Posts tagged Solo2

Boy Clive takes some good shots huh?

PITL #5 – Getting wet.

I decided to do two events in one weekend. Mother nature decided that she was going to see if she could dissuade me with bad weather reports. I was not dissuaded. Mother nature was not bluffing.

Boy Clive takes some good shots huh?

Boy Clive takes some good shots huh?

Days like these throw strategy out the window. Course conditions are ever changing. Your first run may be your driest. You may master one section, but have to relearn another due to standing water or a mix of wet/dry patches. It’s one thing when you get to a wet course, but when it rains in the middle of the day only, you never really have time to get comfortable with the course. You may know where your going, but the braking points and cornering speeds you used last lap won’t be suitable for the next run.

OK, I'll admit I got a little too close to that one.

OK, I’ll admit I got a little too close to that one.

Annoyingly I only got two completely dry runs. One that was slow due to it being my first run, the other unfortunately carried a pylon penalty. Then it started to bucket with rain.

Don’t get me wrong, I love racing in the wet. I just don’t like when it’s actually raining during my run. I barely fit in my car with a helmet on. And my car rolls a lot. I need more space than you might think to counteract all the leaning that my car does. This means if I leave the roof up, I’m bashing my helmet into all of the convertible top supports. The easy solution is to of course, just drop the top. Which works great. Crappy part is getting wet. You don’t get very wet in the short time it takes to do a run, but there’s enough water to make everything a bit damp, which makes fogging an issue later. Though I usually just leave the car running the vents and fans for a few minutes without anyone in it to make sure the next run would be fog free.

Kid wanted to go sideways. So we went sideways.

Kid wanted to go sideways. So we went sideways.

Since it was raining, I couldn’t bring my DSLR out to play movie-man with. Worst still, while I was marshaling, the wind and rain really picked up, properly soaking my pants and feet. But mother nature can’t stop me.

A ton of water came down. Thanks to Clive for the shot.

A ton of water came down. Thanks to Clive for the shot.

Fellow competitor slinging some water. Thanks to Clive for the shot.

Fellow competitor slinging some water. Thanks to Clive for the shot.

I’m going to blame this one on the conditions and having to marshal last, which meant I was picking up cones when the course was at it’s best. I didn’t do as well as I’d hopped, getting nudged out of the top 5 for another top 10.

But hey, I had had fun slithering around in the rain. Going sideways is never not fun, you know?


Link to video

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

A little too fast into the stop box.

PITL #4 – Getting Dizzy.

Getting into the swing of things now!

Who wanted the veggie burger again?

Who wanted the veggie burger again?

No surprises on this one. No missing the event cause the car is in the shop, no new tires, no new car test-drive, no TV-crew watching. Just straight PITL action. Woo!

Ryan decided to hop in the car for the first run. Those runs are always the slowest and most awkward. Especially when you have ‘The Great Gazoo’ in your passenger seat. (No, I don’t know why he has that nickname.)

Ryan loves sliding.

Ryan loves sliding.

A little too fast into the stop box.

A little too fast into the stop box.

I found it quite interesting to watch cars (and their drivers) try to deal with a single cone which we had to do one full 360 around near the end. Some cars suffered (most often the open differential cars) and some drivers remained puzzled through most of the day. It’s very rare to see people re-walking the course on a lunch break. But during this event, I saw more than a few people (myself included) studying the 360 and attempting to formulate a line.

The infamous 360 cone.

The infamous 360 cone.

Typically you want to apex late for important corners. But given the odd layout (how many 360 degree corners do YOU encounter?) and tight confines of the surrounding cone walls, it wasn’t immediately apparent what the best approach was. Talking it out with some fellow competitors helped me decide to hug the outside going in, stay wide, and tighten up about three quarters of the way through. When your eager to get out of the element, being patient and keeping the line tight is harder than you think. It was also difficult waiting much longer than usual to see your next gate. In the end I don’t think I went as wide as I could have allowing me to carry more speed longer, but I was happy with how tight the car was able to get just by moving some weight forward by lifting the throttle.

Good fast sweeper!

Good fast sweeper!

Good fun filled day. I even had some time to shoot some b-roll. Awesome.

Another top 10 finish! I think if I’m lucky, I’ll get a top 5 finish this year.


Link to video

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

My main competition for the day.

PITL #3 – Staying honest

I’ll tell you a secret. I haven’t modified my car in over 4 years. I’ve only maintained it. Because of this, I’ve had 4 years to learn how to get every bit of performance out of it. I like to think I’m consistently close to getting every bit of what it has. It’s no secret that a Miata is a great base for autoslalom. It has taught me a lot and has allowed me to do a great deal of skill growth.

Showing Dad the course.

Showing Dad the course.

At the local autoslalom series, I’ve pretty much had it my own way in the relatively small low HP RWD class called A-Stock. Today was going to be different. A long time PITL veteran would also be driving a stock Miata as a second driver. He’s no stranger to Miatas either. He has a very long and successful history with Miatas. Besting him was not going to be easy. The car he would be driving would also have about 10ish more horsepower, a more usable torque curve, (thanks to variable valve timing) an extra gear, and a stiffer chassis. He said one of the reasons he registered was, “To keep me honest.”

My main competition for the day.

My main competition for the day.

I don’t blame him. I haven’t been bested in my class in a long while. And usually spend entire events giving spectators and other competitors passenger laps at the expense of performance due to the extra weight. Thus going a bit slower all day.

Did I mention this entire time there was a Rogers TV crew filming at the event? And my parents were in attendance? And even some friends came to watch? No pressure!

I told you a TV crew was there!

I told you a TV crew was there!

As expected, he and I traded blows as the day went on. I spent the morning hitting cones. So I was trailing on the time sheets. However, if you ignore the cone penalties, our times were very close. Often back and forth. The fight really hotted up after lunch. Both of us had agreed while discussing the course that a 49 second run was likely possible in our cars and we’d both be happy to achieve that. Going into the last run I was ahead by 0.2 of a second. Not much. My competition threw down the gauntlet on his last run. Knocking 1.1 seconds off his best, he posted a 49.2 second run. Nearly a second faster than me. That was a big blow. I did notice him make an interesting decision with regards to where he shifted. I reckoned by slightly changing where that shift happened I could make it work better.

This was it. One more run. Had to make it count…


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

The owner practicing accident avoidance

One run in a modded Mazdaspeed Miata

While at the HADA Advanced Driving School, a friend of mine was using the opportunity to get some good seat time in. I don’t blame him. For 60$, the course was a steal. It let you experiment on specific driving drills over and over in quick succession throughout the morning to mid-day, before getting a good number of traditional autocross style runs later on.

The owner testing grip on the skid pad

The owner testing grip on the skid pad

I don’t remember how it came about, but it was offered the opportunity to take it for a spin to see how it compared to my car.

I’m unsure of the exact modifications, but it does have a lowered coil-overs with adjustable dampers paired with some light engine modifications. Wider wheels with what I believe were Toyo R1Rs.

This car confused me in many ways. Firstly, as I was sitting in a car so similar to mine, I was half expecting it to feel a lot like my own car. But the suspension totally changes the feel of the car. The little factory turbo also made the engine rev faster than I’m used to. Which rushed me to head butt the Mazdaspeed Miata’s achilles heel. Mazdaspeed cars were unfortunately given near 500 less revs to play with. Coupled with the fast revving turbo four, short 6spd manual gears, and you are quickly introduced to the fuel cut. It wasn’t long at all before I was given my first handshake with it.

The owner practicing accident avoidance

The owner practicing accident avoidance

After being briefly flustered by the rush to the unexpected lack of revs, I had to learn about the sensations of cornering on a car with very little body movement. The car could react and take a set very quickly. I’m used to throwing and using the pitch and roll of my stock car to my advantage by putting weight where I think I need it. In a car with very little suspension movement, I had a difficult time feeling that happen. I wasn’t able to easily register whether my weight shifting techniques (lifting, trail braking) were really doing anything. I’m used to having significant body lean before getting the car to slide. Which was definitely not happening here! I think it played tricks on my mind, causing it to go, “You have no body roll, you must not be going fast. Wait, why are we sliding??”

Unfortunately I didn’t take a camera with me. But it was a fun ride! Gave me lots to think about. Big thanks to the owner for letting me partake in a little experiment!