Cornerworker Labor

From autocross to pro series racing, the volunteer worker is key to the success of any racing effort.  Why do they do it?  It has to be for the love of the sport.  Also, it’s a variation of the Golden Rule, pick up cones after others, as they would pick them up after you. 😉

 Got all possible hit cone possibilities covered!

On the this Labor Day weekend (in the USA), I am recogonizing the job that autocross competitors share amongst themselves.  Essentially, if you’re not on grid or in the current driving session, you are out on the course watching for tagged (hit) cones.  Typically one of the group of workers has a radio to inform those in the operations trailer that a cone was “earned”  – which usually adds 2 seconds to your run time – not good.  When this happens, you quickly run to replace the cone(s) to its previous location.

Cone re-placement waiting

The autocross cornerwork also serves a safety function.  He/she acts as the eyes & ears for the drivers out on the course, kind of acting as a spotter.  When there is an unsafe condition, whether it is the actual approaching car, or something that was caused by another car, the cornerworker with the bright orange flag’s duty is the wave off the run.  In most cases, the driver who loses his run (through no fault of his own) gets an additional run, and drives up to the front of the grid.

Watching the competition

Another piece of necessary safety equipment is a fire extinguisher.  The reason for its existance is self-explanitary.  Other equipment that comes in handy Is an umbrella, sun block & some bottled water…

Being a corner worker is kind of like paying your dues, something you need to do on your way to becoming Racing Ready!

Dan

The Cycle of Life – Phil Hill Passes On

Although I prefer to discuss the fun & enjoyment of what becoming Racing Ready is all about, I need to mention two individuals whose life has recently passed.

One of my co-worker’s twin infant daughters passed last week, and it has put myself & many others in a different & reflective frame of mind.  She will be sorely missed, even though she had not quite reached three months of age.  Life & the people you live and associate with are special.  You need to tell them that!

Phil Hill, in the prime of life

I just found out that former American racing great & legend Phil Hill died today.  He was 81.  I’m not old enough to ever have seen him race, but I’ve heard & read some of the stories.  He was SO very well regarded & a true gentleman.

Here’s a short article I found at jalopnik.com

After receiving a report earlier today, we’ve just confirmed the sad news that Phil Hill, the first American to win a Formula One World Drivers Championship, passed away at 10:30 this morning at the age of 81 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Hill will be remembered as one of the greatest race car drivers in American history, having won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Italian Grand Prix, among others. He will also be remembered as a great writer, known to many for his years of work writing about cars and automotive history for Road & Track. Phil Hill is survived by his wife Alma, one son and two daughters. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends, family and colleagues. More information as it becomes available. Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images Sport

Phil Hill, later in life

One wonders about the cycle of life and what it’s all about.  I have no answers here.  All I ask is you take a sincere moment to honor those that have passed, and tell your near & dear ones you love them.

Dan

Bothered by “The Man”?

Actually, that man is you!  Let me explain . . .

I was thinking today (what a concept!).  One of the appeals of racing , in general, and autocrossing in particular, is the ability to flaunt authority – the law!  By that, I mean, you can speed and drive like a relative maniac, compared to the the average “Joe Driver” in the street.  And, it’s all legal (as long as you follow the simple club rules and regs).

Mr. & Mrs. Joe Driver 

Of course, once you’ve gotten some of your aggressions out in a couple of runs, or, it may take you a couple of events, you will have talked and listened to others.  Your question to others or yourself would be, “Why am I not improving in my class?” or “Why am I always attracted to cones and can’t make a clean run?”  Eventually, if you’re smart, you’ll listen to the veterans, stop whining and talking and listen.  You will ask them to go along with you on your runs to advise you in better “Autocrossmanship”, if that’s a word.

Over time, you’ll learn to understand what people mean when they say:

Smooth is fast.

It’s true!  Those that drive/compete without seesawing the steering wheel, without agressively braking and accelerating, seem to do consistently, more improved run times.

I speak from very little personal experience.  But I’ve been reading a lot & I still remember a few things from my over 15 year ago stint at autocrossing.  Take it easy and build up both your speed and confidence in gentle increments.

These are things that the pros will tell you & will generally help you to become better Racing Ready!

Dan

Autocross Resources

I found some (I thought) useful resources for just about anybody interested in autocross (and other racing info), wherever you live in the USA.  I have yet to look at other, more international sources…

The image below is the starting point for the NAAM (North America Autocross Map).

NAAM (North America Autocross Map)

Here is another list of Regional Club Information, for autocrossing all around the country.  Unfortunately, many links are broken…not good.

Some time back I found this racetrack (& other racing resources) site –  .  Its a great collection of worthwhile information; you could spend hours, here at the North American Motorsports Pages.

North American Motorsports Pages 

Quite a good bunch of helpful information to get you better Racing Ready!

Dan

 

 

NASCAR Strategy: Drive Fast

Sorry, I couldn’t resist…

This is a good video spoof of NASCAR driving.  What I STILL can’t understand is, what is the appeal of former F1 & IndyCar drivers “retiring” over to NASCAR?

Anyway, enjoy the video… 🙂

Drive Fast Strategy in NASCAR video spoof

This was supposed to be yesterday’s post – here it is now (sorry).  I’m on the mend – I guess those meds were more powerful than I thought – I wasn’t feeling very Racing Ready, last night.

Dan

The Lister Replica Racer

A couple of months ago I saw an intriguing & unique sports car. First I saw it at the Pearsall Divisional autocross event on 6/8/08, then later at a SASCA autocross on 6/22/08 & most recently at the SPOKES autocross at San Antonio Raceway on 7/13/08. It was at this last venue that I actually approached Bob, the owner of this pristine Lister replica.

Lister, a lurking first glimpse

Besides the overall grand presence of the car, one notices a distinct accessory on the passenger side of the dash; it’s an “Oh Sh!t” handle. Click the picture to see the engraving close-up. What a conversation starter…

Just hold on!

In talking to Bob, while taking pictures, I realized there was a lot more to the story of this car than Bob was letting on. I was able to exchange e-mail addresses, telling him I would post about his car & its story here on the blog. That was 6 weeks ago, and I am FINALLY getting to this.

Lister at rest from front corner

Let me explain. Bob is a self-described Lister fanatic. He e-mailed me a wonderful history of Lister & then how he became the current owner of this Lister replica. He sent me a solid 4 pages of very interesting details. My quandary has been to figure out what to include for this posting and what to keep out. I thought about including all of it, but I don’t think it would be fully appreciated by this blog’s audience. If I’m thinking incorrectly, then by all means, tell me so in the comments & I’ll post more of the history part.

Lister at rest from rear corner

Here’s Bob story, edited for brevity & put in the 3rd person.

In the early ’90’s, Californian Chuck Beck determined to build a Lister replica. He eventually got his hands on an original Lister long enough to make a mold from the body, then designed and built his own frame in a semi-monocoque, using a Corvette C4 suspension. Bob saw an article about this in the “Sports Car International” magazine in 1996 and vowed to have a Beck Lister of his own. He also visited Chuck at his home/workshop in California. On Bob’s second visit he was taken for an eye-opening blast in Chuck’s demo Lister, cementing his desire.

Bob scanned the Internet & finally hit pay dirt in 2000 seeing an ad simply titled “Cobra killer”. Reading on, he realized the ad was for an unfinished Beck Lister. With nervous anticipation, Bob called the seller, a man on the East Coast who was a former Porsche factory racing team crew chief. This person had bought the car from Beck, shipped it east, and tore the car apart down to the last nut and bolt. He then replaced all the hardware with race-spec items, changed out hinges and latches he deemed inadequate, braced the windshield and other mounting points, and basically reengineered the car. While he acquired bits and pieces he paid a small fortune to prep and paint the car in a dark blue BMW color. The car then went to a Jaguar restorer where the interior was completed using Wilton Wool carpet, such as used in the Rolls Royce marque.

Engine compartment peek - behind front suspension

A medical emergency dictated that he put the car up for sale, which is where Bob came in. After a few weeks of negotiations, Bob made a visit to see the car in person. They struck a deal on the spot and after a couple of months, a Passport Transport truck rolled into San Antonio with his precious cargo aboard.

Predictably, it took a few years to get the car running (these cars are never really “finished”). It had to have a complete wiring harness installed, all brake lines fabricated and run, the cooling system created, the drivetrain installed, seats and belts mounted, gauges located and installed, driveshaft fabricated, etc. and so on. All of it took place in Bob’s garage, done by his own clumsy hands (with the great help and oversight of a mechanically-gifted friend – thanks to Eddie). Bob spent many, many late nights in the shop, leaving blood smears all over the car. He got to know the telephone order-takers at Jeg’s and Summit by first name, and generally had a lot of fun. The receptionists at his office had a running joke about the sheer volume of boxed car parts that seemed to come by UPS on a daily basis.

Finally in mid-2003 the moment arrived, and Bob got to hear the engine run for the first time. A shakedown run around the block followed, and the de-bugging process began, a process that has slowed greatly, but to some extent continues today. Driving the car to work–a 100-mile commute involving lots of traffic–was nerve-racking the first time, but the car never let Bob down and proved itself by staying cool even on a 100-degree day in a traffic jam.

The engine–a 404 ci all-alloy Rodeck Chevy, with Edelbrock Victor Jr. alloy heads and intake, hydraulic roller cam, gear drive, and MSD ignition–puts a little over 400 hp to the rear wheels per a local dyno. The car weighs just under 2,000 pounds with a half-tank of gas. The transmission is a Muncie M-22 “rock crusher” 4-speed, and the clutch and alloy flywheel are by Spec. Even with a “tall” 3.07 rear gear, the car accelerates like a rocket. A similar car won several One Lap of America events a few years ago and placed third in a “Supertuners” article in Car and Driver.

Lister at speed

Bob intended to compete with his Lister all along, and installed a roll cage, 5-point belts, etc., when he built it. After autocrossing in another car in July 2007, Bob was quickly hooked and the Lister made its debut at the December ’07 SASCA autocross. The temperature when he left the house that morning was around 20 degrees. That’s plenty cold in an open car with no top, windows, or heater, particularly on the freeway at 70 mph! The car cools so well that, on that morning, the temperature gauge needle dropped “off the peg” at highway speeds.

Bob has missed only one SASCA event with the car since that time (dead fuel pump–proof about the de-bugging never being finished), and it has acquitted itself well. It’s more car than Bob is a driver, and it’s been a steep learning curve. He is hoping to get it on a proper race track sometime soon, if he can find one where noise regulations are not an issue. Handling is very predictable although quick hands are required to deal with the power and torque. Even on autocross slicks, the car is so light that it’s hard to get the tires up to temperature. Traction is accordingly a challenge, and every run is an adventure. All in all, Bob couldn’t be happier with the end result and he feels SO fortunate to have come across this car when he could take advantage of it. Bob loves autocrossing and has made many new friends in the last year. He is also more confident in his driving skills and has no problem ignoring “invites” by street racers, no matter what he’s driving.

To Bob’s knowledge there are perhaps 30 or 40 Lister replicas out there. Beck sold the rights to Avanti Motorcars a few years ago, and Bob believes they have since been sold again. He has heard that Chuck may be interested in reacquiring the rights so perhaps the car will eventually come full-circle.

On grid with an appreciative passenger

On our next meeting, I will ask Bob for the honor of a ride-long.  I’m hoping that it won’t require me to do a non-Racing Ready thing & grab that “Oh Sh!t” handle!

Dan

Divisional in a Day, a MINI Video Recap

Going through some previous e-mails & forum posts, I found these 2 videos from Chuck, who drives a silver MINI Cooper S (his co-competitors call it the “clown car”).  I had test driven this model car a few years ago & know that it is an awesome performer, feeling like a larger, very stable car – it is very confidence inspiring.

A multi-pack of MINIs

This was from the SPOKES 8-10-08 autocross.  The reason I’m posting these is to show you that the same course, run in one direction in the morning & the reverse direction in the afternoon, can be quite different & interesting,  each in their own way.

To review – here’s the AM course configuration:

Spokes, 2008-08-10 SAR AM course layout 

Here’s Chuck’s video of his AM run:

Chuck’s AM run on YouTube 

To review – here’s the PM course configuration:

 Spokes, 2008-08-10 SAR PM course layout

Here’s Chuck’s video of his PM run:

Chuck’s PM run on YouTube

Again, you can see they are very different.  It seems most people preferred the afternoon course configuration.  Could it be due to getting morning cob webs cleared out, or were people just enjoying a change to something different?  I’m not sure we’ll ever know, but at Racing Ready we try to report all sides.

Dan