Track Autocross Challenged By Weather

Wet starter cones & Santa Rita turn in the background at Harris Hill Road

Today’s SPOKES autocross event put all of us competitors to the challenge in many ways.  These were issues that are normally not faced in a South/Central Texas autocross:

  • It was cold!
  • It was steadily drizzling till mid-event
  • It was on a road course w/elevation changes
  • The course surprised us all with off camber turns in the wet
    Can you say “Spin City”?
  • Course workers had to stand in wet, knee-high grass
  • The course length, from grid out to in was 1.8 miles
  • … & so on…

I arrived very early, a few minutes before the gate was opened at about 6:55am (after a 1 hour drive).  With a good parking spot in the paddock, I prepped my car for autocross running.  I was able to garner an early worker duty position as co-paddock marshal.  This allowed me to fulfill my worker duties before the morning drivers’ meeting – hooray.  Thanks Jason!

Pan shot of wet SPOKES/Harris Hill Road Autocross paddock

I did not feel very secure driving Karlino in the wet.  Driving in the rain on the street is a piece of cake.  Driving on a track that is unfamiliar to you is not confidence inspiring, especially with constant track surface moisture.  There was not any standing water, thanks to the way Bo Rivers had the track designed.  But for all the competitors, in both of the 2 morning heats, there was a incessant wet sheen on the driving surface.  Obviously this compromised consistent traction.

Wet track "sheen" at SPOKES/Harris Hill Road autocross start box

As the day progressed, the drizzle let up & the course times subsequently went down.  Having 81 entries and numerous going off incidents, we were only able to get in 4 runs.  That wasn’t enough to learn the course (for me).  But since the chicanes & gates were well spread out, you sort of had time to think your way through (as opposed to remembering).

Stretched out grid at the SPOKES/Harris Hill Road Autocross

My course times & eventual position placement aren’t important (okay, they weren’t that good!).  I did have some fun & was able to consistently improve my course times & learn to handle Karlino better.  That’s what autocrossing is all about!

I did learn a specific trick to turn #7.  The first 2 times through the exit of this turn (known as Mustang corner), I had to do back & forth, opposite lock & drifting moves to save myself from going off the track.  During our lunch break, someone mentioned if you kept your right inside tires on the cement edge curbing, you could get around much better (click image below).

The secret of Mustang Corner at Harris Hill Road explained!

Well, that worked SO very well!  I was able to get around under control, a little faster & better set up for the next chicane.  It helped me to improve my course times, along with the drying track in the afternoon.

It seems that most all participants were glad that the event was over.  It was good work getting through all those above-mentioned challenges.  Racing Ready hopes, like most all others, that next year’s 3rd Annual SPOKES/H2R Autocross takes in better racing weather conditions.


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One thought on “Track Autocross Challenged By Weather”

  1. Here’s an answer to an e-mail I sent to Harris Hill Road owner Bo Rivers. I thought it appropriate to share it here:
    Thanks Dan,

    Good to see you mixin’ it up out there. Nothing simulates the control inputs necessary to drive a car at the absolute limit, like driving in limited adhesion situations. I talked to Jon Etkins about his 98.1 run in his new, totally stock MX5, and he just grinned and said, “I like driving in the wet, but it was hairy.”

    For those of you who haven’t visited Harris Hill Road, it’s worth your time to do so!

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