Stranded In The Southland

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Rev It Up!

After I got my Miata, up in the Bay Area (hereafter referred to as "Geek's Country"), I wound up totally getting into autocross. The idea is to set up a course, marked out by cones, in a big parking lot -- the course should be tight enough that you don't go faster than freeways speeds, and long enough so that it takes everybody around a minute to complete. Then you turn out people onto this temporary course, one at a time, to see how fast they can drive it.

Unfortunately, after moving to LA, I've only been out once; during my year off, I was too cheap to keep the Miata in tip-top shape, and I still haven't caught up on maintenance. Well, what if I could run in someone else's car?

Just that opportunity presented itself this weekend -- Chevy sponsored "Rev It Up", which was a sort-of $25 driving school that let you take a couple timed runs in the Cobalt SS (replacement for the Neon) along with some other fun cars. The fastest folks out there have a chance to win a new Corvette, although, given it's been three years since I autocrossed, and I've never autocrossed a front-wheel drive car, I didn't exactly have high hopes.

And those hopes were fulfilled. Despite surprisingly good instruction, I only managed to get into the top 10%, which wasn't that remarkable (I used to be reliably in top 5% at autocrosses). I don't think that the front-wheel drive part did me in (after all, I've been bombing around in the Prius for six months), but the automatic transmission and traction control destroyed me.

I wasn't nearly smooth enough, so I wound up stomping on the gas and upsetting the transmission and traction control constantly. I guess I'm used to getting away with that in the Miata, and just pulling back from the edge, but here I had no chance. And two cracks at it weren't nearly enough to figure it out (in fact, I was slower my second try).

In fact, none of the autocross was all that fun for me. Even the short run I got to take in a Corvette was over so fast I never really got that "Woo hoo" grin going.

Interestingly enough, the short go-kart race I did was awesome. It was such a pleasure zipping around a little course, trying desperately to pass the slowpokes in front of me. I felt so excited when I finally made it by! I definitely gotta get some folks together to do the go-karting thing some more -- surely there are plenty of courses around here!