Category Archives: Eric, Contributing Blogger

Eric is a serious autocross competitor friend of mine. He has a greater commitment to the sport & has a fun car (a yellow Corvette he calls Sunshine) to compete with. In addition, he is a great writer, with his own distinct style. His posts lend a good overview & he shares his various competitive trials & tribulations, holding nothing back. Eric’s blog posts make for a great read!

Eric’s 2011 SCCA SOLO Nationals Challenges

Once again, Eric, my Contributing Blogger Extraordinaire, has come through with his honest & humble musings of SCCA Nationals SOLO competition notes & pix from Lincoln, NE.

Last week, my codriver Jay and I made our first trip to Lincoln, NE for the 2011 SCCA Solo National Championships.  Unfortunately, the long tow was made even longer by the fact that our usual trailer was unavailable, so we made due with a U-Haul 16 footer that the car barely fit on, and it tended to sway at any speed past 62mph!  The fact that both of our schedules forced us to leave at 1 a.m. Monday morning and pull an all nighter for the drive up didn’t help.

2011 scca solo nats day1 - 1

At last, we made it, and thanks to special arrangements made with the SCCA we were able to complete registration on Tuesday morning.  Messing with our heads even more, however, was the fact that we were woken at 5:30 a.m. by a deluge of rain, thunder and lightning that left us wondering if we would be able to run at all.  Then the lightning stopped, and we were able to register and make it through tech.

2011 scca solo nats day1 - 2

Super Stock was originally scheduled to run in Heat 1, but we were moved to Heat 2, which was both a blessing and a curse.  It stopped raining right as the first cars took to the course at 8:30 a.m., but by the time we were scheduled to run conditions were still damp, and there was standing water in the “Tickets Please” part of the East Course, which also happened to be the tightest element.  Many competitors had their rain tires at the ready, but 2/3rds of the field, us included, gambled that it would dry out fast.

2011 scca solo nats day1 - 3

The course was still slick when we made our first runs, with Jay taking a pylon and me taking, ahem, five cones on my first run.  Our second runs in drying conditions weren’t any better, as we had a combination of extremely grippy concrete, well above what we are used to running on locally at Retama Park and Blossom, and still slick sections, such as the aforementioned “Tickets Please.”  Both of us ended up with two pylons apiece.

2011 scca solo nats day1 - 4

Third and final runs were even worse, as Jay hit a wet patch and oversteered, almost spinning the car and going on the wrong side of a gate after taking out most of a cone wall, while I managed to destroy a good portion of “Tickets Please.”  Here are videos of both my and Jay’s “best” runs, evidence of how slow we were.

Here’s Jay’s third run, Day 1, East course:

My third run, Day 1, East course:

After committing the previous atrocities against the Autocross Gods and defaming the Church of the Cone, it was no surprise that Jay was 38th and I was dead last in a field of 43 Super Stock competitors.  Though at least we looked almost fast, as evidenced by these photos I stole from GotCone.com.

gotcone.com - 1

gotcone.com - 2

Day 2, at least, was dry, though the course was a whole bunch of slaloms followed by offsets and more slaloms, with a couple of sweepers thrown in for good measure.  It was quite a workout, and my first run left me breathless and trembling, with bruises on both sides of my legs from the G forces of slicing back and forth.  Worst of all, getting behind, misreading a sweeper exit, and driving below the car’s limits left me still in last place.  Jay fared worse, as he almost spun the car again and took out another cone.  We did a little better on our second runs, with Jay recording his fastest raw time of 70.32, and my 71.51 was still faster than my first run, even with a cone.  And yes, we hit a lot of them, leaving gems like this mark on Sunshine’s right rear quarter panel.

2011 scca solo nats day2 - 8

At last, it was time for our third and final runs.  I knew I was faster, if not cleaner, than the driver above me in 42nd, and that a pass without a pylon would prevent me from continuing my stigma of finishing last at national level SCCA events.  Jay would tell me later that the announcer told the world that I would need a 72.8 to not finish in last as I rounded the final sweeper, and the result of my run was a very conservative but clean 72.1.  Afterwards, I remember telling my codriver that it was the hardest I’d ever worked to not finish DFL.  This artwork, left by Lord Alarcon on my rear bumper, pretty much sums up the event.

2011 scca solo nats day2 - 7

Of course, this blog wouldn’t be complete without a picture of 2011 Super Stock national champion Matthew Braun in his Lotus Elise.  To eliminate the effect of Other People’s Rubber on his times, he had THREE SETS of new tires, one for each of his runs, on day 2.  It worked, as his third run was his fastest, and he walked away with the jacket.  Check out the air under the left front, now that’s maximizing your available grip.  Hope GotCone.com doesn’t mind me stealing their snaps.

2011 Super Stock national champion Matthew Braun in his Lotus Elise

With that, our first nationals experience was over, and it was time to load up the sexy U-Haul trailer and head home.  Sunshine went on a lot easier that evening than she did at 1:30 a.m. in the middle of my street with neither of us having had any sleep!  And there’s nothing like a 15 hour long drive to think about all the mistakes we made and the future cars we would like to build.  My Super Stock car’s not going anywhere, but there may be a blog about DSP in the future…

2011 scca solo nats day2 - 9  |  Rhino towing Sunshine on the rented U-Haul trailer...

Many thanks to my codriver, who made the arrangements for the trailer and whose “Rhino” made it possible for us to get the car to Lincoln in the first place.  Hopefully, next year, with some practice and coaching from my fellow SASCAers, including President Ricky who finished 3rd in B Stock and John in the “67 WHP” AE86, our results will improve!

2011 scca solo nats day2 - 1  |  Co-driver Jay...

You have to say about Eric’s persistence at his Nationals SOLO level of competition, he doesn’t quit!  He’ll be needing more work on the “nut” behind the wheel.  But Eric is getting GREAT experience. Learn me some autocross technique.  Racing Ready is way behind in autocross experience!

Dan

Eye-Opening AutoX Switch to Corvette Torque!

At the last SASCA autocross, I had asked Eric, my Contributing Blogger Extraordinaire, if I could co-drive his 2001 Z06 Corvette, Sunshine.  He agreed!  He had already modified his car’s suspension settings to be relatively neutral in the handling department, & with worn, but still adequately usable Hoosier slicks.

Here’s what he said on FB the week prior:

I’ve ridden with you before and you seem to have decent throttle control, and the Hoosiers I’m running now are getting up there in age, so sure, why not? Register as number 24, and I’ll take Subway for lunch, LOL!

I was seriously concerned about spinning Eric’s ‘Vette.  This is a big serious step up from my autocrosser & daily driver, a 1999 Miata, Karlino. The Hoosier slicks racing compound rubber seemed to have at least 3 times as much contact surface as my street tires, that is, WAY more grip.  Even more, I was very blown away with the car’s power & TORQUE !!!

Eric carving an off camber corner, at the Blossom Athletic Center parking lot

Eric actually said I did pretty good, since I had never driven a Corvette with Hoosier slicks.  Talk about point & stick!  I will have to admit that I was overwhelmed – I didn’t know what to do with all that power & adhesion.  End result, I was 2 seconds slower than Eric’s best time, 48.3 vs. 48.6.

SASCA Event #7, 07-10-2011 - Summary Results

Here’s what Eric posted on the SASCA 2011 Event #7 Facebook page, afterwords:

Fun autox too, and kudos to Dan Scanlon for doing a good job driving my car for the first time ever.

Later, Eric provided me with this blog follow up:

This past week, I participated in SASCA’s July autocross event at Blossom with special guest co-driver, Dan of Racing Ready!  The one thing I remember most about the event was the heat, and I was exhausted before we even had the opportunity to run.

Dan, besides being our host here, was also coursemaster, coming up with a fun to drive, flowing layout that featured both high speed and tight elements.  It seemed like it would be a good matchup between us on middle-aged Hoosiers, and Ray and Robert in Ray’s grey Lotus Elise on fresh R888s.

I’ll let Dan fill in the details, but indeed it was close, with half a second separating Robert in the Elise and me.  It’s painful knowing there was more time in the car, as I kept making stupid mistakes on various different parts of the course, but at least I can blame the heat in addition to myself!  Double driving in these conditions, while fun, took its toll, and my two gallon sprayer was emptied by our third runs.  Many thanks to the Subie driver that allowed us the gracious use of his.

After the event, Dan, a rookie to both Corvettes and Hoosiers, made an interesting comment, about not being quite sure what to do with the car’s performance potential.  Guess I must either take it for granted or be used to it, having started autocrossing on slower than stock old runflats and making gradual changes to the car until now.  My next change, which I hope to have in place before the next SASCA event a week before Nationals, will be tire brand.  We’ll see how that goes.

It was a super hot day, but it was worth it.  For some reason I found myself out of breath after each run.  I’m not sure if it was my adrenalin pumping, or that I forgot to breathe – I guess I was trying so very hard to concentrate.  After 6 runs I will say I was very finished for the day!

Eric's 2001 Z06 Corvette autocross chariot, Sunshine!

Racing Ready is always looking for new racing opportunities to learn…

Dan

2011 SW SCCA Divisional, Retama Park, by Eric

Once again, Eric (contributing Blogger Extraordinaire) came through with flying colors.  He provides us with pictures, video  & a great, on the spot description of this SCCA Divisional  event, along with all the trials he had to endure.  He covered for me while Racing Ready was pursuing future Formula 1 business in Austin…

This past weekend, I participated in the SCCA Southwest Divisional event #2 at Retama Park.  After my experience at the National Tour, I decided it was time to make the car as competitive as possible and brought Sunshine, my 2001 Z06, down to 911 Motors.

Workin' on improving Sunshine's suspension responce at Federico's shop, 911 Motors!

Federico (owner of the SSM Boxster previously pictured here at Racing Ready) and crew put my car on their lift, and scales, before aligning it the old school method with camber plates and strings.  And while the car wasn’t horrible before, after some tweaking of the Corvette’s built-in weight jacking screws they managed to get the cross weight at 50.1.  Negative camber was also maxed out at -2.25 degrees front and -1.5 degrees rear, with zero toe up front and +2mm toe out back.

Eric's before & after sway bars (antiroll bars) to upgrade his Corvette's handling!

At the same time, I decided to try a larger front sway bar from the C6 ZR1.  This proved to be too much, as the car pushed quite a bit during SASCA event #5.  However, it was much easier to drive and my runs were very consistent, as I had four runs within a couple tenths of each other.  It would’ve been five, if it wasn’t for a spin to not win during run four that sent me backwards through the finish lights.

Eric thru the lights (a damn spin!) at the SCCA Divisional at Retama, on June 18, 2011

Determined to tighten up my line and with the stock front sway bar back in place, I made a few practice runs on Friday afternoon.  That evening, I managed to snap a shot of yellow Corvette row, which included Hubert’s A-Stock C5, and my E46 as sweep car.

Eric's BMW daily driver, also served as sweep car duty.

Most of us at SASCA were a little disappointed by the turnout, with 83 cars taking to the course.  As you can see from the pics below, the pits were far from full and there was no big crowd at the driver’s meeting.

Shallow turnout for this event, the SCCA Divisional at Retama, on June 18, 2011

It was reflected in the unusually small Super Stock field, with just Troy in his beautiful Porsche 911 GT3 and me competing.

Eric's Corvette (Sunshine) waiting in anticipation, proudly wearing the RacingReady.com static clings!

At last, after doing my duties as “Co-Chief of Registration and anything else that needed doing,” it was our turn to run.  The car was solid and easy to drive, and it felt better with the smaller sway bar in place.  However, she was still a little pushy, and a sloppy line left me 1.2 seconds behind Troy after day 1.  Day 2 was worse, as evident in the video of my best run below, and this is a good example of how what you think you’re driving may not be what you’re actually driving.

I never knew that I was that far off the cones at :17, and I didn’t realize I’d left so much empty track from :27-:31.  There was a little speed left around the finish corner as well, and the results of this painful to watch run was falling behind yet another 1.2 seconds.  Boy am I glad I had the video to realize all this!

. . .

All in all, it was a great event that showed me just how much further I have to go.  Troy was great to run against and a nice guy to talk to between runs.  Though I’m starting to wonder if we’re missing out in San Antonio, because while the grip available at Retama is much higher than what’s available from Blossom’s resealed asphalt, the Super Stock winner complained to me about the relative lack of grip at Retama.  Though the dust, as evidenced in the picture I stole from Jerry, may have had something to do with it.

A dry, dusty & hot (!) SCCA Divisional event at Retama, June 18, 2011....

Well, not much left to do now but try to improve as much as I can before Jay, Sunshine and I make the trek to Lincoln, NE, and the SCCA Solo National Championships!

As usual, Racing Ready gives sincere kudos to Eric’s submission here – they are always welcome!  I trust his future initiative continues.

Federico, 911 Motors shop owner, is an Independent AMSOIL Dealer.  This is Federico’s AMSOIL lubricated, highly focused & modified Porsche Boxter!

SASCA 2011 AutoX #3 - Federico's SSM Porsche Boxter - with AMSOIL Racing livery!

Of interest, I had no idea the average Porsche boxer engine takes anywhere from 12 to 16 quarts of oil – WOW!

Dan

SASCA 2011 Autocross #3 – By Eric

This is my Contributing Blogger Extraordinaire Eric’s well-documented submition of last Sunday’s SASCA autocross event.  Enjoy!

This past weekend, I participated in SASCA’s third autocross of 2011, and the club’s second at Retama Park after a many year break.  Every time we change venues, a good crowd always shows up, with 91 drivers taking to the course despite a chilly, think 30s, start.

SASCA 2011 AutoX #3 - Drivers Meeting

More than past events, this one drew a wide variety of cars, with everything from a Street Modified, pro-touring style Buick GS with a 455 to this extremely clean Porsche 914.  This time, might triumphed over light, as they ended up first and second in class, respectively.

SASCA 2011 AutoX #3 - Vintage Porsche 914

Kevin, SASCA’s novice coordinator, designed the course both for Sunday’s event and Saturday’s extremely successful novice school.  Both were similar, with the competition course using elements of the school course but run in reverse.  Per the luck of the draw, Super Stock ran in the last heat, which would provide the best grip, with rising temperatures and grids of other cars cleaning off the surface.  Though not surprisingly, Drew and Steve in the red D Prepared Miata on the left side of this picture would end up with the two fastest raw times of the day.

SASCA 2011 AutoX #3 - The busy autocross grid...

After a great lunch at Rudy’s, it was finally our turn to run.  Jay and me, co-driving my 2001 Z06, was one of only two double driver cars, and with fast times in the mid-30 second range, the pace was brutal.

SASCA 2011 AutoX #3 - Eric's Corvette, Sunshine!

The course was characterized by offset gates, a couple of tight sweepers and a slalom with a weird entry, and I never got my rhythm quite right, with my early times in the high-35 to low-36 second range.  In the meantime, Jay was in the low-35s, eventually clicking off the 35.1 seen below, good enough for first place in Super Stock.

At last, after riding with him a couple times and improving my timing, I managed a 35.4.  Unfortunately for me, this would be third (aka last place) in my class, with Peter in his father’s Lotus sneaking in with a 35.2.  Granted, .3 seconds covering a field isn’t a heck of a lot, and it was fun running against both of them.

SASCA 2011 AutoX #3 - 3 directional autocross cones

Special mention must be made of Federico, whose yellow Boxster is seen below, sporting a fresh AMSOIL Racing decal courtesy of Racing Ready Oil.  He ran in the Street Prepared class last year, but has started down the slippery slope to Super Street Modified-dom, stripping out the car and preparing a swap to a 3.6 liter motor.  He faces some stiff competition, including this week’s SSM winner Beth in her brutal 3-rotor RX7, and I can’t wait to see his car go once he’s done with it.

SASCA 2011 AutoX #3 - Federico's SSM Porsche Boxter - with AMSOIL Racing livery!

See everyone at the Tour in two weeks, when Jay and I will exchange the 60+ run Hoosiers for the fresh set of stickers in my garage.  And if Dan lets me, I’ll be blogging about it all right here.

Eric, of course I’ll be looking forward to a nicely descriptive blog series!  In addition, Eric has offered to carry the Racing Ready “colors” on the sides of his car.  The Racing Ready logo will  look great on Eric’s Sunshine.  It should also bring more of you readers here.

Till then,

Dan

AutoX Competitiveness, Eric’s Striving Saga

Once again, Eric, my Contributing Blogger Extraordinaire came through with a great review of the SPOKES/SASCA Autocross Co-Event, which took place last Sunday, November 14th, 2010.  I continue to enjoy Eric’s literary style – I’m sure you will, too.

This past Sunday, I participated in the SASCA/Spokes combined autocross at San Antonio Raceway.  As you can see from the picture of the driver’s meeting, it was fairly cold by Texas standards, starting off in the forties and only climbing into the mid-50s as the day went on.

Brisk drivers meeting, the start of the SPOKES/SASCA 11/2010 AutoX...

Of course, with me being me, I forgot to bring a jacket and spent most of the event rubbing my arms together to keep them warm.  And, of course, I remembered to bring my tire sprayer!  It’s a necessity at most autocrosses down here, but went unused this month.

As usual, my main competition in Super Stock was Peter in his father Ray’s silver Lotus Elise.  As his car was on Toyo R888s and mine was on some old RA1s, I figured the cars were a decent match.

Peter's Lotus Elise, on grid at the SPOKES/SASCA 11/2010 AutoX

But what I wasn’t counting on was the cold affecting my traction that much.  It felt like there was a decent amount of grip out there, but every attempt I made at using my car’s last tenth was rewarded with a boggle or a push through a cone.  Or a spin, as it were in two instances.  Thus, Peter would end up owning me by almost two full seconds.

It wasn’t just me getting chilled by the weather, as you can see from this picture of Tom’s Z car with its own jacket, attempting to keep some heat in the front tires.

Tom's Z car, trying to keep warmth in its tires at the SPOKES/SASCA AutoX Co-Event.

While it wasn’t much of a competition for me, at least I got to give some newbies rides and enjoy the varied machinery that fills the grid of a Spokes or SASCA event, including this beautiful yellow Porsche.

Subtly sweet, golden yellow Porsche coupe at the November 2010, SPOKES/SASCA AutoX Co-Event

One of my passengers even claimed that my car was the most fun ride he’d had at the event.

Eric's ride, Sunshine, his Corvette - on grid at the SPOKES/SASCA AutoX event of 11/2010

Oh well, it’s time for me to hit the tire shop and the alignment rack to see if I can provide that Lotus with something to run against next month.  If I finish second to Peter again, and my math is right, I believe we’ll tie for points and he’ll get the class win for the season because he has more wins.  Anyway, thanks again to Dan for letting me blog in his place, and hopefully he won’t party so late that he can’t make our last event of the year!

Thanks again Eric!  And yes, I DO plan on participating as a competing participant of the next SASCA/SPOKES Autocross Co-Event.  Karlino, Racing Ready & Ready Oil will all be there!  This event will take place at the Blossom Athletic Center parking lot, on Sunday, December 5th, 2010.  We’ll see you there!

Dan