Unorthodox Autocross Is Norm at ADSI

What happens when you allow for true variety at the autocross? Amazing fun. That's what. The July autocross at ADSI had a little bit of everything you could ever want! 700+ hp? Yes, that was there. A full-on airport fire truck running the course? Sure. Kids in a Polaris gas buggy? Absolutely. 24 Hours of Lemons race cars? Check. A hill climb car that would kill you just for looking at it? Uh huh. We saw it all.

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If it's Sunday, it's time to autocross

This coming Sunday is my first autocross day of the year at ADSI! And I hope you will come join me!

The predicted showers should add some extra fun and challenge. But doesn't look like a washout. 

8am for lessons until noon. Noon to 5pm for open autocross. Morning students get to jump the afternoon lines all day and get in many, many runs. 

So I hope you'll come see Brother Rich break in his new Potenza RE71r tires by whupping us all on the course. That takes the pressure off the rest of us - "he's got new tires, so, of course he's 10 seconds faster and lapped me twice." Just start saying it now and it will roll off the tongue. 

Hope to see you there. Contact me if you want to meet up or need directions. 

Does Having Kids Make You Faster Or Slower?

I just opened my Tuesday Speed Secrets email from Mr. Ross Bentley to be intrigued by the topic of having kids and how it affects your driving (and general attitude toward risk in life). Mr. Bentley was, in turn, inspired by Will Buxton, F1 pit lane commentator, who wrote an article about the same topic on using Nico Rosberg as the example du jour.

Here is what Mr. Buxton has to say, "Rosberg is unquestionably different in 2016...Rosberg's delicate savoir faire seems to come from a place of personal contentment...He joked with me in an NBCSN interview on Saturday evening in China that perhaps it has something to do with becoming a father, before brushing the idea away. But it was something I wanted to push him on...Has being a father changed him? I'd argue it has. Becoming a parent can do one of two things to a racing driver. For some, the knowledge that there is a small person on this earth that you have created and who needs you in his or her life, will cost them a tenth of a second. It will make them lift where they would have stayed flat, duck out of a move they'd never have flinched at previously. It dulls the sharpness that made them such a potent force."

But for others, having a child reminds them that there is more in this world and more to this world than racing cars and winning races. Far from slowing them down, that awakening to a world far bigger and far more important than everything they've known since they were 6 years old actually has the opposite effect. It lifts the self-imposed burden and pressure. It frees them to do their very best, and if it doesn't work out ... well, who really cares? Because there's a wonderful little human at home who is going to think they're the most amazing person in the world, whether they're a world champion or a refuse collector."

Mr. Bentley's analysis of the psychology behind this potential affect is what resonates deeply with me at this point in my life: "when one relaxes, performance improves. It's easy to get caught up in the pressure of 'having' to turn a lap time, or get a certain result. But as Rosberg's performance has shown, it's definitely not the best way to get what you want. You're not negotiating world peace. You're negotiating a track!"

I'm often surprised by how competitive my adopted sport can be a times. Whether it is negotiating cones on an airstrip or driving around in circles on race tracks all over New England, most of what I do is not inherently competitive. There are no trophies and no money will be won (only lost - by turning it into smoke and noise). I've often found myself looking at this from a very detached perspective. My goal is to have massive fun...and be safe...and to be home in time to enjoy my kids and my wife some more. For me, that is the "win". Every time.

Don't get me wrong. I love to improve. And I softly "compete" with my own expectations at each outing. But I'm also grounded by my goals and try to remain humble and realistic. The thing I love most is learning something I didn't know before. That, for me, is also a "win."

So for those of you who are able, please head down the to the first ADSI autocross of the season this Sunday, May 1. I'll be proudly watching my son receive his first Holy Communion in Providence and hosting my family to celebrate him. My heart will also be with you all on the track. Hopefully you'll be finding out for yourself whether your kids have made you more or less relaxed in your outlook on life!

The Most Important Thing for a Snow Autocross

It turns out that the most necessary item for a snow autocross is....snow! I recently went to Lime Rock Park to enjoy a day of sliding sideways on a snowy, low-traction autocross surface. Until a short time ago, driving in snow was one of my great joys in life, ironically, due to the relative safety of it - low grip, low speeds, low danger, high fun. But everything has it's limits. Lime Rock has been hosting winter snow autocross days for the past couple of years. Cars and SUVs are invited to turn up and have a go around the paved autocross portion of the track. They even have snow-making! It was something I was counting on when trying to decide what tires to run. 

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The Top Ten Reasons to Never Roll Your Wife's Car

For the two of you left on Earth that live under rocks and don't know that I recently went shiny-side-down in my wife's BMW wagon, it was a thing. Not a good thing. You still wouldn't know if you followed me on twitter since I don't post there much - follow this guy instead.

It's rather surreal to be driving down the road and then suddenly be upside down. But I can't say I recommend trying it for the experience. Here are a few reasons to not try it.

The top ten reasons to not roll over your wife's car:

10. AAA does not, in fact, offer roadside assistance to vehicles whose wheels are not in contact with the ground. Who knew? Not even with AAA Plus! They will call the police to help you out. Who will, in turn, contact the same towing people that AAA could have called if your car was still on it's wheels.

9. You may find that most normal people will be glad that you were ok but some family members actually were hoping you'd have gotten "just a little more injured" to "teach you a lesson." Uh, yeah.

8. Your wife, being amazing, will first make sure you are ok. Then she will kill you.

7. Your kids will ask how you accomplished this feat. You'll explain it to them hoping they will learn to never do it. And then tomorrow and every day after that they will ask again, allowing you to relive the moment every hour for the rest of your ever-loving life. 

6. For some reason, engines were not designed to be operated 180 degrees from the orientation in which you get them from the car store. They tend to leak fluids where there were no leaks before. Luckily, they don't leak gasoline unless you did something to the tank. Best to shut it off and climb out if you find yourself upside down. And find a bucket.

5. You can probably save a little bit of gas by making aerodynamic changes such as removing the side mirrors. But breaking them off forcibly by rolling the car over is not a good way to make these efficiency modifications. Look up hypermiling instead.

4. All those things that you don't think about strapping down when you're driving around town - the kid's booster seats, the floor mats, pairs of skis and boots - you know, the little things - they become rather more like projectiles that want to impale you when they become airborne. If your car is not perfectly clean and tidy, definitely do not roll it over.

3. When the experts suggest "increasing the size of your contact patch" for better traction, don't misinterpret what they mean. The roof of your car, while offering much more surface area in contact with the road, is not sufficiently grippy to be an improvement over your tires' contact patches. Your cornering will suffer.

2. A trip to Australia to see what the world feels like upside down is probably a bit less expensive than the repairs and your wife might actually enjoy it!

And the #1 reason to not roll over your wife's car is: 

That idle threat your wife made one time to slowly remove your testicles with the dull oyster shucking knife in the bottom drawer - yeah, she actually wasn't kidding!!