I got up early (for Sunday), and loaded up my racing wheels. I got to the track just in time for registration. It was all a little intimidating, but the race workers made me very welcome when I told them that I was a brand new guy. This is only the third race I’ve attended, and my first race as a driver. Shortly after registration we had an ‘all hands’ meeting, and we scattered to our various cars and duties. Everybody gets a work assignment—I was a corner attendant in corner three. The idea is when a racer displaces a cone, I put it back, and communicate any penalties to the appropriate folks. I was out in the hot sun for a long time, and really got burnt.
I hadn’t arrived in time to put my racing tires on, so I had to hurry and take care of that right after my work assignment. The heat was oppressive, and I had to really rush to get my car into the tech inspection area. I took shortcuts, and tried to switch tires using my VW jack, rather than using a floor jack. That turned out to be a bad corner to cut, as I ended up slipping the car off of the jack, breaking a bolt in my brakes. I didn’t have time to get it fixed before my turn in the third heat, so I put my stock wheels back on, and headed over to the grid with my helmet, hoping at least to get a ride or two. In trying to get my wheels sorted out, I had completely exhausted myself in the heat. It was over 90F out, and humid for the front range. It was pretty brutal.
I told my tale of woe to a couple of my fellow racers, and one of them offered to let me drive his car in the third heat! The car’s number was #1, and the guy’s class was “X” for Expert. It was an early-90s Honda Civic. It turns out that range of Civics is very competitive in autocross—it’s a good combination of handling and power for the slow, tight autocross course. I managed to change my registration so that I could drive his car. I had walked through the course twice in the morning, and by the time I had struggled with breaking my car, I had pretty much forgotten the course layout. It was very challenging to push a totally unfamiliar car to the limit on a course that I had never seen from a car. I think I did okay. Al (the car owner) rode along, and gave me tips. Like, “hey, the course is over THERE!”.
Great folks there—I’m sure I’ll be doing more racing soon. The whole scene was great—everybody was enthusiastic and helpful. I not only had a car offered for me to drive, but a woman I met in the morning was done with her car after the second heat, and offered to let me drive it, too! Wow. This stuff is fun.
I made it home okay on my damaged hubs, and will be getting that taken care of ASAP. I think I made the right decision in opting not to test my questionable brakes in competition. Lessons learned: next time, change tires early!