Well, the first autocross event for the Central Carolinas Region was on Saturday, and it was fun, but I’m shocked by how I forgot so many good habits. That said, the summary is that with my new rear sway bar and getting my act together before it was all over, I managed to get close to my competitor from last year, while recognizing that I have plenty to adjust in terms of technique and car set-up.
So, I got very little sleep on Friday, between randomly waking up and our dog deciding that something exciting was happening outside at 1:30 am (there wasn’t anything that we could see).
I got up at 4:30 in order to be on site at 6:15 to work having people sign waivers of liability as they came on site. This was worth it because it meant that I didn’t have to work at another point in the day. And apparently I wasn’t going to sleep in anyway.
It turned out that the benefit of getting the work assignment out of the way and possibly leaving early was lost because I was running in the third heat. With over 220 entrants, that meant a start time of about 1:30-2 pm. Since I couldn’t escape early, I volunteered to “instruct” novices in the second heat, when many of the normal instructors were running their own cars.
It was a lot of fun! Both novices asked good questions and I felt that I was able to convey a lot of useful information. My main goal was to keep them on course, and I offered what wisdom I thought I had. One was a definite natural, and the other did well. It also meant that I got to look at the course at speed 9 times before I ran, which should have been a big advantage.
As it turned out, I almost missed an element on my first run! Usually I’m extremely good at memorizing and visualizing a course.
Really, all of my fundamentals had disappeared over the winter. Even after talking about planning out how to look ahead when course walking with a consistently overall top finisher, I was not looking ahead at all. I MUST remember to look ahead. It wasn’t until my fourth (and final) run that I started to get back to basics correctly.
The first two runs I kept expecting the car to behave differently under brake due to the new rear sway bar, but I was all wrong on that. It does turn in quicker, but I had to go back to braking in a straight line instead of trail braking heavily into the corner (surprisingly, physics didn’t change, and I’m a dope). I also have figured out that I need to take an entirely different approach with tire pressures, with much lower pressures than I ran last year. This was particularly true with the cool weather.
I took video with my phone using the Track Addict app, and actually found it useful to review between runs, which I didn’t think was the case the few times I tried it last year. So, I’ll keep that up.
Ultimately I closed the gap with my competitor from last year, ending up less than a half second behind him on this occasion, with my best run being my final one, at 74.930. However, that was only good enough for 5th out of 6 in the GS class, with very skilled competitors coming from Raleigh to practice on site prior to the Match Tour being in Charlotte in a few weeks.
I was 4 seconds faster than the 6th place guy, and 3 seconds behind the class winner, who got a 71.873. Room for improvement, which I think is possible, especially if I remember good habits and settle on the best set-up for my car.
And there were several C5 Z06's there for me to drool over.