Free SCCA Test Day Excitement

January 5, 2009

Derek and I drove up to Thunderhill on Sunday morning for a free test day there. Anyone with an SCCA racing license and a race-ready car could just show up and enjoy a full day of driving, err I mean testing. This was also going to be the first time we tried out doing the "arrive and drive" thing with Evil Genius Racing. We pay them to house, transport, and prep the car, and we just get to show up and get in!

Fish and Justin of Evil Genius had the car all set for us when we arrived a bit after 9am. Engine warmed up, tire pressures set, wheels torqued. This was nice!

It had been almost 6 months since I had been on track, so my first session was just shaking off the cobwebs. It was tons of fun. The car felt great -- I was pushing it hard by the 3rd lap once the tires and brakes were warm (it was a COLD morning).

Derek had a good next session. Thunderhill is the least familiar of the three local tracks to him, so we had a good chalk talk session after he came in with his video + the track map in front of us.

My next session started off good. The car was more warm, and my brain was warm too. On my second lap, I came up on a blue MG (or was it a Triumph?) on his out lap. He let me by in T2, and he was taking it pretty easy through T3-4-5-6. I guess he decided that was enough warming up, since he caught me in T7. I lifted and pointed him by (it was a test day after all!) and he passed me without incident going into T8. He was quite a ways ahead in T9. After I came over the hill in T9, I could see that he caught up with two Miatas and was going for a passing move into T10. It was a very, ahem, "optimistic" move, since they looked to be three abreast going into the turn.

The little blue car either had a problem with his brakes or dropped a tire off the inside, because he spun 90 degrees and had all tires locked up. The moment he started spinning, I was at my braking reference for T10. I had only a few tenths of a second to decide what to do. My decisions were to either go left and have sure car-to-car contact (he was blocking my view of the apex of the turn), or go right and have a wild ride in the dirt. I chose the latter.

His car starting moving to the outside of the turn (right into my path), and I steered hard to the right to try to avoid him. Well, I did avoid hitting him with the nose of my car, but his movement carried him into the driver's side of my car. Here's the video:

<object width="500" height="377"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value="" /><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" width="500" height="377"></embed></object><br /><a href="">2009 Jan 04 Thunderhill Test Day Crash</a> from <a href="">Zack Steinkamp</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>. In the slo-mo version, you can see him come off the brakes (or even get on the gas?!?!?) just as I'm about to pass. Bummer.

Damage was: front left fender smushed, left door crunched, left rear wheel broken, left rear lower control arm bolt bent, and maybe a slight front subframe bend.

<img src="" alt="bent_wheel" title="bent_wheel" width="300" height="225" class="alignright size-medium wp-image-162" />Fish from Evil Genius got right in to fixing the car. With the help of a spare rear suspension assembly borrowed from Larry Oka, we were back on track in just a bit more than an hour. Awesome! The car felt just fine in that next session, and thankfully we didn't have any more drama during the remainder of the day.

We're going to have the whole car painted now (Derek had a similar incident at the end of last year, and the whole right side of the car is "new"), and likely do a Dipity theme to it.