With the recent podcast where we chatted about our "origins", and Drew's article yesterday, I figured this would be a good day to introduce our newest writer with a little "how I got started" piece he just sent me. Pramoda Ravi likes to write (he's written for several other sites, and I need to make more time to format his stuff into articles in the next few weeks, sorry Promo!), and I'm enjoying long text ramblings and battles with him recently as well. He runs with our midwest groups and Gridlife events mostly, and also cruises all over driving other peoples Chump and Lemons cars, likely with a deft, overthinking-the-data quickness. If i can get him to put together build articles on his goofy too-many-mods Evo, you'll see some of that too....so without further ado, I'll let Promo's words do the talkin.
-Ninja edit- I forgot he sent me a bio too. I laughed at it.
"I live in Michigan, born in India. I've raced with multiple Grassroot series such as Chump car, LeMons, and rally-america. I find joy in the little things in life such as 40lbs of boost and 300+ mm wide rubbers. I'd like to assume my balls are made out of unobtanium however I'm sure they're probably more of a titanium alloy. I didn't really think I'd make it to 2016, so I'm here to rock on. "
By Pramoda Ravi
Way back in the day (about six years ago) a crazy little Asian kid (Bao) and I got into a fight ON THE INTERNET. That’s where it all began for me, the journey started at that specific moment. In hindsight I’d go back and cancel the internet service provider just so I can attempt to hold on to my innocence of thinking 300hp and 1g of lateral grip was more than I’ll ever need.
We met in the back of a Walmart parking lot to race his turbocharged Civic against my naturally aspirated Hyundai Tiburon V6 automatic, and I lost. He had this crazy idea of going to the track with his car and a combination of peer pressure and not taking kindly to being called a bitch led to my first ever track event, a truly glorious day in Michigan where the weather was a fantastic 40* and the track as moist as Jeremy Clarkson when he shouts POWEERRRRR. At the time I made a whopping $13 or so an hour and if you know anything about the cost of safety gear you know that’s enough to look at your paycheck and walk away from the sport murmuring "my paycheck says nope nope nope nope". In the end I found a guy on Craigslist selling his Bell SA2000 helmet for $100, and bought a set of Hankook V12 tires for my car, and I was good enough to go. We strap into Bao’s S2000 (His automobile ADD forced him to sell his Civic) and we made it a whopping two corners before he spun the car. At this point i’m terrified. It’s a damp track that I’ve never seen before, and this is my FIRST time driving anything at speed. Somehow an instructor straps himself into my car (Instructor was Bao) and we go out in my car. I really can’t remember much of the experience other than I lost control of the car at around 80mph and Bao decided that would be a good time to wake up from his nap and start screaming "DON’T CORRECT DON’T CORRECT DON’T CORRECT". I spun the car, but on the plus side I kept it on the track. We ended the weekend with both cars coming hope without a mechanical or cosmetic failure. It was a good day.
Fast forward a year and I was now in my souped up Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-Spec, now featuring a turbocharger and a 6-spd hulk-shift manual transmission! After track day #1 the Tiburon was rear ended by an idiot on his phone who couldn’t comprehend why cars were stopped at a red light. I was starting to want more than just stock Korean awesomeness, so I swapped out the brake pads, did a fluid check, and added a set of better tires. I was track day ready, bro. The first few events that year went without any issues, and then the problems started rolling in. I started pushing the car harder and things decided to break. I had a laundry list of parts I had to swap off of the car after putting them through the PromoStressTest™ (That’s not really trademarked). On my 20th Birthday I ended up blowing the rear bumper off of my car thanks to the fire breathing demon that lived in the exhaust, that was an interesting moment to say the least. Shortly after I learned that a set of slightly used (12-14 track events) OEM struts couldn’t handle a few small bumps on the braking zone, engaging ABS which thought I was going over ice and restricted my brakes to 10%. I had a brake pedal as hard as a rock, which I physically could not depress even after letting off and getting back into it, while I was going about 110-115mph WITH A FUCKING WALL 600’ AWAY.
The sandpit was able to prevent the smooth love that front facia would have made with the wall, but it took me a while to start trusting my brakes again. Shortly after that season ended the Genesis was rear ended by an Asian lady that was arguing with her husband who then left via cab after the accident. Apparently that car was fixed after the insurance company sold the car. I wouldn’t buy that car if I were you, just putting that out there.
After now having both FWD and RWD experience within the span of a year, I decided to buy a cheater chassis that powered both the front and rear wheels. Welcome my 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII. The longest car i’ve owned to date, with absolutely the highest amount of issues I’ve ever had.
The EVO is so incredibly unreliable that I decided to buy another Genesis Coupe to daily drive! All jokes aside the car is freakishly fast and nothing more. It doesn’t bring the joy of man-handling the car into a corner and coming out like a champion. You point it in the direction you want it to go and it just goes. You have to respect the car because on paper it has all the right credentials to kill you, and you have to drive it knowing a sharp weight transfer mid corner will cause a spin. It's truly a great vehicle.
In six years of tracking and racing a car, I’ve spun more times than I can keep count of, crashed into a guard rail with my EVO, and smashed into a tree while I was co-driving a stage rally. I’ve never been more excited an upcoming year than for the 2016 season.
There’s nothing better than the drug called adrenaline, and even if I started off making 30 some thousand dollars a year at the age of 18 I still wouldn’t have traded waiting until I was more financially stable, because I wouldn’t have the experience I have now. The moral of the story is, you don’t need to be in a perfect environment to make the most out of what you’ve got. You need to get out there, listen to an instructor, and drive.