With my 2000 Honda S2000, I finally have a competitive car for its class. It is lightweight, agile, and has a high horsepower engine which makes it quite competitive in the SCCA's B-Stock class against the Boxster, Z4, M3, 350Z, and RX-8 cars.
Being my first time at Nationals, I got two items almost mandatory for competition at this level. I purchased brand new Hoosiers and got a very stiff solid Gendron front anti-sway bar. The lightweight exhaust, lighter JDM forged wheels, and adjustable shocks were completely beyond my budget. However, I figured that the Hoosiers, solid anti-sway bar, and aggressive alignment would get my car 70% of the way for 30% of the cost.
My Hoosiers arrived two weeks before Nationals so I took them out to a local autocross with the Texas Spokes Club. Running on the slick asphalt we have, I was still amazed at the level of grip provided by the new Hoosiers. This was my very first time on them so I was trying to get acclimated to their level of grip and to scrub them in for Nationals.
Nationals is held at Forbes Field in Topeka, Kansas which is about 700 miles from Austin. I arrived Wednesday afternoon to register and get my car ready. I would be running the North course on Thursday and the South course on Friday. After walking the North course a few times and being blinded by the gale force Kansas wind, I headed back to the hotel room to get some much needed rest. The drive from Austin to Topeka was bearable in the S2000, but not necessarily the easiest miles I've driven.
Waking up in the morning, I find the ground wet. I drive to Forbes Field at 6:30am and start to change my tires. Of course it immediately starts to rain hard as I'm changing tires. However, it lets up again for a few minutes and then starts to lightly sprinkle. This would be the pattern for the whole morning.
In grid, people were busy swapping tires at the last minute. It was gently sprinkling, but the ground hadn't puddled up just yet. While there was still a fair amount of grip, the rain was still causing havoc for many drivers. Rally style driving is not the fastest way around an autocross course.
The top guys had on full treaded Kumhos while I was making do with the Hoosier water skis. ;-) Actually on the 2nd set of runs, the rain let up slightly and people's times were dropping. My second run started well enough and I carefully negotiated the turns. The wet pavement required me to really tip toe around and be as smooth as possible. I was gently squeezing on the throttle where ever I could and I was turning in much sooner than normal to compensate for the reduced grip.
At the end of the course, there is a high speed arc that you negotiate into the finish lights. I had set up well for this curve and so was going very fast in the sprinkling rain. The car was on the edge of adhesion and felt like I could lose the car at any moment. I was able to make it through the lights at a pretty high speed. However, I had to slow down very quickly afterwards which then caused the car to start to fish tail right in the middle of wall of cones used to guide the car after the finish. Furious left-right-left jabs of the steering wheel got the car straight again and stopped. I got a time of 63.930 seconds. I was happy with the time, but I knew there was more time to be had out there and resolved to get a better time on my third run.
As the third runs were starting, it started to rain heavily again and any chance of a faster run was gone. And to add insult to injury, my friends told me that there was a late cone call on me. Apparently corner workers said that on my second run, I had knocked down a cone AFTER the finish lights and so they would add 2 seconds to my second run's time! Ugh! As it was pouring rain now, my Hoosiers became very wide water skis and so my third run was much slower than my second run even with the 2 second penalty. I would have to stand on my run with a cone penalty as my fastest time for the day.
Without the cone penalty, I would have been in a solid 8th place after Day 1. However, I'm sure many others were probably in the same position as myself, where they were unable to get in a consistent run due to the constantly changing weather. This means if it's dry tomorrow, then the order is definitely going to change dramatically. I knew I shouldn't have washed my car the night before! Murphy's Law strikes again.
Click here to see which TOV Affiliated Dealerships are accepting pre-orders for the 2004 S2000