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Old 04-20-2021, 04:25 PM   #1
clyde
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Oscar

I've mentioned it a few times in a couple threads in recent months, but it finally happened. The guy that codrove my turbo Camaro the past couple years bought a 1991 Miata for SCCA Solo competition prepped for C Street Prepared last fall. The Miata's name is Oscar.

Oscar has a history. He was built as a cheapish but no holds barred build. Oscar is green and kinda "trash," so he was named "Oscar" for "Oscar the Grouch." One local guy acquired him and enlisted another local guy to help build him. That second guy wound up doing most of the work, so after Oscar was built, the first guy said, "Oscar is yours." The two of them ran it for a couple years and did really well with it. Then, the second guy, who was Oscar's owner, was diagnosed with brain cancer and sadly, treatment wasn't enough.

Oscar was sold to a guy in St. Louis (I think) and I wound up passing Oscar being towed to his new home when I was on my way to Ohio to pick up the turbo Camaro. That guy had Oscar for two years and did not do all that well with it. Oscar has a habit of breaking things and this guy wasn't very good at putting him back together.

A third DC local guy bought Oscar in September 2019 and spent much of that winter and the following spring and much of the summer trying to unfuck Oscar and get him back into good shape. Then, he was laid off from work and after a short time decided he was going to move back to Hawaii and go to work for his family's business and he and his girlfriend sold all of their Miatas (three?) and the guy that's been codriving my turbo Camaro for the past couple years (Kevin) bought Oscar.

Kevin is a longtime BMW guy and we found out we were a really good codriving fit in the Camaro. When he bought Oscar, he invited me to codrive. I spent all fall and winter asking him what I can do to help prep the car and he hasn't asked me for much. He's a lot more handy with a wrench than I am and he lives about halfway around the Beltway from me, so it's kind of a pain for either of us to get to the other's place.

Basically, about all he needed me for was to come over a couple times so we could find a seating position that works. In the Camaro, he would have the seat all the way back and I would have it almost all the way forward. Because reasons, we have to use a seat in a fixed position, so we tried a couple options and found something that seems to work.

Anyway, Sunday was the first time we got to run it. So, it's an NB. It was 2,340 pounds with a full tank (IIRC) on Nick's scales recently. It doesn't make a lot of power (and needs to be tuned). It's using 15x11 wheels with 275/35-15 Hoosier A7 R compound tires. So, while it may not have V8 grunt, it has superloads of stick and doesn't need to slow down once it starts moving. It also doesn't make V8 noises, but this one actually sounds kinda nice, like some angry bees at a reasonable pitch.

And, it's really fun to drive. Now, I just need to re-learn how to drive well. It was kind of cool on Sunday and we were not able ot get any heat into the tires, so they never developed as much grip as they're capable of and that was a hindrance, but as-is with those cold (and old) tires, the car had a lot more in it than I was able to get out of it.

I was way too tentative and didn't have enough trust in the car. As I was realizing this while running, I think I had already mentally programmed myself poorly for the rest of the day. Hopefully, I'll be able to address that better next time (in two weeks) and then again the following weekend at our first big event in New Jersey.

So, this course was at our new location. No more FedEx Field, we're on a former go kart track at Summit Point Raceway in Summit Point, WV. The site owner says they're going to make improvements like repaving (and maybe paving over the grass so we actually have a usable pad?), but will believe it when we see it. The course was short. Kevin turned a mid 36 and I did a high 37. Low 35s would have been "good" times.

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Old 04-20-2021, 04:51 PM   #2
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So, are you splitting the season driving a Miata and the Camaro?

I saw the NCC BMW guys were running at Summit, too; I guess that's the only place left around here? I debated signing up but...eh, that's a long way to drive if I'm not actually going to be able to go on the track.
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Old 04-20-2021, 07:27 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by JST View Post
So, are you splitting the season driving a Miata and the Camaro?
Yes. We're not 100% sure how many events Kevin can do (new job, virus, etc), there are a couple non-SCCA events I may do. If Oscar is ever not event capable.

Quote:
I saw the NCC BMW guys were running at Summit, too; I guess that's the only place left around here? I debated signing up but...eh, that's a long way to drive if I'm not actually going to be able to go on the track.
The former SPK site at Summit is about the only place available right now and there's an event on that pad almost every weekend day all summer. The site really isn't suitable. Paddock is not adequate, there's not nearly enough grid space and the pad is what it is (complete with residual peanut oil deposits from drift events). The ownership seems really psyched to have us there and they've made a lot of promises about future/ongoing improvements. So far, they've done what they've said they'll do. If they continue, it's possible the site could be a lot better in a year or two.

The one good thing is that the event was much more relaxed than WDCR FedEx events in its heyday. Fewer people and COVID allows a much more relaxed pace. However, one of the things I heard some committee people talking about yesterday was how does WDCR/SCCA differentiate compared to the other clubs? When we had FedEx, we had huge events with top talent and amazing courses on a first class site. Now...

FedEx was about 25-30 minutes of Beltway for me. Not a problem in the morning, but often kinda shitty on the way home. Summit is about 80 minutes away. The drive there is nice and quiet. Coming back could be hit or miss. If I was in Virginia, I'd consider events at Dominion (and we may do some there, too).
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Old 04-20-2021, 07:39 PM   #4
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Yes Ive seen talk about dominion but havent been there yet; it opened after I stopped doing track events back in the day.

Would like to try and make an event at some point but the weekends are starting to get busy again (which Im definitely not complaining about).

Too bad abt Fed Ex, that was a cool lot.
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Old 04-21-2021, 10:58 AM   #5
John V
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I'm a broken record on this, but we could still use FedEx if the region put some effort into negotiating with the management there. But for too many years the SCCA leadership just rolled over and accepted what price increases FedEx demanded, so the club is in a bad position with the reduced numbers mandated by the county as a result of COVID.

Summit Point has said they're going to make improvements to the pad as Clyde noted, but I'm not holding my breath. The site as it exists now is IMO not suitable for much of anything bigger than karts. It was not fun in the RX-8 when I did a test event last year (it's also like ice when it's wet). Summit is already making money off of multiple clubs using that pad, so why improve it? Also, even if it's fully paved it'll still be pretty damned small.

Back on topic, SP cars are rad. It's a shame the category isn't more popular because in my opinion they're about the most fun you can have at an autocross. CSP and DSP in particular are a blast because the cars make so much less power than the available grip. It's positively bonkers driving a good SP car. Many elements where you think you should be braking can be negotiated with a lift or a breathe off the loud pedal. Elements where you think you should lift can be taken at WOT. There's nothing like it.
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Old 04-21-2021, 01:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John V View Post
I'm a broken record on this, but we could still use FedEx if the region put some effort into negotiating with the management there. But for too many years the SCCA leadership just rolled over and accepted what price increases FedEx demanded, so the club is in a bad position with the reduced numbers mandated by the county as a result of COVID.

Summit Point has said they're going to make improvements to the pad as Clyde noted, but I'm not holding my breath. The site as it exists now is IMO not suitable for much of anything bigger than karts. It was not fun in the RX-8 when I did a test event last year (it's also like ice when it's wet). Summit is already making money off of multiple clubs using that pad, so why improve it? Also, even if it's fully paved it'll still be pretty damned small.


For those that haven't been, both FedEx and Washington Circuit at the same scale. They use the same colors for paddock, grid, and course. At FedEx, we had two grids int he same two places at every event. At Washington Circuit, there will be one grid at each event, but it could be at either end with the other end available for course space.

If the entire Washington Circuity was turned into a pad, there's nearly as much available square footage available for course, but in a less useful shape.

Fully paved, I think the pad could be fine. Filling the pad doesn't help the paddock or grid challenges, though.

For reference, the grass area between paddock and course is a hill with reasonably steep grading that, should it be paved, may help with paddock space, but no one wants to paddock on a hill that steep. It would be tricky to incorporate as course area as well since the transitions would have to be careful managed and you would quickly run out of margin since paddock would be downhill and it would totally suck for a car to roll downhill into paddock.

There's also a path visible between course and paddock. As it stands, that's not usable to move competition cars, but if improved that could open some more options if we're willing to have a hot transit area through paddock.

As it stands, it's marginal at best. Course layout options are limited because of the grassy areas. The pavement is usable, but not great or grippy. They have drift events on the site that apparently put peanut oil down which works against us. It's generally better than Rosecroft, but not as good as Ripken (maybe even not as good as Six Flags). I'd rather go to Summit for this than that high school in Manassass where NCC held some events a few times.

As-is, I don't think I'll be going if it looks like rain. Kevin doesn't plan to bring Oscar if we think it will be wet and I have no interest in suffering the Camaro there in the wet.

Quote:
Back on topic, SP cars are rad. It's a shame the category isn't more popular because in my opinion they're about the most fun you can have at an autocross. CSP and DSP in particular are a blast because the cars make so much less power than the available grip. It's positively bonkers driving a good SP car. Many elements where you think you should be braking can be negotiated with a lift or a breathe off the loud pedal. Elements where you think you should lift can be taken at WOT. There's nothing like it.
Sunday was the first time I'd run a non-Street class car in many years. It didn't seem like there was that much grip (see above). OTOH, Sunday was the first time I'd run a non-Street class car in many years and I may not have known how much more grip there was.

Going around the far skidpad was a good exercise in riding the line and the g readings were not that impressive. There was probably more to use in transition areas than I used because there was never a point where I turned the wheel and the front tires said, "nah." Some issues with turning the wheel and the rear end immediately screaming "Let's go for a rideeee!!!!" looseness, which may have been compounded by an ill advised lift or brake brush, but that can probably tuned or learned out.

I'm looking forward to running Oscar in NJ and Lincoln next month.
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Old 04-21-2021, 01:31 PM   #7
John V
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The only thing I'll comment on regarding space for course is on your magenta outline, you went right up to the edge of the pavement on the washington circuit but you pulled back 50' from the curbs at FedEx. Realistically we shouldn't be running course that close to the grass (particularly near the hill) at Summit. And even if the entirety of that circuit was paved that would remain true. So the usable space at Summit is much smaller. And as you noted, the shape doesn't allow for much variety.

Regarding Oscar, it's possible you never got heat into the tires or they're old enough that they're no good. I wasn't able to get any heat at all in the RX-8's tires at the test event two weeks ago... because they were used at 2019 Nationals and stored since then, and had apparently gone off. For reference the BMW would regularly generate steady-state readings of 1.3 g on the Racecapture. The RX-8 saw around 1.4 in Lincoln in 2019 but it wasn't exactly working well.
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Old 04-21-2021, 02:13 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by John V View Post
The only thing I'll comment on regarding space for course is on your magenta outline, you went right up to the edge of the pavement on the washington circuit but you pulled back 50' from the curbs at FedEx. Realistically we shouldn't be running course that close to the grass (particularly near the hill) at Summit. And even if the entirety of that circuit was paved that would remain true. So the usable space at Summit is much smaller. And as you noted, the shape doesn't allow for much variety.
I probably should left some buffer on the Summit map, but we're going to be a lot closer to the edges there on a regular basis compared to the closest we ever got to the curbs at FedEx. The three main skidpads at Summit are only 50' wide.

But that's another item worth mentioning. Things happened at FedEx over the years, but they were rare. Off-pavement excursions at Summit will not be.

Quote:
Regarding Oscar, it's possible you never got heat into the tires or they're old enough that they're no good.
Why not both? \_(ツ)_/

Quote:
I wasn't able to get any heat at all in the RX-8's tires at the test event two weeks ago... because they were used at 2019 Nationals and stored since then, and had apparently gone off. For reference the BMW would regularly generate steady-state readings of 1.3 g on the Racecapture. The RX-8 saw around 1.4 in Lincoln in 2019 but it wasn't exactly working well.
Was it fully dry when you ran two weeks ago? I wasn't there, but it sounded like ti was wet in the morning, dried out a bit, but maybe not completely before it opened up again right after the event?

Sunday, it was sunny and dry when we ran, just starting to get cloudy as we finished our heat. Kevin and I saw a few peaks of 1.2, barely touching 1.3. Through much of the course, Kevin was consistently pulling about 0.05-0.07 more than I was. For each of us around the far skidpad, we were barely over 1.0 sustained and it felt slick. The data more or less confirmed seat of the pants feel.

I know that tires, surface and me were all factors, I just don't know how much of a role each one played relative to the others. Not sure if we will be on stickers in two weeks or if we're saving them for NJ.
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Old 04-21-2021, 02:33 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by clyde View Post
I probably should left some buffer on the Summit map, but we're going to be a lot closer to the edges there on a regular basis compared to the closest we ever got to the curbs at FedEx. The three main skidpads at Summit are only 50' wide.

But that's another item worth mentioning. Things happened at FedEx over the years, but they were rare. Off-pavement excursions at Summit will not be.



Why not both? \_(ツ)_/



Was it fully dry when you ran two weeks ago? I wasn't there, but it sounded like ti was wet in the morning, dried out a bit, but maybe not completely before it opened up again right after the event?

Sunday, it was sunny and dry when we ran, just starting to get cloudy as we finished our heat. Kevin and I saw a few peaks of 1.2, barely touching 1.3. Through much of the course, Kevin was consistently pulling about 0.05-0.07 more than I was. For each of us around the far skidpad, we were barely over 1.0 sustained and it felt slick. The data more or less confirmed seat of the pants feel.

I know that tires, surface and me were all factors, I just don't know how much of a role each one played relative to the others. Not sure if we will be on stickers in two weeks or if we're saving them for NJ.
The UMI track was wet initially but I was running on Michelins. By around 1PM it was almost completely dry and sunny and it didn't rain all all the rest of the time I was there. I want to say I swapped to the Hoosiers when it started to really dry out, maybe noon-ish. At one point I did five back to back laps (including accelerating through third around the banked turn exiting the finish of our cobbled-together course) and there was nearly no heat in the tires even after that.

I'll be on stickers for NJ, but they're stickers I won in 2018 (!) So... hopefully they're OK?

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Old 04-23-2021, 10:40 PM   #10
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Give it a few more events and I'll bet that you have the car mostly figured out... can you do a test-and-tune at a decent venue?

You've done enough events in the last few years that I think you will adapt within a few events and get used to the car. I can't imagine you would be far from where you expect to be without more and substantial seat time.

I'd have to have some time to type out all my thoughts about Washington Circuit, but it's a site that is available to host an autocross. I have a lot of similar reservations that you both noted, but I still want to autocross and cannot travel too far any longer for local events. I think I'll do ~5 SCCA and 3-4 NCC BMW events at the Washington Circuit this year, but I already miss FedEx despite its issues. If they try variety in how the courses are laid out, some courses will be decent and others will be rough. I've done events with good courses there and events with dreadful courses there.

I still want to autocross... Ripken is a mass vax site now, NJ is too far for a local event for me, so it's this, Philly, or Susquehanna I guess?
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