A month ago was my first rallycross ever which you can read about here. I knew I would never do it if I kept putting it off. Eventually the girlfriend would want to settle down and have kids (ugh) and then I'd never find the time. So I promised myself I would make it through an entire season this year.
After smashing the o2 sensors and ripping the heat shield off my catalytic converter in the first event I realized I needed to make some changes. I replaced my stock catalytic converter with a high flow cat which relocated the O2 sensors to the side instead of straight up into the front axle and oil pan. Also I installed some strut spacers from the Focus forums to increase my ride height about an inch.
Probably the most helpful fix was I built a skid plate! Well actually I got some help from a co-worker who cut and bent a 1/4" aluminum plate to fit. Unfortunately we screwed up some of the measurements so the skid plate wouldn't quite clear the header. It was also the day before the race (funny how this always comes down to the last minute). As a temporary fix I cut out some wooden spacers and added those to the mounting points. Then rivnuts were installed into the frame and the skid plate easily bolted up.
The race is a few hours away so I stay at a hotel the night before. In the future, I plan on camping to save some money. So my buddy and I load up the car and it's off to western Maryland! (I love hatchbacks)
The event last month was in the low 30s with some snow in the afternoon. This weekend it was in the 80s! The venue is located in the mountains of western Maryland near Frostburg. It's a large gravel lot that used to be a giant parking lot for hundreds of FEMA trailers. The gravel also goes several feet deep. Some parts are more tightly packed than others but once you have 40-50 cars going through it all gets pretty loose. And badly rutted. As everyone who has done autocross and rallycross with their SCCA knows; when you aren't racing, you're working. I somehow was on rake duty for my corner which meant after each car passed I would run over and try to fill the ruts with gravel. Every once in a while corners would get so bad we'd have to get the Bobcat out to try and pave and pack the gravel down.
The car held up really well in the morning runs. The skid plate saved my life quite a bit; the ruts were so bad the car would get air in places and you could hear the car bottom out occasionally and slide on the plate. On my last run of the morning I actually smashed one of the wood spacers for my rear mounting point. However, it was still holding on fine so I left it alone for the afternoon runs. Next time I'll use hockey pucks.
For the SCCA rallycross events you're allowed to take on a passenger so I was giving rides to spectators all day. On my fourth run of the afternoon session a spectator wanted his girlfriend to ride with me. It was her first time ever at a racing event and she hadn't ridden with anyone ever. So naturally I try to impress her... and two corners into the run the car abruptly dies on me.
I safely pull off to the side and get the car started again but then it cuts off again after a few moments. I'm kind of freaking out wondering what's going on. I get a DNF for that run and I'm given 10 minutes to fix any problems before my next run or I'm done for the day. I look for CELs and nothing. Check fluids, obvious connections and everything looks fine. Start the car again and I notice the battery light is on then the car shuts off again. I take off the battery cover again and notice that one of the cables (not the main one) running to the positive battery has sheared off. The previous owner has done some strange stuff to the wiring in this car and those cables have been questionable for a while. Anyways, it's an easy fix and the car is running again. Also the girl isn't too scared and hops back in the car so she can finally have her rallycross experience.
I finish my last two runs and finish with my fastest time of the day by a couple seconds. I'm still new to this and getting a feel for racing the car so my times aren't consistent yet. It seems like I finally fix a lot of my problems and get everything together... and then the day is over. However, that's nothing more practice won't fix. I'm still much improved from the first event.
For the results, I'm STILL the only car in the Prepared FWD class. So I get first by default. However, I did come in second overall for all FWD cars even with the DNF penalty. I also only hit one cone which is an improvement over my 5 from last time.
Again, there were plenty of E30 BMWs and Subarus there. We really need some more FWD competition!
Please everyone get out and support your local SCCA chapter. Even if you aren't racing, at least spectate an event and ride with people. And here's some more pictures: