A Fulfillment of Dreams

During Thanksgiving, as on other holidays, I catch up on long distance family.  So yesterday, I spoke with my sister and we got talking about this blog.  My sister is not at all a computer user, nor an Internet surfer, so I had some PC/Internet concepts to explain.

Once my sister got the gist of what I’m doing with my blog, “Go from wannabe racer to successful racing competitor!”, she shared this with me.  She recalls, that, as a kid, I was always reading about cars & building 1/24th scale racing car models.  She was happy to see me pursue a dream I’ve had since my youth.

It’s good to get family understanding & confirmation of my quest with this blog!

I wonder if I’ll pursue building a full scale race car?  I’m thinking it would be easier to buy a competitive vehicle, already completed.  Along that line of thinking, you (like me) can visit RacingJunk.com.  They specialize as a clearinghouse for used racing cars & other racing related equipment.  Also, they are one of my Products vendors.  I’ve enjoyed browsing through what others have built & are willing to sell at a good price – check out their interesting selection!

Racingjunk.com

Racing Ready wants to help others pursue & fulfill their dreams.

Dan

New Products Pages Updates

In the spirit of Black Friday, today I spent my non-shopping time adding to & upgrading my Products & CG-Lock pages.

So far I have added 4 companies (on my Products my  page) where you can browse through to see how you can effectively upgrade your competition vehicle or your daily driver:

At Discount Parts Auto Performance, they have a good selection and great pricing on the acclaimed K&N Performance filters – and that’s before the 10% discount they are offering.  So, go ahead & consider the best bang for the buck performance upgrade for your vehicle, the K&N Performance Filter!

K&N 125x125

Tire Rack is a recognized supplier in amateur racing circles.  They are well known for their customer service and thoroughly researched advice.  They can assist you in making the correct tire purchase, whether it be for the track or the street.  Tire Rack also offers a selection of wheels, brakes, suspension parts, advice & more.

Tire Rack- Revolutionizing Tire Buying

I’m sure you remember, in your youth, paging through the JC Whitney Catalog, dreaming of the cars you could modify with the treasure trove of parts they offer.  That quantity & selection is still available, with free shipping, too.  Visit their online version of that catalog here.

JC Whitney Brand

Many of us don’t have the time, knowledge or resources to devote to building a competitive race car.  Racing Junk has a solution.  If you ever wanted to see what other racers are willing to let go. click at this interesting site – you’ll be surprised at what is being offered.

Racingjunk.com

These are all well-regarded vendors of quality products.  Consider looking through these sites for yourself or friends.  Go ahead & bookmark them – come back later for more vehicle upgrade purchase ideas.

Racing Ready wants to be more than just your racing inspiration, information & entertainment source; but also to recommend products for your purchase consideration.  So, click away!

Thank you!

Dan

Thankful For Amateur Motorsports

On this Thanksgiving Day, in addition to thanks for family, health & friends, I give thanks for amateur motorsports.

We have many choices, even in these times of economic challenge, to make use of our free time.  Our culture allows us to select many activities to do as we define ourselves through our free time activities.  Many of us, men & women, choose to enjoy the pleasurable release of racing.

I must mention, so very important are you readers of my blog.  Without you, there would be little reason for the existence of Racing Ready.

Thank you, thank you, thank you ! ! !

Dan

Autocross Cone Humor

When explaining the details of the last SPOKES autocross this year, I failed to mention some additional information.  The guys from the SPOKES club have an interesting sense of humor.

The traffic cones used on an autocross course layout can serve multiple purposes.  Look at the detailed close-up of the course map below.  See the reference to the “Kenny cone”?

If you’re a fan of the South Park animated show, you will appreciate the dark humor here.  The course designer felt that this cone would be the one most likely to get hit or “killed”.  Apparently, that is an ongoing theme with the Kenny character on South Park.

Since some of my dark humor comes from the influence of the Saturday Night Live television show, I would choose a different character.  Mr, Bill, of “Oh nooooo!” fame, was always getting hurt & maimed by Mr. Hand.  So, here is my variation on that cone I’ll call the “Mr. Bill cone”.

I’m not advocating any sort of driving violence or road rage here.  It’s a fact of life that autocross cones get hit.  I know, I’ve hit my share.  It’s always a subject of jokes & cartoons in autocross circles.

Racing Ready encourages autocross runs without downed (hit, maimed or killed) cones.

Dan

Fun Learning Autocross in a Miata

I had fun at the SPOKES autocross, on 11/23/2008. Instead of abusing my beastly Great White Whale (as I’ve nicknamed my 2000 Nissan Maxima SE), I was able to throttle (pun intended) Jerry’s stock 1990 Mazda Miata.  If you don’t know, I first met Jerry (my autocross mentor) at the first autocross I attended this year in June, at the Pearsall Divisional event (which was also the first date of my first blog entry!).

Being of tall (6’2”) stature & more than moderate girth, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I fit well in that little 2-seater coupe.

Between the 2 heats, we had a total of 8 runs each on the course. A couple of days ago I talked about the autocross course. Here’s a revised drawing showing what I perceived the best path through the cones. I’m still not convinced that I drove this well, though…

Making the transition from being a daily driver of front wheel drive (FWD) to a Sunday autocross rear wheel drive pilot was more of an adjustment than I had anticipated. Initially, I was impressed by the nice sound (Jerry said it was just a Meineke muffler special – nothing fancy). The clutch and transmission were tight, nothing mechanically sloppy on this 150K+ miles Mazda Miata.

In the first 4 runs, Jerry & I simply swapped seats. This was so I could watch & learn as ride-along passenger, & for him to direct me a bit while I drove. It was good!

I got a pretty good feel for how this little car responds and accelerates. It DID NOT feel like an 18 year old car at that amount of mileage. Having daily driven & done some autocrossing in FWD vehicles, I was very used to trailing throttle oversteer. In other words, in the RWD Miata I felt somewhat unsure of flooring it & then lifting the throttle in the 2nd half of the left hand at the end of corner 1 (see the red A on the course map above), and right hand sweeper between corners 2 & 3 (see the red B on the course map).

I’m sure that with time and experience I could get much closer than the approximate 3 second gap between my course times & Jerry’s.  Jerry took some great shots of me posing with & driving his Miata – thanks SO much Jerry!

He says he’s a wannabe amateur photographer – I think he’s better than that – lots more potential than he realizes!  Check out these shots & tell me he’s a great photographer…!

At the end of the autocross they announced that all Novices would get a trophy!  Out of 10 novices, I placed 4th, based on the car performance equalization formula of PAX.  This was not at all expected.  Here it is!

Racing Ready wants to place well as a source of winning racing form – stay tuned for more!

And again, Jerry, I can’t thank you enough for your allowing me the honor to abuse your Miata & become a definite Miata driving fan (& maybe a future owner).

Dan

Keys To Setting Up an Autocross

Yesterday I arrived at the last SPOKES autocross event for this year.  Getting there early I was able to appreciate the logistics of the physical site set up for an autocross.  I was at the San Antonio Raceway at 7:30am, and, with only about 10 people there, the trailer & the basic set up of cones to define the course were already in their appropriate locations.

Beside setting up the course, the timing and scoring equipment needed to be set up & put in place.  SPOKES makes use of the AXWare Autocrossing Software with the associated wireless transceivers that record event timing.  It just so happens the Vitek, a very active SPOKES member, is also the owner of AXWare.

Vitek arrived arrived to set up, put in place and connect the laser activated transceivers that the AXWare Autocrossing Software utilizes.  The software (now working on version 8), in conjunction with the transceivers, not only measures the drivers’ full course track times, but can divide it up into 3 sections.  In this way, competitors can see if what they did in one section was better on than on a previous run, in just that section.  Pretty slick.

I have posted about 2 different trucks that have entered in autocrosses.  Trucks are also vital in getting equipment to the course location.

Nick is in charge of towing down the club timing trailer with his truck.  Not only is this trailer used as “command central” during the event for timing & announcing.  It also serves as storage of all the cones and other equipment utilized in the physical autocross setup.

Registration also takes place at the trailer, using the club’s laptop, with pre-registered and walk-up (drive-in) competitors signing up there.  Of course, the registration puts the competitors’ names & their associated vehicles in the AXWare timing software.

From this point forward the race-day schedule flow is followed and kept on track.

The all-important Novice Orientation takes place before the event.  John, the Novice Coordinator, does a great job of explaining the basics, the rules, along with some course driving suggestions.  He finishes up strongly suggesting that they ride along with another experienced competitor to see the autocross course at speed, before they go out on their own.

Bottom line, autocrosses do not happen without a core group of responsible individuals who consistently volunteer their time for the good of the club.  There is no glory, but they know this will keep the club alive and moving forward.  They really want to have the spirit of autocrossing to be alive & well.

That’s how I see my role in providing you this blog, Racing Ready.  You may not be able to be physically present (yet) at an autocross or other participatory motorsports event.  But I am consistently here to inspire you to get to one and get involved – to go from wannabe racer to successful racing competitor!

Dan

Last SPOKES Autocross This Year

Tomorrow will be the last SPOKES autocross event (#10) of this year.  It should be a good event, what with many people getting in their last chance to compete & have autocross fun till next year.  As of this posting, there are 57 people pre-registered at AXWare Systems – Online Race Management.  There will be more that just show up – there always are.

Here’s a course map that you can review.  I’ve already downloaded a copy & have started to sketch out what I think could be the proper racing line.

As a Novice, I will be sure to do the Novice course walk through to get some pointers.  I also plan on co-walking the course with my mentor & co-driver, Jerry.  He’ll be able to provide authoritative opinions, since he knows the autocross strengths and weaknesses of his stock 1990 Mazda Miata.

Should be interesting…

I don’t plan on posting to the blog tomorrow – it will be a long, busy day.  Racing Ready will see you next week.

Dan