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Follow former Navy SEAL, #40 Geoff Reeves, racing in the Pirelli World Challenge Series on worldchallenge-tv.com and CBS Sports Network!

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

THE PIRELLI WORLD CHALLANGE SERIES OPENS IN AUSTIN, TX!


The beginning of the Pirelli World Challenge race season started in Austin, Texas, home to the iconic F1 track, “The Circuit of the Americas”. This year the field has grown with the number of cars in both the GT and GTS series. In response to the growing number of cars the series officials split the field into 2 separate races. With the arrival of Chevrolets new addition to the Camaro line up, last years ZL1 Camaro will be replaced with the new monstrous Z28.

Circuit of the America’s has only been around since 2012. In its short 3 years of existence the European inspired, 20 turn, 3.418 mile track has become iconic in racers eyes. With major elevation changes, tightening s-turns, carousels and more, it is a long, technical, gorgeous track.


Geoff Reeves' #40 Z28 Camaro was under the gun to be finished in time for this race. Unlike last year he was not able to get a good amount of seat time in the car during the off season. The hard working crew put the finishing touches on during the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, just before the team hauler had to leave. Geoff met the car Tuesday when he and the team were unloading in the rig and setting up the paddock.

The new Z28 is gorgeous! The front of the car is more sinister looking, the built in spoiler looks great, the blacked out wheels that come straight from the factory are an awesome touch against the cars solid yellow body. The carbon ceramic brakes are MASSIVE in comparison to last years steel discs, and the transmission / engine sound mean!


“From the drivers perspective, I am beyond pleased. The components are more true to a race car than ever before. I still don’t like the restrictions put on the car by the series though." - Geoff Reeves

Chevy’s monster engine has a bigger restrictor thrown on it despite the already top end speed issues they battled in the 2014 season. The overall weight of the car went up from last year and the cars ride height is now to be 5” (raised up from last years 3.5” inches).

“It was like racing a truck, the center of gravity was high. I literally could put two wheels on either side of several of the curbs and straddle them without a problem. In fact, after a practice, an official came up to me showing me a picture of me doing it reminding me I needed to stay on the racing surface. The car looked great, but getting her to handle properly was something else." - Geoff Reeves

Geoff not having raced on this track before, used the promoter test day and each of the 2 series practice sessions to get familiar with the car. He relayed everything possible to the crew and his engineer.

“We had short time to adjust and try different spring and shock set ups to get he nose to bite in particular corners while keeping the rear end planted where and when Geoff wanted it to." - Slade


By the time qualification came around, Geoff was a bit off the pace which was expected. Other teams had been testing all off-season and were a head of the game with their cars set up. With the forecast looking grim teams continually checked the weather. Rain was an unwelcome addition to the already stressful weekend. Luckily the rain held off, at least for the first round of racing. As Geoff got strapped into the car, he and his mechanic Slade went over the game plan. 

“This first race is going to be more or less a shakedown session since the car hasn’t had any hard testing yet."  -Slade

... and it absolutely was.

The team learned real quick that running extended periods of made the carbon ceramic brakes give serious “knock back”. Knock back is when the brake pads, through vibration, move away from the rotors within the caliper. The result is the driver hitting the brakes hard and finding sometimes he has brake pressure and sometimes he doesn’t. At 143 mph down the back straight into a left hair pin turn isn’t the time to find this out, like Geoff did. The driver can tap the brakes while accelerating to push the pads back to center and build up pressure in the lines to help reduce this, and it is a good habit to do, but Geoff found he was CONSTANTLY tapping the brake pedal. Valves can be bought and inserted to help minimize this, but the team didn’t have any.

All race long the Camaro’s were fighting the bigger restrictor. The car would handle well in the twisty’s, but as the Camaros turned the corner on either the front or back straight, every Mustang, turbo’d Optima and Aston Martin V8 Vantage would pull away. It happened last year and is happening again.


The “fun” came when Geoff thought he blew his cars transmission 3/4 the way through Race 1.

“I went to shift gears and very quickly it felt like I was playing real life Mario Kart. I thought I broke the linkage, transmission, some important piece for putting down horsepower. I heard clunking now and again, so then I thought I broke a half shaft, but the car kept running. I thought, Hell, keep going! Finish the race!”  I didn’t get concerned for my safety until the cabin of the car filled up with smoke. Then I started looking for fire when I wasn’t looking at the track in front of me." - Geoff Reeves

Now wanting to complete the race and save the car at the same time, Geoff’s goal shifted from placing to getting as many drivers points as possible and not destroying the car.

When the checkered flew and everyone was back in the stable, the crew descended immediately upon the #40. It was found that both motor mounts broke. This meant that the engine was only being held in the engine bay by the transmission. Two Chevy Racing reps who were helping the team said they had never seen that before in all their years. Since the engine was loose in the engine bay, that caused one of the shifter stabilizers to break, and the combined two problems made shifting feel like a video game. As the engine bounced left and right through the turns, the engine crimped a low pressure oil line, which became a week spot and eventually wore a hole. Oil then hit the hot engine which caused all the the smoke. Thank goodness it was a 7.0L engine, Geoff only had .5L left.

Race 2 wasn’t as exciting thank goodness. The crew swiftly got #40 all put back together and in great shape. Geoff was a little handicapped because the broken stabilizer on the shifter from Race 1. This  meant he had to be extra smooth when shifting gears otherwise he could lose the ability all together.
The GTS Class could only hold off the rain so much before it down poured in Austin. Again Geoff and his team prepared for another shakedown session, but this time in the rain. The crew compiled over all the data and made their best educated guess as to what the perfect wet set up was going to be for this new race car. It was good, but the results were not great.


“We talked it over between all os us and agreed we had set the car up for what we thought was going to be a fighting chance. Within the first 3 laps I wish we had completely disconnected the front sway bar to give the car more body roll. The extra weight pushing down on the front tires in the rain would have helped my front end grip in a couple of the important turns. "  - Geoff Reeves


With the weekend behind them, the team will regroup and focus on the Streets of St. Petersburg, FL? The 2015 seasons only GTS street race!













Saturday, November 8, 2014

10th Annual Clark Cares Golf Tournament

On November 6 & 7 the FROG-X / SHADOW WORKS SKYDIVING TEAM jumped in to Poway California's Maderas Golf Course for the 10th Annual  Clark Cares Golf Tournament.

On both days jumpers exited a Cessena 206 from an altitude of 4,000. Jumpers parachuted in proudly displaying the American Flag and a "We Support Our Troops" banner.  To date, Clark Cares has raised over 2.5 million dollars for many charities. This year, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and Chelsea’s Light Foundation were among the benefactors of the money raised.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2014 9/11 MEMORIAL STAIR CLIMB


The parachute team had the honor of parachuting into the opening ceremonies of the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in San Diego on September 7, 2014. Hosted by the San Diego Hilton Bayfront, thousands of people, including whole Fire Houses, registered to climb from the ground level to the top floor 3 times equaling the 110 levels of the Twin Towers in New York City.

From the San Diego Stair Climb Website:

WHY WE CLIMB
"Each year, approximately 100 firefighters die while serving their communities. Many more die from cancer, heart disease, neurological disorders, stroke, and other injuries and illnesses suffered as a result of their service.
But we can work together to honor these sacrifices and care for the firefighters who assume these risks and the families who share them.
Join this living memorial on September 7th, 2014 at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront for the 13th anniversary commemoration of 9/11. Firefighters, Police Officers, Military Personnel, and Civilians will join together in a spirit of remembrance and courage to honor the memories of those lost 13 years ago.
Teams of Firefighters, Law Enforcement, Military and civilians will climb 110 floors the same number as in the twin towers- and each will climb in the name of a fallen Emergency Responder whose life was lost on that day.
We will climb in the memory, and honor of the 343 FDNY Brothers, 23 NYPD Brothers and Sisters, and 37 Port Authority Brothers and Sisters, and to raise awareness of the sacrifices made by firefighters everywhere.
Funds raised will benefit FirefighterAid (formerly the San Diego Firefighters’ Benevolent Fund,) the 501(c)(3) charity which cares for Firefighters and families through sickness, distress, and death."

After a warm welcome, an invocation, a fly over by a Fire Rescue Helicopter, the 3 man jump team exited their aircraft from 3000 feet above the ground. From the helmet of L. Barbiero, here is the actual jump...

San Diego 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb





Tuesday, August 26, 2014

2014 SONOMA GRAND PRIX

Off to Wine Country, Sonoma California,  where the Pirelli World Challenge started 25 years ago. The 12 Turn, 2.385 mile course is a technical one, never giving drivers a chance to relax. Off camber turns, blind high speed corners mixed with severe elevation changes all play into what makes Sonoma Raceway a challenging, yet fun track to race.
The week started off with a promoter test day and I am glad it did. I needed ever moment on the track before I did battle with the rest of the experienced field. Like most of the tracks we have competed on this year, I have never raced Sonoma before. Each week this year has been a learning curve of a straight line up. Between track studies, feeling how the car handles on each track and then telling the engineers what the car is doing in order to dial in the perfect set up, I am constantly thinking about each turn and looking over data to find tenths of seconds. If nothing else, it is a GREAT lesson in physics and wish my high school course used racing as an example.
Teammate Andy Lee gave me pointers and was there if I had specific questions. The team used different set ups on each car during each practice session maximizing track time trying to find the perfect set up. Before long it was race day.
Race day was greeted with a 6.1 earth quake that shook the countryside. It was the 2nd largest earthquake the area has had behind the 6.9 in the late 1980's. The hotel where we stayed was less than 10 miles from the epicenter and rumbled pretty good waking me and my crew chief, Tristan Brennan, up. I just pulled up the covers and rolled over. I had felt worse. It wasn't until the news the next morning when I heard of its serious magnitude.  Competitors who were staying closer to to the epicenter said they couldn't even stand up! A media blast was sent out stating the track was unaffected and racing would stay as planned.
Saturdays race was a good one for me. The Top 10 qualified all within 10ths of each other. My fastest lap in qualifying was just under 2 seconds off the pole sitters, so that put me back at 21st position in the GTS field. I always find my self having to work my way up from the back. Nonetheless, the lights went out and we were off. I had a great jump and put the nose of the car to the inside of Brad ADams "Who Dat?, Yo MTV Raps!" lime green Mustang. As the track curved to the left with great big cement walls on the borders, I back out after not seeing how I was going to make it through there. As I started to go back to the right, Harry Curtin (team owner), lit up my ears through the radio repeatedly saying, "LEFT LEFT LEFT!" In full throttle I veered left and blew right by a stalled GT Acura TLX with a Aston Martin smashed into its rear end. Whew!
As the double yellow flags broke out immediately around the track, I looked into my rear view mirror... ...and found I was now last. Traffic and the accident did not help my over all start. After half a lap, I looked again and now saw a Bentley GT who had spun out behind me and a GTS Kia who did some banging with Dean Martin and his Mustang. Whateverm I had cars in front of me I needed to reel in. 
The carnage was removed from the track and the Green flag waved vigorously once again! With each lap I was maneuvering into position to over take the next car a head of me. by the end of 50 hard minutes I moved up 6 spots and finished mid pack. Not bad considering we were fighting to get the right set up and for such a a technical track which I never raced before. I was ready fro Sunday.
Sunday's race started with a stalled Audi R8, but thankfully no one hit him. However, there were more spins outs on the cold tires in the first lap. With Saturday s race to build on I was running times faster than the day before. I was leading the pack of cars I was in and slowly pulling away to join the group ahead of me. Then coming out of Turn 7, going down the back part of the track, I rolled back into the throttle and was greeted with... no power. I tried putting the car into each gear to see if it was transmission or what. I radioed the pit crew and relayed I had nothing, then unwillingly guided the car within a safe area amongst some tires. I was upset. I wanted to finish the weekend with another good race and earn more drivers points. Instead, I received a mechanical DNF.
Back in the paddock after the race, we jacked up the rear of the car and found the left rear half shaft had broken. Being a relatively new part, we aren't quite sure why something like that happened. However, that's racing...
On to Miller Motorsports Park in Toole, Utah.

















Tuesday, August 5, 2014

2014 PWC Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course


It was GREAT to fly into Columbus, Ohio, home of The Ohio State Buckeyes and see the colors scarlet and grey e everywhere. What a weekend it was at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Thursday was a promoter test day for all teams which gave us 2 extra practices. I missed the first half of the first session because of electrical problems with my car. Just as we were about to pull out of the paddock and head to grid, the mechanics popped the hood and started cranking wrenches to replace a failed alternator. With about 15 minutes left, I left pit entry and headed down to Turn 2. It was a challenging remaining couple minutes as I tried to get my tire temps up, avoid GT cars at almost race pace, learn the track and also figure out how my car is handling and recommend changes to my crew.


The afternoon session was much better and my confidence grew with each lap. I was able to take the car deeper into turns, it was biting more, but the back end was still a bit loose. After a red flag (due to a couple cars that had spun off the track) and with 10 minutes left, I decided to go 85% since the car was oversteering pretty easy and focus on my entry and exit lines. Coming out of Turn 8 and into 9 the back end still kicked out. I caught it, got the car straight and tried to slow it, but the left 2 wheels were in the grass. I went straight off, through a gravel pit that is supposed to slow me down and kissed the tire wall bending a front  left side “A” arm. I couldn’t believe it. To calm down, I walked back to the paddock from the opposite side of the track.

The crew wasted no time at all, replacing the couple parts and getting the car back in amazing shape. We were all set and ready for the Official SCCA practice on Friday afternoon when the electrical problems arose again, this time shutting off the car. After we replaced the battery, a new alternator, a new starter, rechecked the fuses and more. I got back on track able to get some more laps in.

Saturday morning, qualifying. I enjoy qualifying. There are fewer cars on the track, we are all relatively the same speed so you don’t have to worry about the incredible closing speeds of GT cars and you let it all hang out. We have 15 to 20 minutes to put the fastest lap time we can down. I usually get that time the later we go in the session. I find my rhythm, the tires are at their best and traffic has usually dissipated enough where you can be unaffected by anyone else. About half way through a red flag was thrown because a faster Aston Martin V8 literally rode up the back and over a slower Nissan 370Z. After the mess was cleaned up, we went back out to finish up and I was on my fastest lap yet by 1.5 seconds when I came into the Carousel and found fluids left behind by the Subaru WRX’s engine after it let go. It spun me backwards and into the grass on the outside. Luckily I was able to get the car stopped before it got near the wall. Unluckily it had me sitting right in front of a wave of cars that were speeding my direction! I had to shut my car down and then turn it back on to restart it as other race cars were losing grip then sliding by either side of me into the grass. I thought for sure I was going to get smacked. I was highly annoyed that my posted qualifying lap used, wasn’t my fastest I could have had. But, that's racing.

Saturday, race day! The cars were prepped and ready to go! Fans filled the stands and the announcers voice was booming over the loud speakers. Time to pull it all together for 50 minutes of “battle”. Formed up and rolling around the track on our parade lap I went to shift gears... and couldn’t! As the field made its way around the track I had to point cars by and hope i could make it back to the pits. I FINALLY forced it into 3rd gear and brought it around, informing my crew of the situation and to get ready for me. They jacked the car up, popped the hood, shut the car down, then restarted it. Somehow the shifter worked great. The green flag dropped, all the other cars took off and I exclaimed to let me go! The crew dropped the car, buttoned me up and I was gone. This could have very well been a blessing in disguise. As I raced to catch up, I noticed pieces and parts on the track. As I swerved to avoid them, I looked further up and saw Lamborghini on the side of the track stopped, a FSR in the grass and a Mustang stopped a little later.  Continuing, 2 more Mustangs were badly damaged and off the track. (Video showed the Lambo getting sideways and a flurry of GTS cars trying to avoid it. In the fray, they hit each other. Had I stayed on track and not pitted, I would have been right in the MIDDLE of the action). Needless to say, full course caution ensued.

Once we restarted, the race continued without a hitch as the clouds kept getting darker and closer. Heavy rain drops started falling and soon the track was soaked. The racing line immediately shifted and speeds slowed down as we were all on slicks. As minutes ticked by, more and more cars went off. The resulting carnage was incredible. Before long the Officials initiated Full Course caution and the speeds came to a crawl. Even at 5-10 miles an hour cars were sliding off the track. We had wakes coming off our wheels and in some corners puddles formed. I saw a Mustang send up a wave of water higher than his car when he drove through it! It turned into survival mode. Eventually the Series threw a Red Flag and we all lined up on the front straight. The remaining 8 minutes of the race ticked by, the rain maintained its steady down pour so the checkered flag was thrown. What a race...

Sunday! What wonderful conditions we had. Partly cloudy, sun beaming through and temps that were enjoyable to watch a race. Qualifying positions were based upon drivers fastest lap from the race the day before. Being consistent with the weekend, my cars electrical reared its head once more and kept shutting off the car when the battery level dropped too low so I had to keep the engines RPM’s up the whole time. I am going to need a new clutch...

We all took off when the starting lights went out and immediately there was some bumping and grinding in front of me. A stalled GT car forced traffic to the outside resulting in teammate Andy Lee off to the right and grazing a wall. He drove through braking markers placed on the ground sending them flying in the air for us behind him to avoid. Recalling the destruction that happened during the beginning of Race #1, I decided to give the FSR, BMW, and Aston Martin V8 in front of me some breathing room as they traded paint all the way down to Turn 4. I was behind the FSR and knew that he was going to lose the battle if “weight” became an issue. Last thing I wanted was to T-bone him when he lost and ruin my race.


Unfortunately, giving that space enable a couple cars to pass me in the Turn. However, in the long run it helped me because 2 of the 3 cars banging each other didn’t finish, I ended up passing some that did, and my car didn’t have a scratch on it. I got into an enjoyable back and forth with a Nisan 370Z as I was on his bumper for several laps putting pressure on him. I reeled him in lap after lap until his back and my front bumper were almost touching. Then a wave of GT cars came by, spaced us out again, so I had to reel him in again. Not long after I made my way around him and pulled away to go chase down a Mustang.

Before long a full course caution was waved and we all packed up. This was good because they guy I had to hunt down was right in front of me. Bad, because now I was right in front of the guy chasing me. With 2 laps left the Mustang behind me passed me in a turn. I was annoyed with myself for not defending my line better.

Lots was learned this weekend and what a weekend it was. As important is that the cars is in one piece and headed back to the West Coast. Time to take it back to the shop and sort out the electrical issue. I can’t wait to go to Sonoma!

Monday, July 21, 2014

2014 Pirelli World Challenge Streets of Toronto


Pirelli World Challenge racing had its last street race of the season in Toronto!

Coming down the front straight there is a beautiful mixture of modern and classic design. The modern European architecture of the Direct Energy Convention Center catches your eye as you look down the front straight. Then, just before the entrance into  Turn 1, a tall ornate cement arch structure greets you with an angelic statue figurine on top. This stretch of asphalt is my favorite part of the street course.

I LOVE street races. The large number of fans, the energy, the vibe, the tall skyscrapers peering down on the track as our cars horsepower echoes through the city streets. There is nothing like it. The flip side to that coin is constantly changing track surfaces, sealant, street crowns, cement walls on either side and bumpy roads. The worst conditions for a race track. If the driver isn’t careful, and as Race 1 showed, this track can eat cars.

Race 1 had teammate Andy Lee in his #20 Camaro sitting P4 place while I qualified P14 in #40. On the start the GT and GTS field raced towards Turn 1 where the entrance is 54 feet wide... and the exit is 27. Immediately 2 GT Audi’s hit each other, spinning 1 of them and a traffic jam ensued. Lee, who had a great start jumping up to P1 hit the brakes, but ran out of real estate. His front left hit the tail end of a GT Viper and damaged it. He was able to limp to Turn 5 before the car just had enough. It was mayhem as all cars tried to stop in enough time but couldn’t. Two Aston Martins were damaged, Audi R8’s had carbon fiber smashed in, a KIA was sidelined, and a couple Mustangs pulled into the run off areas. Immediately we were under yellow. With my teammate out of the race, it was my job to get it done.
After the clean up, we were under green again and things were going smooth. I felt comfortable in the car, my lap times were consistent, I just had to keep it clean. Eleven laps in a GT3 SLS found its way behind me, a car not in my class. Knowing it would be extremely difficult to pass through turns 4, 5, and 6, as we raced towards 7 I pulled to the side to let him by, he didn’t take it. Now he was going to stuck behind me through the quick and tight turns of 8, 9, 10, and 11. Eleven leads to the front straight so I kept it wide right on the exit to give him the track and get by me.

Staying full throttle he roared passed me, and I steered my car back to the left side of the track to set up for the right hand Turn 1. To my surprise, when my car got behind the GT3 SLS, I saw his brake lights light up. I slammed on my Camaro’s brakes and veered to the left since the momentum of my car was already headed that way. There was no way I was going to stop in time so my plan was to scrape by his left between him and the wall. However, that plan didn’t include the GT3 car steering left right into my lane taking away my road before me. My Camaro got crunched between the wall and him, blowing both front tires and destroying both wheels as the car skidded to a stop in a straight line in the run off area underneath the arches. I was ...furious.

Rethinking the event in my head I thought I blew my braking marker. I didn’t really know why it all happened. After reviewing the on board video the GT3 car, with much better brakes and aero package, went to the brakes 133 feet earlier than I do in my car and at least 200 feet earlier than any other GT3 car did. It was completely unexpected and for no reason with only us in the vicinity. Race #1 sent both cars back to the paddock beaten and bruised.


Race #2 was a new day. With Lee not being able to put a full lap in the day before, he had to start near the back with all the other crashed out cars from Race #1 and I started mid pack after my incident. The starter lights went out and we were green! We thundered down the cement canyon and all went smoothly. The Camaro’s have been battling a power issue this season with the series lobbying to get us a smaller size restrictor. Repeatedly we have watched Mustangs and KIA’s pull away from us on straights when we are flat out. I got behind a Mustang early and reeled him in through the turns, then watched as he pulled away on the straights. The whole race was this yo-yo event. Continuing to hit my marks and put pressure on him, he eventually slipped up and I was able to get around him.

The car came in clean, undamaged and good drivers points were earned. Now back to the United States and Mid-Ohio to begin a stretch of running on road courses.


Monday, June 23, 2014

USS IOWA BB61

















On June 21, 2014 the Frog-X Parachute Team, sponsored by Shadow Works,  jumped into the USS Iowa's parking lot in the port of Los Angeles, California. From 5,000 feet above the ground, 5 jumpers exited a Cessna 206 and descended upon the VETNET Working Wardrobes Charity Dinner, hosted by Harry and Catherine Humphries.

 Jumpers JC Ledbetter (former SWCC) and Keith Pritchett (SEAL) performed a dynamic water landing into LA's harbor, feet from the watching crowd. Shortly after, landing along side the ship in the parking lot of Pier 2, Jumpers Nix White (former SEAL) flew in an 1100 sq. ft. American Flag, Marc Hogue (former Marine Force Recon) flew the VETNET Banner, and Larry Barbiero (former SEAL) flew in the "Support our Troops" banner.

See the video at http://youtu.be/G1YU5wurIG4