hardcard, it was right down to the paddock Friday morning. My charge for the weekend would be the #50 Huracan, driven by Richard Antinucci. It was a brand new car, and had only been delivered the prior week, and first turned a wheel in shakedown testing at Buttonwillow 2 days earlier, following a heroic thrash by the overworked full time guys. The team had not originally planned to run it this weekend:

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Sam, who I’d worked with before at Thunderhill, gave me a quick rundown on the cars’ systems & procedures. I was sitting in the car within 2 minutes of walking in the tent, learning the steering wheel & system controls because I’d be driving the car to & from grid & pitlane soon:

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Next, a brief walkaround of the car, going over the basics for service access:

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Radiator low in front, always covered with a protective pad when the front cover & extractor vents are off:

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Passenger footwell, with radio, fire bottle, air jack, battery & Motec boxes visible:

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Now that’s a firewall:

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Job 1: New brakes & bleed all around, to bed in a complete set of pads in the morning Practice for later use:

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#69 on the setup pad in the top of the frame and below:

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Then it was off for the first Practice of the morning, less than 3 hours after meeting team and car. Go time!

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In line for IMSA tech after practice, a bit of a nervous time because I wasn’t really familiar with the car or measurements yet:

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Weight is checked first, here we’ve just rolled off the scale pads, about to check camber:

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Then the car gets rolled on to the rack for an underbody and ride height inspection:

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Laguna curbs can be mean:

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Checking ride height compliance. We made it, just:

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Back to headquarters for debriefing and cocktails service. So begins the afternoon pre-race prep, as qualifying and the first race would be back to back the next morning. This is the level of disassembly required to access the rear sway bar and drain the catch can:

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Just remember: Every race car, no matter how cool, is someone’s pain in the ass. Several wounds were incurred in reaching this point. World’s dumbest catch can visible between the frame sections, to the right of the shock assembly:

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Very cool fuel pump-out box made by my buddy Dustin of H2 Performance, a car chief for the ill-fated 09 car:

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Setting sun made for some cool light in the tent, which I in no way captured well:

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Tucked in for the night, well after dark:

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First blood drawn, one of many carbon fiber wounds incurred during the weekend. I forgot to take a pic of both hands after the weekend, it was lots more of this, plus splinters:

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Up at 5:30am for Qualifying & Race day, Team O’Gara ready to go bright & early:

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In line for post-quali Tech, result: P1 for both sessions, pole for both races. Richie is a not only a great guy to work with, he’s a monster behind the wheel!

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Time for a quick cleaning and tire change before the race, it was pretty much back to back with qualifying. Here’s my fellow mechanic on the car, Nick, with Richie:

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About to blast the wheels on & get to grid:

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Post race tech, a couple of interesting things here. 1: the pattern of oil from a leading car made a pretty cool aero study on the front of the Monster Energy entry of Corey Lewis & Change Racing:

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And the tires moved about 3” on the rims over the course of a 50 minute race, see the yellow “N” on the sidewall relative to the yellow stripe at the valve stem, through the Speedline script:

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Back at the tent, with some shiny new aero mods to the roof:

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P1, but no champagne for me, back to work (after lunch):

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The 09 car didn’t fare so well, suffering extensive damage during race 1. Unfortunately it damaged the frame & could not be repaired for race 2 on Sunday:

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That’ll buff right out:

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Lamborghini’s engineers were a regular presence, downloading data for IMSA to ensure legality:

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Not bad for paddock transportation:

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On the way to lunch, Proper Huracan GT3 on display at Lamborghini hospitality. I was told this is the first one, a thoroughly used mule:

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The famous Bob Akin 935, on static display to promote the upcoming Rennsport Reunion, which I’m really looking forward to:

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The new Compass 360 Audi S3s:

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Some gratuitous supercar pics from the paddock area around Lamborghini hospitality:

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Cheers from our little victory soiree, where the mechanics promptly descended upon the free beer. Forza Italia!

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A few camp shots... this was a nice sunset riding back to camp on Saturday night:

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Back at camp, a great evening for May in Monterey:

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Heating up last night’s tri-tip and a can o’ beans.

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My friend Lars’ “Dutch Chili”, which I wisely stayed the hell away from:

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Back at it Sunday morning, with some last minute setup changes from our engineer Gerald. It’s a spec series, you always seek an edge:

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Pit lane post-race, and another good result, P2 by .4 seconds after a blinding drive by Richie following an unfortunate drive-through penalty. When the driver says “The car was fucking awesome,” we’ve done our job:

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A tired, relaxed post-race lunch at Marion’s, the best damn racing catering I’ve ever had. They follow the Tudor series around the county, as they did American Le Mans in ‘06 when I was in World Challenge. I found it comforting to have them there at every track, I always knew I could make my roast beef & turkey on rye at any time. I’m not a fancy food guy, so this suits me just fine, thanks:

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Lined up for some beauty shots and pre-loadout cleaning. This is when I was making my work list for the car moving forward, documenting everything that we did to it for the weekend. This is why I take notes, several pages over the course of a weekend, all included with the summary and work list, so the next guy to touch the car can pick up where we left off.

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The race may be over, but there’s hours of work yet to do, packing up 5 cars, 2 semis and a motor coach for the trip home. It takes awhile to get the tile pulled up organized for easy setup next time:

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2 in, 3 to go. A little spooky standing behind the car on a shaky liftgate:

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Not a bad hardware haul for the team, here’s to more success in the future:

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A good weekend all in all. I didn’t get to watch any of the on track action but my own, hence the dearth of pictures to that effect, but for as positive an experience as this, that’s ok. There are few places I love more than Laguna Seca, and having come there since childhood as a fan, it’s pretty cool to find success with efforts on the other side of the fence. 37 hours of work in 3 days, all worth it.