Fritz's ITC Civic on the way down to Putnam Park for the SCCA CEN DIV Regional Runoffs.
Putnam Park Road Course - Mount Meridian, Indiana
February 10, 2020
Putnam Park, that's another story. After the accident at BIR, we only had 10 days until we had to leave for Putnam Park for the Inaugural CenDiv Regional Runoffs.
We rebuilt the car as fast as we could. We cut the cage out of this one, bought a new shell, sleeved the cage into the new shell and set about swapping over all of the mechanical components that survived. We got the car painted at Coachwork Connection and headed to Indiana. I think the paint was still curing on the trailer ride down there!
Putnam Park is beautiful. Nestled in a little western Indiana valley. It's got great off camber sections and tricky elevation changes, but my biggest memory from Putnam is the hay bales at the exit of the final corner. The final corner was a long, wacky, on camber, off camber, on camber corner that lasted forever. At the exit was the pitlane wall. Right there, like two feet from the track out. Cars used to hit the guard rail so much they started putting hay bales there.
Problem. When hay bales get hit, them move and sometimes they move onto the track. This is exactly what happened at the start of the IT regional runoffs race - somebody hit a hay bale, it came out into the track in front of the field and then mass chaos as everybody hit more hay bales the guardrail and each other. A Triumph came from behind me, hit a hay bale and flew up and across my hood. It didn't hit anything, thank goodness. But I got a good look at the underside as it went left to right over the front of my car.
I got the heck out of there. I turned hard right into the infield and got away from the chaos. When I came back around under the red flag, there were cars and hay everywhere - one even had a hay bale through the windshield and one had its front wheels up in the air with a hay bale underneath!
The rest of the race was uneventful, we ran away and hid, setting a lap record in the process and winning our first Regional Runoffs Championship! But that image of the underside of that Triumph TR7 going over my hood is my lasting memory of Putnam Park.
Fritz's ITC Civic digging in before going end for end - turn 7 at BIR, Aug 1994
Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) - Brainerd Minnesota
February 5, 2020
I've been thinking about 2020 and reflecting on the past years of racing and I realized that we are coming up on an important milestone. 100 Races! It made me think that this is a good time to think back to all of the tracks I've been at over the years. Each has a special memory for me - great ones and some not so great. Here's how they come to mind for me.
My first time on a race track was in my street CRX at BIR during a track day sponsored by Minnesota Autocross Club. Little did I know that I would be hooked that day for sure. I even outbraked myself in turn three!
That day at BIR, I decided I would move from autocrossing not road racing - I went up to spectate the fall race and watched my future teammate go off the top of two into the tire wall on the outside. I didn't know Wade at the time. But, we would be come good friends as a part of Mark Utecht's Mayhem Racing team. I had a lot of great wins at Brainerd, and one major disaster.
The disaster. In 1994, we had wrapped up the CenDiv and Land O Lakes Championships in our ITC Civic. We'd won a ton of races, I think we won all but two or three that season. We decided to head on down to Putnam Park in Indiana for the first Cen Div Regional Runoffs. We had been pretty donimanant all season and I was feeling confident of our chances.
This was my second season of races at BIR, so I was a bit cocky about how much of the runoff I could use at the exit of corners - low horsepower cars don't tend to spin the tires at the exit of higher speed corners, so I kept on straightening out turn six.
Yeah, disaster. I looked in the mirrors and saw a GT5 CRX approaching on the run to five. He was way, way back, so I took my normal line through six, - turning in a little early and going off the track at the exit to use all of the road and more. However...
When I came back on track and turned in to the seven-eight complex, the CRX was already inside me on my drivers rear. I turned across his nose as if he wasn't there. My fault completely, I never saw him there. I thought he was too far back in five to catch me in seven. Yeah, wrong about that.
I turned across his nose and immediately headed off track backwards - it's a pretty fast part of the track for us there - maybe 80+ mph or so. It'd been a dry summer and the sand was soft. The car dug in on the driver's side rear and the front end lifted off the ground as the car went in an awkward end for end flip and roll. I remember being pretty high off the ground at one point.
Then the car came down flat on the driver's side, hard. My head hit the soft sand through the drivers window net. I was a little woozy and took a little bit to get out through the passengers side window. Odd to be standing on grass and sand through the drivers side window and getting out through the pass side window while the car is still on its side. Other than getting my first win, that's probably my most enduring memory of Brainerd.
Fritz and Jasper at the Spring Sprints at VIR - April 2019.
Happy New Year 2020!
January 27, 2020
I hope the new year brings you and yours the very best! We couldn’t have imagined the changes that 2018 and 2019 would bring to our family, with both of us leaving our corporate jobs within 13 months of each other.
Like any other change, there has been good and bad. The good, it’s allowed a lot more time with our son and has given us a pause in our hectic lives to take stock of what’s important to us now and in the future. The bad, well, that’s a bit obvious, really.
As we looked at the end of 2019, we decided that my head wouldn’t be in the right place going to the 2019 RunOffs at VIR. We’d been super fast and consistent all season, notching up 5 wins in a row and we won the Northern Conference Championship. But, I knew I’d be thinking about our family turmoil the whole week and that wouldn’t be good for me or my performance in the car.
Being out of the race car since the June Sprints at Road America has felt weird. I was super fast there, two lap records, two poles and two wins. I felt ready for the RunOffs.
We make choices, right? I chose to turn down many friends who made offers to get me to the RunOffs. It wasn’t about the financial part, for me it was more mental. I knew my head wasn’t going to be in the game.
So, what’s next. What’s next is that I’ve decided to drive the Fiesta again in B-Spec in 2020. Jasper Drengler, from Drengler Racing has a new Civic that he’s going to race around the Northeast and he asked me if I’d like to pal around with him this summer in my Fiesta and race at a bunch of new tracks. It’s going to be great!
We started talking about this at PRI in December, shook hands and here we go. Our schedule starts at VIR. I’m not sure who’ll be racing down there this spring, but it should be fun!
So what’s this mean to my relationship with Capaldi Racing? They’ll still prepare the car and make sure it’s the most awesome it can be. It’s being prepped as I write this. I can’t thank Leo, Craig, Sandie and Alex enough for their support these past three years. They’ve been amazing partners and teammates and they will be again in 2020. They’re the best pro team a competitor could ask for!
I couldn’t do this without the support of Kristine and Will and all of my partners for the 2020 season. Mobil 1, Frozen Rotors, Hawk Performance, Hoosier Tires, MMB Imagery, Ink Frenzy and Leroy Engineering are all back for 2020. Chimney Mechanix is coming on board and there are a couple of other surprises in store.
So what’s 2020 going to be like? Not sure. I’ve never been to any of the tracks out east, except VIR, and VIR I’ve only run once. It should be new and interesting to say the least. Pitt, Summit Point, Watkins Glen, Thompson, Pocono, New Jersey, they’re all new to me.
We’ll still do the June Sprints and the RunOffs at Road America. Now that I’ve finally won the sprints, I’ll be back to try to defend my title there. Who knows what 2020 will hold? Here’s to new and interesting adventures!
Jasper Drengler and Team FWR will be contesting the Northeast Conference rounds of the 2020 Majors season. See our schedule here.
We're very proud to continue our association with the best lubricant brand in Motorsports. Mobil 1 has been a phenomenal partner for us and we look forward to a great partnership for 2020 and beyond.
Hawk Performance has been helping us out unofficially for the past year, we're glad to make it official for 2020! Their support has been amazing! We look forward to a year of standing the Fiesta on its nose in the brake zones!
Check out our 2020 Season Schedule. We'll be racing at lots of new tracks in the Northeast this year. We're super excited to try out Pitt Race, Pocono, New Jersey, Summit Point and Thompson this year.
Will Wilke from Ollie Rocket Racing has moved up from Kid Kart to the LO206 Cadet for 2020. We're super excited to work with our Partners at Chimney Mechanix, Mobil 1, Ink Frenzy and Frozen Rotors for 2020!
We're evaluating our options for 2020. Now that the Majors Schedule has been released, we'll be looking at some new places to play. Watch this space for an announcement soon.
Sports Car Magazine:
Saturday Winner Video:
Sunday Winner Video:
Check out some great coverage below!
Winner interview from the Podium!
January 27th, 2019
We've confirmed that Team FWR will be at VIR for the Spring Majors, April 12-14, 2019.
2019 Majors Schedule:
April 12-14 - VIR
May 30-June 2 - Mid Ohio
June 13-16 - June Sprints at Road America
October 16-21 - SCCA National Runoffs at VIR
April 27-28 - Summit Point
May 11-12 - Pittsburgh International Race Complex
June 21-23 - Watkins Glen International
July 13-14 - Road America
August 23-25 - Gridlife Atlanta
January 21, 2019
We'll be chasing the SCCA National Championship once again. This year's SCCA Runoffs is at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, VA. Our path to get there is still in the works.
January 15, 2019
INk Frenzy has been providing our Team FWR apparel since 2018. We're proud to work together again with Travis Cox and the team at Ink Frenzy. Can't wait to show off the 2019 FWR designs!!
December 28, 2018
We are excited to announce a new two-year agreement with Mobil 1 to sponsor the #84 B-Spec Fiesta for the 2019 and 2020 seasons!
Come Along For The Ride As Team FWR Supports The Austin Hatcher Foundation For Pediatric Cancer
April 10, 2018 For immediate release
Team FWR Driver Fritz Wilke's personal family connection is driving their commitment to fight pediatric cancer. Join Team FWR’s 2018 Founders Club or Sponsor a Lap, Race or Weekend and Team FWR will donate a portion of the sponsorship to the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer to help erase the effects of childhood cancer on all members of the family.
“Childhood cancer has touched me personally and I want to make a difference in the lives of families impacted by this disease. I hope you will join the fight against pediatric cancer by donating $1 to $100 and riding with us and the Austin Hatcher Foundation for the 2018 racing season,” said Wilke.
Team FWR has set a goal of donating $5,000 to the Foundation by the end of 2019, will you come along for the ride?
To learn more about the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer please visit their site: https://www.hatcherfoundation.org/
This week, Rob Piekarczyk joins us on the blog.
March 18, 2018
Check out Rob's comments on what got him started in racing. Here's a snippet:
My first memory of motorsports was going to Nelson Ledges with my dad when he was racing in Showroom Stock back in the early 80’s. Most specifically, those early “Longest Day’s” at Nelson are fond memories… especially falling asleep in the truck (hatch) of my parent’s Renault Fuego…
I’m fairly sure that was my first shot at giving them both a massive heart attack. That said, I fell in love with the sport watching racing with my dad at any opportunity, but was completely hooked the first time I saw the Lowenbrau Porsche 962 at Mid-Ohio… still my favorite race car of all time.
Thank you for joining us at Team FWR!
March 17, 2018
We have had a great off season! I can't wait for the competition and event schedule to begin - the race cars are ready! There's so much I want to share with you all. We've had a great response from the Sponsor a Lap campaign and Join Team FWR Campaigns.
Thank you so much for helping us! Everybody has been so generous, we really appreciate it! We've already raised over $3,500 towards our goal of $25,000 for Sonoma! We're more than 10% of the way there in just a few weeks.
Even better we've donated over $250 to the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer. We're making progress towards our big goal of donating $5,000 to the Foundation by the end of 2019.
We'd love to give a shout out to everybody who has donated, but quite a few asked to remain anonymous. Thank you all so, so much for everything you do for us!
Blackhawk Farms Here We come!
March 15th, 2018
It's been a super busy winter and I'm ready to get back on the track for a shakedown run in April. Our first race is in Early May at Blackhawk Farms in Rockton, Illinois, just west of Chicago.
It's my first time back to Blackhawk since 1995. Blackhawk is one of those tracks we all love - twisty, in the woods, tricky and above all super fun! We'd love to see you there. Drop me a note a week ahead of time and and let me know if you'd like to join us!
Check out our 2018 Schedule. We start in early May and run through the end of August here in the Midwest. Then it's on the road out to Sonoma, California for the 2018 SCCA National Runoffs at Sonoma Raceway! We'd love to have you come on out and cheer us on!
Team FWR and Leroy Engineering Announce 2018 Season Partnership
March 1st, 2018
I'm excited to announce a new partnership for the 2018 season and beyond with a super talented group out of Northeast Ohio. Leroy Engineering is a family business specializing in designing and building Track Day and Autocross Trailers. I'm proud to team up with them this season.
Their creations are amazing pieces of design, fully highway capable with 80 mph rated tires and bearings. The coil over suspension setups are unique in the industry. The trailers are priced from super reasonable to whatever your budget can bear. Check them out in the link below.
January 15th, 2018
I'd like to invite you to become a part of Team FWR and join us for some fun at the race track!
Membership in Team FWR starts at $25 and it comes with some sweet perks like Team FWR goodies. Plus, at certain levels, your name gets to ride along with me all season long on the car - it'll be small, but still, how cool is that!
If you haven't already joined Team FWR, head on over to Support Team FWR and come on out and cheer us on at the track! We even have an option for you to sponsor a lap or two or ten if you choose!
Thanks so much for helping us meet our goal of competing for the National Championship Runoffs at Sonoma in October of this year. We appreciate every single one of you who has joined in to help us chase this dream! Thanks for becoming a part of our team!
Team FWR and Mobil 1 Announce a new Partnership for the 2018 Season
We're excited to announce a new agreement with Mobil 1 to sponsor the #84 B-Spec Fiesta for 2018! We can’t wait to share images of the car after the new year with the new branding!
We've got a great schedule planned for this year and we cannot wait to show off our new Mobil one branding.
I've used Mobil 1 in my cars ever since I saw John Heinricy competing in the Mobil 1 Corvettes all those years ago. I'm deeply proud and honored to be selected to join the Mobil 1 family of brand ambassadors for the 2018 season.
Check out the Team FWR Fiesta on Mobil 1 the GRID at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
December 4th, 2017
Pretty cool video about this past year’s 2017 SCCA Runoffs - big thanks to the Mobil 1 - The Grid team for stopping by! This was a fun interview to do! Check out the Fiesta starting around the :20 second mark.
Team FWR Is delighted to announce a title sponsorship with Michelle Massey Barnes and MMB Imagery for the 2017 Season and Beyond
April 2, 2017
MMB Imagery is located in downtown Chelsea Michigan, MMB Imagery photographs children, families and high school seniors in stunning locations throughout the Chelsea, Dexter and Ann Arbor areas.
"Life is vibrant, complicated, inspirational and a journey worth documenting. Through photography, we hope you are able to live inspired and collect life's beautiful moments along the way" -Michelle Massey Barnes
April 18, 2018
So while Spring has yet to really spring up here in Michigan. …it’s snowing outside as I type this. I do love the beauty and quiet of a fresh blanket of snow. I’m hoping things melt off tomorrow and Friday as we’re going testing this weekend!
It’s the start of the season! Testing marks the end of the long winter and we get to see the result of our hard work during the off season! Woo hoo! We’ve got so much to try out this year. We spent a lot of time thinking about how to cure some of the rear end handling issues of last year. We think we may have it solved, but this weekend we’ll know for sure. I’m really excited to get going and get back in the race car!
We’ll be up at Waterford Hills this weekend – it’s my first time there. Man, I feel really rusty. I’m sure it will take a little time to get back in the swing of things. The new, lower seat location is going to take a little getting used to! Our main goal of the weekend is to figure out the rear end handling. We had quite a bit of rear suspension oscillation over the season last year. We’ll be spending the whole day on Saturday dialing that out and working on race setup on Sunday.
I can’t believe Blackhawk is only a couple of weeks away! I’m excited to show off the new Team Dynamics wheels and the new Mobil 1 and Leroy Engineering branding on the car when we get there!
We’ve had a great past week finalizing a lot of details before we go on track, but we still took some time to support a few great charities. We wrote our first donation check to the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer. Last Saturday we supported the OLV auctionin Northville, MI with a Founders Club Membership and we made a cash donation to the Hope Chest of Livonia.
I encourage you to check them out, I think they are good causes helping out good people.
So, what’s the season looking like this year – super competitive for sure! Lots of B-Spec drivers competing and a ton will be out at the Runoffs in Sonoma. We’ll need to be on pace right away! Speaking of Sonoma, with your help we’ve already achieved about 15% of our goal to help us get out to Sonoma for the Runoffs. If you have friends or family that would like to learn more about how to join us and support Team FWR, please send them over to Join Team FWR. The more the merrier!
That’s all for now. I’ll have some pictures from Waterford over the weekend.
Photo Credit: Broknlnk photography
We had a great weekend running in the open track day at Waterford this weekend. We made huge progress on the rear suspension setup. Lots of changes in our progressive plan. We worked with front and rear ride height, tire pressures and a few other things. Huge thanks to Craig Capaldi for the testing plan and to Dave Marchioni for executing all of the changes in each session.
I always worry that we'll do a Grand Turismo where we make all kinds of changes and make the car slower and need to press reset. :) not the case this weekend. We nailed it. Huge improvement in the rear end responsiveness. It was an unusual weekend, as I didn't push the car for a fast lap, but spent all of my time working on three of four specific corners to get the balance just right.
Up next for us is Blackhawk Farms Raceway May 4th-6th. We're super excited to get back to this awesome track in the woods. Blackhawk's super busy with little time to breathe, it'll feel like a superspeedway after tooling around the 1.5-mile Waterford Hills track!
Send me a note and let me know if you would like to come join us at the race track!
Hope to see you guys sometime soon!
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