Let’s Dancing! AutoX with Speed Ventures, an AutoX Practice with Uncle Trinh, and first trophy!

Kandi is running relatively stable now. Getting low on tires – lasted me a whopping 6 months – I’ll need to change it soon, which is actually a lot since I went to 1-2 events every month. If I adjusted my alignment better, the federals in front would have lasted another 2-3 months.

In any case, I found out my relative Donald was attending the Speed Ventures autocross on November 22, 2008 w/ his 350z. I didn’t even know he tracked his car at all, so I had to sign up. We bet lunch. Chris & I are pretty close in times at autox, so I figured it would be interesting to dual it out vs the 350z track edition + some federal tires (better than the oem ones in my opinion).

The Speed Ventures autocrosses are held in the small parking lot on the inside of Roval @ AAA Speedway. I was doubtful if it was going to be enjoyable at first (the GReddy Fest autocross had a bigger lot @ El Toro & it got boring pretty fast, though it was fun beating all the “hard parkers”). However, the course design was quite entertaining, with many elements stressing looking ahead and setting up correctly for the next turn. Not having to work was awesome as well. However, at $90 ($80 + $10/person fee to get in), I don’t know how often I’d want to go again.

Easiest lunch I’ve won in a long time, hee hee. It turns out he has only done drifting events, and it was his first autocross event. I was ahead of him several seconds in the morning. By the end of the day, he finally got within 1 second and some change – just a hair over 45 seconds flat for my relative, and a 43.7 for me. The fastest people of the day were in the 38′s & 39′s, so I still had quite a ways to go, but I managed to best the majority of cars there – something that NEVER happens @ an SCCA/CSCC event.

Mike Equina and Jayson Woodruff gave me great advice after they noticed how I was plowing into most of the turns despite my speed & not rotating the car very well. “Why don’t you stiffen up the rear suspension?” OOO YYEAAAA. I was running 18 all around for the past few months as a compromise between having it soft enough for more forgiving transitions but stiff enough that I don’t destroy my wiring harnesses that are right above the tires (can’t relocate those yet since the convertible has a factory brace that blocks the way). I ended up running 24 out of 32 in the rear. The car felt like a totally different animal. I was able to get on the throttle much sooner since I was no longer understeering out of the corners (in fact, I was able to sort of throttle steer my way through & out of the turns).

My fastest personal run from the Speed Ventures autocross:

^^^ Video comes out normal scale, but no “watch in high quality” :( – however, you can see it in all its glory on my gallery page.

The following weekend, I brought my Uncle Trinh to an SCCA autocross practice (November 28, 2008 practice). He didn’t want to take his 240z or his IS-250, so I let him co-drive my car. Since we shared a single entry, I also did the course work for him so that he could get the maximum (virtual Speed Ventures no-work style) enjoyment out of his first autocross.

We did a course walk and took some ride-a-longs during the first heat so he could get used to the whole course setup.

By the time it was our turn to run, I let him have the first few runs. He DNF’ed all over the place, went to slow in the fast sections, and turned too late in the slow sections. In one of the videos, you can hear me screaming “YOU’RE KILLING MY TIRES!!!” As the day went on, he got more comfortable with the course and car and managed to go from 91+ seconds DNF’ing to about 77/78 seconds clean.

The most important thing is, he’s addicted to autocross now, hee hee.

Uncle Trinh driving the 240sx around the course.

I managed to go from 73.xxx seconds to 71.8xx in 4 laps. The new digital recorder messed up in the afternoon, so the fastest run I have recorded for myself is my 72.xxx run & an 82.xxx run for my uncle.

Uncle Trinh said he’ll be able to beat me after a couple more events. I wonder how many lunches I can milk out of this deal ;) .

*Videos are stretched because of codec I used – I need to remember what settings I use to get high quality video without the video stretch on youtube. The following videos can be watched in high quality if you watch it directly on youtube. You can watch the high quality unstretched versions on my gallery page.

One of the advantages of having an open face helmet (I was wearing a closed face one) is that you can hear & talk easier. I was yelling over the sound of the exhaust making sure my uncle heard me, fun times… not for my tires tho.

Trinh’s first autox run:

Trinh’s fastest recorded morning run:

My fastest recorded morning run:

Lastly, I attended the autocross championship event on November 30, 2008 – which essentially runs the practice course backwards. A lot of the regular CSM guys weren’t there (I didn’t know this), leaving only me, Art in one of his 280z’s, and Vincent with his MR2 Spyder. Jason Flores instructed me my first run, managing to get a 63.8xx second lap time while taking it “slow” and talking me through what he was doing. This is only his second time driving my car, but as with most instructors, I always learn a lot from having better drivers take my care around the course.

Even with his instruction, I choked and coned my first run with a 66.xxx second lap time. My second run netted a 65.6xx, but I knew I was a good 2 seconds off from where I should be. The final run was back in the 66′s. In my set of x-runs, I finally managed to get down to 64.1xx seconds, but my driving was not nearly as smooth as Jason’s. I was still happy I was able to get relatively close.

After cleaning up course, much to my surprise, Michael Palero yells at me “Did you see how you did?” I check the results, and BAM! First place in CSM by 1/10th of a second. SWEEEEEEET. This will probably be my only trophy for a LONG TIME, considering the SM class guys were running 58 second lap times. I still have quite a ways to go, but at least my car is finally getting closer to the condition I’m trying to get it in; and as I said before, the car, despite the automatic transmission and weight, are definitely not the bottle-necks in my driving.

I’m really glad I came out to the championship this weekend :) .

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