About Dave

I was lucky to get involved with cars early; growing up in a neighborhood full of guys with their 50’s and 60’s hot rods. I started working summers in an uncle’s car shop when I was 13. By then we were heading to the drag strip on weekends. Then one of the neighbors invited me to a Road Race at Mid America Raceway. I was hooked! I had to have a Datsun 510, I started working corners at the track, running in Solos, anything I could do that included turns instead of just straights!

I attended a track day event in 1975, and started building a roll bar the next day. I slowly converted my street 510 into a race car, progressing from back-marker to lap record holder from 1976 through 1984. I won numerous racing awards back then: Club Racer of the Year (twice), numerous regional and divisional championships, even sat on the front row at the Runoffs in 1983. I raced my 510 until 1991, when it became too expensive for me to continue.

I turned my race experience into some seat time in various race cars, helping maintain and prepare various SCCA and Vintage cars.

 

 

In 2002, a friend bought an ex-IMSA RX7 that he let me drive occasionally in exchange for doing the mechanical work. That turned out to be the worst handling car in the world, and I had to rebuild it from the roof down. I learned a lot about roll centers and such out of necessity, and made connections with Joe Stimola, who became a good friend and tutor, along with Angelo who worked with him. That car has become one of my all-time favorites, and has won many SCCA and Vintage races since.

 

 

 

In 2005 Spec Miata was just getting a foothold, and two brothers offered to share their cars in exchange for mechanical support. This was a huge step forward for me in chassis tuning and driving – in a spec class, finding every ounce of performance is critical. Things like wedge and toe and camber took on a much greater importance than they had in real race cars. I was introduced to Data Acquision. My initital reaction – that stuff’s for guys who don’t know how to drive! Then one weekend I was qualified 3rd and couldn’t figure out how to go faster. An hour of data review at the hotel had me on the pole the next day. I was sold. And I realized we had barely scratched the surface of the huge benefits of data acquisition. I found Jeremy Lucas of FastTech Limited, who provides inexpensive data coaching in-person and via the internet. His education led me to an obsession with data.

 

I was helping an American Sedan Firebird driver at the 2008 June Sprints when Andy Wolverton’s dad (Ralph) asked me for help. Andy had driven an ITE Turbo 944 for a couple years and we were often on the track together when I drove the RX7 in GT2. His Porsche was incredibly fast but handled lousy. Now they had the SCCA T2 Solstice and didn’t have a huge horsepower advantage anymore. Ralph said “I will do whatever it takes to win it all”. That laid the foundation, and after a few races working on the car and the driver,  Andy won the 2008 Runoffs. Once again, the pieces of the puzzle included Joe Stimola and Angelo Zarra for suspension guidance, Jeremy for data assistance, and many others from GM, Hoosier, Cobalt Brakes, to name a few. A National Championship takes everyone working towards a common goal. In 2008, the stars aligned and Ralph’s wish came true!
In 2009 I took on some other cars, including Mike McGinley’s T1 Corvette. With some tinkering to make it handle – another example of a team that hadn’t been taking advantage of their Penske shocks and adjustable suspension – lap records fell and Mike won most of his races. We continue to work together, with Mike finishing 3rd at the 2011 SCCA Runoffs.

 

In 2010 I added Jim Lynch in his T1 Viper. That year Mike and Jim swapped lap records and wins, and Jim still holds the Road America T1 lap record (for National races), Jim was fourth on the grid and Mike was sixth at the 2010 Runoffs when the big starting line wreck came and took both of them out along with lots of other cars.

 

Danny Richardson from Maryland was having terrible trouble at the 2010 Runoffs with his American Sedan Camaro and I offered to help. The car was loose everywhere and he had no clue, and no pieces available. We removed the rear sway bar, made other adjustments, and he ended up sixth, starting from near the back. So he became another car in my harem. A fourth in 2011 in the rain and a fifth in 2012 – Danny continues to compete at the front for the National Championship each season.

 

For 2011, I added two STO Vipers from Kansas City, with Mark Kirby beating Scott Tucker’s Ferrari at Heartland Park as a huge upset victory. That was a great example of digging through the data and focusing on where the Viper’s strengths were and taking advantage of them. I also added two Vipers driven by brothers from Indiana in NASA. We met them at Putnam Park in April. They called me the next week and asked “what makes Kirby so fast”? Once again, here were two guys with great suspension capabilities and they just drove around – no tuning, no data, just 575HP. With some simple tuning and data review, they each dropped multiple seconds per lap at all the tracks they’d been running, each won their division championship (one runs Great Lakes and one runs Midwest), and they hold the lap records at many tracks now, including Road America.

 

It never ends. I help a smattering of autocross guys, some track day guys, a couple NASA Time Trial guys. I just started helping a guy with a late model Dodge Challenger and another with a Toyota Supra who plan on running NASA events this year. Each car and driver is another lesson, another test, another push to improve what I know and highlight how much there is to learn!

 

Bottom line, in racing, we’re judged by results, not effort. The hard charger award is fine for the other team, but I’d rather be the guys who win easily week after week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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