First Autocross in a 140 cubic inch powered Vega

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First Autocross in a 140 cubic inch powered Vega

Postby bugdewde » Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:20 pm

Wow.... do I suck!

I thought I knew how to drive :censored:

This was a school.... not an actual competition. Good thing, 'cause I needed schoolin'.
Learned some great things about the car today. The 205/60-13 Sumitomo HTRs are trustworthy. I really let them have it, today.
Aired the fronts up to between 40-45 psi.
The rears got 40.

I wasn't sure about the gearing of the T-50 tranny and the rear gear so I was unsure about what gear I should have been in. Decided to run it in first for the first three runs. The first run was sort of an exploritory run just to see what the car would do. Hardly used the brakes at all while in 1st.

First uninstructed run was 58.xxx seconds.
Second was 52.xxx seconds.
Third was 49.xxx seconds.

During the instruction runs... I decided to use 2nd gear..... the instructors gave advice and pointers that helped in some areas but hurt in others...... I guess you gotta learn it in steps. The average instructed runs were somewhere around 49 seconds.

A second instructor was used for the other set of intructed runs. These runs netted a best of high 47 seconds.

The last uninstructed runs netted a best of mid 45 seconds..... the very last run of the day. I dropped 4 seconds off my first average. I'm hooked.

The best time I saw was low 38 seconds. Lotus Elise and a Subaru STI and a turboed Miata. Man, do I suck!

OK.... enough about that crap.

The VEGA:
Basically stock 140 with 5-speed... I think the rear is a 2.9x ... definitely open diff.

The hardest part for me was steering.... the manual box required a LOT of steering. Very hard to shuffle steer at speed. Aggravated my old shoulder/elbow/arm injury. I eventually got it down, but it needs a quicker ratio box (my parts car has power steering).

The handling really surprised me........ very balanced. I never spun out.... not once. I did push wide a few times due to the novice braking and poor positioning but the car handled very well. Definitely needs better seating and restraints.

The braking was adequate for this course.... not used very aggressively..... just a little to set up for the sharpest turns by kicking the rear out a touch and powering through.... and then to stop.

The power... wow... the 140 works so much better in front of the manual than the power glide. I was able to get some wheel spin when cornering heavily... which resulted in wheel hop if I didn't let out of it or get straight. This helped to negate the cases when I overshot my apex and pushed wide. I actually could power the nose back around in most cases.... most.

Here's my take on the event:
-Look ahead. Don't concentrate on the turn at hand... look at the next set of cones... get set up for them now (this really helped my times).
-Brake early, power through.
-Brakes are used for more than stopping.
-Try to run the rear wheel over the base of the cone.... (hard to comprehend at first but it works).
-Slaloms are fun when you don't fight them.

I ate more cones during the slalom than anything.
I am hooked. I want to do this again and again and again.
Dwight

'73 Vega GT Hatchback, mostly stock....
'72 Vega GT Kammback, 215 V8
'73 Vega Wagon - Currently in Limbo....
My rides: http://www.cardomain.com/id/bugdewde
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Postby gerbsinmd » Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:35 pm

Sounds like a hoot!!!!
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Postby monzamess » Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:55 pm

Late apex, power on. I think with the 140 it's all about finesse. With a big-engine RWD car it's kind of like a bull in a china shop, but people make it work well.
Dennis
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Postby Fastmax32168 » Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:14 am

Back in the 70s I had a modified V8 monza spyder and my buddy had a stock 4 cyl spyder. My car was blast to watch go around the course, but my buddys 4 cyl car was always faster, regardless of which of us drove which car.
Roy
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Postby spyder_xlch » Mon Mar 17, 2008 8:40 am

If you had fun that's all that matters. Plus you were out there in an H-body.
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Postby NixVegaGT » Mon Mar 17, 2008 8:59 am

This is great, Dwight. Really cool. I can't wait to get mine up and running the courses. Remember you are actually a winner, bro. It's a class race, right? There can't be that many rear drive domestic compacts in the field.

Awesome!
- Nic '73 Vega GT "DogBoxx" Batwing LS1
http://www.cardomain.com/ride/2357894
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Postby cosvega76 » Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:39 am

Good job, Dwight! It is addictive! Seat time is the best method to improve your times, so I guess you'll have to sign up for some more!

Chuck
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Re: First Autocross in a 140 cubic inch powered Vega

Postby SunbirdMan » Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:57 am

bugdewde wrote:...I am hooked.....


You got me hooked just from reading about it.
Roger---------------------------------------------------------------
UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED
DIMENSIONS ARE IN INCHES
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Postby spyder_xlch » Mon Mar 17, 2008 12:51 pm

Just like Chuck said, seat time. I never raced in any organized type of race but I can say from experience with other things in life, instructors can tell you how to do something, and their way may be right for alot of people. But other people may find it easier or better to do things a different way. As a mechanic I was taught to do something one way. At my first job I was told to do it another way. Move on to another job and the new boss wants it done a different way. From experience you learn your own way. There's more than one way to skin a cat and each way might work better for different people. Listen to what you are told and get advise from other racers, but don't take everything you hear as gospel. Use it as a guide but do it how it works for you. And that's why seat time is so important. The main thing is having fun. It's a hobby for you, not a career. Being last isn't fun but winning isn't always everything.
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Postby monzamess » Mon Mar 17, 2008 5:50 pm

My favorite memory from autox was when I attended a school in NC probably 10 years ago. I forgot the names of the instructors--I think it was a husband/wife team.

The instructor got in my 97 Z28 after driving a bunch of little cars all day, punched it, almost lost control, and tore through a row of cones! Oops!

The biggest criticism I got, repeatedly, was that I was just not aggressive enough. I had good lines and such but just too slow. Sounds like the rest of my life. Sometimes I think I live at 90% of real time. :)
Dennis
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Postby rpoz-29 » Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:54 pm

It sounds like you're hooked, and that's good!Something else to remember: Under acceleration, your car is less likely to spin because its' weight is biased to the rear. I've seen a ton of people lift at the wrong time, (suddenly sending the weight to the nose, thus lightning the rear), and spin. Sometimes instructors tend to give too much information at once. It's hard to process everything the're telling you. It sounds like you had pretty good instrutors, and you kept your mind on the task at hand. It's good you had fun. Now, put a set of "R" compounds on it and you'll drop another 2 or 3 seconds. I kid you not.
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Postby hammerdown7 » Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:46 am

Dwight,
Listen to Bill, he really knows how to get around an autocross course. I have witnessed his ability a couple of times. I don't remember if I beat his times or not but with the car I had I should have been 4-5 seconds quicker and if I beat him at all, it was barely. He's fun to watch, great car control.
Dick
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Postby rpoz-29 » Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:23 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Dick. I learned what I know about autocrossing a Vega through trial and error, (I started in early1975), and I'm eager to pass along anything that will help out someone else. Through the years I've autocrossed a number of different cars, and if a Vega had 40 more horses, it would have been a class killer. I take my autocrossing as seriously as most guys on here take the drags. You definitely beat me though. As I watched you spin those Hoosiers through the top of second gear, a friend of mine commented, "Hits a little harder than your Vega, doesn't it Bill?" I'm glad it's Thursday...Setup comes on tonight and I get to see how my buddy does!

Bill
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Postby bugdewde » Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:48 pm

I'll definitely take the advice. I started with the recommended 45 psi in front and 40 in the rear. Didn't change it all day. The scuff marks looked to be the perfect pressure.

"R" compounds might become a reality...... once I get the trailer hitch installed. May get one of those Harbor Freight fold up trailers to hold my spare wheels/"R" compounds as well as additional cargo space for the many anticipated H-body events across the country this year. :lol:

Dick, that avatar is sweet. Love the stance as well as the paint.

40 more horses, eh? So my 30lb heavier 215 swap netting a 100 hp gain should be about right, then? If I could camoflauge the V8 to look like a 4..... and stay in H-stock..... hmmmmm? :twisted:
Dwight

'73 Vega GT Hatchback, mostly stock....
'72 Vega GT Kammback, 215 V8
'73 Vega Wagon - Currently in Limbo....
My rides: http://www.cardomain.com/id/bugdewde
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Postby gerbsinmd » Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:14 am

I'd like to see that camo...
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