An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

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Grayson
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An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by Grayson » Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:18 pm

I generally don't publicly submit race reports since I race so frequently, but the event I attended this past weekend was quite fun. So, if you're up for a Merkur racing story, feel free to read on. Normally race summaries like these end up being shared directly between a few XR4Ti racers across a few types of Motorsport (and my personal favorites are the circle track recaps :thumb).

Over the past decade or so that I've been racing my blue XR4Ti, I've generally raced with Anglin...either with two cars or sharing the same car. He decided to move to Connecticut though, which makes it a little difficult for him to join me. That said, I ended up extending an offer to a fellow gearhead that's within a couple years of having graduated college/getting married/starting an engineering job, and he's trying to stockpile some cash for a house. In exchange for helping me wear down two sets of $1100 race tires and burning through a bunch of gas, he's willing to help wrench on the car. That works out well for him since he's time-heavy and cash-limited, and it works out well for me since I'm cash-heavy and time-limited (I'm always booked machining parts for you guys!). Anyway, with his assistance we've made some good strides with the blue car this season, including chopping 100lbs off the race weight, adding an SVO PE and big VAM (gasp! - Grayson added a power mod!), swapping out the T5 setup for a T9 setup as part of de-modding the car from Street Modified to Street Prepared, mounting the battery at the rear of the car, and hours and hours of repairs and other small mods. We've still got many more modifications to make before we would be competitive at a National event like our good friend Ben Martinez, but we wanted to see exactly where we stand on the National landscape. So, we packed up the car in the trailer and headed over to the Ohio Valley Region where Eric Campbell looms with his wicked, fully-prepared and in my opinion Nationally-favored D Street Prepared BMW 330Ci. There's no better measuring stick than that, short of actually heading to Lincoln Nebraska for Nationals.

This particular event is called the Governor's Cup, and it's quite a bit of fun. There's a normal autocross at the beginning of the day. Following that autocross, the class champions advance to a tournament bracket much like the NCAA does with March Madness. If there aren't enough class champions to fill the bracket, the bracket is backfilled with the fastest wildcards. In D Street Prepared we were expected to get spanked by Eric Campbell, so the goal was to make the wildcard field.

The event went as expected. Contrary to the norm, I had my co-driver Gordon head out for the first run of the day, and he had a pretty humorous run on cold tires. He blasted through a wall of cones after selecting a braking point that was too deep for the cold rubber, and earned a DNF for that run. We alternated runs of 47.1s (me), 47.9s (him), 46.2s (me), DNF (him), 45.9s (me), 46.5s (him), and I finished up with a 45.4s. I ended up earning 3rd place in a very competitive DSP class, and Gordon earned 6th. I was a little worried about Gordon making the field of 64 as a wild card, but as it turns out DSP was so strong that 6 of the 7 entrants made the tournament bracket, including the class champion and 5 wild cards. There were 69 drivers trying to earn wild card spots, and 41 were sent home.

In the "round of 64" Gordon headed out first and cut a very respectable 45.7s run. I followed soon after with a relatively disappointing 45.9s run. Gordon has never beaten me in my own car, so for him to at least outpace me in this round was surely exciting...not to mention the excitement of simply doing well in a "go fast or go home" atmosphere. I was a little worried about advancing to the round of 32, but Gordon's run was good enough for 21st place and mine was good enough for 24th place.

In the round of 32 Gordon again headed out first, but his luck unfortunately ended when I heard the engine stumble in the first corner. I knew right away we had run too low on fuel. He proceeded to spin out in the second corner, so supposedly the lack of fuel wasn't the cause for his elimination, but I can't help but feel awful for the fuel situation. As he pulled into the grid following his run I directed him to the trailer where we refueled and quickly got the car back into grid for my run. I ended up cutting a 45.9s run once again. Of course that's disappointing given that I had cut a 45.4s run earlier in the day, and I was very worried about being a top-16 car and advancing. Bear in mind that my 45.9s run in the round of 64 was only good for 24th place! Over the loudspeaker we heard the list of individuals that had been eliminated from the bracket, starting from 32nd. Gordon's name was obviously mentioned given his troubles, but fortunately names not including "Christopher Grayson" were repeatedly mentioned. Apparently a lot of people were succumbing to the pressure and either going too conservative or making mistakes. Alas, the announcer eventually mentioned "...and the last person to be eliminated, in 17th position, is Christopher Grayson". I laughed, surprised that I hadn't been mentioned earlier. I had been eliminated in the round of 32.

But wait, there's more! By a stroke of my good luck and his bad luck, one of the top 16 competitors had blown a head gasket and was not able to continue. So, the person in 17th position was called on to complete the bracket, and I was obviously happy to fill that role. In the Sweet Sixteen people start running head-to-head, and I was paired with a Street Touring Unlimited car driven by Mike Smith. I ended up cutting a 45.7s run, which is better than I had been running in the tournament, but still not an improvement from the morning. Mike ended up cutting a 45.0s run. Now, based on the classes Mike and I run in, Mike was required to cut a faster time than mine in order to advance. However, Mike "covered the spread" and did end up eliminating me. In the Elite Eight Mike was paired against Eric Campbell - the guy that I showed up to compare myself against in DSP - and he ended up being eliminated too. I wouldn't have made it past Eric either. As a matter of fact, Eric went on to destroy everyone he faced in the bracket and will have his name etched on the Governor's Cup.

The course we were on was absolutely awful for the XR4Ti. There were six tight corners where exit was well under 3000rpm in second gear, but not slow enough to gain an advantage by shifting to the T9's first gear. There were instances where Gordon and I were getting on the gas before the apex of the turn, desperately trying to get the turbo to spool upon corner exit. Getting to the Sweet Sixteen was good, but advancing from there was pretty improbable given the course and the ability of this event to attact very good competitors from around the state (I woke up at 4:50am and drove two hours myself). As a matter of fact, the Elite Eight was comprised of two V8 Mustangs, two Corvettes, a Porsche GT3, a ground-pounding WRX STi, Eric's E46 BMW...and only one good-handling low-horsepower "momentum" car - a Mazda Miata. This was definitely a course that favored cars with power to blast out of slow corners. Nevertheless, how did we measure up against Eric? He ended up cutting runs of 43.6s (+cone), 42.9s (+cone), 42.7s, 43.8s, 43.6s, 43.4s, 43.5s, 43.3s, 43.6s, and 43.6s for the win. In general it seemed Eric was ahead by about 2.5s per run. Hopefully the course really wasn't a XR4Ti course, for a finish like that would merely have us knocking on the door of finishing mid-pack at Nationals. Needless to say that is motivating, and I can tell you that I can't wait to finally ditch the stock exhaust manifold and downpipe in an effort to speed up spool times, replace the moon roof assembly with a thin sheet of steel, flare the car & lower & align it, and several other significant future modifications. It's amazing how much time has been put in my car, how fast it is, yet how much more work remains to be done.

In a humorous note, I've always mentioned to Ben Martinez when we meet up in Lincoln that I could probably show up in my (slower) car and perform just as well at Nationals as I do in his (much faster) car. Eric beat me by 2.5s in my car, and he beat me by 2.8s last year during our only dry day at Nationals. :wink:

I think I'm going to plan on attending the Governor's Cup each year. I participated in it back in 2000 when I was living in Columbus and racing my 1998 Eclipse GSX, and I vividly remember losing to a Miata head-to-head after braking late for the first corner and pushing wide. With that 11-year-old memory still burning strong in my mind, and the amount of fun I had yesterday, it's clear that this is a special event, and I need to hit it up next year...and win it!
Last edited by Grayson on Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by anglin » Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:30 pm

Grayson wrote:... how did we measure up against Eric? He ended up cutting runs of 43.6s (+cone), 42.9s (+cone), 42.7s, 43.8s, 43.6s, 43.4s, 43.5s, 43.3s, 43.6s, and 43.6s for the win.
The good news is that with 10 runs at a single event, Eric has completely blown is 2011 tire budget and won't be showing up to Nationals.

Good post. That's certainly an exciting story. I wish I could have attended the event.

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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by Grayson » Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:40 pm

Regarding Eric's last six runs - the Governor's Cup runs - I suspect that his first two cup runs were slower than his potential due to being conservative. However, the last four cup runs should have been good efforts, but they didn't improve. I actually think his Hoosiers may have been getting a little warm. I didn't see him out there with a water sprayer for the tires, and I think in general he doesn't need one. A 10-run day is an exception though!

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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by hEaT » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:35 pm

Great story :cheers
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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by fiasco » Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:08 pm

Anglin's in NE NY, I mean Connecticut? :) I can say that, I was born in Hartford, so I'll never be a NH native...

We need a Gathering at Lime Rock!!!!!
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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by John Brennan » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:41 am

Great read-- thanks! :cheers
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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by DSPXR4ti » Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:15 pm

A great read, I love the facts in the story and next year will be your year.

By the way, I'm going to miss you man! :cry:

Ben
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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by Grayson » Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:34 am

A couple pictures were posted from the event. Here is an image of my car braking hard while drifting left in a decreasing-radius turn:
Image
...and here is an image of the car I showed up to measure myself against. My goal is to continue working until I can frequently defeat this car and its driver:
Image

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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by Ray » Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:35 pm

That BMW is tasty.

How much power is your XR putting down now grayson? First, i'm surprised you did any power mod, but i'm glad you did :)
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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by Grayson » Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:23 pm

I've got a Forge IC, a rotated upper intake, a nice hose arrangement, a PE and a big VAM. That's about it for mods. I still have a stock E6 and a stock downpipe. So, whatever the SVO Mustang made from the factory is probably a good approximation of the kind of power I'm making. I am running 19psi however, so maybe a touch more than a stock SVO Mustang. I'm still far from the DSP limits obviously. Still more work to do!

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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by whitelx » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:32 pm

This guy showed up at our last local autoX

Image
IMG_5818 by whitelx, on Flickr


Those that aren't aware, he was the 2009 SM national champ and 2010 SM national runner up. :shock: Hopefully he doesn't start showing up regularly.

I really want to run 275s/285s, but with my 215/40R17s on 17x7 et20 wheels, I have just a finger's width of clearance between the bumper and tire when turned. Might be able to do the 225/40R17 on 17x8 et35s, but I don't know if that is enough tire to be competitive.
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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by John Brennan » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:39 pm

Does your class allow for some Outcast fender flares, perhaps? :twisted:
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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by whitelx » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:57 pm

John Brennan wrote:Does your class allow for some Outcast fender flares, perhaps? :twisted:
flares aren't the issue, I'll run bolt on flares like Ben. I don't want to hack up my real RS bumper. I've already trimmed the lip on the inside so it will clear the tire when turning. Cosworths had 23" tires, not 24" tires, so that must be why mine are so close. Yes, 275/35R15s are 23" tall, but with the offset I would have to run the tires would rub the ends of the bumper as I turned the wheel.

It's too bad I am not closer to Grayson so I could borrow his setup to test fitment.
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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by DSPXR4ti » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:31 pm

whitelx wrote:This guy showed up at our last local autoX

Image
IMG_5818 by whitelx, on Flickr


Those that aren't aware, he was the 2009 SM national champ and 2010 SM national runner up. :shock: Hopefully he doesn't start showing up regularly.

I really want to run 275s/285s, but with my 215/40R17s on 17x7 et20 wheels, I have just a finger's width of clearance between the bumper and tire when turned. Might be able to do the 225/40R17 on 17x8 et35s, but I don't know if that is enough tire to be competitive.
Don't be scared of cars like that, like Grayson has a great E-46 to compete against, I have a Subaru RS2.5 thats set up very well and he keeps me on the sharp edge, I wish I had an fully prep. E-46 to know if I need to do more though.

Although the E-46 maybe kick out of DSP next year.

Ben
Last edited by DSPXR4ti on Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: An autocross story - 2011 OVR SCCA Governor's Cup

Post by murdomino » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:29 pm

White,

where did you go? I went to El Toro about a year ago with my old T/A. 180k miles and still placed 10th in SK1 for my first showing was pretty well i think. havent had the nerve to go back yet since my Merk barely moves a mile a week.

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