May 10 1998: Detroit SCCA Season Opener
Well, I suppose after 40k km and about 90-odd 6500 RPM sidestep launches, it was bound to happen. I roasted my clutch.
Right before the Season Opener.
As it would slip at full throttle, it was obvious I wasn't going to race it, so I had to go begging for a ride - can't afford to give up series points to my rivals, if I want that regional championship.
Luckily, Glen he-whose-last-name-is-not-in-front-of -me-and ~hard-to-spell-so-I-won't-publicly-mangle-it (aka Dasher on IRC) stepped up, and offered me the use of his 1G. My tires, his car.
This was a seriously cool thing to to.
This proved to be an interesting study in contrasts, as I had never raced a 1G before.
Glen's car is not, strictly speaking, GS legal. He has a manual boost controller, a rear strut brace, a full turbo-back exhaust, and a cut air can. In keeping with the spirit of the rules, we dialed back the boost, and unhooked the rear strut bar. As for the rest... *shrug* well, maybe it would make up for the 4 leaky shocks and the tiny brakes.
My first tests before the race were a bit of a surprise. After a period of lag that could be measured with a calender, it felt like the Hand of God reached down and slapped the car in the a$$. Wow. The boost in a 2G does not hit that hard at all - it's more of a constant rush. This was almost a parody of the Knight Rider 'Turbo Boost" button. Mat the gas, wait for a 3 count, and your eyeballs bounce off the back of your skull.
Glen went along with me for my first run - his first autoX ever, and his first taste of race tires too. He got out with a big-ass grin on his face, the typical response to a first encounter with race tire grip levels. He was a happy camper.
I, however, was anything but. A 2G is a tossable car, a car that responds well to being taken by the scruff of the neck and shaken a little. The 1G, though, is like driving a 1975 Chevelle Malibu. (I know, I owned one)
The power steering on a 1G, to be blunt, sucks dead gophers through garden hose. Not only does the steering effort go through the roof at the middle of the rev range, it seems that wheel travel increases with engine speed as well. A slalom in a 2G is a series of quick wrist flicks. I can normally accelerate through a slalom in my car. In this car, a slalom was a series of huge hand-over-hand wheel movements that got progressively worse as speed increased. The faster you went, the less it wanted to turn! The same with offset gates, instead of the little flick, the car needed a big honkin' crank on the wheel, and I swear up and down that there was a definite time lag between a steering input and the car responding (although this may have been the shocks).
And the turbo lag! A couple of times, coming out of a turn, I wanted to poke the car with a sharp stick to see if it was still awake.
(I know, left foot brake. Well, I'm going to have to learn this, I guess. In a 2G, it's not needed. In a 1G, it appears to be an outright necessity)
On the good side, though, the car had excellent brake pedal modulation, far better than my mushy, sticky brakes. Glen thinks this might be his brake pads, so I'm going to have to try them out.
At the end of the day, I had hit more cones than I ever had in my life, and was so frustrated from fighting the car that I was ready to bite off a fender and spit out nails. I took 6th, 2 seconds off the lead. Dammit.
Glen, on the other had, had a ball, and he did pretty well too. He finished 7th, 0.7 seconds back of me.
So, the bottom line is this: All those 1G bigots out there like to call down the 2G for the small turbo, the restrictive head, and the small intake manifold. Well, that which makes for low top end in a drag race makes for near-instant throttle response and next to no lag in a real race, you know, the kind where you use the steering wheel. Add in the far superior steering control, and the better suspension, and you get a much, much better car. For sure, the 2G owner has to spend a fair amount of money to equal the straight-line performance of a 1G with a couple of hundred bucks in mods, but the 1G owner has to spend _serious_ cash to get handling up to stock 2G levels.
Oh, and for the record, I did a 14.8 in my fresh off the showroom floor 2G at the shootout last year, and a couple of months later, did a 14.5 with nothing more than a boost gauge, so it's not like 2Gs are complete dogs. What they lack in top end, they make up in bottom end.
So, anyway, my clutch is now fixed, and I'm happy again. For all my calling his car down, it was great of Glen to lend me his car for the day, and I'm glad he had fun. I'm also glad to have had the chance to compare 1G and 2G cars firsthand in a race environment, and I made enough points to keep me in the hunt for the championship.
Still, there's no place like home.