ith Chicago region being down, and our neighboring CSCC in Indy being down as well, there was a huge turnout and lots of talent at the event. With the stiffer bumpstops and this being my girlfriend’s first event, I decided to put the sway bar in the middle setting. I was really happy with how the car behaved on the old bumpstops at stock height with max sway bar, so I was hoping by backing off one notch on the sway bar we could achieve something similar for cold events. Then I’d have an added adjustment for the really hot & grippy events to give the car a little more rotation.
From reviewing a lot of my videos in the off season I think one thing I wanted to work on this season was braking earlier and powering out. I had this mindset that the Mini was a “momentum” car, which it is, but in a lot of circumstances it still makes sense to brake earlier to prioritize the straight after it. Much of the time I braked at the last minute and turned, which I think cost me time. However, after the event I realized there was a lot more to work on than that.
Lot of things to go over. Saturday was a gorgeous day, sunny and in the mid-to-high 50s for much of the day. I raced in the second heat with my girlfriend in the Mini, while my Miata coowners raced in the 3rd. The stiffer bumpstops and milder rear sway bar worked well overall. I think it made the rear end behavior a little more abrupt than I was used to, but I don’t think it’s bad and will just take some getting used to, maybe a little gentler with the lift.
First, my co-owners had a great first event in the Miata. There was a photographer snapping pics during the 3rd heat, shown below. M definitely has a leg up on H right now, running 47.502 to H’s 48.901, finished 5th and 8th out of 11, respectively. Impressed with both of them, M might even be creeping up on me by the end of the year if he gets the seat time in. M is definitely more sensitive to the car’s behavior as well as his inputs, and is very smooth with the car. It makes me realize I need to be smoother with my own driving. H just needs to put in seat time to get there, working on smoothness and also just learning the limits of the car. A lot of time ahead for both of them to grow as drivers. We eventually settled at 35/34 for the tire pressures, and from the wear patterns it looks pretty good. We may go to 36/35 just to make sure we stay off the sidewalls.
My girlfriend did a great job at her first Solo event, really very proud of her. She had a pretty rough first run, getting lost at the first loop, but all improvement after that. The best part is, she is willing to try it again. She is more perfectionist than she is competitor, so getting something right made her happier than actually beating someone. Solo IMO is all about repetitive perfection, so I hope to see her out there again and enjoying the actual racing part soon. Her fastest time was a 52.768, about 6 1/2 seconds behind me. 6th out of 7 in class, and I believe 76th out of 85 or so drivers overall. Great first event.
I remember after my first event in 2014, first race in the new Mini, thinking that my fastest run wasn’t too bad. I look back at it now and realize it was pretty awful. I hope to feel the same way about this run by the end of the year. Right now, aside from a couple spots of trouble, I didn’t think it was too bad. However, I finished way back, 22nd overall, with a fastest time of 46.359. Worth noting that there were many drivers from Chicago who finished ahead of me. Possibly because it has been so long since my last event, I didn’t feel entirely comfortable in the car. Early on, my braking was extremely tentative, and in general the car was behaving a little differently than I remembered, possibly due to the bumpstops. I remember at the end of last year feeling like I could do anything in the car, throw it in corners, whatever, and know how the car would behave, but not so much at the first event. Looks like I’ve got some rust to shake off. I messed up the second tight turn at about 40s, but otherwise at my current level I’m not sure there were too many tenths I personally could have picked up that day – there was a lot of time out there though. I also lost my class to a Fiesta ST. Apparently a nationals level driver, he ran a 45.388, about a full second ahead of me. I don’t think the course particularly favored power, but there were a few spots of brute acceleration. I’m disappointed, but at the same time excited for competition to push me a little harder.
Things to work on:
- Smoother inputs, especially braking and steering
- Carry more speed in corners and slaloms, slow down a hair less for most corners
- Slalom harder!
- Brake a little later and deeper for late apex corners
- Work on slow-in-fast-out
- Trail brake more, get the timing right so there’s no awkward dead-zone for acceleration
2015 Run count: 6
- New bumpstop & sway bar setting
- Ran 41/43, about half tank in the car
- Temps in the 50s
- C’s first event
- First loss to Fiesta ST