(Photos by Phil Trzcinski and the author)
[“Nut Driver” features updates on Dave Nutting’s attempts to daily drive his 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo in Massachusetts 365 days a year]
Before continuing on, if you want to catch up on the other installments, click HERE.
It’s been a while since I’ve updated this project blog as, to be honest, nothing really interesting happened with the car over the winter. It continued to start every day (Like you’d expect from a cream puff), I continued to rack up the miles, and life went on. BOOORRRING.
I made a resolution this year that I would attend autocross events on a regular basis with at least one of my Monte Carlos, but until this point life kept getting in the way, or as Lohnes put it, I was wimping out. So when I found out a few weeks back that the TireRack NorthEast Match Tour was rolling into town for June 7th and 8th and they were running the new Classic America Muscle classes, without thinking I pulled out my credit card and this happened:
Yeah, you could say that I was committed now.
Due to a scheduling conflict I’d only be able to attend the Saturday session, but I knew it would still be money well-spent and I planned to make the most of it.
Now for all the “small stuff”, like buying a helmet, getting numbers, and making sure that the car will pass tech. Just like going to the drag strip, there’s a basic tech inspection before you can run your car, and it’s very similar: No leaks, tight wheel bearings, seat belt, and the battery firmly held down, among other things. The battery inspection will prove to be important later on in this story. That, my friends, is called foreshadowing.
As we do here at BangShift, we’re going to tell the rest of this story via photos and videos. As Lohnes was galavanting in Ohio and Craig Fitzgerald was busy washing his hair or something, my friend Phil Trzcinski was crazy enough to stand out in the 90 degree heat for 5+ hours to take photos of my heap going in circles, so many thanks to him for doing so.
Again, pre-autocross checklist:
– Get car tech ready
Below is the GoPro video of that second run. Fast Forward to the 3 minute mark if you want to get right to the beginning of the run. Note to self: Install bucket seats as the bench seat is good for dates but not for keeping you upright during a slalom.
Here is the fourth and Final Run. Again, improving over my other runs, with a 15 second total improvement from first run to last, but still not enough to get me out of the basement of the CAM2 class. Doesn’t matter, as I was pumped to still be improving.
Autocross to me is very similar to drag racing in that, end of the day, it’s really just you, the car, and the clock. With a finite number of runs, it’s less about what high-dollar parts you have strapped to the car and more about how far you can push yourself mentally to keep driving faster. I’ll admit that I’m not what you would call a good driver, so much of the improvement is going to be the result of tightening the Nut behind the wheel through more experience and coaching. Needless to say, I’ll be attending more events throughout the year, and you fellow BangShifters should be too. No excuses about your car “not being set up to take on those Miatas”, because the CAM class is specifically for your car. If you’re in the New England area, the next SCCA event is June 22nd. I’ll be there. Will you?