Autocrossing an Icon

It seems like jumping back into autocross is the “theme of the day” on StartingGrid.

Two weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to expand my driving experience by going to events in new and different cars. Getting a better feeling of machines with different characteristics will really help to increase my adaptability.

Plus it’s just a hell of a lot of fun.

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First Autocross After Too Long

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As I write this, I’m sitting in a truck on the road to San Diego to compete in the 2013 SCCA Pacific Southwest National Tour autocross event in San Diego. You may recall that in my last post, I mentioned some nervousness about jumping into the deep end of competition. To ease my nerves, and get familiar with Sean Green’s new Miata, I entered last weekend’s Western Washington Sports Car Council autocross.

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|Feature| – Driving Godzilla!

Feature post written by Joey Sim

Just a little slide...

For those of you that haven’t had a chance to come out to an autocross event, you probably don’t know what you’re missing out on. There are many things that make it a great experience: the competition, the intensity level for the entire time that you spend on track and, most importantly, the camaraderie of your fellow autocrossers. The people who I’ve met out on the track have, persistently, turned out to be some of the nicest, friendliest, and helpful people that I’ve ever met.

The friendships that I’ve developed over my eight years of autocrossing have left a lasting, positive impression on my life. It might sound a little melodramatic but these people have become a family to me over the years. We all share the same addiction. More than any one individual, the community has been there for me whenever I’ve been in need. If I had personal drama that I needed to talk out, these people were there for me. They’ve offered an ear, or a hug or a guiding hand (sometimes even with a beer in it!). Through these friendships, I got what has to be a rare opportunity for a poor twenty-something college student; I got the chance to drive Godzilla!

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Introductions- Andrew Howe

Hi.  I thought I’d start out on StartingGrid by introducing myself.

As an amateur racer (an autocrosser to be more precise), I’m the car owner, the engineer, the mechanic, and the driver.  I drive the truck, I stock the cooler, I book the hotels.  If that seems like a lot of responsibility, that’s true.  The reward?  Just a few minutes of glory, a big grin, and good memories.  Very few of us take anything monetary back out of the sport.

Now, a bit about my background in motorsports.  Autocross is a test of precision and speed in a time trial format. Each driver gets 3 runs at a course with their best time going in the results.  There is no practice; the course is learned by walking it.  It is marked with cones and hitting a cone invokes a fatal 2 second penalty.  Being perfect for 60 seconds is the holy grail of autocross.  The one that is most nearly perfect wins.

I drive a 1982 Reynard chassis Formula Ford.  It is underpowered, but capable.  When it was new, it was one of the best rides out there and the European series was a stepping stone towards Formula 1.  Your favorite F1 drivers from the 80’s all came through the Formula Ford ranks.  The cars are very forgiving but painfully slow.  Every ounce of speed must be carried through the corner to be fast.

I’ll be writing about car setup and driving technique.  My personal strengths appear to be in setting up the car and driving the best line.  I’m not much for driving with my hair on fire, but I can do it from time to time.  Usually you’ll find me being methodical, precise, and living between 9/10ths and 10/10ths.  As an amateur, this seems to work fairly well.  And, the more seat time I get, the more comfortable 10/10ths feels.

Recent in-car video from the SCCA Solo National Championships:

If I were more tech savvy, I’d find a way to embed that directly in the post.  (Editor’s Note: Don’t worry, Andy. I’ve got your back. 😉 ) Oh well… something more to learn.  In the mean time, I’ll see you on the Grid.