This event was held as a support race to the Grand-Am American Red Cross 250. For the second year in a row, record high temperatures at New Jersey Motorsports Park could not keep the best Club Racers from the northeast regions of the Porsche Club of America away from the tarmac. This group of 43 fervid PCA drivers came to compete on the same road course with professional and gentlemen drivers in the Grand-Am Rolex Race Series, each gathered with the goal of conquering the narrow 2.25 mile undulating course which is super slick in extreme temperatures. With ambient air temperatures in excess of 98 degrees Fahrenheit, track temps can reach 130 F and in-car temperatures have been recorded at over 150 F. Having the ability to keep the car on track in severe heat conditions would be minor in comparison to the body’s ability to withstand extreme heat as well. Thankfully, the Club Racers would only have to endure six 30 minute on-track sessions spread over three days.
While PCA has held Driver Education and Club Races at the spacious New Jersey facility several times during the season, during a Grand-Am weekend, the parking and spectator areas at Thunderbolt Raceway become standing room only. Crowds of race fans, vendors and side attractions, took up all the available infield parking. The professional teams along with their huge transporters, large number of crew and extra equipment, not to mention team hospitality set ups, made the PCA parking area look like a small band of gypsies. But regardless of their modest appearance, this group of passionate drivers came fully prepared and was there to race.
Northern New Jersey Region member Mike Raff has participated in several Porsche Club Races with this being his first weekend participating during the Grand-Am weekend. If you have met Mike, you know his big eyed grin from ear to ear as he relates to you his excitement at being at the track. This weekend was no different. “As a relative newbie to Porsche Club Racing, my initial concern about being swarmed by cap cars was quickly replaced with my concern to stay cool at the track in the oppressive heat”, he recalled. With the assistance of his support shop, DeMan Motorsports, a cool-suit system was installed in his 2001 Boxster S which he runs in Stock F Class. Mike was not taking any chances knowing the weather conditions for the weekend. “While the cool-suit definitely helped with driving, it was brutally hot outside. I sought to improve my racing skills while staying out of the way of the much faster cars that roared passed me. I’ve already forgot my exact finishing position, but I moved up about six spots in each race. In the end, I was content and I had a lot of fun racing and enjoyed the camaraderie of my fellow racers.” Mike Raff completed a clean race weekend and finished fifth in his class.