Monday, October 31, 2011

Season Wrap Up

The sun has set on my third season of racing...

So after getting back into the game, the season has now drawn to a close in only a month's time and the big winter wait is upon us. Nothing to do but look back on the season and plan for the next. So How did I do? The best answer to that question is "I improved". I definitely got faster. Technically I placed exactly the same as I did last year, Second place for the season. The Blue CRX still beats me, but this year I beat some real competitors.

The difference is last year, I more or less out attended all of my competitors except one. In 2010 There were several people who beat me head-to head, but I earned more points by showing up to more races. This year only one competitor who was faster fell behind on attendance. This year I can legitimately say I was the second fastest car, and probably the third fastest driver in the class. It's also gratifying that the class is the 5th most popular out of 35 classes. Also, one of the cars that I beat (and not just once) is a seriously modified car; A miata with a full custom suspension, and a 2.0L stroker, turbo charged engine. Also, I made second place decisively despite being 3 events short of a full season.

Here are the final standings...

Don Kuehl (Blue Supercharged CRX)(8 events)60 points
Gus Heck (Black N/A Lotus Elise)(6 events)35 points
Brian Kuehl (Blue Supercharged CRX)(2 events)18 points
Matt Neiman (Blue Turbo/Stroked Miata)(4 events)17 points
Chris Raposo (1994 Miata)(3 events)11 points
Bill Sallie(Blue Corvette with engine swap)(3 events)9 points
Gregory Walter(Blue/White turbo Miata)(2 events)9 points
Camron Bosnic (Flamed Turbo 240SX)(2 events)9 points
Gerard Mauvis (2003 Porsche 911C4S)(1 event)6 points
Bryan Mancuso (Red, stock MR2)(1 events)4 points
Gavin Williams(1978 Nissan 280z)(1 event)3 points
Bill Brundige (Blue Turbo/Stroked Miata)(1 event)2 points
Andrew Leonas (White '91 Turbo RX-7)(1 event)2 points

Other YOY stats:
  • Number of competitors in the class 12 (up from 11)
  • Number of days raced by all other competitors 29 (vs 28)
  • Races attended 6 (down from 9)
  • Final season pax rank 53, (up from 65)
  • Pax points earned 450.28 (up from 442.86)
The number of competitors racing in the class was similar, although last year's winner went off to college, and only raced in our class twice this year (and twice in the Pro class). Given that, one could argue that the level of competition went down a bit, but not a whole lot since it was only one competitor.

Pax Points are based on the best 5 races, and are across all drivers in all classes, so improvement there is a good solid measure. Last year I attended 9 races and got to drop my 4 worst results, and I only could drop one this year, If I'd made all 9 races that one might have improved a bit more.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Back on Course

August was a non-racing month for me. Too much going on. Buying a house, moving, Hurricanes, and stuff. I also found a minor maintenance issue on the car (torn caliper slide bolt boot). I missed 2 events, so my chances in the season standings are pretty slim now, but the good/bad news is that the top driver decided to graduate to Pro class.  So the standings when I returned looked like this after event 5 & 6:

Don Kuehl (Blue Supercharged CRX)(4 events)39 points
Brian Kuehl (Blue Supercharged CRX)(2 events)18 points
Gus Heck (Black N/A Lotus Elise)(3 events)11 points
Matt Neiman (Blue Turbo/Stroked Miata)(3 events)11 points
Camron Bosnic (Flamed Turbo 240SX)(2 events)9 points
Bill Sallie(Blue Corvette with engine swap)(3 event)9 points
Gerard Mauvis (2003 Porsche 911C4S)(1 event)6 points
Chris Raposo (1994 Miata)(1 event)3 points

So the good news there, is that Matt didn't make it to the New Hampshire race, and we are now tied. Brian who is probably the fastest driver, has moved on to pro class. Then comes Event 7. Beautiful day, and an awesome course, which was a re-hash of some course elements that were used at Nationals. I had a good day, and took home my second ever second place trophy. Still waiting for a first, but beating the CRX is a tough nut to crack.

Don Kuehl (Blue Supercharged CRX)(5 events)48 points
Brian Kuehl (Blue Supercharged CRX)(2 events)18 points
Gus Heck (Black N/A Lotus Elise)(4 events)17 points
Matt Neiman (Blue Turbo/Stroked Miata)(3 events)11 points
Camron Bosnic (Flamed Turbo 240SX)(2 events)9 points
Bill Sallie(Blue Corvette with engine swap)(3 event)9 points
Gerard Mauvis (2003 Porsche 911C4S)(1 event)6 points
Chris Raposo (1994 Miata)(2 event)7 points
Gregory Walter (Blue/White Turbo Miata)(1 event)3 points
Bill Brundige (Blue Turbo/Stroked Miata)(1 event)2 points
Andrew Leonas (White '91 Turbo RX-7)(1 event)2 points

Friday, August 5, 2011

Faster, but not closer

The new shocks were great fun. The car seems much more stable and I felt much more confident with it not leaning as much. I also noticed that the tires squeal more easily (possibly because I'm going faster), and when they do begin to release it's not as sudden.

I ran the sway bar in it's lowest setting, and the Nitrons on the dealer recommended starting point of 10 clicks from full stiff. The car seemed pretty neutral, neither particularly pushy or particularly tail happy. My times were the best I've ever had.

Unfortunately, my competition had a good day as well. Brian drove so fast that he would have been mid-pack in the Pro class. Although I went faster, I'm sure there are places I could still fine-tune. But I'll have to wait a bit, since this month I need to concentrate on buying a house and moving. Come September I'll race again, and hopefully I'll get a chance to fine-tune myself and the car. In the mean-time the class leader will likely run-away with the season, but that's life. In any case here's the standings after the last event.

Don Kuehl (Blue Supercharged CRX)(4 events)30 points
Brian Kuehl (Blue Supercharged CRX)(2 events)18 points
Gus Heck (Black N/A Lotus Elise)(3 events)11 points
Camron Bosnic (Flamed Turbo 240SX)(2 events)9 points
Bill Sallie(Blue Corvette with engine swap)(3 event)9 points
Matt Neiman (Blue Turbo/Stroked Miata)(2 event)7 points
Bill Brundige (Blue Turbo/Stroked Miata)(1 event)2 points

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Nitrons - 650Nm of fun

The issue with the left front riding low turned out to be a broken left front coil-over. Given that I busted the stock one once already, I figured an upgrade was mandated and by luck I found a set of used Nitron single adjustables with 650Nm rear, 525 front springs. That's approximately twice the spring of the stock Bildstiens.

So what happens when you double the spring rate on a sports car? Well after a couple of drives to work I would say the answer is you get noticeable improvements in everything except comfort, and handling over bumps. The ride over bumps is definitely stiffer overall, though the little stuff doesn't get the car jiggling around quite as much, possibly because the dampers are better.

However, body roll is now almost non-existant. The car is much more sure feeling on good pavement. The acceleration is sharper too. When you step on the gas pedal there are only 3 things that can happen:
  1. The car can tilt. Nose up rear down, you see this in the extreme with dragsters that actually lift the nose of the car.
  2. The tires can slip. Also common in dragsters and drifters, and teenagers who mistakenly think that sliding the rear tires around has something to do with going fast.
  3. The car can move forward. Well duh, of course this is the one we really want.
Since the springs are stiffer you get less of #1 and more of #2 and #3. So the car accelerates faster, but it's a bit easier to break traction if your not careful.

Also the stiffer springs increase the tendency of the car to unweight the tires after hitting a bump, and so the inconveniently placed manhole cover at the exit from my work tends to cause the tires to chirp when I leave. It didn't do that before the change. Similarly, the car sometimes has a feeling of slightly walking sideways when turning across a bumpy surface. I had previously noticed this when I added the stiffer sway bar, and it's increased.

I also noticed that the jerkiness and bumps can make the shifter a bit more reluctant to go into gear, so I'll have to keep an eye on that. Don't want to blow shifts. That can be expensive.

Basically the car now expresses an even greater preference for smooth pavement. When you feed it what it likes, the driving is very tasty indeed.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Top 10 !!

The results from last sunday are in, and based on fastest time of the day, I was the 10th fastest car out of 104 cars. That's top 10% in raw times! I completely blew away one of my SCCA rivals (the turbo 2.0L stroked miata with the fully custom suspension) I've never come close to that before. Unfortunately it looks like something broke or wore out on the way home however, as my left front is now riding low and something feels loose and the car wanders pulls a little bit one way or the other when I go over bumps. The last run of the day was actually my fastest time, by 0.15, but I had one cone.

Hard to compare this to an SCCA result however since the crowd is different, and the car classes don't match at all.

So next comes the repair investigation... The initial suspects are a binding shock, or a A-Arm bushing that's worn out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Of course...

When you are most interested in the results, of course that's when things go wrong. Today I received this in my inbox...

Good morning all!

Sorry for yet another mass mailing, but I felt a sense of duty to inform you of the whereabouts of the event 3 results from Sunday. As you know, our illustrious timing guru Scott usually has the results out the evening of the event. For this event, that did not happen, obviously. The reason for this is that the timing results file got corrupted, and it's been a very manual process that Scott has been undertaking.

Luckily, we have the file that is readable, but not processable via the normal Access channels. We also have paper back-up that we always make during the event (in case any of you who had that job assigned in the past, thinking it was a useless position - this is the exact reasoning for that job).

We're working on a couple different solutions, and there will be results, but the ETA could be anywhere from this evening through a week or more. Scott's the go-to guy for this (though we are reaching out to assist), but he has a more important priority now of an overdue and very pregnant wife (Congrats, Scott!!!). If this hasn't affected the results posting, it likely will.

Anyway, just wanted to catch everybody up to speed, apologize, and say that all is not lost.. results will be posted, it is just a matter of time.

Thanks in advance for your patience!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pins and Needles

Last Sunday I ran with the Boston BMWCCA. They don't do on-site results/awards, but I asked folks in the tent what they thought the fastest time of the day was. I was shocked to hear that it was possibly only less than 2 seconds faster than me. That's a lot closer than ever before... If it is real. Pardon me while I go refresh their on-line results page... Again...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Urewarded Success

The June 12 event was a success for sure. I ran faster than any previous event except one and I consider that one event to be a fluke, due to a conflicting national level competition drawing off top competitors. Last Sunday, I was in the top 50% of PAX standings, but even that is not really reflective of the improvement in my driving. It was a tough day weather-wise. The first 3 runs of the day were on wet pavement. The afternoon runs were dry, but there were only 3 of them, so in many ways the morning only helped with learning the layout of the course, the driving feel changed completely in the afternoon. I had to actively forget the way I drove it in the morning. The weather was also cold and in the 50's with a good breeze. In other words, stone cold tires at the start of every run.

Events with conditions like this have typically been bad for me, and previously I wound up 10-20% off my pace because I couldn't work out the kinks in my driving and figure out the course in only limited runs. Also days with cold tires have been generally bad for me. My car is light, and the tires just don't build up enough heat in cold weather to make the sticky rubber work like it should.

However, this past Sunday, I overcame these factors and put in my second best performance ever. I adjusted to the changing conditions reasonably, and each afternoon run was faster than the previous. As you may recall, I am also driving a car that is not on par with the kind of power and equipment allowed in my racing class, so I also track numbers relating to the stock class, into which my car almost, but doesn't quite fit. Certainly I don't have any significant advantages over a properly prepared stock class car, even if the rules won't let me in. Using the stock class adjustment, my time would have been in the top 40% of PAX standings.

But it gets better! My official best time for the day was 51.388 seconds. That was my second to last run, but my final run was much faster at 49.753 seconds. Unfortunately, I nicked a cone and got a 2 second penalty, so officially it only counts as 51.753. If I had missed the cone, it probably would have only slowed me by a tenth or so, and my PAX time would have been in the top 35%, or with the stock factor, the top 25%.

Me?!?! driving better than 75% of NER SCCA drivers? Unheard of!! But alas it didn't actually happen, so you won't hear of it just yet. Not for a couple more inches...

Also, this event marked the first time when I had a real chance to beat Russ, who drives the green Elise in stock class. That stat however must be taken with a grain of salt Russ hit one or more cones on all 3 afternoon runs. However, if you pit my +1 run against his best +1 run, I'm within a half second of his time. That's beginning to almost look competitive.

Here's my graphs, including a line for "what if I missed that $#!@& cone"...

So with all this success surely I gained some position in the season standings, right?

Nope. Even though I was only 3.6% slower than the fastest car in the class I was 4th of 5 drivers. First gets 9 points, second 6 points, third 4 points and fourth only gets me 3 points. It's a tough competitive class this year. That's actually a good thing. When I do find success I won't feel like it's a paper victory, and the competition is part of the fun. If I hadn't hit that cone I would have been less than .2 seconds behind first, and taken second. I'm certainly in the hunt.

Points standings look like this:

Don Kuehl (Blue Supercharged CRX)(3 events)24 points
Brian Kuehl (Blue Supercharged CRX)(1 events)9 points
Camron Bosnic (Flamed Turbo 240SX)(2 events)9 points
Bill Sallie(Blue Corvette with engine swap)(2 event)8 points
Gus Heck (Black N/A Lotus Elise)(2 events)7 points
Matt Neiman (Blue Turbo/Stroked Miata)(1 event)4 points

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Good practice

Over a month between SCCA races and what to do? Run with other clubs of course!

On May 14, I ran with the New England SVT Mustang/Cobra club. This club caters to muscle cars, in an area where muscle cars are just not as common as other areas of the country. Since they can't rely on Mustangs, and Factory 5 Cobras to fill out the ranks, other cars are welcome to race with them as well. They are a friendly, easy going bunch which is good for the enjoyment, but perhaps carries over into safety a bit too much.

My performance in the SVT event was pretty decent. I was running pretty fast, and I'm pleased to say that even with some fairly high speed elements on the course, I stayed agressive and on the second run of the afternoon (6th of the day) I put in a blistering performance. I had almost no major regrets about how I handled any of the elements. It was smooth, and clean and I had no cones through the entire run. But...

As I set up for my final blast to the finish I noticed that there was a spun out porsche that had gone out of the stop box and into the grass. It was about to pull back into the finish area.


I came to a full stop about 10 feet from the finish (and probably 50 ft from the porsche). After 10-15 seconds the porsche exited the stop box and I proceded across the finish line. My time was only 9 seconds slower than my best time of the day despite the full stop and wait. I'm sure I would have gained AT LEAST a second on my fastest scratch time. I know for a fact that I drove several sections substantially faster than any other run that day. I did ok on the turn around, didn't hesitate on the cone that caused so many people to go off course, took the second big corner in awesome form. I was fast through the slaloms, and on the gas early for the bigest straightest area. I slowed down less than any time before exiting that fast area, and still put myself in good position for the finish. Things just clicked on that run. Perhaps it was 103.6? perhaps even less?.

In another "Arggh, ALMOST" type moment, I also had a run that was 1.9 seconds faster but + 1 cone. The cone was at the finish, and there was no good reason to hit it, I just gave it gas a little too soon and based the cone on the way by. That run would have been a 104.6, or maybe I gained a 10th, hitting the cone, so say 104.7?

Perhaps the best part was when timing told the starter "Give him some extra space, he's a fast one." Nice to be called fast :). I also beat Barb Seger, although she wasn't on race tires, so it doesn't really count. In terms of numbers I was the 22nd fastest car out of 60. Imagining that I had not clipped the cone I would have been 14th fastest car, or if I not had to stop for the porsche, and my guess at the time is accurate I would have been 12th, or maybe 11th. So the top 20 out of 60 is clearly within reach, and the top 10 is probably still a bit tough to find.

On May 28, I ran with the renegade Miata club. In past events this is a club that I have tended to be somewhere between 20th and 30th fastest car out of about 65 cars. The course was tight and challenging, but the day was warm, and if there's one thing that old worn out hoosiers prefer, it's a warmer day. I ran fast, and consistently fast. One of the nice things about this event and the previous event was that my fastest official time was not a fluke. However in both events there was also a much faster time that got away. On the score sheet it says I had an 80.404 and my second best was 80.912.

The dirty secret however is that 80.912 was actually 78.912 + a 2 second penalty for hitting a cone. Just a little care and I probably could have finished with a 79.0 or so. That would have made me the 12th fastest car. As it was, I was the 16th fastest car, which is still a good improvement. However, it is worth noting that Renegade Miata doesn't attract quite as many high power cars, and their courses are more suited to small light cars. On the flip side they attract some very good miata drivers that don't go to the other clubs. Even so, I should do better there than SCCA or SVT.

All and all, I'm beginning to feel like there may come a day soon, when I stop hitting the cone at the finish, or a mystery cone on course, and take another step forward in the level of my driving. Once I do that, I will begin the hunt for fractions of a second. To date, I still hunt whole seconds.

And all of the above is on tires with 150+ runs. Based on the expressions of ghastly surprise when I told people how old the tires are and some durometer readings, I decided to mount the new set. Not a lot of excuses for next weekend now. Be interesting to see how i do on new tires. It's entirely possible that it will change enough about the car that I may have some adjusting to do. One interesting question is whether or not the tire pressures will need to change, I've been running 19 front, 21 rear (cold pressure). With my current setup, this leaves me relatively neutral. Only racing well tell us the answer.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Slow Start

How slow? 0.001 seconds slow. Perhaps if I had just sucked in my breath at the finish I would have found the smidgen of additional forward speed I needed to place second at the second points event. Unfortunately, I am in dire need of the points already. This was my first points of the season. I had been sick and unable to race the for the first event of the season. So after the first two events, SSM looks like this:

Don Kuehl(2 events)18 points
Camron Bosnic(2 events)9 points
Bill Sallie(1 event)6 points
Gus Heck(1 event)4 points

That's right, I'm in last place. However, in the broader picture vs my past performance this event was apparently my 4th or 5th fastest ever (depending on the stat you choose), and significantly faster than the non-points practice event. Another good thing is I had 3 times within .3 seconds of my fastest, so it wasn't really a fluke. So I was a lot faster in this race than the last time I ran which is good.

One thing that was a problem in this race, was the changing temps through the day messing with the tire pressures (Russ noticed it too). The last run of the morning and the first two run of the afternoon were mostly a waste because the pressures had gone off and I didn't realize it immediately. The car was pushing and then suddenly catching on the bumps making consistent cornering very difficult. Also the Hoosiers are getting old now with over 150 runs on them, so I'm at an increasing disadvantage there too. I have 2 practice events coming up (SVT club and Renegade Miata) so I will beat up the tires there and probably run stickers for the next points event.

One thing I can say is that it seems that I have managed to regain my speed from last year and it's time to forge ahead. It's pretty clear from the SS Pax statistic, that I'm more or less at the 50% mark as far as driving skill goes. Middle of the pack to start Year #3. The goal is to get myself into the top third by the end of the year. Top quartile is a stretch goal, since more than half of the drivers at that level are in double-digit years of experience. Top third is as much as I can expect realistically. This is also mathematically pretty... top 1/n where n is the years of experience.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Season Prep 2011

The season is about to begin. The car is out of the garage (then back in and out again on the rumor of snow). The following improvements have been made:

  1. I got Charlie-X to re-flash my ECU adding +8 hp, lowering the cam change over. The big lag followed by a kick in the butt is gone, and power uptake is much smoother. My butt-dyno seems to think there might be a bit more power, but that of course is non-scientific. What is clear is that the power delivery is a lot smoother.
  2. I flipped the Race tires so that the less worn insides are now on the outside.
  3. I added a Fujita F5 Cold Air Intake. This probably has negligible power benefits, but is 2lbs lighter, and I can see when the air filter gets dirty. The stock air box requires jack stands just to peek at the air filter. This one I can see through the side vent.
As you can see below, I may be gaining as much from a clean air filter as from chipping the car!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Arm Chair Nats

So what can an autocrosser do when the snow's still melting and racing's not possible? Arm chair racing. One of my favorite forms of arm chair racing is messing with statistical comparisons analyzing my past results. It's of course true that "past results do not guarantee future success", but they can be entertaining. This time I'm entertaining myself by trying to determine if my car is a good car for racing in the SSM class.

The last race of the season, I co-drove the car with an 18 year veteran racer. He is a top competitor at our regional races often placing in the top 5 or 10 out of 100+ drivers. He's driven my car twice, the second time at the New England Region Solo season finale (the event where the Stirling Moss season championship is held). This means that he has had a chance to get used to the car and his times might begin to represent what my car is capable of in the hands of a good driver. In other words, it's an opportunity to measure how my car might do on the national level (if I got better at driving it).

While it's easy to compare times within a single event, comparisons between events are not so easy. Every race has a different course. 55 seconds might be blazing fast on one, and dog slow on another. In order to make a comparison one needs to figure out what the relative length/speed of the two courses was.

Our region is possessed of 30+ people who went to the 2010 SCCA Solo II National Championships, 18 of whom raced the same cars at the season finale. To convert my times and Brian's times to the equivalent times at the National Championship, I calculated the ratio of National Time to Finale time for all 18 drivers, and averaged them. It turns out that the times people put up (over 2 days) at nationals average 2.42 times longer than their times at the finale.

Brian would have come in 16th out of 26, 10 seconds from first and 5 from a trophy. I would have come in 24th. However there's a lot of variation in the numbers so I calculated a confidence interval and it turns out that we can only say that there is a 95% chance that Brian would have placed between 4th and 23. In other words there's not much chance of his coming in first or last, but claiming an exact placement is simply beyond the capabilities of this analysis. The conclusion is "somewhere in the middle".

It's also worth noting that there are some not to exotic mods that could be done to improve my car by somewhere around 6-7 seconds (on a 120 second 2 day 2 course time such as nationals). Here's the list in the order I think they should be fixed (which also happens to be ascending price order).
  • FIX: At the finale, the rear pads were not bedded in and not mating properly with the rotor surface (+1-2 seconds?)
  • Chip the car +8hp and lower cam change (+1 sec?)
  • Stiffer springs and adjustable Race shocks (+2 seconds?)
  • Install Limited Slip Differential (+2 sec?)
With that done, and a 6-7 second boost Brian would be somewhere between 6th and 8th at nationals. It would be conceivable to trophy at nationals in my car without spending a fortune on it. Winning... well that probably requires a serious effort to maximize the power output from the car. Stroke the engine, reduce the tire diameter, lower the ride height, change the transmission, race clutch, lightweight flywheel, port/polish the engine, new valves, dyno custom tune (multiple times), header, de-cat, race gas... etc.

Can that small fortune gain 3 -4 seconds of time and put the car in range of winning at the national level... maybe. But the car would not even be close to street legal anymore. So all that stuff will not come any time soon. Particularly not before the car is paid off! :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The state of the Tune

A while back I mentioned mods. Yup, I've made some. The emphasis has been weight savings. Sheding 10lbs is equivalent to gaining 1hp on a car like this, so my car now performs at ~12 hp better than the stock curb weight. The Lotus is now 6% lighter than the stock curb weight when I race it. In addition, the sway bar and the tires are very important turning mods. The free-flow exhaust may also add a couple hp, but this is esentially unknown.

Given the 190bhp that this car makes, I am now at 9.8lbs/hp. For reference my (entirely stock) Mazda 3 is a peppy little hatch back with 23lbs/hp, and A Ferrari F430 has 6.6 pounds/hp.

What does the future hold? I have a Fujita F5 Cold Air intake ready to be added. This weighs only 2lbs so it should allow me to cut a few more pounds from a relatively high and rearward position. I'd probably get the best benefit out of a shock improvement, but that's pretty expensive. About $2500 Cheaper and probably next best is a chip-tune for the car. That would add 8hp and move the cam change over down by about 500 rpm. I would be down to 9.4 lbs/hp. One worry about adding power however is it may also make my open differential that much more obvious of a problem. The AC delete is free and probably sheds 10-15 lbs. I dont use it anyway, so I may do that if I can get the right drive belt.

However there is one mod that stands out above all others. Mostly, I need to tighten up the Nut behind the wheel! A driver with 18 years of experience recently proved that he could drive my car more than 3.5 seconds faster than me on a 60 sec course. The car is still faster than I am.

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.