Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Moving Up in the Pack

Sorry folks, wrote this several months ago but forgot to publish it... I am now due for a season wrap up (which will contain tales of the season points race, car modifications, weather factors and lessons learned). I'll let this entertain you while I put that together :) If you want a sneak peak of that, you can of course check out my graphs...

The latest SCCA event on 7/18 was yet another high water mark. Even though I didn't beat either the Turbo Miata or the CRX, I was close enough to make it look possible this time. Everyone in the class ran well, and the stats speak for themselves. I was over the 60th percentile in the PAX standings, a full 12% higher than ever before. If one uses the Super Stock PAX that is more appropriate for the actual level of modifications to my car, I broke into the 70th percentile. As a SS car, I would have out PAXed everyone in SSM. Relative to Russ, my raw time was only 4.3% slower, and he was 15th in PAX standings overall, just shy of the 90th percentile.

The day started and ended well. The first run had me in second place in SSM with Brian only 0.7 sec faster. The next couple runs got away from me a bit (one had a spin) and predictably the other competitors moved up and passed me. In the afternoon I had one spin to start, then a run that shaved 0.3 sec off my best. This left me in position to give it my all. I just concentrated on driving it all harder and closer to the edge, and somehow didn't loose control. The result? I shaved a whopping 1.7 seconds off my time. I was still in 4th, but up with the pack instead of trailing.

The conclusion? I had plateaued again. My improvements in my ability to control the car had allowed me to get comfortable again. Need to push out of my comfort zone. I did a fair job of this in the second half of the next event too. I finished with the 24th best raw time (up from 29th after the morning runs) at the 7/31 Renegade Miata event. There were over 60 people at that event, but this is not directly comparable, of course there are about 25 miata of all levels of prep, and basically all the cars have fenders (no formula cars or carts). But there are definately lots of well prepared cars there, so the conversion is entirely unclear being in the front half of the pack is good.

Oh, and then there's the mods I just did... (next post) :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Midseason Summary

Ok so I've been a bit delinquent. But given that I have an official follower and a couple people have admitted to lurking here, I should possibly resume posting. The last post was about cold weather and tires. The good news is that my tires were undamaged. Now the season is half over, so lets go for a summary.

I did the NER school and the Evo School this year, both were very helpful. One of the most helpful bits was learning about trail breaking from Grant R . at the NER school. Secondly, I felt a bit better after the EVO school in that the second day in the Challenge school, I was mostly able to hang with people who were far more experienced. It was clear however that I had some consistency issues. My instructor however is a national level competitor in my class and she did say that my car seemed to have potential to be competitive with proper driving and modifications.

Competition wise, We've now had 4 SCCA events and my results are:
  • 4th of 5 on 4/11/2010 (47% SS pax)
  • 4th of 6 on 4/25/2010 (47% SS pax)
  • 3rd of 3 on 5/2/2010 (64% SS pax)
  • 2nd of 5 on 6/6/2010 (46% SS pax) - Trophy
So I'm solidly in the middle of the pack when one uses a pax that is reasonable for the actual level of preparation for my car. The 64% pax is an anomaly probably due to the fact the event was at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and drew a different crowd. The 2nd place finish in the last event is facilitated by the fact that the Blue CRX sheared an axle the day before and Brian was competing in an RX-8 he never drove before. He made it close and forced me to have a good last run which shows that he's really quite a good driver.

In other entertainment, I've been daydreaming about working the car into a state where it could be competitive. Right now, it's simply outgunned by the 340hp 8lbs/hp CRX with the 275 front tires and full suspension etc. I don't have to go crazy to become competitive, but for fun I started a thread on the SCCA forums about the ballast rules for my class and how they make it ridiculously hard to apply forced induction without bumping up to XP class. The resulting thread basically convinced me that it might be fun to try to build up a lightweight contender instead.

I certainly don't have the money right now, but I may have some fun phantom building it on paper, and figuring out what order to do stuff in to move that direction. There are some basic things that need to be done before one even thinks about working over the engine/transmission and changing the wheels as mentioned in that thread. More speed can be gained for less expense, but it would be kinda fun to know how many $$ I am from the dream lightweight normally aspirated lotus SSM Autocross setup.

I'll post some thoughts on my upgrade path a future post.