Return To Autocross & Competitive, Too

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.

2010 SASCA AutoX 1st morning heat grid, everybody getting ready!

2010 SASCA AutoX 1st morning heat grid, another view...

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.

Karlino on the autocross grid basking in the 1 year ownership anniversary glow!

Karlinos' Falken ZIEX ZE512 tires on the stock 14" rims - note chalk marks!

Karlino on the autocross grid, about ready to roll...

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.

Blossom Athletic Center Autocross Sunglow!

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.

Rough sketch of 2010-JUL-11 autocross course design, 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.

2010 SASCA AutoX C Stock Final Times...SO CLOSE!

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.

Karlino shifter knob change out - before & after...

Racing Ready is very pleased with this successful return to autocross competition.  I hope there are more competitors in the CS class next time.

Dan

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