Posts tagged Racing

Yup. I totally did it again. (Thanks for the pic Lucas!)

PITL #8 – The Shootout

Whether I was prepared or not, the last event of the series was going to be one to remember. I was excited to see a long time friend, who was going to be in town on his eastern Canada/US trip. The last we saw each other, he was doing a similar trip about 5 years ago. And back then I happened to be doing the same thing when he was in Ontario. What are the odds! I was keen to show him how much faster I’ve gotten after 5 years of slalom experience.

Friend Lucas getting to experience the 240Z.

Friend Lucas getting to experience the 240Z.

Of course, there would also be the inevitable shootout. And before that, the knockout round. I’d be lying if I wasn’t apprehensive about it. Lots of pressure there. The entire day leading up to it was nerve wracking. But the minute it was time to make it count. It was business time.

Lets not get ahead of ourselves though. It was freeeeeezing. Super cold. We could all see our breaths in the morning. It really isn’t often that we race in these conditions. As a result, the tires limited traction in the lower temperatures was catching a number of people out. Always remember, rubber gets harder when it gets colder. Harder rubber means less grip! It was pretty amazing to watch cars on race compound tires spin their cold rubber off the line finding far less traction that normal.

Cold weather brings out the funny hats.

Cold weather brings out the funny hats.

Thankfully my street tires weren’t affected quite to that degree. But there was less grip than normal. I couldn’t really tell how much on the first run as my power steering belt popped off immediately during the first run. Thankfully I was able to get that back on with the help of some of my competitors. With that back on I went looking for time.

Yup. I totally did it again. (Thanks for the pic Lucas!)

Yup. I totally did it again. (Thanks for the pic Lucas!)

There were 4 FRS/BRZ drivers this event. And I was determined to beat every one. I pushed pretty hard trying to catch them. Unfortunately due to the threat of rain, we called the event early with two runs to go and moved to the shootout. This ended the fight prematurely with me just behind the fastest BRZ. Which happened to be on non-stock wider and stickier rubber. Chasing the BRZ meant I worked all the way up the fourth overall. Which is dang fast for a stock Miata.

I'm going to have to get used to fighting these cars.

I’m going to have to get used to fighting these cars.

But with that cut short, it was time to crown the overall champion. This year, even more drivers were in the running for overall. So once again, there needed to be a knockout round. Last year, we ran the course, and the 3 people closes to their fastest time without going faster moved on. Last year I moved on, but lost in the actual shootout. This year was a bit different. The organizers modified the course in a few places. And without being able to walk it again, we were told to go back out in our own cars. The two drivers who get closest to their original time, or improved the most, would move on to the shootout. I went first. And matched my time to the tenth of a second. On my second run, I actually improved by over a second! This was enough to put me into the lead and keep me there while everyone had their second runs.

Running to the stop box.

Running to the stop box.

There were some rumors throughout the day as to what the shootout car would be. A popular thought was that since we’re sponsored by Scion, we would get an FR-S to use as the shootout car. Much like last year, where our sponsor was Scion, and we were given a Scion tC to race.

However, that was not the case. Instead, for some reason, one of the competitors showed up in their winter car. A RWD E30 BMW 325. In all seasons. That would be our championship deciding chariot. It was red. I suppose that helps. It did have an LSD. And a manual transmission. And those things really help. I’ll be going into more detail into how it drove in the next post. SPOILER: It was so much fun.

I won the coin toss, and as per normal with the winner of the coin toss, I made the other guy go first. Unfortunately for him, he hit a pylon. My turn. No cone! Decent time to boot. My competitor, to his credit, was pushing pretty hard. But through one of the turns he went wide hitting a cone. Handing me the win. Woah! PITL drivers champion! The owner of the BMW was OK with me taking my second run. So I went for a victory lap in the BMW. Sideways.

Powersliding is the best!

Powersliding is the best!

After the weather turned sour, a bunch of us decided the perfect end to the event, was a random sushi buffet that was near by. Much fun.

Absolutely rad day. Got to hang out with an old friend, have a sweet battle with the FR-S/BRZs, and won the drivers championship. Fantastic! But to be honest, even losing is ridiculous amounts of fun. PITLers are the funnest dudes to race with. On to next season!


Link to video

To see all the runs I recorded that day (Including my shootout runs) head over here.

I even got some time to do some filming!

PITL #7 – A glimpse of the future of A-Stock.

With the release of the new FRS/BRZ, the future of PITL A-Stock will have some exciting new competition. My Miata and I have had it pretty much our own way in A-Stock class. I’ve been class champion the past 4 years and securing the 5th consecutive championship last event. With the new FRS/BRZ, things are about to change that. And at this event, I got my first chance to size them up. A BRZ on non-standard wider Toyo R1Rs would not be easy to beat.

Stiff competition.

Stiff competition.

Like the last event, things started wet. But unlike the last event, it didn’t last long. It dried out quite quickly. It did stay fairly cool. Hurting most of the cars on R-comp tires. The sun did warm the track up some. And the speeds gradually rose all day. It was interesting to see the cornering speeds slowly creep up. Eventually I was running out of revs in places where I didn’t in the morning.

Slideways is the best way.

Slideways is the best way.

I felt like I was hitting my marks. Slowly progressing through the day. The only thing that bothered me was that my car was frequently in between gears. Making it hard to choose when to upshift. There were numerous sections where I would run out of gear with a tight corner only a few feet away. So if I did snatch second… It wouldn’t last long at all.

Everyone was having fun! Even passengers!

Everyone was having fun! Even passengers!

I managed to chase the BRZ all day. Lopping a good chunk of time off on my last run. I could have gone a bit faster. But not the 0.500 second faster needed to trounce the BRZ. So I conceded the defeat that day. On the plus side, pushing that hard all day, my stock Miata beat all the modified Miatas and finished 4th overall! Big result!

I even got some time to do some filming!

I even got some time to do some filming!

There are already murmurs of a few FRS/BRZ cars registering for the entire season next year. I hope to make it a proper scrap for championship points. Bring it on!


Link to video

To see all the runs I recorded that day, head over here.

Amazing what a few hours of sun can do!

PITL #6 – Wrapping it up. Just go faster.

This event proved to be an extremely interesting one. For starters, a grand buddy of mine was having his engagement party the night before, and I was definitely not going to miss that. But, that meant staying up way to late partying and random games before not sleeping on a bed. Waking up the next morning was not easy. Typically we would go out for a fantastic breakfast at Horizons the next morning. Not for me though. Because race car.

More like because monsoon. It was raining extremely hard the next morning. I shuffled out of my buddy’s Dad’s place before sun up to be greeted with buckets of nature’s own H2O. This of course made the extra long drive to the event not very relaxing at all.

Not the prettiest conditions. But they can be the funnest.

Not the prettiest conditions. But they can be the funnest.

The rain didn’t even let up once I arrived at the event. Everyone was just cowering in a train shelter hoping this ridiculous wind and water would go away. Lou, from AllAboutImports decided to let us use his massive cargovan for the day. Without it, the timing equipment surely would have perished in the harsh, not-electrical-friendly conditions.

Eventually the rain died down enough that we could start the event. The turnout was far less than normal. Which is expected, as the forecast was terrible.

Dark clouds can't stop the smiles.

Dark clouds can’t stop the smiles.

Why didn’t I skip it? If a competitor is able to win their class 5 times out of the 8 total events, they are eligible for the shootout at the end of the year. At the time of this event, I had 4 wins. And with the threat of new FRS/BRZ cars coming off the break in period, I knew I had to get my wins while I could.

And wouldn’t you know it, one of those cars decided to turn up for competition. On wider, non-stock wheels and tires. Uh oh…

Almost needed an oar.

Almost needed an oar.

I skipped breakfast with friends for this. I wasn’t going to take this lying down. Never admit defeat!

And so the back and forth began. During the morning I initially was disappointed that he was ahead of me. A friend of mine said he had the solution to all my problems. “Just go faster.” He said. Simple! My BRZ competitor was in a different run group. So as the day went on, the course dried up, and we traded fastest times to and fro. Unfortunately for him, having to run after his group every time, the conditions favored me. And I most definitely used that to my advantage.

Amazing what a few hours of sun can do!

Amazing what a few hours of sun can do!

Eventually, “It’s simple! Just go faster!” became the phrase of the day. Often shouted at me as I was about to stage. Thankfully I continued to do so run after run. I eventually went to fast for my power steering. Which decided in the middle of a run to throw it’s belt off in protest of my quickness. (In actuality the belt was probably wet and slipped off after a puddle splash) I ended up finding the belt intact sitting on the engine bay undertray.

With such small run groups, paddock time was tight, so I opted to run the last 2 runs without it. It took some getting used to, but it seemed to only affect me a bit during turn in as my arms would be used to far less resistance. Though it did mean I could feel the weight coming and going from the front tires. During turn in I’m often braking which puts a significant amount of weight on the front tires. And thus effort was significantly increased. What I wasn’t expecting was the sharp decrease in effort when transferring weight rearward. When the steering was powered, the difference between these two scenarios was much less pronounced. Did I like it? Not really. But I hear proper non-power steering cars (and properly de-powered cars) feel better than a car that has had the power steering system.

Thanks to the conditions favoring my run group, I was able to defeat the BRZ and wrap up my championship early. Making the trip completely worth it.

PITL A Class Champion! Bam!


Link to video

To see all the runs I recorded that day, head over here.

We had a helicopter! It parked at the Walmart!

ASN Autoslalom Nationals – Day 2

Getting back to autocross is way easier when your 5 minutes from the event. Cheers to the fellow competitors who let me sleep on the pull out couch in their hotel.

The day went much like the last. I did overhear some people talking about what was and was not legal for certain classes and that a car may not be legal his/her class. Not long after hearing these discussions it was announced that at the end of our last run, we were to drive our cars straight from the course to impound where our class competitors would check each others cars for legality. I’m glad I bolted a mis-colored mirror to my car to make it 100% ES legal.

Ready and waiting. Happy marshal.

Ready and waiting. Happy marshal.

It was rumored that the day 2 course would be a reverse of day one. Far from it! It shared some elements of the test day, but felt largely different. Very flowing. Much faster too. It was hard to keep the front of my car from understeering in the fast sweepers. Keeping my car neutral (where it is neither understeering or oversteering) can be hard. Knowing how deep to trail brake, how much to trail brake, and when to get that throttle on isn’t easy. Without mega power, throttling on at the wrong time can cause you to just lift weight off the front tires increasing understeer. Get the brake and throttle timing just right and you can ride the slip angle through the corner maximizing your speed. Nailing a corner like that feels fantastic. And it’s always neat to see the car rotate it’s way around the corner without actually steering into the corner very much.

We had a helicopter! It parked at the Walmart!

We had a helicopter! It parked at the Walmart!

On the last run, I was nailing every turn. Getting the slip angles just right, until the last tight section, when I lost my line a bit due to oversteer, and jabbed the brake mid corner. This lifted my rear wheel up enough to cause my Torsen LSD to stop being an LSD. (Which happens when one wheel has zero traction) The wheel spun up, touched down and threw the car sideways. I’m not quite sure why, but I decided to keep the drift going into the next turn, go for broke, keep it floored, and powerside it all the way to the finish line. I sacrificed some time, but got a good rise out of the crowd. If it wasn’t for that powerside I most definitely would have gone faster. The powerslide run was only .1 second slower.

Do you like sliding? I like sliding!

Do you like sliding? I like sliding!

It seems my car wasn’t expecting the lary finish. It had been overfilled by the dealer during the last oil change. Extra oil isn’t always bad, but it seemed that there was a bit too much this time. Enough that when I threw it down the off camber corner, the rather large amount of right side body roll coupled with the downhill camber to the right, and the fact that the oil breather is on the right side of the engine, meant that my engine ended up ingesting some oil and blowing a good cloud of white/blue smoke out of the tail pipe. Enough to freak me the heck out and cause a bunch of fellow competitors to see me in the paddock to express concern.

All was well though. My little machine survived 3 pretty gnarly days of travel and competition. Didn’t complain one bit. It even won me a trophy.

Trophy!

Trophy!

National Champion! Result!


Link to video

To see all the runs I recorded that event, head over here.