Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Autocross Report

I pulled off of I-70 and followed the GPS’ directions to Cooper Stadium and immediately saw a bunch of tricked out imports and good old American horsepower parked together. This must be the place, where else would this mix of “Buy American”, Burn some rice, and whatever the hell a Subaru is get along?

The mix of cars was quite eclectic. There were about 25 drivers in cars ranging from a new Corvette (it appeared to come with a blond female passenger seat ornament), to home built racecars and even a handful of go-karts. The go-karts were running when I got there, they apparently get an hour of track time while the rest of the cars are on a lunch break. Those little things can move!

I found Zsolt pretty quickly and snapped a pic of his Civic. He is in the stock class, the only improvement he has made to his car is upgraded Pirelli rubber. The home made race car in the background was in the second group or drivers so I did not get to see that thing go, but Zsolt told me they are very fast.
Since I arrived before the second hour of runs by the real cars, I got to witness the “tuning” before the runs. The more serious racers were busy checking and adjusting air pressure in their tires while the WRX with its hood open below appeared to by dialing in some different suspension settings along with adjusting air pressure. A small sample of the cars is also visible in this picture. The Subaru WRXs seem to be pretty popular, I am guessing the turbo combined with an all wheel drive system makes them pretty competitive.

I watched a few runs by Zsolt before I decided to acquiesce and ride with him on a few. It was quite an experience. He tried to prep me by explaining this would not be a like a video game, but to me it was quite reminiscent of Gran Turismo (Playstation 2 driving/racing simulator). I am not sure how he kept track of which way to go around the cones that defined the course on the parking lot, but that was his job. Mine was to worry about him flipping the car over! The course consisted of a pretty short straightaway with a long slalom and at least 5 very sharp corners. Here is a shot of Zsolt’s car in the last turn. Not sure if he is three wheeling there, but he was definitely sliding and screeching some rubber.

I rode four runs with Zsolt and they were all pretty exciting. He was averaging 37 seconds a run and really attacking the course. I might have left a permanent dent in his passenger seat floor where I was pressing my imaginary brake pedal through the floor as we approached the turn right after the longest straight of the track. He really followed through on the brake late and hard theory. There was an expensive aroma of burning rubber that made its way into the cabin that may have mingled with some burnt clutch.

“I love the smell of burnt Pirelli’s in the afternoon. Smells like… victory”

My hat is off to Zsolt; he is a pretty good driver and is really passionate about his hobby/sport. I can only imagine what he could do if he had his hands on my favorite car that I saw race, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. That thing took off like a scalded cat and you could hear the turbo from across the track. A chirp at all four corners and it was moving into turn one with a quickness. It was sweet.
The ride home was nice, I was able to get off the highway and explore some backroads. I was tempted to stop and take a picture here and there, but it was too much fun to ride! If it does not snow this weekend, I will be riding to Baltimore, MD. I cannot wait for summer.

No comments: