Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Reflections on the big game

While the boys of Holunfie were getting ready for the Devens Massachusetts SCCA Solo National Tour by partaking on a little local BMW action, your humble author decided on a slightly different approach. I figured since I'm going to run at Devens in F-Stock, why not get some big event exposure in what could be an equally as competitive a class.

Around mid-May I was IMing a fellow autocrosser, Scott Hoffman, located in the Richmond Virginia area about the possibility of campaigning his car at the Huntsville Alabama National Tour. Though on short notice, Scott was enthusiastic about having a co-driver, since my entry would have created another trophy spot as well as the opportunity for the all important contingency mooh-lah! The plan would be that we would run Scott's base Acura RSX in H-Stock against a field of 12 others. I set into motion to borrow a nice 27mm front sway bar from Steguis as well as booking a flight to Huntsville.

Friday June 1 comes around and one nice aspect of most National Tours that I highly recommend taking advantage of is the practice sessions. One can purchase tickets to run a short course to adjust to the surface of the venue. I needed to adjust to the surface as well as going from a rear wheel drive Chevrolet Camaro Z28 to a front wheel drive Acura RSX. The practice held some promise, since we were in the thick of the times of our other H-Stock competitors in a variety of different cars such as the class dominant Mini to the emerging Mazda 3 as well as the Honda Civic.

We take our course walks and realize the first day course will allow us to use the power advantage of the RSX. Given that Scott's car has not had all of the modifications one could to to a stock class car, we would have to take advantage of what ever we could get. More course walks Saturday morning confirm that we would do well on the "power course" and sure enough, I managed to place myself into third place after Saturday's runs.

After the conclusion of the first day's runs, the course gets setup for the following day. As a complete opposite of what we just ran, the Sunday course proved to be very transition heavy. The fear of losing our hard won trophy spot starts to creep in. Sure enough, when all is said and done, I fall to mid-pack of our 12 contestant field.

Jump forward to the Devens National Tour. Devens Massachusetts for the past few years has turned out to be such an anomoly for me. Rain, the rush to get the car to grid and the need for a fibreglass repairman are highlights I would rather forget. For some reason, events somehow conspire at "Area 51 of the Northeast" to make the first day of the tour a day I would rather forget; see http://www.witchdoctormotorsports.com/ch58.htm on how to really spread the misery with a co-driver.

True to fashion, my second day at Devens/Ayer/Area 51 turns out to be a much better day. Not only did I advance a position in F-Stock, but somehow managed to be 20th in PAX for the day out of a field of 200. With a new school (Shelby) versus old school (IROC) battle going, I'm quite happy with where I landed, so the weekend wasn't a total wash out.

So, what does all of this blah-blahing really mean? First and foremost, if you have the chance, go ahead and play in the big sandbox. There may be bigger kids with cooler toys on the playground, but the only way you will know where you stand is if you face your fear head on. Perhaps the learning process will be painful at first, but the progress you'll see in yourself will be the greater reward. Secondly, if you do decide to play in the big game, make sure you are as prepared as you can be. Rushing at the last minute for all of those little things that can make or break your day at the parking lot races is annoying to say the least and affects your ability to drive and compete more than you know. Last but not least, the whole driving in circles thing is a bit more fun with friends!

1 comment:

dan said...

once you play in the big sandbox, there's no turning back!

mark was my instructor/mentor when i first started back in '99-00. helped me progress a ton!

thanks for posting mark.. you are the man.