TL;DR: Exocet fun on Saturday, STR NC gets the overall PAX win on Sunday, and my husband damn near catches up to me. Words and videos follow.
Saturday: I figured I’d be adventurous and throw the Exocet into an actual autocross event in the Kansas Region since it’s only about 90 minutes from home and I’m not actively competing for the STR championship there. Some recent fixes and improvements needed testing and I still wanted to gather more data about what to do with the suspension/alignment setup. Among those fixes/improvements were a stiffer set of redesigned engine mounts (from Goodwin Racing) and some changes to stop the front wheels from rubbing on the brake lines and the rear wheels from rubbing on the chassis. I also had to take the wing off to comply with D Modified class rules.
Long story short, it again was about as fast as my STR NC and more fun to drive, but very difficult to run at that pace. Turn-in wasn’t as sharp as I’d like, the rear was very eager to step out under acceleration and braking, and lateral grip was just okay. A large part of that is almost certainly attributable to the car needing a good amount more camber than the -1.5 deg. I currently have on it (like I hadn’t even knocked off the new tire “whiskers” on the inside corners). Some other research has also lead me to believe that the ride height is also probably too low and I need to mess with the rake a bit to get the roll center and other geometry in better shape. On the plus side, I do at least know now about where the coilover dampening adjustments should be.
The new engine mounts helped quite a bit, but as with most of my other changes so far, it too has cascaded into exposing more things in need of fixing or adjustment. Such is the nature of modifying cars. This time it’s stuff like hood clearance from the engine no longer sagging on older/softer OEM mounts and (I think) an unstable electrical ground related to the gauge cluster getting exacerbated by the added vibrations. At least the changes to stop the wheel rub worked out just fine.
In any case, fun was had and my overall finish put me in 37th PAX and 9th raw out of 57. Not great, but about what I expected with D Modified’s unforgiving PAX. I did a few fun runs afterwards and found more of both comfortability and time, but there was only so much that could be done for now.
Sunday: As usual with this venue, the course was simply reversed from Saturday. I originally wanted to try and run the Exocet on both days, but between my overnight storage plans falling through and those new problems arising, I didn’t want to push my luck. Out came the STR NC and I managed to drive it to my first-ever overall PAX win out of 52 drivers (also 3rd raw behind a two driver XP Miata). To be fair though, my usual STR rivals weren’t present, and neither was the multi-time national-champion-level driver who beasted his way into 1st by more than a full (PAX-adjusted) second on Saturday, but there was still plenty of fast company, and the victory came down to hundredths of a second.
As for my husband, he wanted to try working with a co-driver this season (since there was only so much I could help while driving a different car), so he teamed up with another regular attendee who started around the same time he did. The idea seems to have paid off, because the other guy spent most of the winter drilling on a decent simulator setup and was able to give him a healthy idea about what his FR-S (D Street w/ RE71Rs and front swaybar only) was capable of right away. This resulted in one run on Sunday that, if not for some slalom cone hits, would have earned him 2nd place in PAX. I knew he was a fast learner, but damn. Both wound up landing in the top 15 on both days.