By Jim • 

A new race car for a new year at PIR

After a great deal of procrastination, I finally made the decision to purchase an OMS D-sports racer to run in the Sports Car Club of American’s Oregon Region during the 2013 season, which runs from March through September.

The D-sports racer has one obvious advantage to my 1992 Ray formula Ford, which I ran in eight races in 2011, and that’s the fact that the wheels are covered by the body of the OMS. The Ford is open-wheel, open-cockpit while the sports racer, a 2004 British-made machine, won’t kick water from the track back into my face due to the fenders.

I’ll have to admit it took me some time to make the decision to contact Bill Daffron of Simi Valley regarding purchasing his OMS sports racer, which I’d spotted on For one, it’s a great deal faster than my Ford, with almost 190 horsepower coming from the modified Yamaha engine. The Pinto-based engine on the Ford topped out at around 110-120 horsepower and the Ford actually weighs more dry (without gas, oil, etc) than the OMS, which comes in at 850 pounds sans fluids and driver. While the Ford topped out at 7,000 RPM, the motorcycle engine can rev to 13,000, and the G-forces will be much greater through the fast corners at Portland International Raceway.

My wife Molly also had to weigh in on the decision, and I brought sons Dale and Jim into consultation mode before finally deciding to make the purchase.

It’s a great looking car, dressed out in mostly black with white numbers and trim, and should reach speeds of up to 135-140 mph at PIR. That’s plenty fast enough for an old timer like me, and I hope I can squeeze all the potential out of the car later in the season, once the OMS and I have bonded.

Since I missed all of last season, I’ll need to renew my license with a waiver from the regional competition director and the annual physical, then, hopefully, get the OMS on track either in April or May. I probably won’t register for the March race again since it rained buckets two years ago in Portland. Without a set of rain tires, I had to sit out the single regional on Sunday and leave PIR early.

Now, in addition to a renewal of my license, I have to arrange for pick-up of the car, which Daffron says he will tow to Buttonwillow Raceway, located 28 miles west of Bakersfield, for me. Still, that’s a 12 hour drive from West Salem, but Bill holds a full-time job, so I have more flexibility to spend three or four days making the round trip. We’ll probably wait until the passes are all clear of ice and snow in the Siskiyous’ before making the trek with our enclosed trailer in tow, so the pick-up may have to wait until early March. In the meantime, I’ll get my gear all arranged, fit the DEF device to my helmet, check my toolkit, canopy and other necessities for a weekend at the track.

In addition to competing at PIR, my “home” track, I plan on making the three-to-four hour drive to a new course in Shelton, Wash. called The Ridge Motorsports Park, which has 16 turns compared to 12 at PIR, where I first started racing in 1968. But The Ridge, according to most drivers I’ve talked with, is an exciting layout that combines a number of fast turns with hairpins, which means I’ll have to start slow and work my way up to speed at the first regional race or two.

Years ago, my philosophy was, “If you don’t spin in the first few laps of practice or qualifying, you aren’t trying hard enough.” I’ve modified that approach in later years, and, by gosh, the spins have been much more uncommon. Funny how that works. Sometimes, you have to go slow to go fast.

So in the next few weeks, Bill and I will work out the details for the transfer of ownership, including payment and pick-up of the car. In the meantime, I’ll focus on getting myself ready for a new year of racing after a one-year layoff. I’ll get my top-notch mechanics, Steve Gattrell and son Spence, involved in car prep and make any safety checks before getting the car on track in April or May. With a brand-new engine, a paddle shifter and almost ground effects handling, the car should be a screamer at PIR.

Hope to see some of you at PIR this season. Just look for the little black D-sports racer with the scoop and aluminum wing in the paddock area and the old guy sitting in the rocking chair under the canopy, trying to remember just why he’s there.

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