Today, I have a special treat -- a guest blog from Pat! He was toying with bringing his B13 Sentra SE-R out to Nationals this year, but pretty much gave up after the rain at the last DC Region event. He also owns "Barney," a 1982 Chevy Camaro Z28 that's won multiple ESP National Championships. He also has run a plethora of V8 powered machinery in F Stock, including my green Camaro, my black Camaro, and two vehicles he's since sold -- an LS1 Camaro Z28 and an F150 Lightning. At the last minute, he decided to come to Atlanta with me for Points 8, and, more importantly, he even drove the WRX. And, without further ado :
I hadn’t driven the car since one fun run last year when it was in D Stock. Having never driven it in ESP trim, I was trying to remember how I drove the STi I drove a couple years ago in the Subaru Challenge at Ripken Stadium, which was fairly stock with minor suspension stuff.
The course was kinda “meh” – really a point and shoot type of course with an opening slalom where the cones were offset the right way, a short straight, a 180, then a full throttle “straight” down the middle of the course, another 180, a big sweeper into a “bus stop” then another sweeper into the finish. I was hoping for some more offsets and/or slaloms to see how the car was in transitions.
My first run, I went out and hit a cone pretty good in the opening slalom. The time was a 44.4, which was announced as leading the Pro class, and then the announcer corrected himself after the cone call went up on the screen.
My next run felt pretty good but I hit two minor cones (unlike the major one on my first run). Raw time was a 44.7.
Karen told me after the first run that in the Pro class in Atlanta, only the first three runs count, so my third run would be it for the final standings. I did a Tin Cup-style lay up and backed off a bit to get a clean run in. Also didn’t help grinding the 1-2 shift. I ended up with a 45.374, which put me about a tenth behind Karen and 11th overall in the Pro class.
For my fourth run, Bill Bounds wanted to ride along since Joel Fehrman was selling “Stompy,” and he never got a chance to ride in or drive Stompy, and Karen’s car is probably a good clone of the car’s setup, albeit not an STi. I wanted to get a clean run in and at least backup the fast raw times. I was a little late with the throttle coming out of the first 180, then I pushed a little too much in the 180 after the long “straight.” I still ended up with a 44.7 which was clean and put me 7th overall in the overall PAX standings. Probably could have gotten a low 44 or high 43 without mistakes and without Bill in the car (although he probably weighs 0.9 DiSimos).
The car felt pretty good. It has some issues with wheel spin which you can really hear in my videos going across the brick section of the first-base side of the old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Karen has front and rear differentials on the way, which should help. But it didn't seem to push too bad in the sweepers, although the two tight 180s are where I had the most issues.
Now, there might be some ESP pony car drivers who say my finishing top 10 overall in PAX the first time really driving the car is a good indication that the car doesn’t belong in ESP. However, I could think of at least two times where I’ve driven a car the first time and finished top 10 in PAX: the Subaru Challenge in 2007 driving an under-prepared Street Mod WRX STi and last year driving John Crouse’s ESP Camaro at an Autocrossers, Inc., autocross at FedEx Field.