My Return From a Four Year Layoff
I drove down to Atlanta Motor Speedway yesterday to participate in a SCCA autocross. I've had a 4 year sabbatical from driving and wasn't sure how well everything would come back to me. Instead of driving one of our cars, I decided I'd jump back in the last car I autocrossed and give it a try again. I drove this car for about 6 years before my break and got pretty good in it, managing 4 3rd place finishes at the National Championships. But it's a very difficult car to drive and and I was a little apprehensive getting back in it after an extended layoff. The wheelbase of the car is only 80", so it's very short. Being short, it has a very low polar moment of inertia meaning it doesn't take much to make it spin. Throw in 350 whp/380 ft lbs of torque in a car that weighs 1760 lbs with me in it and you have a really big handful.
But yesterday didn't go to well, and it wasn't because of me. 🙂 They have made lots of changes to the car. They have totally reworked the suspension, retuned the engine, and removed the electric power steering. All great. BUT... this car relies on a ton of mechanical grip to go fast, and without it, you might as well be driving on ice.
Two of us were driving the car yesterday and both us have had a lot of seat time in the car, and we both had issues. Come to find out, we were running on one year old, 40 run Hoosier slicks, that had the grip of a Flintstone rock tire. We both spun the car, Rick doing it twice. We had ZERO traction all day. To top that off, we discovered that the front tires were corded. So we literally had no traction. Keep in mind, to put that power to the ground and corner at 1.8 g's, we run 14" wide Formula Atlantic qualifying rear tires that generate a ton of grip. But once those tires get hard, you might as well be on rocks.
So... this was my 4th run and I managed to do it correctly. You can hear the blow off valve as I have to lift to keep the back tires from spinning (no... to keep the car from spinning).
If you'd like to see a good spin, I did one not far from the start on my 2nd run. 🙂 This run was a total disaster as I also missed a couple of gates (you don't get a time, it's called a DNF).
It was a fun day, but the car is capable of going much faster, and hopefully I can get back in it soon with some good tires on it.