With SCCA Rallycross Nationals in Colorado Springs, CO coming up in just a couple weeks, I am reminded of the differences between Solo and Rallycross driving, and have begun preparing myself mentally for the switch. For SCCA Solo I have used a STU-prepped 2006 STI. Plenty of power, grippy tires (now on shaved Dunlop Direzza Star-Specs), and stiff suspension the idea in the drivers mind is to be precise, and attack each element individually, yet constantly scanning and looking ahead, trusting the car to complete the element. However, SCCA Rallycross is a whole different beast.
With Rallycross, I am switching to a FWD, low-power 1992 Nissan Sentra SE-R, on Silverstone rally tires. First, every corner is just a ‘fraction’ of an element, and Rallycross requires you to string them together. Looking ahead is just as essential, if not more, although the elements tend to be less intense and most-often naturally flow into each-other. Weight transfer into corners is key, as the grip will not be present and the car’s motion will propagate from one turn into the next. I’m hoping that I can effectively make the switch between the styles, as ProSolo and Solo Nationals are two weeks following, and the goal is to do my best in all of them.
Wish me luck as I attempt to trophy in all three!
This weekend I encountered competition that was proud of not knowing their car setup. “I just drive it, I don’t know anything about the car…” It reiterates the fact that too many women just allow their men to set up the car, without knowing what works for them. How do we distinguish ourselves as female drivers from the rest of the crowd? Simple. Understand and setup your own car for your driving style with expert help from folks like tarsust. In order to do that, you have to understand the car and be able to give feedback. Drivers who can’t give feedback can’t setup their car, period. And when you can’t setup your car, you begin to lose competitive advantage.
Knowing your car helps establish consistency. For example, my run times in comparison to hers were very consistent and always improving. I do not make large swings in times, I am fast from the first run. Same goes for other female drivers at the top of their game, like Sue Eckles of the Nebraska Region. Knowing your car’s setup and seeing the line without additional assistant from your ‘husband’ is what distinguishes great female drivers from just good drivers. And great is where we all should want to be.
The Texas National Tour event for 2010 was the first real ‘travel’ event. I’ve never traveled farther than 5 hours for a solo event, being fortunate enough to have the 2009 and 2010 nationals in our own backyard (Lincoln is only an hour away). However, there isn’t enough seat-time doing just local events.
I planned on attending, alone if I had to, just to have a chance at a national-level course first thing in the year. Luckily I had a partner willing to travel with me, even if it was only to take photos. So there we were, packing up the STI. 4 wheels in the backseat, tools and jack in the trunk, along with all of our clothes for 4 days, and a Diff for delivery (see the 2010 grassroots motorsports build from Vorshlag). New shocks required adjusting on the road for optimum feel, although it was still bone-crushing. I now understand why people trailer their cars.
It felt weird being the only ones from our Region, but we were still among family. Doing solo even for a few years I’ve gotten to know friends that are just as competitive and passionate about the sport as I am, and always show up.
I’ll do it again in a heartbeat. It was a fun trip. And having a gold medal doesn’t hurt either. 🙂
There really is nothing like sliding sideways in a controlled environment, with clouds of snow billowing past your rear window. The rallycross crowd truly enjoys driving off road, especially in bad weather. The group was larger than our average attendance for all of 2009. The winds were fierce at times, but occasionally the sun would come out.
My ninja photographer was present, covered up but not exactly blending in with the surroundings (dressed in black in a white-out environment). I had a co-driver, who proved to be exceptionally good his first time out. I also took out a new vehicle for the first time. The 98 Legacy had her first snow-cross outing. (I say first snowcross outing, because I know she’s rallycrossed before, at least one time with a previous owner.)
The ice proved a formidable foe to our all-season tires. Patience was needed around corners, making sure that at least one tire was on the powdery snow to the inside of the turn before getting on the throttle. Lessons from Team O’neil Rally School were used in full-force. Left-foot braking was a necessity!
If you have never tried rallycross before, I urge you to come out and at least watch. Check your local region SCCA web page for local events, or the national site for regional/national info. For me personally, it was one of the best Valentine’s days I’ve ever had.
For autocrossers living north of 40 degrees, winter can be an excruciating time. The season has ended, a new one doesn’t start until mother nature decides. We’re stuck with our cars in the garage and our tires in the basement. (You know, because our garages are never insulated as well as we wish they were.) So how is it possible to stay in top-autox shape with snow on the ground? Here are a few ideas that are helping us through the dark months.
1. Invest in a good game console, wheel, pedals, and that HD LCD TV you’ve been dreaming about for a while now. I highly recommend the XBOX 360 with Forza 3. This year, we purchased a gaming seat from playseats.com to suppliment this experience. It was well worth the investment. Practice daily to keep your eye-hand coordination in tip-top shape.
2. Make a ‘wish list’ of items to get for the car. If you are doing a new build for a new class, this is essential. Start getting parts now for fast fitting, in case you need to make adjustments. Its better to make those adjustments early in the season instead of the week of nationals. Figure out your budget and race schedule.
3. Focus on the fitness of the driver. Are you in the best shape you can be? Could you lose a few pounds? Focus on stamina and dropping weight safely. Remember, weight off of you is also weight off the car.
While we may not be able to drive every weekend, we can still prepare for the upcoming season, even with snow on the ground!