1999 Corvette Club of Michigan Event 1

(As originally posted to the Talon Digest)

Sunday morning, and it's time to go racing. The event, the second attempt (the first was rained out, weenies) at the first Corvette Club of Michigan autocross of the year.

The lot is huge, slick asphalt. The weather is perfect. And the course is a typical Corvette club course - long straights with occasional offsets joined by pointy and tight 180 degree turns.

The surface looks similar to the lot outside of the Palace of Auburn Hills, and that surface is really slick. Furthermore, after cars have been running on it for a while, it builds up a thin layer of sand-like marbles. Marbles so slippery that I once slipped and near fell on my ass while walking through them. Once those marbles build up, driving off-line is the Kiss of Death, and the line that everybody else drives may not be the right one.

So I decide to go out early. Once of the nice things about local non-SCCA events, you get to run whenever you want to, and you can hot-lap all 4 runs if you choose. Warm tires is happy tires!

I watch a bunch of Corvettes run, and they are turning times in the 52-50 second range, and then out I go.

The first run is done at about 80%, I'm more interested in getting a feel for the course and finding shift points than going fast. I turn a 49.1 and collect a cone doing it.

Run #2 on warm tires should be faster, but I turn in on a particularly tight 180 way early, and have to fight to keep from running over the exit cone - it's a 49.1 too.

Run #3 is blistering fast; I nail the tight turn near perfectly, and can carry way more speed - it's a 47.8.

Last run, time for an all-out banzai charge, and I try holding full throttle through the first kink. It almost holds, I get a bit of a drift going, but the rears get into the marbles and the car snaps loose. Spin city! I manage to keep from stalling the engine and finish the run in short order - with a 52.

That 47.8 sits as FTD for nearly 3 hours, until the Mod cars come out and destroy it, but I get three hours of feeling very smug as all the Corvettes turn nothing faster than a 48.

By the end of the day, a couple of the better 'Vettes have run as low as the 46s, but I'm still in pretty exclusive territory. I'll need to see the final results to be sure, but I may well have PAX FTD.

When I'm finished my runs, I'm in such a hurry to try and get tire temps that I, unthinking, shut down the car hot. When I finish taking the temps, I realize that the car is probably pretty hot - so I restart it to cool it down - and a big white thing leaps out of the engine compartment. Further investigation reveals that the heat coming off the O2 housing, no longer covered by a heat shield, softened one of the plastic fan blades to the point that when I restarted the car, a big chunk of it flew off. Doh!

No other damage was done, but I'm putting that heat shield back on. And buying a new A/C fan. That'll teach me to shut down a hot engine.

As for my decision to run early, turns out that the surface didn't break up and "marble". Instead, it got clean, hot, and sticky. Doh! Well, I'll know for the next time we run here.

Tire wear on the BFG g-force tires looks fine, 20 runs on the tires and there's still lots of life left.

Next weekend is the Detroit SCCA Season Opener, and then the following weekend is the Peru Pro. Yeehah, race season is on!