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Discussion Starter #1
Let me start out by saying it was a pleasure meeting, talking, and being able to ride with many of you on saturday. I will start out by saying that it was a VERY HUMBLING experience for me. A few of you kept asking me at the end of the day if I had fun, and my response was that I am one of those guys that needs to download and deboot before I could answer that question. Because I came to this autocross event without the intention of having fun, but really to get a gauge of my own abilities and how my car handles. And lets just say I walked away with a VERY different train of thought on the two accounts.

So here is my reflection:

I have always considered myself a pretty good driver. And many of my friends would not argue that I know how to handle a car fairly well, and that they are very comfortable riding in the front seat with me. But after this weekend, I have come to terms, that I am not a good driver in anyway what so ever in terms of being able to truly "Handle" a car. I realized this weekend, that where I am Probably a normal ability for a driver, to compete with the lot of you, I have A LONG way to go...in my mind, especially in the SSM class. :D

Lawrence and I had talked about my can before the season had started, and he mentioned the idea of under steer in my car. And to be honest, I left his house that night wondering what he meant. I felt I had pushed the car a bit already, and that I had yet to experience understeer...and sadly I hate to admit it. I understand what he means by my car understeers, at least with me behind the wheel.

I am GRATEFUL that I was only able to use 1/4 & 1/2 throttle on my car, and that I HAD to shift the car at 6k and not the usual 8.5k rpm line. I am grateful that my clutch was limiting me to unlocking the full power band on my car. I know already, that right now my car is FAR more than I am ready to handle...however I am also looking forward to growing into its shoes.

I also learned the importance of tires. I NEVER understood what a friend of mine meant as "sticky" tires. The tires I run on my car, I thought were a GREAT set of tires, and they are...for everyday driving and a leisurely canyon carve. But, after this weekend, I realized that my tires are FAR from the grip level that I need them to be, ESPECIALLY with the power band that my car currently has. I understood the importance of tire pressures, and how CRUCIAL they are to this kind of driving, and really any kind of driving at that. And that no matter how much adjustments you make to a car, if the driver is not there yet, then there is no use going there yet.

I also learned how "SLOW" my brain actually works when it comes to driving a car. It is incredible how fast these things are really coming at you, in real life. I remember walking the course with Mike (05 Lotus Elise in chrome orange) and playing the scenario in my head. The speed I pictured running in my head was a good one, I thought, it was well paced, and fairly quick. But after riding in the car with Mike on his first run, my world just realized that the speed in my head was literally HALF the speed of what Mike was actually running the car at, and that is when I KNEW I was completely out of my league.

When I was standing there watching the 1st run of cars go through the course, I watched how the guys were handling the course, and how they did certain sections in the course, and I remember thinking to myself..."they really aren't going that fast." But after you get behind the wheel of the car and actually try it for yourself, the car is definately going MUCH faster than you realized it did, assuming you are actually pushing the enevelope.

And the crashes...crashing at an autocross course (assuming you don't hit the timing light) is MUCH better than crashing in real life. I had in my opinion, a GLORIOUS crash...mostly because the car spun out and I threw dirt/rocks everywhere making it look cooler/more dramatic than it really was. REALLY wish I had that one on video. :D I was laughing/smilling about that one all weekend. And claiming it was the best crash I could have ever done or even wanted to do in that car. My wife was pretty funny about it as well, and she was evening telling stories afterwards.

So final thoughts for me are the debate on which/how much I want to invest or do I want to become competitve or if I want to just do this to become a better driver. After seeing how much was invested in the other car, I must admit I am VERY hesistant to committ as much time/effort as the other driver did since my location in life is different than his (at least from what I know). But the idea of at least investing in tires for now...since I already bought them to go through the season, has already been established. :) Further funding, will depend on how much I REALLY want to plug into this sport.

Do I like Autocross: From an educational point of view, ABSOLUTELY. It is a GREAT way to learn how to become a better driver.
From a pure enjoyment point of view, it is fun, as long as I don't break anything. :)
From a competitive point a view...It could be come very addicting, but as of this point in time, I do not want to invest that much time into the sport as I still have the family to think of. :)

Will I come again, absolutely as it was a pleasure just hanging out and being able to push the car to a new limit. However the next time I attend, I hope to have the car set up to so that it can reach full potential and hope to have the suspension set up a little bit different. Thanks for letting me come and run with you guys.

Now I just wish I knew what my times were for that day. :)
 

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Hello Giantmcm,

LOL ... you sound like me the first time I was out at an auto-x :) I guess my few comments would be that you shouldn't worry so much about how you compare with other drivers the first time out. Auto-x is very very different from street driving and as you mentioned, you need to be thinking and reacting much faster than on the street. Give yourself some time to learn your car and the proper driving techniques and you'll start seeing those lap times plummet. My recommendation would be to:

1) Look as far ahead as you can on the course (or track) as you need the extra time to react and plan your line

2) The understeer you are experiencing is probably due to carrying too much speed into the turn ... make sure you do all your braking before the turn. If you find yourself braking during the turn then you are going too fast or not braking early enough

3) Other than an alignment, I wouldn't recommend you spend any money on the car for improvements just yet. As you mentioned, you are just starting out and need to learn how to control the car ... the additional mods won't really help you unless you learn to drive the proper line

Hope that helps!

Cheers,
Zoomby_U
 

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Discussion Starter #4
LOL, sadly I have already out modded the car far beyond the driver. :( But I don't plan on going back either. Now it is just getting used to the handling of the car and getting the suspension set up properly on it. I believe I need to tighten up the rear suspension so that it is a tighter than it currently is. And a different pair of shoes to push the car in the direction I want to go.

But other than that, there will be no other modificaitons.

In terms of braking...I COMPLETELY agree that I have a problem with not braking properly. I know right now that I am not quite sure when to brake vs. when not to brake. So I am soft on the brake at first, and then I don't brake the car hard enough in the end. So I am easily carrying to much speed through the turn. So going to work on the braking aspect of it all. I really need to work on what is to much, not enough, to early and to late on the brakes.

LOL, looking down the track, yup learned that one as well. Only took the first crash to realize that one. :D
 

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In terms of braking ... you should be "threshold braking" for best results ... ie. braking hard without triggering the ABS. Braking too much is always better than not enough ... just remember that if it feels slow than it's fast ;)

Cheers,
Zoomby_U
 

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Lol, the OP sounds a lot like me back in November, at my first Autocross. I honestly thought before my first run "these poor saps, I am about to destroy their times", it DID look like they were going slow. Needless to say, I didn't destroy their times, but my ego did take a bit of a (well deserved) beating. The single thing which helped the most was attending an SCCA school in December, followed by a High Performance Drivers Education HPDE event a few weeks later on a big track. Now the elements are starting to come together for me, and it is a blast. Stick with it GiantMCM, it will all start to fit together in a few events. On understeer, let off on the throttle when you feel understeer, you will actually go around the corner faster with less throttle, and with better front to back balance. And just wait till you experience snap oversteer, it is quite a rush. (Perhaps you already have, if you spun out on the SCCA track). Two car upgrades which will give you the biggest change are: Hoosier A6 tires (or other ultra grippy tire), and an upgraded sway bar on the front of your car. They will shave more off your time than most other SCCA mods. Later, you can worry about shocks and Limited Slip Differential LSD. You sound like you have already supercharged your car, so you probably have plenty of power. Good Luck and enjoy. I look forward to your future postings on the EVIL of PAX time adjustments. (yea, I went through that too)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
So what tires are you changing to?
I picked up a set of 4 used star specs that are 245/40/17 for the rears. So i plan to burn those up. I still have a good set of AO48s fir the fronts. I am gong to ut these on a different set of wheels and save my set for everyday driving.
 

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What tire did you do your first autocross on? (Mine were some dreadful/dry Khumo Escta ASX). What mods have you aready done on your car?
 

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This happens to everybody the first time they autocross. Some admit they have alot to learn and others start blaming competitors mods or their old tires or whatever.

I have done it off and on for 10 years, and am still not the greatest. Like you said things Happen fast and it can be tough for us "slow methodical types".

Anyways, keep at it and have a good time. You will get better. IF you really want to progress, sign up for something like an evolution school. Elise is a bit tricky to drive too. It can be fast as hell if driven well, but its tough to do. I was actually faster in my Sti than my elise. I havent autocrossed the exige much yet.

Also, a spin is not a crash! I have been all the way around in the elise many times. Thats the fun of it, you can drive 105% without risking a crash.
 

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I am looking forward to doing my first autox this summer when I get home from deployment. I'm sure it will be a complete learning experiance since I am a street racer. It will be amazing to not worry about traffic and be comfortable enough to just focus on the car, instead of the car and everything else.

Cant wait for July!!!
 

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Lotus cars usually do well at autocross events, I credit it largely to the car's well-thought design, and the passion of the drivers. Most good Lotus drivers really seem to focus on the dynamics of the chassis, paying close attention to adjusting the balance of the car and the grip. Last autocross I was at, had: 1st place PAX lotus, 2nd place Open lotus, 2nd place novice lotus (3 Lotus at the event). A rather good showing. Even the 2nd place novice had the 7th fastest raw time of the day, a real tribute to the car's autocross prowess.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
What tire did you do your first autocross on? (Mine were some dreadful/dry Khumo Escta ASX). What mods have you aready done on your car?
The fronts are star specs and the rears are bfgoodrich kdw nts, but these are my vevryday driving tires. So i figure the yokos up front and the stars in rear will be a bit better for stickiness.

Mods, not to long but there.
VF s/c stage 2 kit
Letsla kit
Motor mounts front and rear
Larini decat silenced
Boe quiet touch exhaust
Difflow 7 element diffuser
VIS RACING front lip to come
VIS RACING rear spoiler as well to come.
Fidanzi lightweight flywheel
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It was a blast and fun, i look forward to the next event. I don't think the car will be ready for it though.
 

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Upgrade wise, you are off to a good start. Add a BWR sway bar, middle position before aero and DOT slicks, one position stiffer once you add aero and slicks.
 
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