Chapter 53, Houston SOLO II National Tour
April 22/23 2006
Fresh off the victory in Walnut Ridge and sealing up the semester championship for TAMSCC, Wendi and I hauled the B4C down to Houston for the National Tour. We met the Vorshlag guys on arrival and setup the bigshade(tm) and got the car teched. Cody rode down with the Vorshlag'ers but his co-drive (Nick) wasn't due in till late in the afternoon. Since he had been recently autocrossing his M3 on streets I let him take some runs in the B4C to acclimate to the width and torque of an F-body. My 92 TPI does not have quite the grunt of Nick's 01 LS1 but it would be the first F-body Cody had driven since selling his SS years ago and it would be better than nothing. The FS list was short but stout. Casey Weiss was coming from Dallas (won Nationals last year), Nick and Chad are both fast, I can usually get around cones ok, and then there was Cody and Gary. Cody and Gary were the wild cards here. Cody is always quick and Gary is unpredictable. I've seen both of them slam down very fast times in weird circumstances. Gary was co-driving Chad's 98 LS1 and everyone was on pretty fresh 710s. It was looking to be a great event until Casey called Todd and had to bail and turn around on his way to the event due to his new job. Argh. We all walked the course a good bit and tried to get a handle on a line that would result in low times.
TAMSCCers hangin out under the bigshade(tm).
The B4C was running good but I was a bit worried about the auburn. It had survived 6 runs at Walnut Ridge and another 4 the previous weekend at the TAMSCC event. It was feeling a bit dead in right handers but I was hopeful it would still be ok.
Miss B4C. Sporting the GOLD GTA's Baby!!!
Saturday dawned bright with no chance of rain and since FS was first run group we took them to grid early. We lined up, and having the lowest #, I went first and laid down a coneless (actually, I was coneless for the weekend!!) 50.3. I felt pretty good until everybody else began coming through the finish and I could see the timers. Cody came through with a 49.9, Rick Bagnard came through with a 49.4 (OUCH) and then when the co-drivers ran, Nick laid down a 49.8. This was ugly. The B4C felt poor in the beginning of the course and the more I replayed the run, it was poor in the last long slalom too. That was odd. I checked tire pressures and bled a bit and wondered why I was nearly a full second off Rick's time when I did so well against him at Walnut Ridge. Launched on the second run and really tried to be smooth on the much-less-than-grippy pavement (I had run at the TAMSCC's annex the prior week...TONS of grip there) and pay good attention to what the car was doing. I pulled down a 49.5 struggling to get the car into a turn and then was rewarded to see Cody run a 49.1, Rick go a bit slower (but me still a tenth behind him) and Nick rip a 49.3. I walked off and watched a bit and knew the posi was hurting me, but I still was not getting into a corner nearly as quick as I was used to. The kicker was when Drew (a fast AS S2K driver from the Spokes club in Austin) came up and said 'Dude, what is wrong with your car? It won't slalom!'. That sealed the deal. I had one run left for the day and was in the hole. I popped the hood, took a full turn out of the front hand-me-down (I'm the fourth owner...) Koni's, checked the air pressures and strapped in. Launched, and came within millimeters of hitting the first cone as the car rotated INSTANTLY into the first maneuver. WOW...now we're talkin! I took it a little easy to make sure I didn't hit any cones and laid down a nice 48.6 and then waited. Cody ripped a 48.3 and was the only driver to better my time. The day ended with me .273 behind Cody with Chad sitting .366 behind me with a 49.0 and Nick only .3 behind Chad with a 49.3. After that it was Rick Bagnard (who had his fastest time as his first run), John Anthony and Gary Robertson struggling to drive an FS car when he is used to his 315 equipped SM car! Day two was going to be tough!
Todd Farris did well and had the lead in CP, while Terry Fair and Paul Magyar were 3rd and 4th in a crowded STU. At the Saturday night dinner we saw dog races, had great food, and learned that EVERYBODY wins at TerryLotto(tm)!!
Chad's (w/Gary co-driving) blue 98, Nick's (w/Cody co-driving) pewter 01, and the black Z06 of Hunter and co-driver Tye.
Sunday dawned bright again and the Hoosier Dirt Stockers again stayed bagged and in the trailer. I kept the same damper settings and made a slight air pressure adjustment and laid down a 46.3 on a much more fun to drive and open course. Cody struggled with a 47.1 while pimping one of the sweepers and Nick opened everyone's eyes with a smoking 46.0! Yikes! Where did THAT come from? The B4C felt fine (Drew: 'Looks like it's doing GREAT out there!') so I made no more adjustments, just took it easy on the right turns as the posi was d-e-a-d and the long tight uphill off-camber right hander was hurting me. My second run was a 45.7 and felt good, but I left some time on a few corners. Thankfully I saw Cody whack a cone (his only cone of the weekend) and then blitz the lights on that run with a 45.5! OUCH! With that cone Cody got two seconds added and that alone kept me safe. Nick slowed a bit with a 46.2, Chad laid down a quick 45.6 and I held a nervous lead going into the the final runs. I didn't go any faster and neither did any of the other top 4 (thankfully!) and the two-day total ended up like this: Costas 94.435, Chad with a 94.637, Nick with a 95.141, and Cody with a 95.535. In impound, Chad did a very honorable thing and voluntarily withdrew as he has a few things that aren't quite FS legal at this time. I am sure he will rectify the few items and come back and whup all of us! In true TAMSCC we-make-fast-drivers fashion, Chad has taken the smack, gotten a TON of seat time and is a now (obviously) a formidable driver. So it then ended up with me, Nick and Cody all taking a few of Kumho's dollars for being on the podium.
In CP, Todd kept the lead going into the last run and then just obliterated everyone. I was watching the run and it was one of the most beautiful autocross runs I have ever seen. He dropped the hammer to the tune of winning CP by nearly 2 full seconds. That boy was on fire and in his report he called it the 'run of a lifetime' and I believe it. If he can get two runs like that at Nationals he will come home with a jacket for sure.
Toddles putting the HURT on the CP field.
In STU, Terry Fair of Vorshlag Motorsports ran quick times and ended up in 2nd in the biggest class of the event, with fellow Dallas driver Paul Magyar right behind him in 3rd. Awesome job guys!
Terry and Amy Fair's STU ride, brought to you by Vorshlag Motorsports. Nice stickers folks!
Above: Miss B4C on track with John Anthony's Mustang on the start line and Cody in Nick's Camaro right behind him. Below: cc.com!