1997 Detroit SCCA Firecracker Solo

(As originally posted to the Talon Digest)

This weekend was the Detroit Region SCCA "Firecracker" Solo II event, at the Selfridge Air National Guard base just northeast of Detroit.

This was actually a 2.5 day event, as a 'Solo school" was held on the site on Friday night and all day Sat. with the actual race being held on Sunday.

Always on a quest for more seat time, I attended both the "school" and the race.

Friday night was supposed to have been a classroom session, but it turned into more of a Q&A session on what Solo was, and what to bring with you. There were a number of "ringers" amongst the students, and this was all info we were familiar with, so we didn't get a whole lot out of the evening, although a video was shown that did a good job of describing the effects of tire pressure, and slalom techniques.

Saturday was a little better. We started off with skidpad work, then progressed to ovals, and from there to a short solo course.

The day was aimed primarily at newcomers, but there were still lessons to be learned. With nothing on the line, I was able to play around a little bit more - and actually managed to spin my Talon at the end of a long and fast slalom section. Yeehah!

The day served up 2 important lessons. The first, was that I had been running too little tire pressure. By increasing pressure to 48 front and 45 rear, I was able to reduce the push in the car, and go a whole lot faster. The higher pressure also had the effect of making the line between "I've got it" and "It's got me" a whole lot narrower - you got a lot less warning before the tires broke loose. The upside was that now I was getting grip where before the tires would have been sliding, so the reduced warning of impending doom was worth the extra speed.

The second was the _very_ interesting wear pattern the skidpad inflicted on my RS-A's. (Skidpads are _hard_ on tires) The outer shoulder of the fronts were heavily worn, the outside edge of the next inner treadblocks were heavily beveled as well. The next treadblock had a smaller bevel, the next was lightly beveled, and the last was untouched. What's more, the little "feelers" from the moulding process were all intact on the inside of the tire.

Aha! We have a camber problem! Anybody know how to adjust the front camber on a 97 Talon? I need more negative!

Sunday started out full of promise and hope, as the R1-shod 96 Talon of Mike and Kevin Royce failed to show, and the R1 equipped Probe who normally grabbed third was gone too. Unfortunately, 4 other R1 cars showed up to take their place, and me on my greaseball street tires was looking at fifth right from the get-go.

The course was long, and had more slalom sections than I have ever seen in my life - it was "transient response day" I guess - that made each run a busy time. The SS class looked like a Vegas showline, with all the ass wiggling that was going on. :)

Yours truly wound up... 5th, as predicted. The good news was that I wore the interval between myself and the race tire guys down to .553 seconds from the usual 2 or 3, while maintaining a .64 second lead over the next fastest street tire guy (A 94 TSi on GT +4's) The bad news is despite driving my ass off, running the car at the limit about 80% of the time, I still can't catch the guys running at 50% of their race tires.

Don't bring a knife to a gun fight.

Anybody want to sponsor a race car? Just cost ya a set of 8 X 17, 5 X 4.5, 45mm offset wheels and a set of BF Goodrich R1's...