Observations Of A Corner Worker

When you participate as a competitor in an autocross, you do more than just compete (or “play”).  Part of the success of running an autocross is having the competitors taking turns to work various on-course positions.  These roles mainly consist of (in order of quantity needed) corner workers, grid area, in the timing/announcer trailer, & others.

Work assignment list per heat
Work assignment list per heat

At the 10-19-2008 SASCA autocross, this was my first time participating as a competitor.  The entries were divided into a more or less even quantity of cars (and 3 karts, this time) in their respective classes.  Since my class (G Stock) was going to compete in the second heat, I and approximately 1/2 of the competitors worked.  If you get in line early at the trailer you can pick & choose what to volunteer for.  I chose to work corner 2, with Robert, Dan & Eric.

East half of course
East half of course

It was interesting to watch the different cars/drivers go by, to see how the drivers anticipated & reacted, and how the variety of vehicles handled the various portions of the course.  By watching these runs, before we had our runs, we felt we had a slight advantage.  We were able to get somewhat of a preview of what to expect in the area of the course we were policing.  Also, of course, we picked up & replaced the occasional hit cone.  It seemed there were consistent cone locations that would be hit sort of regularly, at least in the morning runs.

A variety of cars & their driving lines
A variety of cars & their driving lines

Corner 2 looked like the apex was at the tight corner cone, but in actuality you were best to take the corner wide & early on that last cone, to cut it short before eclipsing the cone.  It surely was an education on how to properly read a course, and learn to drive a line the was smoothest/fastest, not that which was dictated by the specific cones’ placement. :-0

Racing Ready is looking for proper placement within the autocross/road racing market.


Back To Honda Civic Basics

John has been a serious autocrosser for some years, now.  He’s been looking for a change and I was able to capture some static shots at the 10/19/2008 SASCA autocross.  Here’s his story in his own words as to how he came about his new, vivacious emerald green gem.


Waiting on grid
Waiting on grid

I’ve been searching Craigslist for over a year trying to find an 89-91 Civic or CRX Si to use for autocross duty.  This one was slightly overpriced and not well described, but I called anyway – 4 months after the original posting!  The owner had bought a Prius and the Civic had been sitting in her garage for the last year.

Tahitian green brilliance
Tahitian green brilliance

The car turned out to be a pretty rare find – great shape, totally original, one-owner, well maintained, no accidents, and Tahitian Green – a relatively rare color.  I bought the car for $2500 with the intentions of making it a dedicated STS car.

Hatching future Civic plans
Hatching future Civic plans

I just couldn’t bring myself to prep it once I got used to driving it around.  I’ve replaced a few worn bushings since then, but the car is otherwise completely stock at 257,000 miles. I’ve autocrossed it twice at SASCA events just for grins, but it’s not fast in stock form.  It has ‘enough’ power, but the suspension is so soft that the car spins the inside front tire from start to finish.

Amazingly nice & clean looking for 257,000 miles!
Amazingly nice & clean looking for 257,000 miles!

I was still set on getting a dedicated track car, so I decided to sell my Subaru WRX STI and keep the green Civic as my daily driver.  This weekend, I’m flying out to Richmond, VA to pick up a 1990 Civic Si that is already mostly prepped for STS class. 🙂

John takes great pride in his rides and makes no excuses for how he performs and competes.  I want you, the reader, to eventually be able to say the same about this Racing Ready blog – workin’ on it!


Small Yaris – Big Potential

It’s interesting to note that many smaller, lower powered cars do well in autocross competition.  Apparently, since there is less mass to get around the cones, they can be maneuvered around them better.

With this in mind, I had been wondering about the autocross performance potential of the small Toyota Yaris.  Would it be an effective autocrossing platform?  At the SASCA autocross, on 10/19/2008, Aaron brought his Yaris to compete.

With the beginning modifications Aaron has made, his Yaris is noticeably better in how it looks & sounds.  It is definately a start in the right direction.  Here is what he’s done, so far:

  • a generic cold air intake
  • the suspension has been lowered 2″
  • an “invisible” exhaust bypass
  • he did a plus 1 size upgrade to the wheels/tires
  • the tires’ size changed from a stock 205/50, to a bit less compliant (more stiff) 205/45

Aaron is having fun learning what his Yaris can do.

Racing Ready is having fun learning what this blog can do.


AWD Autocrossing – Many Techniques

I’ve watched Tom autocross at the last few SPOKES events, this year.  On 10/5/2008 I finally got a chance to visit with him about his 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Impreza.

On the scoop for a good run
On the scoop for a good run

Essentially it’s stock, and it sure looks good!  The only exception being a modified CAT back (after the catalytic converter) muffler & associated pipes – and sounds good, too!  This was Tom’s first event that he was no longer registered as a novice, but he said he still felt like one.  I have noticed this trait with all autocross participants.  No matter if they are newbies or SCCA Champions, if they are at all interested in getting better, they are always learning something new about their car – how to better make their car optimally perform and maneuver, how to make themselves optimally perform and just continually improve.

On grid, spoiling for action
On grid, spoiling for action

In his youth, during both high school & college, Tom said he drag raced.  He does wish that he had been introduced to autocrossing earlier in life, like 30 years ago, he said.  Tom says that driving an AWD vehicle requires a different driving technique.  At the different autocrosses, I have noticed a variety of sub-techniques within the AWD contingent of competitors, from smooth to jerky aggressive.  I have yet to figure which method is best for AWD.

Tom @ AWD speed
Tom @ AWD speed

Tom did note that his wife is convinced that the only reason he bought this Subaru is for autocrossing.  Nothing wrong with that, in my book.  🙂

Racing Ready realizes that there are many roads & techniques to success.  The challenge is having to find and focus on the correct one.


Autocrossing Sponsorship – Free Tires!

At the SPOKES 10/5/2008 autocross, I visited with Dak, a regular autocrossing participant.  I have already profiled his car here -> Body In White.  You may recall the distinctive flame wrap job.  If you are in the Houston, TX area, Display Graphics does a great job!  It’s hard to believe his Volkswagen Golf GTI was originally white (it still is beneath all that wrap).

Dak's flame job VW GTI

On this day Dak was debuting his new Falken Avenis tires, sponsored by VulcanTire.com.  In other words, he was able to get this full set of tires for free! It did take Dak some consistent effort, though.  What and how did he do it?

Falken Avenis tires - from sponsor VulcanTire.com
Falken Avenis tires – from sponsor VulcanTire.com

Dak diligently e-mailed a number of tire sales retailers (at least 10).  He sent off pictures of his “flamin'” car, his autocross activities, times and results.  Critical to his success was his persistence, following up with repeated phone calling and additional e-mails with more details.  Part of the appeal was the attraction of his car as a stand out – it brings all sorts of attention just parked there.

Vulcan Tire logo

So, VulcanTire.com will have sponsorship advertising on Dak’s GTI.  Although it was not yet present at this autocross event, the sponsorship graphics should be on the car by now.

Team Racing Ready logo

Sponsorship is something that Team Racing Ready is starting to do with its advertisers along the right panel – click & visit them; see what they have to offer you, to improve your motorsports experience.


Additional 1st Autocross Observations – Pending…

Some of you out there might be wondering…

“Okay, Dan, you finally got off your butt and autocrossed in your car last weekend – and come off disappointed!  So, why is that and what else can you tell us?”

Well, I’ve had almost a week to mull over last week’s event, and I think I’ve got it figured out.  But am not yet ready to post about it…yet.

Racing Ready car ID for autocross

In the meantime, I have some WordPress blog platform maintenance to perform, this weekend.  At least switching over to the Mozilla Firefox browser has made posting & surfing better – it sure took me sometime to convert over.

Racing Ready is working it forward.


Modified Miata – An Expensive Hobby

Zoom-Zoom, the Mazda Credo

At the SPOKES 1/5/2008 autocross event, Sherman brought his 2006 Mazda Miata to compete.

Miata shining in the early dawn sunlight

The SCCA class CSP, C Stock Prepared, lets you modify quite a bit to your street capable daily driver.  Here’s what Sherman has done, so far, without specific product details:

  • suspension upgrades
  • new, upgraded flywheel
  • appropriately new clutch
  • full exhaust
  • replaced brakes and rotors
  • larger wheels
  • R-compound bigger tires for those wheels

Cockpit swathed in creamy leather - looks comfy

Sherman is enjoying his autocross hobby.  But he did mention that since he’s in an upgraded, modified class, there are cost issues.  To quote Sherman,

I need to get back to the stock class, it’s getting expensive!

On grid, ready to go

He did note that of the 30K miles he has on this ride, he feels about 10K of them are racetime mileage!  WOW, that’s a LOT of racing, Sherman!!!  When do you have the time?

Sherman @ speed

I’m still amazed by the tough character of these little Miatas.  They run for miles & won’t quit – and they are a competitive, fun to drive ride, too.  Racing Ready wants one!