2008.07.31

San Diego SCCA SCNAX autocross

The results are in. Good data all around and it looks like we have a nice rivalry between the Mazdaspeed 6 and the vr4.


Erik's thoughts regarding the practice and championship...

The championship course was roughly the same as the practice, but run backward with a change to the first slalom. This made the back section very fast, but it turned out to be just under the rev limiter, and had an uphill breaking section at the end that tested the anchoring of one's retinas.

Ian was in the first run group, and chose to run STU, meaning the cars he was up against had the same tires as him, but the added option of sway bars, lowering springs, intakes, exhaust systems, camber plates, and most importantly - wing and emblem removal/addition. He held his own for the first run or two and then got pushed to the back by some tuned up M3s. He was running about a second off the tuned Subies on a fifty second lap, so there's no shame in his fifth place finish in a totally under-built car.

I was working the first station during his group and got an up close view of some very tight competition. Apparently some of the drivers had enough control to 'nudge' the cones to the inside of the first apex without me noticing (a more experienced course worker alerted me to their shenanigans, and once I moved over to inspect more closely all the hijinks stopped, leading me to believe that they were intentionally bumping cones because they knew I - the nearest worker - was too far away to call them on it). Whatever the case, the caliber of driving was up a little from practice, as competitors only had four runs to put down a time and cones dislodged count against the time.

I only had one out-and-out cone to call the whole shift, and who was responsible? Who else?

Ian: Did you see where I hit a cone my last run? I don't know where it happened but they said plus one.

I was next to drive while Ian crewed for me over my break. A survey of the grid showed two other DSP drivers a Civic SI and a four door Integra. The Integra wore street tires and didn't look fantastic at yesterday's practice (it ran while I worked course), so I was mostly worried about the SI running the same tires I had. The first lap out I was careful to go through the slalom the wrong way (Ian and I had spent much time discussing it and at the moment of truth I suffered from 'analysis paralysis'). When times came in from the other two cars I saw I was mistaken and the Integra, on street tires, four doors and all was going to be my main challenger.

Ian was instrumental in keeping my tires at proper pressure, cooling off the intake and reminding me that I should go through the offset slalom the right way all of this allowed me to stay planted in the harness and keep my focus on the driving. I was happy to see my times improve steadily for the most part. The most intense point was finishing my last run (which did not improve on my penultimate fastest lap) and having to wait in the car staring at the clock for the Integra, who had been narrowing the gap all day, to finally finish his final. I kept a slight lead and since there were three cars in the class, I nabbed myself a trophy for the first place finish.

Ian had to work the third run group and I decided to go help him out when I got a call on the cell two minutes before the start

'So, what do I do with the radio?'

Competition being a little more controlled than practice, the radio is used to call in cone penalties, reruns, red flags, tech problems, safety issues, time-out for course repair and other necessary reporting.

With Ian practicing his radio speak (affirmative bandit, that's plus two cones on car five-ought-niner) and myself trying to translate the broken English of the other course workers in our section, we managed to make all the cone calls necessary (albeit way way late). There was a near-collision as the last few stations failed to red flag a speeding Corvette after an RX-7 suffered a spin-and-stall.

Overall the event went very smoothly and left a few lingering doubts, namely:

What class should Ian build for? The downside of buying the expensive performer is that the other car owners in the class have the money to tune them more than the average engineering student.

What happens if the Integra gets race tires? Does EA delve into the realm of power mods?

What class will CR build to? There is a lot of discussion here as he has already started down the path of modification against my better advice. Some of this can be estimated by factoring his times to mine (or Ian's) at the practice and seeing where it would land him in the other F-tuned groups if the same ratio applied to the I/E times from the event. Needless to say, there is no class where the three Falkens and one stretched Nankang will be the state of the competition (Ed: except F-stock which had no entrants), but practice handling the broken traction is applicable to sticky rubber, so it's all good fun now.
How many dates does CS have lined up with Corvette owners?

The results. And afterthoughts...