SCCA SOLO II National Tour, Denver, CO (14-16 July, 2006)
Thusday the 13th Nick and I wrapped up our work day and headed to my house. We got everything squared away, left the rains in the garage (cross fingers) due to the forecast and rolled out about 1900 heading west out I-10. We were in Nick's Z28 pulling his tire trailer and were greeted on I10 with the following sign. Ahhh (sigh).....Texas.
I had my laptop spooled up, verizon broadband card kicking and was (ack!) actually doing some work into the evening and almost morning hours as we kicked north on backroads and headed up through Big Spring, Lubbock and then Amarillo. North straight up till I70 and then caught that going west on into Denver. We traded driving through the night and had very smooth sailing. Upon arrival in Denver, we were fully an hour and change before Cody's plane landed so it was a quick stop in Denny's for some chow. We had made the 960 mile trip in about 14.5 hours (changed to Mountain time) pulling into Denny's at 0830 local. After some food, we headed to the airport and picked up Cody (landed 0930 local) and headed to the event site which was (shazam!) one of the huge overflow parking lots for the airport.
Following a ways behind us were Todd, Tye and Stroh. Todd and Stroh were driving the son-of-rust CP machine which was sharing a trailer with Hunter's Z06 (driven by Tye and Cody) which was pulled by Todd's dually. In all we had 6 TAMSCCers in attendance to the mile-high tour.
We got to the site, unhooked the trailer, swapped tires and prepped the car. We each took a very few practice runs to feel out the car, but with the concrete so clean and grippy we were worried about saving the tires for the next day. We met Mike (the local FS hotshoe) and his co-driver and lots of the Denver folks. Todd and Stroh show up in the rig with Tye driving the Z06 behind them the last 50 miles to let the computer get compensated for the altitude and such before the runs.
Mike and Gordon (his co-driver) were not so worried about their tires as Mike busted out a brand new set of 710s and they easily ran more than a dozen runs to scuff them off and then removed them so they would be ready tomorrow. Mike's times were fast (much faster than ours), but I also knew I never did a 'full on' run as I was just checking the balance of the car and such, and Nick and I both were trying to come to grips with...well....the grip. The concrete there is perfect and when you add in the lack of power due to altitude it just makes it feel that much more grippy. It is easily 10% grippier than the annex and by far the most grippy surface I have ever run on. Todd and Stroh took some runs and it was very interesting to see the CP machine bog on a 3500 rpm launch. Todd took Ann Hollis for a few fun runs and she has the bruises to prove it. Tye and Cody both took some in the Z06 and made good improvement. This was Cody's first time to drive a Z06 and only the second time to drive a corvette. He drove Dean!s FRC a few play runs on streets many months ago, but seemed to adjust to the power/grip/brakes fairly well. The SS competition looked tough with Lance Adams there also in a Z06 and several serious Lotus'.
Above: Tye watching the starter before putting that 405hp to the pavement...
Above: Todd really getting INTO his work and...of course....OMGhi2LAYNE'S!!
Below: Nick's and my helmets.
Above: Stroh coming around the last cone to the finish.
After a good meal, some great smacktalk (a hallmark of the TAMSCC institution) and some fast sleep, Nick and I go work the gate at 0630. This counts as our work assignment and will be critical to me getting executing an effecient exit strategy as I had to leave on Sunday to go west (thankfully we are close to the airport!). So thanks to Cody (and Todd's dually) who dropped us off, we handed out wristbands in exchange for signatures at the gate. Mike (local FS guy) is also the work coordinator and has obviously done this before as it went smooth and was well organized. I've been to a few autocrosses in my years and the work organization at this one was absolutely first rate. He had 3 of us working gate so we could take turns walking the course and then getting our car to grid (FS ran first). It went smooth for the most part, but there always seems to be a few folks who are just jerks about the waivers. I don't know why but it always seems to happen that 1 or 2 folks have a bucket full of attitude toward the folks whose job it is to check wristbands. I worked the footbridge at Milwaukee and saw the exact same thing as arrogant jerks who give workers (co-members!) attitude. Whatever (shrug). I'll go ahead an mention here that the worker swaps for the event went fast and smooth too. They would have all the workers ready and be sending them out during the final runs while grid was organized also so that there was only a few minute difference between one heat and the next. Awesome!
After our work assignment it was off to the grid. After the karts ran, FS opened the show. There was a 300z also in FS, but basically it came down to the four of us (Mike, Gordon, Nick and me) in the 01 Pewter machines. Chevy vs. Pontiac, Texas vs. Colorado, Black wheels vs. Shiny wheels, 40 run 710s vs new 710s, Hardtop vs. T-top, single Koni's vs. double Koni's, Outsiders vs. This is my backyard. I was stoked, and in true FS fashion we were all quickly becoming friends and comparing course notes before we ever took the first run.
Gordon lays down a struggling 63.3 and I finish right behind him with a strong 58.993. Mike tips the scales ever so slightly with a 58.955 (.04 lead!) and Nick follows up with a 62.4 but with 2 cones. Mike/Costas/Gordon/Nick.
Gordon launches on run 2 and puts down a 61.1 with a cone (63.1) and I drop three tenths to a 58.672 taking the lead until Mike stops the clocks at a 58.538 to take the lead back by .14! Nick runs a 61.7 but tags another cone for a 63.7.
Time for a talk between Nick and I. I am still being a bit conservative and he is hitting cones. Nick is not normally a big cone hitter so as I plan to step up just a bit, Nick is focusing on the anti-cone run.
Gordon launches on his last run of the day and puts in a 61.7 but tagged a cone for a 63.7. If Nick can clean up a quick run, he should take third spot. I step up just a bit to a 58.372 to take the lead for a few minutes until Mike puts down a 58.214 to take the day by 0.16!! Nick, full of focus, hammers out a spotlessly clean 59.5 to storm into third spot only 1.2 behind me.
The competition was TOUGH with the lead going back and forth every run and neither Mike nor myself hitting cones at all. After the first run we began comparing notes and while I wanted to help him go as fast as he could I still wanted to beat him. I know he felt the same! It was great to see Nick step up on his last run and even better to hear him say that he left some time out there. Nick and I were adjusting to the surface well and only made slight Koni and air pressure adjustments on grid. The car was wonderful with no issues at all.
Sunday saw Nick and I back at the gate for the first part of the morning (thanks for the lift, Cody) and then on grid. We had walked the course several times the evening before and then again that morning and were as ready as possible. We knew the course and I knew I just needed to step up and hit one hard while aiming at the fence. None of this 'base hit' crap anymore. I was too conservative. Nick, with his last run, seemed to break that a bit too and was anxious to put some fast times in. We met Gordon and Mike on grid and discussed the course and the 'gotchas' that it held.
First run out Gordon puts a 56.0 (clean) on the board and I come through right behind him with a 'base hit' 53.3. There were three places I 'laid up' instead of going for it and I was mad at myself. Watching Mike and then Nick launch I wondered what happened to Mike. The car looked hesitant or nervous, like he was struggling with it. Nick was looking a bit conservative too, but smooth. Mike stopped the clocks with a 54.3, a full second behind me, and Nick put a 54.4 on the board. Whoah. Mike got out of the car and said 'looks hesitant' and I could tell he was upset. He got a bit 'out of rythm' at the start and never got it back. Nick said he finally felt good with the car and was ready to put down a fast run.
Second round saw Gordon put in a 54.7 but he hit a cone for a 56.7. I launched with the upper hand for the first time all weekend and I was ready to exploit it. I needed to really put down a fast run. As the revs came up and the clutch came out the car squatted and the tires bit and the run seemed to go very fast and very slow at the same time. My placement was much more precise and while I only 'laid up' once, it wasn't by much. The rest of the time was spent using every ounce of grip I could find. I blew into the short finish lane and was rewarded with a 52.0! This was a 1.3 drop and I was pretty stoked. Mike launched pretty hard and drove much harder but tagged a cone to add to his 52.3 giving him a 54.3. Nick and I chatted about the course before he launched and he hammered in a clean 53.7 to move into 2nd for the day while still holding 3rd overall.
Last run. Gordon puts in a 53.0 but dirty again with one cone so he ends up with a 55.0 and an overall time of 116.765 for fourth. I launched hard and actually picked up time in several spots and then threw it all away again by overcooking a critical turn and put in a 52.075 (a .002 improvement). I ended the weekend with a 110.447. Mike worked the car hard but overcooked the same spot I did and came in with a 52.9 and an overall time of 111.141 (leaving me about .7 in the clear). Nick goes out and is fast and smooth and driving very hard. He puts down a clean 52.8 for second best time on Sunday and leaving him with an overall time of 112.370 and 3rd place overall. For me it was redemption, pure and simple. For Nick, it was obvious he is getting much faster, running .8 behind me with both of us on an unknown surface and a course designer neither of us were accustomed to. OMGhi2KumhoDOLLARSforUS!
Long story short, Todd absolutely broke it off in the rest of CP (by 1.6) and Stroh whipped everyone but Todd. Good job guys! As far as I know, there were no steak dinners on the line, but there were still a few to collect from what I heard.
Below: Todd putting down another win, while it appears that a ///Meerkat has taken notice.
Tye and Cody both did very well adjusting to a new car, new surface and new course designer. Cody ended up 7th and Tye 10th in a very tough SS field that was won by Lance, even though he was told the best he could do was 3rd at the beginning of the event. Interestingly enough, Lance proved the person wrong (who happened to be a fellow SS competitor) and absolutely hammered everyone to the tune of the closest person finishing 1.7 behind him. Ouch! Talk about a beating.
After the FS runs and impound, the nice lady in the SCCA trailer gave me my trophy and Nick was kind enough to run me to the airport. I grabbed my second bag and was at the airport by 1030 and in the air by 1130 heading to the Bonneville Salt Flats (and another story). Cody ended up riding back to Dallas with Nick a little ahead of the rig that held Todd and Stroh and Tye. Nick dropped Cody off in Plano and headed back to San Antonio while Todd and Stroh dropped Tye off at home near Ft. Worth and headed back to College Station where Stroh could then drive back to Houston. Whew! Logistics!! Nick ended up with a total of 2097.9 extra miles on the car using 95.3 gallons of gas and averaging a touch over 20mpg (including the autocross).
Above: Cody headed to start (note the yellow pavement lines in the reflection). Below: Cody at the first left turn
Hunter normally runs red stickers, but I sure do think that the yellow ones look MUCH better!!
Above: Note the awesome sky in the reflection, and below, just note the awesome sky and the mountains