Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Autocross Report: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

+5 Horsepower!!

Sunday was my first event in the NMS 09 Cayman, first event with the Porsche Club of America, and first autocross in over a year. With a laundry list of excuses like that, you're probably thinking I finished in last place! Well, let me be all humble and say that autocross events aren't about winning or losing, and there is no prize money, and that it's all about improving your driving skills and going fast in a lower-speed not-on-a-track very safe way. Oh, make no mistake, there IS winning and losing, since each run you drive gets timed down to the thousandth of a second, and the results are available for all to see. So, I guess you could get all worked up about winning your class, or just maybe going faster than all the other cars, if you were one of those competitive types.

NMS 2009 Cayman in Ruby Red Metallic
Let's Just Name Her Ruby!
The day started with a high chance of rain, so along with packing my jack, air pump, tire pressure gauge, helmet, and a trusty PBJ sammich with some bottles of water, I threw in a rain jacket and a trash bag to store my gear and try to keep things dry. That's important because to drive faster and safer you have to empty everything out of your car, even the floor mats, so that nothing is flying around as you wheel thru the course. You really don't want a loose cup or cell phone jamming into your gas or brake pedal do you?

Pre-event inspection

Anyway, set up the car, and watched the rest of drivers set up, with about half of the 30 or so cars being various Porsches, and the rest a variety of Miatas, Corvette, Mustang, Hellcat! Mini, and even an older Saab. Saying "older Saab" probably dates me since they don't even make them anymore, but it was nice to have a fellow Scandinavian with my built-in-Finland Porsche! As we waited for the weather call to proceed or cancel the event, I had time to walk the huge course three times, so I felt pretty good about knowing where to drive, plus it started getting exciting to be back to driving quickly.
Walking the Course at Nassau Coliseum, Part Time Home of
the NY Islanders and Brooklyn Nets

Finally the decision was made to start, and have half the cars driving while the rest of the drivers worked on course, give everyone about 7 runs, and then swap places. This worked great, since the rest of the afternoon it just kept raining. The first driving group (not me) got in a run or two with just light drizzle, and by the time my group drove it was raining a little harder. Hard enough that I kept my windows rolled up and the wipers on during the driving, so yeah, it was wet. All the drivers in my class of S2 were in the second driving group, so all 5 of us in this class would face the same conditions, which makes it fair and takes away another great excuse I could have used!

Lined up to Drive!
Working on course I was the cone-getter guy, and got in a few short sprints to replace cones as the drivers knocked them over. It takes a bit of concentration to do this, as simple as it sounds, since it's easy to just watch the cars going by and see how they attack the course, instead of actually seeing that a cone got displaced. Oh well, it was only raining a little, and I enjoyed chatting with fellow Cayman driver Bob Eick while we were on course for about an hour and a half. This brings up another fun part of autocross or any other driving event, meeting other people with the same interests as you, and comparing notes on car gear, driving, and whatever else people talk about besides cars.

Metro NY Region, Porsche Club of America

Finally the first group finished up, and it was driving time, so I walked off the course and turned in my awesome fluorescent green safety vest that the workers wear, and got to my car and prepared to really have fun. This is where my "secret formula" for fast driving helps: PBJ Sandwich. Yes, the NMS secret formula PBJ of using TWO slices of bread, with the PBJ in the MIDDLE is what makes us faster than the average bear! Lucky for me, bears usually don't drive in autocross, so I can safely state that I am faster than the average bear, and in fact, MOST bears!

Porsche Boxster
It was raining, and I was sure that the switch to a rear wheel drive and higher powered car would have me spinning out a time or two, IN THE WET, but I did not spin out once! I'll have to give the credit to the Cayman and German engineering (#builtinfinland) for making this a fun time in the wet.
I managed to go too fast on one run and have to stop to avoid wiping out the finish line timer, so that run didn't count, and I had another run where the timing system glitched and I got another free "rerun" because of it, and on yet another run I hit a cone somewhere, but I honestly don't know where. That's out of 8 runs total, so I felt that this was a very successful day and just a lot of fun in this car.

Corvette in Black, Red Hellcat Too!

Run by run for me went like this
1 89.638  I wasn't tracking other drivers much, so I just wanted to get faster from here, which I knew I could by improving a few spots on this big course
2  90.593 is what the timer said, and I had a bad corner that slowed me down, BUT, one of the timers came over and said this run didn't count, and that I got a rerun pretty much right away, and getting one more chance at it always is a good thing!
3  88.157  Over a second faster, but on such a big course, no big deal, plenty more time to lose!
4  87.306  This felt pretty good, the car was handling great
5  DNF: Did Not Finish, too fast into the end and stopped to avoid the timer, all my fault, time to back it off in that one spot a hair
6  86.059  Over another second faster, felt great too! Right at the finish I saw a course worker just getting out of the way, so maybe I slowed a very little bit
7 87.221   Oops, went slower, early in the run my PDK automatic transmission sounded like it didn't know what to do, not sure if that made a difference, but still only 1.2 slower than my best
8  85.095 is what the timer said (and I have video), so this was almost another second better, BUT, this run didn't show up on the timing software, so maybe I won't get credit for it. Either way, I had fun!

White Miata, Some Porsches, and a Saab on the Right!

Winner? Loser?

-In my class of 5 cars, I was the fastest, so that was fun!

-Overall actual time, I placed 15th out of 30, so right in the middle. Also fun!

-On the PAX adjusted time to account for classification of the cars: 10th out of 30, so also fun!

-Link to unofficial results by class:  Aug 16 PCA Results

The Cayman was a ton of fun, I met some new folks, and had a blast driving even in the rain. If you're even remotely interested in cars, driving, or having fun, give an autocross a try, no matter what car you have, or even if it's dry!

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