Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Results of the January 5th snowcross are in!

As you may recall, I participated in a snowcross event a couple of weeks ago which was organized by the Motorsport Club of Ottawa. Unfortunately, my name had been left out of the results and I did not know how I did. I knew a couple of my times and knew that I was somewhere near the top of the order. Well, it turns out I won my class, by the narrow margin of one second over five runs (so 0.2 seconds per run on average). I was very consistent on the 3 runs of the second course and that my first run was dog slow on the first course. In fact, another FWD car beat me by 8 seconds on that run.

The result shows that consistency is more important than outright speed in an event where every run counts. In fact, none of my runs were the fastest of the class. My times would have put me 7th out of 29 cars in the AWD class (there were 21 cars in FWD and 4 in RWD). Also, I beat the Lancia Delta Integrale! I am very happy with the result and am considering attending all the other events in order to shoot for the championship. There will be two snowcrosses this weekend if weather permits.

The results can be found here:

In other news, this past weekend saw the running of the 24 hours of Daytona. Montoya's team won again overall, and I was happy to see the 3-rotor RX8 of Sylvain Tremblay's Speedsource team take the win in the GT Class. What an awesome car. I felt bad for the actor Patrick Dempsey, who had a small crash while leaving the pits on his first stint. Overall, it was fun to watch the race.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Car show.

I know I haven't posted in a while, but not much has been going on on the car front. Last Sunday, I stupidly left the car in neutral with no handbrake on in a big parking lot and I found my car out in the middle of the road. I was lucky it didn't roll into anything.

The car show has rolled into town and I went, even though there is usually not much exciting stuff for someone like me, who may never buy a brand new car. Still, there were some cars I had never seen before that are interesting to the enthusiast. Here is my report:

Subaru WRX STi: it looks better than I thought it would. It costs less than I thought it would. Clarkson wrote about it in the times last week and he was quite unimpressed with the car. Apparently the car is disappointingly quiet now too... pity.

New Sti
Mitsubishi Evo: it looks worse than I thought it would. Even though it has big brakes and BBS wheels, it manages to look a bit cheap. The hood seems to be made of plastic or something. Also, it costs 6000$ more than the STi. Ouch!

BMW M3: there will be no mistaking it for lesser versions with the massive hood bulge and carbon fibre roof. I don't like the shape of the sills under the doors. Otherwise, a cool car.

BMW 135: I thought this would be the BMW for guys like me: smaller than the 3-series, cool engines on offer. I was pleased to see that the wheelbase was short (it actually reminded me of the 80's 3-series). However, the car looks too tall, as the roof seems to be about the same height as the 3-series. The overall proportions, then, are not great.

Race cars: as usual, there were few. There were a couple of stock cars (boooooring to look at). Lotus had brought out a cool racing Exige with a massive intercooler. Lexus had brought out their GS450h that competed in the Targa Newfoundland rally. It was funny to see the wood and leather door panels cut up to accomodate the roll cage.

I still don't have the results of the snowcross... quite annoying. That's about it for now!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cool photo

My friend Marek took this cool photo of Alex and me (and the blue Civic) during the holidays, on the road between Ottawa and Montreal. I thought it was neat and worth sharing:

Still no results from the Snowcross in Ottawa!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A sunny day in winter

After a week of warm temperature and rain, it's crisp and sunny today. The second snowcross event in Ottawa was cancelled due to a lack of snow. Bummer. The dry weather has allowed me to do some touch ups on the Civic where there is a beginning of rust on the rear quarter panels. While driving in my neighbourhood today, I was extremely surprised to cross paths with a Ferrari 328... these cars are rarew enough, but to see one being driven in the middle of winter was astounding.

As for the event I attended last week, the results were never updated and my name is still not listed. This is annoying. I really like to know how I did in events and the wait is agonizing! I put a short video of my last run on Youtube:

This gives you an idea of what the event is like. That was a run on the short course. The stopwatch only starts on the straighaway and the timed run was about 36 seconds.

Basically, there has not been much going on on the automotive front. That's winter for you!

Cool cars spotted:
Ferrari 328 GTS
Skyline R32 GTR

Sunday, January 6, 2008

First event of 2008

Yesterday I attended the first snowcross of the year organized by the MCO near Ottawa. Snowcross is basically autocross in the snow. They set up a track in the snow that can be configured many different ways. It requires a lot of hard work on the club's part to build and maintain the track and I thank them for that work.

I've been attending these events on and off since 2002 with various cars, often sharing my car with Carl Wener. We have done pretty well in the past. One of the reasons we have done well is that we have a great set of winter tires we use only for these events.

Carl was not available for the first event of 2008, but I decided to head out there anyway with the blue Civic. I borrowed the tires from Carl. They were mounted on 4x100 rims so they would be a bolt on fit for the Civic. I brought my jack and tire tools. For the first time ever, the event would be held mostly in the evening. I would have liked to hook up my Hella 500 driving lights to the Civic, but there was no time.

I arrived in Stittsville, near Ottawa, with enough time to change the tires and drop the pressures. There were more cars than I've ever seen before at one of these events. I believe there were a total of 54 entrants. The type of car varied a lot, from full on rally cars to daily drivers. There were 20 entries in my class, the FWD class. My class was mostly made up of VW's and a few Honda's. There were even more cars in the AWD class, including a bunch of Subaru's and Audi's, and even a Lancia Delta Integrale 16v.

The scoring system is simple: the times of all your runs are added up. If you stuff it into a snowbank and need to use reverse or be towed out, you are awarded your worst time plus 15 seconds. My number was drawn early in the run order and I got to run in daylight. I put in a conservative run which I think went quite well, although I did not ask for my time. On my second run, I also drove quite smoothly. I was told the run took me 89 seconds, but I had no real frame of reference.

After these two runs, they called the dinner brake and I hitched a ride into town in a rare Subaru SVX with Chris at the wheel so that I would not have to readjust my tire pressures for the street. Thanks Chris! Cool car!

The second configuration was shorter. I think I did quite well as I didn't score any DNF's. My last run was a 36.xx second run according to the scorer. Over all, I had a great time and, although I was never the fastest, I was hoping my consistency would net me a top 5 finish in the class. Indeed, I had noticed that some of the fastest guys had scored at least one DNF.

I checked the results this morning to see how I did. I was unpleasantly surprised to see that my name was nowhere to be found on the unofficial results document. So basically, I don't know how I did. It's quite frustrating! Stay tuned for my result...

Here is a cool pic of me in the Civic taken by