Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

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GarySheehan
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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:56 pm

Ecmslee wrote:Gary, these questions are about your own personal cars-
What was the first car that you bought and what car(s) do you have in your garage right now? Also, what qualities did these cars have that helped you make your decision to purchase them?


My first car, ever, was a 1982 Toyota Starlet. 1.3 liter four cylinder engine, 4 speed manual, front engine rear wheel drive with 58hp & 67ft-lb of torque. Coolest feature...manual choke!!! That car was awesome! It was light weight, handled pretty well despite its bicycle tires, the RWD was awesome to learn/drive in the snow, and it got 40mpg. I miss it!

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My next car was a 1986 Hyundai Excel. 1.5 liter 4 cylinder enginer, 5 speed manual, front wheel drive & 68hp engine. It was a college commuter car. The best things about that car where the Yokohama high performance tires I put on and the SoundStream receiver I installed. Everything else sucked!

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After I graduated from college, I wanted something a bit nicer. I found several dealer holdback Toyota MR2's that had been sitting on the lot for a couple of years. These were the 1989 models when the newer design 1991 models were being sold. I got one for a ridiculously low price.

Compared to the Hyundai, this car was a dream. 1.6 liter 4 cylinder, 5 speed manual, mid-engine, rear wheel drive 115hp! Wahoo!!!! The sound of that little motor revving to redline behind my head was wicked! Such a cool little car. I got into a lot of trouble in Texas with this thing. It handled very well, was light and tossable, the interior was pretty cool. Just a great little car all around. Maybe my favorite car ever.

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After owning the MR2 for 5 years I wanted something new. Decided to get a Mazda Miata. These cars were cleaning up in SCCA Showroom stock, every magazine in the world was talking about how amazing it was, and I just had to have one. I bought a 1996 Black B-package. 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine, 131 hp, 5 speed, front engine RWD. What else can I say? This car was every bit as good as everyone was raving about. I still love this car.

I was living in San Francisco at the time and was parking the Miata in the apartment garage and had the MR2 on the street. I had to move the MR2 every week because of street cleaning. If I forgot, I got a ticket. I forgot a lot. I'd show up a day later to move my car and there would be a ticket. I got a lot of tickets. I mean A LOT. At one point I left the car at work in Pleasanton for several months. When I left the company, I had to bring the car back to the city. There was a stretch for about 3 weeks that I completely forgot about the car. Once I remembered, I panicked and went running out to the street I was parked on to see how many tickets were on it. It wasn't there. I looked on all the surrounding streets, because I parked it everywhere, and it wasn't anywhere. It was gone. I didn't know if it was towed or stolen. All I knew was that I owed more in parking tickets than the car was worth. The car still had Texas plates even though I'd lived in California for a few years, so no one ever contacted me about the car. So that's the story about HOW I LOST MY CAR! I haven't seen or heard from it since! Anyway, I got sidetracked :)

The Miata was awesome. I put a Spec Miata suspension on it for street driving. I also installed a Hard-Dog Hard-Core roll bar in it, Racing Beat swaybars, a Baer big brake kit, Dunlop S9000 tires and took it to the track. Here's me going into Turn 2 at Laguna Seca...

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The first time I met my would be wife, I walked her to her car after our first date. She stopped at a red 1991 Miata. I couldn't believe it. We both drove 5 speed Miatas. At that point I knew she was something special! Years later, after we were married, she would GIVE me the beat to crap red Miata. It is now very much most of the way turned into one of the cleanest Spec Miata racecars around. I imagine it will be on track later this year.


So, while I had the Miata, the Subaru racing sponsorship came in and I need a truck to haul a trailer around with. Got a 1994 Ford F350 crew cab turbo diesel dually. 7.3 liter 8 cylinder with an automatic E4OD trans. Not much else to say. Big a$$ truck. Fun to sit so high up and look down on all the little people. It was fairly nice inside. Crappy fuel mileage!

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Next was the wife's Lexus RX300. Needed a car for the kids that were on the way. Bought it used Lexus certified for a steal and it's been great. Good people mover. Nice inside. Great build quality and comfy. Still looks great. 3 liter V-6 with 219 hp and 4 speed auto. Fun to drive the family around in.

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Needed to upgrade the truck to something with more power and better fuel economy. That's where the big Chevy 3500 turbo-diesel crew cab dually comes into play :) Now this is a truck!!! 6.6 liter, V-8 turbo, 6 speed manual with 300hp and 520ft-lbs of torque. The truck now has a shell on the bed as well. This thing can pull a trailer!

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I finally retired my 1996 Miata a few years ago and replaced it with another car I've dreamed of. I now drive a 1996 BMW M3. The old E36 model. This is still an amazing car to me. It's looks are ageless, it still has impressive performance by today's standards, it handles amazingly well and has a great interior. The M3 is very sporty from the factory and I've been so impressed with it, I haven't changed a thing. It's perfect for me. Great torque, very solid braking, nice balance on throttle in the corners. You can find VERY well preserved versions of these for $15,000. It's a no-brainer to me. 3.2 liter 6-inline with 240hp and a nice 5 speed transmission. I love everything this car does.

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Whew! Those are/were my cars. Much longer post than I had intended!

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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby Ecmslee » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:52 am

Wow, thanks for the detailed answer! People can really tell a lot about themselves through the cars they've owned.

PS: Forgive me for I just have to throw this out there- HAH! Whoever thinks that a Miata is only a girl car (a friend uses a less polite term which I will refrain from using here) obviously has never driven one and felt how much of a blast it is! Apparently its also a good way to find Mr./Miss Right. :wink:

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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:34 pm

Ecmslee wrote:Wow, thanks for the detailed answer! People can really tell a lot about themselves through the cars they've owned.

PS: Forgive me for I just have to throw this out there- HAH! Whoever thinks that a Miata is only a girl car (a friend uses a less polite term which I will refrain from using here) obviously has never driven one and felt how much of a blast it is! Apparently its also a good way to find Mr./Miss Right. :wink:

Show her this... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvNylkt0uvc

Ask her if that's what she meant by a girl car.

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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby Nychold » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:21 pm

GarySheehan wrote:
Ecmslee wrote:Wow, thanks for the detailed answer! People can really tell a lot about themselves through the cars they've owned.

PS: Forgive me for I just have to throw this out there- HAH! Whoever thinks that a Miata is only a girl car (a friend uses a less polite term which I will refrain from using here) obviously has never driven one and felt how much of a blast it is! Apparently its also a good way to find Mr./Miss Right. :wink:

Show her this... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvNylkt0uvc

Ask her if that's what she meant by a girl car.


Well, to me, it is and always will be a "chick" car. That's not necessarily a bad thing either...so is the tC. I've always defined a chick car as more show, less go. Sort of like a woman getting ready to go out to eat. :lol:

Anyway, back to actual questions here... What would you say was the most rewarding part of becoming a professional driver? The part that, if it didn't work out, you'd look back and say "well that was worth it!"
Watercolor: I'm a grade A bone sucker!
Me: :shock: :) :D :twisted:

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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby TeeKay » Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:23 pm

Gary, thanks for the detailed answer. Nice collection of cars.

I currently drive a '95 Miata (1.8L baby!) as well as an M3. Perfect combo, in my opinion.
128hp - 5sp - 3 pedals
333hp - 6sp - 2.5 pedals
0.5hp - 8sp - 2 pedals
0.5hp - 1sp - 2 pedals

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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:00 pm

Nychold wrote:Well, to me, it is and always will be a "chick" car. That's not necessarily a bad thing either...so is the tC. I've always defined a chick car as more show, less go. Sort of like a woman getting ready to go out to eat. :lol:

Well, if your only perception of "go" is straight line acceleration (like most overtestosteroned American males), then you'd be correct. If your perception of performance included cornering and braking capability, you'd see the Miata as a lot more than you currently do.

You show your lack of understanding when you compare the Scion tC with a Mazda Miata. Granted, they are both good looking small cars, but they are drastically different in their execution. A front engine, front wheel drive, four passenger, strut suspension car with a 60/40 weight distribution is quite a bit different than a front engine, rear wheel drive, 2 seater, unequal A-arm suspension, LSD equipped car with a 50/50 weight distribution. There is a reason that the Miata kicks the crap out of nearly everything on the autocross course.
Last edited by GarySheehan on Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby GarySheehan » Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:05 pm

Nychold wrote:What would you say was the most rewarding part of becoming a professional driver? The part that, if it didn't work out, you'd look back and say "well that was worth it!"


The most rewarding part for me is to compete against other talented race car drivers and perform well against them or beat them. Racing is always something I have wanted to do and I enjoy doing it. Winning validates all the effort I've put into it.

The reason I got a university degree was to have a career to support myself in the event that I couldn't pay my bills with racing. This way, it's not an all or nothing situation for me.

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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby ra64t » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:06 pm

don't see a restriction on asking more then one question so...

who is your favorite racecar dirver? who do you think is the best?
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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby NjSi » Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:09 am

Gary, If not subaru...what car company would you rather race..and what class?
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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby padauk_dust » Fri Apr 25, 2008 1:41 am

Thanks for taking the time to do this Gary; I am enjoying reading what you have to say.

If you had the opportunity to own any vehicle, restrictions (vehicle rarity, monetary etc.) aside, what would it/they be and for what reason/s?
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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby NoirX252 » Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:14 pm

Gary, as a racecar driver, do you make hard solid reference points around the track as you race, like, VERY precise dots/lines whatever on like... a crack of pavement or so

OR, do you imagine your car doing everything front of you aka hard visualization focus

Or do you just focus hard naturally and just feel the car and brake from your visual input and feel, but don't make any hard and fast rules and don't make solid reference points?

(weird question... haha I know)

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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby duong » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:38 pm

Are you related to Michael Sheehan the Ferrari specialist?

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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby padauk_dust » Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:48 am

What is happening in your mind while you are on the track, if anything, and if it can be conveyed in written language.
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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby Perpetuus » Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:21 am

Gary, what advice do you have for a soon-to-be Mechanical Engineer interested in a job in automobile engineering (especially chassis engineering)? I have no problem finding a job at Honda or other car companies, but all of them are automotive manufacturing jobs, where everything has already been designed and engineered beforehand. Having worked three months in manufacturing, I have to say that I hate working in a factory. What are some of the things that I can do to prep myself for an automobile engineering job, and where are some great places to start looking?
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Re: Question and Answer Session with Race Driver Gary Sheehan

Postby hockeystyx16 » Thu May 01, 2008 1:36 pm

kind of a lame quiestion, but i see it all the time in open wheel. why do the drivers tilt their head into the turn? i doubt its for better weight distibution, a head doesnt weigh that much, and i tried tilting my head into a turn and it just disoriented me a little bit
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