Today I was hoping to test out
my new spindle extenders, wheels, tires, seat and belts. Dan and I left at 6am
arriving in Marina at 7:45am. When we got there we walked the course. My first
impression was that the course was much different than I had ever seen before.
The layout started with 6 U turns, followed by a large radius turn into several
more U turns. It was really not a very interesting course. If you watch the
video above of me driving the Miata you can see the course has very interesting
sections and a nice line can be made. This time it was just a bunch of U turns
so there was no real line to be proud of.
The car under-steered quite a bit, it seems almost more than
usual. It could be due to the seat allowing me to steer the car or the new
suspension parts not doing what I had expected. Either way some changes need to
be made to improve the cars handling. I am hooking up with Global West to see
what we can do for next year. One good thing about today is that Dan and I had a
blast! That's the most important thing.
Round 9 UFO
It's never a dull day at the track with the Camaro.
Today was especially fun because Dan was nice enough to drive my truck down to
Marina so I could have several friends go to watch and ride, also to promote the
sport of Autocross and get more friends out there racing.
My first run was slow. I was getting to know the track and
feel how the Camaro acted without the rear sway bar. I found out that it does
not do too well. It likes to spend most of the day under-steering, which I proved
more of in the second run. I was pushing the car a lot harder this run,
literally. The third and fourth run was really smooth and both were improvements
to their previous run.
Things I think that would yield the most improvement would be
a change of drivers seat and tires. I get thrown around quite a bit inside the
cockpit as most of the passengers know and feel I would have better control if
my body stayed with the car more. Tires are a no-brainer, something about 50
series Dunlop 8000's does not scream cornering traction.
Next month (September) there is a track day and I hope to
have at least new tires and would like to have the rear sway bar back in.
However, my current schedule demands the Camaro stay in working order so I don't
know if I can have it down long enough to fix the sway bar mounts.
Round 12 SCCA
7.23.06 Golden Gate Fields
Coming out of Danville reading 110º
on the thermometer Golden Gate Fields low 90's temperature felt cool. This was a
fairly uneventful round. I did not hit any cones, did not spin out, didn't do
much of anything. My first run was alright but I felt there was a lot of room to
improve so my second run dropped about 2.5 seconds. Third run, feeling a little
anxious to do better I ended up moving a little too fast and was pushing the
front around quite a bit and that slowed me down. Jeff, our best driver, did
awesome today beating our competition whom I worked the course with and Dan will
agree that was a major test of self control. I am looking to drive the Camaro at
Marina Sunday August 13 so I should start practicing now!
Round 11 SCCA
7.07.06 Monster Park
There were some changes made to the car the last week or so that I think made a
great difference. I believe it was springs and something else in the rear that
helped out. I had difficulty with one particular turn almost loosing it 2 of the
3 times. Other than that driving felt good today no DNF's or cones down. I also
felt my lines were good and I am slowly getting better at being on the gas in
First time at an autocross
event couldn’t have been better with my good friend Liz Miles! I have known Liz
for quite some time now and know her driving ability on the street. I was truly
impressed with her driving skills on the proving grounds of autocross! Smooth,
clean driving style and running just seconds from her fellow racers in her class
that have been autocrossing with much more years of experience. Great day cone
Round 10 SCCA
6.18.06 Monster Park
I have something different for you as far as a write up. After a quick review of
the car and my driving, I have a passenger letter. Dan made it to autocross this
week and went for what I think, the most fun run in the Miata to date and wrote
me a paragraph about his experience.
First run was slow as always, getting the car shocks dialed,
getting a feel for the track. Second run I had Jeff instruct me in braking and
acceleration tactics and improved almost 2 seconds. The first half of the last
run was really fast but somewhere towards the end I got crossed up, spun out but
did not hit a cone or DNF'd. I lost a bunch of time there but the run was still
a good fun one!
don't know how to describe my first time out to AutoX with Liz, but I can tell
you this, its one heck of a ride. At first I thought by adding my extra 230lbs
to the car was going to slow the lil Miata down, I was wrong. So she takes off
out of the gate, first right and where through the timing lights and I have no
idea what's going on, all I'm seeing are cones coming and going. At this time
Liz is hurling us through cones and turns faster then I can realize what's
happening. I've been on some crazy rides with this girl, but this one is
amazing! I don't even remember what turn we were flying through, but next thing
I remember in my peripheral vision I see lil hands turning and spining the
steering wheel till it locked up...and all we could do is enjoy the spin out we
were about to encounter. After the spin Liz gets the Miata recovered and we head
back on the course heading to the finish she saved the best for last, coming up
to the final turn before the lights she puts the car into a drift, just on the
verge of loosing it again, she holds her line just perfect, tires screeching,
passenger grinning and laughing, she snaps it back just in time to cruise
through the lights. I couldn't believe how hectic it felt in that ride, yet it
has to be one of the best rides I have ever been on in my life!!! For those
reading this, you have to experience the ride yourself to understand how fun
this ride was. Forget any other ride you have been in, unless you have been in a
fighter jet pulling 8 G's in a turn and going ballistic this has to be second to
that. Ok so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but it was fun and I already got my
ticket and waiting in line for my next ride!!!! Hmmm maybe I can get in the
Camaro Ride Line!!
Round 9 SCCA
6.04.06 Monster Park
my first trip to Monster Park went pretty well. Although, I have been getting
spoiled by the 4 or 5 runs at Marina I have been getting. My first run felt
good. I realized how bumpy the course was and how to use the elevation changes.
I kept thinking I was hitting cones but it was just potholes in the lot. The
second run I improved 1.5 seconds just from knowing more what to expect around
the next turn. The third run was a little wacky. I had my friend Jon, owner of
small blocked 240Z and supercharged Z06, ride with me. I almost spun out after
the first turn but somehow managed to stay on course without hitting a cone
until after the next turn I hit a slalom cone. The rest of the run was strong
and I ended up with the same time as my second run even with the cone and the
spin out, so if I didn't do those things, I could have ended up with a much
better time than my second run. One warning I have to someone who has not been
to monster park, if you have ground clearance issues on the street, you will
have MAJOR ground clearance issues out here.
Round 8 SCCA
Those of you whom I speak to
often about the Miata know that I think highly of its handling characteristics.
Today I was not pleased. A larger diameter sway bar was installed and caused the
car to oversteer a lot. I previously used the brakes to put a slight weight on
the front into a turn and used that time to make a smooth transition from brake
to gas. My first 2 runs was pretty sloppy because I had to completely reprogram
my braking and relearn the car all together. Both runs were in the 61 second
range. The rear shocks were softened and that seemed to help. My last 2 runs
were in the 56's. All 4 runs were clean, no spins or hit cones, that's always
not the best AutoX event ever. As always it started with a very early trip to
Marina (by Monterey) this time with
Andy as co-pilot. It started raining at the
start of the course walk and did not let up till late morning while we were
working the course. My times were not very impressive first because the rain
erased the chalk so I, as well as many others, had a hard time seeing where I
was going. This made me want to brake when there was not a turn so I lost time
there. I DNF’d my last two runs the same way and ended up with a 61.2 as my best
run. That was not quite fast enough to beat my competitor who ran 60.5 in a 2006
MX5. After our run group we went out for course walk.
"Station 7: Check"
"Station 7, representing Deutchland"
"Cone on 522" I noted.
"Cone on 522, check" was the reply
Several seconds pass, car 522 spins out and takes some cones with it.
"Several more cones on 522" I say
"Check, several more cones on 522"
I thought it was so funny. Though the work time
the rain started to let up and the sun came out to dry up the track for some of
that run group. However the wind did not decide to stop blowing.
Sunday was a typical girls day out. Me and Nicole got up early, and made it to
Marina around 8. First thing we did was walk the course and I was sure I was
going to get lost driving around there. There were so many more cones than
necessary out on the field so it was hard to determine which outlined the path
and which did not. The entrances and exits to turns were also hard to see since
the gap between the normal outline cones were not that much tighter. Nicole rode
Marty in his 510 first a couple
times before riding with me. I believe the first thing she said after our first
run was "whoa that was intense". Our first run was rough, I was having trouble
keeping it smooth in first (slightly sticky gas pedal and first gear has a lot
of engine braking). I ran something like 88 which is not very good but I was
just getting a feel for the course. Nicole was helping me find my way around
since it was a confusing one and she had been riding with Marty all morning so
she knew what it looked like already. The next run I was a lot more aggressive
and Let the back end swing around a little more. That part was my favorite. The
car does understeer quite a bit and the tread was rolling over a lot. I had
several people come up and tell me that I needed more air in my tires. The next
runs got better and better. Nicole and I had a blast and the Camaro did really
well and I did ok. I'm not sure who would have gone faster in my car Yves or me.
Yves was a lot more conservative and lost traction a lot less so he might be
faster but I think I had a lot more fun!
Camaro at this Event
Round 5 SCCA
the best AutoX event to date. Starting the day at 4:00 am (morning to set the
clocks an hour forward) Yves and I in the Camaro and Boris in the STI made it
our journey to Marina. We arrived as one of the first cars and waited while
registration was established and cones were out. I had dreams of seeing the
Camaro out with the cones but could not fulfill them myself since you are not
allowed to drive 2 cars at one event and I had the Miata. So Yves is the most
trustworthy person with a car I know so it felt cozy to have him drive it. Unfortunately groups
were combined so the Miata, Camaro and STI were in the same run group so we
couldn’t photograph or watch each other very well.
There were some problems with
our usual Miata, Sparky, so I was racing a stock 99 instead. The car understeers
like crazy compared to Sparky. None the less my times improved about 1 second
every run. My first run was clean with a __. I turned the wheel less when
understeer happened and let off the throttle lightly, it improved my time to
54.84. The next run I took Yves and hit my first time of the day in the first
slalom. This slalom was a new arrangement. Instead of one cone up right, and one
pointer cone on the opposite side of travel, there were 4 upright cones linearly
parallel to the car. I Tuned in too early after the first cone and clipped the
last. I finished with 53.75 before cone penalties. Run 4 was with Boris and I
hit the same cone in the first slalom like in run 3 and at the last turn at the
finish, I waited too long to brake and slid into like 2 cones but I finished
with 52.30 before cone penalties. My last run I did not carry a passenger. It
was a clean run and I was really happy with how I drove and ok about how the car
acted and ended the day with a 51.81.
Yves drove the Camaro first
run was kind of just to feel out AutoX and the Camaro, this run was pretty slow
at 62.85. But the next 4 runs brought him to 53.16 which was a competitive time.
I think a lot of people were surprised. The Camaro seemed to have mostly understeering problems which Yves tended to turn into oversteer with gas. The
oversteer seemed to move the car around the track much better the understeer.
Brakes were underused but worked great. I never saw the car not make into a turn
because of the lack of brake. Sway bars I think work great together however rear
shock might have been too hard causing rear traction loss. The easiest thing
that could help was to lower tire pressure. I had it low for a long time so I
slightly overfilled them to 34, and did not drop it for the race. I will try 28
or 30 next time. Camber needs to be changed 1 or 1.5 degree negative.
Picture of Yves Racing
for the first time today at Marina. He started his times around 54.50 and
progressively dropped time every time down to 50.63. The whole event I was
running between the Miata and the Camaro so unfortunately I didn’t get to ride
with Boris or even watch his run since the Camaro ran the car after. The only
thing I could see that could cut time down a couple tenths was the launch it
seemed to bog a little.
Picture of Boris Racing
We all had a blast, Boris and Yves are hooked on AutoX and I
hope they get their SCCA memberships for event 6 in Marina. I was thrilled with
the Camaro’s performance both on the course and the 2 hour each way commute. My
only complaint was the seats are warn out and does not feel good on the bumps.
This event was very interesting. It was raining. I have never in my life
driven aggressively in the rain. When I see rain it means slow down, drive just
hard enough to get where I'm going. Its not play time for me. It was a weird
feeling coming into a turn way fast when you know its wet out. my first run at
this event was my best and only 'clean' run. The 39.5 seemed to surprise
everyone including myself. The car did not seem to slide around as much as I had
thought it would (somehow I have the mindset that the rear will come around with
any throttle but this car does not have the power for that) the only thing that
dramatically changed was the brakes. The course was set up with a quick left and
right with a long slalom into a tight right. The second and third run I did not
give myself enough time to brake with the speed I got from the slalom so I slid
almost off course (no cones at this point). I was bummed that I made the same
mistake twice but for the conditions I guess I did ok. My recovery time was
really good though I did not stall it either time and I saved time by turning
the wheel to the right while I was sliding straight, going in reverse with the
wheel still to the right (you have to back up further because the wheels are the
wrong way but it takes less time than moving the wheels to the left) then
proceeding the course in forward, wheel still to the right. The only really bad
thing that happened that day was I lost a magnet on the way home. sorry
Round 2 SCCA
2.19.06 Oakland Coliseum
My second time out I felt a lot more cozy with the car and the surface of the
Oakland coliseum (lots of gravel). This was an extremely progressive event for
me. I dropped 2 seconds between run 1 and 2 and another second between 2 and 3.
My last run was a little rambunctious around the northwest corner of the track (
I remember Boris saying 'holy crap').
despite the sliding I still finished fast. I'm not up with the rest of the team
yet but I feel like I am competitive still.
Round 1 SCCA
2.5.06 Oakland Coliseum
This was my first AutoX event ever. My first of the 3 runs was my best at
47.85 followed by a DNF from a pretty heavy duty spin out (you just have to do
it sometimes!) Then last run, a cautious return to the track with a 50.14. I learned
a lot about AutoX, a lot about how a Miata works and a lot about speed