After a year and a half of many disappointments and issues, I finally got to drive the Jeep again yesterday.
I was VERY pleased at how well the car ran today, and even more pleased as to how well I drove. After a year and a half layoff and not autocrossing anything at all (driving a Honda Pilot for my daily driver), I was more than a little concerned about how rusty I might be, and I certainly didn't want to go out and make a fool out of myself and drive like a newbie! But by my 4th run, I was starting to get very comfortable with the car again, and that alone was a big relief for me. :-)
Run# 1 - DNF
During my first run, the car just turned off in the middle of the run which led me to think "crap". I finally got it restarted and back on course and completed my run. But fortunately, Dan discovered that we had overloaded some type of breaker/relay with too much current. Over the last year and a half while the car was being fixed, Dan had gone through and reworked all the electrical wiring in the car and consolidated many of the "power" wires down to 2 on the distribution panel (and he is going to go back to redistribute the load). Luckily that was an easy temporary fix and we were ready for run number 2.
Run# 2 - 32.293
Run two was my first complete run in that year and a half period, and I was finally glad to get one in the books. I did push a little in a couple of turns (especially the one in the center of the course), but a 1/2 turn on the rear panhard rod adjustment seemed to take care of that problem on run 3. I was slower this run than I wanted to be, but the car and I started feeling a little more comfortable. The old Avon's were getting some heat and starting to grip, so I headed out for the third run.
Run# 3 - 30.272
Run three felt good, I was a little behind on my steering inputs for the final slalom and it cost me some time, but up to that point I felt like I did pretty well and dropped two seconds off my time.
Run# 4 - 29.974
The last run was my best and it also felt the smoothest. The car turned in well and the front felt very planted. In the past I always had issues in the consistency in how the car felt... but that uncertain feeling is no longer there. I still left time out there, but considering all of the changes and my big layoff, I consider this event a BIG success in more ways than one. My final run was a pretty good one and my goal was to break into the 29's, so I was a happy camper. :-) I ended up being one of three vehicles to break into the 29's, one was a BM car that only beat me by 0.090 seconds, and Matt Glagola's SSM Lotus with both of those drivers dipping into the 29's (29.167 and 29.324)
So, what left? Plenty! The car was running on a basic throw it together suspension tune. Other than a few tweaks on the panhhard rod adjustment, no tuning at all has been done to the suspension and we haven't even corner weighed the car yet. How well the car handled out of the box is a great testimony as to how well Dan fixed everything, and I can't say enough about Dan's knowledge of cars and suspensions. I wish he could be with us at every event!
We aren't close to the final power output that we will eventually have, and I understand that we are now making about 18 psi boost, well down from the 28 psi we will eventually have. Our initial timing is also a little low now and that hurt me coming out of the two slow corners, the one just after the start and the one in the center of the course. Much more tuning to come!
Overall it was a great and promising day! Can't wait to get it back out again and thrash it around!
Just some thoughts about driving the "Jeep", a SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) E Modified car that remotely looks like a Jeep. The Jeep is owned by Jim Murphy, so I just show up and drive it!