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Keyboard Racer: FAIL at the "Lawnchair Autocross"

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  • Keyboard Racer: FAIL at the "Lawnchair Autocross"

    (Now in the proper forum)

    It seemed like a good idea at the time . . .

    On an unseasonably cold Saturday afternoon, I mentioned in passing to Mrs. Speedy that Goodguys now opens their shows up to late-model American-powered cars on Super Sundays. Then I let slip that the last show of the season (within reasonable driving distance) was the next day.

    The next thing I know, Mrs. Speedy's "mobilizing for Iwo Jima" -- Packing like the Howells for "the three-hour tour." Pausing briefly, she queries "Will we have room for your drag tires?"

    "Don't need em, Dear . . . they don't have drag racing at Goodguys . . . they have Autocross," I replied.


    "Autocross . . . you know . . . that parking lot racing round orange cones . . . they have it on the Power Tour."

    "Oh you're going to do that!" Mrs. Speedy instantly decides.

    "Wuh . . uh . . . well . . . I . . . uh . . . all right, I guess."

    That seemed easier than admitting to Mrs. Speedy that the last time I'd driven around any orange cones was parallel parking practice in high school driver's ed (around the time President Ford was debating Jimmy Carter).

    Oh sure, I'd SEEN some SCCA and club autocrosses . . . even taken plenty of photos . . . I'd read the "Auto-X" magazines and even one of the books about how to prepare and flick fly-weight imports around without killing cones.

    And deep down, I knew that hitting an autocross course with 3,700 lbs. of woefully unprepared pony car on granite-hard UTOG 400 235-section-width tires with an SUV-inspired ride height would look like a hog dancing at the ice capades.

    But then this was Goodguys . . . the lawn-chair autocrossing circuit.

    No thousand-dollar sets of R-compound tires. No imports . . . nobody fretting over quarter pounds of tire pressure or building ridiculous "heat walls" to keep their tires warm . . . nobody measuring track widths or wheel off-sets or filing protests . . .

    Just some slow-reacting old guys with antique muscle cars and towering 350/350 street rods scraping around on their rocker panels. And an autocross course is just a downsized road course, right? So it'd be like an open track day, only slower.

    "How hard could it be?"

    (The powers of rationalization are strong with this one).

    So a little over eighteen hours and hundreds of miles later, Walt Reynolds (Chad

  • #2
    Posting Fail too!
    Life is short. Be a do'er and not a shoulda done'er.
    1969 Galaxie 500
    1998 Mustang GT
    1983 Mustang GT 545/552/302/Turbo302/552
    1973 F-250 BBF Turbo Truck
    1986 Ford Ranger EFI 545/C6


    • #3
      Alright, you've got my attention, and your telling it well. Not quite as well as P dub but well. Now, let's have the rest!
      Previously HoosierL98GTA


      • #4
        OH NO! I shouldn't have deleted where I accidentally posted this mess in the "Bangshift Blog" thread!

        (How can I blame this SNAFU on the my storebought car . . . .)


        • #5
          The tepid "Rest of the Story" (hope. . . pleeeeez Forum don't eat my post)

          So a little over eighteen hours later Walt Reynolds (Chad's Dad) is teching-in my storebought pony car . . . still stickered up in a retro scheme from Drag Week.

          The frigid temperatures and lack of planning made it necessary for me to wear my drag racing jacket. The combination of car and driver livery seemed to make some believe that I had some clue on what I was about to do.

          Chad mentioned walking the track, which is something I'd seen serious autocrossers and road course guys do. So I set out on-foot with a reluctant Speedy Jr. in-tow.

          What I was looking at, I have no idea. But I did have a spirited discussion with Speedy Jr. about whether the track was one lap or two.

          The circuit didn't look overly technical -- of course, how would I know? At least it didn't have any slalom sections, which the Auto-X book seemed to go on and on about. It had a couple of straights that might require shifting, even with a 7,000 r.p.m. redline.

          The first car out of the gate was your basic nightmare
          Last edited by 38P; October 8, 2012, 09:39 AM.


          • #6
            . . . a LESS-powered 2010 Hyundai. So much for "no imports" and "rocker-scraping." It had about three inches of ground clearance and wheel alignment set for 600, not 60,000-mile tire wear.

            Another car in the paddock was a T-bucket that had successfully mated with a pavement modified, given the huge size of its front tires. A kit car version of a Maserati Tipo 61 waited nearby. There was also a convention of ZR-1 Camaros, GT500s, Corvettes, and Boss 302s filling out the Super Sunday contingent.

            Uh oh. Looks like I didn't even have a SPORK for this gunfight!

            A few cars later, my storebought cruiser heads the line. Chad vamps the mike as he would for any Bangshifter who'd already drawn way too much attention to himself.

            Then the comedy of errors truly began. Thinking 1320 instead of Auto-X, I pulled too far forward, blocking egress from the course. Then at the staging beams, I didn't know the pre-staged and staged lights were apparently about two inches apart, so I completely rolled through the beams.

            The starting line had all the traction of a well-oiled hockey rink. My first run began in a fishtailing extravaganza. The electronic traction control nanny was apparently still sleeping back at the hotel because it didn't kill the party like it does at the drag strip. I guess nobody in the Auto-X world ever heard of VHT . . . .

            Heading down into the carousel first turn, I realized I'd been so busy arguing with Speedy Jr. that I hadn't picked a brake marker, and that every freaking cone looks exactly the same. So I just hammered the anti-locks and almost slid off course. Nice.

            The balance of the run was mostly wondering whether my inevitable slide off-track would be head-first or tail first. Yet surprisingly, I did not kill any cones.

            The pace of my 412 h.p. ice-dancing gelding was probably about six-seconds behind the LESS Hyundai. And they don't hand out any time slips, either, so you've got about two seconds to memorize your run time.

            Back in the pits, Mrs. Speedy said "Are you feeling okay? I thought you'd drive harder."

            "Harder! That's like glare ice out there. I've got no traction at all!"

            For the next run, some guy stuck a lipstick camera inside my windshield. Another distraction. And another blown staging attempt, which then led to taking the green light in reverse!

            Holy cow! What a disaster! Another wiggle-fest around the course, but I rationalized improvement. At least the DW '12 wheel hop problem is gone . . . .

            By the third run, nobody was asking anymore about the SCCA. And a V6 rental car had recently beaten my time by over a second. So it was time to get serious. I decided that a good initial braking point would be where the skid marks started on the front straight. After all, anti-lock brakes ought to make a big difference.

            I slid right into the cones, blowing the run.

            Then a ginormous '60s Chevy pickup swayed and swished to a time that was about a second faster than my best. Total humiliation.

            I decided a little churching up at the CRA chapel service might do more good than my next run. Then I missed another run for the NASCAR track cruise (high banks in a street car, even at pace car speed, are F-U-N)

            However, something they handed me at registration said the course would close at 1:00 p.m. No problemo. It was only 12:15 when I got back from the track cruise. Plenty-o-time. And the track temps might be up into the forties by then . . . .

            Except that Chad announced official time runs were to end at 12:30. And having not yet made a clean run of the course, I needed another run . . . just to salvage a shred of pride. So for the last ten minutes of competition, I sat anxiously in line, engine idling (even as Chad made an exhibition run with a shapely passenger in the Ridetech Camaro and the class-winning LESS Hyundai used up time apparently to foreclose any last-minute challenges)

            It was officially over. No time for another official run. I'd officially stunk-up the lawnchair autocross circuit.

            On one last exhibition run, the AWOL traction control woke up and shut off the engine for a second on the main straight, blowing the run. Then I realized that I’d been forgetting all day to downshift at the carousel, so I'd been running the whole course in second gear. DOH!

            At least it sounded faster in that exhibition run . . . .

            After we packed up and headed into the "lawnchair racing" section of the show, I realized the day hadn't been a total loss. Out of at least 1,700 registered vehicles, mine was one of a handful that had at least tried to compete. I rationalized that was better than the megabuck, lawnchair racing "gow-jobs" that seemed to win all the late-model Super Sunday picks.
            Last edited by 38P; October 8, 2012, 09:52 AM. Reason: Reduce the suckage.


            • #7
              Thanks Speedy, I've been wanting to autocross my '99 Z28 and since the Good Guy show will be here in November, it seems like a perfect opportunity to do just that....... Super Sunday sounds like Super Funday to me!!!!......
              Last edited by TC; October 8, 2012, 09:44 AM.


              • #8
                I'd love to try it.
                hearing your perspective, one does not have to be a superhero.

                I joked of trying a winter version, new england (snow course)..when I mentioned the car, a guy said I'd just walk away with a win.
                That is not fun. I stayed home..
                Previously boxer3main
                the death rate and fairy tales cannot kill the nature left behind.


                • #9
                  Good read!

                  I decided after attending the SCCA solo nationals in Lincoln, NE last month that Autocross is a pretty kickass sport. At the high end, the cars are downright freakish in their ability to stick to the course and run crazy low times.
         - catch the RealTuners Radio Podcast on Youtube, Facebook, iTunes, and anywhere else podcasts are distributed!


                  • #10
                    He'll be back. Speedy is hooked.
                    BS'er formally known as Rebeldryver

                    Resident Instigator



                    • #11
                      Cool stuff! Way to get out of your comfort zone. And a pat on the back for using it instead of thinking someone will give you double the new car price in 20 yrs. Thanks for part 2 so quickly.
                      Previously HoosierL98GTA


                      • #12
                        good stuff!

                        I attended my first auto-x yesterday....went to watch my wife run her Prowler. And after her group ran, we worked the corner at the south end of the course. There was a late model Mustang running, he ran about ten seconds slower than the fastest car (which was a dinky little racing go kart), and almost ten seconds faster than my wife.

                        The guy who seems to mostly run the local sports car club used to own a neat big block 55 Nomad years ago....
                        My fabulous web page

                        "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Scott Liggett View Post
                          He'll be back. Speedy is hooked.
                          I wonder if he'll show up with a Miata? they're girl cars but even in stock trim they can be lethal on the autocross.
                 - catch the RealTuners Radio Podcast on Youtube, Facebook, iTunes, and anywhere else podcasts are distributed!


                          • #14
                            It was fun watching the Miatas....there is definitely a lot to how you drive the car...and the prepped Miatas do a lot better than the stockers. About half the field at the event I went to was Miatas.
                            My fabulous web page

                            "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by dieselgeek View Post
                              I wonder if he'll show up with a Miata? they're girl cars but even in stock trim they can be lethal on the autocross.
                              That'd be too easy. Now an MG Midget with the widest UTOG 200 tires made, a hot American mill, and a "Pikes Peak" set of wings (no "Modified" or "Prepared" rules (yet) at Goodguys) . . . .

                              On the Miata front . . . there was a dude in the lawnchair section of the show with an all-electric Miata. Holy Ready Kilowatts, Batman! (Perhaps they need to revise the Super Sunday "American motor" rule to "American engine.")