Boy was it hot. That was the talk of the weekend. It was sweltering up and down the east coast the weekend of the SCCA National Tour in Devens Massachusetts. Devens is kind of a weird “town”. The town is really just a big corporate park on what used to be an army base. There is still a few buildings occupied by the army and the roads near these buildings are blocked off to the public. Would have been nice if the maps reflected that. The event itself is on an old airfield on the other side of the real town of Ayer. Ayer is a sleepy little town that reminds me of small PA towns a bit.
So on to the important stuff. The course was fast. And fun. But I wouldn’t call it technical. There wasn’t to much wondering how you were going to drive certain parts of the course. Only wondering if you could flat foot it through certain parts. Some we could and others we couldn’t. What’s interesting is that the Miata could flat foot it through parts that more powerful AWD cars couldn’t. The airfield is three runways crossing each other in a triangle. The courses were 59-62 seconds long. A lot of slalom elements. A lot of offset slaloms.
Doug traveled up with me in his car and also brought my tires up since I haven’t committed to get a tire trailer yet. We met our roommates Scott and Sal at the hotel, through our stuff in the room and headed over to the site with a quick stop for something to eat. There was some trouble finding the entrance but we managed to find the correct road. I swapped to our race rubber while Doug got the contingency stickers. Then I spent what seems like forever putting all the stickers on the car. But now it looks really good. Then it was time to get the car through tech. We covered up the hole in my fender with some borrowed blue masking tape b/c SPS screwed up and sent me orange racer’s tape instead of red. THEN it was time to walk the course.
After all that we went out to get some real dinner. Scott and I wanted a good burger and we found a bar & grill next to the hotel. It was then that Doug got a call from his wife and there was apparently some family drama going and he eventually decided that he would have to drive back home on Saturday. Earlier in the day Scott’s Civic, which he just put repaired after spinning a bearing, spun the bearing again. He was considering running the car anyway but had an offer to drive in an RSX-S that the owner is trying to come to grips with the setup of. Sal didn’t have a ride, but with Doug leaving I let Sal co-drive my car.
As I mentioned the course was pretty straight forward. My first run it was so fast I was unsure if I had stayed on course. The elements were just flying past you. A check of the course audit sheets revealed I was on course so it was time to just put my head down and drive harder. Sal didn’t have much trouble getting used to the car. He has done some go carting and said it was very go-cart like. It is also somewhat like the Civic in that you can unsettle it in turn-in and then use the gas to straighten it back out. He was about two seconds in front of me and the only advise I got all weekend was to just to push harder and to throw the car into the corners more aggressively. I guess that is my lesson from this weekend. On day two I got within a second of Sal, but was still 4 seconds off the top runner Ian Baker.
Another thing that was solidified this weekend is that I am going to buy a MaxQData GPS based data acquisition system. It’s what most autocrossers are using and has some real promise to make me faster. We stayed just long enough for Scott to get his third place trophy and then began the long trip home, but not before stopping for some pizza and gas. I managed about 28 mpg in the Miata as near as I can tell. Haven’t filled her up again yet. I need to get her inspected. Overall the event was great fun. The heat made working on course and working on the car hell. But the course and competition and comradere was worth it. I’m bummed that I won’t make the DC Pro and can’t wait for my next national event.
I’ll end this post with a picture of me hustling the car through the very fast finish section on Saturday. Doesn’t she look good with the paint (mostly) fixed and all stickered up? The picture is courtesy Keith Casey of the New England Region SCCA and has lead to my new banner. Click to see two more pics from that run.