First, an apology. It’s been far too long since I’ve added a post. We’ll call it the planning a wedding/busy at work/my life is in chaos/winter break break.
Speaking of winter, ours is pretty much done, I’d say, and what a dud it was. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no sucker for punishment but with winter comes cold. With cold comes ice. And with ice comes ice racing. The one activity us northerners have to keep our skills sharp. Actually, I find ice racing an opportunity to improve on our skills.
On a dry track, there are no surprises. There isn’t much change from lap to lap or run to run. It’s the drivers job to put the car where it needs to be, break in that perfect spot, turn in at the right time and have the patients to get back on the power. It’s of course, it’s not that simple.
For the wheel to wheel guys and gals, there is obviously other cars out there that are always in the way. But still, everyone knows the theoretical fast line around the track but they’re trying to all be in that same place, at the same time.
For the auto cross folks, there aren’t the other cars to deal with but there is still that fast line that is there for the taking. Unfortunately, the down time between runs is our greatest enemy. You know what you did wrong on the last run but then you adjust tire pressure, talk to your buddy, maybe get a drink, watch and drool over the Lotus Elise, tell your buddies how much better you would be if you had an Elise, watch some more runs and then….. oh crap…. what was the mistake I needed to fix from my last run? Point is, the course didn’t change. The perfect line is still there.
With ice racing, though, everything is constantly changing. The studded cars (not me) create traction for the non studied cars (unfortunately me). So your fast line is based on somebody else’s perceived fast line. But what if the other car braked a little too late, is practicing his Scandinavian Flick or pumped himself up on Ken Block videos before he came and totally forgot about that pesky brake pedal. These variables cause the driver to constantly be making adjustments. Forcing you to listen to the car. Forcing you to to be patient and not force things.
So, because of our dud of a winter, I was only able to make it to one ice race this winter. With all of the above reasons for improvement and practice, ice racing provides one other vastly important result; you get to laugh your ass off!
My buddy Erik and I drove up to an ice race two and a half hours away in his bone stock, automatic, base model Subaru Imprezza. Knowing that we would be in the “all-wheel drive snow tire class” we knew this trip would be for the giggles and not for the glory. In our class would be the likes of the WRX, the STI WRX, Evos, Audis and any other car you can think of that would be better suited than our car for going fast in questionable conditions.
Other people clearly agreed. With comments like “Oh, I see you brought your grandmas car” and “Oh my god, this thing is an automatic?” we felt like Davie “Lardass” Hogan from Stand By Me. But with patients, consistent discussion of areas we did bad and good, and a co-pilot to belly laugh at each others flubs, I was able to come in second and Erik in 5th out of about 20 cars, also making us feel like “Lardass” after his victory.
So, thank you mother nature for helping me hone my skills and lets hope for a successful and warm racing season!
Check out our Facebook page to see some video of our giggle inducing ice adventures!