RaceSchool.com Podcast Josef Newgarden Interview

Josef Newgarden is a two-time NTT IndyCar Series Champion and a former Indy Lights Champion. He sat on the pole for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in September 2021 and finished second. This year (2022) he qualified second and won the race! After the post-race press conference I walked with him back towards the paddock to grab this interview. He talks about his Indy Lights experience here, his new crew for 2022 at Team Penske and how he thinks his win at Texas Motor Speedway will help him going into Indy. Newgarden is on a roll. Enjoy!

NOTE: By winning at Road America on June12th, Newgarden captured the $1 million PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge bonus. The Challenge rewards the first driver to win on all three types of circuits – oval, street and road tracks – in 2022. The $1 million is split, with $500,000 going to Team Penske and Newgarden and $500,000 donated to Newgarden’s two chosen charities - SeriousFun Children’s Network and Wags and Walks Nashville.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

 Newgarden wave crop

Josef Newgarden looks confident waving to the fans just before the start of the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Newgarden helmet

Newgarden attaches the HANS device straps to his helmet before getting into his Penske Chevrolet in Long Beach. Although the basic helmet design has remained the same, the colors have hanged during the 2022 season (as seen at Road America in June).

Newgarden helmet crop

Two-time NTT IndyCar Series Champion Josef Newgarden is aiming to add another star to his sleeve at the end of the year that would define him as a three-time champ.

Newgarden clip crop

Part of being fast is pushing the limits of adhesion. Coming into the pits during Friday practice, you can see where Newgarden scuffed the floor and white-walled his right-front tire on the unforgiving concrete barriers that line the Long Beach circuit.

Newgarden Bubba

A full crowd enjoys the action (and food and drink) while watching Josef Newgarden steer his way towards victory at the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Newgarden fountain crop

Newgarden pushes hard on his way to victory in the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Notice how his right rear tire (specifically) is shredding over the coarse pavement.

Newgarden hairpin

Newgarden enters the world famous hairpin (Turn 11) on Shoreline Drive in the city streets of Long Beach on his way to Victory Lane.

Newgarden win crop

Winning any race will always bring a shout for joy, but winning in Long Beach is even better for Newgarden especially after his Indy Lights experience here.

Interview and photos Copyright © by Larry Mason

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RaceSchool.com Video Blog/Podcast Ed Carpenter Interview

Ed Carpenter has enjoyed a lot of success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’s earned the pole position three times, had five front row starts in seven years, and his team placed three cars in the Firestone Fast 9 in 2019. He won the Indy Lights race at the Brickyard in 2003. Carpenter also has three wins at other tracks in the NTT IndyCar Series. He’s also led a race in 14 of the last 15 years. Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) always seems to have their cars dialed in to go fast at Indianapolis. Ed took time out of his busy schedule and joined us on a Zoom call interview to talk about what the April open test would mean to their team and how they approach the Speedway for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Without getting into trade secret details, he opens up about aerodynamics and other ways they prepare their cars for the challenge of going fast reliably at Indianapolis. Enjoy!

 

NOTE: It was announced soon after this interview was completed that Paretta Autosport with driver Simona de Silvestro have formed a technical alliance with Ed Carpenter Racing. ECR will supply a car and several crew members to augment Beth Paretta’s team from last year’s Indy 500. They tentatively have three races planned for this year starting in June. Additionally, ECR driver Rinus VeeKay, won the pole at Barber Motorsports Park and finished third. ECR driver Conor Daly qualified in the Firestone Fast Six at the Indianapolis road course two weeks before the “500” and finished fifth – good momentum leading into the “500.”

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Ed Carpenter Racing, Photo credit

Ed Carpenter shows off his new race suit before this year’s Indianapolis 500.

ECR DW12 Indy 500 2022

Ed Carpenter Racing, Photo credit

Carpenter’s Dallara Chevy is prepped and ready to go – fast!

ECR logo

Ed Carpenter Racing, Photo credit

Ed Carpenter Racing will be fielding three cars for the Indy 500 in 2022. Could this be the year that one of them visits Victory Circle?

 

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Pato O’Ward Interview

Pato O’Ward came into last year’s 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach with an outside chance to clinch the championship. After contact early that ultimately led to his car’s retirement; that put a sour note on the ending of an otherwise strong, two-race winning season. In fact, his race wins earned him a McLaren Formula One Team test during the off-season.  Leading into this year’s race, O’Ward had disappointing finishes on the street circuit in St. Pete and on the oval at Texas (where he had a fast car). He was hoping to have better luck here on this picturesque seaside street circuit where he receives a lot of fan support around the track (especially the Mexican fans). We spoke before the race weekend and he shared his thoughts on a number of subjects leading into this race (where he would end up finishing in fifth place). That was good momentum for him going into the remainder of the season. Enjoy!

 

NOTE: In the next race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, O’Ward would go on to make a decisive pass late in the race and take the victory. He’s now won on a street course, permanent road course and an oval. Keep your eyes on this young lion.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

2022 AGPLB Pato wave crop

Pato O’Ward waves to the crowd just minutes before the start of the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach where he qualified 11th and would go on to earn a top five finish.

 2022 AGPLB Pato cockpit crop

Pato O’Ward is on a mission this year to earn his first NTT IndyCar Series championship. After a rocky start to the season, things picked up in the right direction at Long Beach.

2022 AGPLB Pato Shoreline crop

Pato O’Ward rockets down Shoreline Drive early in the race. Notice how pristine and clean the car is. Later in the race the massive amount of rubber “marbles” on the track would take its toll on that clean car.

2022 AGPLB Pato T5 crop

O’Ward pushed hard in the race to earn his first top five finish of the year. Notice the rubber build up not only on the track but even on the body ramps in front of the rear tires.

2022 AGPLB Pato T10 crop

Late in the race, O’Ward’s still pushing hard to gain every position he can. Rubber tire marks makes for a filthy car, yet it always looks better when you have a strong finish.

 Interview and photos Copyright © by Larry Mason

 

 

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Indy Car Technology – One-on-One with Cara Adams, Chief Engineer for Bridgestone Americas Motorsports Part 2

Cara Adams is the chief engineer for Bridgestone Americas Motorsports. She and her team play a key role in the reliability and performance of the cars in the NTT IndyCar Series. In Part 1, Adams gives you her background and intro into racing and delves into some of the details about race tire construction including the mechanical and chemical aspects and how that changes depending upon tracks and car configuration. In Part 2, she discusses how Firestone communicates with teams during race weekends to maximize performance and what happens to the tires once they come off the cars and more. Enjoy!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

 

Cara Adams

Cara Adams is in her element on pit lane taking copious notes and communicating with the teams and media during race weekends.

tire depth hardness markings crop

The numbers on this Firestone tire indicate durometer readings (hardness) and depth measurements.

tire clean crop

Here a team member heats and scrapes a worn tire clean to enable him to get a more accurate tire depth measurement.

Photos by Larry Mason

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Indy Car Technology – The Driver’s Seat

Bead-seat-side-crop

If you’re sitting down reading this right now, how comfortable is the seat you’re on? How much did it cost? Was it designed exclusively for you? Would it protect you in the event of a sudden deceleration? Chances are, unless you’re sitting in a race car right now with a seat that has been formed around your body, the answers to all of the questions above are “so-so, less than $1,000, No and No.” Most mere mortals get along fine every day in any seat they sit in, however when it comes time to answer the demands of racing an Indy car, only the best will do. Here’s how seats are made and why it’s so important.

The process is time consuming, expensive and extremely critical for driver comfort, performance and safety. When the word comfort is mentioned, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can fall asleep in it. It’s more to the fact that there aren’t any protrusions that can cause discomfort or injury. Performance has to do with the fact that it places as large a surface area of the driver’s body in contact with the seat. It needs to be as form-fitting and as light as possible so that the driver can just focus on going fast. The old saying of feeling what the car is doing “by the seat of your pants” is quite relevant for a driver as they need to feel the yaw rate of the car to be able to apply proper steering, throttle and brake  inputs. The more surface area the driver has with the seat, the more he (or she) can feel what’s going on underneath them. George Klotz is the team director at AJ Foyt Racing and he described the seat making process this way. “We fly a guy in who’s a specialist in making seats. We get the driver in the car and make sure that all his pedals, steering wheel and cockpit are where he wants it.” Most NTT IndyCar Series teams use a seat kit from a company located near Indianapolis. The kit itself is only about $300.

“It’s a bag that’s about three feet by six feet long filled with little Styrofoam pellets. You take that and put it in the car, make sure that he’s kind of comfortable and they’ve got the beads where they want them. Then they lay it out on the floor, spread it out all evenly again. Then they fill it with epoxy and then they knead it like bread to make sure that all of the beads are covered. Put it back in the car and get the driver in there and then start moving around and moving the beads around to get everything right. It’s critical that we get the helmet within the legal limit. We try to get them as high as we can You can only get them within seven inches between the top of their helmet and the top of the roll hoop.” They like to get the drivers as high as possible so it’s easier for them to see. Aerodynamically, there’s not a lot of difference between a driver sitting lower or higher. Furthermore, they can sometimes use ballast to lower the center of gravity. “Make sure he’s dead centered with the centerline of the car. Once that’s all done and everyone’s happy the driver will sit there for about a half hour to an hour to let everything cure for a little bit.” There’s also a vacuum pump that’s been connected to the bag to remove excessive air and to make sure that the beads hold their shape with the bag. “Then we lift him straight out of the car and make sure he doesn’t disturb anything with the seat.  Let it sit overnight - you come in the next morning and everything’s hard. You get him back in the car and make sure everything’s okay and out he comes. Then it’s trimmed inside the car so we can actually get it out of the car.”

“Once it’s trimmed then we put gaffer’s tape over the top of it. The driver will typically run it for a couple of races to make sure he’s comfortable with it. Then we’ll send the seat out to a company that will digitize the seat.” At this point they’ll get one made out of lighter foam and they’ll save about three pounds doing that. “That’s a much more expensive process, probably double the cost, but to save three pounds it’s worth it. The driver ends up with two seats - a spare and a primary. The digitized seat ends up getting covered with Nomex® cloth.” 

There are two different companies involved with making the two seats.  “The original seat is just over $2000 and the digitized seat is just over $5000. It has better quality foam which is better for impact resistance and so on. It’s not only lighter, it’s safer. When drivers switch teams we all help each other out.” The teams will send their driver’s seats to the new team and that goes for steering wheels as well. “We’re just trying to help each other out and reduce costs.”

So there you have it. Don’t feel bad that your seat didn’t cost $5,000 and was custom made for you in a process that ended up taking days on end to produce, is fire resistant, and can help reduce the likelihood of an injury in case you smack the SAFER barrier at over 200mph. Just relax and know that the drivers who need it, have it!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

Bead seat George Klotz crop

AJ Foyt Racing Team Director George Klotz holds up an almost finished Indy car seat.

Bead seat top front cropBead seat side crop

The top and side of  the seat show holes for lap belts and will soon receive its Nomex fabric covering.

Bead seat gaff tape crop

The original seat is covered with gaffer’s tape and is installed in the Indy car. This is the seat that gets digitized to create the lighter seat that will then be covered with Nomex.

Photos by Larry Mason

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Katherine Legge Interview

photo by Brad Bernstein Katherine Legge enjoys a light moment with Larry Mason during their podcast for raceschool.com.

Katherine Legge (of England) is one of the fastest race car drivers around. She is also female (which is not the novelty that it used to be in the world of auto racing). We caught up with her in the morning before her IMSA WeatherTech GTD race at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach – a place where she earned her first North American win in her Toyota Atlantic Championship debut! She has competed worldwide in an extremely diverse range of racing cars including Indy cars, Formula E, NASCAR, DTM, the Delta Wing and many, many more. She has an extremely pleasant and humble personality outside the car which by no means diminishes her fierce determination to wring every last bit of performance out of any race car she steps into. Enjoy!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

Interview and photos by Larry Mason except as noted below:

photo by Brad Bernstein

photo by Brad Bernstein

Katherine Legge enjoys a light moment with Larry Mason during their podcast for raceschool.com.

Katherine Legge shares the driving duties with Hardpoint Team owner/driver Rob Ferriol in their Porsche GT3R IMSA GTD car.

Katherine Legge shares the driving duties with Hardpoint Team owner/driver Rob Ferriol in their Porsche GT3R IMSA GTD car.

Katherine Legge not only has to fight for position within the GTD class, but has to watch her mirrors for DPi prototypes. She’s shown here as the meat in a multi-class sandwich!

Katherine Legge not only has to fight for position within the GTD class, but has to watch her mirrors for DPi prototypes. She’s shown here as the meat in a multi-class sandwich!

This carbon fiber rear diffuser and tail section show off the hi-tech nature of the current IMSA GTD class.

This carbon fiber rear diffuser and tail section show off the hi-tech nature of the current IMSA GTD class.

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger – Juncos Hollinger Racing Interview

Ricardo Juncos came to the United States years ago as a go-kart mechanic. Living the American dream, he’s made it all the way to the NTT IndyCar Series as a team owner. This year Brad Hollinger came over from being a part-owner of the Williams Formula One team to join Juncos creating Juncos Hollinger Racing. Running the last three races of the 2021 season, the team will compete full time in 2022. They both spent some time talking about their partnership and plans for the future and why now is the right time to be in the NTT IndyCar Series. Incidentally, Ferrari F1 test driver Callum Ilott (who finished out the last three races of the 2021 season for JHR) was just announced as their driver for the 2022 season and he will be featured with his own interview in our next installment!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

Interview by Larry Mason

Photo credits below

Ricardo Juncos (L) and Brad Hollinger (R) have teamed up to form Juncos Hollinger Racing and will be contesting the entire NTT IndyCar Series season in 2022 with driver Callum Ilott.

PHOTO by Jose Mario Dias

Ricardo Juncos (L) and Brad Hollinger (R) have teamed up to form Juncos Hollinger Racing and will be contesting the entire NTT IndyCar Series season in 2022 with driver Callum Ilott.

It may be cold and snowy outside in Indianapolis in the winter time but the work is heating up inside to prepare for a full season in 2022. It also looks like they’ll have to change their external signage to add in “Hollinger.”

PHOTO courtesy Juncos Hollinger Racing

It may be cold and snowy outside in Indianapolis in the winter time but the work is heating up inside to prepare for a full season in 2022. It also looks like they’ll have to change their external signage to add in “Hollinger.”

A beautiful clean shop space with room for two transporters and plenty of bays to work on Indy Pro 2000, Indy Lights and IndyCar racing cars, Juncos Hollinger Racing has also prepped IMSA DPi cars here too.

PHOTO courtesy Juncos Hollinger Racing

A beautiful clean shop space with room for two transporters and plenty of bays to work on Indy Pro 2000, Indy Lights and IndyCar racing cars, Juncos Hollinger Racing has also prepped IMSA DPi cars here too.

Although there may not be a lot of people or work shown going on in this photo, this shop is about to get real busy for the coming season!

PHOTO courtesy Juncos Hollinger Racing

Although there may not be a lot of people or work shown going on in this photo, this shop is about to get real busy for the coming season!

 

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Colton Herta Interview

Colton Herta Turn 9

Fresh off of his win at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Colton Herta shares his insights heading into the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. His confidence was well founded as he won the race!

 

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

Colton Herta waves to the fans before the start of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. He might as well have been waving goodbye to the other 27 competitors as he stormed his way from 14th to 1st!

Colton Herta waves to the fans before the start of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. He might as well have been waving goodbye to the other 27 competitors as he stormed his way from 14th to 1st!

Herta pushing hard through Turn 9 extracting all the speed from his Andretti Autosport Dallara Honda.

Herta pushing hard through Turn 9 extracting all the speed from his Andretti Autosport Dallara Honda.

Herta’s rear wing is becoming a common sight to his competitors!

Herta’s rear wing is becoming a common sight to his competitors!

It wasn’t exactly a drive through the park for Herta. He started 14th and had contact with his teammate early on exiting the hairpin. However, he certainly made it look like a nice Sunday drive.

It wasn’t exactly a drive through the park for Herta. He started 14th and had contact with his teammate early on exiting the hairpin. However, he certainly made it look like a nice Sunday drive.

All photos and interview by Larry Mason.

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2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Review

Photo by Larry Mason Josef Newgarden leads Helio Castroneves, Felix Rosenqvist and Romain Grosjean down Shoreline drive at the start of the 46th Annual Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on their way to Turn One on the preferred inside line while Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud and a trailing James Hinchcliffe are hoping to make the outer line work into Turn 1. Photo: Larry Mason

 

The season finale started off sunny and warm for the first couple of days, but Sunday dawned cloudy, cool and stayed that way for the race. Colton Herta, fresh off his win one week ago at Laguna Seca was quickest in every practice session and the Sunday warm-up. He just missed the cut in qualifying and had to start 14th. The championship leader, Alex Palou, qualified 10th while his next closest rival in the points, Pato O’Ward, was penalized during qualifying for improving his time when a yellow flag flew for Will Power (who got sideways in Turn 9 and then pancaked the wall driver’s left on the exit). O’Ward was not happy since some other drivers also improved their times but didn’t lose their fastest laps. Josef Newgarden showed his intent on winning the race and championship by winning the pole position on Saturday.

WillPower Sideways T9 LBGP21

Will Power gets sideways big time in Turn 9 in qualifying right before he “pancakes” the wall with his left rear on the exit.

        The race started cleanly into Turn 1 (which is somewhat unusual for Long Beach) but it didn’t take long for Ed Jones to try an unlikely pass of James Hinchcliffe into the hairpin. He got inside Hinch but managed to punt and spin O’Ward out of the way. O’Ward was able to continue but rolled to a stop some laps later with what appeared to be a broken half-shaft or CV joint. 

Josef Newgarden T9 crop

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden flies over the curbing in Turn 9 on his way to pole position! Photo:Larry Mason

         Newgarden led for the first stint with Scott Dixon close behind. With different pit strategies, Helio Castroneves led the next stint followed closely by Graham Rahal. In the meantime, Colton Herta, who had climbed his right front tire over the back of his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay’s left rear tire carved his way through the field even though to go straight his hand position was turning right.

Herta LBGP 21 crop

Colton Herta leads Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon after last pit stop on his way to Victory Lane. Note that Herta is on primary “Blacks” while Newgarden and Dixon are on the alternate Firestone “Reds.” Photo: Larry Mason

        Simon Pagenaud, Felix Rosenqvist and Hinchcliffe all ran strongly in the Top 10 early, but the guy making methodical progress was Alex Palou. At the end of the day it was Herta on top followed by Newgarden and Dixon with Palou in fourth. A great day for Ganassi racing as Dixon was champ last year and the Astor Cup trophy stays with the team this year with Palou. By way of O’Ward’s problems, Newgarden vaulted to second in the championship and O’Ward dropped to third in the standings.

VC LBGP 21 crop

Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta and Scott Dixon hold their trophies high in Victory Circle! Photo: Larry Mason

 

Alex Palou the champ VC LGGP 21 crop

Alex Palou raises the Astor Challenge Cup Champion’s trophy and relishes the moment in IndyCar history! Photo: Larry Mason

        In the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race on Saturday, Cadillac brought home the win with Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani in the DPi category. Continuing with the General Motors success, Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy finished first for Corvette Racing in the GTLM category. Rounding out the winners in the GTD category were Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow in their Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.

 

Cadillac DPi T11

The Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi of Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr takes a tight line around the world famous hairpin turn en route to victory in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Larry Mason

        All-in-all a great race weekend and it won’t be long until the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach returns on April 8-10, 2022. Don’t miss it!

 

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

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© Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

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Back To School Track Day @ Big Willow

Photo by Larry Mason

     It was a great day on Saturday, September 4, 2021 when Fast Lane Racing School hosted a track day for former students, friends and family. Also included were racers from the Sports Car Club of America’s Cal Club region and from the Vintage Auto Racing Association. All those present got together to spend time pounding laps around the “Fastest Road in the West” – Willow Springs International Raceway. There were three run groups that comprised beginner/intermediate, advanced and an open wheel group that rotated every 20 minutes for their on-track sessions during the day. In between sessions, Fast Lane instructors were there to coach and encourage the participants in their quest for speed around the track. 

93Lola WIRPhoto by Larry Mason

      It certainly wasn’t your typical track day as the variety of cars was extensive combining high performance vehicles and open-wheel formula cars and open cockpit sports racing machines. Additionally, it also marked the debut of the Fast Lane Racing School Indy Lights race car on track. The Buick-powered 93 Lola chassis weighs about 1400 pounds and puts out approximately 425 HP! The straightaways get real short with a car like this! Just think, you could be driving this fantastic race car at a future Fast Lane school! 

WS2 2696 Sep0421 221PM CaliPhoto                           Photo by CaliPhotography

     The FSE LA group came out with their beautifully presented Formula 4 race cars and spent the day exciting the onlookers with such cool and fast race cars. There were numerous high performance and exotic cars on track including Ferrari, McLaren, BMW, Porsche and Lamborghini along with American muscle cars like Mustang, Corvette and even a Cobra Daytona coupe. Along with a couple of Fast Lane Pace Cars and Scion FRS Pro/Celebrity cars from the Grand Prix of Long Beach, everyone was able to get behind the wheel even if you didn’t drive a stick shift.

WS2 2945 Sep0421 247PM CaliPhoto                 Photo By CaliPhotography

     The morning started off with registration where everyone was treated to a free T-shirt commemorating the day, a lunch ticket, wristband and sticker denoting the run group. A driver’s meeting in front of the cafeteria followed going over procedures, flags and safety information. A free lunch was included in the price of admission and featured track day favorites like hot dogs and hamburgers, along with a trio of salads – potato, regular and fruit. Apple and peach cobbler for dessert made for some full bellies. A cooler filled with water and soft drinks helped wash everything down.

WS2 1290 Sep0421 1117AM CaliPhoto                 Photo By CaliPhotography

       The next Fast Lane Track Day is scheduled for October 31st on the “Streets of Willow” track just behind the big track. If it’s anything like the first one, this will definitely be a treat and not a trick. We look forward to seeing you there! For more information contact Fast Lane today!

 

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

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