We’re finally back to autocross season, and kicking things off with Chicago Region SCCA’s first official event of the year! I had hoped to return this year with a more competitive car (read: header and tune) but financial obligations prevented that from happening. The only change this year is the Fujitsubo Authorize R catback exhaust I installed last November, though realistically the only “performance improvement” I’ll be getting out of it is a few pounds of weight savings. Other than that, the car is identical, as are the 60-70-run RE71R tires which I simply had flipped to expose the good side of the tread. We shall see how long they last.

That being said, it looks like the car can still be competitive, as I managed to eek out 1st place amongst some stiff competition. There was definitely room for improvement, as I wasn’t getting too close to the cones (I’m *still* trying to protect my relatively flawless exterior), but that fast run was also only my third run of the day, so I wasn’t 100% familiar with the course yet. For some reason I eeked out one quick run that I simply couldn’t match in the afternoon. Luckily, nobody else could either!


Date: Sunday, April 09, 2017
SCCA Chapter: Chicago Region (Event #1)
Location: Route 66 Raceway, Joliet, IL
Weather: Mostly sunny, dry, consistent 10-20 MPH winds, 65-75 degrees F
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Car: 2015 Subaru BRZ
Class: 345 STX
Wheels/Tires: 949 Racing 6UL (17×9)/Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R (245/40R17)
Brakes: Hawk 5.0
Suspension: KW V3 coilovers, Raceseng Cas/Cam plates, Velox LCAs
Exhaust: Fujitsubo Authorize R Catback
———-
Raw: 51.044 (1st of 13 in Class)
PAX: 41.958 (46th of 175 Overall)


No New Tires

Competition tires are things I’m still learning about, so my greatest worry going into this season was my tire situation. I meant to take a photo of the tread for reference, but I completely forgot. Suffice it to say the tires were well worn in one direction, but had plenty of tread left on the inside edges of the various tread blocks. At the very least they would need to be flipped. However, people were telling me all about heat cycles (when the tire heats up and cools down, it affects the rubber composition) and I was even more worried that they might have been heat cycled out. Apparently they will get heat cycled out long before the tread is completely gone – or so I’ve been told. However, I was assured by my local tire expert that with only 60-70 runs on them, I still had plenty of time left before that became an issue. I was also told it would be quite obvious when that occurred because the tire wouldn’t grip any better when it warmed up anymore. The last worry I had was the fact that they had been kept in my storage unit all winter, which definitely exposed them to below-freezing temperatures. I’d heard lots of conflicting feedback from people about whether or not that would affect the rubber, or how much grip they would offer. However, Bridgestone’s official language seems to suggest this is fine, so long as the tires are allowed to gradually come up to warmer temperatures over a 24 hour period before they are moved, or flexed in any way.

In the end, I decided to have the tires flipped, and see how they did, and they wound up feeling fine. So I’m just going to run these for now until I start to suspect they’re nearing the end of their useful life before I toss them for new ones. No sense in spending money for no reason. Tires are expensive!

Photo courtesy of Jason Kositarut.

Photo courtesy of Jason Kositarut.

Lots of Competition

So last year, my arch nemesis in STX was Christopher D (left photo above). He has a nicely-prepared BRZ, and while I managed to just edge him out last year, it was a close battle. This year, he will be an even more difficult opponent, because whereas my vehicle is basically unchanged at the moment (and still under-prepared) he made quite a few changes for this year in the hopes of being more competitive. The biggest changes being that he got new, softer springs (he had a very stiff suspension), he played with his camber, and he has new tires (last year he was running on rather old, and well-worn RE71Rs.) He’s my biggest threat this year, and it will be a lot of fun competing with him at these events.

Or is he the biggest threat? There are some other competitors that squeezed in between him and me in the results for this first event. The other consistent competitor we had last year was a driver of a BMW 135i, who took 2nd place behind me this time ’round. There was also another twin that slotted in right behind him. In addition, there’s a guy named Bill (right photo above). Last year he had a very well-prepared BRZ, and I was unable to catch him at any of the events we both attended. This year, he’s got a WRX that he’s just starting to play with. While he was about 1.5 seconds slower than me at this event, I have no doubt that he will get much faster, and I won’t be surprised if he winds up being faster than me in the long run. So in the meantime I’ve got to take advantage of his relative inexperience with the car and hope that he doesn’t hone in on me too quickly!

Here’s my fastest run of the day:

With any luck, we can keep things going – at least at Chicago Region! I’m hoping to at least fully compete with TSSCC (Tri-State Sports Car Council) this year as well. Their first event is down at Grissom Air Force Base in Indiana, which is a bit of a hike (about 160 miles) but with any luck I’ll be down there to finally see what its like. I’m told it’s a great surface to run on!

Photo courtesy of Jason Kositarut.

Enjoying the view after a successful win at our first event of the season 🙂