First competitive event in Silver Ghost and I really stunk up the place. Not completely sure why, but I’m trying to remain positive. I hope this isn’t a new normal. Here’s a positive image:
On Saturday I got five practice starts that led into a short autocross course. (I really like the idea of having some sort of practice course after the practice starts. We should have that at Two-Course Pro-Solos as well.) It was a race-track autocross. Drag-start, right turn, left turn, long straight filled with slalom cones down the center. Accelerate to a right turn, brake, accelerate into another slalom down the center. Accelerate then brake for a hairpin turn. Accelerate into another slalom and then a short finish straight. The total time was about 35 seconds.
I was told that my times were about 0.2s off the fastest person in BS and eventual winner. I was told I was 0.2s faster than the next guy, who eventually got 2nd place. I finished a poor 4th.
So, during practice I was doing okay. What happened on Sunday, competition day?
I’m just going to say that neither the driver nor the car liked the actual, extended 55-second course we were faced with on Sunday. I know that I have a problem seeing the gaps in a long set of cones all in a row stretching out in a perfect line front of me. Maybe a depth perception thing, I don’t know. It takes me too many runs to figure it out. (Must get it done in three, as we say in the trade.) I’ve never driven those types of courses well and I kept that lackluster record intact.
It’s not a problem hitting cones. I rarely hit cones, even when the course designer does his best to make me, and this event was no exception. The one run of six I did cone was because I dropped a rear wheel off the paved surface into the dirt and oversteered across the track right into a wall of cones. I got five in a single whack and probably deserved to be given an Off-Course. (Not that it would make any difference.)
There was another issue, which I don’t want to make too much of, but I’ll just leave this here: After the three runs in the morning session, the top two people in ES had both raw-timed all of BS, even though ES was first off and BS ran a little bit later. (It was warming up rapidly and the course always improves the more cars go over it.) The top guy in ES was the course designer driving a Toyota MR2. In 12 years of autocross how many times have I seen ES raw-time BS? How many times have I seen the 140hp sports cars in Street-class negotiate a course faster than 300hp to 400hp (and more) sports cars in Street-class with good drivers in both types?
And when it’s the course designer that does it, well, it’s not a good look.
And when 15% of all runs in the competition ended in an Off-Course, and even more with cone penalties, well, that’s not good either. (I counted.) I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone go off-course on six of six runs and have no time at all for either session or the event as a whole. Two people managed that. Four others went off-course in three of three tries in one or the other session and also had no time at all for the event since the best times from each session are added.
Overall the car was good. I could have really used some compression damping in the front shocks to better negotiate the heavy dose of transients and thread-the-needle-and-turn-quick elements. The Penskes can’t get here soon enough!
Travelog section: Just south of Montgomery on Hwy 231 we stopped in at a sort of farmer’s market, restaurant and coffee shop establishment. Assorted goats and various farmyard fowl wonder around. We like the massive baked potatoes smothered with hot vegetables and BBQ sauce.
4 thoughts on “An Autocross Season-Part 10: Florida Pro-Solo”
This looks like there was a single course not a left and right side. Is this true? How often are pros in this format?
Right. Only one this year. Something old being tried again.
And congrats on your trophy at Nats last year!
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