*Auto X * Rookie School Part1
Man oh man. Where do I begin! Since I would like to get some sleep, and I don't feel like typing for the next hour, I will break this out int two parts. Saturday was the Rookie school event, with a turnout of about 42 drivers. Slight drizzle, but looks like it's clearing up! Unload everything, in the car, and I mean everything, go through tech inspection, and finish registration.
After introduction and some meetings, they split the groups in two, and had one group with 4 runs in a skidpad event (2 in each direction) while the other hit the slaloms; then we swapped groups. After the slaloms, we had a quick lunch and they rearrange the course, and then we go out for 3-4 runs maybe more, followed by some fun runs.
If you've never autocrossed, it's an absolute blast and really addicting. Before Saturday, never have I ever been able to drive the car, and really get a feel for how the car behaves while pushing it to somewhat of it's limits.
Two things I noticed immediately; First, the car has tons of power, really. I know it's a 323, but everyone kept saying i might of beaten an E36 m3 for the longest power slide!!! Second, the understeer and the body roll I was experiencing was really hard to handle. I run a complete stock - sport suspension, and even so, the car never felt really planted. And I'm sure my drving technique did not help. I kept turning the wheel so fast, and trying to keep up that I got the wipers going a couple times... It's pretty funny now that I think about it....... Also, throughout the entire day I kept trying to play with the tire pressures on the Kumho Ecsta MX (more on this later)!
The instructor we had tried to give our group some pointers, and they ride with you, most of the time. I will say one thing, man i suck! :) Well, I guess I could have had a better instructor. It turns out that many people complained about this particular person, and it became real apparent as you rode around with different instructors and they kept re-emphazing to turn and look ahead, while you're in the middle of a turn. Ughh, look ahead???? I kept saying, if I turn to look ahead, I'll have no idea where I'm going, plus more immediately, I'm about to take out a string cones.
Because of my mods, I did not qualify for Rookie Stock. So I had to run in Rookie Non stock. Running against Miatas, S2000's, Evos', WRX's, STi's, and even a 350z is fun to watch, but not fun to race against. By the time i performed my 4th, and 5th runs, I had picked up some new things from my friend Rob who runs his miata in CSP. And it seemed like it was starting to make some sense. I honestly wish I had him someone like him as my instructor. As soon as he got in the car he immediately showed me the proper seat position. I had him run with me, and have him yell at me just to get a feel for what I should be looking at, when to brake and when to accelerate. I had a really hard time of just accelerating without just stomping on the gas and breaking the rear loose. Looks and sounds cool, but not what I was looking to do.
At the end of the day, I finished 12th of the 16 drivers for my class. I know I could have done better and I knew I was coming Sunday to put some of the techniques to the test. It was a ton of fun, and I met some very knowledgeable people.
About the tire pressure, I had marked my tires with shoe polish to gauge proper tire pressure right before the runs. This I really struggled with. I started with 40Front/and 38 Rear. The more runs i had they got up to about 43F/and 40R. I thought that running less in the rear would help the understeer. But the few people I spoke to kept giving me conflicting information. Just before I left for the day, there was an instructor there who was also running the exact same tire and size Kumho's and he suggested trying 45's all the way around. I would try this for the following day which will be part 2 of this great experience....
congrats, sounds like a blast. i am trying to get into that sooner than later. who cares what you placed. this was your first time. you will get better when you get more time behind the wheel :thumbup:
Damn glad to hear you had fun.. its always cool to see a new person getting into auto-x..
and for the first 5 or so races.. don't worry about where you place.. just make sure your having fun.. and that your using the techniques that the instructors were telling you to use..
a few pointers to throw in for ya.. yes you need to look ahead.. if your entering a turn you should look at the end of the turn.. i know it sounds strange.. but if you look there you'll end up just putting the car right where it needs to go..
try to move the steering wheel as little as possible.. because every time you move the wheel your scrubbing speed.. so just try and get the wheel to the right angle for hte turn.. then back to straight..
and finally.. always brake in a straight line.. so break before the corner.. this will definetly help controll your understeer problem.. i know the understeer of our bmw's ALL TOO WELL.. i went mod crazy dialing it out.. now my car is very nuetral maybe even a tad bit of oversteer in it now... but its great..
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