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piknockout's STU Auto-x Build Sponsored by Agile Auto: 8/23 Update - WDCR #7
piknockout's STU Auto-x Build Sponsored by Agile Auto: 8/23 Update - WDCR #7
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Old 10-05-09, 10:12 AM   #81
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Default Re: piknockout's STU Autocross Build - 2006 STi sponsored by Agile Auto (8/24 Update)

2009 SCCA Solo Nationals in Lincoln, NE

Results: SCCA - Results

Day 1 Video (West Course): 2009 Solo Nationals West Course Day 1 in STU Video by Luster - MySpace Video

Day 2 Video (East Course): 2009 Solo Nationals East Course Day 2 in STU Video by Luster - MySpace Video

I'm a little late on this writeup, but here it is!

This was my first trip to the big show. I've contemplated going the last couple of years, but having the wrong car and having the feeling that I wasn't ready to compete kind of held me back. But now with the STi and some encouraging results throughout the year, I felt I was ready to take on the challenge. Running against some top guys locally (Corey, Cy, Jake, Neary) provides a good comparison and also some great competition.

The Drive

Yeah, this was the sucky part of the week. I was by myself and driving the STi out, all packed up with wheels, tools, canopy, etc., and since I was by myself, I decided to split the trip up into two days. My family lives in KY, so I drove a little out of my way (an hour each way) so that I could have a free place to stay, as well as visit with them for a little bit. Adding to the trip was the fact that the night before I was to leave, we went to Atlantic City, NJ (2 hours away) to see Dane Cook. So on Saturday morning around 7am we left AC, got home in MD and started packing (really pushed it off until the last minute) and left around 12:30pm, getting to Louisville around 9:30pm or so. Woke up at 4:30am on Sunday morning after about 5 hours of sleep and managed to roll into the Lincoln Air Park just as Ian Baker was getting ready to line up against Sam Strano for the final round of the Pro Solo Super Challenge. Man was that an exhausting trip.

Practice Course

I signed up to do the Evo Practice Course on Monday, which turned out to be a great deal...$40 and I managed to sneak in 7 runs, with some great critique from Salerno, K. Coleman, McCance, and a few other hot shoes. But looking back on everything, I should have signed up on Tuesday instead of Monday as I still hadn't fully unpacked, prepped the car, so I spent Monday morning getting registered, unpacked, prepped, teched, and barely made it in time for the practice course.

Being that I've never run the car on concrete, I knew I was going to need to make some changes to the car setup. I haven't touched the car setup since about the 3rd event and it's felt really good pretty much everywhere. But after talking to some of the STU guys that ran in the Pro, loosening up the rear of the car was going to be a requirement, so I started off the practice session increasing the RSB stiffness from full soft to the middle setting.

After the first run, I knew it was going to need more rotation. Got out of line and changed it to full stiff...in only 6 minutes. After a run or two, still not enough. So I increased the rear rebound by 4 clicks, and finally it started to feel pretty decent. But with the practice course being a bit tighter than the Nationals courses, I decided to soften the rear shocks a bit before competition.

Tuesday/Wednesday

With STU running on Thursday/Friday, I had these two days to kind of acclimate myself to the "Nationals Experience". I mostly spent that time walking the courses as much as possible (too much after looking back on it - one of the lessons I learned), watching some great classes run, helping out local guys while they competed, and generall just hanging out and relaxing. The only relaxing I didn't do was when I was working the courses for my work assignment. Apparently they had too many workers for Thu/Fri and needed to move some of those guys to Tue/Wed...I gladly volunteered! Gave me a chance to check out the course at a closer view. With that out of the way, I could just concentrate on driving on Thu/Fri.

Day 1 Competition, West Course (Thursday)

Cliffnotes:

Run 1: 61.656 including on the back stretch the rear end stepping out on me, recovering, realizing I needed to shift to 3rd, by the time I got around to it...too late, downshift to 4th on accident, then downshift back to 2nd. Argh.

Run 2: 61.886 Just drove like a really scared timid wuss.

Run 3: 61.536 trying to push a little harder in spots, going in faster but turning in later and being late on everything.

Essentially, I think I overwalked the course and also let the importance of the event really get in my head. I drove so slow, Sam Strano commented to me that it looked like I was out for a Sunday drive. Ouch.
After my recent string of coning runs, I wanted to make sure that I didn't cone out, and in the process drove about 9"-12" too far off the cones and didn't drive aggressive enough. When I got to the hotel to watch the video of my runs, I was just disgusted. I wasted the day. And to add to it, I had video on this particular tape of some DC Pro runs...a complete night and day difference in driving styles. You would never know it was the same driver.

After Day 1 I was sitting in 25th of 46 drivers, about 2 seconds out of 1st and only 0.9s out of the last trophy position (13th). Meanwhile, the local competition were all sitting in the trophies. I had some work to do, but the trophies weren't completely out of reach with a good Day 2 showing.

Day 2 Competition, East Course (Friday)

Cliffnotes:

Run 1: 62.013 which was the 11th best time for all first runs on the East Course, perhaps I'm getting back to form? Time to push harder and see what happens.

Run 2: 62.312 tried driving harder, pushed too far off line in spots.

Run 3: 63.035 pushed too hard and got too far offline in spots, screwed the finish.

After watching my runs on Day 1, I knew I had to get out of that "first time at Nationals" mental state. I kind of did, but not completely. First run of the day was pretty decent, the 11th fastest time for first runs, which put me in 17th at the time. But then everyone else started going faster and I couldn't improve on my first run. This was a very sweeper intensive course and it wasn't until after I watched my Day 2 runs that I realized how much understeer the car had. I was so afraid of looping it and wasting a run that I softened the rear rebound a couple of clicks. In hindsight, especially after getting a decent first run, I should have been more aggressive with the settings and gone for it.

But the good news is that I did improve a couple of places to 23rd or 46, just on the good side of midpack. I'm not exactly happy with the finish, but it could have been a lot worse. I ended up 3.0 seconds out of first and about 1.2 seconds or so out of the last trophy spot. I should have easily had another half second per side, which would have had me fighting for a trophy...but there's a whole lot of other drivers saying the same thing. It was a great learning experience and I plan to come back much stronger next year. Hopefully I'll start doing a better job of being mentally prepared.

The biggest sign that I wasn't pushing hard all weekend is the fact that I didn't hit ANY cones. That's six clean runs...in a row. Definitely a record for the year, but then again when you're a foot off of them there's no danger there (example below).

A little bit of a dissappointing week, but I've got a lot of plans for the offseason that hopefully will prepare me to actually compete for a trophy spot, including mods and a couple of Evo schools. There are still a few more events left in the year though, so perhaps I can redeem myself a little bit.

"You're doing it wrong!"


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Old 10-05-09, 11:29 AM   #82
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Default Re: piknockout's STU Autocross Build - 2006 STi sponsored by Agile Auto (8/24 Update)

WDCR Event #6 at Fed Ex Field on September 27th, 2009

Results: User Log In (Must log in to view)

Video (first run, camera died afterwards): http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fu...deoID=63825084

With Nationals over with, it was time to concentrate on the WDCR STU battle. After losing a great opportunity to score first place points at the last event, I needed to best Mike for this event and the final event to tie for the season. Not an easy task. To add to the fun, STU was running in the first heat in the wet, and we had a few guys coming into STU for the day who aren't normally there: Greg Olsen codriving my car, Greg Obadia co-driving with Neary, and Adam Fuhs making the drive down from Philly.
The course was a very interesting course, with some very interesting visual elements and only one place to really get on the throttle.

On first runs, Mike goes out and has to ask for directions about halfway through thanks to only one course walk and some interesting visuals, so that one's a throwaway. Both of the Gregs were getting used to the new cars, so nothing groundbreaking there (high 63's/low 64's), and I finished with a raw time of 62.924, easily the lowest time in the class after first runs...but +2. Back to my normal driving at last!

The rain had stopped before we started running for the day, so the course was drying out as the heat went on, and each run "should" get faster. Mike figured out where the course was and ran a 63.221 +3 (sounds like me), the Greg O's are still in the high 63's/low 64's, and I improve on my first run with a 62.510, again the fastest raw time...but +1 this time. And a really stupid cone at that, didn't even help my time. Oh well, two more to go.

By this time there were a few dry spots starting to form and times should start dropping. I needed a clean one now though, no time for anything stupid. Of course Mike is in the same boat and comes through with a smoking 61.966, but +2. I'm lined up right behind Mike and don't hear his time, but finish with a nice CLEAN run of 63.011, good enough for 1st place. But it's getting dryer and Mike has the course figured out. If only this was a three run events...oh well.

Fourth and final runs, and my co-driver Greg Olsen beats my time by 0.059 with a 62.952 putting him in first place. Obadia gets a clean one on the books, about a half second back from me. I ran a 62.5 in wetter conditions, Mike pulled off a raw time of 61.9, so I should be able to get at least a low 62. On the way down the hill in the first set of slaloms, I could see dry pavement and I was a bit more aggressive. But I failed to notice that it was still wet near the bottom and got a little sideways and nearly hit a few cones. At this point I get a bit more aggressive to try and make up time and it just kills me. I'm pushing into every corner with conditions still wet in those spots and finish with a (still clean) 63.582, so no help. Mike on the other hand, the excellent driver that he is (and MUCH better at the whole mental side of this sport), comes through with a clean 62.014 and takes the win, locking up the STU season championship. The good news is that I've locked up 2nd place for the season, but first would have been better.

The rest of the season then is pretty much just for fun, so perhaps now is the time to start picking up codrives in other people's cars. I've never autocrossed a RWD car, so perhaps that could be a good learning experience. I'm thinking an SS Z06 could be fun.

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Old 10-05-09, 04:03 PM   #83
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Default Re: piknockout's STU Autocross Build - 2006 STi sponsored by Agile Auto (10/5 Update)

Great post! Im really happy for you, finally getting out to Nationals. Im sorry you had so much trouble finding a rhythm. Its a stepping stone, and as you said, you will be more prepared next time. Great job overall!
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Old 10-05-09, 05:42 PM   #84
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Default Re: piknockout's STU Autocross Build - 2006 STi sponsored by Agile Auto (10/5 Update)

Thanks man! All in due time.
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Old 10-06-09, 08:42 AM   #85
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Default Re: piknockout's STU Autocross Build - 2006 STi sponsored by Agile Auto (10/5 Update)

Awesome STI! I've been reading your journal for a while now. I remember your STX Sentra from when I spent a couple of months in VA last summer. I AXed with the DC Region and Old Dominion in Virginia Beach. I had a 2000 Maxima in STX, and got stomped (read: dead last) when I was in DC!
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Old 10-06-09, 01:18 PM   #86
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Default Re: piknockout's STU Autocross Build - 2006 STi sponsored by Agile Auto (10/5 Update)

Thanks man! Believe it or not, I kind of miss the Spec V a bit. With SMF around now, I would have LOVED to toss a VQ35DE in it with some 275 Hoosiers.
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Old 10-06-09, 04:35 PM   #87
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Default Re: piknockout's STU Autocross Build - 2006 STi sponsored by Agile Auto (10/5 Update)

Quote:
Originally Posted by piknockout View Post
Thanks man! Believe it or not, I kind of miss the Spec V a bit. With SMF around now, I would have LOVED to toss a VQ35DE in it with some 275 Hoosiers.
Oh, that would've been just plain NASTY on-course! And off-course... And everywhere in between!
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Old 10-07-09, 05:03 AM   #88
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Default Re: piknockout's STU Autocross Build - 2006 STi sponsored by Agile Auto (10/5 Update)

Perhaps if SMF stays around for a while, I may take a swipe at it. You can pick up a Spec V pretty cheap and the swap can be done for fairly cheap. Another big benefit is that since the tranny is the same as the Maxima, you can throw in the Maxima final drive to get slightly taller gearing. Second gear in the Spec tranny only goes up to about 52-54 mph. Should be able to get the weight down to around 2,500 - 2,550 in SMF trim. Car comes with a good helical LSD, you can fit 275's with some fender modification. Tons of low end torque with the VQ, probably about 250-275whp in SMF trim. Oh the possibilities.
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Old 10-07-09, 06:44 PM   #89
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Default Re: piknockout's STU Autocross Build - 2006 STi sponsored by Agile Auto (10/5 Update)

Quote:
Originally Posted by piknockout View Post
Perhaps if SMF stays around for a while, I may take a swipe at it. You can pick up a Spec V pretty cheap and the swap can be done for fairly cheap. Another big benefit is that since the tranny is the same as the Maxima, you can throw in the Maxima final drive to get slightly taller gearing. Second gear in the Spec tranny only goes up to about 52-54 mph. Should be able to get the weight down to around 2,500 - 2,550 in SMF trim. Car comes with a good helical LSD, you can fit 275's with some fender modification. Tons of low end torque with the VQ, probably about 250-275whp in SMF trim. Oh the possibilities.
Considering the potential of the VQ35, that's a scary combination for a AX Sentra...
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Old 10-13-09, 12:35 PM   #90
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Default Re: piknockout's STU Autocross Build - 2006 STi sponsored by Agile Auto (10/5 Update)

Autocrosser's Inc. Event #6 at Fed Ex Field on October 10, 2009

Results: http://autocrossersinc.org/uploads/2..._6_Results.pdf

Video: Autocrosser's Inc. Event #6 Video by Luster - MySpace Video

Now that Nationals is finished and the rest of the season is pretty much just for fun, there's no pressure to really "have" to do well. Just go out and hang with people and enjoy the events...which is what I did this weekend. A.I. was having their final event on Saturday, with the inclusion of a little bit of team battling: WDCR vs. Philly Region vs. Autocrosser's Inc. Unfortunately things weren't as organized ahead of time as they could have been, but it was still a blast.

The last event was held under wet conditions, and the weather Saturday was calling for possible rain. Yay me. STU was running in the 1st heat (again), but that just meant that I could go home early. Kind of a benefit, but more on that later. Lucky for us though, all the rain held off for the first heat and the slight bit of dampness that was on the ground when we got there had dried up. Time to have some fun! And being that Nationals is over, it's time to get back to my coneage ways. Karen Kraus actually asked me how many I planned to hit, with a reply of 4. I figured that I would either hit one on each run, or get one clean one in with multiple cones on at least one run. Seemed fair enough. Add to that the fact that I was nominated to be a Novice Taxi to show the noobs where to go on course, and you could say I had pretty low expectations for the day.

I did run the first run on my own, dropping down a time of 52.124 clean. That's weird, a clean run and it wasn't too shabby. The car felt really good and I felt really comfortable out on course and actually looking ahead. Not too bad. With Neary not running until the afternoon in the "Pro Class", I had taken a solid first run lead.

Had a ride along on the second run, and managed to go a little slower with a 52.473 clean...again. Weird. I was a little late in a few spots, but knew I could drive a better, faster line.

On the third run I had a fresh noobie riding along. He had never done an event and seemed pretty excited to see what it was like. Apparently he had already ridden in Jeff Jacobs' HS Mini and someone's Miata, but he was getting all the ride alongs he could. And strangely, having the passenger didn't bother me. I managed to drive pretty quick, only getting late in a couple of spots. Run three finished with a time of 51.717 clean...again...three in a row. For some reason, many people questioned whether or not it was actually me driving. But it was, I swear! The time was good enough for tops in STU and tops in PAX/FTD for the first heat. Hells yeah!

Last run I just went balls out and just completely overdrove the course, finishing with a 51.754 +1...I had to take out at least one cone. But my time was surprisingly pretty close. If only I had dialed it back just a hair in a few spots, could have run a few tenths faster. But nonetheless, I was a happy camper.

I was working during 2nd heat as starter, watching some of the top guys come through and listening to hear if the top PAX would hold up. On his 2nd run, Lee Piccione came through with a quick time that was only about 0.052s behind in PAX with two runs left to go, and that top spot wasn't going to stay for long. But then the luckiest thing happened...just a little bit of drizzle that was enough to just dampen the pavement and reduce traction. I still had top PAX after 2nd heat, with a little luck of course. Could I actually pull off my first top PAX?

Now for the third and final heat. Looking through the driver lineup, I saw two guys that I thought could/would take me out if things dried up: Neary in the STU Evo and Ian Baker in the STS CRX. And sure enough, things started drying up, including a little bit of warmth with the sun coming out. The third heat had the best conditions of the day, I was screwed.

But the top PAX held until Ian's third run, where he bested me by 0.162s. Then to add insult to injury, he decided he would run another half second faster, just to make sure that everyone knew the top spot was his. Damn you Ian Baker, damn you! I would work on getting my revenge on Sunday.

After it was said and done, I still managed to stay in 2nd place in PAX for the day, tieing my best ever finish. I did stay a couple of tenths faster than Neary as well, although he was on a full tread set of Dunlops. But either way, I'll take what I can get. Definitely a great day and is further proof that I have a lot of work to do on the mental side for next year.



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