Monday, January 31, 2011

NER SCCA 2nd place in SSM class for 2010 season

You are probably wondering why I didn't write this post sooner. After all 2nd place isn't so bad, and it's in a fairly competitive SCCA region. SSM's a pretty cool class we had a couple of turbo Miatas, my Lotus Elise, a crazy 340 hp CRX, an RX-7 Turbo, a Nissan 240 that trophied at nationals and even a Dodge Viper! Sounds great hunh?

But the field wasn't quite as interesting as it sounds... First off the faster of the two drivers in the CRX ran away with first place... He had it locked up by midseason. More than double the points of anyone else in the class. Yes I did say the CRX won the class. Believe me when I say it's a crazy overpowered super setup CRX :).

Ok but what about all those hot cars?? Well the Viper was driven by complete novices. They never came back. Possibly people with 6L V10 cars are put off when a bunch of folks with 1.8L four bangers make them look like they are standing still. Vipers can be very good, but autocross is 85% driver no matter what car you're in and it was their first time.

The 240 on the other hand put down some VERY fast times, but only ran once. A couple of very experienced drivers were bumming a drive due to corded tires on their regular ride or something. The 240 got 3rd place at nationals. It is a very very fast car. Otherwise the car I chased the previous year spent all it's time in SM.

One of the Miatas was also a single showing. It's painted to look just like a little Doge Viper. It was faster than the viper was (and it too has a 1.8L 4cyl engine), but it didn't show up again either. Something about vipers?

The RX-7 is a car make that wins SSM at the national level. Unfortunately the one running in SSM at NER is not a 1993 RX-7, so it's not really the right build. It's an older generation. In addition to that, it had serious engine issues. It was trailing the field for the first 4 races, and then the car died and never came back the rest of the year.

So that leaves me, the CRX's second driver, and the other Turbo Miata. At the end of the year after event #7 I was trailing slightly in the standings, but there were many scenarios where I could get second or third place. All I had to do was win once, or get second twice with the right luck and I was good. It was looking exciting and I was motivated. I got to race #8 and learned that the CRX was out for the year. It had had transmission issues in Race 7, which turned out to be a dead transmission with no budget to replace for the last 2 races. I also learned that the Turbo Miata blew up it's transmission at a non NER event the weekend before. Between that
and the CRX's busted axle earlier in the year, and spotty early season attendance by the miata, I became a shoe in for second.

I got second place by virtue of attendance and not breaking my car. It's a very real way to win. Not the inspiring epic win I had envisioned. But keeping the car on the track and racing is a very important part of racing. This is true in wheel to wheel where drivers must not crash, and it's true in time trials where people can overstretch the limits of their machine. Both of my competitors did the latter. They put tons of HP through stock transmissions. The result is actually not that surprising. The CRX may be back next year, and this time it will probably have a better transmission. From what I hear the Miata is getting a whole new engine in addition to a new transmission.

I really did earn 2nd place. There's nothing fake about it. However, I really hope that next year I'll be able to brag about more than my attendance and my conservative but reliable build.