It was a busy week here at GeorgeCo, with three events in five days. Saturday started it off with half a day with some of the BMW club instructors on the skidpad at Summit Point. About a dozen drivers, three at a time on the skidpad for four hours. Very helpful in finally mastering a full-lap with the tail out in oversteer. I also mastered the 360 degree spin. I spun so much that my radiator cap came undone.
Sunday was the first championship event for the SCCA. It was a fairly simple course on a very slicked repaved surface at FEDEX field. I drove the MINI which was probably the right choice for the surface. I had a bad tire bead on one of my racing tires so I tried slicks up front, street tires in the rear. Sort of a tire mullet. It really helped to get the car to rotate, but you couldn’t get the power down because the temperature was so cold.
Finally Wednesday was the Colonial Challenge Cup at Summit Point. This is a fun charity event with loads of track time. For the second year I instructed basic and intermediate students. I usually try to pick front-wheel drive or low horse-power cars, but this year I got a Corvette and an Audi S4 with a V8. Fun, but more power in the wrong hands is not always a good thing. The video has a couple of good recoveries in the wet, especially towards the end. Below is a screen capture of my finest moment: passing a Ford GT coming out of turn 10 onto the main straight, in the rain….
Busy weekend for autocross. After a month off — back in with both feet. Yesterday it was a sweltering event with the CDC, and today it’s back to FEDEX Field for the SCCA event.
The GeorgeCo MINI powered by Beano ran well yesterday. All four runs were within .sec of each other. We had the fastest MINI at the time we left. Today the team is hoping for a solid mid-field placement in Street Mod. It looks like rain so perhaps we might do even better. Start your rain dance.
The rain dance almost worked. The event Sunday was delayed two hours. When it finally picked up again, we only got 3 runs each. I opted for the RA1s over the slicks today. It was almost the perfect choice. Almost, because by the time Street Mod ran, we had an almost dry course. Grip was good, but not great. I think I was mid pack again, but with a fast group so that’s OK.
This past weekend featured the first SCCA Autocross event of the new season at FEDEX field. It was a chance to test out my new suspension and tires. During the winter, I picked up some Hankook Ventus Z214 competition tires from Frisby Race Tires. For a while, they had a special on the C50 (medium) compound in 205/50R16 for about the same price as a regular street tire. So I grabbed a set, repainted the white Kosei rims, and had them mounted up. (The new rim color is as close to “brake dust” as I could find, thus saving time from cleaning.)
Sunday turned out to be in the ’90s — very unseasonably warm for April around here. I was worried about overheating the new tires on their first use. They were not heat-cycled so I knew they would be a bit slippery anyway, but I’m very happy with them. I ran with 38-40 lbs in the front and 35-37 lbs in the rear. I can probably drop it down a pound and start off with 35/33 cold instead of 36/34 which I had. The new springs are also a bit softer than the old ones, but once I got used to them I could make them work for me. I dropped 2 seconds over the four runs, with the last two runs being exactly the same down to the thousandth of a second. Odd.
I came away from the event thinking I hadn’t done that well, but ended up placing 6th out of 16 in my class (street mod). I always compare myself to G Stock, which is where I probably should be running, where I would have placed second. One day, maybe I’ll bite the bullet and make my car eligible for that class again.
The autocross season got off to a soggy start on the Triple Skid Pad at Summit Point. The NCC had their first points event of the season on Saturday. I’m running a street-tire class in the BMW this year. The rain meant I had a good chance of scoring well.
I was fastest most of the morning session and ended up fourth in my class. The three ahead of me all ran in the afternoon when it was dryer. The course was partially under water. The surface is new and slick. The run off areas are muddy and deep.
Spring is in the air. With less than a month to go before the first track weekend, it’s time to stock up on parts and make repairs. Nothing says Spring like new tires.
For SCCA autocross in the MINI, I’ll be running Hankook Ventus Z214 R-comp tires. This is the medium compound (C50) which should last me the whole season. They’re on special at Frisbyracetire for only $85 each in size 205/50R16. Stacked up next to my old Azenis in size 215/45R16 they’re almost the same width. The tire diameter is about 23 1/2 inches — half an inch taller than the Azenis, but still a decent size for my gearing.
I’m making progress on the BMW as well. I just got it back from Frederick Motorsports. I had Scott replace the guibo, drive shaft center support bearing, service the differential and replace seals, new axle shafts, and take the slop out of the shifter. No more fork-in-the-spaghetti shifting. I also got a new clutch. Next up: suspension work and finally stopping that pesky oil leak from the camshaft gear seal.
I haven’t managed to make any of the local SCCA autocross events so far this year. I bought a season pass last winter, but as it turns out, I had to work during the first five events. I enjoy the longer courses the SCCA runs, but don’t enjoy the events as much — everyone is so much more serious than at the BMW or CDC events. Nonetheless, the SCCA events are a good way to measure your progress. At least some people in SM still don’t take it too seriously.
Today’s event was in the A lot at FEDEX Field outside of Washington DC. The course was very fast, with a couple of seriously off-camber corners that caught out many of the high horse-power cars in AS. There was also a slalom that you cold enter from either the right or the left. To enter on the left, you had to modulate your speed in the corner leading to it. This proved more challenging for the rear wheel-drive cars than the MINI. If you entered on the left, you exited at a better position for the turn following the slalom.
I scored mid-pack for Street Mod which is much improved over last year where I was in the bottom 10 percent. I found some more pictures posted on SMUG.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve done a couple of CDC events and a CCA event (7 of 24 in X Class) as well a lot of work on the Garage-mahal. Summer is officially over and today was the next to last autocross of the season. This time it was at Baysox Stadium in Bowie, Maryland. The course was unusual in that it featured a figure-eight at the start and a decreasing radius loop at the finish. Many people were off course on multiple runs. My time was 49.81 seconds which should put me in the top third again. Many photos posted over on flickr.
This event was down in Manassas, Virginia. I was the quickest of the four MINIs that turned out and I think I finished in the top third overall. Not bad considering this was the course design:
And finally an update to the garage-mahal: I had to reinforce the floor so after I cross-braced everything and put down an extra layer of plywood, I finished it off with some tile and edging. I trimmed down the rubber mat and it’s starting to look like a real garage. You can see where I still need to work on the ceiling, but it’s more or less finished now and should retain heat in the winter.