A week or two ago, I ran my last track event of the year with COM SCC at Lime Rock. Despite the bitter cold — in the thirties and windy — the event went without a hitch, and was quite a lot of fun. Lime Rock is a fast, technical track, and the two-day event with a time trial encouraged just enough extra discipline to try to squeeze a few extra tenths of a second off my laptimes.
Though Lime Rock is a short course, it can be very difficult to squeeze the last second or two out of your laptime. The two days of this event were probably my 9th and 10th days there, and only then was I really able to get somewhat comfortable in certain corners. West Bend, a fast, fourth gear corner, has been my nemesis for some time; I would either take too much off, or mistime my turn in and run wide of the apex.
Saturday morning, I got the chance to dice with two excellent drivers, both driving E30 M3s in my class. Driving with people in similar cars is always a great way to improve your line and skills; if you make a mistake, or if your line is suboptimal somewhere, you get instant feedback. So after some practice, I was rewarded with some times in the 103.1 range — pretty decent considering my car’s level of prep.
I wasn’t especially happy with the three laps I ran in the time trial; in each lap, I could point to a significant mistake in an important corner. Despite that, I wound up with a 103.4, good for 3rd out of 6 in class, but out of four E30 M3s. Though tires and suspension is undoubtedly part of the difference, I can’t say I ran the best times I could. On to next year.
In the photo above, you can see my head hunched down in the driver’s seat as I round Left Bend. This isn’t because I don’t know how to adjust the seat; it’s just because Torso + Neck + Head + Helmet is simply greater than the space between the seat and the ceiling. Every single track event I’ve ever driven — all in E30-chassis BMWs — I’ve had my helmeted head pressed up against the sunroof rails at the top of the car.
Smarter people would long ago have caved in and installed a pair of race shells in their car. Not I. My unfortunate addiction to sticky track tires, combined with the safety of a rollbar has meant that I depend on the ability to use the back seat to store wheels on my way to the track. With race shells, I can’t do that.
This combination, combined with my ultimate desire to go racing, will probably push me to make some significant changes to my track setup over the winter. Stay tuned…
thanks to Jeremy Keith for the photos.