Bent-Valve Reader
9/22/19 10:07 p.m.

Oh. My. God. They have coated the track with ice…. Wait, let me bring you up to speed….

You know how you look forward to something? You prep. You wait. You don’t sleep well, waking up every 30 minutes looking at the clock to see if it’s time to get up and go?

Ok so the prep.

I drove to Tennessee and towed the Stinky Banana home. Accordianfolder didn’t like the nickname the family gave the ZX 2. It was just named Stinky, 14 years of mice, generation after generation will do that. He cleaned it up and ran it. Then got other things to play with. So I flat towed it home, with a Class 1 hitch, 2000 lb capacity. Yup, it was a little shaky.

I got it home, and parked it. It needed a battery, I should have gotten the correct battery, but I got one for the RX 8 intending to put the old RX 8 battery in the Stinky Banana, (I added Banana, you know yellow and all that..) Somehow the RX 8 still has the old battery. Ok, that went wrong.

Prep check list. Oil checked? Nope. Coolant checked? Nope. Number painted on? Dang it. Tow light connector on Pyros truck. Crap.

Wiring is similar to plumbing; all you have to say is “Wiring”. Yup, went that smooth.

Lights work, Yeah, minor victory! On to the number thing.

My first use of the pull off rubbery stuff was passable. The line where the tape pulled away was not crisp. I chalk it up to first time. Not completely wrong, but not great. This is 50 / 50 ish so far on good and wrong.

Hooked up the little car, packed the truck, ok, so that went smooth – ish. I forgot to check the tire pressures. (note I mean the slicks not the tow tires) I open the trunk, pull them out and check, one is low.

Ok so now I’m ready. Fast forward to 5:29 a.m.

I am staring at the clock, I know it’s going to go off, I mean I set it for 5:30, I know its going to go off. The suspence is killing me so I turn the alarm off just before it flips to 5:30. Breakfast and 3 hydroplaning events later I am following Matt into the The Blue Spring Precision Driving center in Kansas City.

I am not putting the slicks on, I mean the all season tires have to be better in this!

How to explain the rain? I have an umbrella, I have a Gore-Tex coat. I have a water proof hat. By the time the rain stopped I was soaked to the skin. There were drips of water coming through the umbrella, my waterproof hat was soaked inside and out. My Gore-Tex  was damp / wet inside.

This is Auto Cross? I walked the course, I noted the cones, I noted the sweeping turn, I noted I was standing in water up to my ankles in places.

I worked the course in the first heat, got to see how it worked, mistakes others made and I would avoid make later. Then we are finally sitting in the cars on the line.

Matt says “Did you check the tire pressures?” Me, “uh, no.” Silence. Matt “I have my gauge right here”

Me – “No it’ll be fine” (Remember I said that.)

I follow Matt through the starting procedure, I get on the track, turn 1, ok turn 2, rear end steps out, correct, rinse, then repeat for the rest of the course. Back to the line. 54.394 seconds.

Me- “Hey Matt can I see your gauge?”

Left front 36 psi, right front 35 psi, Right rear 25 psi, left rear 30 psi.

I drop the fronts to 30 psi hoping this will help.

Second time around, Oh. My. God. They have coated the track with ice. And I dropped my lap time. Hairy sort of describes the ride, wait no it doesn’t, Goat. Milk. Fart. Hairy describes it. 50.947 seconds.

“Hey Matt can I see your gauge?”

“Yeah why?”

“It was worse, I’m gonna drop the rear tires to 25 pounds”

Matt pipes up, “Did you know these are snow tires? Isn’t that what stud less means?”

I have skinny, hard, small Yokahoma Guardex 600 Studless M&S tires on the rear.

Later Accordianfolder tells me they are ancient and he was surprised they didn’t explode on the track. He also mentions that this car will step out if you drop the throttle. And that he bent the gas pedal in to make 3 pedal driving easier. I had soggy, cold, size 12 feet in wide running shoes. Outstanding. Add to list, narrow shoes, move pedal.

Third run, I’m smoking the snake section set up for the perfect entry to the slalom and just as I pass it, I see the entry cone I was looking for, on the wrong side.

This is where my truck driving came back to bite me. When you make a mistake in a truck, like in Chicago, you stop. I mean a 13’6” truck will not fit under a 11’8” low hanging whatever. The further you go the worse it gets. My brain yelled “STOP!”

I nailed the brakes, like a brick wall impending impact type nail the brakes. No it doesn’t have anti lock or any of that crap. As I slide half way down the slalom my brain reengaged and I tried to get back in the groove. No luck, I was rattled. 52.298 + dnf. I look back as I park on the line, my tire smoke cloud is still visible hanging over the slalom. Perfect.

Forth run, I have a feel for the car, I have a feel for the course, smoking the ice (tire) track I get a 49.551 run! Yeah baby!

I want the sticky tires. I can see them sitting just over there in the back of the truck. The clouds are building, its starts sprinkling again. E36 M40.

I line up at the start, I stand on it. The run is going great. This ice (tire) thing isn’t so bad, until the last curve. 2 left hand turns pretty tight. I feel it get loose, I correct, but not fast enough. Dang. I get it moving again, I run 55.694 seconds. It felt faster than the forth run until I spun.

This crap is Autocross? wink I’m going to register for the 13th of October, I’ll have those sticky tires on, there is much more in the car and just maybe the driver will improve also.

No racing action but a short video of what I saw.

Bent Valve does AutoX


Edit: add pics Matt just sent me.

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