TLAC 1 Autocross – April 24, 2009

As one scrotum challenged Miata driver was overheard saying, “That guy has some videos on YouTube of how not to drive a Mustang fast.” This event was apparently not much different with me placing 4th out of 6. The respective times were 47.322 (s197), 47.411 (4th gen f-body), 48.225 (sn95 “new edge” GT), 51.637 (my lowly fox), 51.792 (sn95 Cobra), and 52.066 (same sn95 GT – 2nd driver). Also of note was the fact that I was the only driver not on race compound tires. (Notice I didn’t say “slicks.” Slicks are used in the prepared and higher classes – they are not DOT approved. DOT approved race compound tires are not slicks.) Be sure to watch me in that video as I go through the finish lights. Every time I seem to jump up in my seat as if to try and lift the car over those last few cones. Good times.

The first thing I noticed was how much more grip the warm surface had as compared to the previous event. Much, much nicer. The only complaint would be that the course could have used a few more directionals in a few places. (Directional cones lay on their sides next to upright cones letting the driver know which side of the cone he’s to pass.) The first several runs I was hunting for the course, and there were quite a few DNF’s in those places, so I wasn’t the only one having a hard time. But no worries, after the first 2 or 3 runs it was all good. So as not to be a Negative Nelly, I’ve got to give props again to CenLa for putting on a great event. The event organizers always do such a great job!

I remain amazed at how well my budget car has performed, and just how much fun it is to drive. Those H&R race springs are beastly on anything but smooth roads, so the car doesn’t get driven much except for events, but man do they work well for their intended duty. Foxes are notorious for going into a corner with massive understeer, then snapping into oversteer at some random point during the corner. That last run I finally started putting together some decent driving – I was finally getting down the right amount of braking on corner entry inducing just a hint of trailbraking to get the car to rotate, then balancing it with the throttle through the rest of the corner. No doubt some R compounds would improve my times, as would a horsepower injection (I have a set of 93 Cobra heads and cam on the bench) and a little more suspension work (I also have a 3-link and panhard yet to be installed). And this is in no way saying the nut behind the steering wheel isn’t in need of sharpening.

Next Steps
Seeing as fox chassis cars are pretty uncompetitive in their class, me not caring to spend the money to be competitive, and wanting something with a little more power – and power is the reason I play with the V8s – it looks like I might be leaving ESP later this summer. Not that I don’t think that I couldn’t be locally competitive with a little more practice and the above mentioned mods, but there’s a motor sitting in my truck that isn’t getting used and just may find a new home between the Mustang’s strut towers.

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Although built for towing with a torquey 4×4 cam, and heavy with a set of World Product Windsor Sr iron heads, this 408w has zero miles and has only been started a few times. When I sold my race chassis a few years ago I no longer needed a tow vehicle and so lost all interest in this truck. And it’s been sitting in the garage uninsured ever since. So it looks like I might be moving to Street Modified where I’ll most certainly be even less competitive, but I’ll get to play with the car more as I’ll certainly enjoy the extra power.

Hmmm. Stay ESP, or go to SM. That, folks, is the question.