April 7, 2012

Solo Airways!

Whooohoo! The 2012 race season has finally started for the SCCA New England Region at Devens! It was great to see the family again after the long winter break. All the same people were preparing their cars nice and early, some people with new cars (Nice new CSP Miata Bob and Billy!), Mickle's Dad Steve was already preparing the camper and his grill for sausages later, getting to see the course get setup by the other club members, and more. Man, it sure was great to be home.
Photo by Ed Savage - NoWin Photography
Today's excellent course was done by Nate Whipple and it definitely was a great way to start the season. Not a lot of technical challenges, but mostly fast, smooth, and fun as hell. The start featured a very tight kink, followed by a quick decreasing slalom, into a right-hand sweeper that lead to a sharp left turn. Another notable course element was leaving the taxiway onto back runway, as it was a long sweeper that was fairly open, forcing you to look ahead. A lot of good, solid elements that I needed to work on a little bit from last year anyways, especially my "infamous" over-braking!
Photo by Ed Savage - NoWin Photography
Even though I had only done a few changes to the car during the winter, they were major changes that would affect the behavior of the car drastically. For starters, my new 285 sized Hoosier A6s held up great in the cold and windy weather. My initial fear of losing feedback from the tires by going wider was diminished after the first run, which I can probably chalk up to the wider, 18x10 wheels. I was initially nervous with the new LSD because of the slightly oversteery behavior it exhibits on street tires, but alas, it was nothing to worry about once the car was in race form. After talking with PJ a little bit, I learned an interesting fact about the new LSD in that it should allow John and I to run with stiffer swaybar settings and lower spring rates if we wanted.
John getting ready to rip up the course!
Working with my new co-driver for the season, John Rappa, we were able to work together as a team and confidently figure out some settings that worked well for the day. Settings aside, John was overall happy with the car, as it felt very easy to drive at the limits and fast. I'm lucky to have found a great co-driver that is not only a skilled driver, but we developed a solid workflow together. I'm definitely looking forward to learning from him this year, and hopefully I can teach him a few things as well.
Photo by Ed Savage - NoWin Photography
The results at the end of the day were that I had taken home first place in BSP with a '51.2, while John came in second with a '51.3. The truth is, John deserved first place more than me, as his fastest run was an amazing '50.1. The results for the event can be found here on the NER website, and plenty of pictures of the event from Ed Savage located here. If John had not hit a cone on that '50.1 run, he would have PAXed 8th for the day, which is very impressive! I'd say overall, I'm pleased with our results, given that we were changing settings every single run. I would say by the third event we should have a solid choice for what settings we want to use for Devens. Below is my fastest run, followed by John's fastest clean run, then his fastest dirty run, and then a side-by-side comparison of my fastest run and John's fastest dirty run. The next race will be at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, so stay tuned!

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