TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
6/3/19 12:42 p.m.

New build / driving thread!  Mostly driving, but we'll see where things go.

I started reading GRM way back around 1997 - it was the "Z vs. Z" edition with the 240z facing off against the early 300zx.  I was hooked on the mag.  Wanted to try autocross way back then, and never actually made it happen. 

A year ago I bought the subject of this thread - brand new Chili Pepper Metallic Focus ST.  Love it.  Great around town, drop off the kids at school, grocery car.  Just the right size, with power and handling that still puts a smile on my face!  One of my goals in getting this car was buying something that I could drive in an autocross or track day with no excuses.  Just get out and go.

This April I got to got to ST Octane Academy in Utah.  So much fun.  Everything I hoped it would be!

Two months has passed and I've finally figured out a good day to do my first real autocross - Saturday June 8 is the day!  I just registered for the Rocky Mountain Solo Championship Series #5 event!

Game on!

spacecadet HalfDork
6/3/19 1:21 p.m.

In reply to TVR Scott :


mr2s2000elise HalfDork
6/3/19 1:42 p.m.

Congrats on the car, beautiful 

TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
6/3/19 1:48 p.m.
mr2s2000elise said:

Congrats on the car, beautiful 

Thanks!  When it's washed the color still dazzles me.

TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
6/3/19 8:23 p.m.

Funny story from dinner tonight.  My wife said she shouldn't be driving this car anymore.  She drove it some when I was in Spain two weeks ago, and now she says she doesn't like her 2010 Jetta's "slowness".

I have signed up for the autocross.  I'll admit to being a bit confused by the registration process.  It told me to just pick a number - so I picked #17 (my jersey number from high school cross country days).  Then after registration, I looked at the entry list and someone else was also listed having #17.  So I'm not clear if I'll be changing numbers or what.  Surely this isn't an insurmountable problem.

One thing I've never liked about the ST is that the gas and brake pedals are too far apart to do my goofy little down-shift throttle blip.  What I'm doing isn't non-syncro grade rev-matching, but it let's me let out the clutch while I'm braking.  So I ordered up some pedal covers from Steeda, and installed them on Saturday.

The accelerator pedal is about an inch wider than stock.  Here it is bolted/screwed in place:

The directions actually specify to undersize the holes for the #8 bolts and then let the tap the plastic.  Then they say to just get a couple hex nuts on there as backup.  A little weird, but it does seem stable.

I used my straightedge to line up the brake and clutch pedals:

And here's the view from the driver's seat:

The spacing is real nice now, and I can do my downshift blip just fine.  I did find that my shoe would catch on the back-right edge of the brake pedal when moving my foot from accelerator to brake.  I smoothed out that back edge with some 120 grit sandpaper, and it's much better now.

I then vacuumed the car and found:

  • One stocking hat
  • One ice scraper
  • Two barrettes
  • 10,000 seeds from the next-door linden tree
  • 50 lb of teenage girl hair
  • 27 lb of dog hair
  • 8 candy wrappers
  • Approximately 27 gnawed-off spat-out fingernails

All that from a pretty clean car.  Beware what lurks under the floor-mats and behind the cushions!

TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
6/7/19 7:40 a.m.

Getting ready for tomorrow's autocross.  I think everything is falling into place.

The entry number thing I mentioned above was no big deal - the other #17 was in a different class.  So I need to print out numbers and letters tonight and make sure I have some masking tape.

Are there certain tapes that will bake in the sun and make a sticky mess?

Here's my packing list:

  • Helmet
  • Printed numbers
  • Water bottle
  • Lunch
  • Cooler
  • Chairs
  • Sunscreen & hat

Am I missing anything?

What about simple iphone apps?  Any recommendations?

Can anyone recommend a starting point for tire pressures?


pinchvalve MegaDork
6/7/19 8:10 a.m.

For the iPhone, you can run Track Addict and get a pretty decent account of your run without any additional gear. Just remember to set the start and finish lines during the walkthrough.

Air pressures depends on your brand of tires and conditions, but if they are supposed to run 35 psi on the street, I would suggest 40 - 42 front and 38-40 rear as a starting point. Chalk the shoulders of your tires and adjust up/down from there.  Tire Rack has a handy guide:

I recommend a co-driver for the first run to make sure you stay on course,  your first goal is to get a time and not DNF! 

Then I recommend braking early at first, you will quickly learn that you can brake later and adjust your braking points to go faster on successive runs. If you overshoot each corner, all you've learned is that you went too fast and you have to start over again with a slower speed. Overshooting also messes up your line and wears tires. Brake early and accelerate through the turns if needed. 

As you get comfortable, focus on looking ahead, being smooth with your inputs, and finding the right line.

As you get experienced, focus on the best line, shifting weight to the nose, getting on boost at the right times, and picking up chicks.  

(Im kidding about the chicks, if there are baby birds on course the workers will shoo them off) 


TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
6/7/19 10:29 a.m.

In reply to pinchvalve :

Great info, thanks!

The car is on the original Goodyear Eagle F1's.  I'll fill them according to your recommendations.

The organizers say they will have instructors available for beginners, so I'll liberally take advantage of that.

spacecadet HalfDork
6/7/19 3:07 p.m.

In reply to TVR Scott :

leave the car in sport mode also. with everything off, the car will initiate extra rotation. 

I will also recommend more pressure front than rear. the car doesn't need air pressure difference to rotate. 

you've been introduced to some of the driving the car likes at Octane Academy. 

TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
6/7/19 7:30 p.m.

Quick evening family craft project:

And now at least I look the part:

TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
6/8/19 5:01 p.m.

Whew, crazy busy fun day!  Just got back from the Rocky Mountain SCCA Regional #5 autocross - my first autocross ever!

Not exactly sure how to organize my thoughts into anything readable, but here goes.

Worked a corner in the morning - I actually found it helpful to watch the fast drivers and the slow drivers and get a feel for the racing lines.  What to do and not to do.  There were some rippin' fast folks out there - CAM was a super popular class, as were a bunch of the Street classes.  The super fast guys were running 40 sec flat or even a little less, the fast "regular" cars were 43-44 sec.

Turned out my corner didn't need very much tending - it was part of a big right-hand sweeper that entered a slalom.  The guy who was two corners down from me looked like he was doing wind-sprints at track practice!

Afternoon runs:

First one I just took it easy and got a feel for the course and how the car was going to handle.  Time 54.15 - clearly off the pace but fine for my first run.  And I wasn't going home with a DNF.

Second run I turned it up a bit and felt more comfortable.  Felt the car rotating and sliding in the big turn-around sweeper half way thru.  Unfortunately I plugged a cone somewhere in there.  Time with penalty 51.490 - definitely the right idea.

Third run I had my cousin jump in and ride along.  My cousin has started doing some track days and stuff too.  He's big into sim racing and has been getting out for real lately.  Unfortunately his beater WRX is getting a new steering rack right now, so he just came to watch.  After the run he said, "Wow, that feels a lot faster than it looks!"  Time for Run 3 - 49.18 - consistent with the last one but no penalties.  Better still.  And I think my cousin is fired up to have the Yellow-Rat ready for the next event too.

Fourth run was sort of more of the same - 49.37.  So not really any faster but consistent and no cones.

For my fifth and final run, I just tried to drive harder and accelerate more all through the course.  And I got a nice bump for it with a time of 48.22!

Overall I scored a sweet 4th place out of 4 G-Street drivers.  Not shocking or bothersome at all really.  The other three drivers all had a few years of experience, and were chalking tires, checking and adjusting pressures run-to-run, and spraying down tread and radiators.  Their times were 43.61, 43.66, and 46.19, so I really wasn't terribly behind for a total newbie.  They all had runs with cone clips and all had runs close to or above my 48.22.  So I was definitely in the mix.  And they were all super nice too!

That's it for now.  I'll add some pictures later and see if I can upload a video or two from Track Addict.

mr2s2000elise HalfDork
6/8/19 6:20 p.m.

Nice times


when is jetta going up for sale? 

TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
6/9/19 12:19 p.m.

Here's a video my cousin took of my last run.  I'll try to put up the in-car video from that run.


TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
6/9/19 5:06 p.m.

And the same run from inside the car:

I need to better secure the mount so I don't get as much shake.  Sorry that this isn't super fun to watch because of that.

BTW, Track Addict and Race Render are pretty cool programs!

TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
6/11/19 12:46 p.m.

Just found out that my one-day $15 membership from Saturday can be applied to a yearly SCCA membership.  That's pretty cool, and is certainly welcoming to newcomers.

TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
6/11/19 12:52 p.m.

And promised pictures from the grid - surrounded by CAM Mustangs:

And one farther away:

Also, my cousin told me that his WRX will be in G-Street too, so we'll get to race each other directly!  Cool!

TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
7/17/19 12:04 p.m.

More events coming up this weekend! 

Saturday is an all-day autocross school.  I'm looking forward to a lot of seat time and instruction.  Should be really valuable.  As a bonus my cousin will be joining me with his recently purchased Solstice GXP.  And his son may bring along his 2.5 RS too - we'll see.

Then Sunday is another RM Solo championship race.  Will be fun to try competition right after getting all the seat time at the school.

TVR Scott
TVR Scott HalfDork
7/17/19 5:24 p.m.

Minor "upgrade" this afternoon: put on my black/silver Octane Academy ST badges.  The front:

For those who don't know, when you attend the ST Octane Academy in Salt Lake, they give you these special badges that aren't available anywhere else.  Here's the back one:

I like how the new badges set off the orangy/red of the car.  The old red ones  were close in color, and these contrast more.

I also tore off the ugly dealer badge.  It actually came off way easier than I expected.  Should have done it a year ago.

There's my pointless style mod for the day!

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