The Milwaukee Mile - June 12th, 2012


The Milwaukee Mile The first outing of 2012 for the RE/MAX Synergy Camaro was on the famous Milwaukee Mile.  Since 1903, The Milwaukee Mile has been one of the premier venues in American motorsports. It is the oldest operating motor speedway in the world, as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway began contesting events in 1911.


Preparation for Milwaukee began months ago.  Basically, there were two areas that had to be addressed.  First was safety.  End of straightaway speeds can easily exceed 140 MPH on a mile track and the car has to be in top condition.  Second was the ‘setup’.  Every track is different and if you want to be competitive, you have to adjust the car for each track. 

The Milwaukee Mile Over the winter I had the shocks rebuilt, packed the wheel bearings, greased and inspected the suspension and all the normal stuff.  Once the car was put back together, the next step was to work on that ever important ‘setup’ and get it just right for Milwaukee. “Back in the day” we recognized the importance of setting the car up properly, but lacked the sophisticated tools that are available now.  Today, computerized scales and other modern measuring tools make this a relatively simple task.  Of course, you still have to know where to set everything and every racer has their preferences. 

The Milwaukee Mile We arrived at the track early Monday and once assigned a pit area, set up shop.  We knew we'd have two practice sessions both Monday and Tuesday. Our first practice session told us our setup was pretty close and just needed some minor tweaking.  Changing the camber on the left front, adjusting the ride height slightly and a small change to the track bar seemed to make the car just about perfect. 

The Milwaukee Mile By the end of the first practice session on Tuesday I felt the car was as good as we were going to be, so when Tony asked if he could take the car out for the second practice session I agreed.  Tony has proven himself to be a competent racer and my only instructions were “don’t burn the tires off of it”.  Tires are expensive and while I had to buy a set to serve as spares, I didn’t want to use them.   Tony kept his session short and the tires were fine.

The Milwaukee MileThe Milwaukee Mile, as the oldest operating track in the world, is acknowledged by everyone in the racing community to hold special significance. The result is a larger than average attendance in both the pits and the stands. By mid afternoon on Tuesday the pits were getting crowded and  several RE/MAX agents had joined us along with a few friends.  Don Rich is a good friend and has been working with the Kalwasinski Late Model team for many years now. When he volunteered to help me, I quickly accepted. Amongst other tasks, Don put his experience and knowledge to good use working as my ‘spotter’. Having a professional spotter provide information over the radio during a race makes driving a lot less stressful – Thanks Don! 

The Milwaukee Mile Because of the large turnout of Vintage cars we were given two heat races.  Heat races, while short in duration, are not only fun, they provide an opportunity to assess your competition and determine if your car needs any final adjustments before the main event.  Lining up in the last row of the ‘fast’ heat I knew it would be tough to get to the front.  In the closing laps I was able to get next to the leader Pat Heaney, but when the checkered flag flew I hadn’t quite got the job done and finished second to him.

The Milwaukee Mile For the feature we made a minor air pressure adjustment to the left side tires.  Again lining up in the last row I was provided an awesome view of the group.  The Vintage Group is a diverse collection of cars with a high degree of disparity in performance. Out of the 24 cars entered, there were 6 – 8 that were capable of being very fast, and a few that were there strictly to drive the track and have fun. The rest kind of fell into the range in between.  We all respect each other and work to make sure that what “we’re” there to do doesn’t interfere with what “they’re” there to do.  I get frustrated sometimes with cars that are really slow, and they get upset with some of the faster cars when we blow by.  At the end of the day we all have a good time and it works for all of us. 

The Milwaukee Mile When the green flag came out for the feature it was a slow start.  As I said, a few cars simply can’t go that fast.  Little by little the pack sorts itself out and speeds increase.  Somewhere around the middle of our 20 lap feature the #43 Richard Petty car driven by Ron Boutell, lost its engine bringing out the caution.  I used the radio to ask if caution laps were counting or not.  I’m not sure who was asked but the reply was that they were counting.  When the green flag came out, we thought there were only five laps to go and we were in seventh. 

The Milwaukee Mile In the closing laps I managed to pass Dan Navrestad driving the Gatorade car, only to lose the lead back to him a couple of laps later.  Once I passed him again I could see Jerry Schneider in the #28 car was in hot pursuit.  At one point Jerry came right up to my rear bumper, but couldn’t make the pass. We continued that way until the checkered flag with me narrowly beating him.

The Milwaukee Mile Driving into the A.J. Foyt Victory Lane I thought about all the great drivers that had been there and what a privilege it was to drive my car into that space.  Making the celebration extra special was that along with friends, my family was there, as was the team from RE/MAX Synergy.  They’ve been sponsoring my car for three years now and not only were several agents there, RE/MAX Synergy owner Renaud Biscarrat was there to join us in the celebration. 

Returning to the pits the celebration continued with Mary and Gina preparing food for all of us.  It seemed like anyone and everyone was helping.  Mike Mondello was working as the grill master, his wife Linda and daughter Marissa were helping in the kitchen, and there was a report that Renaud prepared a spread sheet to show how to place the brats and burgers on the grill properly.  All this while Pat Echlin, Tony Bruti, Marty, Tony and more people than I could count loaded the race car and put everything away.  I’m a lucky guy to have such great friends and family. 

Thanks to everyone that helped.


The next outing for the RE/MAX Synergy Camaro will be at Madison International Speedway in Madison Wisconsin on June 29th.  See you there!


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1. Heat Race.

2. Feature Race

See you at the races,