After three years of track driving, including the Cannonball One Lap, HPDE, Time Attacks, NASA competition license, and instructors license, I decided to try out a SCCA solo event in my ever-reliable WRX wagon.
My first ever Autocross. It was held in my "backyard" at Taos Ski Valley's parking lot. Not your typical flat expanse of pavement, with a cone course laid out, as the lot(s) up there consist of long hilly, narrow stretches of tarmac with lots of loose surface (yes, gravel :eek
I drew a work assignment for the first part of Sat, which was great so I could see how things were done, except that from my spot on course (like most spots) I couldn't see the start, finish or crossover points. When my group got a chance to drive, we were given 5 runs through the course, which was being covered in as little as 47 seconds (by some pretty serious machines). My first couple clean runs were around a minute, which I worked down to 58 sec.
I came away with a whole new respect for the drivers that were able to go out and run fast right away. I was looking way too far ahead and consequently either scoring DNF's for missing gates or running slow. I definitely lacked the skills
On Sunday, I got to run early and we approached the course backwards from the previous day, which was more down hill than up, with a really tight "Chicago box" right after a crest covered with gravel. Sundays course was opened up a bit with the box being renamed the "Vodka box", and the uphill nature providing more grip. I learned a bit from my previous day of flailing, and managed to start where I left off on times. I went from 58.2 to 54.3 in my five runs, one DNF, four clean runs (no cones).
Not a horrible showing, but nothing to be smug about either. I enjoyed the weekend, met some nice folks, saw some cool cars, and witnessed some impressive driving. I would have to say though, that the weekend seemed a little dull compared to the 200+ miles I drive on track during a NASA weekend, sometimes in tight traffic. The social atmosphere of the track is a little warmer too.
It really is a different skill set used to negotiate an AutoX course at speed though, with no time to ever settle the suspension, or enough runs to feel like you've learned your way around. I doubt I'll invest any more weekends in working on those skills for myself anytime soon, with my race car returning to duty in less than two weeks (WOO HOO !!) but may try my hand at another event sometime. I have much admiration for you drivers out there that are good at this cone dodging hobby
Pic below of my 944spec racer ('87 Porsche 924S)