Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Not So Common

After much hemming and hawing, I finally decided to make the trek down to Danville, Virginia for the 20th anniversary of the Coventry Commonwealth Games of Virginia autocross being hosted by the Blue Ridge Region SCCA. Knowing how Friday traffic in the DC area can be, I decided to try to leave between noon and one. It still took me seven hours to get to the event site, though that included getting pulled over for my exhaust (though I got barely even a verbal warning, as the officer decided he wasn't going to push the issue with a Maryland vehicle, and in fact, only told me "Your exhaust is illegal in Virginia. Have a good day," and didn't even ask for my license or registration).

Saturday morning was more leisurely than I am used to, with registration check-in and tech ending at 9:30 and first car off around 10:30 or so. I walked the course once, and was fairly unhappy with the finish slalom that was the bare minimum in terms of space between the cones. I'd be even more unhappy with it later.

There were only about 65 people running the Saturday portion of the event, and with three run groups, things progressed very, very quickly, despite five runs. The first heat was primarily two-driver cars though, and that made things tricky as there was little-to-no time for car cool down. Even in the third run group, when I ran, there wasn't a lot of time to think about the course or converse with others about various elements.

My first run on Saturday was a respectable 42.7. I was near the top of second gear going into the turnaround at the far end, and just couldn't get the car slowed down. This was a problem throughout most of my runs. My next run I ran the same time to the tenth, and made pretty much the same mistakes. By the third run, I was backing off a tick sooner into that crossover, but still trying to get on the gas too soon coming through the turnaround. I did improve just over 0.2s on the third run, and the fourth run (which would prove to be my quickest for the day) was barely quicker than the third.

That fourth run was good for fifth fastest raw time of the day, and seventh on index. I wasn't particularly happy with that, and I knew what I needed to do on my last run -- most of which involved the turnaround at the far end, as well as the finish slalom, which was a horrible little rinky-dink element that upset cars into the finish more than slowing them down. I felt bad for the course workers in that section.

In any case, I did what I needed to do in the turnaround on my last run. I got the car hauled down from nearly 70mph to probably 25mph (off boost sigh), and eased into the gas coming out so that I wasn't getting the horrific push off the crowned runway. I was in an awesome rhythm coming back through the offsets towards the finish; right, left, righ.... crap. I realized later that the spacing of the two cars delineating the offsets was the same as the spacing of the finish slalom. I crushed the second and third cones of the slalom as I finished with a 46.5+2. Oh well.

We finished competition runs around 2:30, so there was time for fun runs. I really wanted to get into the 46s clean, so I decided to participate. For the first of the two that I took, I grabbed O'maley to ride with me (the fact that O'maley's my passenger should be warning enough for the language).

The second fun run was back to the 47.0 range, and the car was handling weird on that run, likely because the Hoosiers had finally exceeded their optimum temperature range.

Sunday morning, I was asked to come up with the run groups, since I'd inquired about having only two groups instead of three. Ten minutes later, I had pretty evenly divided up the groups so that two drivers cars would have time between drivers, and also so there would be plenty of workers. But, some people went and screwed up my work by still asking to run in the opposite group. So, the second group ended up about 30% larger than the first group. Oh well.

The course looked to be significantly faster on Sunday, and there were no ridiculously tight slaloms this time around. A crossover near the beginning of the course meant that there would be nearly a 30 second interval between cars, but considering the lethargy of some of the course workers, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

I'd only walked the course once, so when I pulled to the line for my first run, I was a bit perplexed. I couldn't exactly remember the course; I knew where it generally went, but as for specifics (offsets then slalom or vice versa?), I was lost. I nailed two cones on a decent enough run.

The second run was better, and dropped down to within a few tenths of FTD, at the time held by David Clemens in his XP Corvair. I took Tara on a ride on the third run, and managed to slow down. Then my fourth run, I just felt "on." There was just one problem -- a cone was out of place near the end of the course. I opted to not stop, and to instead try to give it the room I should (or even more room) so as not to have a rerun. That run would end up being FTD over Roger Garrett's ASP C6 Z06 by only 0.003s. Would the cone have made a difference? Possibly. Here are runs 2 and 4 for comparison.

My last run, I took Scott Hoffman for a ride, and like with the other ride alongs, the comment "this is not a DS WRX" was made. Nope, it's not a DS car any more.

Overall, I think I was third fastest for the weekend, and fourth on index. Dave O'maley took top PAX honors, and Roger Garrett had top raw time. Full results here.

So, I'm liking the improved throttle responsiveness from the dyno tuning. The car handled well on the gritty asphalt of the airport, but I'm wondering how it's going to behave on the concrete at Toledo this coming weekend. Depending on how the next few weekends go, this could be a major testing weekend for me, as I don't think I'm going to be able to get onto any more concrete before Nationals.

Next up? Getting sticker Hoosiers mounted up at IAG on Wednesday afternoon (and maybe taking the front swaybar off, since it's been disconnected for a month), and then it's off to Toledo for the ProSolo. My fingers are crossed.


  1. i love watching these vids! do more of them!

  2. I should have some after the Toledo ProSolo this weekend.