Taking a "worldly" approach to life is something I feel is important; auto racing pretty much hits the nail on the head. But I'm not terribly worldly with tracks I visit. High Plains Raceway is less than an hour away and when I say, "Its my home track", that means I spend 95% of my time there, with an annual trip to UMC (See link below for our UMC blog). So, when Jake Latham asked me to accompany him to Virginia International Raceway (VIR) as his pit crew , I could not pass.
Jake is a friend of 18 years. I met him in college through Club DSM Colorado, which I started with John Salmi in the late 90s. Jake was in need of a clutch tool and I had one. I traded it for a carton of Tropicana Orange Juice. That's not as odd as it sounds: I was a poor college student and Tropicana is awesome! These days, Jake is a very accomplished driver who pilots a unique Stohr F1000 formula car. Now, here at XNR, we are fans of the Radical lineup...But we won't hold it against Jake: His Stohr is a beautiful and amazing machine.
The mission: Drive his trailer from Denver to VIR and meet up with his Stohr, which was concurrently being transported from Road Atlanta; act as pit crew for Jake for 4 days on track; tow the Stohr up to Canada, drop it off, and fly home. Sounds pretty good. Mission accepted!
I told myself this would not be a long blog, so lets just cut to the chase!
I don't want to go into too much detail about everything onsite (I want this blog to be relatively short), but suffice it to say that the grounds are worth exploring on their own accord. The aged but well-cared for barns, incredible observation areas, the karting course and high-end restaurant at the top of the hill, all interspersed between densely forested pockets of land...There is a lot to take in after you've paid some attention to the course itself, which boasts some very interesting geometry. My favorite track area is the climbing S's, which themselves are situated upon a beautiful backdrop--But don't take your eye off the track too long or you'll find yourself in the wall that protects the accommodations at top. A long straight following the S's leads into a section of track that many people find to be some of the best turns this side of the Mississippi.
As Jake's pit crew for the weekend, I unfortunately did not spend any time on track myself, but I had a serious job to perform: I was busy making sure the Stohr remained in tip-top condition between sessions. We ran into a few difficult snags and had some very long days; but at the end, Jake ran successfully in his class before we left for Canada.
What I really want to portray here is that VIR was a spectacle to take in. It should probably be on your bucket list if you take racing very seriously. I certainly plan to make my way up there eventually and race--its just too majestic to pass up. And I'd recommend you do as well, even if only once--be a bit more worldly, add VIR to the calendar. Explore VIR and let it show you what it has under its hood...
I hope you didn't think I would end this blog without getting back to Radicals!!
After racing was finished for the weekend, Jake and I set our course for Canada to...store the Stohr. It will remain there over the Summer while Jake decides if he wants to sell it or not.
While there, we met up with a couple of the Radical Canada guys who have been in this game for a very, very long time (HUGE thanks to Matt for being an amazing host while we were up there). One of them has a beautiful shop with some really nice cars, including a Radical SR3 RS--I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to see if you can identify the uniqueness of the older collectible cars. As a quick side note: If you follow any of our Radical cars for sale, you'll notice that I really like to keep track of chassis numbers; so, I just HAD to get a shot of the Radical chassis number that we looked at in the shop. For the pictures below, that black Radical SR3 RS is chassis 670.
It's always a fantastic evening to hang out with good company and shoot the shit over cool cars. Thanks Jake and Bruce--what a fun night. Take a look at the pics below and enjoy. I sure did...
Its officially Fall. But the last few days in Denver have felt more like Winter knocking on the door, than Summer stepping aside...
The clouds have looked pretty angry lately. The A/C is officially off as morning temps have been in the 40s, just warm enough for days of precipitation to arrive in the form of rain rather than snow. Pumpkin spice is in full kick, and High Plains closes next month for Winter renovations. With Halloween closing in, men everywhere are enjoying gratuitous shots of red-heads posing in little Halloween dresses as they begin to surface on the web. Meanwhile, Home Depot thinks its already Christmas time...
Read about the Repaving project at High Plains Raceway
As I sit at my desk looking out at the mountains, Im considering all the things XNR has accomplished in the last few months. Weve had several successful lapping days, met dozens of new people and potential customers who strongly support what were doing; and have hit the following landmarks as a new business:
Selling and renting race cars is not an easy business to start. And while there is still a great deal to be done to build a customer base here in Denver and the Rocky Mountain region, were off to a really fantastic start. Winter isn't here yet, so there is STILL time to put in at the track! So, let's finish the season with a bang. XNR will be out at High Plains for the following events:
We want to grow a Radical community here in Denver; we want to offer unparalleled sales, service, and support; we want to make new friends and build new relationships. And as we grow, we want to bring in new cars, host Radical-specific races, and contribute back to the race community. We are in contact with Radical USA to aid us, and are in the process of trying to make all of those things happen here in Colorado.
Please reach out to us if you have questions about Radicals, are interested in sales/rentals of a new or used Radical, or you just want to be in touch. We're very enthusiastic about being in touch with the sports car and race car community and would love to hear from you. Even when there's snow on the ground!
Eight hours and 550 miles from Denver. And worth every mountain pass, every penny spent on gas to run a Radical at UMC. This was my 2nd year at UMC, and it proved to be a trip of adventurous track experiences and several new friends and contacts...And applying a layer of Radical awesomeness down at one of the coolest tracks out there.
UMC (previously Miller Motorsports Park) is a huge, world-class race track with a stunning amount of amenities. To give you an idea, check out these metrics:
290 various types of garages and bays, on-site medical, multi-million dollar clubhouse, a car museum, a karting course, and a helicopter pad. It is amazing.
Unfortunately, UMC continues to deal with legal issues with ownership and its existence in the future is still up in the air. Part of the reason for the focus on this blog is to bring more awareness to UMC and help keep their numbers on the rise.
The track is comprised of a 4.4-mile counter-clockwise full course with 23 turns, making it one of the longest courses in the US. It boasts several configurations with different technical aspects and features on each configuration. East and West track can be run as individual tracks, while combining them offers the full and outer configurations. I ran West course in both 2016 and 2017. West is 2.2 miles long and has 10 turns. In contrast to High Plains (2.55 miles, 15 turns), UMC West has a lower ratio of turns per mile. This is due primarily to several high-radius sweeping turns on West track--coincidentally, the straights at High Plains are significantly longer than those on West. This means that the first half of the track is relatively high speed with several high-radius turns, and then things slow down a bit for the second half. There are few aspects about West that I really enjoyed this year:
1. West has 2 turns in particular that appear as 2 or 3 separate apexes, but are in fact treated as a single apex, particularly the middle section of turns on the left side of the picture. These are ultra interesting turns because the "best" line is more blurry than a standard turn; so you carve out your very own circle on track while feathering throttle for several seconds to maintain correct speeds. Its a challenge until you get it, and provides a more creative experience than the ordinary, "Brake, turn in here, apex here, exit over there".
2. The first 5 turns in a Radical on West track are a breath-taking experience (See pic above. Turn 1 begins on the lower right. Moving counter-clockwise, turn 5 is at top left). Once you have the proper size cojones, heres what you do:
I arrived in Utah Thursday evening after getting the Radical buttoned back up (following a GDU refresh) Thursday morning before loading and taking off--way too close for comfort. The Radical ran Friday morning for NASA-sanctioned open lapping. Friday was spent getting used to the track again, freshening up the racing line, and making sure the Radical was up and running properly. An old college friend, Jake Nelson, came out to the track Saturday and aided with tweaks on the Radical--with a Masters in Motorsports Engineering from CSU, he was a fabulous person to have out helping with track tech. Lap times were in the low 1:40s range with significant traffic. Between sessions, I spent a good deal of time chatting with people about Radicals, helping a couple of guys with car trouble, and trying to make myself document the weekend in pictures, view-able in the gallery below. Wandering around between sessions, I took photos of various areas of the track with the majestic mountains in background, the huge fleet of Mustangs used at the Ford Racing School on-site, and the single most unfortunate event to have taken place at the event...
During the Spec-Z event, there was a crash involving 3 Zs on track. The Z in the photos below T-boned another Z on the passenger side and was towed off track. The car was totaled and I imagine it took a few days for the owner to get over the shock of the accident and the somber fact that his car will likely never see the track again. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
The third day began fantastically--tire pressures were dialed in, we had adjusted the front splitter slightly, and I was comfortable with starting to push the car a bit more. Posting some mid-high 1:30s lap times by lunch, I was hoping to cut a couple more seconds off in the afternoon. As I headed back to the car to warm the engine for the afternoon sessions, I noticed the front right tire was low on air. Upon inspection, it appeared a slit had appeared in the tire that ran deep enough to create a very slow leak. Needless to say, the weekend ended a bit early. The good news for whoever purchases chassis 547 is that they will have a nearly new set of slicks sitting on the car, ready to go!
Jake Nelson also let me borrow his GoPro, which I mounted up on the Radical. I didnt get nearly as much footage as I would have liked, but Ive posted a good clip below with the pic gallery. I may get more up in the future.
XNR is already in the midst of planning a full season of races in 2018 and we will have spots available for endurance races in Utah, among other locations. Utah has me excited about playing on different tracks with different people. I got to trounce C4 and C6 Corvettes, and flat-out lap Porsche GT3s and Boxsters, 350Zs, too many Miatas to count, and an eclectic variety of Japanese and German manufacture. UMC is the perfect place to take a Radical out and just utterly decimate whatever is in your path. A few more people are probably saying, "Well...Maybe a Radical is the way to go." And they would be right. Because Radicals kick ass. And UMC is such a wonderful stomping ground for the Radical to do its thing.
Pontificate that while you watch the video and view the pics below. Then contact us when youre ready to trounce everyone in your path...
UMC 2018: Its going down. *Mic drop*
In a previous blog, we discussed the vast differences between a Radical SR3 and something like a Miata; noting hidden similarities in balance. There was also some discussion about how it compared to a Noble M12, which is high on power but lacks the aerodynamic benefits of a Radical. This time around, we'll change gears (with a pneumatic paddle shifter, of course) and consider how the Radical fits the needs of todays driver next to the Stohr and Ligier, ending with a quick synopsis of the Radical lineup.
So, lets get something clear up front: When you start talking about sports racers like the Radical or Stohr, you are already in a land of magical wonder, with unimaginable performance of all manner; these cars harness something powerful, an ability that often defies description. They are all in a class their own...
Right then! Prior to the creation of XNR, I knew I wanted to get into sports racers, but was undecided on brand, if any. As I looked around, I had some conversation with an old friend, Jake Latham, who had run pro-level races in the likes of Radicals and Stohrs in the past, and has owned lap records at our home track, High Plains, in his Stohr. The Stohr is very lightweight and is used specifically in DSR and Formula 1000 racing, primarily with SCCA. Stohr produces awesome, sexy cars, but the conversations with Jake set me on a path towards Radical. Id like to share some salient points from those conversations:
1. Safety: A Stohr is significantly lighter and less robust than a Radical. Due to the audience Stohr caters to, it doesn't suit driving on track with street cars. A collision while driving a Stohr could be a life-ending event. In the Radical, people have been in head-on collisions and walked away uninjured. A Stohr should be *exclusively* for racing other cars like Stohr, of which there are very few in the Rocky Mountains. No open lapping, no mixed-class events...Radical doesn't share that impediment.
2. Usage: Where a Radical SR3, SR8, and RXC use an RPE Gear Drive Unit (GDU) as a final drive, Stohrs are chain-driven. Chains might seem low-maintenance items, but they can be finicky and are generally used for 45-minute sprints. A Radical, on the other hand, is a perfect car for use in both Sprints AND endurance races. There is a great deal of advantage to being able to run endurance races: Overall seat time, reduced cost per hour of seat time, and an option to rent seats out and still take part in racing. Endurance races are also an absolute blast! The decision seemed clear.
I'd like to take a step back and clarify that Im NOT knocking Stohr. Im a car enthusiast who respects and likes Stohr; and lots of other brands. They are very, very capable cars--in fact, we may list Jake's Stohr for sale in the near future--because its totally awesome. The Stohr fits a very narrow band of needs, and its all a matter how many boxes a particular product checks for a particular person. And part of the point of this comparison is that Radicals checked more boxes for me, and its MY blog! =)
So what about the Ligier? Well...Ligiers *seem* like pretty incredible cars with solid performance, some of which are just crazy expensive. Notice how I said, "Ligiers *seem* like incredible cars"? Have you ever seen a Ligier in person? Yea, me either. Have you even heard of Ligier?? Do you know how its pronounced? They are ultra rare and thats a big problem when were talking about race cars! Who do you race against? Where do you get parts? What about service and support? Does support even exist? If it does, you had better hope your French is up to par! The point here is: Rare race cars are neat until you start using them; then its just a nightmare. Moreover, they may run into similar issues as the Stohr if you wish to drive on track with street cars or in mixed-class races.
Today, Radical is the largest manufacturer of sports racers in the world--parts are easy to procure and reasonably priced, while support is a simple email or phone call away. They are the only sports racer that manufactures 2-seat models, and one of the few cars that can run on-track with street cars in a safe manner. Its also the only sports racer manufacturer that produces a car able to compete with the likes of Formula 3, at a fraction of the cost (both buying the car and maintaining it). Radical has an intriguing implementation that works, and it works so well that Radical continues to gain headway and popularity despite some drop-off of some other sports racers. Radical also has a lineup of cars that promote rookie learning, with a full progression into some of the most outstanding racers in the world. With short quotes from the UK Radical website, below is the lineup. XNR can get into any of these cars, new or used, based on your interests:
Radical SR1: "...the first step on the Radical ladder, ideal for enthusiasts looking to take their circuit driving to the next level with a focused sports-racing car that has an excellent safety record."
Radical SR3: "...the next step up from the SR1 offering thrilling, cost-effective, high-performance track driving and racing...the most widely produced and most successful prototype style sports racer in the world...This bears testament to its proven track record and stunning value versus performance."
Radical SR8: "...a truly exhilarating drive, powered by a bespoke Radical V8 engine with physics-defying grip, relentless acceleration and powerful brakes...adds up to a car that can lap Silverstone GP in sub 2 minutes. It nears LMP2 performance and was used by Michael Vergers to set the current production car lap record around the fearsome Nurburgring Nordschleife."
Radical RXC: "...Radical's flagship racing car for the gentleman driver. It offers a refined experience closer to LMP than ever before thanks to Radical's learnings from their multiple Le Mans entries in LMP2--at a purchase and running cost far below the competition"
Naturally, were biased here at XNR. But we feel that Radical offers such a unique and profound offering in the world of sports racers, and checks all the boxes that people are generally looking for in a sports racer. Its a wonderful future were living in. Take advantage of it!
On August 12-13, I took a quick trip down to Houston to meet Ian and Simon Dawson of Radical Texas and show support for the opening of the new race shop onsite at their home track, MSR Houston. It was a blur of great people having great conversation, sharing great food, and lots of laps around the track.
MSR Houston is a 2.4-mile track with 17 turns in total. Facilities are complete with garages, buildings, driving schools, and race teams onsite, such as Radical Texas. It also boasts a very nice Karting course. I found MSR to be a very interesting track for a couple of reasons:
1. MSR can be configured to run both clockwise and counter-clockwise. On many tracks, this is not possible due to lack of design features (for example, a hot pit and entry/exit that are compatible for both directions), but also due to safety--Either various features of the track do not bode well in certain directions, or safety features on the track (locations of walls and tires barriers, run-off areas, etc) are designed for use given a very specific vector of travel. Because MSR can run both directions, it's effectively 2 tracks, providing a variety of exciting and unique configurations.
2. MSR is very technical. At 17 turns and 2.4 miles, MSR has 2 more turns than High Plains (the XNR home track), while also being about 900 feet shorter per lap. What this means is that MSR has shorter straights and some tight turns that require a lot from a driver--one can spend many years mastering a track like this. With that said, there is a lack of elevation change at MSR--But we're a bit spoiled with that aspect out in Colorado.
While the Grand Opening catered primarily to the Texas customer base, I did get an opportunity to ride in a brand spakin' new SR8 with Alex, one of Radical's professional drivers from the UK. I was incredibly impressed by both the skill that Alex displayed on track, and the nearly transcendental performance of the new SR8. This, ladies and gentleman, is what your imagination generates when you think about racing in a Formula car. This is plain and simply, exactly what we had in mind when we thought of the name, XNR. While there are currently no XNR customers driving the SR8, were going to try to change that--new goal: Get more SR8's driving out here in Denver!
With the visceral enjoyment of the SR8 in the rear-view mirror, I spent some time building my business relationship with Radical Texas and customers in the shop, gathering some parts for XNR customers back in Denver, and documenting the Radical Texas setup--Simon and Ian contain a really vast amount of knowledge about racing and Radicals--Ian has raced LeMans, if I recall, 20 times. And he is still alive! So, I paid careful attention to how the shop was set up, how they got to where they are, and where they are headed. I spoke with their Crew Chief Darren and spent time with some of the Radical executives that were out from the UK.
Id like to share a few pics of that media documentation while I was down there. In addition to the below pics, you can see several real-time live Facebook videos that are on the XNR Facebook page here:
Below: Row 1, left to right: Radical SR8 set up with iRacing as a simulator, 2017 Radical RXC Spyder on display, one row of cars in the shop. Row 2, left to right: Another row of the shop, the SR9 LMP2 car, and the Radical race shop from outside. Row 3: View of the track from 2nd floor near Radical's race shop.
Lastly, to close this blog out, I captured a few quick videos that have not been uploaded elsewhere yet; they are view-able below.
Visiting Radical Texas was fantastic;it provided an opportunity to create some new business relationships, meet some amazing people, and raise awareness of Radical around the US. We wish Radical Texas the best with their new shop and look forward to seeing them, hopefully at some point in Colorado!
Video 1: Radicals depart the shop to get a session in on track
Video 2: Two Radicals pass the front straight at MSR
Video 3: A few bikes run the track following Radical sessions
My college World History teacher was a cute, young professor who loved to teach--Im sure a few guys asked her out that semester; wonder how they fared...I don't recall much that semester, but I do recall this: She drew a circle on the board and labeled "Democracy" at the top. Tracing 360 degrees around with her hand, she wrote "Communism" next to Democracy and said, "Democracy and Communism are as different as can be; and as similar."
A Radical SR3 is a race car; as is a spec Miata. They're VERY different, but share unexpected similarities. On a circle, the Miata and Radical may sit side by side, separated by 360 degrees; and by 0...if the measure is balance.
My track days began in a Noble M12, an amazing car designed by Lee Noble (Fact: Lee follows the XNR Facebook Page). Coolest car I'd owned, but difficult to learn on: No driver aids, massive power, and 2300 lbs. And though extremely nimble, not equipped with sports racer aero like the Radical. Driving the M12 on track was akin to driving a Corvette or Viper: Before a turn, you brake...A LOT. Power drowns out grip. This can make it difficult to navigate an apex with optimal speed and position, as the concern becomes braking enough to keep the car on track. Hold that thought...
After a random day at the track in a spec Miata, I accepted an offer from Lemonata Racing to race in the 2017 24-Hours of LeMons at High Plains (Shout out to Eric and Chris, great guys! Find them if you want to race in a Miata). With 6 hours of LeMons racing, I learned a ton about Miatas and how the style differs from an M12. "The Miata is a momentum car", says everyone, all the time. Translation: Power and aerodynamics are relatively balanced. Sure, the Miata has no aero...but it's not a powerhouse either. Therefore, one can often take turns without braking. The car's ability to stick to the track is similar to it's ability to accelerate. This is nice for learning, as a driver can approach many corners from the point of being able to handle more speed, as opposed to feeling like they may sling-shot off the track.
The Radical SR3 exists in an entirely different dimension. In no way whatsoever is it a street car, but a purpose-built racer from head to toe. In one way, its more similar to the Miata than the track-happy Noble: Power/grip balance. Radicals have serious aerodynamic wizardry. And while it out-accelerates a Miata, it has less thrust than a Noble (unless were talking about a Radical RXC). As the Miata tackles many turns brakeless, the SR3 is no different. It enters turns much faster; and thanks to aerodynamic panache, it can do it full-throttle. In many ways, the SR3 is also a "momentum car". It just has far more of every factor while maintaining balance. But thats the key here! The balance of an SR3 is brilliant!
The SR3 is a massive adrenaline-producing experience; it is so visceral! Braking, turning, accelerating, feedback from the ground, the noise, the open cockpit...and the balance. It's more fun than anything I've driven or can imagine driving.
I'll go out on a limb and claim that the Radical SR3 is also a great car to learn in! It allows a driver to work on conserving momentum, while reducing lap times through safe, incremental increases in speed. In the hands of an advanced driver, the SR3 is blindingly fast; but the rookie should not shy away!
And of course, for those looking to offset that power/aerodynamic balance a bit, there is always the 600hp RXC Spyder...
We want to help grow the Radical community and raise the Xperience to Noise Ratio of as many people as possible! So help us pass the word on, and we will kindly help you fill your wallet with monetary happiness. Everybody wins!
Yesterday was the day! On Friday, July 14, XNR officially accepted two 2012 Radical SR3s from customs after a long trip from the UK, chassis numbers 547 and 769.
Chassis 547 is a white SR3 with orange and light gray highlights throughout. And while all Radicals look absolutely stunning in person, this 547 is definitely more breath-taking in person than in photo. It sports a number of factory upgrades from braking to electronics and high down-force aero.
Chassis 769 is currently pending sale and is no longer available for rental or purchase.
XNR is very excited to be offering these cars here in the US and look forward to becoming a larger part of the Radical community as we increase awareness of what we offer. We currently have chassis 547 available for sale and rental and will be adding several more Radicals to the lineup in the coming months. Please let us know how we can be of service!
XNR checks a myriad of boxes to import our Radicals. There are great number of concurrently moving parts. Among those, the US Government requires that each car be granted racing exclusion by EPA, pass customs, and come in under our surety bond. Difficult, but were free to do so.
While there are always complications and policies that cause headaches, nobody can keep you from your goal...because we live in a FREE country! We may not always feel it, as our standard is high and we dont always agree with one another. But one day a year, we can step back and appreciate that our home is a really great place. Happy 4th of July from XNR!
Picture from Elite Autostyling--Definitely the best US flag on a Radical.
Greetings from Denver, CO! Its a beautiful thing when the pieces fall in place and a new endeavor is born.
The concept of XNR is that simple idea that life should be as fun as possible; we want to raise our experience to noise ratio as strongly as possible. It is, coincidentally, with that notion that the business was built, and now that XNR actually exists, we want to pass that idea on to our customers by providing them with intensely fast and ridiculously mind-blowing race cars. We sell them. We rent them. And we service them so you can spend your time heightening your experiences and reducing your noise!
We currently have 2 radical SR3s on their way from the UK. Initially, one will be for sale and one will be a rental. The goal is to up our inventory by 2-4 more cars before the end of 2017. Please stay tuned as we begin our growth, and please feel free to contact XNR if you have any questions, comments, or inquiries. Youre going to see a lot taking place in the next few months; dont blink or we will pass you by!