9 years and counting

18 May

I haven’t really taken the time to look back, and see where all of this started.. It’s been over 9 years now since I hosted my first “track event”. 2002 was the year. I had attended one open track day in SoCal in February 0f 2001, and was hooked after that very first lap. I hosted my first event at Streets of Willow in early 2002 when the other organizer I had run with decided to quit hosting them.

The events were fun, they were pure. Enthusiasts looking for a safe place to enjoy driving their cars at the limit. Good times indeed.

As more and more people began attending the events, a desire to time the laps arose, to see just how fast they were compared to their buddies. We used some janky timing devices from LongAcre Racing. The things were nearly useless. If sunlight hit the receiver at the right angle, it would trigger a lap passing. LOL  But we had to use those because we couldn’t afford the baller AMB timing system. ($40,000+)

The first group of enthusiasts, attending our events, to really take track-day competition seriously were the Ford Focus owners over at FocalJet.com.  I’ll always remember that first event at Streets of Willow in 2003. Even the Hydrogen Focus brought to the event by some Ford engineers. Going to Target to pick up half a dozen stopwatches so we could time the Challenge (really a time attack event…). refining the handicap system at the hotel the night before the competition.

2004 saw more open track days, more focus challenge events. Great growth for sure. I had really gotten in to the whole “HPDE” thing at the very beginning. I was doing quite well. Event’s were selling out, people were excited. They were good times.

Even though I had been hosting “time attack” esque events since 2003, it wasn’t until early 2005 that we held our first event with “time attack” in the name.. it was called the Honda/Acura Time Attack, that we held at Buttonwillow.  The name of the event caught the attention of the producers for the show “Street Tuner Challenge” (Do any of you guys remember that show?!). Their film crew came out to Buttonwillow that weekend and captured footage for a segment of their show. We ended up helping the producers the first two seasons with the timing and scoring of their “Time attack” competition.

(Another random event in 2005…. One of the first times I went riding quads with my father in law, we stopped at a local 7-11 to get snacks and drinks. I spied a Modified Magazine on the rack, liked the look of it (first time I had ever seen the mag), and purchased it… This tidbit of info will factor in later…  😉 )

With the growing success of our Challenge events (Focus Challenge, MINI Challenge, Honda/Acura Challenge, etc.), I knew I had to come up with a way to involve ALL makes and models of cars..I remember putting pencil to napkin (literally) on some ideas.. proposing we expand into something new. I didn’t know what to call it quite then. Just knew that we HAD to do something, as the demand for something like this was quite evident. It wasn’t until I saw the 2005 issue of Sport Compact Car that covered their Time Attack event that I said “That’s it!!!”  And hence Redline: Time Attack was born!

In searching for a domain name, we naturally looked up TimeAttack.com… and found that it was owned by a company called Vertical Scope.. That name rang a bell.. sure enough, it was the company that published Modified Magazine. So I said, what the hell, I’ll send an email. I ended up getting a response from Rob Laidlaw, the owner/President of the company, who requested a meeting in California in June of 2005. He immediately pledged his support for our series, backing us with free full page magazine ads, editorial coverage of all of our events, support from their staff, introduction to contacts in the industry, etc. He chose the November 2005 Spring Mountain event to be the first official Modified Magazine Redline: Time Attack event.

Rob’s support of Redline in the early days was critical to the future success of the series, and the very sport of Time Attack itself. Granted, his reason for supporting Redline was strategic and political (it gave him access to a rival series to the Primedia/Source Interlink time attack/lap battle events). But he truly did support what we were doing. He saw the upside to his business by supporting us.

(And I’ll always remember the day I was standing in the parking lot of a Target in Lancaster, just days before our 2007 Auto Club Speedway event, when I got the news that Modified had been sold to Primedia/Source Interlink…. Horrible, Horrible news. I knew at that very point that Modified Mag would eventually turn into a junk magazine, just one of money under the umbrella. And sure enough that has happened. From the days of 300+ page counts, to now barely even 100 pages, and filled with print not worth my time or the trees killed to print the ink on…)

But I digress…..We held a tune-up event in July 2005 on the infield course at Auto Club Speedway, and had roughly 15-20 cars enter the competition. The event went well. We were ready, or so we thought, for the first “real” event that November. And oh what a nightmare that event was.. For those of you who were there, you remember, quite vividly I’d imagine. I’ll I will say is: flames…..

I’ll follow up with another post that goes into the years between 2006-2009…

Hopefully this provides some interesting perspective on how this all got started. They don’t call me Mr Time Attack for nothing.  😉

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