Quick notes before I forget the little details:
Saturday practice didn't really work out too well for me this year, I had a later
run group, and when I was third in line for my first run, the rented radios
started giving trouble, delaying for well over an hour, just long enough for my
first practice run to come during a downpour - well, it wasn't pouring everywhere,
the hairpin (between 3 & 4) was nearly dry, but the sweeper (between 5 & 6) was
wet, and there was a deluge from station 8 until the finish. Then my for my
second practice run I was drafted to give a ride to a member of the Lyons' club.
I figured "what the hell, I'll get a third run anyway", needless to say, around 3:15 there was another big delay and I didn't get my run before practice shut down at 4:00. 'Salright from the trophy standpoint, EVSCC re-classed me to D-Mod this year, guaranting a first in class and avoiding yet another head to head run with No Bozos Racing's full race prepped 911 (who took 4th place overall at the last crawl...), but it didn't really help my "personal best" time much.
Next year, no passengers until I've gotten at least one good practice run in. On the fun side, though, my passenger got a fairly clean, smooth ride, until station 9 where I overestimated my brakes and just couldn't make the third obstacle - rather than try to make it and possibly spin, I pretty much took a cone dead center and dragged it to the finish line where it spat out as we were approaching 100mph ;)
Race day went much better - only one big glitch, this time when I was second in
line to run (starting to feel jinxed!), one of the Cobra replicar entries (who
shall remain unnamed here, but it wasn't Inman Lanier or the other deep blue one)
had his oil drain plug fall out as he started
- and he managed to spread oil on the twisty
bits of the course, all the way from station 1 to station 9!
Course workers flagged him down at stations 4 and 6, and he stopped, but through some temporary lapse of something, they let him go on and finish the course. Thanks to alot of scrambling and big effort on the part of EVSCC and some participant volunteers, and copious quantities of kitty litter, the oil was cleaned up nicely. I was the second car to run after the spill, and there were no slick or sandy spots anywhere - excellent job, guys. My times and excuses follow:
1st run: 2:58.?? (2) - hey, no practice and oil angst, what can I say? At least I
broke 3 minutes even with the 2 cones.
2nd run: 2:55.00 (0) - my personal best, beating last time by over 1/2 second. This run I "overcooked" the start - great clouds of tire smoke and no progress down the road - I recovered with a bogged-launch in 2nd gear, obviously the rest of the run was clean and not too sloppy, for me at least.
3rd run: 2:57.?? (4) - well, I had a lock on the 1st place trophy anyway, call this practice for next year. One cone was barely tipped in the middle of a slalom, and another was barely tipped at a station exit somewhere. The final two were in station 9, which I usually don't screw up, but this year I was really pushing the entry, and I just didn't have enough brakes/control to make it around the third obstacle. At least this run shows that the car (and I) should be capable of a 2:49 or better next year.
New for this year are the limited slip differential and taller final drive gearing
from 4.300 to 3.909. The limited slip obviously helps alot when accelerating away
from the obstacles, but the drag-launch is still tricky. Tires changed to Yoko
A032-R rain/race compound.
On the way down, I picked up a screw in the left front
tire, got a plug kit practice morning and plugged it, but I kept the front
pressures high during practice, incase it was leaking down.
It wasn't, and on race day I decided to stay with my practice setup (32F/28R) rather than changing. 32psi is definately higher than optimal for the 185/60-14 A032Rs on the Miata, I was in 100% understeer at the limit. With the taller gearing, I was reaching limit of traction in the sweeper in 3rd gear, not having to shift to 4th like last time - at the sweeper exit I could wind out 3rd and get 4th for a bit before braking for station 6. Next year, I will probably try a balanced 28F/28R in practice. Before the Torsen LSD went in, the balanced setup gave slight oversteer in the sweeper. I would have expected more time improvement with these tires (like to 2:45), but that's probably mostly a lack of practice on my part. Speed at the finish line is nearly unaffected by the gearing change, I haven't touched the speedo calibration, and with the 4.300 diff, it was reading 100-105 across the finish line, now it reads 92-95 - which is the same after asjustment for the new 3.909 gears.
One driving tip for any "Crawlers" who have read this far in, I always used to approach station 3 (around the blind, bumpy right hand bend) hugging the inside line - and as much as you look for braking points around the blind corner, those damn mangrove trees all look alike at 90+ mph. I found that if I track out to the middle of the road just after shifting to 4th, I have good visibility of the cones BEFORE the braking point comes up - not that I was able to figure out a good braking point / entry strategy for the offset slalom in 3 runs, but it's alot better than before when I had to choose a brake point by "using the Force."
There aren't that many turbocharged cars at the Crawl, but for those who are there, I'm sure you've noticed some really slick "coincidences", like the fact that you can exit the slaloms at high RPM 2nd gear, getting the turbo up to full boost in 1/4 second or so at the exit, and the later 'kinky' obstacles, like 6, 7 and especially 8, require lower speeds, but also have sort of "increasing radius" exit obstacles. In my car, I can floor it in 2nd at the tight kink, and the boost doesn't really come on until you're just clearing the wider cones - very nice.
Many, many thanks to EVSCC for recovering Loop road after Hurricane Georges, the
pavement is still there, and just as much fun as ever. On the road after the
finish line, the shrubbery is narrowing "the canyon" quite a bit - really a
thrilling ride for a few seconds there at 100+mph. Don't trim it too much for
The South Florida Zs were out in force this year, more than I've seen at
the last two crawls.
Lorraine and I mooched shade and breeze off of Joan Clark and Steve Burger this year, I suppose I should get my own tent one of these years so other people can mooch shade off of me.