Sunday, May 3, 2009

Autocrossing at the Horse Track

Last night on the drive from Joliet to Florence, Kentucky Robin came out of a gas station with a big s***-eating grin on his face.  In the men's room vending machine he had found the perfect gift for Dick and Jerry Clark - a package of Horney Goat Weed ("sexual stimulant for men").  Since they were staying in a different motel in Florence, and had made a dinner stop in Lafayette to see Dick's daughter, we had plenty of time to take the package to their place and leave it at the front desk it in an envelop addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Clark.

Robin and I checked in to the Extended Stay Hotel at 11:00pm.  Since they had given away our room with two beds, we ended up in separate single bed rooms - two for the price of one.  The relatively early hour enabled us to have a beer and chat 'til close to midnight.

This morning we departed the motel at 6:30 so Robin could eat his breakfast at a Cracker Barrel with the other old ladies.  At least a couple of One Lap teams from Canada were there to join us.  The rain that had started sometime during the night had almost stopped.  So we arrived at the nearby Turfway Horse Track before the required 8:00 am registration for the AUTOCROSS to be held in the large parking lot.  The Clarks arrived and pretended to have no knowledge of the envelop left at their front desk.  They finally gave in and admitted that Robin had really gotten them with that one.  

Unlike our normal road course time trials, an autocross competition is a time trial done on a twisty course marked by orange traffic pylons or cones.  In the distance of a half-mile or so, a typical autocross might have more than twenty turns or changes of direction.  A very intense 40 seconds.  Today each competitor got three runs to establish his best time.  Robin chose me to do this event since I've done hundreds of autocrosses to his handful.  The run order was based on our finishing position at yesterday's Autobahn event.  At 32nd, this meant the earlier runners would help dry the pavement for us mid-pack people.  Soon after starting my first run I realized two things:  1.  It was sill quite slippery.  2.  I had forgotten to disable the car's stability and traction control systems.  Since the Traction Control will drastically cut engine power when the rear wheels slip, this can hinder autocross performance.  Partway through that first run I made a stab at the dashboard button and was able to turn off the intrusive stability control.  I'd worry at traction on my 2nd and third runs.  After the finish several spectators complimented me on my time, 46.986 seconds.  I had no idea where that stood with our competitors.  My biggest concern was the announcer giving credit for the "great run" to Robin.

After my run I was able to watch the 2nd runs for the top guns.  The pavement was getting drier and more familiarity with the course had their times dropping into the 42 second range.  My second run was a 44 without any of the computerized controls.  On the third run the #3 Nissan GT-R, an all wheel drive car, established the fast time at 39.2.  Ian Stewart, a national autocross champion, driving a Porsche 911 GT3 and a local in a much-modified Subaru STi were also on the podium to the  best of my knowledge.  My 3rd run was a 42.7  and we think good for first in class.  Results should be posted soon.

Now we're on the road south of Louisville and headed for a quarter-mile stock-car oval near Nashville.  Yes, the One Lap organizer tries to throw everything at us.  Hopefully it won't rain as predicted because, unlike road courses, they don't run ovals in the rain.

1 comment:

Vic - Salazar said...

Awesome guys! Loving the updates - keep us all posted, and good luck!!! Would trade the world to be on the road right now ;)