Sandpanther (sandpanther) wrote,
Sandpanther
sandpanther

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Adventures in Autocross, 2003 Round 15



This was a different event, since this was the first time I've ever been at Golden Gate Fields. I knew where the event was located at, but not exactly where on the site. Driving in, I found someone in a Miata. I figured that must be a good sign, so pulled up to chat.

It turns out that the person in the Miata was there for the first time, and so had less of an idea of where to go that I did. We chatted for a few minutes, then spotted a couple of other cars that looked likely to be heading to the autocross go by our lot, and head further down the road. We decide to follow, and find the correct site.

This time I was in Run Group 2. I had decided to get there early so that I could help set up the course. I had several reasons for doing this. First, I figure that I should help give back to the group. Second, I figured that helping to set up the course would help me remember it better. And lastly, I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet more people in the club.

Helping set up the course did help me remember it. In fact, this time it probably helped, as there was a rather confusing crossover. It did, unfortunately, mean that I didn't have a lot of time do complete the course walk. It also meant that I was really tired before starting.

One of the excitements of the morning was that someone showed up with a cute little yellow RX-8. Mmm, I'd been wondering when one of those would show up. I guess the owner only had this one for a really short while, since it only had 250 miles on it. It was rather fun to watch, though it seemed to me that the driver wasn't that familiar with the car yet.

I'll leave aside all the gory details of my runs. This time I had some things I wanted to experiment with, so I kind of figured that my times would drop (though I hoped they wouldn't). My times weren't that stunning, and particularly not with cones added in. I figured out a cheap way to get two seconds improvement between runs -- hit one fewer cones! *sigh* No, sadly, that is not a joke. The first time I creamed two cones. One of the two was in a slalom, and I was on top of it before I realized, so it felt like I went straight over it, though I was assured later that I did not. One the second run, I hit that same stupid cone AGAIN. Grr. I swear, it jumped in front of me.

At least on the third run I didn't hit any cones. I also went a bit slower, so the scratch time is slower, even though the final time is better (thanks to the lack of cone-penalties.) All in all, it was a fairly frustrating event in that regard. I would be really bummed about that, but like I said, I kind of expected it. Right now I'm doing a lot of thinking about how to drive and keeping driving theory in mind and stuff like that. Looking at how I learn to do things when driving, I know that when I start trying to think about what I'm doing, I get slower and tend to screw up more.

It's sort of like when I was trying to learn heel-and-toe downshifting... For a long time I had to actually recite the different steps involved in doing it, and ended up being ridiculously slow doing it -- when it worked at all. I got terribly frustrated with it, and wondered if I would ever figure it out. Then one day, it just kind of clicked. I won't say I'm awesome at it, but these days I range between competent to good (largely depending on how focused I am, and how little I think about what I'm doing.) I'm figuring that doing better times at the autocross is something like that. One day, it will all suddenly just click.

Of course, not hitting those cones would probably help as well.

Working course ended up being an interesting experience. I ended up with three other people, two of whom run in my class (and -- need I mention? -- are totally clobbering my times.) At first we didn't have much to talk about, and they all talked among themselves. Toward the end of the (really, really reeeeeeally) long run group, one of them struck up a conversation with me, and we got to chatting.

Come to think of it, I think a lot of why the conversation started was because of the Drift Dork. So I think I will tell the Tales of the Drift Dork now.

This run group had several people who tried to drift. There were various levels of success ranging from (rarely) a competently pulled out drift to scary, night-spinning, dust-scattering messes. The best example of the latter was the Drift Dork.

The Drift Dork was driving a white Corolla GT-S hatchback with a black carbon fibre hood. I wondered idly if he were an IniD fan when I saw the car, and figured that he must be when he tried to drift the first of the several corners that my position was in charge of. That corner he managed to pull out, and exited our area only wiping out two cones before DNF'ing by going the wrong way around a cone in the next section.

The second time the Drift Dork came by, I figured we would be in for more cone-fetching. I was actually wrong, despite a screaming spin that he pulled off. As he was starting back up again from the spin, I realized that his front license plate was a Japanese plate! Looking at it closer (since he wasn't really whizzing by that fast, thanks to the earlier spin), I realized that it probably is a replica plate, rather than a real one. At any rate, it was a Shinagawa number, to-8600.

The Drift Dork got out of our area with no cones, and made up for it by completely wiping out the slalom in the next section before going on to DNF by going on the inside of a marker cone. One of the people I was working with pointed out that the Drift Dork headed out of the autocross's area after he finished his run. Many snide remarks were made.

IniD fans, take note: Drifting looks really cool, and is really useful -- in certain circumstances. There are, however, a lot of times when it is not the fastest, nor the wisest, way to do things.

After the Drift Dork left, the other folks I was working with struck up a conversation. Several parts of it were highly amusing. I was entertained by one of the people saying, after making a very snide remark, that he was highly opinionated about cars, and is not a very nice person. Heh. Little does he know... I was also amused by one of the people commenting that they will remember peoples' cars better than their names or faces. That was particularly amusing, since I had just been thinking that, and was going to ask one of the people which car is his. (He told me it was the Focus not in my run group. I promptly supplied him with the color, model, and that his was the one with the Oregon plates. I really do have a much better memory for cars than people.)

We were somewhat surprised to see the Drift Dork come back to take his last run. He didn't spin off course, he did not slay cones right and left, but he did try a few drifts and did not have the cleanest-looking run. (Bitterness makes me point out that even with all of his errors, the Drift Dork's good time was still better than my best time. *sniff*)

Happily, the Drift Dork was toward the end of the run group, so soon we were able to put everything down and leave. I chatted with the folks in the group for a little while, and they were very cool, inviting me to go along with them on the next course walk since I don't have anyone mentoring me. I am very pleased to at least be on friendly terms with more people in my run group. (I'd say that we're on a first-name basis, but really, I think we're on a "you're the driver of the black SVT Focus in my run group" basis.)

I forgot to mention the cool guy with the SI in my class. (No, I totally do not remember his name. But I do remember that his car is blue.) He and I chalked all the cones earlier, and he ended up right in front of me when we ran. Since we have such similar cars, we chatted about shift points and how to handle the various corners. Just before the last run we discussed when to shift up. Afterward he made a point of tracking me down and telling me how it worked (he got an extra 2 seconds out of it -- sounds like he had the right idea!)

Turbo was actually there today! I asked her when I was driving someone else's car, and it sounds like it's next week. We shall see how that goes. I also set up a time for her to take a look at my car, since the trunk is annoying me by erratically not opening. (I swear the car is being cranky at me, since usually when I really need the trunk open, it opens. The rest of the time, no. Grr.)

This time was also fun since my sempai and one of the other folks from the dojo came to watch. We went out to lunch after I finished my Work Group, and chatted cars and IniD. It was quite fun.

Afterward I went to Ikea. It scared me. I will avoid it like the plague in the future.
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