CSCC Solo 2: 22 September 2002
California Speedway, Fontana
Summary: Man, it was hot.
Despite being scheduled to run in the afternoon, I arrived at California Speedway bright and early to walk the course and watch Bryan and Megan Jacoby run the CS 1997 Miata M Edition that they just bought.
In the preceding weeks, my car 814, HS 1994 Civic del Sol Si, was outfitted with Falken Azenis Sports (195/60R14), a birthday gift from Gina. It also got front Axxis Ultimate brake pads from StopTech in Torrance, along with a moderate autocross alignment.
The course consisted mostly of three sweepers, the third being quite long and fast, followed by a tight section going into the finish. The course intersected itself near the start/finish line. Below is an aerial view of the course. Note that the imagery was taken before the Speedway and its parking lots were built! The course shape was captured using a Garmin eTrex GPS receiver logging to an old Palm III with a broken screen. The data were taken during my runs, and the 2-second sampling interval was not sufficient to record the nuances of the last section. The course was entered from right to left on the image, and finished bottom to top. We hope to improve our acquisition system so that it will use a 1 second interval. It would probably be good to log the course on foot, but we'll probably get some strange looks.
Bryan was the first to drive the new MX-5, car 985, taking on an instructor for his first two runs. He was remarkably consistent, turning in times in the 77's on all three runs. While his skills improved with each run, his Toyo Proxes FZ4 tires were not up to the task, and got slick from the hard use on a hot day. The frequent runs from the Multiple Driver lane surely didn't help, and the car looked very loose by the end. Car 985 is shown below.
After Bryan completed his three runs, Megan "Dead Pedal" Jacoby drove the remarkably similar car 975. Thanks to Bryan's tire torture, she spun the car on the first turn of the course. Pressing on with decreasingly effective Toyos, she managed clean runs on her last two starts. You can see her in the image above.
The Jacobys worked a long, hot shift while I prepared car 814 for its runs in the afternoon. Bryan and Megan kindly stuck around to cheer me on, take the picture of me that you see below, and fetch water (which is why I survived to write this report).
Hurrying at the last minute to mount the data acquisition system in the car (think duct tape), I ended up near the back of the pre-grid for my run group. Just as I was about to cross the street that separates the pre-grid from the three-car grid, a new MINI Cooper suffered a failure of a badly-designed aftermarket wheel. The MINI later ran on its stock wheels. I turned on the A/C, closed the windows, and waited it out. I improved on each of my three runs as I learned more about the course and the Azenis, but I know I was still forgetting turns in my third run.
The Azenis are a huge step up from my Potenza RE910's, and I need to spend some time learning how to use them. I'm hoping the November practice will help. The Axxis Ultimates didn't get much of a test on this course... but I'm sure they will at Lone Pine next spring!