Category Archives: Racing Ready

Road Rage Therapy

The title of this post is how Michael, an autocross competitor I visited with, describes what autocrossing is for him.  Apparently, the daily 60 mile commute (in each direction) is frustrating and autocrossing helps him to release the stress.

While his daily driver is a current year model Honda Civic Sedan (5-speed, of course), his “therapy” ride is a 1994 Mazda Miata (with the 1.8L engine) he bought about 6 or 7 years ago.  At the time of purchase he wasn’t thinking of autocrossing it, but he surely is today. The only modifications are R compound tires he swaps out at the event, aftermarket Tokico shocks, and a roll bar.  Check out his clean ride:

Michael\'s \'94 Mazda Miata

When asked what got him started autocrossing, he explained that his dad was the president of a local club.  He started at about age 15 and the bug bit him.  He autocrossed for about 10 years & then life got in the way for almost 20 years.  But he’s been back at it with a vengeance since this past April.

In addition to autocrossing, he’s had some experience with karting at a facility in New Braunfels, TX – the Hill Country Kart Club.  He says karting is VERY different from autocrossing.  You really learn a different point of view of vehicle dynamics.  It is definitely something to check out, as I was told by others listening in.

Apparently, there is another Austin, TX regional karting track called Iron Rock Raceway.  You pay only $20 for a 10 minute race (plus $6 daily liability)!  There are a total of 3 race sessions available.  This is their Arrive-and-Drive Karts program.  They provide your safety equipment (helmet, racing suit) access to the course and, of course, a kart.  This sure sounds like some serious fun (and learning, too)!

An aside commentary…
You know, a few months ago I had no idea of all these events and racing venues that are available and are relatively close by.  I really encourage you to start researching!  There’s the online activity of search engine surfing & participating in online forums.  But really, get off your butt!  Get out there to live events and start talking to people, like I’ve started doing.  It really is opening up my eyes to the opportunities available!!!
(Okay, back down off my soap box…)

When Michael is finished with an autocross event, he remounts his street tires.  What to do with the R compound tires in a small 2-seat coupe like a Miata?  He puts them on his “TireTail”, a proprietary tire mounting bracket he’s attached to a special trailer hitch.  This is a cool idea!  Here are some views.

TireTail, rear view

TireTail, hitch view

This post is just the first of a series of overviews of conversations I had with competitors of last Sunday’s autocross event at the San Antonio Raceway.  There are more to come.  So, come on, come along to gain more insight to be Racing Ready!

Dan

Sunday’s Autocross Overview

Just a teaser intro for the week:

Team Racing Ready (logo on hat)

Yesterday’s combined Spokes/SASCA autocross event went well.  It was a fair 35 minutes from where I live – not bad.  I was there before 9:00am & stayed until all the cones were picked up by about 4:30pm.  It was a grand, sunny (HOT!) day, upper 90’s with a heat index easily over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  The sunblock helped, but I missed a few spots!  Anyway, this is how people saw me in my contrived “Team Racing Ready” hat.

Jerry, the Secretary of the SPOKES Board of Directors (the red Miata, #8 ES class competitor), was already there assisting with the drivers’ registration.  He had been there much earlier (along with some dedicated others) to distribute & layout the pylons (cones) to set up the course for the day.  He told me that there were at least 104 people fully registered to participate.  They were able to work it out so that everybody had the opportunity to get in 6 runs apiece – that’s a bunch!

Auto-X Registration, 7-13-08

I walked the course layout (see below) on my own, and then again with the Novice group (there were at least 20!).  The Novice Coordinator had some good general and specific advice during the walk-through.  Things such as the best line to take through a specific corner, how to enter into the chicane, and how to set up for a clean exit, and so on.  His most important advice for the newbie; ride along with a couple of experienced drivers.  You’ll learn a lot more than with this slow walk-through.

Auto-X Course Layout, 7-13-08

There were a few individuals of the SPOKES Board of Directors (BOD) that had already seen my blog.  I was encouraged by their positive comments, and was urged to continue forward.  All the better to make us progress forward and become more Racing Ready!

Dan

Today’s Autocross Location

This is a short entry, just to let you get an aerial view of the San Antonio Raceway (mostly a dragstrip facility).  I have not been to this location, yet.  But, from the picture, it looks like the parking lot to the west is where it all happens…

San Antonio Raceway, parking lot...from the air!

I’ll be broiling here today in the effort to get some more great blog content and some in-person inspiration, for you and for me!

I’m there to be Racing Ready!

Dan

Autocrossing as an Involved Fan

In my mind I am getting myself ready for this upcoming autocross on Sunday, (tomorrow, 7/13/2008).  Please bear in mind that I won’t yet be participating as a competitor.  I will be there all day, from the drivers’ meeting to picking up the cones.  I will be visiting with people, getting introduced to new friends by my mentor, Jerry.  Especially of interest will be the opportunity to ride along on possibly a couple of runs to get more first hand knowledge, and more information to share with you, dear reader.

I will be talking about and promoting the CG-Lock (remember the $5.00 savings – click on CG-Lock!).  Also, I will be interviewing some of the drivers to get a stronger foundation about what amateur racing at this level is all about.

Here’s the event schedule, pulled from the SPOKES website:

Race-Day Schedule

  • 8:00-9:00AMREGISTRATION and TECH open.  Pre-registered folks must check-in. Work/run assignments will be announced at drivers meeting.
  • 9:00-9:15AM LATE REGISTRATION open.  Registrations accepted for an additional $5 charge.
  • 9:00-9:15AM NOVICE WALK-THRU and COURSE OPEN for walking.  (Course may be open before 9AM, if available).
  • 9:30AM Mandatory Drivers Meeting at the timing trailer.
  • 9:40AM First Heat Cars To Grid, First Heat Workers to Report.
  • 9:45AM First Car out.

Here’s their suggestions for “newbies”:

New to Autocross?

If you’re new to autocrossing or just have some questions regarding what to do to prepare for an event, then read on!  First of all, please be aware that autocrossing will very likely take ALL DAY! In order to participate, you need to be willing to devote nearly all of the daylight hours to it.  Below is a checklist of helpful items to follow…

  • Pre-register online at http://www.spokes.org ahead of time (if possible)
  • Arrive to the site with plenty of air in your tires (typically max. recommended pressure because it’s easier to release air than to put it in, especially if you don’t have a compressor or air tank).  Once you get to the site, ask experienced autocrossers what pressures they’d recommend for your car
  • Secure a pit spot, taking only as much space as you need
  • Drive your car to Tech to get it inspected, unless you already have a yearly Tech sticker.  You need to get your car inspected before proceeding to registration
  • Proceed to registration (typically near the van) to register and get your work assignment from the Worker Chief
  • Walk the course. Follow or walk with more experienced drivers, if you need assistance.  Everyone is willing to help!
  • Novices are welcomed to join in the Novice Walk-Through with our Novice Chief just prior to the Drivers Meeting
  • Attend the Drivers Meeting which is scheduled to start at 9:00
  • Pay attention to the heats that are running and preparing to run so that you report on time (or early!)
  • Our schedules can be inconsistent due to different numbers of drivers in each heat.  When you venture off for lunch, please hurry back so that you do not miss your runs or your work assignment.  The best plan is to bring your lunch and drinks with you from home
  • If the event finishes early enough and there are enough people still on site, we will present trophies at the site.  Otherwise, they will be presented at the meeting on the Tuesday following each event

These are some great guidelines to follow, and will allow to participate as a knowledgeable fan (or competitor) who is Racing Ready!

Dan

The Mental Advantage

There are many theories as to what is best to improve to be a better racing competitor.  Some people think to invest in the car and equipment.  Others will say that it is the application of knowledge gained from driving schools and practice lapping sessions.  These are both good and applicable areas for racing results improvement.

Our brain - the performance muscle

One other area that many seem to miss resides between our ears, improving our mental advantage.  Here is a quote from Tami Eggleston, Ph.D., of RacingSecrets.com:

What makes the difference between a good racer and a great racer?  It’s not the car, it’s not luck, it is–the mental advantage!  Sports psychologists believe that psychological factors are more important than physical factors when it comes to determining the primary difference between winners and losers.  If you talk with any top athlete from golfers, to basketball players, to racers; 99% of them will say that mental strength, determination, concentration, and psychological influences are the most important factors in their success.  This mental advantage is what takes them from good to great and from failure to success.

Tami is the leading authority on Auto Racing Psychology.  She has a B.S. degree in Biopsychology, a M.S. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Psychology.  She has authored many articles on the subject and has been published in many racing magazines.  Tami also does an annual trade show seminar on racing psychology.

I have not met Tami nor am I currently promoting her product Spun Out! Psychology of Stock Car Racing, at least not for now.  But she brings up a great point.  I have met and gotten to know Ronn Langford, of MasterDrive,.  He has trained professional drivers to significantly improve their mental game, greatly improving their racing competitiveness.  Without going into details, for the moment, one of the areas he teaches well is that of visualization.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I attended a MasterDrive conference in March of 1993.  Ronn gave an introductory session titled, “The Performance Driver – The Psychology and Physiology”.  I still have the 36-page booklet that fully describes this topic, along with associated articles.  Last month I was able to reconnect with Ronn via e-mail.  I asked, and received, his permission to publish his copyrighted work, as long as I credit him with the concepts.

This will be an ongoing project of mine, to transcribe this work and offer it in byte-sized pieces for your consumption.  The end goal here, as always, is to make you better Racing Ready!

Dan

CG-Lock Initial Impressions

Usually I don’t continue a theme from the previous day, but today I take exception.

\

Today I used the CG-Lock I received & installed last night, and it was an eye-opening experience to use, even in street driving.  Initially, I realized fitment would be better if I lost some weight.  But that aside, I was able to see some of the benefits of a snugly secured lapbelt.

Most of my driving to/from work (about 12 miles) is close to 15% urban streets & 85% interstate city highway.  Of course, there are no rapid chicanes, tight left/right kinks or attitude adjusting hairpin turns.  There are a couple of decreasing radius left hand sweepers, though.  In these broad 60 mph turns I felt the belt hold me much better in the seat.  Also, I had to tell myself I didn’t need to hang onto the steering wheel as before.  I could better feel how the front wheels were negotiating the turn, and therefore better respond to those reactions.  It was, to say the least, interesting.

Here’s a knowledgeable statement about the CG-Lock as related to competition usage within SCCA sanctioned Solo (autocross) events:

“As long as the CG-Lock is installed according to the manufacturer’s supplied instructions, the CG-Lock has no effect on the original factory upper body restraint and will be compliant with 3.3.1 of the SCCA National Solo Rules. This includes convertibles without roll bars.”

– Doug Gill
SCCA Solo Technical Manager

Here’s a quick teaser video of how to set up your CG-Lock (just click the play button):

Well, that should give you a better idea how its used and why you’d want to use it.  Go ahead, go to the upper right & click the ‘Products’ page to learn more.  It will make you better Racing Ready, of course!

Dan

Great New Product, the CG-Lock

Today I received a great new product – the CG-Lock!  This is the first item I have available for purchase.  You you can save about 10% by visiting the CG-Lock link above (or click the lower left image labeled: CG-Lock $5.00 Discount !).

CG-Lock installed

I have been in correspondence with Bruce Mather, the person behind the CG-Lock.  Its a wonderfully simple device.  It easily installs on your standard shoulder/lap belt, to allow to to be “cinched in”, keeping the lap portion of your belt tight.  This gives you greater control to use the steering wheel to steer with.  Not to hang on for dear life, while performing high speed maneuvers during an autocross or other such driving event.  The same is true for your legs and feet.  No longer do you have to brace yourself, and therefore better perform the actions necessary to drive competitively .

Cones, the \

Driving around the cones (or whatever designated course you are navigating) will become a more precise operation.  The www.CG-Lock.com website has good videos, articles, testimonials, test results & so on.  This item is also great for better securing child seats…

So, go ahead, check it out.  Going to www.CG-Lock.com & using my special promotion code (racingready) will net you a $5.00 savings on your order.  Its a secure site and easy to navigate through.

This is a great first product to offer, its inexpensive, but its performance to value ratio is hard to beat.  As they say at CG-Lock:

The CG-Lock improves the performance of the driver, not the car!

Therefore, this is definitely a product to make you Racing Ready!

Dan

P.S. – Just installed my new CG-Lock & I’m ready to race, err drive, to work tomorrow! 🙂