Blog

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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20 Dec, 2016

Happy Holidays from Flatout Motorsports!

From all of us to all of you, sincere wishes for a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year. See you at the track in 2017! (The elves, L to R: Drew, Adam, Dave, Evan, Steve, Seamus, Nick, Jody, Andy)

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28 Nov, 2016

Sign up for our Winter Series!

Come on, rent a Miata and test your mettle in Road Atlanta's esses. You know you want to!

Come on, rent a Miata and test your mettle in Road Atlanta’s esses. You know you want to!

Miami in January? Sebring in February? How about New Orleans or Austin in March?

Whether you want us to bring your car down for an Arrive & Drive experience or simply fly in and rent one of our racers, check out our schedule for a look at the 2017 Winter Series!

 

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27 Oct, 2016

Runoffs, track records, championships and more!

Eric Thompson (right) after winning one of two Hard Charger Awards at the 2016 SCCA Runoffs in his wild Celica!

Eric Thompson (right) after winning one of two Hard Charger Awards at the 2016 SCCA Runoffs in his wild Celica!

We’ve got much to catch you up on, culminating with the 2016 SCCA Runoffs, so let’s get to it!

Team Flatout visited New Jersey Motorsports Park August 12-14 to run the big Summer Thunder weekend, which featured Pro IT racing. Amy Mills, Whit Gregg, Dave Kuchrawy, JT Coupal, Stephen Pope, and company prez Nick Leverone all raced. JT won the Spec Miata races, while Nick, driving our number 90 Miata, punched above his weight in ITS—and won! A special shout-out to Pope, who’s having an outstanding season it the ITA class!

Then it was up to Lime Rock, where August 25 saw a Drivers Club SM race. Kuchrawy, JT, and Joe Schubert all acquitted themselves well. We hung around the Rock all weekend for an SCCA Regional race, supporting a bunch of quick drivers. In addition to JT, Joe, and Stephen Pope, Josh Kaidanow and Wendy Cappola piloted Flatout Miatas, while Eric Thompson ran our Honda S2000 in STU. It was great to see Hugh McHaffie and Craig McHaffie, too! At this event, we got to serve dinner to the true heroes of motorsports: the volunteer workers! A blast was had by all.

September 9-11 found us back in the Bay State at Palmer Motorsports Park. JT (who wrapped up the Pro IT SM class season championship!), Amy, Whit, Dave, Joe, Wendy, Tom Paolino, and Doug Fambrough all made the scene, keeping the crew hopping!

The following week, Watkins Glen was our home for another SCCA race, the Fun One. Usual suspects Pope, JT, and Joe were all fast, as was Tom Mariano. In just one of many highlights, Leverone set three track records (short and long course in STL, short course in Spec Miata) in company cars. Remember, you can rent these Miatas anytime!

Next up was the Big Dance: SCCA Runoffs, held this year at Mid-Ohio. Leverone qualified 14th in Doug Fisher’s gorgeous Spec Miata. He was punted on lap one but battled back from dead last to midpack. Nick also ran Jon Farbman’s rotary-powered, Flatout-built Miata to a fourth-place (and top Mazda) finish in STL. The McHaffies’ MX-5 was blindingly fast, but a Flatout mistake cost them a chance to compete, which we regret like hell. Meanwhile, Eric Thompson was overcoming teething pains in his wild All-Trac Celica. He earned Hard Charger Awards in both STU (driving from last to seventh) and STL (last to 12th). Way to go Eric!

NASA Nationals were taking place at the Glen the same weekend as the Runoffs. Amy and Whit decided to compete there, but things didn’t work out well: Amy got whacked hard on the first lap, then sat dead in the water while the field went screaming past at race pace the next lap. She was not amused.

Finally, we visited Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in early October. JT Coupal won races and wrapped up still more points crowns. Tony and Kent Vaccaro rented, and it was great to see them, as well as Wendy, Whit, Dave K, Joe Schubert, Doug Fisher, and Matt Koskinen, who ran his sweet 2016 Global Cup MX-5 in both STL and T3. We also welcomed some terrific new clients to the Flatout Family: Ryan Duke raced number 00 all weekend, while Ray Kobs ran the test day!

JT Coupal hustles his Flatout Motorsports Miata at Thompson.

JT Coupal hustles his Flatout Motorsports Miata at Thompson.

No writeup is complete without a hat-tip to our amazing employees and crew. Whether they’re at the track or the shop, they work tirelessly to make all the good stuff happen. Andrew Burke, Evan Consolazio, Adam Desrosiers, Seamus Erskine, Dave Goulet, Jody Leverone, Rob Newton– take a well deserved bow!

Whew. That’ll have to do for now, though we’re just back from an enduro at VIR (spoiler alert: podium!) and we’re busy prepping for our Winter Series.

 

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10 Oct, 2016

Plan now for our Winter Series!

The choice is yours.

The choice is yours.

bliz

The air is crisp, the leaves are beautiful … and if you’re from the northeast, you know what that means.

Months of shoveling, power outages, and wistful bench-racing.

Why not give yourself something to look forward to by scheduling a race weekend or two down south? Starting with the traditional Thanksgiving Weekend Turkey Trot at Sebring, we’ll spend the winter renting cars and supporting clients at Daytona, VIR, Road Atlanta, Homestead, and more! (Keep an eye on our schedule for details.)

Come on, give the snow boots a break and lace up the driving shoes instead.

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26 Aug, 2016

Q&A with young hotshoe JT Coupal

As soon as he stepped into a Spec Miata, JT (right) hit the podium!

 

JT Coupal (on the right in this photo) finished on Spec Miata podiums before he got his driver’s license! Now he’s competing for wins every time he hits the track. We recently caught up with JT to learn more about his background and goals. 

 

First, tell us a little about yourself.

I’m 16 years old (going to be a Junior in high school) and am from Rochester, New York. I grew up – and continue to grow up – in the Finger Lakes Region, meaning I’ve been to Watkins Glen countless times as a spectator and finally this past spring as a driver. While racing is my passion, I also enjoy and am interested in creative writing/journalism and marine biology.

When did you start racing – and in what?

I started racing karts in 2011 at a local sprint course. I competed there for two years before branching out into WKA’s Gold Cup series, where I raced one season. I then happened across a WKA Road Racing event (where you race much faster karts on standard road courses such as VIR, Mid-Ohio, Daytona, Summit Point, etc.), which was intriguing enough to constitute a shift in focus to the series. I competed in the 2013 season, winning 13 races and two national championships across two classes. The following year was spent taking multiple Skip Barber schools. Then came the decision on what to do next; the eventual answer of course being racing with Flatout!

What was the transition to cars like?

Once I finished the Skip Barber classes I knew I wanted to go into car racing, but I didn’t know where or how. I decided my strengths lie in sports cars. After much searching, we found Flatout and in the fall of 2015, I competed in my first SCCA race at Palmer in the #90 rental car, landing on the podium in ITS/STL. After another race at Thompson, we as a family worked to make a decision for the next step. We considered all options and the advice given to us from multiple sources before settling on Spec Miata. We chose this not only because it’s the most competitive amateur series around, but also because we knew we would get a competitive car from Flatout, as well as the indispensable race-day support.

You seem to get a lot of energy and support from your family.

It’s a cliché, but I couldn’t be doing any of this without them. They make everything happen no matter the difficulty or inconvenience, not to mention financial outlay. The commitment they show is incredible, and I hope to be able to reciprocate their efforts with future successes built on their current sacrifices.

Does your karting experience translate to racing Miatas?

The main skill I’ve gotten out of karting that aids me in SM is definitely car control. It’s not a stretch to say that the fastest way in a kart is usually at least somewhat sideways, and while that is certainly not the way in a Miata, it does allow me to deal with different situations in the car much better than I would otherwise. Obviously, changing gears was a new thing for me when I jumped from karts, but perhaps more than that was the sensation of body roll and suspension loading. Karts don’t have suspension as such, so I had to learn about weight transfer and its effect on handling.

So what does the future hold?

As far as racing is concerned, my goal is to go pro. Everyone wants to do what they love and make money doing it, and I can’t say I’m any different. I’m open to any and all opportunities in professional racing, and I think I can make it if I make all the right decisions and never stop improving. Outside of racing, I definitely want to go to college and if racing does not become my source of income, I would love to pursue a career in automotive journalism (and other forms of writing). Ideally of course I’d love to be a professional driver who writes about cars on the side!

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15 Aug, 2016

Podium sweep at NJMP!

Sometimes a picture is all you need! On a hot August weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Flatout drivers JT Coupal (first), Amy Mills (second), and Whit Gregg (third) took over the podium after the Spec Miata race. Our clients are way fast! (The cars we build ain't bad either.)

Sometimes a picture is all you need! On a hot August weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Flatout drivers JT Coupal (first), Amy Mills (second), and Whit Gregg (third) took over the podium after the Spec Miata race. Our clients are way fast! (The cars we build ain’t bad either.) 

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29 Jul, 2016

Mid season madness!

Evan Consolazio doesn't look too happy about his round-number birthday! From left: Steve Ulfelder, Nick Leverone, Andrew Burke, Evan, Rob Newton, Dave Goulet, Seamus Erskine. Behind the camera: Jody Leverone

Evan Consolazio doesn’t look too happy about his round-number birthday! From left: Steve Ulfelder, Nick Leverone, Andrew Burke, Evan, Rob Newton, Dave Goulet, Seamus Erskine. Behind the camera: Jody Leverone

It’s been a crazy-busy time around both the shop and the track. As often as not, it seems, Flatout is taking care of clients at two tracks on the same weekend – usually in 95-degree heat. So let’s start by thanking everybody you see in this photo, plus Adam Desrosiers, Nicky Beans, and Jody Leverone, for tireless crew work!

May 27-29 found us at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for SCCA Regional racing. Our own Jody, who hadn’t raced in too long, got to drive Doug Fisher’s beautiful Flatout-built Miata. Tony Vaccaro, Kent Vaccaro, and Wendy Cappola all rented, while Stephen Pope, Dave Kuchrawy and JT Coupal wheeled their own cars.

June 2-5 was a split weekend. Some of us trekked to Mid-Ohio Raceway  far an SCCA Majors event. Tim Estes (with a pair of top tens!), Doug Fisher (his first Majors in the new car), Peter Doane, Nick Leverone, Hugh McHaffie and Craig McHaffie all ran strong. Meanwhile, some clients headed south to New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Lightning circuit. Eric Thompson drove our newest rental, a Honda S2000, in STU, STL and T1! Rick Miller wheeled our Number 00 rental Miata.

Not long after, we embarked on a jam-packed week that began Tuesday, June 14, with a Lime Rock Park test day. We supported JT, Dave Kuchrawy and Stephen Pope, while Nick did a coaching session with old friend Joe Stadelmann. Some of us stayed at Lime Rock Wednesday for an SCDA event, after which a couple of the guys cannonballed down to NJMP, where they helped clients Amy Mills and Whit Gregg run a NASA weekend. Meanwhile, a few of us split off to Watkins Glen to support JT and Dave K in testing. The rest of the crew stayed at Lime Rock for a great weekend. Old chum Nai Nan Ko came out of retirement to run some excellent races. Erik Beck rented as well, and Eric Thompson again drove the S2000 in dominating fashion. Dave Kuchrawy, Stephen, and Wendy also enjoyed excellent race weekends.

Next, we parked ourselves at the Glen for three weekends in a row. June 24-26, we supported four TWR Racing cars – a pair of Porsches and a pair of Miatas – for Steve Tullman, Max Tullman, Jim Walker, and Neal Walker. At this Majors Weekend, Peter Doane, Amy, Whit, Tim Estes, Doug Fambrough, and Leland Engelbart all raced as well. Leland had a serious wreck, and Amy had a moment (!) as well, but we’re happy to say everybody’s doing well and eager to race again.

July 1-3, the Tullmans enjoyed outstanding IMSA Weathertech Porsche GT3 Cup events at the Glen.

July 8-10 saw the long awaited debut of Eric Thompson’s Toyota Celica All-Trac STL car. It was a success, albeit with typical new-build teething pains. This was a favorite weekend of ours, the July Sprints; Paul Schulman and Abe Zimroth rented and had a ball. Whit Gregg, JT Coupal, and Stephen Pope all had great races, and it was great to see Anne Lamport Hammitte again.

The weekend of July 22-23 was the Racing Against Leukemia event at Thompson Motorsports Park. Flatout has long been very active in this fundraiser. We gave track ride-arounds, helped with the raffle, and generally had a ball. Kent Vaccaro was running strong until he wrecked. Dave K was fast, as usual, and JT won all the Spec Miata races! Tom Paolino was there, as was Stephen, and we got to see Anne and Keith Hammitte again (we’ll be tending and transporting their BMWs). The same weekend, we sent a crew to NJMP Thunder for a Majors event. Amy, Whit, Tim Estes, Peter Doane, Jim Walker, and Tom Haronian all ran well. Mills and Estes in particular finished up front.

Tuesday July 26, we hit an SCDA day at Palmer Motorsports Park. Pope and Doug Fambrough grabbed some track time. Meanwhile, Matt Salmon, DJ Salmon, David Lewis, Gregg Darrish, Win Brown, Peter Brakan, and Jason Sevinor shared four cars between them – and had a blast!

Whew! Now it’s back to the grind as we swing into August and our racers begin to think seriously about the SCCA Runoffs and NASA Nationals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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23 Jun, 2016

Now rent an S2000 for STU, STL, T1!

Why not rent this sweet 2.0-liter S2000 for a track day, school, or race weekend?

Why not rent this sweet 2.0-liter S2000 for a track day, school, or race weekend?

Our customers have been clamoring for cars to race in SCCA’s STU and STL classes, and some of them even want to try something that’s not a Mazda (gasp!).

Hey, we’re listening: We’re now renting out a gorgeous, in-house-built Honda S2000 (with the 2.0-liter engine) that can run STU, STL, and even T1.

Is it fast? Hell yeah. His first time in the car, at Lime Rock, hotshoe client Eric Thompson won a bunch of races, finished second in all the rest, and flirted with track records all weekend.

Contact us to talk about renting this beast!

s2000C

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