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    First DE Event this Sunday

    I am attending my first DE event on Sunday and will be bringing my '87 944 Turbo. The event will be an autocross on a large blacktop (Candlestick Park for those of you in the SF Bay Area) and I was hoping for some advice on driving technique. I have driven 1 slow lap of Laguna Seca, that is my only track experience. I am a decent driver for never having really driven on a track. I can heel toe, understand cornering lines to a degree, and I am familiar with the car. I also wanted to know if there was any preventive maintenance I should perform on the car besides an oil change. I am extremely exited for Sunday and will share my experience afterwards.

    Re: First DE Event this Sunday

    First, since I'm not a regular poster here, a bit about me. I'm a Miata owner (2006 MX-5). I autocross regularly and have done a few track days. I'm competitive in my autocross class and have been doing well in my division.

    You said this will be an autocross - SCCA Solo II (cone dodging). Your one slow lap of Laguna Seca is going to be worlds away from a day at an autocross. At autocross, the speeds are relatively low, but things happen very, very quickly. Because the course is defined by cones, rather than the edges of a track, it's not always an easy task to stay on the correct course. Because of the quick pace and the relative lack of visual definition, it's extremely important to look ahead. As a novice, don't worry to much about having the right line. Rather, worry about having a valid line (one that doesn't DNF / go on the wrong side of cones). It's very common for a novice to DNF on at least one run at their first autocross, and it's not uncommon for someone to DNF multiple runs (sometimes every single run at an event) when they're still new to the sport. Also, you likely won't need to shift. Start in first, shift to second, then leave it in second for the rest of the run.

    Go on the novice walkthrough and make sure you know who the novice coordinator is. If you have any questions, the novice coordinator should be able to help you. Also, try to ride with as many people as you can. Riding with people on the course can really help you understand where the course goes and what the cars can do. At a recent event, one of my competitors in my class asked to ride with me. He was quite a few seconds slower than me, even though we were in the same class, and wasn't sure what he was doing wrong. After one run with me, he cut three seconds off his time (on a roughly 56 second course). I try to find every chance I can to ride with a couple of guys in my area. I learn something new every time I ride with one of them.

    And remember to look ahead. Seriously. I keep mentioning that because it's something I find I constantly have to remind myself as I do my runs. Look ahead, breathe. Worry about more than that at your next event.

    As far as your car is concerned: Autocross is no where near as hard on your car as a track day. Rather than spending 10-30 minutes at a time pushing the car hard, you'll spend 45 to 60 seconds pushing it, then giving it a rest, then another 45-60, the rest, then 45-60. You'll probably have over 10 minutes between your runs, so your car isn't going to get anywhere near as hot as a track day could do. Things like boiling brake fluid are extremely rare at autocrosses, but one thing that can happen is the lateral force can loosen lug nuts. Make sure yours are tightened to the appropriate spec. It would probably be wise to check them both before and after the event.

    Take water, and lots of it. Make sure there's food for lunch (either something to get in the area or bring something). Wear sunblock. Take a hat. And most importantly, have fun!

    Re: First DE Event this Sunday

    Thank you for the advice, I appreciate hearing from someone with real knowledge of the sport. I will let you know how it goes.

    Re: First DE Event this Sunday

    So I'm hooked. I have not had as much fun in a car in my entire life! I started off fairly fast and found it was very difficult to stay in control. I slowed down for my next couple of runs and was able to develop a much better feel for the limits of the car. After a couple slower laps I began really pushing the car and my times dropped quickly. My laps times became more consistent and I noticed I was lapping faster than almost everyone there! I'm not trying to brag but I could not believe how much faster I was than many of the other students in much faster cars (a couple 997s and 997tts were numerous seconds behind). A 400hp Cayman S was only able to edge me by 1 second (47.2 vs 48.14 he was also on cup tires me on PS2s). The biggest surprise was an instructor in a 997 GT3 only beating me by 2.5 seconds after many more laps (45.6 vs 48.14 he was also on cup tires). Again, I'm not trying to brag but being fast made the day so much more fun. I couldn't help feeling satisfied doing this in a 21 year old car with very light mods. There were obviously instructors there who were faster than me by a decent margin (about 2 seconds). I am probably going back next weekend. I can only imagine how fast my car would have been with slick tires. If anyone here was at this track day I'd love to hear your impressions.

    Re: First DE Event this Sunday

    Quote:
    trip said:
    So I'm hooked. I have not had as much fun in a car in my entire life! I started off fairly fast and found it was very difficult to stay in control. I slowed down for my next couple of runs and was able to develop a much better feel for the limits of the car. After a couple slower laps I began really pushing the car and my times dropped quickly. My laps times became more consistent and I noticed I was lapping faster than almost everyone there! I'm not trying to brag but I could not believe how much faster I was than many of the other students in much faster cars (a couple 997s and 997tts were numerous seconds behind). A 400hp Cayman S was only able to edge me by 1 second (47.2 vs 48.14 he was also on cup tires me on PS2s). The biggest surprise was an instructor in a 997 GT3 only beating me by 2.5 seconds after many more laps (45.6 vs 48.14 he was also on cup tires). Again, I'm not trying to brag but being fast made the day so much more fun. I couldn't help feeling satisfied doing this in a 21 year old car with very light mods. There were obviously instructors there who were faster than me by a decent margin (about 2 seconds). I am probably going back next weekend. I can only imagine how fast my car would have been with slick tires. If anyone here was at this track day I'd love to hear your impressions.



    You did well, congrats! but you had an advantage, a lighter nimbler car. Ah those were the days!

    Re: First DE Event this Sunday

    Quote:
    ADias said:
    You did well, congrats! but you had an advantage, a lighter nimbler car. Ah those were the days!


    951 weighs about the same as Cayman (3,000 lbs) and should be less nimble, due to the weight concentrated at both ends of the car like a dumbell. They are very fine track cars for the money though. I had two 951S's and they were several seconds faster per lap than my 2002 996 C2...

    Re: First DE Event this Sunday

    My 951 has some engine upgrades (fuel reg, boost reg, chip, exhaust), 17 wheels w/PS2 tires, and the M030 968 sway bars but other than that is stock. I really need to upgrade the suspension as I was rolling all over the place in the corners. Having said that I was extremely impressed with how the car drove. By the way that Cayman had a 400hp 911 motor, wheels, slotted brakes, lowering suspension, GT3 seats, etc. so I was very surprised it only beat me by 1 second. I wish I could have switched cars with him for a couple laps haha.

    Re: First DE Event this Sunday

    Quote:
    trip said:
    My 951 has some engine upgrades (fuel reg, boost reg, chip, exhaust), 17 wheels w/PS2 tires, and the M030 968 sway bars but other than that is stock. I really need to upgrade the suspension as I was rolling all over the place in the corners. Having said that I was extremely impressed with how the car drove. By the way that Cayman had a 400hp 911 motor, wheels, slotted brakes, lowering suspension, GT3 seats, etc. so I was very surprised it only beat me by 1 second. I wish I could have switched cars with him for a couple laps haha.


    Yeah, my 951S's were modded a bit too - very effective on those! What are you using for wheels? I used 4 identical wheels from the rear of an early 996 (17x9) and that was a nice improvement (and cheap and easy to find). Having the 9's up front really made the car turn-in well and avoided understeer (and improved braking). Think about upgrading the front A-Arms on the suspension too, as that is a notorious weak spot with bad consequences if one fails (ball joints can separate).

    Best of luck!

    Re: First DE Event this Sunday

    Im using the C2 Turbo wheels which I believe are 17x8 front 17x9 rear, the car is fairly neutral with oversteer tendancies. I had the A-arms and ball joints replaced when I had my 968 sways installed this past week. By the way Grant, do you have any experience with the Bilstein Escort Cup suspension set up?

    Re: First DE Event this Sunday

    Quote:
    trip said:
    Grant, do you have any experience with the Bilstein Escort Cup suspension set up?


    No, never tried that one. Bilstein makes nice stuff though (not sure if it will make street use unpleasant or not).

    I think the LEDA adjustable coilovers are highly regarded on the 951 (not sure if still available). And for big money, nothing beats Motons or similar...

     
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