Hitting the apex — literally
I went to Laguna Seca Raceway on Saturday for a track day with Redline Track Events (http://www.redlinetrackevents.com). By the end of the day, I could say I have something in common with Randy Pobst – falling victim to the Turn Six apex marker (red object in the photo above). This was a “feat” he accomplished on lap two of last year’s Laguna Seca SPEED Touring Car race in his #73 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda6.His incident resulted in a damaged left front wheel. A quick pit stop was all he needed to return to the fight.
It would take much more than a quick pit stop to take care of the damage my car sustained. The left front strut collapsed and never rebounded like it should.It also was bent by the impact. Perhaps having 80,000 miles of (ab)use on it may have been a contributing factor as well. I think I turned in too early/too much right before it happened.I don’t think it was the first time I had hit it that day either (I was nearing the end of my third of five sessions when the apex marker dealt its death blow). It would have been nice if a warning had been issued in the morning drivers’ meeting about the markers. Nonetheless, I can accept what happened knowing there is risk involved from the start. After all, “You’ve got to pay to play,” right?
I got the car home Sunday night by limping it on its (skinnier than a normal tire) donut down to Lost Hills where the spare’s tread wore out and the tire had a mild blow-out. I then had the car towed to Gorman using my friend’s AAA Plus coverage (my AAA basic coverage is only good for 7 miles of free towing…I’ll be upgrading shortly). My parents picked us up we got home at 3 AM Sunday morning. On Sunday evening, I headed out to Gorman with my mom and used her coverage to get the car home. Last night, I was able to locate a used strut for $35 from a friend (Larry London’s friend, too) in Costa Mesa (the shop he used to run installed my springs, strut tops, brakes, brake lines, and rear diffuser. All that remains is removing the old strut assembly, obtaining the “new” one, and installing it. The car should be good to go by Thursday morning. Next time, I’ll rent a trailer to tow the car using our family’s full-size van.Chalk it up to learning another lesson the hard way.
I had a good time when I was on the track. I think I expected too much from taking Turn One flat-out and driving through the Corkscrew because I was disappointed by what it was actually like to drive through them. Or my car simply isn’t fast enough. Turns Six and Nine (Rainey Curve) were the two turns I never had completely solved while I was circulating the course.
My best lap of the first session was a 1:55.xxx. Its counterpart in the second session was a 1:53.xxx. And in the third session, my best lap was a 1:52.4xx until things went south. The third session was when everything went awry. The camcorder I set up didn’t record anything as I may have accidentally unseated its memory card when I was turning the camera on with my gloves on. I came in for a black flag intended for the Lotus Elise in front of me because I looked at the corner worker in Turn 7, pointed at myself, and the fellow nodded. When I got to the official in the pits, he explained the black flag was intended for the car in front of me. I don’t think I left too much left on the table in terms of producing a better lap time. I think mid to high 1:51s would be the best I and the car would be able to run. That same Elise I was able to keep behind me and pull away from until I came upon a slower car and decided to let him go by.
I can’t wait to go back to Laguna Seca as I have some unfinished business to take care of, especially with the turn I’m entering in the photo above! :o)
I also had the pleasure of meeting rally/drift/stunt car driver extraordinaire, Tanner Foust, who was driving the Crawford Time Attack STI for the weekend, Gary Sheehan, driver of the East Street Motorsports STI, and Marshall Pruett.
Leaving Laguna Seca, I also came upon the 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Did somebody say upgrade?