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 AMG Challenge 2006 - Homestead Miami Day 2

   2006 AMG Challenge Homestead Miami - Day 2

Click here for the 2006 AMG Challenge Homestead - Day 1



AMG Graduate Challenge Miami 2006

Dawn arrived bright and sunny on Saturday October 7th 2006, and the thunderstorm clouds of the previous Thursday were thankfully absent.

The loyal and faithful AMG fans gathered in the plush premium hospitality suite high above the Homestead Motorspeedway, and enjoyed a hearty breakfast. Tommy Kendall and several of the driving instructors took us through the days agenda and broke us into three groups of 18 drivers. Aussie Adam Clark would be the Team Leader for the Blue Team

Go Karts

Our first module was the go-kart track where we did qualifying runs to determine starting positions. A fellow poster, Daniel was the quick boy in our group, and I had to settle for second.

Fortunately we didn't have any 160# lightweights in our group and weight wasn't going to play as much of a factor as it often does in this type of event. Once again they inverted the field with the fastest qualifiers starting from the back of the grid. Adding to the drama, Adam Clarke,  multiple Australian karting champion joined the race starting in last position.

As expected there was a lot of argie-bargie in the first lap and I ended up being punted into the cones lodging several of them under my kart. Fortunately they restarted the race, and I was able to work my way to the front, only to be passed by the oh-so-smooth Clarkie. I ended up in second place. Unfortunately Daniel had a bad time of it - he ran the entire race with the choke on and never got up to speed.



Following the karting exercise we got to drive the SLK55s at speed on the same course. This was a total blast as we all tried to see if we could beat the times we laid down in the karts. The SLK55 is such a joy to pitch around the course, and it begs to be driven with the ESP off as it is so easy to set the rear and then drive it around on the throttle.


Individual Autocross

Today the pressure was off for me, as I had already won the IWC watch, and I knew I couldn't win it again, so I was out to have some fun and see if I could go just a bit faster. On the SLK55 course, which was the tighter of the two courses this day, I managed a quick lap of 25.51 seconds, quite a bit faster than most in our group. I wasn't sure it would hold up and I had been told that there was a really fast guy in one of the other groups.

Tommy Kendall once again put us all to shame laying down a quick lap of 25.2 seconds. In the picture to the right you can see the Tommy Kendall secret to going fast - just check out the insert picture!

And just to put us all to shame, Tommy Kendall took out the ML63 and laid down some helacious times. With 4 in the car he put down a 46.3 second lap, and then on his own he laid down an incredible lap of 45.993, which would have given him a prize for one of the quickest times of the day. This in a 4WD truck weighing more than 1,500 lbs more than the SLK55's.

On the longer autocross circuit we ran CLK63's. This is a big engine for this tight course and absolutely suits my style of driving. I was consistently faster than the other guys in our group eventually putting down a fast time of 40.2 seconds. But the best part of the day was when our accomplished instructor Adam Clarke cracked a time of 40.8 seconds - damn I was more than 1/2 a second faster on a 40 second course. And Clarkie is a multiple Australian national champ. So just to wind him up, I convinced him to try it again, and in true Mr. Competitive style, Adam overdrove the course, just like I thought he would, clicking off a pedestrian 41.3 seconds.

So now I can retire happy - last year at Homestead I drove faster times than our instructors Jeff Andretti and Linda Pobst, and now this year I clicked off a faster time than Adam Clark. You can get lucky every now and then but its tough to get luck all the time. This is telling me something for sure - gotta go out and try my hand on a race course for sure!

Open Lapping

To all the guys at Richard Petty Driving Experience - what an improvement Saturday's road course was compared to the one you set up on Thursday. I really enjoyed the layout - a combination of long straights, tight turns and double apex corners that made you think at least two corners ahead on the track.

Also having Adam as my right seater made a huge difference as he encouraged me to push my limits and offered valuable tips throughout the run - many thanks Adam - you really made this AMG experience one of my best. The video I have is great - many thanks


Open Lapping Video

Here's the cool video that AMG gives all challenge attendees at the end of each event - it shows you driving a version of the Homestead infield circuit, plus it has all the onboard data acquisition imprinted below the video showing

  • Speed

  • RPM

  • Gear

  • lateral and longitudinal G's

Video Hot Lap of Homestead in the AMG E55 camera car with onboard data acquisition - my instructor is Adam Clarke

Oval Track Racing

I loved this module - I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was such a great experience - unlike anything I had ever experienced. We ran CLS55's and SL65's.

While the power of the SL65's on the straights was awesome, the ABS was so intrusive in the corners that it ruined the experience.

In the CLS55's I was hitting 140mph in the straights, and entering the corners somewhere between 120-130mph dropping down to around 115mph. I know I could have gone a lot faster but if you are not used to the G-loads on that outside right tire that's just pushing its way up the bank towards the wall you will find it pretty hard to push it faster. More time on the oval is in order. It is a great feeling - that banking just holding you in place as you bomb around at speeds you wouldn't have expected.



Hot Lapping with Pro Drivers

Hell Yeah - oh what fun - getting to ride in the SLR's around the full road course. You should have seen the faces of the attendees as they got out of the McLaren SLR's - the grins were plastered on their faces from ear to ear. I snagged a ride with Tommie Kendall who was having a good dice every lap with Adam Clark. And our lap was no different. Tommie and Adam pitched the cars sideways and drifted out of every turn - 600 horses and 800lbsft of torque shredding tires and just laying rubber on all the exits.

Tommie and Adam are two of the greatest guys I have ever had the pleasure of driving with. What makes them so great to be around, (and incidentally what makes them so great for promoting the AMG brand) is that they operate just outside the box. Sure they take it seriously, and they play it safe, but they are not averse to ignoring the rules every now and then just to put a grin on the faces of the paying customers.

And if you think of the AMG buying public, most of them have achieved success by operating outside the box, and having fun with their cars is their special way to blow off steam, and enjoy the successes that they have achieved.


Chuck Hawks - Instructor

Prize Giving

Despite having won the watch on Thursday, and fully knowing that I could not win it again, I was still nevertheless keen to know how I had done. Well as it turns out my autocross time held up and I lucked out - by 1/1000's of a second. Second place finisher Tom Grant who had attended on Friday and made a last minute decision to sign up for the Saturday graduate program was the real winner - what a good decision it was as he walked away with the $6,600 IWC Ingeneur watch. Well done Tom - hope to meet up with you again someday soon.



To Rob Allen and the management team at AMG and MBUSA - thanks you for an awesome experience once again. The value of these events is immeasurable - we will all be talking about this for years after the excitement has faded. And as you can see, so many of the attendees are repeats - that will tell you that you are doing it right.

Tommie Kendall, Adam Clark and all the guys at RPDE  - many thanks for an awesome time. I know its gotta be tough to sit in that right seat, not knowing how has just climbed into the drivers seat beside you and not sure whether he has any clue or not. I respect you for what you do and for the enthusiasm you bring to the event - many thanks for a great time.


Danny Steyn

October 10th 2006


Rob Allen and A Few of our Brave and Trusting Instructors from RPDE

GUYS - please email me your names so I can add them to the Instructor Hall of Fame!


Mark Dailey

Tommie Kendal

Ricky Haynes

Don Crum

Tom Stocking

Terry Gilley

Brad Mark

Jeff Salter

Geoff Moller

Carolin Dura and MBUSA Events Organizer ....?

Sylvia Ponce

Mike Skeen

Jim Brownell

Mr Maybach!!!!


BLUE TEAM! A few of my new friends in Team Blue

GUYS - please email me your names so I can add them to the Blue Team Hall of Fame!

Tim Shook


Tim Moore


Jonathon Mestayer



Jonathon Mestayer

Alan Robson


And some pics of a rare car that few have ever seen

Mercedes Maybach Excelero




Click here for the AMG Challenge Homestead 2006 - Day 1






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