Better Late Than Never: My 2015 Autocross Season Recap
Twenty Fourteen was my first year with Autocross. I learned to drive stick and I participated in a bunch of local events. I attended a couple national events, but just as a spectator. Twenty Fifteen has been a whole other animal compared to my first season.
This year, while focusing on the Northern New Jersey Region for local events, I travelled to and participated in a number of national events. Venues visited (both national & local events) include:
- Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
- Meadowlands, East Rutherford, NJ
- Wilmington AirPark, Wilmington, OH
- Devens Airport, Ayer, MA
- Pennysaver Amphitheater at Bald Hill, Long Island, NY
- Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, NY
- Lincoln Airpark, Lincoln, NE
Philly is at least a 2.5 hour drive, which is a bit much for a local event for me (why can't autocross start in the afternoon so I can sleep late?!). NJ & NY events are all under an hour away. But for national events this year, I traveled a total of about 4,408 miles round-trip, including around 30 hours by car. We stayed in some of the nation's finest hotels courtesy of Alex, the world's best co-driver.
There's so much travel in autocross!
And work. There's so much work to be done before, during, and after events. I learned a ton this season. I had no idea what a torque wrench looked like in 2013. I didn't know how well zip-ties could keep a car together in 2013, either. This year, Joe kept me very involved with working on the car. I helped install the race muffler, helped change the oil & the brake pads, helped bleed the brakes, tried to put the Penskes back together, soldered wiring for the RaceCapture Pro (with Heidi's help!), attempted to reposition the race seat rail, and I changed tires upwards of one million times. I would like to say I helped when Dan came to trailer the car, but I only held the flashlight.
Plus, Joe had me practicing at home on Gran Turismo 6 and taking the racecar to work so I wouldn't get rusty with the manual in between events.
I had a great season! Except statistically - my stats are pretty bad. But I had a great time, and, like, I guess you could say that's what matters, right? And I loved being a part of Jake's Hamfist Racing team.
My goal at each national event was to not come in last! I almost achieved that. At the NJ Pro, I finished 4 of 5, while my co-driver Laura finished first! At the Devens Championship Tour, I finished 3 of 5, while my co-driver Tamra finished first! I won $25 from Hawk for that one, which was a nice boost. The Wilmington Pro was a messy, messy day. I finished 11 of 11; I was despondent. I red lit one run and I was so flustered that I forgot to take my last run. What a mess! Nationals, I was 9 of 11, and that makes me happier.
Since Nationals, we've competed in a few local events. Joe sold the STR Miata soon after nationals, so we have been relying on the kindness of friends to drive their cars. One event, Dawn (our amazing co-driver from Nationals) let us both drive her CSP-prepped Miata. Another event, I was lucky enough to drive a couple of cars, and won 1st place in Ladies class at the NYR region. I also earned this at the same event (sorry Bryan & Jeff's cars!):
It's too bad we won't be around for the 2016 season. But, if we don't do this crazy move now, when ever will we? We're already planning a fly & drive for 2016 SCCA Solo Nationals!
Below, a video of me competing at my first ever national event: the 2015 SCCA New Jersey Pro Solo. It's slow, like a Sunday drive, but I didn't come in last! As Rad says, someone needs to tie a brick to my right foot.