June 7th, 2006:
Race drama. WRX gets its summer shoes and more boost.

Last weekend was my seconds race at WHRRI. Saturday morning qualifying was still damp from the previous night’s rain, and a good bit of mud was on the track (where there was previously only dust). I managed to drop a wheel into a mud pit and spin in turn 6 (archer’s corner). Not a big deal.

Then, the race started. It looked like we would miss the rain. However, as the green flagged was waived (I assume… since I couldn’t see a thing), the sky opened. I fumbled for the wiper switch (which I’ve never used before) and punched the gas. Luckily, the wipers were on in time for turn one. One the fourth lap, I spun in turn 5 (big bend) and went into the tire wall. That sucked. The car was driveable, but the noises I heard during impact were a good indication of the hammer-and-board work to be done that evening.

A few laps later, I spun in the swamp turn (#8), but was able to collect things and keep going. Another few laps and the track seemed to dry a little. I pushed a little more, and spun in turn 8 again. This time, I got hung up on the tall “candycane” curbing on the inside of the turn. The rear of my car was hanging out into the track on a very blind corner. Since I was unable to back onto the track, I tried to pull forward out of the way. That worked, but I was now nose-down into a mud hole.

Once the race ended, they sent out a wrecker to pull me out of the hole. The muffler came out of the hangers and I had to hammer out some crunched body work, but once done, it was hard to tell that anything happened. Chris (car wizard and bass player extraordinaire) helped me adjust my toe-out and camber. A little soap and water, and I was ready for the next day.

During emergency practice, Chris showed me a new line through swamp as well as where I should be braking. During the first race, it helped, as I got down to 24.6 seconds. The feature race was a bit scary, on the second lap one of the guys I went to driver’s school with rolled his car in paddock turn and got stuck upside down on the wall. I was 2 cars behind him when it happened. He was o.k., but the car will need a lot of work to get back on the track. While the wreck was cleared off, we were pulled into pit lane. When we went back out, I was able to catch and pass a Spec Miata (rookie) and hold him off for several laps. Then something went wrong, my car started to push like a pig (understeer), and I lost all confidence in cornering. I later discovered that I broke the rear swaybar mount (pretty common). I’ve already ordered a more robust version of the part and hope to have everything set in time for the next race.

The weather is better, so it’s time to put my summer wheels and tires on my daily driver. It makes a huge difference in the looks and grip of the car. I also put my electronic boost controller back in. It’s nice to have real boost under 4,000 rpm again. Whoo-ahh!

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