A Jim of All Trades

Posts Tagged ‘autocross

Autocross Pictures

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Last weekend marked the end of the autocross season for the local SCCA chapter. I didn’t compete in any of their events this year and hadn’t even gone to any, so decided to go for a little bit on Saturday to take some pictures. Aside from taking some pictures I said hi to some people and had fun being there, but didn’t stay very long because I had other things to do. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to do some more driving and can make it to a few events.

Here are some of the pictures I took. I mostly stood in one place and shot pictures as the cars went by, but also walked around and took some of cars that weren’t driving. Hope you enjoy!

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Written by Jim

November 2, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Summer Autocross

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It was over two months ago, but I did do one autocross this year. While it would have been nice to do more, I was more focused on training and working on my bike this year, so didn’t devote much time (or money) to the car. The local Corvette Club hosted some autocrosses just a couple miles from my house at a nice big parking lot, so I went to one. It’s nice when they’re so close, I can put my racing wheels and tires on in the comfort of my carport and just drive there on them (rather than packing a ton of tools and the tires and doing it at the event). I was considering going to more than one, but when removing my tires I realized that cords are showing on one of them (meaning they’re extremely worn) so thought it wasn’t safe to keep using them. I’ll have to replace the tires before doing any more racing. In any case, I had a lot of fun and was pleased with how I did.

Here’s a video of my best run of the day.

I finished roughly in the middle of the pack overall, which I was happy with since I hadn’t done it for over a year. I messed up a bit at the end so know I could have been faster yet. Like anything else, you only get better with lots of practice, so I can’t expect to be too competitive unless I start doing it more often. If having fun is your only intention though, it’s still well worth it.

I brought my camera along, too…

Some friends of mine that lived close by stopped to watch and one of them was kind enough to take some pictures of me while I was driving.

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It’s fairly common that some cars will have a rear tire come off the ground during extreme cornering at autocrosses. Some cars are notorious for it; Subaru’s, for example. In a hard turn while braking all of the car’s weight shifts to the front and outside, and all of the travel is used up in the suspension at the lightest inside corner – the rear. These aren’t the best pictures, but look at the rear tire… there’s space between it and the pavement.

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It can look pretty funny. The softer the suspension the more the car will lean in a corner and the tire can lift up pretty high. LIKE THIS!

I mostly tried to practice taking panning shots. I didn’t do as well as last time. I just couldn’t get the timing of the cars right and ended up moving the camera a bit too slow or fast, resulting in blurry pictures. Using an auto focus lens (the 70-210) this time, I think the second it takes to find focus could be having an impact as well. It was still fun to shoot and I know I’ll improve with more practice.

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Thanks for reading and happy driving!

Written by Jim

October 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Autocross Pictures

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A couple weekends ago I went to an autocross to take pictures and I’ve just now finished saving and editing them. I shot a ton, not all of which ended up being keepers, but I had a lot of fun. I did not actually race, the X1/9 had already been put away for the winter, so I was solely there to take pictures. One thing I have little experience with is panning so I made it a point to practice that. I sort of figured out what to do and got a few good shots, but definitely have room to improve.

Anyway, on to the photos. All of these were taken with the Pentax K-r and most were using the old manual focus 135mm lens. I only chose a few to put on here but have all of them on my flickr. Please feel free to click the link below to browse my flickr feed to see all of the photos.

LINK TO FLICKR

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Written by Jim

November 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Fiat X1/9 & an Autocross

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It’s been a while since I’ve said anything about my Fiat X1/9. Last year I got it out of storage, did some work to it, did one autocross with it in March, did some more work to it, and at my next autocross in June began having problems with it. It was hard to get it running and keep running and there were a few things at fault, but at that point I was out of patience and didn’t have any more budgeted for working on it. I think I fixed just enough to keep it running okay and drove it over a few weekends, but it went back into storage relatively early in the year and I didn’t autocross it again last year.

But as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and this year I had renewed interest in working on it again. I didn’t get it out of storage until June, but I made a plan of attack and devoted an hour a day to wrenching on it for a few weeks to get everything fixed, plus some extra time over some weekends. It was nice splitting up the time like that because I never got too frustrated with it. Some nights were just spent re-positioning jacks and getting tools ready because there’s only so much you can do in an hour, but it worked for me.

Here’s a list of the work done:

  • new brake pads
  • installed an electric fuel pump
  • oil and filter change
  • installed a “hard-start” relay
  • replaced starter
  • installed new outer tie rod ends
  • did my best to align it (it’s not perfect, but improved)

And here’s how it looked for most of June:

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Though I did have to rely heavily on a friend for advice for a couple things, everything went pretty well and it’s been running good since. It does still need more work – it’ll never be “done” – but I’m not doing anything major until next year at this point. Next will be fixing a transmission leak and hopefully doing some much needed body work.

Anyway, I’ve been driving it once a week, usually just for fun on back roads or to the gym on weekends, and it’s been a hoot.

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(shot with a polarizer and some post processing was done)

I wasn’t going to autocross it this year, just don’t have the extra time and money to commit to it, but the local Corvette Club is hosting some events ONLY ONE MILE FROM MY HOUSE, and they’re cheaper than the ones I usually do, so how could I pass that up?? I mean, it’s so close I can drive there on my racing tires (not street legal) and don’t have to mess with changing tires in a parking lot with hand tools and bringing a ton of extra stuff along.

So yesterday I got the car all ready and today was my first autocross since the one in June of last year that was absolutely horrible.

Here’s the car yesterday with the tires on, all ready to go:

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way too much negative camber, but that’s the best I can do with my current setup

And here are two shots to sort of give an idea of the stance with the Slicks on… they stick out a bit:

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The car doesn’t look that great non-photoshopped with all of it’s defects showing, but it is a very fun little car and I’m happy to have it.

Anyway, on to the autocross…

It rained today so it was a bit more challenging than under clear conditions. I had fun though and am glad I went. In the morning I finished 7th out of 14 overall and in the afternoon I finished 9th out of 14. I wish I would have been faster, but I’m satisfied with middle of the pack, especially considering it’s been over a year since I’ve done this. The car club that organized this is welcoming and I’m looking forward to doing their last event of the year in a couple weeks, at the same location.

Here are a couple pictures I shot in the parking lot today. You can sort of tell how small the X1/9 is compared to other modern cars.

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The club is a Corvette club, hence the number of Vettes.

And here’s a video I took using a Drift HD I borrowed from a cousin (neat little camera). This was my best run from the morning.

Thanks for reading and happy motoring!

Written by Jim

August 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Autocross Pictures

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As mentioned in my last post, last weekend I went to an autocross and took some pictures with my new 135mm prime lens. It’s an old completely manual lens that I picked up on craigslist. I just, finally, finished looking through the pictures and editing them and thought there were enough good ones to merit another post. (one thing I have to work on is shooting LESS, but good quality, pictures. I take way too many, with too few keepers.)

Being completely manual, the lens certainly is challenging to use at an event like this. You can’t follow a car through the course shooting at will, but instead have to pick your spots and focus and meter accordingly. I found it was easiest to choose key places where I wanted to shoot, focused for those spots, set the camera accordingly, and then just had to be sure to take the picture at the right time. I didn’t have as many keepers as I would have liked, but it seemed to work pretty well as I got used to it. Overall I’m very satisfied with the lens; none of the pictures below are razor sharp or crystal clear (even after post processing), but the colors, sharpness, and image quality overall were overwhelmingly acceptable, if not good. In some cases, I think it does better than the kit lens (more on that below). And all for just $10!

I HAVE A REQUEST: If any reader(s) would be so kind, I’d appreciate knowing if any of my colors look weird/off/wrong/funky to you, especially GREENS! Truth be told, I’m a little color blind and struggle with greens. I thought I was doing okay, but had a print made (portrait of a family member) this weekend where the colors of grass and trees in the background looked really weird. So, if you could, please point out any photos where colors are noticeable off to you. I won’t take any offense – you’ll be helping me. THANKS!

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Check out Snoopie on the front corner!

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I took a few pictures with the kit 18-55 lens, too. Below are some examples. They turned out okay and are usable, but I’m not as impressed with it as I have been in other shooting situations. The 135mm lens actually seemed better here. There colors were better (in my opinion) and there was less noise when using the prime. Hmm.

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Written by Jim

June 15, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Working on the X and autocross

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This past weekend I spent some time working on the Fiat x1/9 and went to my first autocross of 2012.

The Work:
All of the work I did was for aligning the front end of the car. The alignment has been bad ever since we got the car so working on it was long overdue. Using some camber bolts I was able to achieve a decent camber setting, then using the string method I was able to improve toe, and I’m pretty happy with the results. Now the car tracks straight and is much more responsive turning. I don’t intend on doing a whole write up about suspension and alignment here, so if you’d like more info, the link above explains how to measure and adjust toe using some string (pretty neat!) and this link is great at explaining alignment parameters – camber, toe, and caster.

The Autocross:
I had never been to an autocross held by the organization that hosted this one, and I’m happy to say that it went smoothly and was a lot of fun. There was a risk of rain so not many people showed up, only about 30, but luckily the rain never came and those of us who did go were able to do extra runs. The only real negative was that the lot was rough and really bumpy. The suspension on the X is so stiff that it bounces around on rough surfaces like that. So that combined with cold weather and my racing slicks that didn’t pick up much heat so didn’t get great traction resulted in a lot more bouncing around and sliding than I would have liked.  But, I’m not really complaining.  It was still fun, a learning experience on handling the car like that, and everyone obviously had to drive on the same course and deal with the same challenges that I did.

All that said, I actually did fairly well and finished 6th overall in PAX. (PAX is a widely used factor used to adjust drivers’ times, to essentially put them on an even playing field regardless of what kind of car they have.  A better explanation can be found here.) I was very pleased with the results from the day, I never really finish much above middle of the pack in any event I’ve run in, so hopefully this is a sign that I’m improving as a driver and the changes that have been made to the car were worthwhile. That or I just had a lucky day. Either way, I still definitely have a lot of room to improve, but it was fun and that’s what counts.

Prior to the autocross I was thinking that I’d do a detailed post about it, complete with photos and videos. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case. I completely forgot about taking any pictures and even forgot to setup my camera for video until my last couple runs, so I only recorded two of them. To make matters worse, my camera mount is pretty wobbly, so the videos are quite shaky. I contemplated not posting them at all, but what’s the fun in that. Sooo, following is a video of my best run of the day.

BE FOREWARNED: It’s shaky!!! Probably best viewed small. Sorry!

Written by Jim

March 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Posted in x1/9

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End of the season and new exhaust.

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Unfortunately I am missing the last two events of my local region’s autocross season.  Oh well.  I got to go to a few earlier in the year, I had fun at them and was relatively competitive.  With any luck, next year I’ll be able to participate in more.

I did get around to replacing the exhaust system since my last post.  I removed the factory section after the downpipe (exhaust pipe that drops from the engine) and replaced it with a free-flowing “Cherry Bomb” muffler and a short tail pipe. 

Driving it since the change I haven’t noticed any difference in performance.  It is much louder though.  As a daily driver it would probably be too much to bear, but for joy riding once and a while and racing it’s just fine.  I’m satisfied with it.  I’m guessing it weighs roughly 25 lbs less than the factory system, so that’s a bit of an improvement.  And even if it isn’t any faster, it at least sounds faster.  That’s something, right?

Written by Jim

October 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Automotive, x1/9

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