Here's where you will find pics and updates directly from my race weekends, plus other things such as stunt driving and sometimes posts not always about racing.
Pic of the week
Grid before the race, Nordschleife 2008.
Songs to check out
1. Little Black Submarines
2. The Pretender
3. Outkast - Take Off Your Cool
Food and Drinks
1. Redondo Beach Brew. Co, CA
2. Huntley, Santa Monica, CA
3. Pistenklause, Nuerburg
Pair of STATUS Ring Kevlar Racing seats, lightly used, very good condition.
Happy New Year!
Friday, December 31, 2010
2010, what a year!
Good things started early on when my stunt driving team Performance Two got me hired on as precision driver for a Hertz commercial. Through this job I earned my SAG card (Screen Actors Guild) which instantly got me on the roster of drivers qualified to do stunt driving in movies etc.
Next up, I entered an agreement to start collaborating with AE Performance for the 2010 Redline Time Attack season. Racing my Porsche 911 Turbo, modified into 2WD, lightened and equipped with a GT3 chassis I took my first class victory already by the Las Vegas race at the end of April. However, the joy with this car was short as it got stolen right after (not yet recovered). This forced us to bring out the City Tire 350Z Formula Drift car, which had been hibernating in the garage until now, and after adjusting it for grip racing and sorting some intial gremlins, the car was good enough to bring home 3 more victories and 2 podiums, as well as a class track record at Big Willow (Willow Springs Intl Raceway), and I ended up winning the Modified RWD class championship title for my sponsors AE Performance, Hankook and City Tire.
Apart from racing in Redline Time Attack Mod RWD, I also did some tire testing and setup work for Hankook during 2010. One job was to help Thomas Smith win with Crawford's car in SuperLap Battle Las Vegas, which worked out as planned. This car has a lot of potential and on the few tires we had available, we got some good work done.
Driftingwise, we took the City Tire 350Z out at All Star Bash, which was great fun. I love how we got the 350Z sorted out last season. I really missed drifting this year, but I also love pure racing so I can't complain. :)
I did a few more commercial jobs as stunt and precision driver during the year, I've been shooting in downtown LA in the middle of the night, up in the Hollywood hills, I drove flat out in the high desert with helicopters, Mammoth, and more. It was a blast to get to do so much fun stuff this year, slide around in snow, slide around on skidpad with helicopters filming, drive on ramps into a cargoplane and I guess the winner was to chase airplanes down a runway as they were taking off.
A new chapter has begun during the fall: DRAW Portfolio (talent agent) has started up and is working to connect businesses with a lineup of talented drivers and sports athletes. I'm one of the drivers in their portfolio. This is a very interesting business venture to be part of and 2011 will be very interesting for everyone involved.
The DRAW Portfolio's first race was the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in early December, for which we were well suited to take a class victory, with an excellent driver lineup and class winning Hankook tires. Despite a car that wasn't ready for the distance (a diff swap and no less than two gearbox swaps), the team was prepared for it and we did take the checkered flag after a grueling 25 hours.
I also co-founded a new GT-racing team towards the end of the year. This new team is named STORM Racing, and STORM's main focus to startup is to race at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring with the team's recently acquired Porsche 997 GT3 Cup. We are currently in talks with suitable drivers for this race. The Nürburgring Nordschleife is a difficult track to master, so there aren't many drivers that qualify. After this race, we're eyeing GT-races here in the US as well.
My last few weeks have been about wrapping up the year and planning for the 2011 season, I've done some surfing during the break as well which is such a great feeling and workout. Now my parents are visiting and I'm generally just enjoying being in the now - I have a feeling 2011 can become quite busy.
Hope all you happy people are doing well and are able to enjoy the last hours of 2010. I'll see you in 2011.
Saturday morning, dry with a hint of light coming through the gray skies. Good day for a racestart! I started the race (11am Sat) from 20th row. We were gridded on inside line down the straight which was a good line to start from going up towards the first fast left-hand turn.
Already at exit of the first turn, a fast left sweeper, a Mk1 Miata started fishtailing all over the track so I and many else slowed down to let that car settle/disappear off the track before stepping on the gas again, wouldn't have been too nice to start off the race with a collision. This little "pause" of momentum created a little gap to all cars ahead but the chase was on. I was faster than most cars around where I started, so I pulled away from my group and started diving into the chaos ahead.
After initially using the tires pretty hard to get around similarly paced cars while keeping the positions gained protected against attacks from cars behind, the rear tires got slightly hot and from talking to the team over the radio we decided to reduce the pace slightly, to maintain sustainable tire wear. In this race, teams are only allowed to change 1 tire per pitstop, so each set of tires have to last a while, not just one stint. We recorded a 2.03 in heavy traffic so surely we were on pace.
Drivingwise, a Playboy Cup MX5 like the MER MX5 we drove doesn't really put out excessive horsepower, but has fantastic handling, so it's all about cornering momentum, taking good lines, carrying good speed and to get by competitors one must often brake in tight inside lines and yet carry on with a really quick exit.
After 1h 50 min of intense wheel to wheel racing with many very highly ranked drivers, gas was running out and I pitted so Paul Walker could continue to bring us further into the 25 hours. From a 9th in class startíng position we were now 2nd in class and we had learned we could do very long stints per tank of fuel, this is a great strategy advantage.
Paul raced really well in his maiden ProAm level race, with his "game face" cool Walker dealt with both pushing the car to its limits over really long stints as well as handling the dicing with class competitors, the never-ending lapping we did to get by slower class cars as well as super fast prototypes and GT cars storming through the field.
After a while into the race the car came in with a first of many mechanical failures - pinion gear bearing and seal of the diff was going and the car was leaking diff oil, and the diff was grinding. A quick swap of the diff and we were rolling again. Roger Rodas kept a firm grip on our quest for a top result, making his way up the field with very competitive laptimes.
As darkness fell around 5pm, we suffered our first gearbox failure, just as we were starting to get back into the race after the diff swap. So the team pulled the car back into the paddock and put a new gearbox in the car. Fellow Hankook-driver Jeff Westphal ran top notch as expected from a pro driver, and including tranny swap, splashing more gas, strategy, and some long yellows, his stint lasted nearly 4 hours. He reported the car and track was easy on the body even after such a long stint and we setup our strategy for double and triple stints to maximize our efficiency. A triple stint would run 3 times 1h20minutes so it was important to get rest and eat right between these long stints. Roger Rodas got his first taste of real night time racing, which he handled pretty much like it was a walk in the park. Very impressive performance from all drivers.
During the evening, slight drizzle had come and gone, and came back with a bit more water staying on the track. We chose to run intermediates now, hoping rain would come and go, and that the teams running full rains would run into to overheating problems of their tires on and off, while we could just keep running wet or dry. As far back as we were after the tranny swap, we just had to gamble. I noted immediatley as I set out nearing the midnight mark that brake capacity was absolutely non-existent... turned out the ABS was not working when I went out and the car then has 80% front brake bias by default, and there is no manual brake bias adjustment in these cars. Another challenge for the team.
Photo: John Shin
During these next 3 hours, I kept some 26 seconds faster pace though than our nearest class competior and was keeping a fews secs off the pace from the teams running full rain tires in the wet, so it seemed our strategy could work if it'd just dry up a little bit. We filled another tank of gas and just kept handling it in the rain. Just going into my 2nd tank of gas the car started to develop a 4th gear popout issue, causing some pretty big mid corner slides a few times. After a while I had to hold the shifter in 4th (4th gear is pretty much 70% of the track) to not have it pop out all the time, it was a challenge to run with one hand on steering wheel, another on the shifter, braking like on ice, a windshiled covered in a mix of rain spray and mud from the many dirt drops everyone was doing, and yet race to make our way back up the field. I was called in so the team could try some shifter linkage adjustment and we filled up gas again so we could extend the stint. When the adjustment didn't solve the problem, it was tried once again and by now the shifter actually kicked out so hard I could barely hold it. Another gearbox swap was due.
After the gearbox was swapped in something like 15-20 minutes by this amazing crew of mechanics, the ABS issue was also taken care of . Jeff headed out for a triple stint, then later Roger went out to bring the car into the dawn. We were quite astonished at this rate of tranny consumption, as we are all well trained in heel and toe technique and at shifting smoothly
There were reports of high engine temperatures showing during this phase of the race, but a check in the pits from the MER racing crew showed normal temps in the engine bay and that it must be the temp sensor showing a wrong reading. This is a bit uncomfortable as a driver, since everytime checking the temp, it would say 270 deg F or something like that. It's just instict to watch out for high engine temps and 270 is not a comfortable number to see even knowing rationally that the team located a sensor failure.
As dawn came around, it was still a wet track with no dry line but no puddles so I opted for Hankook Ventus C71 dry tires, a gamble for no serious rain to come, but I knew these tires would build good temp and even with a wet track should grip better than the intermediates, and sure they did! In case of heavy rain I would just have to drive around any puddles - we had to make up serious time now. With the ABS functional, and a gearbox nursed like a baby, I got into a great flow and lapped some 3-5 seconds faster than most of the field, including faster class cars from the E0 and ES classes. It was like a repeat of the 24 Hours of Nurburgring rainy night stints when I'd be running some 40 seconds per lap faster than our competitors in those conditions. There wasn't really a dry line, but it was getting cleaned up and it seemed our car was exceptional in these conditions.
So during this stint I lapped some of our E1-class competitors 5 times and with light fuel load I kept up with the Porsche 997 GT3 Cup that ended up winning this race. After turn 1-2 I would get right up to his bumper and stay there until turn 7 when he could pull with the Porsche horsepower, then I'd catch up again at turn 11. This kept going on for several laps until they pitted. I believe this is receipt of a very good chassis setup and tires on our side.
I came in for a scheduled quick fuel re-fill and headed out again, the car now feeling a bit heavy from the weight of the added fuel, but this was a quick adjustment to live with. After about 1 hour the team reported we we're in the window for catching a 3rd place class finish should we keep this up. The car ran really great during these last 3 hours and I was thinking what could have been should the car have been running like this all along... Finally our "luck" turned it seemed, and some competitors were also facing some mechanical trouble.
As my stint was just about to end and we were in great shape, with Jeff standing by to take over, I all of a sudden get a feeling of a slight lack of power... no way... I instantly let go and flowed the car through the turn 9 esses in the back and tried to apply throttle gently in the run down towards turn 10, the umistakeable sound of a blown head gasked or exhaust leak around the headers. Dumped the car into 5th gear low rpm and called the team on the radio, who requested me to try making it into the pits. I rolled through turns 11-12-13 and coming out on the final straight the engine lost all power and a cloud of white smoke bellowed out, I changed to third gear and milked the throttle to try and get it to ignite and I got 1 or 2 cylinders running, just enough to crawl back to the pits. Once there, the engine went silent with a sigh.
Now here comes an important part of this race, something that is the sign of true team strength and spirit - right at this point the entire AE Performance / DRAW Portfolio crew got to work to come up with ideas on how to finish this race, the ultimate goal - to "Survive the 25" - with or without a good engine.
Together with the Team MER mechanics our AE Performance technician Dustin worked hard to get at least 1 or 2 cylinders running. After this much hard work, there was no way we were not going to take the finish flag. The engine refused though so as noon came around, and the finish flag dropped, an entire team full of resolve pushed this car by hand out of the paddock, through the hot pits and towards the checkered flag. Other teams were cheering on and we were sensing something like a small victory in itself coming our way.
Jeff sat calm and cool in full racing gear in the driver's seat, as we rolled down pitlane, belt on and hands on the steering wheel, waiting to run the starter motor out to the magnetic transponder strip some 50 yars out after the pits. In the background the roar of engines on the track, pit crews on the wall cheering the finishing cars and racers, the sky getting brighter. The sound of our running feet as we picked up speed was the sound that blanked out most of the background though, more hands were coming to the mission, and with one last big push, the car rolled forward gracouisly and silently, by its own momentum, Jeff at the wheel, past the waving checkered flag. As the car rolled out of of the pit into the track, we stood and watched as Jeff, powered by the starter motor, drove the car further and further, small puffs of smoke coming out of the exhaust for each turnover by the starter motor, 20 yards, 15 yards, 10 yards... wait is he stopping?? No there are still smoke puffs - people were going crazy, 5 yards, the dust covered spokes of the wheels turning slowly in the light, still moving and... crawling, there he is right at the line, here's there, he's over the line, he's over the line, he's done it, we pulled it off!
Aftermath is a team with a great feeling of accomplishment and with a huge set of learning experiences in the trunk, for everyone involved. It was a difficult race but there is no way to learn more about the challenges of endurance racing. There will be much more to discuss, report and tell from this race than what I have in this brief writeup, but I wanted to share a hint of what this race was like.
Thanks to DRAW Portfolio, AE Performance, Hankook Tire, ReachOut WorldWide for making this all happen and to the Team MER crew lead by Jason Saini for all of their hard work during this race.
Also I'd like to extend my appreciation to National Auto Sport Association, race directors, Thunderhill track staff and rescue crews for putting on a great and safe race.
Last and most important, I'd like to thank AE Performance's entire crew lead by Rich Taylor for support and catering during the whole race weekend, Dustin Bramell for his key role in this whole operation, and Roger Rodas, Paul Walker and Jeff Westphal for their excellent work behind the steering wheel. As a team, we had a blast.
Lot's of media attention to our team, starting already yesterday. Car is very fast in the turns on the Hankook semislicks and this track has a lot of fast turns. We're MER4 in the timing sheets. 3h to the start!
We sent Roger out to qualify at 5.15pm, darkness had set in already. Just as track went green it started to drizzle. On slicks and in a ton of traffic he safely got us a spot as 8th in our class just before the track was shut down due to 2 cars colliding. Talk about a nice introduction to night racing. Now we'll be saving the car for the race tomorrow. Driver's meeting coming up!
Team MER Plans Star-Studded Assault on 25 Hours of Thunderhill
MLB Pitcher and Film Star Join Road Racing Aces for 2010 Team
FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 30, 2010) - Team MER is pulling out all the stops in its bid to reclaim the 25 Hours of Thunderhill title and bounce back from a disappointing 2009 race. Entering four Mazda cars in the grueling 25-hour endurance contest, which takes place just outside of Willows, Calif., Team MER is relying on an all-star lineup of road racing veterans, young up-and-comers, an MLB pitcher and a Hollywood actor to take home the win.
The No. 36 Hankook/Burger On/MER MX-5, which finished fourth in the E1 class last year, is in very capable hands for 2010. Professional drifter and experienced road racer Tyler McQuarrie, who’s won E1 twice before, including with MER in 2008, will be in the driver’s seat. He’ll share driving duties with 2009 Western and Eastern Skip Barber Regional Champ David Cheng, NASA Spec Miata standout Darin Polsley and Texas Rangers starting pitcher, C.J. Wilson. Fresh off of his first World Series appearance, Wilson is no stranger to Thunderhill. The California native drove the No. 36 for MER in last year’s race, helping secure a fourth-place finish in class.
“After a very long season of baseball, my attention instantly turned to competing in the 25 Hour with Team MER,” Wilson said. “Mazda has a great formula in the MX-5 Cup and after seeing firsthand how supportive and fun the entire field was last year, my teammates and I are really excited to see what's in store for 2010. Zoom Zoom!”
Team MER’s second entry in the E1 class is the 2008 class winner. The No. 74 Hankook/AE Performance/MER MX-5 boasts another head-turning roster that includes actor Paul Walker, best known for headlining The Fast and The Furious film franchise. His love of racing goes beyond the big screen, as Walker has been a serious competitor in the Red Line Time Attack series. Walker brings with him his long time advisor and GT3 Cup driver Roger Rodas. Two more Red Line Time Attack stars complete the driver lineup for the No. 74, including the 2010 Red Line Time Attack Driver of the Year and Super Modified AWD Champion Jeff Westphal, plus 2010 Modified RWD Champion Carl Rydquist, neither of whom are strangers to endurance races, including the 24 hour races of Daytona and the Nürburgring.
“My teammates this year encompass everything necessary to have a great time racing while still being competitive,” Westphal said. “It's a new experience for half of us, but with that said, I know they will adapt just fine.
“The MER MX-5 Cup car is a well-sorted and front-running package. Actually, the very car we will be using won its class in the 25 two years back, so I have no hesitations that we will be in great shape come Saturday afternoon.”
The No. 80 MER/Hoosier RX-8 E0 class entry, more commonly known as Team MER’s GRAND-AM Continental Tire Challenge car, will have some serious road racing aficionados at the wheel, including Eric Curran, who’s won no less than 10 Continental Tire Challenge races in his career before moving up to the Rolex GT series in 2010. Team MER co-owner Shannon McMasters, a former Moroso 24 Hour race winner and longtime 25 Hours of Thunderhill entrant joins Curran in the No. 80 car, along with 2009 Skip Barber Master Series Champion Ward Herst.
The No. 73 Frank's International/PaveCon/Hoosier/MER/Sparco MX-5 ES class entry will pull from Team MER’s SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup stable of drivers. Jeff Mosing arrives at Thunderhill after his best MX-5 Cup season yet, finishing a career-high second at Miller Motorsports Park. Russell Walker is coming off of his rookie season in MX-5 Cup, highlighted by a third-place finish at Mosport. Mosing and Walker are joined by team co-owner Jason Saini, the 2007 MX-5 Cup Champion and 2008 World Challenge Touring Car Rookie of the Year. As an E1 class winner in 2007 and overall winner in 2008, Saini knows what it takes to topple the 25 Hours of Thunderhill.
“After the high of winning Thunderhill in 2008, last year was a pretty big disappointment,” Saini said. “One of our cars caught fire, but thankfully my friend and co-driver Charles Espenlaub was OK. He even went on to win the Continental Tire Challenge GS Championship this year. We wish he could be back with us for another run at the win, but he’s in Germany with the GS team accepting an award from BMW!
“Even with last year’s misfortune, we bounced back and brought home a runner-up finish in the E1 class. Team MER never gives up and we’re going to take that same fighting spirit all the way to the checkered flag on Sunday.”
The 25 Hours of Thunderhill begins with a two full days of testing, Dec. 2-3, prior to qualifying at 5:15 p.m. (PST) on Dec. 3. The green flag flies at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, with the checkered flag coming out 25 hours later, at Noon on Sunday, Dec. 5. Live timing and scoring is available at www.nasa25hour.com.
Team MER is in the hunt for another 25 Hours of Thunderhill win thanks to the support of its sponsors:
Based at the MotorSport Ranch in Cresson, Texas, Team MER is a leader in Mazda performance, consistently developing the best SCCA, GRAND-AM and NASA cars for purchase, rental or testing. By combining a Championship-winning race team, modification and enhancement shop, research and development facilities and full PR/media services, Team MER is uniquely suited to serve every level of customer, from weekend enthusiast to amateur and pro-level racers. Led by one of Spec Miata’s founding fathers, Shannon McMasters, and professional driver Jason Saini, Team MER employs some of the best and brightest talent available in all disciplines of motorsports. The combination of technical expertise and driving talent is unique in the industry and a proven recipe for success. To learn more visit http://www.goteammer.com/.
Name: Carl Rydquist Age: 35 Home: Redondo Beach, CA Web:CarlRydquist.com Reel:Click to watch Highlights: Winner of Zandvoort 500 (2005), Winner of Swedish Endurance 3h GT Racing Championship (2004), Winner of Swedish Endurance 8/12h GT Racing Championship (2001), Winner of Eurosport Super Racing Weekend Challenge (2001), Winner Super Lap Battle Lim RWD (2011), Winner Redline Time Attack Mod RWD (2010). 24 Hours of Nurburgring (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011). 24 Hours of Barcelona (2011). 25 Hours of Thunderhill (2010). Memberships: FIA (intl racing license), SAG Stunt Driver (Screen Actors Guild), Formula D, Performance Two Stunt & Precision Driving Team (Hollywood, CA). Teams: Berk Technology, City Tire, AE Performance, Steam Racing, STORM GT Racing.