Photos can be found here and here. Before I get into too many details, I'll start by saying that overall, I'm very pleased with my performance. On one hand, I wanted to be higher up in the trophy positions, but on the other hand, I wasn't as far off the pace time-wise as I was thinking I might be. I knew my performance would be course dependent, because my big Subie has some advantages (traction and torque) but also has some disadvantages (weight, crappy shocks, and more weight.)
Traveling, Trip Out:
The trip out was uneventful. We met up with Curtis and Pam Eames (STS Audi TT) in Ogden, UT. We went through southern Wyoming, down into Colorado, and out through Kansas. We stayed in Colby, KS the second night, the "Oasis of the midwest" according to the billboards. Yeah right. We didn't make time to see the world's largest prarrie dog, the 5 legged steer, or the 6 legged cow. Maria was bitterly disappointed.
The course was quite simple in layout. I walked it a couple times, and concentrated on walking the correct lines. It was going to be a compromise course for me though, because I'm still running my off-the-shelf KYB AGX struts, which adjust both compression and rebound together. To keep the front end gripping during the sweepers (especially off the corners) I needed to have softer compression, but to keep the car planted during the fast slalom, I needed more front rebound. I was really hoping my re-valved Konis would have shown up before the event, but they didn't.
Like I said, I concentrated on driving the line I walked. I got a good grasp of the course early, and my setup seemed pretty good (tire pressures, toe, struts etc.) which helped me put in some decent runs Saturday morning. In fact, I was leading after heat 1 because Brian Priebe and Robert Carpenter had cones.
I drove better during the hotter heat 2, but Carpenter and Priebe cleaned-up, so I was sitting third. I was a little worried though, because I didn't feel like I had many things to change. The car felt good, but I was out of options when it came to adjustments.
Sunday morning was a bummer for me. I couldn't improve. I was perhaps too aggressive on my first runs, so I smoothed out on the last two runs. It didn't help though. I ended up in sixth, 0.050 seconds out of fifth. This gave me fourth in the season points standings, and a trophy, which was nice.
After a great day of relaxation and shopping in Lawrence, KS (with Pam and Curtis) I had a chance to walk the courses. I concentrated on the North course first. Overall, I thought it flowed extremely well, but was pretty basic. It really seemed to suite the best setup car, which my Subie was not. It had lots of medium speed 2nd gear sweepers and 180 turn-arounds, but it also had some high-speed transitions. Oh man, I wish I had some decent shocks.
I thought I drove it well, but just fought the car coming off the corners and through the transitions. I ended up in tenth place, bummed a little, because I knew I had a few more tenths out there.
I didn't like the south course when I first walked it. It seemed slow and punishing to those who didn't drive the best line. I again concentrated on walking and driving a good line. As it turns out, the course suited my big Subie. It had the torque and grip to pull off the corners. Better still, the changes I had made to the car (lots of rear toe-out) made a huge difference coming off the corners.
I improved each run, and was really excited to get into the 51 second range. I had the sixth fastest time on Wednesday, which moved me up into eighth overall. Again, I wanted to be higher up, more to show the capability of Mr. Subie than anything else. He had more in him, especially on the north course.
G-Stock had some added excitement during the entire week of competition. Apparently, Brian Priebe's Celica was set to be protested after Tuesdays runs. I found out on Saturday afternoon before heat 2 runs. I don't know too much about the items in question, but the protest went down. I heard something in the transmission was being questioned (final drive, 2nd gear etc.) but since it would take so long to tear it apart, they were going to do it after Wednesdays runs.
As it turned out, some basic things were checked on the car, and nothing was ever torn down, with the protest being withdrawn. I really hope Brian's car was legal, because he is an awesome driver, with incredible setup skills, and he doesn't need any more advantage than that. I also hope all this BS didn't make Brian feel bad about his performance.
Traveling, Trip Back:
Maria and I decided to make the trip in two days, instead of three. We stayed in Rock springs, Wyoming overnight. We only ran into one problem on the way home. Actually, it ran into us. A small bird dive bombed my car just outside Denio, NV. It lost. Unfortunately, so did my air conditioner condenser. It apparently took a hit and sprang a leak, leaving us with no AC for the last half of the day.
I wanted to thank my girlfriend Maria, for being my expert pit crew all season long. She helped me at the El Toro Pro, Atwater NT and Pro, and here at Nationals. I also wanted to say thanks to the many Oregon Region peeps that supported me and gave me encouragement.
A big thanks goes to Grassroots Motorsports too. I have been covering a few of the west coast events for GRM, and the Pro Finale too, and getting the opportunity to represent them has given me an opportunity to meet some great racers, not to mentioned get out on course and take some photos!
Finally, a big thanks goes to Sean Ross, the other half of subrew.com. His support and efforts have helped to make this year a great year. I'm looking forward to having him go to more events with me next year.
Maria snapped a few pics during our racing action (mostly pit stuff) and I got a few shots of the ProSolo challenge rounds. I also watched some of the D-Stock action on the South course and took some pics. These photos can be found at: