[“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.
What’s this? Two updates on a BangShift project car in less than a month? Unheard of! (Bryan, you get a pass since you just introduced yours, but Buford is more attention-starved than a puppy left alone for a long weekend and Craig’s Blazer has been in bodywork purgatory for months. Meanwhile, the $200 hauler is, well, I don’t know where it is. Maybe it was stolen again?)
Gentle ribbing of my fellow BangShifters aside, today’s update is further continuing my autocross adventures, this time at a normal SCCA points event with the New England Region (NER). The majority of SOLO events for NER are held at Devens-Moore Airfield, which is a pretty nice setup compared to some of the parking lots that other clubs have to make due with.
All in all about 130 drivers signed up for the event, and before I move on with the story I want to give credit where credit is due and thank all of the people that set up and ran this event, which in reality is everyone that showed up. What I really dig about grassroots racing is that it’s 100% volunteer based, with the racers themselves doing the hard work of keeping everything on the up and up so that they can continue using the site. I have a hard enough time getting 4-5 guys to show up for a garage night without trashing the place, let alone 100+ people and cars for 8-10 hours.
Where to begin with today’s journey? Let’s start with the results from the previous event, along with my preparing for this last event.
So, how to go about that? Throw the latest and greatest Pro-Touring parts at the car? Yank out the 160 horsepower boat anchor (Of which, I must admit that more than one horse has escaped from the ranch over the last 27 years) for a more modern powerplant? Nah, that’s too easy and ruins the whole point of buying a cheap car and keeping to a budget. Keep in mind that even with the purchase price of the car and the new springs, shocks, wheels, tires, and brakes, I’m still into the car for less than $4k. So, let’s throw on some used parts and get some more seat time.
Enough prolonging the inevitable: Just how did the Monte do this time around? Not surprisingly, I still finished in the basement of the CAM class, again 12 seconds behind the leader of the group.
That said, I’m motivated for a few reasons:
1. While the last event was set up to allow the higher horsepower cars (Of which mine is not one, sad to say) to stretch their legs, this course was tighter and in my opinion a bit more challenging. Still, I hung in there.
2. Unlike my first event, I went hard from the get-go, which shows in that I improved less from my first run to my last run. I also finally nailed a cone, which pissed me off about as much as I thought it would.
To give you an idea of the course layout and what it’s like piloting a boat around it, check out this video of my second lap of the day.
So, what’s next for me and this heap?
– Continue working on my driving. Watching the videos I took of each run, I need to better set up between elements, as well as figure out how to better enter and exit those long sweeping turns. Having a slow steering ratio, less than appropriate tires, and a bench seat isn’t helping either, but the driver still needs to improve.
– Install a better steering box. There’s some play in the current box, and I’m spending a good amount of time fighting with the wheel.
– TIRES. TIRES. TIRES. No Hoosiers for me as I need 200 treadwear, but better tires are a necessity. This will be a big expense even with a set of used 16 or 17 inch wheels, so I may not get them installed for another event or two.
– More supportive seats. Yes, I love the bench seat as well for daily driver duties, but I’d like to have a seat that I can swap in for autocross. Keeping with the budget theme, I’m going to stay away from an expensive racing seat and see what’s out there for factory takeouts from another car that I can use with some slight modification.
– A larger front sway bar. To be honest, I’m not sure that a larger bar will help with the understeer versus correcting my driving style, but from those in the know that have well-handling G-bodies, I’ve been told that the larger bar will help with the front body roll and help more than hurt. There’s a 36mm bar from an F-body in the garage with my name on it, so expect to see that installed before the next points event.
Oh, and if you need proof that more supportive seats are needed, check out this video of my buddy Phil going for a ride along. For extra entertainment, there’s my completely and utterly pissed off profanity at the end when I botch a slalom and nail a cone on what would have been my best run of the day (Pre-Wendy’s motivation-killing lunch)
As my final thoughts for the day, autocross is a blast, especially with a car that was in no way designed to be dodging cones. The CAM class is being offered by almost every SCCA region in the country, and there’s plenty of other car clubs that will let you stretch out the legs on your old iron. So get out there and do it! The next SCCA points event for the New England Region is July 20th. I’ll be there, and I’m hoping that one of you BangShifters joins me in CAM. If I can do this with a rusty, $2500 car that I drive every day, you can too.
Til next time!