Obviously I’ve been quite negligent in updating this blog. To be honest, I haven’t competed much this year. I had a lot of big plans for the season but, as is often the case, life got in the way. To a large degree, I put my automotive competitive aspirations on the back-burner this summer and spent much of my free time working on my personal fitness. This April I hit a peak weight that set off my internal alarm bell. I decided this was the year I was really going to do something about getting in shape. I changed my eating habits, starting biking a few times a week, then added a couple days of swimming per week half way through the summer. By my early August vacation to the Colorado Rockies, I had dropped 35 lbs and was able to do over 60 miles of biking for the week in the high altitude, including a 20 mile bike ride around Dillon Reservoir which is 9017 feet above sea level! Now in early September I’m down a total of 40 lbs and am up to doing 2000 meters per hour-long swim workout. I’ve joined United States Masters Swimming with the intent of competing in a few meets next year and, with the purchase of a new, modern road bike, have even given some thought to trying a sprint triathlon. Besides my renewed commitment to fitness, I also have had a very busy year at work. New Subaru sales are great, but it has taken a lot of effort to keep up. Family life has required more of my attention, too, as my junior-high aged son branches out into various new activities while my wife has doubled-down on her college course load. In short, it hasn’t been the automotive competition season I was envisioning in the last off-season.
That’s not to say the year has been completely uneventful automobile-wise. The biggest news, as was hinted at in the last post, is that the 2006 WRX has been replaced with a 2015 model. Back in April, I took delivery of the new car. I have been completely blown away by how much of an improvement this vehicle is over the old one. The turbo spools significantly quicker, the handling is vastly better, and the gas mileage is 15-20% better to boot!
I took the new car to it’s maiden autocross at the Champaign County Sports Car Club “Speed/Chaos” event in late May. I was quite disappointed in my personal performance, but my co-Driver for the day, Dan Marx, showed the car’s potential with a 6th-place-overall (PAX Index) finish. I took the car back to Rantoul in August and finished 8th place overall (PAX Index) at the “Bergfest” event. But for a nicked cone on my fastest scratch time, I would have finished 5th. Despite the unfortunate cone, I was quite satisfied with that performance given my relative lack of recent experience (only my 4th autocross since the 2012 Nationals) and the fact that I’m still running on the stock tires. With a little more repetition and some top-tier tires, I believe I could be in the running for top overall honors at local events next season. Hopefully life will allow it.
One downside of the new car is that the suspension upgrades mean it’s no longer suitable for rallycross in it’s stock form. It simply sits too low and has too much front overhang; one run on a rough course and the car would be shedding plastic bits and bending sheet metal. I’ve been working on a deal to purchase an older Impreza specifically for rallycross, but it hasn’t yet materialized. I’m not sure I would have had time to rallycross at all this year anyway, but I’m still interested in getting a second car I can use for such should I find time in the future.
On the Road Rally front, the 2013 SCCA National Championship points were finally tabulated and published. I had a chance at the Expert, Tour title, but missed a couple events at the end of the season and finished in 3rd place. That’s my 3rd “podium finish” in the Championship in the past 5 years. In February 2014 the old 2006 WRX rolled it’s last competitive miles as part of the 3-4-Three stable at the Kickaboo Winter Rally with Dan Marx at the wheel and myself as navigator. We managed a second-in-class finish. In June I teamed up with Adam Deffenbaugh in his Mazda 3 for the CCSCC Winding River Roads Rally. Adam drove excellently for a relative novice, and I did just enough as navigator to guide us to a 1st place overall finish. The 2015 WRX made its maiden Road Rally voyage later that month on a Friday Nighter with myself navigating and my wife Angela at the wheel. We finished 3rd overall with a score of 11 on 4 legs, a performance I thought was very good given that we haven’t installed a wheel-mounted sensor for the odometer and were using a less-accurate GPS sending unit instead. (Watch for a new blog entry in the near future with more on this new portable set-up). Angela was less than pleased, however, and is anxious for me to get the more accurate equipment installed in the new car. I teamed up with Adam again in July for the Watershed Adventure Rally. We nailed the first 3 legs, but both blew an instruction on the last one which ended up costing us a repeat overall victory. I had intended to compete in the the Hoosier Hills SCCA National RoadRally in Indianapolis in July, but family commitments kept Angela from attending. Instead of finding an alternative driver, I volunteered to help at the event as a checkpoint worker and gained valuable insight into what it takes behind the scenes to put on an event of this magnitude.
The big Road Rally news is that later this month I will be going to Chattanooga, TN, to compete in the United States Road Rally Challenge, the one piece of the 3-4-Three Challenge I couldn’t complete back in 2012. I will be navigating for veteran Chuck Hanson in his Mazda 6 in the Limited equipment class. Chuck and I performed very well together on the Badger Burrow RoadRally last year and have very high hopes of a class win. Stay tuned for an update on that event in the near future!