Autocross #3 Report
Autocross #3 drew a good crowd of 97 entrants for another beautiful day on the runway in Alameda. There was a bit of overcast in the morning, but that quickly burned off, leaving clear, sunny skies.
Boris Teksler did the course design for us, with an interesting mix of elements. To warm up the tires equally, we started with a small clockwise loop to warm up the left side, followed by a larger counterclockwise loop to warm up the right. And you were going to need those warm tires later in the course for some nice high speed slaloms.
Bouncing back from an off-form performance in event #2, Andrew Blyholder in his ’75 914-4 race car was back on form, a full 1.87 seconds ahead of Magnus Back, in second place, driving his ‘07 997S. However, Magnus had just squeaked ahead of third place Dave Dunwoodie, driving his ’70 911 race car, by a mere 0.015 seconds.
Agathe Battestini was Top Time for Ladies in her ’99 996.
Andrew was also tops in PAX, but Teddy Framhein used his index help from his AX6 class ’15 Cayman GTS to push into second place between Andrew and Magnus. Himanshu Patel did the same trick in his SS3 class ’14 Cayman S to then spilt Magnus and Dave.
The course was one of the longest we’ve run recently. Andrew was the only driver to break 60 seconds. His top time was a 59.373. The average was in the neighborhood of 70 seconds. Long courses always slow down our pace a bit, so 7 runs each was the day’s allotment. That took us to 4 PM, and that was sufficient for most, but there was a core group that was still itching for a few more cracks at the course. So for the first time in several years, we saw the return of FUN RUNS!
For those not familiar with the concept of Fun Runs, these are unofficial, timed-but-not-recorded runs at the end of the day. It takes a group of at least 14 or so drivers willing to stay late for Fun Runs. And you have to be willing to help stack all the cones, pack them into the trailer, and pack all the other equipment away.
We divide the Fun Run group into two halves. One half runs their cars and the other half staff’s the course worker positions. We have just one worker at each station with a red flag to fulfill the basic safety requirements. The drivers running their cars start themselves with an appropriate spacing from the car in front. After coming off the course and checking your time on the display board, you just line back up at the start. Each group gets a designated time period to run, fitting in as many runs as possible in that time period. With a group of only 7 or 8 drivers, a 20 minutes Fun Run session could give you 5 or 6 extra runs. (Overheated tires and overheated brakes are a common Fun Run problem!)
In Fun Runs, the course workers are there primarily to red flag the course if anything gets dangerous, and cone shagging is secondary. So the course can get a bit ragged in Fun Runs. But there’s no stopping for downed cones and no reruns. If you come across an errant cone in the driving line, just steer around it and keep trucking. The course workers will hopefully get to it eventually.
With the pressure of the official competition off their shoulders, it’s common for drivers to drop a full second or more from their official timed runs. The lesson to learn from that experience is to figure out what you were doing differently in the Fun Runs and then find a way to do the same thing in your official timed runs at the next event. Being fast at autocross is a subtle blend of precision and aggression. You need to be aggressively pushing the car to its limits, but you still need to maintain enough control and precision to place the car accurately, using the full width of the course, without picking up any cone penalties. New drivers are often too tentative, and the altered context of Fun Runs often lets them push a bit harder and shed some time.
Full results are available on the GGR web site here: http://pca-ggr.org/autocross/results/
GGR Autocross Chair