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Monday, November 9, 2015

Univ. Of Oklahoma Military Appreciation Day Halftime Jump

On November 7th, the Shadow Works Air Assault Team participated in the University of Oklahoma's Military Appreciation Day halftime show!
LINK TO A VIDEO OF THE JUMP: Univ. of Oklahoma & the Shadow Works Air Assault Team
The night sky was clear, there was a slight chill in the air, but on the field the Sooners were battling it out with the Iowa State Cyclones. As the 2nd quarter was nearing the end, the Air Assault Team was circling overheard 5,000 feet above Gaylord Memorial Stadium waiting for their cue to jump.
As the band began to play and the half time clock ticked backwards, the Drop Zone Safety officer gave the team their time hack. The jump aircraft made one final pass, then straightened out on jump run flying right over top of the lit up stadium.
The packed stadiums attendance (85,595 people) watched the remarkable band perform on the field, as the jump team sneaked in overhead. Right on time the jumpers exited the aircraft and descended under the stadium lights "appearing" before the crowd during the bands patriotic performance.

As the 4 jumpers flew in, each proudly flew a flag in honor of the event. The first jumper displayed the University of Oklahoma flag, the second proudly flew the countries POW/ MIA flag, third was the Oklahoma State Flag and the last Shadow Works Air Assault Team member brought in our country's beautiful American Flag.

Thank you to the overwhelming support from the University of Oklahoma and a big BOOMER SOONER to their fans! All of your support of the men and women in the military is outstanding!


Friday, September 18, 2015

Laguna Seca - the 2015 PWC Finale

     The 2015 Pirelli World Challenge Season came to an end at the infamous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Nestled into the hills between the cities of Salinas and Monterey California, the track is known for its infamous Turn 8, "the Corkscrew".

     Coming off the recent double header in Sonoma, CA, little time was had to diagnose and fix the power train issue that snuck up on the #40 during the beginning of the 2nd race. With Labor Day weekend closing businesses, we were strapped for time between races. It was determined that the pressure plate had gone out and was the issue. Our amazing partner CenterForce Clutches, went above and beyond over the holiday weekend and ensured we had what we needed in time. I can't thank Will Baty and his team enough for coming through.
     Arrival to the track on Wednesday commenced and load in / set up was completed. The amazing and talented crew of David Stevens and Stefan Dwornik gave the car a once over making sure it was ready for the following day of testing. It had been 4 years since I raced this wonderful course and I was looking forward to getting back on track at speed in my Z28 Camaro.

     Five laps into testing, the car kept slipping out of gear and its power was horribly down. Finally, it wouldn't produce any drive to the rear wheels at all and I had to get towed back to the paddock. Once again Dave and Stefan descended on the car, pulled its transmission and found the problem. This time the transmission was failing and the fuel pump filter was clogged. The call was made to put in an older used clutch and transmission. They weren't the best for performance, but their strength and durability would definitely last the weekend. At this point, that is what I wanted. I didn't want to have an issue in the middle of the race and not be able to finish.
     Now that the car was put back together, we were finally able to stop worrying about fixing it and could start improving it to handle the dips, dives, and elevation changes of the track. With only one full practice session and a mere 15 minute trial before qualifying left, we had a lot of work to do to get the car up to speed. I sat down with Stefan and we looked at the data. We found where the biggest improvements to be gained were, and focused on them. We agreed to go out and I get a feel for the car's set up. I would radio in what the car was doing through the turns, come in after a hand full of laps, and make adjustments. We would do this as long as their was time left in the session. We had time for 2 changes.
     Saturday morning before qualifying, the sun rose and we went into the last 15 minute practice before a 10 minute break. Then we had to qualify. We consistently worked towards getting the car dialed in as best we could until the last minute. After practice was over, we changed to our qualifying tires in the pits and lined back up with the pack to throw down our flyer and get the best time possible. Time to let it all hang out.

     It was a qualifying session plague with problems. In the 30 minutes we had 2 red flags from broken or stalled cars on the track. It was a great example of the necessity to go out and throw down your best lap as fast as possible. I finally got my tires up to temperature and I was in the groove with some space to run. Then, as I was about to complete a full lap,an Audi TT was on a cool down lap driving on the racing line. I was on pace to beat my best time by 1.5 secs... it wouldn't happen.
     Race day. The finale of the 2015 season. Lining up on the grid during a standing start is a moment unlike any other. It reminds me of the moment just before the ramp comes down on either a C-130 or CH-46 in my previous line of work. Competitors, 20+, all want to be first. Everyone is fighting for the same real estate. 1000's of horsepower get unleashed in a matter of milli-seconds and ANYTHING, literally, can happen in a split second. This standing start was no different.
    The red lights went out and intensity levels spike. My Z28 is great off the line. The bottom end torque launches me past my competition consistently. I passed the car in front of me and noticed the officials IMMEDIATELY waving yellow flags. The sign that something is wrong. My foot is floored and my eyes scanned furiously trying to recognize what the impending problem ahead is. I have seen cars get "ping ponged" around trying to avoid others, and race cars slam incredibly hard into one another. Their race over less than 5 seconds after it started.

    I immediately notice one of the KIA's up ahead stalled. I check my options and start to pick my line to its left so i can avoid it. No sooner that I had picked it out of the traffic jam did it disappear. Freddie Hunt, the son of late James Hunt (1976 F1 World Champion), was piloting a Maserati and tried to get around a slower car in front of him. He veered left... and SLAMMED into the back of the stalled KIA. His brake lights illuminated the instant before impact. As I raced by I remember seeing black plastic from the front of the Maserati explode into the air, the back of the KIA get pushed up and then get spun around. I continued to fight for position as I raced by until the full course yellow came out. Never a dull moment.

     It took about 5 laps of full course caution to clean everything up. I have seen smaller wrecks take longer. At one point they had us drive through pit lane so our tires could avoid any sharp pieces while they cleaned. Luckily, that was the only problem the whole race.
     Overall, I moved up 2 spots during the race. I had great battles going on between some other drivers that I have gotten to know over the year and respect. The Z28 is an incredible platform. To get Shadow Works Racing to the next level, upgrades will be done over the off season. The year as a whole has been a roller coaster, but I am proud me and my team to made it through with all the uncertainty in the beginning of the year.

     A BIG thank you to ALL of my sponsors for helping me this year. Each of you are extremely important. Racing doesn't happen with out you and I look forward to working with you more next year. Thank you to my teammate Andy Lee, #20. What an incredible driver and person he is. Can't wait to do it again next year buddy! I would also like to thank JourneyBlueMedia for following the team this year and taking incredible action shots of the car and crew. Each weekend goes by so fast and you capture amazing moments that I look forward to seeing once it is all over. You have a great eye!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


After a shaky start to the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge race season between BestIT Racing and the Shadow Works Racing Team, Shadow Works Group did what their military roots has ingrained us to do. Adapt. Improvise. Over come.

With proper coordination, logistics and help from sponsors DR Horton and Buffalo Trace, the #40 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 is back out racing. Missing the middle portion of the race season, Canada, Elk Hart Lake, Mid-Ohio and Miller Utah, the team makes its return to legendary Sonoma Raceway.
Rejoining teammate #20 Andy Lee in the same paddock, the 2 yellow bodied, American Flag roofed Z28's received lots of smiles and thumbs up from fellow drivers and Pirelli World Challenge series staff. They were glad to have us together again.

The weekend's weather maintained its gorgeous NORCAL conditions. Cool mornings slowly turned into hot mid 80's afternoons; and the track responded. The weekend consisted of 2 official practices, a qualifying session and then 2 races. Saturdays race was a rolling start while Sundays was the exciting, fan favorite, standing start. 

After not having driven in a competitive atmosphere for nearly 3 months, the first few minutes of Practice 1 was spent bedding in a fresh set of brakes, as I "knocked some rust off " while behind the wheel. Karting is a great practice tool and a much cheaper resource, but when all the gear is on and you strap on a rolling cage, it is different. The more you race, the quicker the feeling comes back. I had raced Sonoma before and done my homework on the track, so by this point it was adjusting my notes to reflect the new gear ratio and engine of the Z28. 
#40's crew, Adam Leigh and Stefan Dwornik, looked after the car during the weekend. Being able to trust the crew and have them work smoothly makes things flow when things don't go your way. In racing, its a matter of when, not if.

Both practice sessions went well. In between them I was looking at video, talking to my teammate and asking him questions about the line, braking markers, or gears. We were pretty close with each other. I looked over the downloaded data with Stefan and we were able to determine to the foot where Andy and I differed. Stefan and I set goals before each time out and communicated over the radios about the cars handling when on the track. Time was spent before qualification visualizing all that we had talked about and where exactly I needed to put the car and have it pointed in and out of each turn.
Thirty minutes was the allotted time to qualify. It was the first time I had been on fresh tires with good grip. I knew I could throw the car into the corners faster than I had been doing at this point and I needed to shed time to be competitive. When it was over, 3 seconds disappeared and I knew there was more to be found.
Race 1's rolling start wasn't exactly picture perfect for anyone. As the parade lap was coming to a conclusion, the field realigned themselves and got in formation. When teammate #20 Andy Lee, pole sitter, took off so did everyone else. Except the race official in the crows nest didn't wave the green. He just shook his head. After rounding Turn 2 and heading into 3, the yellow lights on my dash lit up signaling a full course caution. I radioed to my crew asking what was happening, but they didn't understand either. A car in the back of the pack spun out on the parade lap and didn't get restarted of clear in time. The result, 2 parade laps. 

I was happy with Race 1's results, but not ecstatic. As the fuel was being swallowed up by the 7.0L V8 engine, diminishing the weight over the rear wheels and the wear making tires go away, the back end got light. Three quarters through the race I had to delay what felt like an eternity before I got back to power, otherwise I was putting on a drift show. Not good for road racing. I had moved up 6 spots with less then 10 minutes left. Heading down into Turn 9, the tight chicane. I hit my braking marker and braked like normal. However, this time the ABS kicked in and I wasn't able to slow the car down enough before going past my turn in point. Three cars on my tail got around me. I was not happy. Nonetheless, as the checkered flag waved, I was up 3 spots from when I started and the car was clean.
Sunday morning came quickly. I am amazed how these 4 day events fly by. Each second is packed and before you know it you are packing up to go home and planning for the next one. No issues presented themselves in or after Race 1, so basic maintenance was done to get the car ready for Race 2.
We lined up in the pits and headed on our parade lap to get in position on the front straight. As I went through Turn 2, 4, the carousel, and 7, I radioed in to the crew and told them 3rd gear felt funny. It took a while for power to come from the rear wheels. I equated it to the cold tires on the cold morning track and maybe they were slipping. But, I wasn't feeling any vibration from the back end at the same time... Stefan reassured me that might be part of it, but monitor it through the race.
I lined up in my grid position, concentrated on the light boards, then launched myself when they went out. Immediately I passed 2 cars and was gaining on a 3rd as we went up into Turn 2. I got right on the 3rds tail as we headed into Turn 4 and started to feel the car hesitate in delivering power. I barreled over the hill heading into the Carousel and again felt a delay in power as I neared the bottom. With cars around me and trying not to lose position, I assessed as best I could what the problem was. I round Turn 7, the hairpin, went back to gas and... nothing. The engine revved, but no power was produced.
I nursed the beast back to the pits. Both Andy's and my crew jumped on the car, flipping open the hood, jacking up the side of the car to see what they could underneath. In after giving it multiple attempts, it was deemed the clutch had gone out and needed to be re-shimmed
I was disappointed in the result, but not at my crew. There were no signs to let us know this was on its way out. They worked hard and I appreciate that immensely.
Now, eyes forward, sights set for Laguna Seca.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


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


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:

"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


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.