You may be a little thrown off with this being a post about Event 7 and the previous post was about Event 2. Let’s just say it’s been a busy summer and my family takes priority over racing! The good news though is that it’s been dry and warm in Seattle for well over a month. The bad news is that I’m well out of practice after nearly a 4 month break. Let’s just be aggressive and see what happens!
My BMW E36 was in great running form as usual and needed nothing repaired prior to the event. Reducing the air pressure in the tires (28psi all around to start) and dialing up the firmness in the Koni shocks at all four corners were the only preparations necessary.
I could immediately see that this was going to be a fairly high speed event once I saw the course map. There were a couple fairly long “straights”, a few sweeping corners, and only one tight corner. Autocross courses are normally designed to keep the competing cars in 2nd gear the whole time and thus top out around 60 mph. After my course walk, I knew that I would potentially be bouncing off of my 7000 rpm redline during my runs. This was shaping up to be a fun event!
As has become the norm, I was working the course first instead of running. This time it was Section 5. The cool thing about this specific work assignment was that Section 5 should be the fastest section of the track. There were quite a few fast cars at the event so I was very interested to see how they blazed through my section.
As usual, the VW Golf R, that I previously took a ride in, was impressively fast in its runs. You could see it starting to four wheel drift around certain turns. It was running times in the 46 second range consistently on the day. This was the fastest in the STX class (though I really don’t believe he’s still running stock boost pressure).
The fastest car of the day was easily the Subaru Impreza WRX STI raced by a guy who has grown up racing karts. I believe he was also planning to go to the SCCA Nationals from what I overheard. He was running in the 43 second range on all his runs. It was amazing to see him running faster than Nissan GTRs, Porsche GT3’s and nearly fully race prepped custom cars.
Having seen what was possible with a great car, fantastic tires, and skilled driver, let’s see what I could do with very little of those things!
Run 1 – 51.874 (missed two gates):
As has become the norm for me, I got a little confused on the first run of the day and missed a couple gates immediately after the first slalom. However, I was definitely pushing things and was surprised by the speed of the course. I just needed to correct the gate issue and then push a little harder.
Run 2 – 51.752 (clean run):
Picking up time and making a clean run but I thought it should’ve been faster. I could only push the car so much before the tires just gave up way too early in the corners and fast transitions.
Run 3 – 51.826 (clean run):
I tried a few different lines, braking points, and general techniques but it didn’t get me any time improvements. I think I’m still not being smooth enough through the transitions and corners. And my tires are terrible…
Run 4 – 51.393 (clean run):
This was the best run of the day with a 51.393 (not 51.939 like I said in the video). You can see the oversteer that I’m still dealing with when powering out of the low speed corners. I even got loose at about 50 mph in one of the fast transitions in the middle of the run. At least my last run of the day was the fastest!
Overall, this was a great event and a super fun time! I’m a little dissapointed that I was several seconds off of the faster cars times but I did do very well when compared to the other novices at the event. I did hit my 7000 rpm redline a couple times per run which means I hit at least 65 mph. Good thing I stuck with the higher gearing and didn’t go for the 3:23 LSD. I was impressed by my E36’s braking ability as it slowed down incredibly quickly (even engaging ABS) with the completely stock brakes.
Event 8 is just around the corner and it looks like I should be able to attend. More practice and better tires should get the E36 placing even higher!