Trackday Diaries: SCCA's Wild World Of Jorts
When I agreed to drive a Honda S2000 in Atlanta’s SCCA National Tour event, I didn’t realize that, not only would this close a three-year-long gap in my autocross career, that I would be competing at the site of the last autocross I ran, back in 2008. (My review of the F-250 PowerStroke six-speed manual I used to tow a car there and back can be found here, by the way.)
Well, I sucked back then and I sucked today. Until the very last runs of the day, I was actually DFL in a ten-car field, although I feel compelled to note that two of the other nine drivers were 2010 SCCA National Champions and all of them had a few years’ experiencing autocrossing S2000s. With my third and final attempt at the course, I managed to incompetently bounce my way up to eighth place.
Unfortunately, that places me in the Jorts Zone.
What you see above is a thoroughly modified S2000 competing in the “X Production” class. It completed today’s course in 37.1 seconds, whipping back and forth through the seventy-foot-gap slalom course immediately prior to the finish line with well over 1G of cornering force and accelerating at a rate that would humiliate a “supercar” on the street. It wasn’t the most extreme Honda in attendance, however. That honor would go to a Honda Z600, re-bodied completely in carbon fiber, loaded with a 165-horsepower Suzuki Hayabusa engine, and fitted with monster (and very functional) wings front and rear.
39.578 seconds was the best this Honda could do, although there’s certainly more time to be had as the owner continues to develop the vehicle. SCCA’s Modified classes are the last bastion of shade-tree car-builders, really; while plenty of people build oddball cars for the 24 Hours of Lemons, and those cars need to run for more than forty seconds at a time, they don’t see anything like the kind of cornering and braking forces applied to the Modified autocrossers.
Our four-man team at Changed Mon Motorsports expected good things to come out of Day One at the Atlanta Solo Tour. Our “A” car featured National Champion Marc Pfannenschmidt and the equally talented Jadrice Toussaint; the “B” car was occupied by Mark Baruth and Jack Baruth, your humble (and increasingly humbled) author. Jadrice’s first run was a 39.143, good enough to win for the day. Pfannenschmidt hit cones in his first two runs, but put it together in the third to take second place with 39.218, a whopping 0.075 seconds back.
All ten entrants in our class run the Honda S2000. Some prefer the 9000-rpm “AP1” variant, others like the AP2 “CR” model. The plain AP2 doesn’t get as much love for some reason, but the rules now allow the plain AP2 to receive CR-style upgrades. Neither of them drive anything like a Boxster S, which was my old autocross ride. Getting used to a car in forty-second increments isn’t easy. The first run, I hit a cone with my door, underestimating the car’s width. The second run, I got lost in the final slalom and went the wrong way. Only in the third and final chance did I manage to figure out anything about the steering, turning in a dismal 41.398, just 0.015 ahead of the ninth-place driver.
My brother was struggling with some personal demons. He, Marc, and Jadrice are all disciples of “P90X”, which as far as I can tell is some sort of cult which enforces the religious consumption of salmon and regular prayers to someone named “Dreya”. They are all so into P90X that they insisted on doing it last night instead of going with me to “The Cheetah”. During the exercise, my brother did something to aggravate a pre-existing ankle injury. The ankle got into his head, so to speak, and he muddled along in quite the distracted fashion, finally knocking out a 41.051 in his third run. He’s 0.24 seconds behind the fourth-place driver, which is the last “trophy” position.
So I’m in eighth, but more importantly I’m the slowest driver in our team. Different teams motivate their low performers differently. I don’t know what Red Bull is doing to Mark Webber, or what Andretti does when Danica Patrick is too busy thinking about GoDaddy bucks to bother driving at a professional level of competence, but I know what Changed Mon does to its losers. Drivers outside the trophy positions are required to show up the next day in “jorts”. Jorts are the preferred attire for many SCCA competitiors, but among the four peacocks of Changed Mon such attire is considered sufficient motivation to improve.
Therefore, tonight I’ll be going to Wal-Mart to select some jorts and possibly an Affliction-style T-shirt to go with them. This is a harsh welcome back to the sport, I must say!
On Monday, I will post final results along with a brief introduction to National Solo-style driving featuring back-to-back videos of Toussaint and myself so you can all see where the time is gained and/or lost.
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Jorts Racing coming soon to a LeMons near you. My buddy does the P90X stuff. You gotta be one motivated M'r F'r to stick with that routine.
May I humbly suggest overall-jorts, one shoulder strap left hanging of course.