Per Schroeder
Per Schroeder PowerDork
12/22/08 9:32 a.m.

You can hear the whines all across the country each weekend as racers struggle to wrap their minds—and fragile self-esteems—around the fact that they just got beat. A serious whupping can prompt a lot of justifications and excuses, as well as a bit of secretive research on how to get in on the perceived cheating. A solid beating at the hands of an honest competitor will often create a cheater as back-markers struggle to catch up to the pack of fast cars.

We believe that you don’t have to cheat to go fast. A fast racer will take the rule book as gospel, learning every chapter and verse, word for word. The winners know everything about their cars, from fuel consumption and minimum weights to exact starting cold tire pressures for a specific track. Winning is in those details.

While there are some shops that bend and break the rules at their customers’ expense, this is the exception. If you hear about a shop that gets a customer’s car bounced at a big race, you should do your best to avoid that business. This goes double when the infractions are directly related to safety—it’s not their life on the line, it’s their customer’s.

Spec racing classes, and Spec Miata in particular, are a great example of how a tight rule set and wide variation in on-track performance can lead the ignorant into thinking that they must cheat to win. You don’t need to cheat to keep up with the pros, you just need to cover your bases and drive right at the limit. We’ll show you how to do that.

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BluEvo210
BluEvo210 New Reader
1/21/12 4:10 p.m.

This article is great!

Not only was it informative, I posted a link to it on an Evo forum where some folks are trying to convince me to cheat.

Matt Huffman
Matt Huffman New Reader
2/27/15 6:35 a.m.

Awesome article. should be mandatory reading for all motorsports competitors.

Tom1200
Tom1200 Reader
2/27/15 8:37 p.m.

Many years ago I had the eye opening experience of racing against Alex Gurney in showroom stock at an SCCA regional. Both cars were good natioanl level cars I was "only" three tenths slower (do the math it's 3.5 seconds back at the end) the difference was easy to spot. About twice a lap I would skate the car a bit to much in comparison; we're taking inches, on the last corner there was a slight hump on entry, if you were perfect you could brake as the car settled, if not perfect you'd lose half a car length. It didn't take me long to figure out that my lack of seat time (I only did 2-3 races a year) was half the battle. The comment in the article about the Schmoes car revised set up being fast but difficult to be consistent comes to mind. Many of us can turn fast laps but doing 12 laps on the same tenth the way top tier drivers do would be a big ask. The other thing I liked was it also highlighted the differences in clubbie and pros........pro teams spend all thier time talking set up, while regional drivers spend time talking about technique.............two weeks ago I ran the Datsun at my local track in a vintage race. I got my pal who's a real mechanic to take pity on me and help me out during Friday practice. I also put a fresh set of Hoosiers on the car instead of the usual take offs, the car also had a fresh motor in it instead of the tired thing I ran last year.................with a crisp motor, a proper set of tires and small set up adjustments I picked up 8 seconds on a 3 mile course. Now the new motor is up 25 horsepower but that ain't worth 8 seconds.

 Tom
Driven5
Driven5 HalfDork
2/27/15 10:54 p.m.

A great read! Having had the pleasure of meeting Jason a few times over the years, I always enjoy seeing things that his name pops up in. You couldn't have much better of a pro.

ronholm
ronholm Dork
2/27/15 11:28 p.m.

Great Article!

I have in the last couple years raced sailboats... The same thing applies there. The guys in the middle or the back of the fleets (me) are always looking for some way to tinker with something, some string to pull or anything they can do to change something on the boat to make it faster. The guys at the top just sail away.. So you think that kind of stuff is bad racing cars.. Try it when the power source is constantly changing. The leaders just run off and hide. In sailing the most important thing is the nut on the tiller. It has to be right.

I love the life lessons learned while racing.

mazdeuce
mazdeuce PowerDork
2/28/15 6:10 a.m.

Great article. Probably one of the best I've read in a long time.
The autocross flip side to this is to find the fast guy/girl locally and ask them to take a lap in your car. Even when I think I'm doing well and competing against the local guys in my class, a national jacket holder always seems to be able to find 2 seconds hiding on course.

fornetti14
fornetti14 Dork
2/28/15 7:47 a.m.

Holy bumpin' old thread!
Having a hot shoe drive your car is a great idea.
It shows the speed to be gained in seat time, not throwing more mod money at the car.
(and I miss seeing Per post here)

wbjones
wbjones MegaDork
2/28/15 7:52 a.m.

I've done that with my car at a track with which I'm very familiar … 2 1/2 sec quicker … the tiny shriveled acorns I have dangling between my legs has a lot to do with the difference in speed

84FSP
84FSP Reader
2/28/15 7:54 a.m.

Always a harrowing experience to get owned in your own car. I find it really useful to watch them on course. Just as useful in autox is the ridealong with the pro in the passenger seat to talk thru what can be better.

Durty
Durty New Reader
3/1/15 11:23 a.m.

I'm really glad this article got shared on facebook. I like the new vintage article recirculation. This was a great idea for a test and I can't wait to get back on track.

DLD
DLD New Reader
3/1/15 6:12 p.m.
mazdeuce wrote: Great article. Probably one of the best I've read in a long time. The autocross flip side to this is to find the fast guy/girl locally and ask them to take a lap in your car. Even when I think I'm doing well and competing against the local guys in my class, a national jacket holder always seems to be able to find 2 seconds hiding on course.

If you do that, make sure you're emotionally ready to accept the results. Many years ago we ran an autocross, I had just won my class and they were giving fun runs. One of the guys in my class asked me to drive his car. I asked if he was sure he wanted me to do that, and he assured me he was. I drove his car, which was set up very well by the way, and turned in a faster time than I had with my car. I complimented him on his car, he thanked me, and we never saw him again! He was a really nice guy, fun to have around, and he let that ruin it for him, instead of seeing it as an opportunity. I've always regretted that day, and the only cars belonging to others I've driven since then are my closest friend's. I'm no world beater autocrosser, just what I would call competent.

rcutclif
rcutclif HalfDork
3/1/15 6:20 p.m.
DLD wrote:
mazdeuce wrote: Great article. Probably one of the best I've read in a long time. The autocross flip side to this is to find the fast guy/girl locally and ask them to take a lap in your car. Even when I think I'm doing well and competing against the local guys in my class, a national jacket holder always seems to be able to find 2 seconds hiding on course.

If you do that, make sure you're emotionally ready to accept the results. Many years ago we ran an autocross, I had just won my class and they were giving fun runs. One of the guys in my class asked me to drive his car. I asked if he was sure he wanted me to do that, and he assured me he was. I drove his car, which was set up very well by the way, and turned in a faster time than I had with my car. I complimented him on his car, he thanked me, and we never saw him again! He was a really nice guy, fun to have around, and he let that ruin it for him, instead of seeing it as an opportunity. I've always regretted that day, and the only cars belonging to others I've driven since then are my closest friend's. I'm no world beater autocrosser, just what I would call competent.

Might have been any other list of things. Maybe he moved? got a job that made him work Sundays?

I, lik you, might feel like I scared him off. I can also rationalize things until I convince myself I am not at fault (hehe), and would not make an exception here.

DLD
DLD New Reader
3/1/15 10:43 p.m.
rcutclif wrote:
DLD wrote:
mazdeuce wrote: Great article. Probably one of the best I've read in a long time. The autocross flip side to this is to find the fast guy/girl locally and ask them to take a lap in your car. Even when I think I'm doing well and competing against the local guys in my class, a national jacket holder always seems to be able to find 2 seconds hiding on course.

If you do that, make sure you're emotionally ready to accept the results. Many years ago we ran an autocross, I had just won my class and they were giving fun runs. One of the guys in my class asked me to drive his car. I asked if he was sure he wanted me to do that, and he assured me he was. I drove his car, which was set up very well by the way, and turned in a faster time than I had with my car. I complimented him on his car, he thanked me, and we never saw him again! He was a really nice guy, fun to have around, and he let that ruin it for him, instead of seeing it as an opportunity. I've always regretted that day, and the only cars belonging to others I've driven since then are my closest friend's. I'm no world beater autocrosser, just what I would call competent.

Might have been any other list of things. Maybe he moved? got a job that made him work Sundays?

I, lik you, might feel like I scared him off. I can also rationalize things until I convince myself I am not at fault (hehe), and would not make an exception here.

A great gift you have! :-)

Per Schroeder
Per Schroeder PowerDork
3/2/15 7:51 a.m.

Thanks--this was one of my favorite articles and I was glad to see it up for last week's Throwback Thursday. At first I was thinking, "cripes, that's not that old.." then I realized it was seven years ago. Sheesh.

trigun7469
trigun7469 Dork
3/2/15 10:21 a.m.

Great article, even in the spec classes attention to detail is critical to be fast.

TrentO
TrentO New Reader
9/15/15 6:53 p.m.

Thanks for posting this up. Great article. I need to find four seconds on a 1:30 lap track with my Spec Miata. I think I can find some HP and setup improvements, but I think the driver needs to step up for most of it.

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