***First, read the Pre-Race diary
for background info before reading the race diary***
On Saturday, Feb 25th, I participated in the 3rd Winter Event of the SCCA Rocky Mountain region at the Denver International Airport (DIA) within the Street Modified (SM) class, which my car is not prepared for, but I wasn't interested in racing against 4 300ZX type cars in BSP. There ended up being 27 cars in SM (4 Evos), so it was a great challenge.
I started the morning by waking up at ~5:45 AM. I got ready, got my stuff together, then went to my fully-loaded Evo to begin my 70-mile drive to DIA. On the way North, I stopped in Lone Tree, CO, to pick up our very own EVOtuners.net founder/owner, Ludachris (Chris). I picked up up at about 6:50AM, we got some coffee, water, and cash at the grocery store, then proceeded to DIA. Upon arrival, we immediately unloaded the car, then used my new tools to QUICKLY switch on my race tires/rims. This used to take me 45mins to an hour, but now it only takes 10-15mins. I love the new jack and impact gun - both have lifetime warranties and are great tools.
After prepping the car, I went to register. Big thanks to Chris and EVOtuners for covering my entry fees as part of my 2006 EVOtuners sponsorship. After registration, I got my map and went to the starting line to participate in the novice briefing and subsequent course-walk. I'm considered a novice, because I've only done one SCCA event before, though I've done about 8 small autocrosses with a small club in DC. I listened to the brief, re-learned all the corner worker signals, then began the course-walk. THIS IS IMPORTANT!!! The course-walk is the most important part of preparing for an autocross. It's best to do it no less than 3 times, so that the course gets burned into your memory. If you can memorize the course and have your strategy in mind, then you don't have to react to each cone, but rather you are always looking ahead preparing for the cones that are 2-3 turns ahead of you. This is critical for success!
Since my class was in the 4th and final heat, this meant I had 3 heats to watch and learn from before racing. During the first heat, Chris and I watched from several vantage points to see what cars were doing right and wrong. We also grabbed a bratwurst, for which I owe Chris some money, haha. I was supposed to buy the 2nd round of food later, but I totally forgot due to my anxiousness and excitement. After the first heat, it was time for my work assignment, which was at corner 1 on the course. I _ALWAYS_ request a corner worker position, because I do most of my course learning while ON THE COURSE and watching to see where cars make mistakes and where cars drive perfectly. I try to pay closest attention to the cars with the fastest times to get an idea of the perfect lines and perfect setups for difficult turns. Luckily, since my corner had more people than it needed, I was able to migrate around the entire course from station to station until I had seen many cars run through each element of the course. By the time heat 2 was done, I had the entire course burned into my memory along with great ideas for how to traverse each element optimally.
After heat 2, it was time for heat 3 to race, which meant it was time for heat 4 to move into their grid positions for tech inspection. My Evo was prepped and ready, so I just drove up and waited. They inspected all the important aspects of my Evo, then checked my helmet for the proper certification, and gave me approval stickers for each. It was then a waiting game while mentally preparing to rock out on the course. I played each turn in my head trying to make it a matter of muscle memory rather than reactionary thinking. I think it may have worked...
Well, the tires and alignment only got done on Friday, so when I installed the rims/tires at the event, it was the first time the V710s hit the ground. It was very cold up in Denver, and I wasn't sure how well the V710s worked when they were brand new without even the surface being scratched and when being ice cold. So, I went and drove them around some trying to get a feel for them, and they felt like my snow tires at first. I was concerned, because with my 360wtq, some new tires, and a fast track, I was afraid I'd be all over the place.
Boy, was I wrong. On my very first run, I put down a sub-50s time, which was my goal. To provide a frame of reference, my first run (49.7) was only .1s slower than the fastest run of the day in SM (other than me). The V710s gripped so well that I was underdriving. I kept expecting my typical push through turns, but it never happened. So, each run I learned the track better while also learning to push harder in places I was afraid to try originally. My subsequent runs were:
- 49.7 (1st run)
- 49.4 (2nd)
- 49.1 (3rd - hit one cone)
- 48.8 (4th)
My best time of 48.8 was enough to give me a 1st place finish by more than .7s (that's a big gap). The 2nd place car was a Camaro SS with suspension, power mods, and 315/35R17 Ecsta V710s (yah, same as mine, but much bigger). His best run was a 49.6, so I had 2 clean runs better than anyone else all day (3 of my raw times were better). Also, no other SM car even got under 50s. Now for the caveat...since it was a "Winter Event," there were no trophies and no points awarded. Therefore, I don't think ANY of the _real_ SM cars were there. No trailored or gutted, 100% race-prepped cars were in SM, so it was a fairly slow class. However, on the flip side, the fastest car of the day was a C5 with huge rubber, slammed to the ground, lots of power, and stickers all over. It was a dedicated race car and ran a 4th-run best of 46.1. Before that, he was in the high 46s, but nailed the last one. So, I was still 2.7s slower than a race-prepped C5 in the "X" class.
Altogether, i was extremely impressed by the V710s. They did things I had no idea were possible with my stock suspension, and I think I've only begun to learn how to use them. Btw, on my last run, I bounced off my rev limiter in 2nd (8000rpm) _TWICE_ during the course on both of the fast spots. No room to shift to 3rd, but that's pretty fast for me on an auto-x course. In the end, this was a great day for me and for EVOtuners, as we brought home first place after shellacking 3 other Evos in the class, all of which were sponsored by other local Evo shops.
Here's a pic of what I was doing all day - turning on 3 wheels. There should be more pics to come as others from the event post them up, but unfortunately, Chris and I both brought DigiCams and both batteries went dead without a single pic being taken. Otherwise, I'd already have a ton of pics. Oh well, next time, that won't happen!