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getting my ass handed to me

Old 08-08-05, 12:12 AM
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Angry getting my *** handed to me

ok guys, i need help. the last two weekends i've gotten my butt kicked autocrossing. first my setup.

89 TII, koni yellows on all four corners, racing beat front sway, enkei 16X7 OR-52s wrapped in hoosier 225/50ZR16 AS304's, corksport stainless brakelines and a K&N drop in filter. basically every performance mod i can make and still stay in stock class.

i run in the western washington sports car club series in stock A. the groupings are similar to SCCA except that they're broader, so i run against the STi, S2000, evo, 350Z, RX8 and 996.

when i got the car it had some crappy tires on it and all i had to do was touch the gas and the rear end would break loose in a turn. i put the hoosiers on and got rid of the oversteer. since i put the koni's and the front sway on, i have horrible understeer and i cant figure it out! i go into a turn and when i hit the edge of the tire grip, rather than spin the end out, i start plowing. the only thing i can think to do is crank up the stiffness on the rear shocks to almost full and drop the fronts to nuthin, but then i have trouble in the slaloms.

does anybody have any suggestions for how to run this setup? i know it depends on the course, but just in general. i need to keep speed in the turns, or the turbo bogs down when i exit.

i dont want to be the kind of guy that blames his failures on the car, but when i drive in my friends 350Z, i make times just a few 10ths off of his in his car. but i get behind the wheel of the FC and just cant seem to get there. now that we have an STi running with us, it's getting brutal. hard to give up those 100 horses and still prevail. feel free to call me a wuss.

somebody told me today that the 7 doesnt have enough to compete in stock, but that compared to a lot of cars, its pretty cheap to turn it into an awesome prepared car. lots of easy ways to increase power. thoughts?
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Old 08-08-05, 12:46 AM
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Well, for starters the car is hopelessly outclassed in A Stock, and second, you may not be the best criver in the world either. I autocross and regularly see fast drivers in nearly stock cars beating slow drivers in highly prepped cars. It's about 80-90% driver and only about 10-20% car. That said, at any given level of talent, a faster car will help you go faster. The FC was also designed with understeer, and the big front bar will help make it understeer more. You could try to use some of those camber bolts to get some more negative camber in the front and that should help remove some understeer. That and you can put the stock bar back on the car and the understeer will get better. Basically, if you increase the amount of bar on any given end of the car, that end will start to slide sooner compared to the other end. You can also alter your driving style to try to get the car to understeer less or to drive around the problem, making it less of a handicap, but in the end you'll never be top dog in that class, the TII just can't compete.
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Old 08-08-05, 02:23 AM
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Lose as much weight as you can:

-Remove the sunroof, and window motor.
-Get some lighter rims than enkei, maybe try to find some vert wheels.
-Get an aluminum hood if you dont have one. Maybe get an NA aluminum hood and move your intercooler(considered stock?)
-Remove the spare tire.
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Old 08-08-05, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by tomm
Lose as much weight as you can:
The guy is racing in stock and none of that is allowed.
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Old 08-08-05, 08:13 AM
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Get rid of the front bar.

If it started understeering when you added that...one could conclude...well, just try going back to the stock front bar.

Also, what has been said about the driver being 80-90% is completely true. If you are new to the sport you need to give yourself a few seasons before you can really start comparing yourself to the top drivers in the area.

Hoosiers may not be the best choice for a person that is new to the sport. They are a hard tire to get a good feel for. You can easily over drive them and run into issues like you are having. When you start to get a push the natural tendancy is to turn the wheel more. This only makes the problem worse. Hoosiers are not good at telling you this. You really need to uncrank the wheel to get the grip back.

The best suggestions I have heard from others is that if you are having a problem with the car...especcially a push, you are driving too hard. You NEED to slow down and let the tires work.

Perfectly tuning the car is a science, getting a driver that can drive that car at 100% consistently is not.
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Old 08-08-05, 09:43 AM
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How long have you been autocrossing? How long have you had the T2?

Can an experienced autocrosser drive your car faster than you can? I regularly let the local hot-shoe take my car for fun runs. I get to watch how he handles the car through the course and discuss the results with him after the event.

Also, if you haven't already, read Damon's posts with his Geez plots and discussions of the course and car response. I've learned tons about my car by reading what he's feeling in his car. Granted, I'm running an NA FC, but the concepts still apply. Translating what the butt, hands, and feet feel into meaningful inputs takes a while to learn, and even longer to make instinctive.
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Old 08-08-05, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by RotaryAXer
Get rid of the front bar.

If it started understeering when you added that...one could conclude...well, just try going back to the stock front bar.

Also, what has been said about the driver being 80-90% is completely true. If you are new to the sport you need to give yourself a few seasons before you can really start comparing yourself to the top drivers in the area.

Hoosiers may not be the best choice for a person that is new to the sport. They are a hard tire to get a good feel for. You can easily over drive them and run into issues like you are having. When you start to get a push the natural tendancy is to turn the wheel more. This only makes the problem worse. Hoosiers are not good at telling you this. You really need to uncrank the wheel to get the grip back.

The best suggestions I have heard from others is that if you are having a problem with the car...especcially a push, you are driving too hard. You NEED to slow down and let the tires work.

Perfectly tuning the car is a science, getting a driver that can drive that car at 100% consistently is not.
That's what I was thinking too, you said it yourself. If the car started to understeer when u added the bar, take it off!

I also have a feeling you are overdriving the car into the corners. You probably just push all the way through and don't have a chance to let the car oversteer because you're not really getting on the throttle until the exit. Jumping off the brakes just before you turn into a corner is a pretty good way to get the car to understeer. Try trail braking more and only add throttle as you unwind the steering wheel. Trying to use the throttle to cure understeer will usually only make the understeer worse (unless you're in a viper in the rain).

do you have the front upper strut mounts turned for the most caster? doing that that would help with understeer as well. You need to get as much + caster and - camber as you possibly can. try a smidgen of toe out as well...
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Old 08-08-05, 10:21 AM
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Years ago when I first added a big front bar to my FD I had big problems with the car pushing because I was bringing the car into the turn too hot. At the time I couldn't fully grasp what I needed to do differently but you adjust. If you're only having trouble in corners where you're heavily braking just before entry then I guarantee you're coming in too fast. Back your brake points up a little so you can turn the car a little earlier without also asking it to slow down so much.

Also realize the stiffer bar will make the tires load more quickly when you turn in so it's easy to put too much steering in too fast when you've been used to a soft car. When you start cranking in all the steering without really focusing on what the front tires are doing it's easy to wind in too much and end up with the front at a really high slip angle that makes it push. Concentrate on feeling the steering force build as you turn the car in. Peak grip is just after the instant where steering force begins to drop as you wind the wheel. I've always described it as a floaty feeling; the car doesn't bind up and is light on it's feet when you are using all the tire.

I find the big front bar forces me to give up a little speed on entry, but I more than make up for it once the car begins to rotate and I can use more power through and out of the corner.
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Old 08-08-05, 10:24 AM
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To keep it simple...

Increasing front roll stiffness in general causes the car to understeer more. Put the stock one back on. Or... get teh racing beat rear sway bar as well.

There is a lot to suspension tuning and just buying a bar and putting it on almost always does not help you.
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Old 08-08-05, 01:03 PM
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wow! thanks for all the responses guys.

Originally Posted by dbgeek
How long have you been autocrossing? How long have you had the T2?

Can an experienced autocrosser drive your car faster than you can? I regularly let the local hot-shoe take my car for fun runs. I get to watch how he handles the car through the course and discuss the results with him after the event.

Also, if you haven't already, read Damon's posts with his Geez plots and discussions of the course and car response. I've learned tons about my car by reading what he's feeling in his car. Granted, I'm running an NA FC, but the concepts still apply. Translating what the butt, hands, and feet feel into meaningful inputs takes a while to learn, and even longer to make instinctive.
so, to answer your question, this is my 1st full season and i've only had the TII since may. believe me, i'm well aware of my novice skill level. as for letting somebody better than me drive it, yeah, i actually tried that. i'm in the boeing autosports club and we regularly have saturday practices. in fact, we had one on sat, the day before the event. 80% of us that show are relative beginners, but we have some national champions in the group and they come and help out. this weekend, we were all letting huricane hernandez drive our cars. this guy gets in everybody's ride and drops 2-3 seconds off their best time on his first run. he got in mine, dropped 1 sec off of mine in the TII. i took his line on the next run and matched him. i know i need to learn the car better. trying to figure out how not to overdrive it.

any thoughts on adjusting the rear shocks to induce oversteer?
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Old 08-08-05, 01:43 PM
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Shocks will only help you so much. Problems with a TII (I used to autox one way back when) is that you can't get much negative camber in front and lack of bottom end power. The bigger bar may end up being a help, but you need to do other things to compensate. Make sure you have camber maxed out in front, and some toe out as well. You should look at running less toe in in the rear as well. As an extreme, some people run toe out in the rear to help compensate for front end push, but that might make street driving a bit more interesting.

As another poster said, that car is not going to get it done in BS. With some good driving you can probably do OK regionally since driver skill is a much bigger variable there.

-Andy
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Old 08-09-05, 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by RotaryAXer
Get rid of the front bar.
I totally agree. The last thing you want on a plowing car is a stiffer front anti-sway bar. I actually swapped in a stiffer rear bar on my car and kept the stock base model front bar to get rid of the understeer that FCs have built in.

And autocrossing sucks. Standing around all day paying $30 for a minute and a half of seat time in a course where it's too damn tight to even wind up second gear is irrational. How can you get to be a better driver if it takes many years of attending every event to even get an hour of seat time?

*edit* you can make your own camber adjusters by slotting the strut tower bolt holes, which makes a tremendous improvement on turn in ability.


Last edited by 88IntegraLS; 08-09-05 at 01:14 AM.
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Old 08-09-05, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by 88IntegraLS
And autocrossing sucks. Standing around all day paying $30 for a minute and a half of seat time in a course where it's too damn tight to even wind up second gear is irrational. How can you get to be a better driver if it takes many years of attending every event to even get an hour of seat time?
Name a better, cheaper, less dangerous way to get in a car and drive at the limit for any given amount of time. Open track days are the only thing that can even come close. You get more seat time for sure, but if you don't live close to a track that regularly has them then you have to drive a number of hours just to get to and from the event which can easily blow any cost advantage away, especially if it requires an overnight stay. Autocrosses can happen at just about any decent sized parking lot.

If you have never been on a course that allowed you to max out second gear then you need to find some bigger events. I honestly have only been to one lot that didn't allow a course that would get my car to the rev buzzer is second gear. Having a good course design goes a long way towards making any event worth while. Maybe you need to seek out other clubs in your area that have longer more open courses.

Originally Posted by 88IntegraLS
*edit* you can make your own camber adjusters by slotting the strut tower bolt holes, which makes a tremendous improvement on turn in ability.
This is forbidden in the stock classes for SCCA.
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Old 08-09-05, 07:46 AM
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Stiffer front end and softer rear both sway and shocks will help the push. (-)Camber in front .Zero toe and probably a s much caster as can be set.
Always remember YOU can sit on the gas through a turn and feel the car push. That slows you down more than you think.Feel the tires and slow down to their max adhesion before they push.Go in a little slower than give gas until you feel the edge of push. Trail braking you need to practice but why not.
Try to keep you mind from yelling "GO,GO,GO ....Damn it, **** ......Oh well"
Take the 1st run at a nice quick speed and pay attention to what the car does so the next run you benefit from it.
Slow down to go fast.
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Old 08-09-05, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by 88IntegraLS
And autocrossing sucks. Standing around all day paying $30 for a minute and a half of seat time in a course where it's too damn tight to even wind up second gear is irrational. How can you get to be a better driver if it takes many years of attending every event to even get an hour of seat time?
Then your local courses suck.

...and you'll learn more in a minute and a half of intense concentration then you will in an entire afternoon of just driving your car around a road course. I ride with novices all the time and in 30 seconds I can explain a few changes to them and they see a huge improvement. If it takes you an entire afternoon to learn how to do something right than you are not concentrating on what you need to be doing. It's a hell of a lot bigger cerebral challenge to get 25 turns right in 30 seconds than to get 10 right in a minute twenty five. I enjoy trackdays and have a blast but the quality of the learning experience there does not measure up to what you can get from a good autocross course. The mile per hour speed of the track/course is irrelevant, it's how highly and how often you stress the car in a given amount of time that gives the true sensation of speed to the driver.

Experience doesn't automatically equal comprehension and success. If it did I would be in the NBA making millions of dollars
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Old 08-09-05, 09:02 AM
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Just because you are new to autocross or the car doesn't mean you are slow. I was trying to get an idea of what we were trying to address. Understeer is a symptom of over-driving the car. As Damon said, you are trying to make the car do more than grip will allow. Back off a bit. ApexL8t hit it with "Slow down to go fast." My FC likes straight-line braking with turn-in just before releasing the brakes to induce rotation; follow with constant 50%ish throttle to apex, nail it on the track-out. If I enter a corner too fast, the understeer is awful. If I enter a little slow, I can get on the throttle earlier to compensate for the reduced cornering load. The moral is that IF I'm going to screw up, it is better to brake a little earlier or too much than to brake late or too little. You can make up the difference with the throttle.

As far as your car's understeer:
I run with 0 toe all around - wanders a bit on the road, but turn-in is precise and handling is still neutral. When I ran with stock suspension, the alignment made a pretty good difference in my car's response to steering and mid-corner throttle input. I normally would NOT recommend removing the stiffer front bar - flatter cornering is generally better because your tire contact patch is working more for you; I would normally tell you to add a stiffer rear bar to balance it out. Stock classing, however, relegates suspension mods to the shocks and FRONT SWAYBAR ONY. In order to try to retain the stiffer front bar, stiffen your rear shocks and raise your tire pressures in the rear. I can raise my rear tire pressure 2 lbs and induce instant, terminal, uber-oversteer to the point where trail-braking = super-dorifto. BUT, I still run on Falken Azenis RT-215s - street rubber, so someone else will have to tell you how the hoosiers react to pressure changes.

Tire pressures: http://www.autocross.us/forum/viewtopic.php?t=46

Things to consider:
Stiffen front = more understeer
Stiffen rear = more oversteer
Front pressure ++ = more understeer
Rear pressure ++ = more oversteer

Remember, it's all physics. The traction circle doesn't lie, and you cannot "bend" the laws of physics. If you are not able to "tune" your understeer out, then you may want to go back to the softer front bar.

Keep telling yourself "Smooth is fast." "Slow down to go fast"
Keep thinking "What is my car telling me?"

Like Damon does, analyze your runs. Think about where you can go faster, and where you need to go slower. Adjust braking points, turn-in points, and find the line your car likes. This will result in much smoother transitions, upsetting the car less, and allowing maximum grip and tire utilization.

Autocross teaches car control and awareness. Setup days and fun runs are priceless for the extra seat-time. When you are ready, do a NASA HPDE or other sponsored track day WITH INSTRUCTOR, you will not regret it.

Last edited by dbgeek; 08-09-05 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 08-09-05, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by dbgeek
The moral is that IF I'm going to screw up, it is better to brake a little earlier or too much than to brake late or too little. You can make up the difference with the throttle.
Oooo. I've never done that Yeah, that's the big one. If you go into a turn too hot all you can do is wait, wait, wait until the car finally slows enough and you can turn it in. There is no sense in fighting the car if it won't turn in, just keep braking in as straight a line as possible and wait for the car to slow enough before turning it in. I spend that time of waiting cussing at myself By this time you're on the wrong side of where you'd like to be going slowly and have screwed everything up. If you come in a little slow, well no problem; you just speed the car up earlier in the turn. Too much speed on the way in will absolutely kill you everytime. Too little speed won't hurt you near as much as long as you realize you are a little slow and get off the brakes earlier and onto the gas sooner.
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Old 08-09-05, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by 88IntegraLS
And autocrossing sucks. Standing around all day paying $30 for a minute and a half of seat time in a course where it's too damn tight to even wind up second gear is irrational. How can you get to be a better driver if it takes many years of attending every event to even get an hour of seat time?
Originally Posted by DamonB
Then your local courses suck.

...and you'll learn more in a minute and a half of intense concentration then you will in an entire afternoon of just driving your car around a road course. I ride with novices all the time and in 30 seconds I can explain a few changes to them and they see a huge improvement. If it takes you an entire afternoon to learn how to do something right than you are not concentrating on what you need to be doing. It's a hell of a lot bigger cerebral challenge to get 25 turns right in 30 seconds than to get 10 right in a minute twenty five. I enjoy trackdays and have a blast but the quality of the learning experience there does not measure up to what you can get from a good autocross course. The mile per hour speed of the track/course is irrelevant, it's how highly and how often you stress the car in a given amount of time that gives the true sensation of speed to the driver.

Experience doesn't automatically equal comprehension and success. If it did I would be in the NBA making millions of dollars
And to add to this, good autoXer's make good road racers, but not all good road racers make good autoXer's. Thats from something I read I wanna say something having to do with SCCA.

AutoXing is way more intense for that short period than a road course, you actually get to rest on the straights on a road course, but you never get to rest on an AutoX course.
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Old 08-09-05, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by in-zane

any thoughts on adjusting the rear shocks to induce oversteer?


Soften the fronts up, stiffen the rears up. Try to keep them relatively close to their rates. 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 4/5 etc. The stiffness should really depend how well your tires are. higher quality, fresher tires can take higher stiffness, but more tire wear. Drop the front sway bar

You're tire pressure will play a huge part in this as well. As well as the person above you told you. I'm not sure if you can put Hawk Brake Pads on the car and still remain stock, but ss lines and hawk pads means I can brake later to induce my drift, its a real nice.
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Old 08-09-05, 11:04 AM
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great tips guys. i'm gonna have to print this and take it with me to the next practice

Originally Posted by dbgeek
I would normally tell you to add a stiffer rear bar to balance it out. Stock classing, however, relegates suspension mods to the shocks and FRONT SWAYBAR ONY.
yeah, that's a pain in the ***, isn't it? most of those are sold in matched pairs based on the chassis characteristics your looking for. seems kinda silly just to allow one.

Originally Posted by 88IntegraLS
Standing around all day paying $30 for a minute and a half of seat time in a course where it's too damn tight to even wind up second gear is irrational.
heh, yeah but our practices are FREE!!

well, i'm definitely gonna finish out the season with this car, so i'll see what i can do to implement the driving improvements and mod my tire pressure settings. i'd been running the rears lower than the fronts. the question then becomes, do i get a more competitive car, or do i drop the $3-10k on this one to make it competitive in the improved or prepared classes. if i swap turbo's will that put me into modified?
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Old 08-09-05, 08:56 PM
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Maybe our local clubs suck. No practice, no fun runs, tight courses that are more work to navigate than drive, etc. I'd rather spend my cerebral effort driving the car than trying to figure out which cone to dodge.

Name a better event with better cost / seat time ratio? How about the SSCC enduro cross?

http://www.ssccmedford.com/index.php...d=15&Itemid=44

5-6 min seat time, 4 runs, tons of practice before the event, all for roughly $50. 50/(5x4) = $2.50 per seat minute, not counting the additional practice you are able to get the day before the event. Our local autox events: 30/(4x0.75) = $10 per seat minute. Autocrossing isn't as cheap as you might think when you view it from cost per seat minute.

Sorry but some of us need, and have an immense capacity for PRACTICE. Our local autocrosses don't allow that, it's $30, do your work asgt. stand around, do your runs and you're outta there. No fun runs, the club test and tune day always gets overbooked the first night the entry form is made avail., just a bunch of BS to those of us who want to get some experience. I didn't get where I am in engineering school and life in general by walking the course and doing my best without any practice, I got there by doing a ton of practice problems and homework. Some of us only learn by doing.

Point taken about our local clubs sucking. I really want to get back into autocrossing but I'll wait until I move out of this state.
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Old 08-09-05, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by 88IntegraLS
Name a better event with better cost / seat time ratio? How about the SSCC enduro cross?

http://www.ssccmedford.com/index.php...d=15&Itemid=44

5-6 min seat time, 4 runs, tons of practice before the event, all for roughly $50. 50/(5x4) = $2.50 per seat minute, not counting the additional practice you are able to get the day before the event. Our local autox events: 30/(4x0.75) = $10 per seat minute. Autocrossing isn't as cheap as you might think when you view it from cost per seat minute.
Well, that looks like a great way to spend a day. However, I have a feeling that that type of event and venue is very rare in the rest of the country. It looks really fun though. Hmmm, maybe I can convince some of the local kart tracks to do something like this.

Believe me, I have done the math on a seat time bassis. You should try it with a $60 track day in which you have 4-20 minute sessions. You also need to include things like tires, brakes, gas, hotel/camping (if applicable). For me I have less of a rush and far less adrenaline pumping for that 20 minute session than a 40 second autocross run. It is far too likely that the 20 minute session only really allows 2 or 3 clean laps that you don't have to deal with slower traffic or other cars spinning off the track.

I think what it really boils down to is what DamonB is talking about. Autocrossing requires you to be at 100% for the entire run. You need to learn things extremely fast and apply any all experience you have to make it through a run. One open lap at a track of average size may be 1.5-2 minutes long but half of that time you are just waiting for the next turn.


On to your practicing comments:
Have you ever had to think on your feet, have you ever been asked a question that you hadn't practiced for? Life, doesn't give you many chances to practice. Why should motorsports?

If you think that your life in school up until now is any reflection of the real world you are in for a big suprise.

When you are sitting accross the table from a man that has spent your entire life time working on and building the very things you are supposed to know about, you don't have a lot of time to practice and come up with an answer. It is now or never.

Dealling with the unexpected pretty much defines the average design engineers life.

In the real world problems are never easy and they most definately don't have only a single correct answer. It is fun.
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Old 08-09-05, 11:58 PM
  #23  
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I think slow, but I usually come up with the right answers (at least in school). I spent 7 years in "the real world" before coming to school for my degree, anyhow, I'm not going to be drawn into a debate about personal faults in a thread about getting your *** handed to you in an autocross. My point still stands: some of us need more preparation in order go hit our peak, doesn't mean we are failures at life or that life's unexpected turns need to be dealt with in a split second like an autocross course...........
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Old 08-10-05, 01:18 AM
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When I first started autocrossing I hated it. I got lost in the cones several times. Other people complained and the cure for that club at first was more cones. Then it was like driving through walls of cones with very little option for car placement. The small parking lots didn't help either. Then it changed to fewer cones and it made it easier to navigate. The course setup made a big difference.

Every time you autocross you get practice. At first I hated autocrossing after lapping the open track. With the big track you know where the track goes, where to brake and where the car needs to be for each turn. With a sea of orange cones that looks different strapped into the car than standing up it's much easier to get lost. Even if you royally f-up the turn on the road course you still know which way to go. Get off course in those cones and all you've got is a DNF. Autocrossing is a lot like boxing where you have to make a lot of quick moves. It's violent. Road racing (at least in cars without downforce) is more like a ballet. It's much more graceful. It's still very powerful and demanding, but it doesn't beat you up.

I keep autocrossing as it makes me a better driver.

One thing I will say though. Autocrossing is a largely artificial environment. The widest turns in many autocrosses correspond to some of the tightest turns you'll ever find on a twisty highway or road course. Cars optimized for autocrossing can kill you at high speeds too.
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Old 08-10-05, 06:49 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by 88IntegraLS
...personal faults...
It was an analogy. It was not a personal attack. I was just trying to relate autocrossing to something we are all familiar with....life. If we had time to practice and get perfect at everything we did it would be pretty boring. Maybe it was a bad analogy.

I guess I may have sounded a bit condescending. That wasn't intentional.

Enough of this.

OP,

sorry for the OT, but he started it....
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