Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Do you do auto-X ?
I did my first Auto-X just last Sunday. I was really crappy at it. I was surprised. I did not expect to win or anything, but I was really really bad. Here are a couple of posts I made to describe the experience on the local so. California Solo discussion forum.
Dateline: July 8, 2007
Yeah, I did my first autocross today. I better be keeping my day job.
I know you are not supposed to need to do "point-bys" at an autocross, but I got tired of the SSTT class (Sidewalk Stock Toddler Toys) in the Novice Toddler Group zig-zagging back and forth in my mirrors. It is quite distracting as I am running over cones!!! I mean really, how many razors, trikes and pedal cars can there be out at El Toro on a Sunday? Seriously though, I was 10 seconds off of the fast time in my CSM class. I am supposed to be an experienced driver and most people consider me fast. I got schooled by a lot of drivers today and their cars had license plates!!! I hope they donít show at Cal Speedway. I will just keep it mum what a piece of cake it is cherry-picking at those road race gigs.
Despite my poor debut, I had a great time. It is non-stop action on a grand scale. I thought driving in traffic at the start of a road race is busy business. That is amateur stuff compared to the intensity on an auto-X course. I swear half those drivers out there must have adult on-set of Hyper-Activity/Attention Deficit Disorder to be able to focus on the next eight turns at once. Those folks are not really human. They must be those X-men who do auto-X or something... that naming convention can't be a coincidence. I bet they all have a secret handshake, too. That Beverly woman who took me for my novice run must be the Beemer Super Hero as I was in a different galactic time-zone as far as the clock goes. Where she comes from, I bet their clocks only show 37 seconds or something. I can't imagine going that fast in that tight a course.
Seriously, there are a lot of new skills to learn here. Many of those skills will have direct benefit on the road course. Slaloming those cones is a wild combination of car balance and rhythm. The extremes of over-steer and under-steer when trying to nail turn-ins, apexes and track-outs under power is more exaggerated than anything I have experienced on a road course. It may only last 70 seconds, but there is a whole road race worth of turns and car-handling packed into that run. On a road course, in comparison, I get to cogitate for what seems like eons as I approach a braking zone and turn. I can prep and position and plan my move. In auto-X, I just better do it and NOW. Cat like reflexes and muscle memory are the order of the day.
My next plans:
I need to get out there again sometime soon to further humiliate myself... or with some luck my bumper will snag onto Steve Abbotts Z06 as he goes by. If that happens at least I will make it back in soon enough to see the awards presentation.
Seriously, I need to get to one of the practice days. I need a lot more time on an auto-X course. There is a lot to learn cross-training for both my new-found racing disciplines. Plus, my son Kristjan wants to go for a ride on the auto-X course. How cool is it that a 13 year-old can go for a ride with his dad on the course. He canít do that road racing even if it is just practice.
Going through my e-mail tonight I got a cease-and-desist letter from Orange County Corvette. It says I must stop embarrassing their company name. If I am to run again, I must do it without their sticker on the car and at risk of losing their sponsor.
Oli's note to self: Next time sign up under an alias and take all the identifying graphics crap off the car and register under the pseudonym of Diminutito Velocidad of the Republic of Slowvakia. When everyone sees me drive they wonít suspect a thing.
I think I embarrassed road racers world-wide. I hope John Norris still talks to me....
Thanks to all for the help from everyone out there today. Renee Angel, Steve Abbott, the other Corvette Steve, Beverly, the guys in the red and black shirts and too many others whose names I canít recollect right now. Your support, encouragement and pity are truly appreciated! :-)
Oli Thordarson (aka Diminutito Velocidad of the Republic of Slowvakia)
SCCA #22 T1
Then a post regarding a question about me driving back into the pits instead of doing a re-run:
No, I am just too nubee-ish to know when I get a rerun. When they called me back, I still did not know why I got the rerun until Steve Abbott told me why later. I drove around a down cone and got to rerun.
Not that it did me any good, but on the rerun I was runnng significantly faster until I got greedy before the last set of slalom cones. Greedy is the word I hear you folks using and it is fitting. Anyway, I ended up spinning the car in my lust.
If you look at my photos, I have a lot of white smoke coming off of my front tires when braking. My ABS is not hooked up and the brake bias is set way higher on the front of the car. On this course I had almost no rear brake happening. The set-up works great breaking from 140 to 40 at Buttonwillow's Cotton Corners, but not so good at auto-x. It was hard to keep the car balanced and get the car set-up for turn-in.
I will have that fixed next time and everybody better watch-out... if you are about 18" tall and orange!!!
And then regarding another post where an auto-x veteran said this was an unfortunate first event for me because it was an unusually long a difficult course....
There is nothing unfortunate about my first event. I thought it was great. Although I have nothing to compare it to, I thought the course was outstanding. I loved the slaloms even if I am crappy at it. I loved the declining radius turn that DNF'd so many others and it almost got me three times. I totally understeered into that corner by going in too hot. I loved the really tight turns and I loved the fast sweepers at the far end of the course... about the only place I started to feel in my element.
The surprising part is that I never DNF'd the course in four runs. I had two spin outs, some exceptionally terrible braking understeer and a couple of good power-on and power-lift over-steers, but I kept it between all the cones and gates. I surprised even myself. while I was out of control, I kept the car in that wild window of driving. When I spun, I just rotated the car all the way around and made my gates. I read all the gates and cones just fine. I just had immense trouble getting the car to do what I wanted. It was me over-driving as much as anything else.
The very fact that I had so much trouble is exactly why I liked it so much. It tells me I have many many rewarding days ahead of me as I exploit opportunities to improve.
And Mike and the others who are complimenting me on my first post, thank you very much. I am flattered. It is just my novice exuberance shining through.
Kristjan and I are looking forward to "orange cone vengeance" coming to an asphalt field near us very soon. We both have a case of OCD to work out. That would be Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder for the normal populace. In our case it is Orange Cone Disorder... at least that is what is left after my run!
Steve, if you are the Cone Mangler, just call me OCD! One way or another that fits me.
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