While at WinterFest, Fedele Cacia invited me to the famous Sebring Raceway in Central Florida to watch him race his custom Porsche!
Wow, what an experience!
And what a difference from my racing days in the 1960s, when I completely rebuilt a 1958 TR3, turning a tame little sports car into one of the fastest division 3 (I think it was) vehicle on the local circuit. Back then, you had to really become part of your car while racing. You not only had to negotiate the track; knowing the line to take, when to downshift or brake and when to accelerate, but you had to master the art of speed-shifting a rather (by today’s standards) primitive transmission and knowing the limits of your suspension while "drifting" through the corners.
Top speed on the straight-aways approached 110 – 120 MPH, which was quite thrilling, considering that you could reach outside your door and touch the pavement with the palm of your hand!
Fedele’s concerns during his runs were many of the same ones that I had, only magnified many times due to the speeds attained with these unbelievably durable and powerful cars. Limitations imposed by the earlier race cars are now virtually non-existent today. Now the major concerns are: How far can I power into this turn at speeds approaching 160MPH, before downshifting and/or braking! A split second too soon and he will lose precious yardage that may allow the car behind him, to pass and gain an advantage. Of course, delaying the downshift might prove disastrous to driver and/or car. In today’s racing, there is virtually "0" tolerance for error.
Sure, today all Fedele has to do when shifting up a gear is push a button. Every shift is in the "red-line" zone of RPM and Fedele can, if he wants, get the maximum speed out of a shift, by taking advantage of a warning light that flashes just before the engine will self-destruct!
Lines going into a corner are micro-managed. Being off a couple inches will extend the cornering limitations and may mean a spinout or if you are unlucky (as one driver was on Sunday) it may mean turning a $250,000 car into junk!
Anyone who knows Fedele, knows he is a perfectionist and watching him in action, will see the same concentration, control and endurance he demonstrates in his Uechi-ryu.
I’m not sure what Fedele’s long-term goals are, but I know that whatever he wants to do, he will master.
Lots of pictures from Sebring now available in our Photo Gallery