Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Winter Series #1 and #2

    Time for a two part blog. Over the weekends of November 2nd and November 9th we had back to back events, which is a rarity. These were also the first two races of the Winter series which is now on hiatus for the holiday season. Winter events are a little more laid back than summer events because points don't count, although most sponsors will still pay for a win. There are far fewer people at winter events which means more runs! Of course there's also issues with fewer people, but more on that later.
     Event #1 was out at Front Range Airport east of Denver. The course designer must have gotten a little ambitious during the off-season, as it was an incredibly confusing course with a lot of full rings and turns. For the first time ever in my autocross career, I actually got lost on course (in my head, I was actually on the right path but believed I was lost and thus slowed down and ruined my run). In the fifth out of six runs a turbocharged Mustang blew its engine up just before the finish line, spewing it's V8 guts all over the course. In a much too over-protective and illogical decision, they decided to end the event there for safety concerns.
    Normally that wouldn't be an issue for me, but some amateur rookie cone workers had managed to ruin my scores. On both my fourth and fifth runs, I ran a full second ahead of the next fastest competitor in my class and was comfortably set for my first ever First Place finish. But both runs had what I have termed a "phantom cone" counted against me. Normally you feel a bump and hear a thud and you know when you hit a cone. Without sounding defensive and arrogant, I know for a fact I did not hit any cones either run and have my wife as a witness to confirm that. The control booth wasn't keen to listen, however, and the 2 second cone penalty dropped me from first to fourth. And to top off the day, I was in too much of a hurry in the morning and forgot my GoPro. Sorry kids, no pictures or videos.
     Event #2 was down at Pikes Peak International Raceway and was a much different setting. There was a different set of people and they seemed to have the act together a little better. At least until the second heat when a rogue Audi A6 center-punched a cone which knocked a hose loose underhood and proceeded to spew coolant all over the track as it finished its run. This time, however, they didn't shut down the event. They simply halted all traffic for a half hour while everyone poured kitty litter and swept it over the entire streak of coolant, the 2-inch wide streak that stretched the entire course, over it.
    Only three of us competed in STU class at this event, two of which were myself and my dad in the same car. The other competitor had a fully built 2007 STi that has consistently beat me every time. This time was no different, though I did manage to close the time gap to just over a second. With a little more practice and some upgrades before the start of next season, I might finally get the upper hand. But I finally was able to get my CMS decals put on my car, and this event was the first chance to show it off! It attracted quite a few fans. One 16 year old at his very first autocross came over proclaiming it as "the best looking STI I've ever seen." He even shook my hand after realizing it was my car and not my father's. Another was asking about my tune, saying my car launched harder than any STI he'd ever seen. I found that interesting consider all I have for power currently is an AEM cold air intake and a factor COBB AccessPort stage 1 tune. Perhaps it's just my aggressive driving. All-wheel drive is great for launching, as I can simply rev to 5000 rpm, let the turbo spool up, and just dump the clutch while flooring the gas. Breaking rubber on all four tires momentarily is a rewarding feeling that never gets old. And with that, I will leave you all tonight. Enjoy the pictures below and the youtube link to my and my father's final runs of the day.