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Learning to crawl before entering a marathon.

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Learning to crawl before entering a marathon.

Old 08-31-09, 10:14 AM
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Learning to crawl before entering a marathon.

So I doubt I have a racing career in my future... I had an autocross in my FC. First ever track experience aside from Mazda's "Rev-It-Up" and "Zoom Zoom Live" promotional events.

The course workers burned off plenty of calories that day, and I think the only cones I didn't knock over were the ones at the end of the stop garage...

Out of six runs:
Off Course/DNF
Off Course/DNF
45.something
47.something
Off Course/DNF
49.something

Fastest time of the day was a 38.something, and a similarly configured car got a 39.something...

I'm gonna go ahead and be an ******* and blame it on the car. I've got the wrong tires on the front. 195-65R15 touring tires where I should have 205-60R15 to match the "performance" tires I have out back.

But I know that squishy thing behind the steering wheel needs upgraded before I go racing.

I need some help/advice in braking some bad habits...

Habit 1: Entering turns WAY too hot, resulting in me needing to hit the brakes in the turn.

Habit 2: When the car is understeering and continues to go straight despite having the wheel turned, I turn the wheel some more.

Now, logic would dictate that if the front wheels are sliding, more steering input is useless and will probably fold the bead off of the front tires, which I have aired down dangerously low (17 PSI) to compensate for the lack of contact patch and hard rubber composition.

But I don't think about that when I'm headed for cones and panicking as if they're a solid object.


The Carroll Smith series, "Drive to Win," "Tune to Win," and "Engineer to Win," are on order from Amazon.

What else should I look into.
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Old 08-31-09, 10:33 AM
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always a good practice after having walked the course several times..
to run the course the first time 'learning' it.. figure out your line.. shift points..etc
while working study others and see if you can vary your workstation for different vantage points of the course..
pick your class and mod the car appropriately.. suspension and tires are your friend..
no need to beat yourself up over your first event.. wont be long after you start to pick up on certain things...
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Old 08-31-09, 10:53 AM
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I overheard a quote this spring that totally changed my driving habits. Another 7 driver had taken a very experienced racer for a ride to troubleshoot his driving. He was told:

"You're braking too late, and turning too much".

Another thing I learned this year is, stay as close to the cones as you can, regardless of what the "proper" line is. This is because everyone else is doing this, and if you get away from the cones then you end up in all the sand and **** that everyone else kicks out to the edges of the course. In tight to the cones is where the traction is.

Tire pressure: You're doing it all wrong! You'll need higher pressures to achieve traction, not lower pressures. Yes, even with your oddball tire sizing. I typically run my Sumitomos at over 50 psi, so I would recommend you try 40 or higher. You will be amazed at the difference.

Have an experienced driver ride with you, and you ride with them.

DNFs are a sign that you did not walk the course enough times. Walk it, walk it, repeat, repeat, repeat. You can't walk it too many times. Then, go back and sit in your car and visualize every turn of the course. If you are unclear on any of the sections, then walk it again. The last thing you need to be thinking about when you are racing is where the course goes. You should know the course well enough that it comes naturally to you, allowing you to concentrate on maintaining speed.

A small dab of toe out can help reduce the understeer, if you feel like messing with it.

Get all of your braking done BEFORE you start to turn in. Once you get that mastered, then you can start playing around with a little braking in the first part of the turn to see how it affects the car's handling.

What gear were you running in? I see a lot of 7 owners try to run courses in 1st gear, but you really need to get into 2nd to get the fast times.

What kind of suspension mods do you have?


.
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Old 08-31-09, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Kentetsu View Post
DNFs are a sign that you did not walk the course enough times. Walk it, walk it, repeat, repeat, repeat. You can't walk it too many times. Then, go back and sit in your car and visualize every turn of the course. If you are unclear on any of the sections, then walk it again. The last thing you need to be thinking about when you are racing is where the course goes. You should know the course well enough that it comes naturally to you, allowing you to concentrate on maintaining speed.
I was busy tying my battery down with a cut off piece of passenger seat belt... Failed tech when I arrived. Totally forgot that I didn't have a tie down.

What gear were you running in? I see a lot of 7 owners try to run courses in 1st gear, but you really need to get into 2nd to get the fast times.
1st up to the buzzer. Every time I got to 2nd, I'd be coming up to a turn and have to brake again, skidding to a stop mid turn because I was understeering and having to start over in 1st again.

What kind of suspension mods do you have?
Ohlins coilivers (Height adjustable with spacers, no threaded collar on the shock, adjustable rebound dampers, High 300's spring rate.)
Suspension techniques REAR sway bar.
Stock GXL front sway bar... (Have the matching Suspension Technique piece, but was told not to install it to reduce understeer.)

The rest of the car is stock 1986 GXL with a full exhaust. Power Steering delete coming soon.
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Old 08-31-09, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Pele View Post
So I doubt I have a racing career in my future...
Road racing is completely different than AutoX so don't give up yet. I will tell you, I completely suck at autoX. Never done well at it and have not run enough of them to get any better. In road racing I was fairly quick. Won nationals in spec vehicles.

I guess the best way to say it is. Not all road racers are good at autox. Not all autoxers are good at road racing. Most quick autocrosers are quick road racers but some lack the wheel to wheel talent needed.

If your first autox didn't suck, I would have been surprised. Keep at it. You should get better with seat time.

-billy
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Old 08-31-09, 02:01 PM
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to go along with what billy said, racing is a skill or craft it takes a while to learn how to do it.

http://www.speedsecrets.com/ check out his books...
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Old 08-31-09, 02:55 PM
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Don't mess with the car. Don't mess with the car. Don't mess with the car.

Walk the course. Walk the course. Walk the course.

Slow In, Fast Out. Brake in a straight line.

Start in 1st, shift to 2nd. Drive the course in 2nd. 1st may feel faster but it's hard to be smooth. I bet you'll find you're faster just driving it all in 2nd.

Don't give up. My first autocross was in an automatic Honda Civic. It understeered all over the place, I was slow, and I blamed the transmission and not having any horsepower. After a few events and some help from a couple of guys I met there I was starting to get the hang of it. Within a few years and a car change or two ('90 Civic -> '92 Civic -> '82 RX7 -> '87 RX7) I'd gone from understeering and blaming the car to running for FTD...

Get the car set up and then leave it alone for a while. You don't want to be chasing the car _and_ the driver all at the same time!
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Old 08-31-09, 03:05 PM
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^ So don't get new tires?

And I'll have more time to walk the course next time, as I'm replacing that battery tray and hold down this week.

I had to find something to pass tech when I arrived. A seatbelt worked for this time:

Last edited by Pele; 02-11-11 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 08-31-09, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Pele View Post
^ So don't get new tires?
Start with a good baseline. If you have the cash, put a nice matched set of tires on the car. But, honestly, you'll learn a lot more car control with the slippery tires and when you do put on grippy tires everything you've learned will still apply -- it'll just happen when you're going faster.

Just don't go messing with the car between every event or you'll never know if you made the car better/worse or if the driver is getting better/worse. :-)

What tires are on the car now?
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Old 08-31-09, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Kentetsu View Post
Tire pressure: You're doing it all wrong! You'll need higher pressures to achieve traction, not lower pressures. Yes, even with your oddball tire sizing. I typically run my Sumitomos at over 50 psi, so I would recommend you try 40 or higher. You will be amazed at the difference.
Higher PSI? I've always heard mark your tires with chalk or shoe polish and lower the pressure util you're using the tire up to the edge of the tread. It's what I've been doing and what I reccomend to people and It's worked out great.

I think the biggest thing killing Pele were his tires. 195/65 all seasons on the front.
I normally run 225/50/15's Kumho V710's at 32 PSI on Mustang wheels. At the autox on saturday I ran Stock S5 T-II wheels with 205/55/16 Kumho Ecsta Supra 712's. Front's were 20 psi and rears were 23psi. I was oversteering plenty and I stayed in first the whole time.
My AVG. time was a high 41 and my best was a 39.53.

I have similar suspension to Pele. I'm running the ST rear anti-roll bar and have tokico illumia's on 5 with ground control coilovers.

My car is an 89 GTUs with a fresh engine.

I think Pele just needs a more aggressive wheel/tire setup and more seat time.
Set yourself up to oversteer when you enter the curve, Don't try to correct your understeer by turning more and mashing the gas.

This course was pretty tight though, hard for the FC and it's lack of torque. My time would have been much worse if I would have gone into second because I wouldn't have had the power out of the turns. I do hate being "That Guy" who rides in 1st the whole time.
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Old 08-31-09, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by gkmccready View Post
Start with a good baseline. If you have the cash, put a nice matched set of tires on the car. But, honestly, you'll learn a lot more car control with the slippery tires and when you do put on grippy tires everything you've learned will still apply -- it'll just happen when you're going faster.
I'm going to respectfully disagree on this point. Learning to compensate for excessive sidewall flex (and the usual accompanying under steer on turn in) in a sloppy tire is something you are going to have to unlearn as soon as you step up to a decent performance tire. I think the best thing you could do is just get a MATCHED set of tires, preferably at least performance-biased ones. The mismatch is just gonna keep killing you.

+1 on the 2nd gear suggestions, unless it is an insanely tight course, I launch and throw it into 2nd as soon as I get through any initial elements or run out of gear, whichever comes first. The only time I'm downshifting is in a serious pin turn on a small parking lot course.

In the end though, SEAT TIME SEAT TIME SEAT TIME! I've found it takes a few (ideally consecutive) events for things to start to slow down enough for a novice to actually start driving the course and being aware of what is happening and what they are doing, versus just reacting to the course. I know my first couple times out, I was happy just to complete a run, and was too excited/nervous to really be able to review a run in my head and know what I was doing wrong in specific corners. This is where your instructors can really help you out. Try to run some DC region events after nationals are done, they have some incredible drivers there who will be more than happy to help. I'd invite you up to Philly on the 20th, but I'm not sure how much of a drive it is for you.

FCs are generally decent handling cars and can be a great platform to learn on. Don't get discouraged and keep at it. I've been told by numerous good drivers that it really takes at least 3 years before you really start to get fast.
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Old 09-01-09, 01:26 AM
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Ohlins? Wait......what?

If you really do have ohlins then you have way too much suspension for your level of understanding how the car handles. Match Tires to a somewhat sports oriented tire. General rule of thumb is the higher the sidewall, the more pressure you run. If your suspension is ride adjustable, make sure its not slammed. Give the front and the rear especially some height to articulate. The more g's your car will hold the more it will yaw. Not bottoming out the suspension will help especially in the rear.
The FC chassis is a very touchy one when driving at the edge. It is much like the ap1 S2000 in the way that when you make a mistake, it can bite your head off. Snap oversteer/understeer and general sloppiness can ensue with over enthusiastic inputs. Take some time and learn the vehicle. Ideally you would want to start with a nearly stock vehicle, but the suspension sounds a little on the not so stock side.

Have some of the local hot shoes ride with you. They will point the main things out to you. A lot of them will be very blunt if you tell them to be. Some of the largest mistakes are the most simple. Get comfortable driving the car fast, but you need to learn the coarse and LOOK AHEAD! Your going to hear that a lot.
Hope that was helpful
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Old 09-01-09, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by gkmccready View Post
Start with a good baseline. If you have the cash, put a nice matched set of tires on the car. But, honestly, you'll learn a lot more car control with the slippery tires and when you do put on grippy tires everything you've learned will still apply -- it'll just happen when you're going faster.

Just don't go messing with the car between every event or you'll never know if you made the car better/worse or if the driver is getting better/worse. :-)

What tires are on the car now?
Front - Hankook Optimo (Touring All Season) 195-65R15
Rear - Falken Ziex 415something soemthing 205-60R15

Originally Posted by jdmsuper7 View Post
I think the best thing you could do is just get a MATCHED set of tires, preferably at least performance-biased ones. The mismatch is just gonna keep killing you.
Still shopping
https://www.rx7club.com/suspension-wheels-tires-brakes-20/another-pick-my-tire-thread-860530/

Though I did pick up a set of Mustang wheels with Toyo Proxies RA1s 225-50R16 last night for $140... For that price I couldn't pass the deal up.

Originally Posted by dpf22 View Post
Ohlins? Wait......what?

If you really do have ohlins then you have way too much suspension for your level of understanding how the car handles.
Yes Ohlins. If I'm gonna spend money, I'm gonna get good ****.

I've always hated the FCs I've driven back when I had my FB. I've felt Buicks that felt tighter. Every FC I've driven with OE suspension felt like I was driving some sort of land yacht. More navigating rather than driving. Granted something may have been wrong with them. I didn't own them. Then again, I bought this GXL outta some guy's front yard and it had OE springs and Tokico blue shocks... It felt close to the others.

This suspension fixed the FC for me. It feels like a go-kart, like my old FB did.

I'll check the shock settings and lighten up the damping a bit, but I'm not pulling them off.

The FC chassis is a very touchy one when driving at the edge. It is much like the ap1 S2000 in the way that when you make a mistake, it can bite your head off. Snap oversteer/understeer and general sloppiness can ensue with over enthusiastic inputs. Take some time and learn the vehicle. Ideally you would want to start with a nearly stock vehicle, but the suspension sounds a little on the not so stock side.

Have some of the local hot shoes ride with you. They will point the main things out to you. A lot of them will be very blunt if you tell them to be. Some of the largest mistakes are the most simple. Get comfortable driving the car fast, but you need to learn the coarse and LOOK AHEAD! Your going to hear that a lot.
Hope that was helpful
Never driven an S2000. Too new and too expensive.

I know what's coming up ahead. Just when I brake in the turn like I do on the road it puts too much load on the front tires.
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Old 09-01-09, 08:35 AM
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It sounds like you could just slow down and go faster on the clock. If the car is pushing, lift a little and unwind the steering.

Matching tires would be a big step in the right direction before you screw up the rest of the suspension trying to get both ends to feel right.
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Old 09-02-09, 01:18 AM
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Careful with your adjustments of the suspension. Too much bound (compression) and the tires will bounce over the road. Too much rebound (expansion resistance) and the car can want to lift the inside tire. Not too bad for the front (debatable depending on who you talk to) but horrible for the back(why I don't run a rear sway bar). You need more tire but I'd start with stock TII sizes and go from there.
Raise your tire pressures. I run 245/45zr16 at nearly 40psi for best grip in the front 275/40/zr17 at about 32 psi rear for best traction. (yes, I prefer understeer, more time on throttle)

Despite what you think, you are not looking ahead if you are trying to keep up with the coarse. You are making the same mistake everyone makes. Learn to be smooth and slow down to be fast. Hard to understand until you see it for yourself.
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Old 09-02-09, 09:59 AM
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Just what dpf22 said about looking ahead will help out a lot.

Did you forget everything we taught you in the 10 min class session at Zoom Zoom Live? EYES UP! Quiet hands! We shouldn't see your armpits when you drive! During the ride along on course I use to tell people I was their seeing eye dog for the event. Find a fast driver at an event and ask for a ride and some tips. Most guys are more than willing to help someone just starting out. They may be in a close battle for a class victory so you may not get a ride during the event but fun runs afterward are good if they have time and the group does them.

Its all about being smooth first, speed will come later.
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Old 09-02-09, 12:16 PM
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Zoom Zoom Live was years ago... And I still fucked up there...
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Old 09-03-09, 03:21 PM
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Don't worry. It takes time to unlearn bad habits. True in all walks of life. Get some seat time and you'll see the light.
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Old 09-05-09, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Pele View Post
Zoom Zoom Live was years ago... And I still fucked up there...
Oh man I remember those. Hey man if you ever come down to Richmond area there are a couple groups that I started to autox with. You more than welcome to come **** some cones with me. I am not fast yet but I am getting there. Gotta tighten up the nut behind the steering wheel first. This would be my 4th year with the FB. Actually there is one tomorrow at VMP in Petersburg that I am attending.
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Old 09-06-09, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Pele View Post
So I doubt I have a racing career in my future... I had an autocross in my FC. First ever track experience aside from Mazda's "Rev-It-Up" and "Zoom Zoom Live" promotional events.

The course workers burned off plenty of calories that day, and I think the only cones I didn't knock over were the ones at the end of the stop garage...

Out of six runs:
Off Course/DNF
Off Course/DNF
45.something
47.something
Off Course/DNF
49.something

Fastest time of the day was a 38.something, and a similarly configured car got a 39.something...

I'm gonna go ahead and be an ******* and blame it on the car. I've got the wrong tires on the front. 195-65R15 touring tires where I should have 205-60R15 to match the "performance" tires I have out back.

But I know that squishy thing behind the steering wheel needs upgraded before I go racing.

I need some help/advice in braking some bad habits...

Habit 1: Entering turns WAY too hot, resulting in me needing to hit the brakes in the turn.

Habit 2: When the car is understeering and continues to go straight despite having the wheel turned, I turn the wheel some more.

Now, logic would dictate that if the front wheels are sliding, more steering input is useless and will probably fold the bead off of the front tires, which I have aired down dangerously low (17 PSI) to compensate for the lack of contact patch and hard rubber composition.

But I don't think about that when I'm headed for cones and panicking as if they're a solid object.


The Carroll Smith series, "Drive to Win," "Tune to Win," and "Engineer to Win," are on order from Amazon.

What else should I look into.
Level out your tire setup. 17psi is absolutely an accident waiting to happen. When the car setup gets way imbalanced really all you can do on race day is drive it differently. I would never run under 30psi on a performance street tire for an autocross, and never under 35psi for a regular street tire.

Then sign up for the DC Region Autocross school.They usually do a level 1 on Sat and level 2 on Sunday. Do those back-to-back. The books and things don't work very well until you can really get a grasp on fundamentals.

Dave
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Old 09-06-09, 02:18 PM
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Pele, you can take heart that there are a lot of people that suck at auto-x but are good road racers. The difference I tell people is this; auto-x, you go slow and things happen fast, road racing you go fast and things happen slow.

Following a cone course can be tough with no experience, following a road course is easier, hell they pave the parts they want you to use. Now, the biggest thing that will transfer from auto-x to the track is being able to find the line. In auto-x you need to find it with a walk through and transfer what you saw to the steering wheel later. Looking at a road course map and having an idea of where you want the car to be at each point comes easier with auto-x experience under your belt. You also get the benefit of being able to follow someone else your first few laps, you just have to pick someone who isn't there for the first time like you! The skid marks versus clean pavement will tell you where to be as well. The correct line will usually be fairly clean looking asphalt where the tires will be. Either side of those lines will have more rubber laid down because of sliding tires leaving rubber, you want to carve turns, not slide them.

Do you remember waiting in line at the Zoom Zoom events and you would hear somebody sqealing tires the whole course and think, damn they're flying! Then the time comes up 4 seconds slower than the target time? Then one of us running the event would hop in a car, make no sound from the tires and beat the time? Sliding slows you down and makes you way to busy to look ahead on the course. Next event, start out very slow, find the course, find the line, then find the speed.
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Old 09-07-09, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by jgrewe View Post
they pave the parts they want you to use.

In auto-x you need to find it with a walk through and transfer what you saw to the steering wheel later. .
lmao! true!

and part b, we walked thunderhill ONCE, aside from finding 37 bumpers, and a bolt from our FC 5 years ago, it was useless...
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Old 09-09-09, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by jgrewe View Post
Pele, you can take heart that there are a lot of people that suck at auto-x but are good road racers. The difference I tell people is this; auto-x, you go slow and things happen fast, road racing you go fast and things happen slow.

Following a cone course can be tough with no experience, following a road course is easier, hell they pave the parts they want you to use. Now, the biggest thing that will transfer from auto-x to the track is being able to find the line. In auto-x you need to find it with a walk through and transfer what you saw to the steering wheel later. Looking at a road course map and having an idea of where you want the car to be at each point comes easier with auto-x experience under your belt. You also get the benefit of being able to follow someone else your first few laps, you just have to pick someone who isn't there for the first time like you! The skid marks versus clean pavement will tell you where to be as well. The correct line will usually be fairly clean looking asphalt where the tires will be. Either side of those lines will have more rubber laid down because of sliding tires leaving rubber, you want to carve turns, not slide them.

Do you remember waiting in line at the Zoom Zoom events and you would hear somebody sqealing tires the whole course and think, damn they're flying! Then the time comes up 4 seconds slower than the target time? Then one of us running the event would hop in a car, make no sound from the tires and beat the time? Sliding slows you down and makes you way to busy to look ahead on the course. Next event, start out very slow, find the course, find the line, then find the speed.
I was the guy squealing tires. In fact, my buddy with the camcorder got a tape of me being used as an example by the announcer.

"That's not what you wanna hear folks. Squeal, Bonk, Groan... Squealing of the tires as the car slides... Bonk as it runs over some cones... Groan, as the driver corrects themselves..."


I forget which year it was, but one year, I got reprimanded and had a big black sharpie "X" put on my card for driving too hard on a test track.

Mighta been both years and had a corner cut off on one card as well... I don't know, it's been so long ago.
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Old 09-09-09, 11:39 AM
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Hey man there is another autox at Richmond International Raceway on 9/20/09. Come on down with the FC. Get all the seat time that you can.

http://www.vmsc.org/
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Old 09-09-09, 10:23 PM
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If you got a corner cut or a sharpie slash at ZZL you can throw out all the car set up advice for now. All you need to do is slooooooow dooownnnnnn. Seriously, until you can make the car follow the course you won't get a chance to improve no matter what car you have or how well set up it is. I could put you in a car that has won a national championship and it won't matter. You need to be able to feel what the tires are telling you and know what to do when they aren't happy. (hint: 99 times out of 100 the answer is slow down or unwind the steering or both) A fast run WILL NOT FEEL FAST because there will be no drama.

I did the same **** at my first auto-x back in about 1985. Thought I was the next Mario Andretti, knew everybody was going to worship the ground I floated above after they saw my incredible driving skills. IIRC I got lost on course, hit cones and finished near the bottom of the novice group.
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