Monday, June 11, 2018

June Autocross Report


While the Formula 1 drivers were racing in Canada, down here south of the border on Long Island we headed out to the Nassau Coliseum, (parking lot #2) and had a blast autocrossing with 127 other folks! Hey, let's jump in the NMS FIAT and ride along on the final run (and fastest of the day for us):

In a field of 18 Street Touring cars, NMS ended the day in 7th place, so that only adds one more point to the season total. In the entire field of 128 cars, we think the FIAT did a reasonable 21st place on PAX time, and a pretty quick 29th fastest of all on RAW actual time.

Our math says that now after four events for the year that the team now stands in 6th place out of 25 or so drivers that have competed in the Street Touring Class, so we're looking forward to more tough competition in the coming months.
How Do You Like the Headlights?

Today's event had a few sprinkles of rain before, during, and after the driving, so it's a perfect 3 months in a row for wet/damp events. Maybe we'll get a totally dry one some time this year, but really the little bit of water didn't slow anyone down today. While NMS didn't bring home any trophies or anything, for some reason it was a really challenging course, chock full of plenty of full throttle and a couple tricky spots where I had to figure out how to go faster. Everyone was scheduled to get 6 attempts at the course, with 3 in the morning and then 3 in the afternoon. But is that  how it really happened?????

Happy Cow Cheese!

Here's a look at how our runs played out:

RUN ONE: 37.71 seconds, and it felt pretty darn fast, but we quickly came up with a plan to go faster. On the first run I pushed to hard into a big corner, so I needed to brake sooner to gain more speed. My second half of the course was sloppy, so some driving improvements should drop the time a bit.

RUN TWO: 35.962, well yeah that was faster BUT I hit one cone, so with a 2 second penalty, the official time for this run was 37.962. Hey, almost as good as the first run, but clearly I could drive a 35.9 again without hitting a cone. In fact, this run was pretty quick and I though I had hit at least TWO cones. Shows what I know. New target time: 35.9

RUN THREE: 36.967 I have some good and bad news: Good news is that this was my fastest so far, but the bad news was that it was more than a second slower than I knew I could do. In the second half of this run I again went too fast and slide the car almost off-course, so I knew I had to clean up the last part of the course to get back into the 35 second range.

Flying the Abarth Flag!

After three runs, all drivers swapped places so it was my turn to head out on the course ON FOOT and work while the first working group of people got to drive. Lucky for me I was watching the second half of the course as the radio/flag guy, so I got to watch about 180 laps of the track and figure out how I could drive it faster. This really helped me out, and I was able to better lock the course map into my head and see that I needed to brake at the 4th cone into the second half to slow down and get through the last few elements cleanly.

After some timing issues were sorted out and the action had come to a halt for a while, it was time to drive again. However,  instead of getting three more run we'd only get two. This was a good call to save time for all of us on a long day.

Mustang: Nassau Coliseum

RUN FOUR: 36.374   Again, an improvement, and my best time so far, but still not the 35.9 I knew I could do. I adjusted tire pressures, and planned to approach the first timing light a bit differently, plus I was going to go faster and brake earlier in general. One more try to improve coming up. No matter how much you adjust driving, car set-up, tire pressure, add new components, or whatever, the bottom line is that your job as a driver is to just make the car go FASTER. It's that simple!!

LAST RUN:  I had a great launch, and then after the first two gates I was looking ahead on course and saw saw a cone that was already knocked down before I got to it! I came to a stop on course and honked my horn to get the attention of the course workers, and they realized that they'd missed a cone knocked over by the previous driver. If I had not stopped, then they might have assumed that I knocked it over and given ME the penalty, so I'm glad I spotted the downed cone. Bottom line for me, this run would not count, and then I'd get a full re-run lap later! Once the cone was fixed I continued my run that didn't count, and this gave me an extra freebie practice run at the second half of the course. That helped me out, and now I was sure I'd go faster on the LAST RUN.

REALLY LAST RUN:  35.674!  OK, this one really was my LAST RUN of the day, and sure enough it was the best, a good 0.3 faster than my previous "coned" run. It felt nice to have focused on going faster and figuring out how to do it, and then to actually go do it at the end of the day. Maybe some drivers are born with crazy fast car skills, but it takes me practice and figuring out where and how to go faster. Hey, it was so much fun I think I'll do it again next month!

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