Snagged a couple good friends and went to Richmond Raceway for an AutoX session. I’ve owned the car for over 2 years so I was past due to start learning the limits of the car in a controlled environment. One friend brought along his Lotus Exige; the other his 5th Gen Camaro SS. Special thanks to the Camaro friend who brought his camera and took some excellent shots with a massive lens.
The autocross was setup in the infield of the racetrack — it was a pretty cool experience to stand in the middle and look up towards the stands, and later to hear the squealing tires and exhaust barks richochet around the stadium.
We decided to attend the practice day instead of the actual competition day— that meant “unlimited” runs. Each participant would also work a shift on the track either assisting with timing/starting gate, working to route traffic through the one-way tunnel, or picking up cones on the track.
The starting queue was pretty packed for most of the day, with most people staying through a solid 4 hours of driving.
I’m sure the first thing you’ll notice from that shot is the giant-looking X3 M4.0. That was fun to watch over the course of the day; definitely quick in a straight line and it looked like it was pretty composed and flat through most of the course. Not your Grandma’s station wagon...
There was a pretty good selection of cars otherwise; an Exocet kit car, M3s from three different generations, about a half-dozen Miatas, the E30 there with a built suspension along with a couple race-specced E36s, a Integra GSR, a couple RX8s, at least one Corvette, the last three generations of Z-cars were represented, along with a Maserati getting out of its comfort zone and a couple Golfs, one R and another GTI, and last but not least a plucky little stock Honda Fit. A nice eclectic mix for a day at the track. Funnily enough classic Fiat spiders came up, and it turned out at least two other attendees (both Miata owners, I believe) happened to own Fiat Spiders like I do!
The S2000 delivered everything I could have asked of the car over the course of the day. It was a pretty short course with nearly every car running under 30 seconds by the end of the day. I started out with a 28.202 and finished the day improving to a 25.884. My times pretty steadily decreased over the course of the day with the exception of a couple runs, including one where I spun (with a Miata driver riding passenger— the shame!) in the slalom section and ended up at 34.5.
I had a difficult time breaking the tires free on launches on the back half of the day. I was chirping them at launch early, but later it started delivering some weird behavior where the clutch seemed to slip at 4-6K until gripping; no problems with slipping otherwise once in gear. Apparently the heat of repeated launches can impact the clutch’s grip on launch; the generally accepted approach in the S2000 community seems to be 6K clutch drops, so I was likely not building up the revs quite enough. Hopefully I didn’t smoke a ton of life off the clutch disk! I’m already at 115K miles on the OEM clutch kit, so I’ll probably need a new one in the next 20K miles anyways. Some of the difficulty definitely came from the Pilot Sport 4S tires, which are grippy as hell and have pretty high limits for initially breaking traction.
Was I the fastest car out for the day? Far from it... the Exocet bottomed out in the low 21s I believe (I heard a 21.3) and the E30 from the first picture was down in the low 24s (24.3), the Golf R in the mid 24s, and several other cars looked very fast all day. The aforementioned vehicles were all running 200 TW tires, so I’m looking forward to seeing posted results in a couple of days to see how I stacked up against the other cars running street tires. Both of my friends had to settle for fewer runs than I got in, as Lotus had a doctors appointment back in the DC area, and Camaro took a brief break to grab some lunch, so there aren’t quite as many pictures of their cars. Both of their times were going down when they shut down; I was in a dead heat with Lotus when he left with both of our best times at 26.6 at the time, while Camaro got his time down into the 27s/8s after starting the day above 30.
Here’s some of the other shots my friend captured when he wasn’t driving: