More Solo Is
by Warren Leveque
ARTICLES ON THIS PAGE. [click on subject to Jump to the article]
A Tenth of a Second
The "Special Olympics"
Just Happy to be There
As in Jeopardy, the question is Why do borrowed cars go faster? The answer is one of many.
First, borrowed cars dont always go faster. Borrowed cars usually either spin, collect pylons or go faster. Its about a 50/50 chance, but they rarely go slower.
Generally, cars are loaned to good drivers who need a ride due to some mechanical problem--like their car wouldnt fit on the airplane. Who are you most likely to loan your car to? Also the borrowing driver agreed to drive your car because he thought that he would have a good chance to win in it.
This is really a compliment to your car choice and preparation.
If the car is being borrowed due to unfinished runs, probably the borrower has some practice on the course at speed. Its not exactly like picking someone out of the crowd. You, the owner , at least subconsciously want the borrower to do well or to excel to test you and your cars ability, which is one of the hidden reasons that you offered this particular driver your car.
The guest driver has a lot of pressure to do well because of all the above reasons and also because of being upset over the reason for the need to borrow a ride. If this is a Prepared or Modified driver he may get to practice in others cars often since those cars are often broken. He probably only has 1 or 2 runs left to succeed in a strange car. This pressure tends to really focus the driver mentally. Of course, this is the same focus which should occur all of the time.
No runs can be wasted, so everything ( all of the feed back) must be learned in the first corner. If no spin occurs, then the first corner will be extremely fast and the tone will be set for the rest of the run.
The guest driver has no memory of failure in your car. The owner can recall when something expensive broke when pushed hard or when it understeered, oversteered, or spun in a certain maneuver. This causes the owner to ,at least subconsciously, be careful, back off , or restrain himself during his run. The borrower, having no such memory, has no known limits which he must not exceed so he just pushes until something does or does no occur. If there are no spins or pylons, then this is the fastest run in the car and is probably not repeatable. If a spin, push, or pylon penalty occurred, THEN the borrowing drive has FAILURE MEMORY also and is now merely the equal of the owner.
A Tenth of a Second
How much is tenth of a second worth in our sport?
In a typical autocross run of 50 to 60 seconds duration and about 3600 feet in length, the average speed is 44 miles per hour or 65 ft. per second traveled in a 15 foot long car. Putting this information into car lengths simulates the running of two cars side by side as in a drag race or a road race.
Hitting a pylon is a death penalty as 2 seconds equals 8.6 car lengths using the above example. That would be a visually solid trouncing. Going on:
2 sec. = 130 ft. or 8.6 car lengths.
1 sec = 65 ft. or 4.2 car lengths
.5 sec. = 32.5 ft or 2.16
.1 sec. = 6.5 ft or .43
.01 sec. = .65 ft (7.8 in.) or .043
.001sec. = .065 ft(.78 in.) or .0043
A good rule of thumb then would be:
One tenth of a second = 1/2 car length. One hundredth of a sec. = 8 inches,
and .001 sec. = 3/4 in.
To see how this would relate to a drag race (1320 ft.). Lets use a 15 sec. ET for an average speed of 60 miles per hour or 88 ft. per second.
2 sec. =176 ft. or 11.7 car lengths
1 sec. = 88 ft. or 5.8
.5 sec = 44 ft. or 2.9
.1 sec = 8.8 ft. or .58
.01sec = .88 ft.(9.6 in.) or .058
.001 sec= .08 ft.(.96 in.) or .0058
Its amazing how close a typical autocross run is to a typical drag race run. The Solo competitors run about 25% closer.
Measuring a few human responses to relate to autocross times:
There are approx. 1.2 heartbeats in one second.
There are .36 eye blinks in one second.
So, a heartbeat or a blink of an eye can equal 4 or 5 car lengths.
One turn of the steering wheel take 1.6 sec. or 6 to 7 car lengths.
It takes about .5 sec. to transfer your foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal- 2 car lengths.
Now when you lose or win by .001 second, youll wonder what could have been done to gain or lose 3/4 of an inch.
Lag is the time between when you desire something to happen and when it actually occurs.
Lets begin a Solo II run:
Releasing the clutch pedal starts taking up the slack in the power train. If the car has not been pre-tensioned during staging, clearance has to be taken up in the clutch disc, torsion in the input shaft, clearances in the transmisson parts,
the gaps between the ring, pinion, and spider gears, and the play in the universal joints. The powertrain exerts no propulsive force until the soft bushings in the motor mounts and traction arms have been compressed and the chassis movement has compressed the springs. If the acceleration has been interrupted during shifting, all of this compression must recur. In decelerating for the turn, all of this compression is reversed and more due to the torque reversal, making the lag in the next acceleration even greater. Applying the brakes adds lag due to drum and rotor clearance and compression in the suspension bushings and springs.
The drivers arm moves to turn the steering wheel but the motion is first absorbed into the clearance between the drivers body and the seat and harness and into the seat cushion. No motion is transferred to the steering wheel until all of the compliance is used up. The harder the wheel is to turn, the more lag that occurs. Clearance is then used up in the steering gearbox , tie rod ends, and the wheel bearings before the wheels move. If the wheel is flexible, it adds to the lag as does the slip angle of the tire, especially if it is tall and flexible. Real movement into the turn doesnt occur until the chassis has rolled to the outside of the turn and by compressing the springs, anti-roll bars, and bushings has loaded the tires. The tires, being air springs, must also be compressed.
If the driver decides to accelerate now, the throttle is opened and waits for the vacuum to create an air flow through the carburetor venturi and suck the fuel out of the float bowl and along the intake tract to the distant cylinder. With port injection the fuel is already there and must wait only for the air flow which is quicker due to not being laden with fuel. If the engine is turbocharged, time is spent waiting for both the exhaust and the intake charge to be compressed--real lag.
Imagine how many times the above occurs in a slalom compared to a simple turn. In addition to the fore going you also have lag induced by the yaw or overshoot time.
All of these lag motions require thousandths of seconds individually and perhaps tenths collectively. Championships are won and lost by thousandths of seconds.
While not exotic or exciting like horsepower or G-force increases, these important lag times must be reduced in all class of vehicles. The reductions that cannot be mechanically obtained can often be minimized by the driver using less and smoother movements to complete each task.
The lag between your brain and muscles can only be decreased with practice.
Our first thought is that there are no straights in autocrossing, only turns. In some rare cases this may be true. Conversely, on some airport type circuits, there may only be straights. Most courses have many not so obvious straights. since autocrosses are judged on a time only basis, we need to concentrate on where the greatest reduction in time can occur. Since were traveling the most feet per second on straights we need to turn as much of the course into straights as possible.
The ultimate machine for creating straights is a racing motorcycle. No matter how highly developed, the small contact patch and the high center of gravity produce virtually no cornering power. In their racing schools, they teach that corners are just for positioning for the straights, the only exception being long sweepers. Its a shame but long sweepers are almost non existent in autocrosses, so we can limit the discussion to corners, not curves. A race car develops the most G-forces in braking, less in acceleration, and the least in cornering.
Making the straights longer occurs from both ends; starting earlier and stopping later. If the corner following a straight does not lead to a faster section relative to the current section, then the corner must be perceived as an extension of a straight and braked into and around. this can be called friction circle braking, trail braking, ingress turning; whatever. It is done without regard for positioning for reacceleration. This a favorite maneuver for lower powered and front wheel drive cars.
If the corner leads to a section faster than the one that you are on then it must be perceived as the start of a straight and must be used for positioning for acceleration into the next section. This is done by braking early, accelerating early and late apexing. Late apexing simply means touching the pivot point later in the circle rather than earlier. This is an egress turn and is a favorite of more highly powered rear drive cars.
The definition of a straight in autocross terms is:
Any Continous Acceleration. The acceleration does not have to be in a straight line.
Increasing radius sweeping turns
Entrances into turns
Exits from turns
Exits from pivots
Into and out of Chicanes
Into and out of Slaloms
Some slaloms and chicanes can effectively have their number reduced by the number of cones passed by accelerating or decelerating.
A three cone slalom is two straights connected by a jog.
You get the idea, Warren
Ladies personify the passionate side of our sport. Most of them couldnt care less about the mechanics of anti-roll bars or polar moments. Ive only met a couple of ladies who actually admitted liking the feel of a car sliding around. The ones that do like it are usually called National Champions. All of the ladies however sure do know about competition.
When you ask a competitive lady how things are going, you wont hear any John Wayne type utterances like yep, nope, and all right. Ladies show their feelings. Some of these endearing responsive displays include ear to ear grins, leaping, jumping, crying, throwing up, and other signs of joy or disappointment, but never apathy.
What is it about we men that makes us so attracted to ladies in racing? Is it the little gal-big truck or the lady-biker syndrome? Or is it that they display the qualities that we hold in? Theres a certain neatness about a petite lady wrestling an E/M or C/P monster car or finessing a quick formula car. Maybe we just love sharing our second favorite interest with our first favorite interest. Or course some of us with fragile egos have sold our second favorite interest when our first favorite interest did better in it then we did.
I personally like the non-threatening social situation. A hug is just a hug and a smile is just a smile. Good natured ribbing is just that. Of course a certain part of our male chauvinism ( we cant help it-honest) doesnt mind a pair of short shorts or tight jeans going by or a pretty smile is our direction when we need some distraction or encouragement.
Our ladies are capable of supporting us when there is no reasonable chance of victory. My partner has correctly forecasted a win when I was nearly 2 seconds behind. Where does this come from?
Racing ladies are capable of some of the best driving shows possible, such as the competitiveness of C/M-L and C/P-L. Ive heard many men brag about finally beating one of our fast ladies. I wish that I were one of them.
Something else that our ladies contribute is often the only chance that our cherished race car has of winning a major event.
At a meeting of Sports Car Addicts Anonymous:
Hi , my name is Warren
Hi Warren My name is Warren and I dont have IT.
Hi Warren, what is IT and how do you know that you dont have it?
IT is performance in a sport that is above what the preparation, practice, and schooling would indicate. Weve all witnessed performance in many fields by people who have It.
There are base ball players who claim to see the stitches on a ball before they hit it, boxers like Ali who could snap his head away from punches. Tennis players who know where the ball is going to be, many racers like Mario and Sterling Moss who could slow down motion visually. Johnny Rutherford claimed to have picked out is wife in the grandstands at 200 mph.
IT is faster bio-feedback than most. Those who have IT often dont even know it, they think everyone can do it. IT is not a measure of visual acuity. Some of the IT racers have poor measurable vision.
There are many stories of excellent athletes who knew that they didnt have IT. Dan Gurney following Sterling Moss in his prime and watching him set lap records after his brakes were obviously gone. Sterling Moss after his horrible accident, equalled his old lap records, but it no longer came naturally, he lost IT and retired.
Ayrton Senna Jeff Gordon and Michael Schumacher had/have IT. Dammon Hill, Jean Alesi, Eddie Irvine , and Mark Martin probable dont. In our sport, autocrossing; Jim McKamey, Tom Bootz, and Bruce Domeck have IT. McKamey thinks he knows why and even teachs a school, but his talent is even greater than his hard work and study justifies. Tom and Bruce have no clue as to why theyre fast and cant attempt to explain it.
In CORSA; Sharon Bybee, Dom Perino, Seth Emerson, Suzy Pursell, and Terry Stafford ( Im the author, I get to choose.) have IT. Those that dont have IT; we know who we are. A lot of the ITs have considerable talent in other areas. Jackie Stewart was a champion skeet shooter. Daniel Engstrom (FM Solo II Champion) is a concert pianist. Some of the SCCA ITs defy all conventioal wisdom by driving necker knob style, not left foot braking and some slide around in a hold you breath style. IT is not technique.
A lot of winners have learned their craft and prepared their cars well. Their wins justify their preparation-no more. Mark Donahue was a good example of preparation equals results.
Little can be learned from watching the IT drivers, some look smoothly slow, and some look totally out of control. In his book Dick Turner calls this altered state Unconcious competent-quite apt.
I have driven ITs cars and they have driven mine. There was no great epiphany as to what was right with theirs or wrong with mine. Ive even acquired cars prepared by Its, and NO it didnt make me a winner. Ive gone to the schools, read the books, and prepared the cars. Once in a while, I go much faster than expected and pull out a surprize win. Ive tasted IT!!
Schools can actually slow down natural reflexes. Too much thinking and not enough brain stem. Schools keep you from looking uneducated and give you good form. Theres nothing wrong with good form and proper technique; late apexes, shuffle steer, slow hands, friction circle, left foot braking, proper tires, proper gear, chalk, pyrometers, Interval timing, g-analyst, durometers, sponsers decals, etc. A lot of winners have none of these.
We journeyman veterans have some fear of recruiting novices. If they have IT, in one fell swoop thay can eclipse all of your years of experience.
Thankfully, this sport gives back much for the effort put into it in a social and camaraderie nature. but I also want IT!!!
The Special Olympics
This article is meant to give us all a round of applause, not to denigrate anyone. In the Olympics or professional sports the athletes must nearly be freaks of nature. They must be so perfectly physically that they dont really represent a cross section of America. Seven foot tall basketball players, 300 pound linebackers, sculptured gymnasts and swimmers, and 90 pound acrobats, dont really look like the America that we know.
Surely you cant pretend not to have noticed the greatly varied physical states of our fellow racers. Then youve also had to notice that same lack of relationship to racing performance. Weve all seen: small 90 pound people, 300 Pound people, short people, tall people, very young and very old people. Some of the infirmities among competitors include: Asthma, arthritis, poor eyesight, deafness, back problems, foot, leg, and hip problems, amputees, crippling or maiming defects, heart trouble, high blood pressure, diabetes, paralysis, cancer, emphysema, baldness, hairiness, ugliness, prettiness, blandness, obeseness, skinniness, meanness, niceness, surgical impairments, muscle weakness, and poor race car choosing. The list is endless. If you havent noticed any of the above, then bravo for our sport. I have at least 5 of the above. thank you for not noticing. Isnt It wonderful that widely different physical shapes, sizes, strengths, ages and either gender can compete equally.
How does this electic group adapt to the rigors of racing?
An observation can be made about the range of special equipment involved. Isnt a tiny motorscooter just a two wheeled motorized wheel chair?
Weve seen three wheeled bicycles, push scooters, canes crutches, and real wheel chairs. Is a large motorhome just an air conditioned port-a potty and a place to lie down between runs?
How about our selection of race vehicles? Heavy cars on racing slicks with non-power steering or non-power brakes are going the way of the Dinosaurs. Physically, the new breed of power assisted sports car are pretty easy to drive. These cars even think for you with automatic braking systems and traction control. Surely it isnt too much of a stretch to see that hand controlled vehicles could be completely competitive.
However, the even playing field and all of the power assists doesnt mean that it is easy. At the very top level where .001 sec. may win the trophy, the driver who is the least exhausted may prevail. This is a cerebral sport, so clear concentration is very important.
Exhausted? How can a sixty second run make you exhausted? Maybe Im a wimp, but the energy, concentration, and energy expended to put a years effort into a final run can leave me barely able to lift my arms. Forgetting the run itself, the preparation and arrival is very energy consuming. Late nights getting a Prepared or Modified car ready plus the tow vehicle and equipment can add up to minus energy. My personal rule is: It the car isnt ready and loaded by Thursday night, then Im not going.
To ease the strain, you and your car should go racing somewhere about two weeks before an important event to get your routine down pat and to break something important at a non-championship event. Then you wont have to fix it in the heat of competition, losing both energy and concentration.
If you have a very long drive, you could plan on arriving near to the site the evening before. The morning drive to the event can be short and refreshing. Even if driving a short distance, it helps to start early enough for a light breakfast and arriving an hour before registration begins to avoid a hurried preparation.
During the day you dont want all of your concentration to be on restrooms instead of racing. Eat all that you want the day before-load up, drink all that you can stand. Have a light breakfast with few fluids. especially caffinated ones. Try not to swig cokes and such during the event. This is a good time for non-sugary snacks i.e; crackers pretzels, apples, bananas, grapes, and a little Gatorade. An ice cube will relieve that thirst after a run. Youre not really that thirsty, its the adrenaline. Some supportive shoes save a lot of energy. You are on you feet for hours and in the race car for a few minutes. You can look stylish at the banquet in your pumps and tassel toes. You are really going to enjoy supper.
If your championship event is held on a typical 90 degree an 90% humidity day, the loading, unloading, tire changing, car pushing, and pylon chasing seems as bad as a decathlon. Four or five hours of standing in the hot sun is exhausting enough. I have to remind myself to sit down when I can. We Special Olympians should volunteer for one of the non- course working jobs; like timing, scoring, P.A. tech inspection, clean-up, safety, marshals, etc.
What are we Special Olympians doing to get fit?. It had better be something that we enjoy or we wont do it. Anything to tone you up and make your body better able to stand the heat and activity is fine. This can be simple stuff like Mall walking, push-ups, chins, swimming, bicycling, and winter sports.. How about something to improve your grip? Ive seen runs lost because the driver couldnt handle the switch-backs at the finish.
You are ready for the last run. The Championship beckons. Now relax, you are not tired. Your concentration is good. Let your sub-conscious drive for you. Come on brain stem, the win is yours and it can be anyone from the second paragraph.
Save one of the easy work assignments for me,
The Folly Wall
Whenever Im celebrating the rare, hard -won victory, getting full of myself, or planning the next outlandish adventure, I come back to earth by visiting the Folly Wall in the shop. There hanging on the wall are reminders that every bright idea doesnt always work and to precede with caution. Some items are literally on the wall and some only figuratively, but the intent remains true.
Most conspicuous perhaps are the melted aluminum, correctly tuned, headers for the Stinger race car. They were aluminum from about a foot from the flange through the megaphones. They look like candle wax now. The idea was to reduce the cantilevered, pendulum weight.; still a good idea. I also used aluminum to build a flowmaster type muffler for the E/M LeVair Spyder. Did you know that a muffler pulses like a beating heart and that aluminum has no modulus of elasticity? The same cracking due to flexing doomed the beautiful all aluminum DeDion rear suspension. The aluminum hub carriers on the Velociraptor formula car suffered the same fate.
I built a tuned set of 6 into one headers of the exact primary and secondary length as the race Stingers 3 into two set and tested them back to back on the track. There was no difference other than the great sound of the 6 into one set. After doing more reading and research, it was discovered that the Corvairs firing order ( same as Indy Cars) makes conventional headers 180 degree tuned, so of course there was no difference. This same firing order is why centered carburetor plenums must have a divider to be tuned.
Still on headers, there is the extremely short, well insulated set welded to tilt tubes on the 140 hp Turbo heads. They made lots of boost and lots and lots of lag.
The wall is full of turbo stuff, everything must be tried, all of the autocross info is black magic and secret. In comparison, oval racing and drag racing is a snap. Even road racing is much easier. Theres the blow-through carb set-up
with the collapsed floats. This system used all of the tricks: compressor butterfly valve, flow-back loops, pop-off whistles, staged fuel pumps, etc. the stock system works better.
The gorgeous 6 tube turbo intake resulted in the smashed pistons and split cylinder barrels. Apparently, nearly all of the fuel/air mixture picked one of the streamlined tubes to follow. Theres the waste gate made from a fuel pump and an exhaust valve. It worked great up to 12 psi boost, then the leak wasnt large enough. Theres the dial- a- boost regulator. The adjustment was just too sensitive and non linear to use on the racetrack.
Theres the 310 degree Isky cam used in the turbo: wheel spin, wait, wait, more wheel spin, but no detonation ever. Theres the turbo for the 1100 pound short wheelbase formula car: wheel spin, wait, wait, power doubling, spin out. Theres the grenaded compressor wheel resulting from a locked down waste gate. Theres the collapsed pistons from the 30 psi gauge turbo engine. It felt like 400 hp for a very short time. It seems that turbos are sort of a black magic thing which accounts for their proliferation on the folly wall. Theres the melted piston from running an autocross turbo set-up (small exhaust scroll) for a vintage road race. The waste gate was always open and exhausted on the # 5 cylinder.
Theres the upside down powerglide transaxle for mid-engined use. It actually worked with a baffled, relocated pan, check valves, and an external pump, but wasnt faster than a stick. Theres the exploded Powerglide which took out the wing, megaphone, suspension and tire when running 7000 rpm in low or reverse. Theres the toothless aftermarket reverse cut ring and pinion which lasted 10 minutes in the formula car. Yes it was properly lubricated and , no, they didnt make it good.
Theres the broken Lexan air dam. Air dams only work on lowered cars if you stay on the track. Theres the front oil cooler which wont work on a low speed autocross car. Behind the wall are the dirt compound slicks which squealed and howled and threw strips of rubber into the cockpit. Theres the super soft slicks which had all the stick and life of art gum erasers. The Mickey Thompson Competitors had the stick and life of semi trailer tires.
Also behind the wall are three broken ( three events) 1965 (light) transmissions. They worked in the V8 powered road racer but not in the light autocross formula car. Theres the rear mounted radiator for that V8 car. The air in the rear flows forward. Theres the fanless, headlight ducted, cooling system. Two 8 ducts took pressurized air to shoe like plenums over the heads. This worked great at speed and released about 20 hp. Two extra slow pace laps fried the heads. The crankshaft mounted fan gave about the same results. The electric fans were tried on the mid-engined Corvair motor. The air blows up at a greater rate then a full size stock fan (15 hp) can overcome. Have you ever seen a 15 hp electric motor?
Theres the 1 front anti-roll bar, a good race set-up but was removed after one understeering autocross. The same goes for the heavy V8 springs.
Theres the Crown rear susp. bracket which takes away all of the roll camber gain and returns great gobs of oversteer. It only works on autocrossers if the springs and bars are so stiff that there is no roll. Theres the Addco rear bar which triangulates the suspension into rigidity.
Theres the 320 degree road racing camshaft which works great from 5500 to 7500 rpm for qualifying, but get bunched in a corner in the wrong gear and no one is home. Theres the high leak lifters which trashed the valve train. The TRW V8 lifters have to be adjusted after each run and do not properly lubricate the rocker arms.
Theres the four branched center carburetor which gives nearly as much lag as a turbo. Theres the stock 140 air cleaner which was tried on 1 1/4 bored carbs. The filter is plenty large enough, the first 90 degree bend being to close to the carb top was the problem.
Theres the three button clutch which was hard to drive and ate up the flywheel. Theres the points ignition which blew the mind of the computer controlled Pro Injection system. Theres several electronic ignitions which wouldnt work under boost.
Electronics use up an inordinate amount of space on the wall. They dont belong on race cars. Look at the dual, redundant systems in Nascar. Light diode ignitions, detonation sensors-they sense any engine noise. Besides, retardation equals power loss. The Pro Injection system has failed in every possible way. I refuse to carry two of them.
The Fiat ( E/M LeVair Spyder) parts--all broken. The last remaining part was the front spindle which broke between the bearing races. I replaced the entire front suspension with a formula style suspension using Corvair hubs. The car initially oversteered wildly which meant that the Fiat stuff had never worked.
Theres all kinds of V6 Fiero hop up stuff: big injections, intakes, headers, etc. Using the drag strip for a dyno, none of it helped. The problem is the port restrictions which cannot be changed in C/SP.
Maybe some time later I can make a list of the successes-naw, probably not enough for an article.
Thats Italian (latin) for Make haste slowly. With appologies to George and Marilyn Russell of the Fort Wayne region for stealing their slogan for their racing effort. Im sure that in its original use that it meant something good, like be careful in your approach. But in the racing effort Im taking it to demonstrate the result of trying to go fast. Especially since their first effort was in a Fiat X/19, which Im sure theyll agree made haste very slowly. Their current successful effort in the RX7 hardly defines this term.
Im proposing an imformal Festina Lente award to the person or team which best exemplifies this approach; sort of like a Team Shunt award but not as serious.
The way I choose to do this is through the Vote for me method. You or someone who much admires your effort (or is amused by it) can submit letters to me to be printed. Ill then informally listen to feed back to declare the winner. Maybe all youll win is noteriety. Maybe George and Marilyn can be the judges.
I first started thinking about this somewhat seriously at the Columbus IN. BFG autocross. When someone in jest ,Im sure, told Bob Farr he was dumb. Bob was beaming with pride. I then realized why. In every TV Sit-Com, the plot is about a stupid man or husband who is tolerated or even loved by a brilliant woman and/or wife: like Home Improvement,Everybody loves Raymond, Drew Carey. Spin City, Cosby, King of Queens, etc. You get the idea .Judging by the popularity of these shows, stupidity in men must be a GOOD thing, an endearing trait. I believe Ive even overheard women in conversations beaming with pride while saying My husband is dumber than yours.
I wanted some of this action, and went around soliciting votes for dumbness, mostly from the women because they recognize dumbness in men more readily. Men seem to agree that all attempts at things deserve merit no matter how dumb they appear or what the outcome. The shame is not to try. I couldnt come close to Bobs total. I believe this is just because I didnt have time to properly plead my case .
I want to plead my case now for dumbest man in racing. Vote for me. Bob can plead his case later.
I should have had a V8. In all the early classes I raced in: FS, ESP, CP, and Emod , V8s dominated. My weapon was a less than half size engine. Sort of like taking a letter opener to a swordfight. I should have had a smaller car, especially back in the earlier days of racing a 15 ft long , 108 wheelbase Corvair in D/P vs, 1275 Spridgets , Mini Coopers, and Lotus Sevens. The Courses were 8 ft. wide in those days.
More recently, I built a 2400 # CSP Fiero in a class dominated by 1700# Hondas. I should have had a light weight car.
I built a BM car with a production car engine to race in a class dominated by Formula Atlantics driven by Bruce Domeck, Eric Pettigrew, Tom Bootz, and Jim McKamey at the time.
I built a supercharged, winged AM car to run against George Bowland, and I built an E/M car to run against Steve Tamandlis 5 liter alum. V8 fomula car/Fiero. Also I have a C/S Fiero to run against Miatas next year.
Of course just choosing to run in the Central division puts you against the most National Champions of any other division. I havent been in a class against John Ames or Jack Burns yet, but my studipidy is boundless.
One of the dumbest things is the amount of electronics that I have applied to race cars. They always failed ramdomly and at the worst possible times.
Ive heard comments that I combined the doubful assets of the worlds two most unreliable production cars : Fiat and Corvair, into one E/M car. No argument there, although 99.9% of the Fiat parts self destructed and are now gone.
However the one claim to fame which I think will put me over the top on votes is my hopeless addiction to Turbocharging. Its not like Im not well versed, Ive read all of the books and done the reasearch. Autocrossing is the only racing arena where Turbocharging has never worked. In no other automotive sport is lag such a handicap. There is reduced lag, but never NO lag. Rotaries do it best, due to the high exhaust temperature.
Think about It this way. In order to make the Turbo engine live, the compression ratio must be reduced, the cam must be mild, the exhaust must be short (no headers) and intakes long if intercooled, and the flywheel heavy. The exhaust has high back pressure. This reduces a high output 250hp naturally aspirated race prepared engine by a least 100 hp before boost ( about a car length). This is what you come out of every turn with. Then at least 100 hp is added onto the theoritical naturally aspirated engine in the middle of the turn (the additictive part), Producing either instant spin or plow. Plus you cant let off of the gas to adjust the turn attitude or you start over in building the boost. This is why the only classes dominated by turbos only have turbos in them.
OK, your turn,
Vote for me, Warren
Just Happy to be There
I remember a story told years ago about Mario Andretti. A sports caster was asking him about a teams chances in an upcoming Super Bowl Game. He looked at a picture of the team in the news paper and responded Theyre going to lose. They look just happy to be there. They lost.
I know what he was talking about. In my lengthy amatuer career, Ive become able to recognize the look of winners and losers. The winners usually have that very serious, not having fun, fire in the belly, about to have a stroke look, and the losers have that great goofy grin. Not always, but you know what I mean. And yes I have looked in a mirror lately.
Ive always known its not the destination, its the trip. But during this last three years of mostly down time due to illness, its really come home to me.
I was one of them-I had to win, and I did. I dont mean to sound as if this is a bad thing. Im just adding some perspective. I didnt go nuts. I only spent overtime money, and I only worked in the garage a maximun of 2 hrs. three times a week. I was a poor qualifier, mostly due to having no spare parts. But in the races, the red mist overtook me, and nothing but mechanical failure or running completely out of talent could stop me. I also through dumb luck, just because I liked it, had made a good car choice. I enjoyed the reputation.
An example of this: In 1978 at the last bonus National Road Race of the year to see who would go to the Run-Offs, I was dicing with a factory Jensen Healy. The winner of the dice would go to the Run-Offs. We traded leads lap after lap.
The main straight was a drag strip which passed under the spectator bridge after the finish. On the last lap,we were side to side all the way down the straight, we each looked over at the other to see who was going to brake first for the turn. The front end of neither car went down and we missed the turn and went into the run off area under the bridge. He was first back on and went to the Run-Offs.
Youve seen the same thing in Autocrosses. Certain Fiero and Porsche ( and Corvair?) drivers who werent having a good time but were winning. Im not condeming, who knows what the right choices are. Youve probably seen potentional winners at the Solo Nationals who literaly throw up or have diahrea before running.
In recent years that same dumb luck car choice has become a bad choice. I dont care, I still like it.! When youre just happy to be there, there are many other things to enjoy.
Among these things :
Engineering the car, experimental set ups
Tech talk with your peers
Camaraderie with folks with a common interest.
Support from Car Clubs and Marque groups
Teaching, being taught
Being with your extended family
Stock classes-new people
Feeling joy from others if you do well--giving joy
Receiving rides-giving rides-practicing a pitiful look to receive rides
Encouraging, being encouraged
Taking an office
Greetings at registration-meeting everyone at tech
Lying and bench racing the night before
Making excuses afterward
Designing courses, complaining about courses, helping set up and tear down
Course walking with friends, trying to find the line
Loading and unloading.
Engine sounds, tire sounds, tow vehicle sounds
Looking at interesting cars, trying to guess their secrets
Laughing, cheering, consoling
Looking for your name in the next artice-not reading anything else
WINNING-- Its still possible. But I dont have to.
I once said that I enjoyed this so much that I could come without a car and not run. Little did I know that I would have to prove it. One bittersweet moment was at the National Convention last year when I had someone else bring my car and drive it.
Im sure that Im just representing one of many untold stories out there.
Im looking forward to the work of preparing, loading and driving to the next event and wondering as I enter the paddock, what competition will be there.
Ill be the one with the goofy smile.
Just glad to be there,
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Been to the "Patio" lately?