Blog

9 May, 2017

Fantastic weekend at Palmer Motorsports Park

Weather aside, we New England racers are a fortunate group, with several new race tracks having recently joined old standbys New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Lime Rock.

Palmer Motorsports Park has quickly become one of our favorites, and the SCCA Regional races held there May 5-7 showed why, with a family atmosphere, much fun, and a bunch of great stories like these:

Keith and Ann Hammitte were excited to be back behind the wheel of their BMWs after taking a year off. The amazing husband-wife team always kick butt and have fun!

Joe Stadelmann, veteran racer and longtime Friend of Flatout, enjoyed running his Porsche 944 with the FOM team. After many years of doing all his own work, Joe is now taking advantage of our Arrive & Drive services. And guess what? Joe swept the podium, winning the ITS races on both Saturday and Sunday.

Doug Fisher, pictured here, laid down killer qualifying times keeping him in the front of the field in both STL and SM. Doug finished in the top 8 in both classes Saturday and Sunday, waging tight battles all over the track.

Company prez Nick Leverone ran our Number 00 rental car on Sunday, starting last and finishing 2nd in both SM2 and SM.

Craig McHaffie set the STL track record on Saturday in his Flatout-built MX-5. He ran away from the field, leaving nobody any chance! Unfortunately, on Sunday he fought a failing gearbox that ended his race early.

John Williamson, 80 years old (!), used to autocross back in the day and decided he wanted to get his competition racing license. John was absolutely thrilled with how much fun he had on track, and consistently dropped seconds off his lap times! Before going out for his first qualifying session, John sliced his finger open. No worries, though: Flatout’s Jody Leverone wrapped it up on grid, and when John emerged after the session, he was all smiles!

Ray Kobs, a first-time renter, enjoyed a fun test day, learning Palmer in the rain on Friday. The practice proved successful, with a great day of racing on Saturday! Like John, Ray kept getting quicker and quicker … and thanks to New England Region SCCA there were lots of cars on the track for everyone to race against!

Big thanks to everyone who crewed: Nick, Jody, Adam Desrosiers, Dave Goulet, and Nick Ustin. The meat of the season is upon us – we’ll barely come up for air until November!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More >

19 Apr, 2017

Leverone, Kicera double up at VIR!

At the Hoosier Super Tour race weekend held April 14-16 at Virginia International Raceway, you could say Flatout Motorsports did okay.

If you were prone to understatement.

Company president Nick Leverone, running STL, and national Spec Miata hotshoe Tyler Kicera, who has teamed up with Flatout, took two podiums apiece in highly competitive fields. Well done, gents! Check out some post-race interviews with the winners: Leverone is here and here, Kicera here and here.

Arrive-and-drive client Amy Mills also put together a fantastic weekend, as did our other clients – in one SM race, Amy notched a top-20 finish after starting 31st!

For much more on the event, check out MazdaSpeed’s report.

With the weather up here in the north improving, we’re migrating like the geese. Much good racing to come in the near future!

Read More >

10 Apr, 2017

News release: Flatout joins Global MX-5 Cup program!

Here’s some big news – we’ll simply quote from our friends at MazdaSpeed Motorsports. You can find the entire release here.

Flatout Motorsports has been renting cars to customers since 2003, and has expanded into a full-service prep shop. Now, with a customer interested in the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires, the team is looking to its next challenge.

“We have a customer, Matt Koskinen, who’s bought a Global MX-5 Cup car and wants to run a full season in 2018,” explains Nick Leverone, one of Flatout’s principals and a darn good shoe himself. “To facilitate us taking care of his car, we worked out a deal to get a couple of rental cars.”

Koskinen plans to do a few races in 2017 in preparation for a full-season run next year. Spec Miata racer Tyler Kicera, the SCCA U.S. Majors Tour champion for the last two years and the 2016 NASA Eastern States winner, is also planning on running MX-5 Cup in 2018, and will be joining the team as a driver and coach for this season.

The plan is to run the MX-5 Cup races at Indianapolis and Road America, and perhaps Toronto as well. But Flatout doesn’t intend to let the cars sit around, and aims to rent them out for SCCA races in Touring 3.

Leverone, whose partners in Flatout include Andy Bettencourt, Hugh McHaffie, Attilio A. Albani Jr., and Steve Ulfelder, has also been doing well in 2017 racing an NB Mazda Miata in SCCA’s STL class. He split wins with Danny Steyn at Sebring, and the team took wins in both races at NOLA and COTA.

“My teammate Craig McHaffie had his first Majors win at COTA on Sunday,” Leverone says. “We’ve been developing that car [a 2008 Mazda Miata]. We built that car for Grand-Am in 2008, and Hugh and I ran that for a couple of years, [although we] never did a full season. The car kind of sat around. We converted that car to STL and it has been getting quicker and quicker. Now I think it’s one of the dominant cars in the class.”

If you’re interested in joining Flatout for some MX-5 Cup races, or renting a car for Touring 3 or Spec Miata, contact us! And here’s a terrific article (complete with a video shop visit) detailing how Global MX-5 Cup cars are built.

Read More >

30 Mar, 2017

Flatout battle in Texas!

Yee haw! At a late-March SCCA race at the Circuit of the Americas, Flatout hotshoes Craig McHaffie and Nick Leverone had one of those 11/10ths, last-lap duels that remind us all why we love motorsports, with Craig taking the STL race. For an entertaining 3 minutes, check out Craig’s in-car video here.

 

 

 

 

Read More >

21 Mar, 2017

Flatout alum is going big!

How quickly they grow up! We remember JT Coupal when he had trouble getting around the paddock because stick-shifts were new to him (seriously – he came to us from karts, and he barely had a driver’s license!).

JT immediately began running up front and winning in his Flatout-built Spec Miata, and so we’re not surprised that his racing career is progressing. This year, he’ll be running the Pirelli World Challenge in an Audi RS3 LMS.

As befits a cool up-and-coming racer, JT’s got a cool website where you can learn more about him and follow his exploits. Check it out here!

Read More >

17 Mar, 2017

Winter Series – fun in the sun!

Kicera, Leverone and Mills lined up at NOLA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots to catch you up on, so let’s get to it!

Homestead-Miami Speedway, SCCA Major, Jan. 5-8. Whit Gregg, Joe Schubert, and Hugh McHaffie all drove. We welcomed Tyler Kicera to the team, too; he ran the 89 rental in SM. Tyler’s one of the nation’s fastest Miata pilots, and we’re always looking for ways to make our cars faster. He’s already proved invaluable! Company president Nick Leverone finished first Saturday and second Sunday in STL. Hugh took 3rd Sunday, and Whit enjoyed a double-dip weekend. In SM, Tyler finished 10th Saturday and 9th Sunday, with Nick 11th and 15th.

Sebring, SCCA Majors/Hoosier Super Tour, Jan. 12-15. In STL, Leverone finished 2nd Sat by .015 of a second to our friend Danny Steyn, then won Sunday. Craig McHaffie finished 4th both days, while Tim Estes was 5th in his RX-7. Matt Koskinen, running the T3 class in his 2016 Mazda Global Cup car, had some teething problems: a blown transmission in testing, a battery malfunction that kept him out of race 1, and a broken motor mount that ended his weekend. In SM, Nick finished 11th and 15th. Sunday was a rough race – it seemed Leverone got hit by everyone, and we have no idea how he got back to 15th! Amy Mills was 33rd and 39th in the stacked field. Whit was 45th both days, Craig 43rd and 35th, and Joe 66th and 57th.

Sebring, SCCA Cabin Fever Regional, Feb. 11-12. Craig McHaffie overcame some problems to win Sunday’s STL race – well done! Amy Mills finished 6th and 3rd; renter David Quinlan took 8th and 6th; and Whit, Hugh, and new renter Matt Williamson (welcome!) all had strong finishes battling each other – on Sunday, Whit took 9th, Hugh 10th, and Matt 11th. Good intramural stuff! In SM, Amy finished 4th and 3rd, David snared a top-10, Whit took 11th and 10th, Hugh had a 12th and a DNS, and Matt came in 19th and 16th. Spec Miata was 46 cars deep – amazing for a regional!

NOLA Motorsports Park, SCCA Majors/Hoosier Super Tour, March 3-5. As we blogged recently, Leverone took both STL races, setting a track record, while Craig came in 3rd and 2nd. Once again, Whit, Joe, and Hugh went at it hammer and tongs. In SM, Tyler Kicera qualified 3rd on Saturday; he wound up in the top 10.  Amy, Whit, Joe, and Hugh finished well and had fun races. Everyone enjoyed the track. In Sunday’s race, Mills had a great qualifier but got spun early. Tyler was 5th and Leverone 11th.

Next up? Texas, for a big weekend at Circuit of the Americas. Then spring kicks in and we’re off to New Jersey Motorsports Park for an SCCA driving school, followed by an SCCA Majors events at VIR April 13th-16th and the NJMP 12-hour the following weekend.

Read More >

13 Mar, 2017

It’s good to get noticed

Flatout Motorsports was launched in 1992 (wow, it feels weird to write that!). In our early years we waxed and waned, but we’ve been a constant presence on the U.S. roadracing scene since 2001, when we campaigned our first RX-7 in SCCA’s ITS class.

Lately, it seems, our cars and drivers have been turning up on a lot of podiums, at tracks from sea to shining sea. One gratifying result: the racing world is focusing some attention on li’l old us.

The video presented here is Exhibit A – company president Nick Leverone being interviewed by the SCCA after his recent Super Tour wins (avec STU track record) at NOLA Motorsports Park. And you can see Exhibit B here, as Nick makes the Mazda Motorsports writeup of the same event.

Speaking of writeups: We owe you one! We’ll check in later this week with full results of our Winter Series exploits.

Read More >

6 Mar, 2017

Leverone, McHaffie tear it up at NOLA!

Gang’s all here! Between Leverone’s Flatout Miata (left – you can rent it!) and McHaffie’s MX-5, we were all over the podium.

It was our first-ever trip to NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana, and we liked it. A lot! At the recent Hoosier Super Tour weekend, company prez Nick Leverone won both STL races, setting a track record in the process. Hotshoe Craig McHaffie wasn’t far behind in the family MX-5, snagging a pair of podiums.

Everybody had high praise for the track, including Amy Mills (coming off a twin-podium weekend of her own at Sebring!), Whitfield Gregg, and Hugh McHaffie. Huge props to the crew as our own March Madness rolls on – we’ve got races at VIR, Road Atlanta, and Circuit of the Americas in succession!

Read More >

3 Feb, 2017

Guest post: This is not exactly a Miata

NOTE: JT Coupal is a talented young racer who, we’re proud to say, got his first race-car (as opposed to kart) starts in Flatout Motorsports cars. While he continues to drive his Flatout-built Spec Miata, JT recently got to try something very different indeed: A Ginetta G57 at the Dubai 24 Hour in the United Arab Emirates. What follows is an edited version of JD’s Facebook post reflecting on the experience.

When a Spec Miata starts up, you’re not intimidated. Stimulated, yes, because it is a race car and it makes a satisfying little crackle that tells you it wants to go fast, but four-cylinder engines are never intimidating. Not so in the case of the 6.2L V8 that hides deep within a Ginetta G57. When that starts up, it sounds a bit like what I imagine a deep space electric storm would. Which is intimidating.

So you’ve heard the G57 start, and now you’re beginning to wonder just how you’re going to drive it. You then get into it, grip the butterfly steering wheel, and take a look around. You see lots of switches and buttons, an accelerator that’s over in the passenger side footwell, and a small little window to the outside world through which you’re meant to see where you’re going. Oh, and no easy way to see where you’ve been. You have absolutely no idea how you’re supposed to go about driving this thing with any sort of pace.

You’re wheeled out onto the pit lane and told to start the 6.2-liter powerplant (I use the word because it could probably power the Chevrolet factory it was built in for a few days). It bursts into life and the overwhelming feeling that you’re not going to be able to handle the thing returns. Still, you’ve been strapped in like any other race car and now you’re being waved on down the pit lane. That’s a least a few seconds of 40 km/h driving to get accustomed to it. You begin to bleed away the clutch and nearly stall about eight times on the way to the giddy heights of 40. It becomes immediately clear that the G57 doesn’t like going slowly. It sputters and lurches, throwing you side to side and back to front. You pass the end of the pit lane, and decide to get it over with and put your foot down.
Second gear is required in less than a second, and third another second or two after. Turn 1 is coming and you’re on track. Cold tires, you remind yourself. The corners go slowly, you get to downshift once or twice with the carbon paddles. If a Saturn V rocket needed to downshift at any point, I imagine this is how it would do it. Then the back straight beckons. May as well see how fast it goes. Very, is the G57’s response. The industrial-sounding yet lightning-quick gear changes flash by with no discernible hesitation on the car’s part, pushing you well past the fastest you’ve ever been in a car before. Quicker than you’d thought possible, some braking is required. You brake conservatively well before the 100m marker, and you’re basically stopped before the turn in. Navigating the corner is simple enough, and then you accelerate out, fighting some fantastically controllable power oversteer.

 

Another tight corner follows, before you start rapidly approaching the supposedly flat-out left sweeper. You’ve been told it’s flat out, so you go for it. Easy. Why were you ever concerned, you begin to think. You could have easily ridden around the outside of that corner at full-speed, thanks to the incredible downforce. Your first lap in a prototype hasn’t resulted in a crash, and in fact you’ve gained considerable confidence. This might just be doable, you think.

 

By the end of your first session, you’ve befriended the Ginetta. There’s an understanding between you and it, one whose goal is the fastest lap time, the highest speeds. You’re confident hanging the tail out on corner exit, confident pushing the braking zone just a little deeper each lap. The grip means you’re not scared to carry more speed, and the responsiveness means you’re not worried to overdo it slightly with power application. This is the magic of the G57. Unlike some of the more primitive racing cars, the Ginetta wants you to feel at home. After all, that’s the best way to win races.
This is how my first day driving a prototype went. I had only driven a 1999 Mazda Miata before then, and had never been more anxious to face a challenge. I suspect all those around me and the team were nervous to have put an inexperienced 16-year-old in their prototype, too. If I had been driving anything other than a G57, it’s likely that day would have not gone nearly as well. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the Ginetta wants you to feel comfortable. It actively helps you to drive, to feel like you can get the best out of what is one of the fastest cars out there. If you think you can’t handle driving it, think again. The satisfaction you’ll get from conquering the G57 is worth the initial nerves, and you’ll likely find yourself massively hooked.

Read More >

18 Jan, 2017

Leverone takes STL win at Sebring!

Our Winter Series is in full swing, and soon we’ll have a big batch of results to report. But we wanted to congratulate company prez Nick Leverone on a terrific STL win at an SCCA Regional at Sebring on January 15. Nick battled it out with hotshoe, Friend of Flatout, and all-around good guy Danny Steyn.

It’s not too late to get in on some of this great racing, you know.  Check out our schedule, and contact us if you want to come down south to beat those winter blues!

To see just how tight this racing is, watch Steyn’s in-car video from Saturday’s race, in which he edged Nick and broke his own track record. Good stuff!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More >