1997 Detroit SCCA Season Opener

(As originally posted to the Talon Digest)

I went to the SCCA Solo II season opener in Detroit this weekend, and here's my report:

I arrived at the event site (behind the Ren Cen) at 0800 hrs and discovered that the parking lot we're racing on today is actually part of the old IndyCar/F1 track - the lines are still painted on the pavement. Hallowed ground! Cool. I got to park my car in one of the old F1 grid spots.

No problems getting registered and teched. (hell, the car is 3 weeks old ~ it had better pass tech) The track they set up is long and fast, with lots of late-apex corners. The Firebirds/Camaros will have a good day. Me? This is my first time racing in about 5 years, and my previous car was a 77 T/A 6.6l, so I have no idea how to race this car.

I have a look around at my competition. My class (G stock) has lots of Ford Probes in it - most of them with Comp T/A R1 tires. Hmmm. My Goodyear RS-A's are rocks by comparison. There's another Talon, a 96 TSi AWD, on Potenzas, another box-stocker like me. I introduce myself, ask him if he's going to the Shootout. He's not - working.

First heat runs. Times range from 42 seconds to about 54. Average seems to be about 48 from the E-Stocks (Neons, mostly)

My heat's up. First runs is a slow 52.4. Arrrgh! I suck. Most of my problems are driver related. The car will go faster than I'm pushing it.

Next run is a 50.2. Better, but still too slow. Pull some pressure out of the tires to see if it helps hook up. Next run is a 49.1. Better, but still too slow. Last run is a 48.1. Well, I haven't made a complete ass of myself at least.

The other Talon does a string of 45 second runs - so I have to find 3 seconds in my driving technique.

Final results: 13th place on a field of 23 cars. It's a start.

Some points I picked up:

  1. Gotta keep the turbo spooled up. There was a really tight, slow corner followed by a fast straight that my exits sucked on because I kept bogging because I was in 2cd gear on exit.
  2. Downshifting and keeping the RPM's up would have made a drastic difference - probably at least a second there, and another on the exit of another slow corner. Driving a small turbo ain't like driving my big motor T/A.
  3. Being King of the Late Brakers isn't fast ~ my times didn't reflect my level of "heroism". A little slower on corner entry probably would have translated into much less push. Another second in there, I think.
  4. Another observation: most of the cars running 45 seconds had R1 tires. That other Talon showed that driver ability could create the same level of performance, but the sticky tires were probably a little more forgiving of mistakes.

Coming back through customs, the agent makes a big deal over the "55GS" on the side quarter windows. "What's that?" "I was just in a car race." "This is a race car?!!" Heh, it is now.

Can't wait for the next event.