I still had my race wheels on a day later, so this is what it looks like in race form without magnets.

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.

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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.

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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.

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And there were several C5 Z06's there for me to drool over.