It’s 5 AM on a Friday and I’m crawling out of bed. There are very few reasons I will crawl out of bed at 5 AM. One is fishing. Two is some sort of trip. Three is racing.
I took Friday off because I wasn’t sure about how tech would treat my car. My fan wiring is ghetto, but it works. I’ve properly lodged the thermostat probe into the radiator and now that works too.
It’s almost a 6 hour drive from my house to Gainesville, where I have lodging with a friend. I arrive at 11:30, and take most of the crap out of my car. After lunch, I stupidly think that tech inspection starts at 3:30 (actually 5:30). At least I know where the school is now.
Tech inspection goes well, except a lug nut has disappeared in the nearly 400 miles between Gainesville and Miami, and I’m told I need to remove the rest of the junk from my car. I agree, explaining that it will be removed by tomorrow, and I want the spare between here and my lodging, just in case. From the little of the course I can see, it looks amazing. The long straight and the barrel slalom have my mouth watering. It looks like everyone will see some actual speed, including myself. Three weeks ago I was bummed that I had to buy new tires, but now I’m glad I have them, and actually chose them based on the tread pattern. I head back to my friend’s but stop by Advance Auto and pick up a lug nut first.
It’s Saturday. I’m up at 7 and out the door at 7:40 because inspection ends at 8:30. I make it with 15 minutes before tech ends. The drivers meeting is the usual spiel, be safe, watch a couple of spots, keep hydrated. The high was 100F or 38C. Since the 240SX is still my daily driver, I decide to not push hard, and just figure out how the car works on a more mixed course, which includes a kart track.
I’m car 2. I was the second person to register for the event. I have an older FWD Impreza in front of me, and that’s fine.
The start is a simple right turn into a somewhat tight, but not tight enough to handbrake left. There is a big of a zigzag and then a series of straights and some minor turns that force slowdown on relatively soft dirt. I got the car up to about 50 on the longest of this section. Then make a hard U left on some very, very soft sand/dirt and onto what is now a worn down airstrip, through a fast, expanding oil barrel slalom, and into a massive straight that the turbo AWDs probably got up to 80 mph at the end of. At the end of the straight is a wide U sweeper, right back to near the start, and barrels connected with tape mark the edge off. Another straight and then another series of barrel guided dodges and into a very tight left in soft dirt, but not as soft as the transition onto the runway. This opens up into an awesome series of hairpin and sweepers, probably 10 hairpins in all. The course is adaptable, with hairpins being edited out later and bus-stops instead.
Run 1: figuring out how my car behaves. Too much traction on the hairpins, entering them wrong and loosing buckets of time. Handbrake isn’t taped down nor is it tight enough. Bugger.
My Time : 7:37 ?
Top time: 6:30 ?
Clean up run 1’s mistakes well. Drop over 20 seconds, still loosing time in the hairpins.
Taped up and tightened handbrake is a huge improvement.
My time: 7:16?
Run 3: Shortened course, with less hairpins and more bus stops. Still not getting all the hairpins right.
My Time: 6:50?
Top Time: 5:58!
Run 4: Course 3 in reverse. Get most of the hairpins right, except for one which I overcook and have to back out. Barrel slalom tightens instead of expands, and I put the car into a sideways slide to stop instead of smacking something and going off course. My Time: 6:56 ?
Top time ?
Run5: felt glorious. All the hairpins are back in. I get every single one perfectly, but still have trouble on the exits due to my lack of rear traction. Kept everything clean.
My Time: 7:10
Top time ?
I never really pushed until the 2 last runs, because the entire time I remember that I have to drive this same car to work on Monday. I’m still having a blast.
It was $75 to enter, free lodging. Consumed $20 at the concessions building with water, food and Gatorade. Burned about $150 in gasoline. It was worth every fucking cent.
I can’t wait till the next one in October.