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My 1st National Tour

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  • My 1st National Tour

    Getting up at 3:15am is not much of a torture to me. We've been doing it all the time
    going down to PRW track lapping days. I took Thursday afternoon off for any pre-trip
    preparation but somehow I still had to stay up late. I found out the clunking noise that
    had been going on for the last few events were not from my brakes (usual after PRW
    events). Instead, it's from the loose front subframe brace. After tightening up the
    brace, I found out the front alignment was off because of the previously loosened brace.
    Makes me wonder how much movement can the subframe be. After a quick fix on the
    alignment, we headed out for some testing after dinner. The car didn't feel the same any
    more but it was getting late and I still didn't make the new magnetics for the class
    name. I was glad that I managed to get 2 hours of sleep.

    Convoying down I-5 was quite uneventful except when I missed the expressway near Seattle.
    I told the others thru' the radio that I'll try to keep up as I was losing sight of them.
    After the end of the expressway, we were matching mile-posts to see where is who. Turned
    out I was about 2 miles ahead of the rest. Makes me wonder if the expressway was any

    Rewinding six and a half years, I remember Terence and I went down to Bremerton Raceway
    the first time for a practice autocross. At that time I had built my miata suspension but
    had never gotten a chance to ever autocross it. I needed practice badly and decided to
    take the practice at Bremerton, the first event (local or not) of that year. It was
    rainning dogs and cats all day long and I just couldn't get the car and/or driving right.
    Fast-forwarding 6.5 years, I had some hard-to-explain feelings when I started walking the
    course Friday evening. It was the same scenary with the active runway over the fence on
    the far end just like 6.5 years ago. It's the same old "worry" of how the same old car
    would perform with pretty much the same old suspension (but with much different setup and
    more experience now). Six and a half years ago I was worrying because the suspension was
    not setup right with the lack of testing while on Friday evening OTOH I was worrying
    because the car didn't handle well at the practice earlier that day.

    Usually before big events, I had to rush preparation on the car. This time even though I
    knew my car was still on the oversteer side after the Velocity test-and-tune, I decided
    to go with whatever I have. My plans of revising the whole suspension just won't fit into
    the time frame. I thought that with some driving tweaks, the quick fix on the setup from
    the Velocity test-and-tune should be good enough. Unfortunately with the off-alignment
    due to the loosened subframe brace, I found Friday testing at Bremerton a write-off. The
    car was hard to drive fast. I knew it's not because of the different pavement. I just
    couldn't communicate with the car well. Adding to the problem was that on one run, I
    managed to mistakenly hit my fuel mixture trim knob down to -35% when I downshifted to
    1st. It was like 4th gear at WOT and I feared that I could hurt my engine badly with such
    a lean-out.

    After the practice, I thought about swapping the front and rear tires because my rear
    tires had already worn out more on my oversteering car and I wanted better tires on the
    back to keep the back end planted. After some discussion with Terence and advise from
    Marc, I decided to not swap the tires and just fiddled with pressure. There was something
    more that I needed to focus on -- the course. We managed to walk quite a few times which
    I think was very useful because back in the hotel afterwards I was able to, have my
    course map on hand, recall exactly what I saw on each part of the course and knew how I
    should attack each key part.

    First run on saturday morning was a write-off. I drove like I do at Boundary Bay where I
    keep a lot of speed going into the 180 on the far end. Didn't realize the 180 at
    Bremerton is downhill which means off-camber. I was way wide and had to go on the outside
    of the 180. After getting all the pieces of info I needed together, I had nothing to
    worry about on my 2nd run and ran all out and turned and amazing time that even myself
    could not believe, so much so that I could not reproduce on my 3rd run and slowed down by
    a second. Due to some incorrect math, the annoucer and my biggest competitor thought he
    got .2s ahead of me on the 3rd run, but they did not realize my 2nd run was .8s ahead!
    Since we ran the 1st heat in the morning, I felt good almost the whole day saturday for
    the .8s ahead while keeping in mind anything could happen on sunday. I knew my biggest
    problem was consistency because of the oversteer behavior of the car. I just hoped that I
    could be consistent on Sunday.

    Walking the "reverse" course saturday night after the banquet, we realized it was widen
    up on many places which was good for high-hp cars. That was not a good news because I ran
    the least hp car in the class. The longest stretch came out of the tight right-hand 180
    (my car doesn't turn right well) and went uphill. Together with all the power mods for
    track lapping days, my engine was out of rev range out of the 180 and couldn't build up
    speed thru' the stretch. I felt bad that I told people who ran after my heat that the
    stretch was no way close to rev-limiter while I saw everybody hitting rev-limiter later
    on. Adding to the damp and cold morning, my 1st run was too conservative and turned out
    too slow. My 2nd run was still conservative but hit a cone that I could have missed
    easily without losing any time. It's one of those inside cones one would hit when going
    too slow.

    I was nervous on the grid for my 3rd run. I remembered what Joe said on the BC
    Championship last year. I wanted to go all out on the last run, but OTOH I just couldn't
    afford to lose the race. As long as I could get a clean decent run, .892s was a big gap
    to catch up for Dieter. Contingency money from Mazda and Kumho was tempting, winning in
    the FIRST National tour was even more tempting and could only be achieved ONCE EVER. Gary
    working at grid came over and told me, "Don't think about it. Just go!" I kind of felt
    bad that I eventually decided to slow down and catch a clean run. I never felt that
    chicken out diving into corners before. It was not a good feeling. It turned out that I
    was way conservative and almost slowed down by a second! I felt bad for those who were
    there to expect me put on a show. I know how you feel, but if you're in my shoes, maybe
    you'll do the same. Going back to the impound after our runs, none of us remembered what
    our times were on saturday and seemed like none of us could do simple arithmetics any
    more due to the adrenalin rush. Until the final results were posted, we didn't realize my
    margin of victory was a mere 5/1000 of a second! If we crossed the start at 20km/h,
    that's about the size of a loonie difference!

    So Hyedie, Andre and everybody else, you guys should all feel proud of yourselves because
    you've got the chance to go all out, give all it takes on the course and not worry about
    losing anything. So next year... Sure, I'll definitely go back next year. I'll make sure
    I don't run into the same situation this year. I would like to not run in heat 1 as the times in the morning with cold and damp condition can't really compare to the afternoon with dry and warm condition. I hope we'll have an even bigger group
    going down there next year to have them acknowledge us even more. It's definitely worth
    the trip whether you win or not. It's a great experience. This is the chance to meet the people you've always chatted with on your favorite forums.

  • #2
    Shortly after the win!

    Picking up his wood!


    • #3
      Thanks Marc for your pictures. What a descriptive name for the 1st pic! I think "leapingFrog" would be more descriptive... :P


      • #4
        Here is the PAX'ed times from the Bremerton National Tour if you're interested...