Saturday, June 27, 2009

Action Shots

I finally was able to upload the videos from the Ladies Challenge rounds at the 2009 DC ProSolo, despite the best attempts to thwart me by the shoddy Verizon DSL connection and the craptastic wireless router they provided.

These are not by best runs at all; my fastest times were achieved Sunday morning, moments before the rain started again, and ruined my try at a clean, green-light 29.9s on the right side. :(

Round One : Me versus Meredith Najewicz (L1-ST Honda Civic Si)

We were the last pairing, as I was the top qualifier, and for some reason, despite Meredith being the 5th place L1 trophy (ahead of Chris Peterson), they had her as the eighth qualifier (according to Howard Duncan, there is something a bit screwy with the seeding program, and he's looking into it). I was shaking from nerves at this point, and despite knowing I could go a second faster on the right side than my dial-in and class-winning times showed, I was still very tentative, especially with stone cold tires. I evidently hit a cone coming back through the crossover, on the right side, likely with the front of the car, judging from the video, and didn't realize it. I really botched the finish, as the car went into ice mode as I was trying to slow down at the end of the crossover, and it messed me up mentally for the finish, as I didn't trust the car to slow down. I'd never had ice mode on this car before.

Interlude between Rounds One and Two :

More of me swearing about the ice mode, and asking where the cone was. This is separate from the previous video because Pat was playing with the camera's remote.

Round Two : Blue Ridge Region FTW

I don't know why running against Tara Knoll always makes me more nervous than running against anyone else, but it does. So, Tara benefitted from a Denise Kugler red light in the first round, pitting me against yet another ST Civic Si. This was actually my best round, as it was relatively uneventful -- no cones for either of us, and I even managed a mini-breakout of 0.010.

Final Round : ProSolo Finale Redux

Carrie had won L1 with ever-increasingly quick runs in Jerry Enger's ES Toyota MR2, and when she drives well, she will put down times on par with the open class (kind of like myself). I was concerned in this round only because, as I pulled up on the left side, I noticed the CEL was on. It's something that will need to be looked out later.

Jerry told me that Carrie had broken out earlier in the Challenge, but the results sheet didn't show that, so I wonder if she broke out on one side, but not the other, or if the breakout wasn't put into the system. It ended up not mattering, as she pushed too hard into the left side crossover (the more difficult of the two crossovers, for sure), and coned. She said she DNFed, but that's not what was announced; so she took a red light on purpose, leaving me to my "victory lap." I really should look to see what I'm supposed to do if I'm in that situation again.

So, the car has been washed of the champagne, and divested of the trappings of an autocross car for the most part while I consider what to do next with it. It will most certainly be getting a tune when Jorge makes his monthly trip to IAG in July, but beyond that, it's up in the air.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Revenge of the Fallen

Last September, on a cloudy Saturday, the ProSolo Finale came to a close in Topeka, Kansas. The rain had stopped, the tires had been switched over to Hoosier A6s, and the Ladies Challenge Championship was on the line as Carrie Snyder and I pulled through the staging lanes. I'd secured the L1 class championship in the DS WRX -- most certainly with the help of AWD and Hoosier radial rain tires, but it's not like I jumped into the car for the event! -- and Carrie had just barely squeaked into the Challenge after her worst class finish all year. With the drying conditions, I'd dropped a bunch of time through the first two rounds (well, in one round, as I benefitted from a Connie Smith red-light), but Carrie had gotten to the final though top seed Annie Bauer's redlight, followed by Kristi Brown spinning. When we paired up, ES MR2 versus DS WRX, I had to give her a several second head start. There was little-to-no chance of me winning without her making a gigantic mistake, which she didn't.

Fast forward to Sunday's Challenges at the DC ProSolo. The top two seeds met in the final round -- L1 winner against the L2 winner -- and it was me (L2) and Carrie (L1) in the same cars as before. The only difference was that the WRX was now ESP, and so I'd be giving her a legitimate head start. I was the one who'd gotten lucky in an earlier round, carrying a cone on a win over Meredith Najewicz, but I'd still managed to break out ever-so-slightly when I took out Tara Knoll in the second round. Carrie hadn't exactly breezed to the final round, needing to get by Chris Peterson and Heather Everett. I knew I had a second of "sand" on the right-side course after posting a 29.9 there earlier in the day on a 0.464 redlight, so I wasn't too concerned.

We paired up to the sounds of Jeff Jacobs announcing the reprisal of the Finale. I turned on the CD, going for Paramore (Misery, Inc.) , and getting Against Me! (Thrash Unreal) instead. The video for this (hopefully I'll get it posted later today) is funny, as my launch is perfectly timed with the music. In any event, I had a good launch, though I was still more tentative on course than I should have been. I was really too worried about cones during the Challenge (and it didn't help me against Meredith, as I didn't know I'd coned until I came in and heard the announcement). I came across the line first -- no surprise, as the difference between courses was close to two seconds -- and I hear Carrie is nearly four seconds back, plus a cone! Wow, wasn't expecting that. So, I line up on the left, bring the revs up, her lights come dow-- redlight. What? I can't remember if I have to complete the course, as she pulls forward and around, so I just do a "victory lap."

Later, she tells me that she didn't just cone on the left, she DNFed, and she knew it. She redlit to "save timing the trouble of figuring out" she'd already lost. Wow. I was relieved though, as the CEL had come on before my runs, and I was happy to not have to push the car hard through the course one more time.

So, my first National event in the WRX was a resounding success! Additionally, MODE Racing is a new sponsor for the season, so things are looking up with the car. And now... it needs a bath. Champagne gets sticky and disgusting after a few hours!
photo by Marnie Soom