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Well, that was fun... - Equiraptor's Journal
Well, that was fun...
Today I joined beagleracing (Dan) for a SASCA autocross. Dan asked me if I was planning to go last night, and I said I wasn't... It would be cold, and I'm still not completely back from my arthritis flare, and I didn't want to have to deal with everything with the cold only making it worse. Dan's response? "Come drive the Mini." It turns out Dani wasn't able to go, so the Mini could handle another driver. That'd let me avoid the fuss of the tire trailer and changing the tires, which would mean a lot less strain on my joints. So I went.

It was very interesting autocrossing such a different car. Dan's car is a 2007 Mini Cooper S, the turbocharged sort. It's a small car, only a bit heavier than a third gen MX-5, with a slightly longer wheelbase and slightly smaller dimensions, but that whole "front wheel drive" thing kinda makes a difference. It was nice to mash my foot on the gas pedal as hard as I wanted and not worry about the back end of the car doing strange things. However, it was un-nice to mash my foot on the gas pedal and feel the steering wheel try to rip itself out of my hands.

Yet again, in my first drive in a not-Miata, the slaloms had me confused. At first, I tried to toss the Mini through the way I would the Miata. The Miata lets me get away with that, the Mini doesn't. It forced me to use smoother, more subtle inputs, but then I was worried about the car rotating too much. I was convinced it would end up backwards on me at the drop of a hat. It took until my last few runs (out of 7) to stop mowing down cones. Once I finally started to "get" the car, though... Oh, things got interesting. There was a decreasing-radius (at least the way I took it) right hand sweeper that was intimidating to me at first. But once I started not being terrified of the way the car was rotating, I drove that corner like I would in a Miata - enter it hot and gradually let off the gas pedal. The slowing shifts weight to the front, taking traction from the rear, letting the rear come around. So it turned harder, following the decreasing radius, and slowed so it'd be ready for the twist to the left at the end. I'm sure I still wasn't taking that corner as fast as I could have, but I was figuring it out.

Turns out, I was second out of three. Dan, of course, was first and, er, "someone else" was third. I was three and a half seconds behind Dan, and the other driver was another 5 and a half seconds behind me. If you know what PAX is, and you probably do if you read this far, Dan was second in PAX behind a shifter cart and I was 11th out of 71 drivers. I feel pretty good about that, coming from "never driven a Mini, never autocrossed FWD, and haven't even driven a FWD car in some time." Results PAX

It was a cold day, and I spent a lot of time shivering. Still, it was a fun day, and driving the Mini was incredibly rewarding. I'm very glad I went.
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