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SOWDIV #1 - Equiraptor's Journal
If that subject made any sense to you, you should have been there! That was "Southwest Divisional #1", an autocross event. It was this past weekend in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I went - Dan and I drove my car - and a few other people from Spokes were there, as well. I was second in CSP and Dan first, which was basically what we'd expected. Dan was gonna be first, because my car ain't slow and, well, it's Dan. Dan had told me some of the guys there would actually be competition for me - that I could take second, but I'd have to work for it. We borrowed 18" wheels with 285 width rubber for the back tires, so my car was running 285/30R18 on the back and 245/45R16 on the front. While this should be an understeer-inducing setup, we put a stiff sway bar on the back to balance things back out. The surface was grippy and the car very well behaved. The rubber was a bit too much in the back and was rubbing oh-so-slightly, so after day 1, Dan raised the ride height of the car just a bit. The car still has the stiff rear sway and the height increase, and I'm driving it around on the street tires now (which need neither), so the car's oversteery. And with my driving... Well, the car's a lot of fun! We'll get it put back together the "correct" way for both my street tires and my normal autocrossing setup soon enough.

As a female serious about autocrossing, codriving with a guy, I get a unique perspective of the events. I showed up at this Central Louisiana hosted event knowing very few of the people who would be there. But, hey, it's autocrossing, everybody's friendly, right? Well, not so much. Before my runs on the first day, I was pretty much ignored. If I struck up a conversation with someone, they'd talk politely enough, but people walking by didn't tend to say hi, or whatever. After I did a few runs, everyone was talking to me. All of a sudden, they figured out I might actually be interested in this stuff, and might actually have intelligent things to say about the course or the surface! Silly boys.

My runs on Saturday were rather bad, though. On my first run, I punted two cones in the slalom. Why? I dunno. I slammed into them quite solidly with the middle of the tire each time. I felt like my car was wider than I expected. After some advice from Vitek I went around again, and the slalom was fine. However, I managed a major "duh." I left traction control on. And because of how paranoid traction control is on the MX-5, and the shape of the course, the traction control kept trying to keep the car from sliding for a fairly significant portion of the course. AS long as the traction control was active (as in, adjusting the car), I couldn't turn it off. So I drove at least a quarter of the course with one hand on the wheel and one hand mashing the traction control desperately trying to get it OFF! And my third time around, I knew I could take the sweeper in corner 4 faster... So I did... A bit too fast. There was wonderful tire squealing as the car slipped to sideways, came to a stop, and stalled right in front of the next cone. Thankfully, we had four runs per day, and I relaxed a bit and took my fourth run slowly, which catapulted me into second place. Gotta love it. So frequently, in autocross, when you try to go fast you're slow, and when you try to slow it down, you end up going faster. It's about car control and smoothness, not flat out speed.

Saturday evening came around, and the group gathered in the host hotel, like they do, with booze and food. Being the evil non-drinker I am, I encouraged guys to drink more, drink more! The more your head hurts tomorrow, the slower you'll be... Mwhahahahaha! I don't think my plan worked, but I don't think it really needed to, anyway, as none of the guys I encouraged were in my class, anyway. ;)

My runs Sunday were improved, but I still wasn't driving my best. My first run was slow - I decided to take a relatively easy look around the course. On my third run, I completely botched the shift into third (yes, this was a third gear course for my car). After this run, a 46.49, Dan told me I could make it into the 45s... If I'd toss the car there, and if I'd give it just a bit more gas in the slalom, I could take off that half second. I responded, "Well, I totally botched the shift into third..." "You did? I heard it bounce off the rev limiter in second and then go in..." "No, that was it grinding going into third." "Oh, well there's your half second." So I went 'round again, and still managed to screw up the shift to third, though not as badly. I figured out how I was screwing it up, too, so at least I know for the next third-gear-using event. I tried to toss the car where Dan said I could, and over did it, so I lost some time there, and I took the 180° turn too tight (do not ask me how I did that... I have no clue) and punted a cone there. The raw time was a 46.0mumble - so close.

If I'm remembering the results correctly (I haven't managed to find them online yet), I was about 6 tenths ahead of third on the combined time. I'm content enough, but I feel like I should have been faster, and like I still have so very much more to learn and skill to gain. The National Tour in Fort Worth is but two weekends away, and there's a potential for money and/or tires at stake, here. Fort Worth is so much closer and so much more familiar to me - the drive out, etc. will be less stressful, at least.
14 comments | Leave a comment
From: beagleracing Date: April 21st, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
before the peanut gallery comments, it's actually 245/45R16s in the front, not 14s :)

From: (Anonymous) Date: April 21st, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
beat me to it Dan ;)

I think i would have drove better Sunday had my left arm not been bruised so badly :p

Nice driving you two :)

From: beagleracing Date: April 21st, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks David, but in Louisiana you only need one arm to drive. the other one just needs to hold your beer.

(i still call BS on my so-called DNF on my last run)

equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: April 21st, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Doh! This is why I shouldn't type livejournal entries first thing in the morning.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 21st, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Looks like you were "out-nerded" or pwned or whatever the hell term the dang kids use LOL
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: April 21st, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Bah, that ain't gettin' pwned. Beating me by over 2 seconds in my car is gettin' pwned!
matisanerd From: matisanerd Date: April 21st, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
285/30R18s! Wow! I'm surprised that fit without trimming!
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: April 22nd, 2008 03:01 am (UTC) (Link)
The fenders are rolled. Last year, they had 285/30R18 on it on 18x10 wheels and it did fine. This year, the tires were on 18x10.5, and Dan used spacers to get them out far enough (as the offset wasn't quite right for the car). This left a bit of rubbing on the very outside edge, and raising the ride height just a tad fixed that. IIRC, the front can't take that much width - I think Dan was trying to convince me something around 265 width on a 17" wheel would be good for the front.
matisanerd From: matisanerd Date: April 22nd, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Doesn't the drastic increase in unsprung weight of an 18" wheel kill your acceleration though?

I thought that was why the 13" and 14" wheel/tire sizes were so popular... lots of tire with not a lot of weight.
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: April 22nd, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
We're talking about an NC, here, not an NA or NB. We're also talking about lightweight 18" wheels, if my understanding is correct. Remember stock on this car is 17", and if what I've been told is correct, 15" flat out don't fit over the brakes. I doubt there's a "drastic" increase in unsprung weight. The car certainly feels like it handles the wheels fine, but I haven't done a back-to-back test. However, the top CSP NCs in the country are running 18" wheels.
matisanerd From: matisanerd Date: April 22nd, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
ah that's right an NC... still 15s won't fit, that's crazy!

The math I've heard (and from experience seems to be pretty true) is that every pound of wheel/tire weight is roughly equal to four times that weight in your car. So 5 pounds a corner can be a pretty big difference. Still, you have lightweight 18s, so I'm sure that helps a lot :)
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: April 22nd, 2008 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I don't really have them. They were borrowed. Normally, it's running on 16s all around for autocross. I may buy some 17s, if I find I have the money for it, and move to a 16 front / 17 rear setup until I can get the 18s I'd want, and be sure I can afford all those tires, too.

I need a sponsor.
From: beagleracing Date: April 22nd, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
you have a sponsor.

you just have to wait a few years.
greengalnblack From: greengalnblack Date: April 22nd, 2008 01:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that is just awesome! I can't wait until the Tour; still not sure what I'll drive since Ricky isn't going, but I'll figure something out (might hit up my friend who races a Civic up there; sure it'll be my first time in that car and a FWD, no less, but it will still be fun even if I suck! :) )

You did terrific and did us girls proud! You rock :)
14 comments | Leave a comment