In our last article, we left off with Logan having successfully completed his first NASA/HPDE weekend. His driving improved session by session and his skills were determined to be proficient enough to soon move up the ladder to HPDE 2. The E90 which he had built after hours with the Condor Crew performed very well and continues to prove itself to be an excellent modern platform for performance driving. Going into a busy March and April, Logan was ready to return to Homestead once more before following that up with his first trip to Sebring International Raceway on Easter weekend.
The season’s second Homestead event took place on March 25-26. The E9x presence had grown within the paddock since the last event with a new build popping up from a longtime NASA participant.
The schedule was similar to the first event with informative classroom sessions preceding sessions on track. Logan was paired with NASA Time-trialer and friend of the Condor Crew Jonathan Bowerman as his instructor for the weekend. After a consistent and solid weekend, he would officially be promoted to HPDE 2 for the upcoming Sebring event taking place just two weeks later.
The Spec E9x class which grew by one car saw more action at Homestead as well. The 3 participants Carlos Mendez, Curtis Buxton and Juan Carlos Lopez all ran their developing race cars and looked forward to more action at Sebring soon following the Homestead event.
Sebring would be a different challenge entirely. Aside from laps on the simulator, Logan would be coming into one of the world’s most challenging and demanding racetracks completely fresh. Now being in HPDE 2, he would also begin running laps without an instructor for the first time.
The car would get some small upgrades in between events as well, including Condor Speed Shop’s E-brake delete to help streamline the looks of the interior. Prep for it’s maiden voyage at Sebring was thorough as can be to help prepare it for the challenge. The famous (or infamous to some) bumps and fast corners in addition to the warmer Spring temperatures would give his new race car and developing skills a run for their money. Due to the upcoming Easter Holiday the event took place on Friday and Saturday instead of the usual Saturday/Sunday. Logan traveled to the track Thursday evening full of excitement.
His weekend began riding as a passenger with instructor, long-time racer and friend of the crew Don Stevens. Here he showed him the correct school line, braking points, flag stations and turn in markers. Immediately Logan knew that Sebring would be a more demanding track.
He took the wheel for the following session, and as the afternoon progressed the track temperatures began to rise rapidly. Logan was able to start learning the correct line. The bumps and overall track demands were even more intense than he had expected. He wisely took it easy and progressed slowly throughout the session.
As Logan turned more and more laps throughout the first day, he realized that the 200 treadwear street tires he was running would be somewhat of a limiting factor as he gained more confidence. He kept an eye on the pressures throughout the day, lowering them to 36 psi after each session.
To close out the afternoon, he would ride along with close friend and Condor Crew member Curtis Buxton. Curtis is very experienced at Sebring and he was able to show Logan how the car should feel when driven much closer to the limit. In his words he was going about “7/10ths’ ‘ and every bit of it was felt from the passenger seat. The street tires screeched through Turn 17 as they held on for grip and the car bounced violently over the bumps. This experience set a new benchmark for his ultimate performance standard and offered a good example of what it felt like to be that close to the car’s limits.
The next morning Logan was refreshed and motivated to attack Sebring in another handful of on-track sessions. His approach was certainly more confident after a good night’s sleep and he pushed the car quite a bit more, particularly in the braking zone of Turn 7 and over the bumps in Turn 17 where first-time drivers tend to over slow. He also watched the race groups for the day more closely, seeing how different cars would handle specific corners and how they would attempt overtakes in specific areas of the track. The weekend ended all too quickly with the Easter holiday fast approaching, but Logan would leave the event motivated and eager to return.
Sebring is a ton of fun and running laps there never seems to get old. It is lucky for him that it is a consistent staple on the NASA Florida Region calendar. It’s no wonder why participants from all over the country come to try their hand at Sebring if they can. It truly is one of America’s most historic and challenging tracks. The remainder of this year’s regional events will be held there so Logan and his team will continue to strive for faster lap times and consistency throughout 2023.