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Visor down. In the zone.

ASN Autoslalom Nationals – Day 1

And we’re back! First day of timed competition. It’s weird waking up still tired from the last day of autocross and remembering that you are about to do it again… Two more times.

The day started out with some special words from a few veteran autocrossers who met and raced in Nationals many decades ago. Forming a lifelong bond through motorsport. They were proud to see the traditions continuing in all of us. The slaloming spirit is alive and well. It was great to see those veterans tear up the track along side us.

Veteran racer in veteran machine.

Veteran racer in veteran machine.

The next surprise was Joe. We had an announcer! With music! I’ve seen him work his hostly magic before at a ATTS Gymkhana event. He’s always great. Always makes events feel like more of an actual event if you know what I mean. He played Lady Gaga at one point. But even that won’t make me hate him. Joe is the best.

The course was the best too. Fast smooth and fairly open. I had lots of fun just keeping my foot to the floor and threading through the cones. What was previously a run downhill to the finish, was now a horseshoe type corner where the apex was at the bottom of the hill. Keeping your speed up was crucial for that momentum was going to carry you up the steep hill. This weekend was all about the faster stuff. Faster slaloms, faster sweepers, faster chicanes, downshifting was never really an option (unless you messed up) and spending this much time in the upper regions of second gear was awesome.

Visor down. In the zone.

Visor down. In the zone.

I managed to keep ahead of my class competitors. But scores are accumulated over two days. So this wasn’t over yet.

But now it was time to go to the mid weekend banquet and go partying!


Link to video

To see all the runs I recorded that event, 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 Porsche Boxster S (Generation 1)

A post not long ago recapped the awesome fun we had instructing at the HADA Advanced drivers school.  Near the end of the day when we had switched over to a longer drill format (which is a lot like a typical autocross run) I started to get the itch to hop into my car and make some orange pylons nervous.

So I told one of the organizers that I was going to get into my car and go for some runs.

“If you do, take some students with you!”

Didn’t have to tell me twice. Didn’t take long to find some passengers either. Often times it’s hard to find out exactly how hard you can push a car until you go for a ride with someone who pushes harder than you. Even I still have little epiphanies when running with other drivers. So these relatively new students were more than keen to see what a few years of experience can do.

I recognized a Porsche Boxster S from spectating at a Touge.ca track day run at Toronto Motorsports Park not long ago. I asked him about his car. The car was fairly new to him and he was going to events designed in order to learn where the limits are. Good on him for that.

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

He asked to go for a spin, I obliged.

I’d been practicing transitioning a powerside from left to right on our figure 8 section and was having some fun not worrying about time and just jostling the car through the narrow ‘accident avoidance’ type sections. He must have been impressed, as he asked me to see if I could do the same in his car. With him riding along of course.

After a brief moment of, “That’s waaay more expensive than my car, should I?”, I decided to give it a go. I mean, how often do you get a shot at a Porsche? One where you actually get to drive it? Like, really drive it?

Sitting in it was a treat. It wasn’t hard to find a comfortable seating position which allowed the controls to fall naturally under my hands and feet.

“Would you like the stability control or traction control on?” he asked. “I’d like them off if your OK with that,” I replied.

The throttle and clutch felt a bit plasic-y under my feet somehow. The throttle felt stiffer than my car while the clutch, oddly, felt lighter. As a result, I stalled it. Twice. (This flipped the traction control back on) I didn’t get any initial impressions from steering as I was only driving it 5 feet to the staging line. The wheel looks big, but it doesn’t feel it. Likely because the actual rim isn’t that tick.

So after only driving about 5 feet for 30 seconds, I was to impress the owner. No pressure.

We were released by the starting marshal and off we went. Immediately I could feel the traction control and stability control intervening and making suggestions through the slalom. It didn’t feel like they were slowing me down, but I was definitely aware of what the systems were up to. I immediately yelled “Hey! The stability control is still on!” as we were ending the slalom section. And in the next long left hander, he reached over and turned it of.

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

Almost immediately the car started to get some power oversteer. Alright. No more worrying if the car liked my cornering abilities. The rest of this lap was going to be all me.

Normally when driving someone’s car, I won’t attempt heel-toe downshifts as it’s not an easy thing to pull off. Especially when when you’ve only been driving the car for one minute. This car filled me with quite a bit of confidence. Reacting and behaving exactly as I was expecting it to. So down a gear I went while under braking. Revmatched without a hitch. Nice!

I decided to use the second half of the figure 8 to put the car into a slide. The Boxster’s rear tires broke free easily and predictably. Some arm fulls of opposing steering wheel input, and it was dealt with without fuss. Very nice.

The rest of the run went fairly well, some more oversteer on the run down to the finish. And it was all over in a flash.

It’s amazing how many words can be written about a 30 second autocross run. But when your in a Porsche, you tend to not forget much. The car left quite an impression. I really wasn’t expecting it to be so willing and balanced. I was actually expecting to feel completely out of my element and afraid to really explore the limits of the car. But I was quite wrong.

Big cheers to the chap who let me hoon around in his lovely machine. It was a drive to remember.

Video below!


Link to video

Premeire Workspace

A(nother) years worth of autocrossing.

I collect a lot of footage over a year of autocrossing. Mostly due to the fact that I’ll stick my camera to anything that moves. People seem to enjoy and appreciate the gesture, and it doesn’t take that much work to upload. So I continue to do it.

At the end of the season I have a pile of videos all begging to be cut together. So for the past two years I’ve been recapping the Push It To The Limit (PITL) series by re-cutting a lap of each course of that year using clips from different cars.

Premeire Workspace

I don't rename all my titles. Don't judge me.

I’m pretty pleased with the result. Only disappointed that I didn’t buy a GoPro sooner. My Sony camera died half way through the season, which explains why 4 events are in SD and the remainder is in HD. You can find last years here.

Hope you enjoy!

 


Link to video