I was SO pleasantly impressed yesterday! I celebrated the 1 year anniversary of Karlino ownership (my 1999 Mazda Miata). To mark the occasion, I participated in the 2010 SASCA Autocross #7.
You ask, “Why was Dan impressed?” I’ll get to that in a bit. I had missed the last 4 SASCA autocross events due to needing new tires & having to work weekends the last 2 months. Now working Monday through Friday and the happy owner of 4 Falken Ziex ZE512 tires mounted on my car, I am able to properly autocross, once again.
Today’s autocross had a relatively low number of participants, 89 competing drivers. I guess the heat, up to the mid-nineties, kept people away. But it was about 10 degrees cooler than last year. By keeping in the shade, staying properly hydrated & using good sunblock, it wasn’t too bad.
Well, the new tires brought both Karlino & me up to our respective potentials. With the 7 (!) runs we had today, I got progressively faster on the first 5 runs & then pretty much plateaued after that. After learning the course in the 1st run or so, I started to learn how to use the new Falken tires to Karlino’s advantage. Craig designed a great equalizer of a course, with a good combination of a variety of left & right sweepers and some nicely challenging chicanes. Here’s a rough sketch of the course layout, by Craig.
Starting with the tire pressures up and adjusting them after the first run, I left them at 36 PSI front, 34 PSI rear. With Karlino set up this way, I could pretty much steer where I wanted to. I was even able to steer with the throttle on the sweepers. It felt very good to have a better controlled car that was actually competitive. Eric, my favorite guest blogger, let borrow his Hero Pro digital video camera – here’s the result of my run #4:
My only competitor in the CS class, Golf, drove a Mazda RX-8 & had R-compound tires mounted. In the first few runs we duked it out as to who was faster. Then, on his 4th run, Golf found a big 1.25 second advantage that I was not able to fully answer back with. I did get close, within 0.331 seconds!. That was okay as my best time was close to or better than some other Miatas & other cars that were in more prepared & modified classes. My PAX time placed me 46th out of 89 competitors, much better than in prior autocrosses. I had typically placed in the bottom quarter, or less.
In addition, I made my first “semi-upgrade” inside Karlino. This could be construed to be performance-related. I replaced the stock shifter knob with a Voodoo knob. It’s about 3/4″ shorter than the stock knob and a bigger ball (2″ diameter) to grab onto. Some would say you can shift a little quicker, but I’m not so sure. In an autocross you normally shift from 1st to 2nd & stay in second for the remainder of the course. Whatever – it feels better in my hand & looks nicer, too.
Racing Ready is very pleased with this successful return to autocross competition. I hope there are more competitors in the CS class next time.