Evo 4 Sale, but no one’s buying

They say everything sells if it has the right price, and by ‘everyone’, I mean I say that, so I was recently surprised to find that my Evo didn’t sell after pricing it initially at $31,500, and then having lowered it to $28,900. I decided to list it on Facebook Marketplace, and while it garnered over 2100 views and several conversations with prospective buyers, I never got what I’d consider a serious offer. Given the current car market, I thought it might be a good time to step out from the Evo and perhaps buy something a bit more streetable, and newer. I considered Chevy Camaro SS 1LE, Honda Civic Type-R (current or next gen), Toyota Supra, Toyota GR86, Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, and some used options like a BMW M2 Competition. Problem was, as good as a time as it seems to sell, it’s also a lousy time to buy a car.

With no one biting on the car, I think I’ll refocus on the Evo and look forward to some more track events and time trials with it.

I’m still planning my motorsports schedule, and other than another trip to the SCCA Runoffs this September @ ViR, I’m still on the fence about most of it.

2021 SCCA Runoffs – Indy Motor Speedway, September 28th – October 3rd, 2021

Another flagging adventure is in the books as I spent 6 days flagging at the SCCA Runoffs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This was a different event from my first Runoffs I attended back in 2017 at this same facility. I’m assuming it should be chocked up mostly to the ongoing pandemic, but flagger staffing was way down for the event. It picked up for the races on the weekend, but practice and qualifying earlier in the week had some short staffing.

A smaller but mighty crew – 2021 F&C crew @ SCCA Runoffs. The author is in back against the grey/yellow wall divide.
Arriving in time for the start of the F&C meeting each morning means you arrive sooner than most of the participants do.

My first day of flagging had three of us at stations 2 & 3. We had a shared station captain, which meant one of the stations would be a single flagger. Blue flagging from Station 3 was near impossible because there is no visibility up track, so I offered to work 3 myself and handle both yellow flag and comms. Comms are pretty good at IMS as they are land line-based, not radio based. You just have the challenge of keeping the cord to your comms box out of the way of your feet, and not wander too far from where it plugs in. The other flagger who worked 2? Famed motorsports announcer Greg Creamer, who is a really good guy and loves to come out and flag. During lunch we were chatting, and he said if he could make a living flagging, he’d do it full time. Cool guy.

The view from Station 3 as you yellow flag

Next day I was assigned to Station 12, a return to the scene of getting bonked in the head by a golf ball-sized chunk of tire rubber back during the 2017 Runoffs. You are crazy close to the cars as they hug the wall coming into the braking zone for the right hander, literally able to tap some cars on the roof with your flag stick. Combined with being paired with a station captain that liked chatting rather than setting up station, and I felt like I was the station captain as I took charge and set up the station with flags and comms.

Still have the mark on my hat where I got nailed by a chunk of race rubber back in 2017 at Station 12.
Leaning on the wall to blue flag puts a flagger at risk from debris.

Wednesday evening, they offered a track walk for anyone participating. I decided to get my steps in and become more familiar with the track as I hadn’t see it in its entirety, so I set my exercise app to record the effort.

I walked the entire road course, which is outlined above.

Next day, I was assigned to Station 7, basically at the midpoint on the Hullman Straight. This was another station that posed some challenges for flagging. I suggested to my captain that as blue flagging would be very challenging with the head-on view of vehicles, we’d make better use of our small opening by just yellow flagging out of it, and putting the Comms person on the platform to better watch the large amount of track we were responsible. The station captain was agreeable to that, and it seemed to work well.

The small opening to the right of the platform provided little room for flagging, so we prioritized yellow flags and abandoned the blue. Paddock traffic was busy behind us, and we ended up taking on responsibility for keeping spectators off the fence as it was a hot zone and not open for spectating. The traffic behind us reminded me of the traffic threatening flaggers as Station 11 at Sebring, but was actually much safer than the Sebring set up. At least the provided cones to stake out some room for us when we walked behind the platform.

For race days – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – I was assigned to Station 1 (very busy!), Station 5A, and then Station 14. It was nice to be on 14 for Sunday as with weather expected we had some shelter to put our gear out of the way and protect it.

The event was very warm for late September/early October and while I was able to deal with it in my attire, standing for hours each day caused my legs to swell up for the race days. Gotta remember to bring along my support socks next time. Some racers complained about seeing flaggers sitting at times, but perhaps they should come out for a few days and stand all day. I think they’d get it.

Station 14, located in the front of the grandstand at Indy turn 1. Blue flagging can be tough here. I found a hack during the Formula X race: use binoculars to identify cars entering the turn at Station 12, and project if the leaders would catch back markers by the time the came out of the turn in front of us.

NER Night Races, Thompson Speedway, August 21, 2021

Once again this year, I discovered two of my favorite events were scheduled in conflict: my Patroon Chapter’s August track outing at Lime Rock Park, and NER’s Night Race @ Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. I skipped the night racing last year and chose to do a track day, but with my car “in the shop” and getting some much needed attention, I decided to sign up for the flagging opportunity at Thompson.

The view from my station at 10, coming off the oval portion of Thompson’s road course.

I’m used to flagging at night; I’ve done it several times as part of the IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring event. It’s fun, challenging, and ultimately exhausting. However, I was curious to see how an SCCA region would do things, and rather than have high budget professional race rigs screaming around a course, I was intrigued to see how some low budget amateur racers would do it.

Most interesting aspect of this is racers were NOT allowed to use their headlights. Well, if I understood the rules correctly, they could use their headlights, as long as they were covered and only gave off enough lumens to simulate a running marker. In other words, you can see the light, but the light can’t be strong enough to illuminate anything. Some cars had some very trick LED strip lights to mark their front corners – those cars that normally would not have any operative lights in their class, for example. Others simply ran their running/parking lights. And interestingly enough, some chose to forgo any lights, at least on the front. Aside: everyone was required to have a functional rear lamp, be it a rain light on formula cars, or tail/brake lights on closed wheel cars, but even their brightness was subject to light output limits.

The track itself was pretty well lighted, with a bunch of portable lights stationed around the track. Unfortunately at our flag station, we had lights stationed across track from us and up on a hill, so racers could see us and our flags (a very important feature), but we didn’t have the advantage of any lighting on cars from our side of the track that would help us see their numbers, classing, or sometimes even their color. Fortunately for us we had no incidents in our section during the night time portion of the event, so it didn’t impede our calls. Blue flagging was a huge challenge under the circumstances.

Earlier in the day, we found a ground hornet nest in the middle of our tire wall. Didn’t impact us, but if a driver got stuck in the wall at that nest, I’m guessing they’d be none to happy. Reported to track personnel.

I liked the later-than-normal start to the event, allowing me to get up a little later and take my time getting to the track, but the finish of the event at about 11:30pm was the latest I’ve ever flagged. It kind of underscored my lack of enthusiasm for ever flagging at the Daytona 24 event. The racers who attended seemed to love it, so I’d come back and work it again if I have the chance.

Next event on my calendar, an autocross in September to close out my driving season, and then flagging at the SCCA Runoffs @ Indy Motor Speedway in September/October….

NER Thompson Majors, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, July 9-10, 2021

My very first day of flagging ever happened to fall on a day when the remnants of a hurricane blew through Lime Rock Park. The gentleman who was training me asked me at the end of the day what I thought of flagging, and I told him I loved it. He laughed, and said “If you loved in this conditions, you’re really going to love it under normal circumstances”.

I thought of this on Friday of the Thompson Majors event, as hurricane Elsa was due to come up the coast and overspread Thompson with heavy rains. And heavy rains it had in spades, as the track quickly was overcome with standing water. By the second session of Friday morning’s practice and qualifying, a lake formed at the station just before mine, and we watched in amazement as cars would come through on their first laps, not knowing the lake was there, only to dive for the apex and cause splashes towering 8ft in the air, and the race car visibly slowing down as they hit a wall of water. Action was suspended, and a waiting game then played out as we tried to wish the rain away. As us flaggers sat in the garages, deadlines of 11am, noon, and 1pm came and went. Finally at 2pm, they decided that there were too many spots on track that would not drain in time even if the rain stopped (which it did), so a consolidated schedule focused on Saturday were put in place. When we took advantage of the rain stopping, our visuals on the track revealed Pit In lane had about 6-8″ of standing water in it, a small river of about 3-4″ of water was flowing across the front straight just up from the starter stand, the lake at Turn 3 that was very deep, and smaller rivers running across the track before and after the hairpin at Turn 4 (my station).

Saturday dawned cloudy but rain-free. However, there was a lot of water still draining from the area surrounding the track. Track services at Thompson was out trying to dig some minor trenches in the grass to help reroute water drainage at the braking zone just before the bridge at turn 5. Cars handled the wet spots on track with pretty good strategies, but we still had some cars running off track due to water in key braking and turning zones. One Spec Miata entrant put down 3 of 4 pairs of skid marks that led directly at the armcom on driver’s right at the turn under the bridge. Some more trench digging by track services finally allowed that spot to dry up, and drivers didn’t have many issues in any of the wet spots after that.

NER has a great write-up with spectacular pics and video of the challenges from that event.

Gator driving thru lake on track
The water was a bit deep in the corners. Turn 3. Photo courtesy NER members.

July 3rd-4th, 2021: Palmer Time Trials National Tour

I finally had the opportunity to attend SCCA’s Time Trials National Tour (TTNT) event at Palmer Motorsports Park, July 4th weekend. Because it was my first time trial experience, I leaned heavily on my fellow MoHud members. A quick review of the classing rules prior to registering, I interpreted them to find my car qualified in the Unlimited 2 class, mostly due to using tires (Nitto NT01s) that were grippier than the encouraged 200 tread wear street tires that series sponsor Tire Rack sells.

Much of the event was run in the wet, which as an AWD guy I was OK with. The Evo on the front “straight” at Palmer Motorsports Park. Photo by Clarus Studios

The event itself had some unseasonably cool weather that weekend, and when combined with the damp conditions it helped preserve gas, tires and brake pads. I had fortunately signed up for a carport spot at Palmer, along with a majority of my MoHud friends, which lended itself to a very good atmosphere. Our driving experience was all over the board, and since SCCA groups entrants by driving experience, I found myself on track for my sessions with other drivers who had classified themselves as “advanced” drivers. So you had to wait for all driver groups to complete their sessions before looking at your results in class.

For the advanced drivers, we found ourselves with only 1 dry session out of the 6 sessions we were scored on over the 2 days. This seemed to work into my advantage with AWD and some solid experience with the track. Unfortunately for me, another Evo driver who I had the pleasure to chat with while flagging at NER’s June Paddock Crawl Race at LRP was a quick learner of the track, and was soon using his AWD and superior power output of his Evo to establish a lead I wasn’t able to dent. The good news for me was that this spurred me to put an even bigger lead over the other competitors in Unlimited 2.

When all was said and done, I held onto 2nd place and was awarded a trophy. Gotta admit that this was the cap on a really fun event and has me dreaming of doing it again next time the TTNT comes to the area.

Fastest session from Time Attack 1
Fastest session from Time Attack 2
Fastest session from Time Attack 3

May Patroon BMW CCA Track Day @ LRP

Patroon BMW CCA kicked of our 2021 driving season with an afternoon of open track at beautiful Lime Rock Park. The weather cooperated with cool and sunny conditions that kept engine, brake, and tire temps in check.

Open track and a great driving Evo 8 is the therapy I need.

The only downside of the day was several people coming up to me to let me know that I seemed to have some oil smoke trailing under certain circumstances; specifically when I’m off throttle. I’m assuming it’s the normal puffs when I shift, and when the rings aren’t under compression. Last leak-down test I had produced good results, so we’ll see. As STM told me – don’t touch the engine until you have to.

2021 Season Preparation

The weather hasn’t been a big motivator to getting things ready on the Evo. A recent trip to my buddy the fabricator held some interesting results. One of the things I asked him to take a look at was the possible causes of my autocross tires having a belt width portion of the front driver’s tire’s tread lathed off of it during a spin I took a look for possible causes and found two areas that showed signs of rubbing, but both seemed like they would have affected the sidewall of the tire, not the tread surface. However, my friend thought that the trailing edge of the body in the wheel well could have had a part, especially if the tire deformed during the spin. The fix? Cut the edge in several places, fold each portion over, then re-weld the cuts to solidify the edge once again. Sounds drastic, but I don’t want to lose another $400 Hoosier A7 in the process, especially one that was on its first day of use.

So far the season is looking like:

This is a typical scene a week or two before each track event – at Desperation Garage (April 2021).

Historic Festival 38 @ Lime Rock Park

September 4, 5, and 7 – I spent three days as a flagger at Lime Rock Park’s iconic Historic Festival. We were fortunate it got the go-ahead to take place considering all the restrictions on large gatherings, and for sure this event was different, as spectators weren’t allowed, but the racers themselves came out and supported the event to ensure car counts were good.

I was station captain at station 1, the entry to Big Bend. The great thing about station 1 is that it is a prime passing zone, and as such you get to see some excellent racing at this vantage point. The downside is that because of the passing opportunity that is presented to the racers at this point, you quickly find that not everyone possesses the talent required to pull off passes cleanly, and without contact. For the event, I wrote six reports of contact between cars – an all-time high for me. We saw some heart-breaking incidents between some fantastic and beautiful machinery, but fortunately all the drivers were fine.

MoHud Solo Event #2

I was looking forward to Event #2 with the Mohawk-Hudson Region of the Sports Car Club of America. We had upgraded our timing software, we had a new laptop, and I had two new Hoosiers on the front of my Evo. We had tested the software and I’ve run Hoosiers for quite a while, so I was set.

Or so I thought. First up was the sinking realization that I had completely forgotten about testing out our live timing setup. It’s based on a donated wireless router and some freeware software that was written 7 years ago, but it all seems to have worked. Until now… turns out the new timing software changed the output format of results, and the freeware we used – axti.me – couldn’t read and process it. We had a few folks gathered around to help with troubleshooting, but it wasn’t to be.

We had a great autocross course, and the new Hoosiers were putting me closer to the battle, but my times were still off from what I felt the leaders of the Pro class were putting down. My last run I decided to push myself to the absolute limit, and I did just that, but stepped over those limits at the end, spinning through the stop box and knocking down 4 cones. I managed to avoid the timing lights and cables, and watched a light pole spin by, but the 180 I did voided my event best time. Oh well, the car didn’t stall, and I was able to continue on and get back to grid. I got out and looked at my car to make sure it was OK. I laughed – I had two perfect outlines of cones on the driver’s side. Usually when you hit a cone it smears on the front bumper or wheel, but I had hit these straight on with the side of my car in the spin. I went to the passenger side, and noticed a patch of orange in my front wheel well. Oops – I still had a cone stuck between the tire and the fender liner. I got down on my back and slowly worked the cone down to the ground and just as I was wrestling it out from under the car, I noticed another issue: I had a long ribbon of what looked like fabric extending off the driver side front axle and extending to almost the middle of the car. “What the heck is that?” I said out loud. I got up and went back over to that side and got down on my back to look at it. It wasn’t cloth, but actually felt like a rubber strip. Touching it made my hands a mess, with dirty oil on it. Weird! A small group was gathered around, and as I pulled on the rubber strip, it wouldn’t come loose. Someone offered me a knife, and I cut it just behind the front tire. I figured once I got the car back up on my trailer, I could see what the heck it was. As I got up and showed folks the rubber strip, another competitor got down on the ground and was looking at it when he shouted “It’s from your tire!” Damn – that tire was brand new. As we looked at it and once I got it up on the trailer, we finally figured it out. Apparently when I spun, the tire rubbed on the trailing edge of the inner wheel well so much that the sheet metal literally lathed off a complete ribbon of tread, about 2″ wide, right down to the cords. The tire is shot and I’m out $400.

MoHud Region SCCA Solo Event #1

July 19, 2020 – MoHud got the chance to host an autocross event recently when Poughkeepsie Sports Car Club (PSCC) decided to pass on holding an event at this point in the pandemic. I, too, was a bit skeptical about all the new protocols we’d need to put into place and ensure that participants followed them, but others were eager to give it a shot. We have some folks on our team of organizers who had been dealing with pandemic protocols in their day jobs, and that experience helped immensely. We also benefited from several documents produced by SCCA National and some other regions that pioneered hosting events under Covid-19 protocols.

The site we used was the former location of IBM in Kingston, now called TECH City. It has large parking lots, and asphalt is reasonably good condition. There are a lot of little stones on the pavement, but in some ways I think that saves wear and tear on cars and the pavement as they aren’t able to put down so much grip that they lift up the pavement.

We decided to put a limit on even attendance capped at 50, following NYS guidelines for gatherings. We didn’t sell out, but we came close at 48 attendees. We also had an unwanted guest at the event: a stunningly hot heat advisory for that day. It made mask wearing a bit more uncomfortable than it normally would be, but attendees were very good at following our protocols. My special challenge for the event was arriving and realizing that the cooler I had packed with cold waters and lunch had been left on my kitchen table. Due to the pandemic, we had announced that we were not providing water to attendees, but fortunately my fellow competitors had brought extra water and generously offered it to me. I took advantage of those offers, but apparently I didn’t drink enough because by the time we had packed up and were discussing the event, I was feeling pretty woozy. Another generous offer of water and I regained my bearings and was able to tow the Evo home.

With that success, we’re looking to put on another Solo event on August 16th.