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Getting Ready For Ice Race Season Today.

Just did my first auto-x since the Koni install.

Made a HUGE difference!

I run in a heavily contested STS class where one of our local guys is very serious and runs an immaculately prepped Neon that Is normally well out of my reach.

I was a respectable two seconds off his pace.

This guy buys Falkens like my wife buys shoes. Says he buys them new, shaves them, and then runs two events on them before mounting the new ones.

There were also three other Foci there. One was Jetter Chris (aka Dudley). There was a sedan and a SVT.

This was Chris's first event. I hope he liked it. The sedan was driven by a gentleman that I told about this site as he expressed an interest in making mods to his car.

The SVT was driven by a young guy who seemed to give up after three runs.

I used the day as a test in tune for the up coming ice racing season.

These shocks on full will shake your guts out driving down the road but are just the thing for keeping the tires on the pavement.

Had a guy ask if I had the car supercharged and seemed surprised that I was running the times I was running on lesser tires and only exhaust and suspension mods.

Couldn't get below :56 sec range but ran :56 and change all day. FTD was a :48 and some change.
 

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cool...keep representing,and remember..speed is all in the line you take...
 

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cool...keep representing,and remember..speed is all in the line you take...
AND the way you work the pedals....
 

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In preperation for the ice racing season, I suggest that you go the a junkyard and get four spare tires. Try that at the next auto-x.
 

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In preperation for the ice racing season, I suggest that you go the a junkyard and get four spare tires. Try that at the next auto-x.
It's funny you should say that, because with the stock Firehawks, it felt like I was driving on snow when making the course's hairpin turn.

This was the first autocross I've ever attended, and I performed about as well as I expected, which is to say, not very well.


My car's setup is an autocrosser's nightmare. I've got the OEM SVT suspension and original tires. And my turbo/Quaife combo knocked me into SM, although the tech inspector considered putting me in STS because of my [censored] tires. Aside from looking like a schmuck, I didn't give a rat's tuchus what class they put me in - my main goal was not to make a complete ass out of myself.

On the plus side, I never hit a cone (I made 5 runs). Which is more than I can say for Bill (bluebyutoo), although his times blew mine away, even with the cone penalty.

I was pretty frustrated after my first three runs. The first one was okay, but I went off course badly on the second run. Then on the third, I stalled on the hairpin turn as I came to a stop to avoid a cone. As a courtesy to the course workers, I put the car in reverse and continued on my way to run a time of 80+ seconds. But I didn't hit any cones!


The Quaife might have been helpful, but the turbo was prettymuch dead weight, as power was not the problem. The biggest limitations were the driver's skill and the tires' grip. As I said above, it felt like I was driving on snow - the car just wouldn't go where I aimed it. I've never experienced that on dry pavement.

The number one problem, by far, was my complete lack of skill. It reminded me of downhill skiing through a bunch of moguls (I suck at that, too, btw) - I couldn't ever seem to think far enough ahead, as I was constantly reacting rather than planning. I had a huge problem just following the course where the finish line crossed with the starting line (it was a 2-lap deal). Every time I came around to that point, I felt like I was half-guessing where I was supposed to go. That's why I went off-course on my second run - my little pea-brain got confused and just picked two cones at random for me to drive in-between.


Another big factor was my unwillingness to beat on my car. This is my daily driver, so keeping it in one piece was my main goal. For every run, I stayed in 2nd gear the entire time. I have no problem double-declutching into 1st gear, but I can't do it quickly enough to be practical on an autocross course. Furthermore, I can't heel-and-toe, although I've never put much effort into learning how (it seems like a PITA with stock Focus pedals, though). If I had been willing to risk a little 1st-gear synchronizer abuse, I could've improved my times quite a bit.

Overall, I had a lot of fun, and I gained a real appreciation of my car's limits (and my tires' limits in particular).

A few comical notes:

1.) With the helmet on, I kept bumping against the headliner. It wasn't a huge problem, but it felt kinda goofy. I'm only 6-foot-2, and I have the seat as far back and as low as it goes, so I dunno what the big guys do. I guess they don't use stock seats.


2.) I ran my best time of the day (my last run) with the A/C on full blast. It was 3+ seconds better than run #4, and 4+ seconds better than run #1. But I've got my tune set up to disable the A/C at pretty low throttle positions, so I doubt it made any difference, aside from giving me slightly more engine braking.

3.) For my last two work assignments, I ended up all by myself, working what was probably the toughest station on the course. I kept telling people that I was a total noob, but nobody cared. So there I was, repeatedly running out to replace a cone while radio-ing in what had happened.

Me: "Umm, we've got a cone at station 3." (I run out to fix it while the next car comes speeding toward me)

Them: "Which car hit a cone at station 3?"

Me: "Hell, I dunno - it was a purple Subie"

It wasn't that bad, but the way the course was set up, it was impossible to replace a particular cone before the next car came along, so we had to just red-flag them and give them a re-run. And that particular cone got hit a LOT. I constantly had the other stations yelling "CAR!" at me while I tried to replace the cone. I'm telling ya' - Carl Lewis in his prime couldn't have done that job.
 

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3. Next time, pound your feet more and raise your voice if you have to. The old timers tend to think they don't have to chase cones anymore. But, they should have never put a brand new person on a corner alone.

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Anyway. It sounds like you are just a few steps away from a new addiction! So let me help push you over the edge :p

You have a huge head start on 90% of the autocrossers out there. For the most part you realize and state above it is you making the car slow.

So don't get frustrated! It is a LOT harder than it looks. So to help you get to the point of where it is more fun go to www.autocross.com/evolution and sign up for a phase one near you.

I think the cost is around $300 but you will get so much seat time for that money. And you will have national autocross champions teaching you the basics.

If you can't bring yourself to save or spend $300 on autocrossing get some help from the other good drivers in your area. The quality of the instruction and amount of seat time most likely will not be as good.

For the first year stick to street tires. The delay you are talking about is one of the new things you need to learn about. With the tires you are using it is more pronounced, however. You have to think, and turn BEFORE the turn because of this delay. The delay is always there, even in day to day driving, but because the car is at the limit in autocross you can sense it more.

Most of all have fun.

If you want feel free to PM me any questions.
 

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Thanks for the encouragement.
You might be onto something with that "new addiction" comment.


To be fair, the guys running the event didn't put me out there alone - I started out as the assistant to an experienced autocrosser. But he left me after about a minute because his group was being called to drive (we were split into high# and low# drivers). So he had to either babysit the noob and miss out on his run, or leave me alone. Then when they put me at that station again, it was no big deal because I knew what to do at that point.

I'm a clueless noob, but it looked like we needed another station for the hairpin turn. The cone that kept getting hit was a good 50 feet away, and there was just nowhere near enough time to fix the cone in time for the next car. In fact, Bill (bluebyutoo) came through before I could fix the cone, and he blew his chance for a re-run because he didn't stop. He did yell something out the window at us, though.
I think it was, "hey, the cone's down!", to which I yelled back something like, "no [censored] the cone's down, I'm doin' the best I can!"


Oh, it gets funnier. When I first got to that station, somebody hit that far-away cone right away. I ran out to fix it, but that was my first time working anywhere near that station, so I had no clue where it went. The driver really knocked it for a loop, so there I was frantically looking for the place marker. To top it off, there had been another autocross there the day before, so there were crossed-out cone spots to look out for. Wouldn't you know it - all I could find was the crossed-out spot, so the next car went through with a misplaced cone. I don't know if he got a re-run or not, just as I never heard the confirmations for the cones I radioed in - I was too busy trying to keep from getting killed.


I'll say this, though - it was exciting at that corner. The cars would come flying toward me and then have to break heavily for the turn. This was in a parking lot, and I had the good sense to hide behind the concrete base of the light pole at my station, which is more than I can say for some of the other workers. They would just stand there watching the car speeding towards them.
If anything went wrong and that car lost control, they'd end up like that infamous horse-through-the-windshield photo.


It was funny that everybody kept saying, "it's a lot harder than it looks". As I walked the course, I never thought it looked easy - it looked like a pain in the ass to me! And it was a pain in the ass! I'm used to gentle curves, like on 55mph country roads and highway on/off-ramps, so swerving in and out of cones was a whole new (and fun) experience for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
In preperation for the ice racing season, I suggest that you go the a junkyard and get four spare tires. Try that at the next auto-x.
These are the tires I'll be running come ice racing season.

These or the 4's

http://www.nokiantires.com/newsite/tires_popup.cfm?id=1&w=1

I've done two ice races already. Got the car to drift and everything. It was fun as hell.

The purpose of the auto cross was to get a feel for the new Konis as I haven't had them on for more than a week.


Chris,

You did fine. It was your first event ever. Like I said "seat time" "seat time" "seat time" .

Not to mention those Firehawks do suck for auto - x

We can do another if you up for it or come out an play on the ice when Oneida Lake freezes up!
 
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