Sunday, 10.30.2011

After a good night sleep, Hugh arrived early at the track to get thing settled for the day.  It was still chilly out but thankfully the rain had stopped early on in the morning.  Hugh once again was faced with problems, as the Green Monster failed to start.  During the storm, water had gotten into the ECU somehow. This was not good.  After some work, the Green Monster fired right up.  Hugh barely made it out onto the track in time and was able to run 7 laps with a best time coming on lap 6, with a 1:32.032.  That would have been good for 3rd position until the car began running erratically and Hugh needed to immediately tend to it. He was disqualified for missing the scales, but the car needed to be looked at.  Hugh was forced to start 33rd overall out of a 35 car field.

Thanks to Risky Projectz for this photo.
"I feel that the car is good.  The brakes and handling are where I want them to be, but this will be a tall order to catch up to the rest of the guys.  We'll see how it goes," Hugh said before the race.

Cecil was running good times at Thunderbolt but during the morning's Practice/Qualifying, the pressure plate broke.  Too many hard downshifted caused one of the pins to break on Lap 6, but he still managed a 1:33.4 which would have placed him nicely in the field of GTS3 cars.  He was disqualified as he too missed the scales after the session was over, but there was no point of going there because the car was clearly broken and unable to be fixed then and there.  The weekend was over for Crazy-Otto.

Thanks to Ray at Garagespec Magazine for this photo.
Jonathan was glad to have moved up to GTS3 in his #127 BMW, until he had an argument with one of the officials and was forced to run in GTSU, with cars of twice the power.  Not a problem though, Jonathan still ran a low 1:32 lap and was happy to be out there racing.

Thanks to VAC Motorsports for this photo.
Time-trialers Gabe P. and David M. ran in between the race group sessions in their BMW M3's.  Gabe, still getting used to the car, ran a respectable 1:41.543 lap in TTA with Dave not far behind him.

Thanks to Risky Projectz for this photo.
The race was scheduled for 2:15pm on Sunday, October 30, 2011.  The track was crowded with cars of all different classes.  Hugh and Jonathan were ready to go as they strapped into their cars.  The green flag was waved as cars went 3 and 4 wide into the first turn.  Hugh was able to overtake 5 cars after only two corners and quickly worked his way up to the back of the lead pack of cars.  After only lap 1, he had gained 4 spots in GTS3, and on lap 4, closing in on teammate Jonathan Vasquez in his Green Monster.  Hugh was on the move and passed Jonathan soon after.

Thanks to Ray at Garagespec Magazine for this photo.
Jonathan stayed with Hugh for another lap or so, until he over sped into the first turn causing him to bail and turn to the left, catching him in the gravel trap.  Unlucky JVR.  Here is Jonathan's video:

After JVR had been pulled out of the gravel trap and the pace car drove back into the pits, Hugh was now closer to the top of the GTS3 field.  During the caution, he caught a break and was able to catch up.  Once the green was waved again, Hugh got back to work and set his sights on Mark Lounsbury in his #151 BMW M3.  A lap after the restart, Hugh caught Mark who had gotten stuck behind a GTS4 car.  

Thanks to Ray at Garagespec Magazine for this photo.
On the final turn of the final lap, Hugh made the move for the thought-1st position.  Al Galossi's GTS4 car ahead got severely sideways going through the last turn, which slowed Lounsbury up greatly.  Hugh saw the opportunity and kept his foot in it until the start/finish line.  He inched past Lounsbury for the position!

Thanks to Ray at Garagespec Magazine for this photo.
The gap between him and Lounsbury? A corner light basically.  The gap was a mere 0.067 of a second.  Quite a remarkable performance by Hugh Stewart.  Unfortunately, Aaron Povoledo finished first in his #126 GTS3 BMW M3 (did not have a '3' on the car to designate his class) which gave Hugh 2nd place.  Regardless, it was an amazing race.  It was a tough battle with the weather over the course of the weekend, but well worth it afterwards.  Here is Hugh's video:

Cheers to a great outcome to the weekend!


Mother Nature vs. Hi Speed

Friday, 10.28.2011

Once Jonathan got his car fully settled and ready to go, he was off to NJMP! For Hugh however, that would be a totally different story. Griff and Hugh began loading up the van and kept their fingers crossed that the weather would stay clear and rain/snow-free. Instead of having to drive back down to Norwalk when they got back, Griff decided to go home and have Hugh pick him up on the way down the next day early.  Unfortunately, that did not happen.

Saturday, 10.29.2011

As the sun rose early Saturday morning, it stayed close to freezing temperatures, and soon enough snow flurries fell to the frosty ground. This was NOT what anyone wanted. No snow fell in NJMP, just nasty rain making things extra slick on the track.  Hugh, as well as many other racers would not race today due to the severe weather and rainstorms.  Many raced anyway and a few cars left the track that weekend with some crazy battle wounds.  Sunday would be clear and sunny.

Raphael's 996 RSR in the rain on Saturday afternoon...
As the snow got thicker to a point where the flakes were the size of baseballs, Griff told Hugh not to come and pick him up.  The last thing he wanted was to have Hugh drive a van with a trailer and car down the unplowed side roads to get him.  It was not worth the risk as the trip had not even started yet. So Hugh stayed south on I-95 towards the New York line.  Then there was traffic. Tons of it.

There were accidents everywhere as people tended to drive at their normal, everyday pace, which often landed them into a ditch or guardrail.  The traffic lessened for a while then increased once again. After another hour of stopping and going, the fuel pump on the van gave out.  Stranded on the side of the road, Hugh gave his old friend and fellow teammate during the Speedvision days, Tom, a call.

Stuck near the NJ border, Tom travelled all the way down from northern NYC to give Hugh his blue Ford Econoline van.  Rich and Shelby arrived on the scene to assist Hugh in the moving of everything from the broken van to Tom's.  The hookup to the trailer was no issue at all, but because Tom's van was considerably smaller than Hugh's Chevy, it took a whole two hours to transfer all the parts and tools into it.  

"Kind" truckers purposely drove close to Hugh and everyone, kicking up wet, cold snow onto them.  Real nice guys! 

The next issue would be how to get the Chevy safely off the highway and to a location where the fuel pump could be mended.  Hugh began calling any and every towing company possible but no luck. Apparently, Hugh had to contact the state police in order to get a flatbed to him.  That took another 30+ minutes just for the state policeman to arrive due to the severe traffic problems.  Once he accessed the situation, he contacted a local towing company. 

Hugh requested that the van be brought to a local Advance Auto Parts, but the tow truck man insisted that he bring it to his own shop.  After some words, the man then agreed to bring the van to the Advance Auto Parts in Hackensack, NJ.  Unfortunately, the snow had not let up and was coming down even harder than before.  There was no chance of Hugh being able to drop the tank and change the fuel pump in this weather.  He would have definitely gotten seriously sick being out in the cold underneath the van.  Thankfully, The manager at AAP kindly allowed the soaked and exhausted Hugh to leave the van there until he came back from the track.

Things were looking up for Hugh as he finally continued underway towards Millville.  By now it was past 8:00pm.  He had been on the road already for 11 hours, and still had another two hours to go at the rate he was going with the traffic.  Well, the traffic got worse as he headed down and by midnight, Hugh finally arrived at The Days Inn.  It took a whopping 15 hours to get there.  But the bad luck was not over yet...

A snow-battered Green Monster arrives in Millville...
Strolling towards the front desk, Hugh signed in.  He was stunned to find out that they had canceled his reservation since he had not gotten there in time. 

"I was tired, exhausted, and soaked and all I wanted to do was sleep."  After this awful day of obstacles, problems, and nasty weather, Hugh struck a wave of good luck.  A lady had come into the main lobby and was signing out ahead of time rather than in the morning.  She overheard the conversation between Hugh and the front desk attendant and offered him her room.  It was already made up and there was fresh food in there as well.  What a day!


Prepping for NJMP, Breast Cancer Donations, and the Early Season Snow


It has been a hectic week at HSM.  Griff and Hugh spent some time discussing how to make the final round of the season special.  In no time at all they decided that setting up a donation fundraiser for breast cancer would be the perfect idea.  Since October is Breast Cancer Month, HSM worked with the Susan G. Komen For The Cure to help raise funds for research.  This foundation is known well for their involvement in sports events, especially running and endurance races.

The donations will be collected until the end of the month and at NJMP for the last race of the 2011 racing season.  To show even more support to find the cure, the HSM slightly redecorated their livery on the #22 Green Monster.  All the existing #22 numbers on the car were changed to pink, as well as the '3' in front of the GTS logo.  The ends on the rear wing were changed from yellow to pink as well as Hugh's name tag on the windows.  The other cars from the shop who are racing on Halloween weekend are also wearing pink '3' stickers.

The super cool part to all these changes on the car is that for every person that donates, he or she will get to sign their name on the hood of the BMW (in pink nonetheless).  It will be visible all weekend to spectators, drivers, and teams. 

After a mild overrev back in August, Cecil's #999 BMW had its head inspected and checked for any damage to the valvetrain.  Luckily, there was not any, but the cylinder head got a thorough cleaning in the process before being bolted back down.

As the final days counted down, Cecil's BMW, as well as the BMW's of both time-trialers Gabe P. and David M., were prepped and sent on their way. Luiz decided not to attend this NJMP Thunderbolt round. He will undoubtedly be ready to go for 2012!



NASA Championship Weekend Recap

September 8-11, 2011


After mother nature was raining buckets on the Mid-Ohio the night before, the track was soaked on Thursday. Just when everyone thought the sun would shine, more rain hit. It seemed not even the radar map could predict the weather as the nearby Great Lakes created a 'Lake Effect'. The air temperature was cooler than the water temperature of the nearby lakes so as the air passed over the warmer lake, the air picked up the lake's moisture and deposited it on areas downwind of the lake, including the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The qualifying session and qualifying race sessions only are about 10 minutes in duration, so there is little time to fully get 'in the groove'. During the qualifying session on Thursday for Hugh, it was an absolute mess. Cars were spinning off and wildly fishtailing as they hydroplaned on the now-soaked track surface. He only got one lap in. It was a measly 2:28.679, which on the Hoosier R6's, is pretty decent since they not meant for wet track conditions. If driving in the rain was not enough, Hugh found that his front control arm had a bit of play in it and a rear wheel bearing was causing vibrations making the handling and braking unpredictable. From the beginning of the year up until this point, the car has been basically problem free aside from a blown shock and such. No other suspension issues until then. Bad luck.

Later that day, Hugh nursed the BMW around the track finishing 14th out of 20 in qualifying race with a best time of 1:38.523, much quicker than the cars in front of him. If the race had been longer than 10 minutes, he surely would have caught up to some of the front runners in GTS3.

Richard Hunter, running in Honda Challenge 2 with his red Acura Integra R, was happy to be back in the driver seat after his engine needed a fresh rebuild after the last few races. It was found that an incredible 14 valve springs had broken out of the total 16. It was amazing the car had still run as surely they had been broken for some time (Remember: Richard ran at Hyperfest this year and won on Sunday with the motor).

Richard chose not to run the qualifying session on Thursday and started at the back for the actual qualifying race. It was still quite slick on the track at 2:35pm, so Schoolboy only did two laps and placed 16th in H2.


The warmup for GTS Challenge was 9:05am on Friday. Hugh put on his Hans and helmet and strapped into the Green Monster. It was much more dry today as the rain stayed away. During the warmup session, Hugh was on his hot lap when a car exiting the pit road pulled in front of him. The other car was given the Passing blue/yellow stripe flag to allow Hugh to pass. Hugh went to overtake him and as he was literally parallel with the other car, the other car bangs into the Green Monster. Both side tires on both cars made contact at over 100 mph.

"I honestly don't know how I saved it." Stewart said. Thankfully, he did save the car from spinning wildly out of control. The bad news was that the front tie rod and a few other pieces were damaged badly. Just something else to add to list of things to repair and replace. But immediately, Hugh was able to purchase a new tie rod and rear wheel bearing at a nearby machine/auto shop. After a few adjustments, the car was back as it was pre-warmup. He missed qualifying on Friday but managed to start the qualifying race.

Starting in the back of the field, Hugh worked his way up and gained 6 positions just in GTS3 alone, with a best lap time of 1:38.375. Once again, the 10 minute race did not allow Hugh to fully catch the others ahead of him, but he was on a move. Very impressive considering he still could not drive the car to its potential because of the bad control arm.

Thanks to Jonathan Vasquez however, Hugh was able to fix the car and prepare for Sunday's Championship race. Jonathan drove almost 9 hours to come to the rescue with new parts for the #2 BMW. The car was fixed and repaired late Friday night.

Schoolboy was quite fast in Friday's warmup, running 3rd of 16 cars in H2 with a 1:40.736. He stayed consistent and ran a slightly slower 1:40.951 in qualifying landing him in 6th position in H2. With random showers on Friday, the track started to get a little more slick. Regardless, Richard was flying in the qualifying race and placed 4th in class. He was closing on 3rd place Erik Olson as the checkered flag waved ending Friday's qualifying session. The track dried up quite a bit, and allowed Richard to break into the 1:39's with a 1:39.5 best lap time. Richard did not take part in Sunday's warmup session, but Hugh did.


After fixing the #2 Green Monster, Hugh went out at 9:10am and did 6 laps. That control arm problem was definitely hampering his performances in the past days. With so many cars on the track, the only real clean lap he got was on lap 3. This lap allowed him to place 5th of 14 cars running in the warmup in GTS3. He had finally broken into the 1:36's with a time of 1:36.993, just behind Dan Goodman's #5 BMW M3.

Before the GTS race, it was the Honda Challenge group. What was different about this particular race is that they did a standing start. Back in the day in SCCA World Challenge, the standing starts always were brutal on the cars' drivetrains, and often cars broke at the starting line. Also in a situation where a car would stall, there would be huge pileups as well. Luckily, none of this happened.

The faster H1 cars got the start signal first, then the H2 cars were sent on their way. The cars in H2 were going three and sometimes even four wide into the second turn at the keyhole. Schoolboy had gotten a good launch, but did not advance any places as the others launched smoothly as well. By the second lap, the H1 cars had pulled a considerable gap on the slower H2 cars. All was well until the #91 (9) Acura collided with another car punching the passenger side door in severely. 

Another Hi Speed Motorsports cage does it job.
Richard soon got himself back under way, and was back at work making up the positions he had lost. Over the course of the race, he had made up over 8 positions in H2 and ended up finishing 6th of 21 starters with a best lap time of 1:39.835. Well done!

Next up just 45 minutes after the Honda Challenge race had ended, it was GTS Challenge's time to race. All 5 classes ranging from GTS1 (slowest) to GTS5 (fastest) were on the track at once. A total of 66 cars started this race, and it was one heck of a race! After the GTS5 and GTS4 cars had started, the GTS3 field was given the green flag. The weather had brought rain to the track just a few minutes before the race was scheduled to start so it was extra slippery out there. But that did not stop these guys from racing hard. Cars went an incredible 4 and 5 wide into the first turn!

4 and 5-wide racing madness at the start of the GTS race.
As the different classes spread out, we were able to see Hugh move up the GTS3 field gradually. He said that the track conditions from earlier in the morning had caused his car to become quite antsy and very oversteer-prone.

"I can deal with that. I just need to make sure my tires won't go away." Stewart said.

Hi Speed ran an excellent race that was smooth and consistent. He caught others and worked his way up to 11th in GTS3. Not the best result, but surely if he had not had the issues with the suspension and such, he could have started farther near the front, possibly giving the other GTS3 racers a good run. His best lap was consistent in the low-to-mid 1:37-range.

Remember, Hugh has never actually finished a race here at Mid-Ohio. Who knows whether it was bad luck or what, but in his days of SPEED World Challenge, he either broke something in the first few laps, or something prevented him from finishing. In 2002, with his Volkswagen Jetta, he broke an axle right in pit road as the cars were to line up for the warmup lap. Day over. In 2004, with the yellow #34 BMW, the car suffered mechanical issues and was forced to retire early. And in 2005, driving the silver #22 Dodge SRT-4, Hugh had gone only one corner before his race was ended after a collision with a bunch of other cars which actually sent him up on two wheels. Thankfully, nothing of that sort happened on Sunday.

Hugh stated he was happy that he finally finished a race at Mid-Ohio. The whole HSM team is happy as well.

Cecil Ramotar said that it was some of the best racing he has seen in years.

"That was awesome. I wish I was out there racing. Maybe next year." Ramotar laughed. "Looks like Hugh had a clean race though. Well done."




The rain stayed away on Saturday. Thank goodness!

After some inspection, Luiz did in fact drop a valve on cylinder #4 and punched a hole in the piston. Once again, bad luck Luiz! HSM will get it back in shape for the next race don't you worry!

Richard 'Schoolboy' Hunter and Griff traveled early Saturday morning down to Millville, NJ for the race events that day to spectate and cover the media end of it. Hugh and the rest of the team had arrived there in the wee hours of the morning before traffic got really congested. It was a hot and somewhat humid day at NJMP and literally hundreds of water and gatorade bottles surrounded the HSM paddock alone.

Not only was there NASA Races and Time Trials taking place, but also the new, Global Time Attack organization which had numerous, high-horsepower Nissan's and Subaru's, as well as Christian Rado's 1400 horsepower Scion tC.

The track was quite greasy, and many drivers went off-course onto the grass on a number of occasions. During qualifying for the Lightning Race Group, HSM's own Jonathan Vasquez only posted a time of 1:17 flat due to breaking a motor mount and cracking the exhaust header completely. Still, he started 2nd of 4 cars in class just behind Pablo Crespo in his red Porsche 968.

"I definitely could have done 1:15's no problem. Oh well. We'll see what we can do to fix it for the race," Vasquez said.

Jonathan Vasquez prepares for the race in GTS2.
During the race, Jonathan tried to stay with Pablo as best he could, but the 968's straight line speed overpowered the wounded BMW. Pablo pulled out a considerable 15+ seconds on Jonathan in throughout the first half of it. Jonathan battled with H2 leader Jon Baker for a while in his Yellow/Gray Integra Type-R but then passed him for good around lap six. 

As the race went on, Jonathan stayed consistent, clocking 1:15 and 1:16 lap times despite the car sounding louder and louder as the temporarily-fixed header had probably broken itself again. With sheer courage, Vasquez kept his foot to the floor and slowly began closing the gap to Crespo. Completely getting up on two wheels on almost every lap in the first turn, the HSM team knew their driver was going at 10/10ths.

Pablo seemed to get stuck in traffic every now and then and the distance between the #127 BMW and #75 Porsche decreased. Unfortunately, Jonathan could not catch Pablo in time, but it was a great race as always. With a broken car, JVR still managed an incredible 1:15.661 best lap time.

JVR and Pablo congratulate each other on a great race.
During qualifying for the Thunder Race Group, Hugh qualified 3rd in class out of 7 cars in GTS3 with a respectable 1:13.645, behind a very quick Mark Lounsbury in his M3 and Joe Guinta in his Porsche Cayman. Cecil, getting back in the swing of things after his engine failure at Pocono, qualified with a 1:16.249 in his BMW, landing him in the 6th starting spot. 

Hugh waits on the pre-grid as prepares himself for the race.
The race start was pure madness as always, as the cars went a full three-wide into the first turn, and continued three-wide down to the second turn! You could see the various team members cringe as the cars entered the turn. This was racing if anyone ever saw it.

Three-wide madness at Turn One!
Hugh got a good start and ran beside Joey G in his #613 Porsche Cayman in the first turn. Jeff Ricca running his Nissan 240SX in Super Touring 2, ran just ahead of Hugh's BMW, and was forced to stay on the outside as Greg Suchomel's Corvette and Mark Lounsbury's M3 had the inner lines. Cecil was smooth and consistent and soon moved up to 5th in class. Well done!

In the second half of the race, Hugh conserved his tires and was able to close the gap to Joey G, who had pulled a considerable gap on him. The lighter weight of the BMW undoubtedly helped keep the tires in check and Joey's Cayman seemed to run much more sluggish and was sideways through a lot of the turns. Hugh clocked a 1:14.414 as his best time on lap 14, much later than any of the other GTS3 cars aside from Steve Katz in his Porsche 944T, which ran a 1:15.3 on lap 12. Weight does matter!

And on lap 15, the gap between Hugh and Joey G lessened to less than a second as they went into 'The Bowl' (last turn onto the front straight). As they came towards the start/finish, Hugh was right on Joey's back bumper, just waiting for the opportunity to pass. Soon enough on that lap, Joey G turned into the corner early at Turn 6 to block a move from Hugh but the car plowed outwards and exited the turn slowly. At that point, Hugh had stayed back and got a run on him out of the turn. But that Cayman really had the legs on the straights as Joey tried to come back on the inside but he braked early giving the position to Hugh. 

Next on Hugh's agenda was to catch Lounsbury, but there were not enough laps left so he got 2nd place in GTS3. Cecil stayed in 5th place and finished there. Not too bad for the Rookie!



Thursday, August 4th.

The day before NJMP Lightning.

After blowing out a rear Moton shock at Pocono, Hugh sent his shock to be revalved and repaired. Turn around was extremely quick, thanks to the skillful workers at SRP Engineering. Unfortunately, a questionable compression knob did not allow the shock to compress enough even on its softest setting, possibly making it nearly impossible to control when hitting bumps on the track. So both rear shocks this time were sent back to SRP to be fully inspected.

Cecil had his engine replaced with a unit from an '97 M3 with relatively low miles. He was prepped and ready to go to NJMP in very little time at all.

Richard Hunter's Acura Integra R suffered from low compression in cylinder #2, which cut down the car's power considerably. Schoolboy planned to run the car anyways though. New rear wheel bearings and an oil pan gasket were installed as well as a full transmission flush and fluid change. After running the car for a bit at the shop, Hugh, Rich, and Griff realized that something was obviously wrong with the motor, as it basically sounded like a Subaru flat-4 motor rather than a high-revving inline-4.

With a bit of inspection, Hugh found one of the valve springs had completely cracked and gone soft causing major ticking and not allowing the car to idle properly. The head will soon be removed and sent to the machine shop for any repairs and replacements.

Luiz Serva went to NJMP early on Friday to get a 'Test & Tune' day in since he has not raced in GTS3 since NJMP back in mid-April. Everything was going well until his engine woes from last year reoccurred. The car began to run rough which made the valvetrain a possible culprit. Unlucky Luiz, there is always the next race!



Pocono Recap 7/15-7/17

July 15-17, 2011

Pocono was always a wonderful track to race and compete on. With its NASCAR, high-speed straightaways and bankings, and the challenging infield courses, its been a favorite to many racers over the years. This time around, the track is even more challenging, as newly updated safety barriers slightly changed the track's configuration. Going on to the back straight-section of the track, a huge bump caused many spins and incidents over the race weekend. More tough than ever, HSM was ready. 

Hugh brought his dominant #22 Green Monster, and Richard 'Schoolboy' Hunter brought his now #911 Acura Integra R to compete in Honda Challenge. Cecil and his new aerodynamic package were ready to run again in GTS3. Unfortunately, HSM/Prysma's own Luiz Serva was not able to run this weekend. Back in the driver's seat this weekend is 2010 GTS2 Champ Jonathan Vasquez is back to run his #127 Green Monster II.

The long and grueling straightaways caused many engine failures over the course of the weekend, and Cecil's #999 M3 was one of them. The engine dropped a valve during a qualifying run late Saturday morning. It's unfortunate for him as the new upgraded rear wing and front splitter seemed to make quite a difference in the car's balance and handling. 

Qualifying on Saturday was action-packed, with Hugh running a 1:37.860 placing him 2nd in GTS3 out of a total 11 cars. Before Cecil's unfortunate motor failure, he did run a respectable 1:41 flat, which would have put him in the 7th starting position. Jonathan Vasquez drove at 10/10th's and placed 2nd in GTS2 with a 1:39.290, behind speedy Pablo Crespo. Richard Hunter scorched the track as usual in his Integra R and grabbed pole with a 1:45.397. 

The race start on Saturday was absolutely amazing. Four-wide cars barreling into the first corner. Jonathan Vasquez was on his game as he overtook more than six cars into the first turn. His car obviously lacked straightaway grunt, but boy did that car move in the corners. Hugh battled with rival Mark Lounsbury for the lead in GTS3 and soon enough, the lead was his, and was to stay until the finish giving him the victory. Richard Hunter won in H2 and Jonathan Vasquez placed 2nd in GTS2. 

Unfortunately, that race claimed another Moton shock from Hugh's race car. With fluid leaking badly, Hugh tried to swap rear shocks with the ones off the #999 M3, but was not able to do so. No one from the HSM team raced on Sunday. Stay tuned for updates and more news to come!