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Old 03-27-2006, 11:54 AM   #1
Sharp11
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First Autox in the Z4

Yesterday, my local Fairfield County club held a non-points practice event up in Waterbury, CT. It was the first event of the season and is designed mainly to pair up the day-before's rookie event guys with experienced autox'ers in a "real event" environment (the club really does a lot for noobs). I'm not really "experienced" with only one limited season under my belt.

I awoke early, about 6 am (which for a musician is heartbreaking) to see snow on the ground. A half hour later, the sun broke so I loaded the Zed and off I went.

Some of you guys will hate this, but the Z4 attracted a TON of attention, the Miata guys especially pored over it, the tech inspection folks couldn't get enough of it and of course, young women were really smitten by it. It became a distraction as I had limited time to air-up the tires, walk the course etc., people just kept coming over wanting to chat about the Z4.

I've never driven this car in a competitive fashion, in fact, most of my limited time with the Z4 this winter was on Blizzak snows. This would be my first event on the bridgestone rf's.

I was classed in "street tire", alongside EVO's, STI's RX8's etc.

Man, was I rusty, my first run was an OC, but my second wasn't bad, a 47, solidly upper mid-pack. I ended up after six runs (and one more OC) at 46.1, a mid-pack time and something I knew I could improve upon. Not knowing the car very well, I was too conservative.

So, I bought three fun runs and got my time down to a 43.7, a time that would've put me at the front during the regular portion of the day. What changed? Well, of course the rhythm of three runs in a row didn't hurt, but mostly, I just threw caution to the wind and drove the crap out of it, I did things that would've sent the e46 into a tank-slapping fish dance - I accelerated hard and early out of turns, I could rock and roll in a cool rhythm through the slalom, and because the Z4 can stop on a dime, I could brake really late into turns. I also found I could rotate the car very easily - overall, everything just seemed to happen right now with this car, there was none of the early preparation for a turn, weight-transfer drama and sluggishness I fought so hard with in the E46, the car just did what I wanted it to. I could smell burning rubber, so I knew I was starting to "get on it'.

Now I need to be more aggressive earlier to take advantage of what the Zed offers, it'll be a learning experience this season, I'll be doing a couple of test and tunes in April, that'll help, but I'll need to learn the car.

One of the experienced guys complimented me on my times on standard runflats - I didn't really feel the tires were a problem, so focused was I on just trying to "get it right", but I'm determined to leave the car alone in terms of mods and just have fun.

One of the problems I have during autox is maintaining my concentration during the long waits between runs, yesterday was especially tough as it was cold and I had to do two back to back work assignments, my back was killing me (volunteering to sweep the course earlier didn't help either). I'm a very good "rhythm" driver and do well on large tracks where I can drive for 20 minutes or so in the "zone". Autox is a much different discipline.

Ed
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Old 03-27-2006, 10:01 PM   #2
lemming
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nice writeup, Ed!

there's never been a doubt that the z4 is a driver's car.
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Old 03-27-2006, 10:12 PM   #3
BahnBaum
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Old 04-07-2006, 09:40 AM   #4
John V
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Definitely the best current BMW offering from an "I would autocross one of those" standpoint. Glad you got out and had a good time and burned some rubber. If only a local autocrosser had a Z4 3.0, I would love to do a back to back with it and my car at an event and see how close they are.

FWIW, the things I didn't like about my E36 M3 were the weight and the slow steering. BMW came so close to making me want a Z4.

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Old 04-07-2006, 09:53 AM   #5
Sharp11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John V
Definitely the best current BMW offering from an "I would autocross one of those" standpoint. Glad you got out and had a good time and burned some rubber. If only a local autocrosser had a Z4 3.0, I would love to do a back to back with it and my car at an event and see how close they are.

FWIW, the things I didn't like about my E36 M3 were the weight and the slow steering. BMW came so close to making me want a Z4.

JV
If you're ever in CT for the weekend, you're more than welcome to try mine.

Ed
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