38th Annual Bay Bottom Crawl
10-12 October 1997
Hosted by the:
Ecurie Vitesse Sports Car Club
What can I say? I'm addicted. Parking lot autocrossing, I can take it
or leave it, but this is different. A description copied from this
The loop road is a unique, picturesque course set on an abandoned road
located in the lower Florida Keys. The 2.2 miles of the road has nine
artificial problems with pylons, all of which are very demanding. Add
to this the difficulty created by the design of the road itself, and
you have an extremely challenging course.
After Station #1's slalom and the offset gates at Station #2 the road
continues around a gradual right hand curve to the offset slalom at
Station #3 nestled in a canopy of trees and looking very narrow at
high speed. Immediately after exiting Station #3 is the infamous
HAIRPIN, an off-camber left, with a dip at the beginning. Station #4
and Station #5 are next; a set of offset gates and a decreasing slalom.
Now you come to the SWEEPER, hold on and go, but watch out for Station
#6, it's a wickedly tight dog-leg to the left. Station #7 and Station
#8 are fairly close together, but tricky and tight. After Station #9
comprised of alternating three pylon barriers to form a slalom, it's on
the floor to the finish line, followed by approximately 1/4 mile where
you have to brake and slow before you get to the Sherrif's deputy and
the return road to the pits.
The Bay Bottom Crawl is truly a special experience; treasure it.
I have my own station by station description from
last year, here are the major differences
since I turbocharged: First, SCCA rules
reclassed me to E-Modified, where the car is somewhat less than
competitive. My competition this year was a race prepped Porsche 911,
and a purpose built Mercury Capri, last year I had a chance against
the 914s in C-Stock, this year, forget it. On the other hand, for me
this isn't for trophies, it's for fun - and there was alot more of
that with 200 horses on tap.
The start is much more challenging now - launching the turbo is a
delicate act starting somewhere between 3650 and 3675 RPM, more was
resulting in irretrievable wheel hop (until shifting to 2nd), less
resulted in a momentary bog - not so bad, but at the Bay Bottom Crawl
the launch is the only place where the "fans" get to watch, and
critique your technique.
Between stations 2 and 3 is "the canyon" through the mangroves - it's
a little bumpy at speed, and out of my 6 runs this year, only once was
I able to get through it without lifting before seeing the cones
in station 3 - that run I was topping out 4th gear, around 105 - before
braking down to around 30 for the offset slalom of station 3.
The hairpin is definately hairier when you have more power than
traction. After the dip I was floating somewhere in mid 3rd gear
through most of the corner, with a quick windup at the exit just
before slowing for station 4.
In the sweeper, I was definately out of traction right around 7000
RPM in 3rd gear. Shifting 3 to 4 at 7 grand while on the edge of
available traction isn't a real smart thing to do, in the first
practice run I just floated at 7 grand in 3rd. After that I started
putting it in 4th early going into the sweeper for that little extra
bit of speed, rolling out of the throttle ever so gently as the rear
wheels start to step out.
Leaving the sweeper, there's a short straight into station 6. I could
just barely wind 4th out to 7 grand before braking down to something
like 20mph for the dogleg left. The brakes that were so competent last
year got just a little greasy at the end of this bit of torture, I
overran the dogleg once in practice and once on Sunday, oops.
Stations 7 8 and 9 were rather uneventful, except that I did manage to
drop 2 wheels off the pavement coming out of 9 during my best run,
no damage, except to my elapsed time. The new clutch and lightweight
flywheel seem to be a bit more grabby than stock, during downshifting
in stations 4 and 7, I would consistantly lock a rear wheel - something
that didn't happen last year.
These aren't excuses, just notes for mechanical improvements for the
future: First, shocks! The stock shocks are just about shot at 60K, I
had very unsettling weight transfer under braking, and the slaloms
weren't nearly as much fun as they should have been.
Second, larger sway bars should help out in the slaloms as well.
Third, brakes - someday I'll upgrade to the larger '94 brakes, hopefully
getting rid of that greasy feeling going into station 6.
Fourth, wheels - I ran on the steel wheels again this year, mostly because
I wanted to run on the nicely broken in Yokohama 509s that they're wearing.
Next year I'll run on the lightweight alloys - hopefully the lighter wheels
and stiffer shocks will give me better control through "the canyon" when
the bumps start nibbling at 100+ mph.
Finally, a limited slip differential - I've been planning this one since before the turbo went
on, it will definately help on the start, and probably coming out of
the stations as well.I'm intentionally leaving out race tires and
lowering springs - otherwise I might be tempted to try to beat the
other cars in my class :)
Times and stated goal:
1998 2:45.5 or better - still on street tires
Mark Palmer, who gave me the beer last year, was back this year in
his 914, but Mark and Karen Kalfas must have gone to Orlando for
the SCCA State Championships, leaving Palmer alone in his class.
Robin Karoly has reportedly gotten married - he and his black Miata have
been missing in action for nearly a year now.
Mike, forget his last name but not his story about converting the
barn into a race car garage while his dad was out buying cattle,
drove his truck through the course without hitting any cones - pretty
impressive in under 3:30.
I spent quite a bit of time in the shade of the Ruzinsky tent -
eventually I hope to get a copy of the videotape he made while
driving his Triumph GT6.
If I ever move so far from the Keys that I can't drive in for a BBC,
I think I'll take the "Rent-a-Stock" option. This Skylark, driven
as delivered by National Rent-a-Car, was turning in 3:05s.
John Hicks is a fellow BBC addict. His superlight Saturn with super
sticky tires, and super honed autocross skills turned in a 2:47.9 last
year - I didn't catch his best time this year, but I did hear alot
about schmutz in his brake hydraulics.
Inman Lanier transformed his Mustang into a beautiful Cobra replicar
this year, he was turning in 2:30s on, admittedly huge, street tires.
John White ran his first Bay Bottom Crawl in a beautiful new
Bill Grabowski, whose car number (78) is also his age, didn't manage
to match his 2:47 of last year due to engine trouble - the car will
be fixed, I bet he'll be back again next year as #79.
Steve Burger was back this year in his red Corvette, after taking the
flying turtle award last year in his Z28. He, and everyone else, did
a a good job of staying on course - happily, there was no flying turtle
award this year.
Last year we all waited while Norman Fuller drove the van around
pulling out all the cars that ran off into the mangroves. This year
we waited while the new radio timer got its kinks worked out.
Ultimately, the kinks were worked out by going back to the "old
reliable" wire across the lake, which looks like it will continue to
be a BBC tradition for another year, at least.
Andrea (Andy) Hess did a wonderful job as eventmaster, no description
of the Bay Bottom Crawl would be complete without gushing praise of
her enthusiasm, organization, and overall outstanding contribution to