SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

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SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby MotorToad » Sun Dec 02, 2007 1:38 am UTC

This thread is branching from a question ZeroSum had in post yo' face:

ZeroSum wrote:
MotorToad wrote:And don't think that I'm a stranger to driving, I have five regional SCCA championships.
I want to start SCCA next season, but I don't want to go drive two hours to the nearest one alone and have no idea what I'm doing. Tips on how to get over this slight anxiety?
I think I answered most of this in the post yo' face thread (bring water, don't be an ass), but in more detail I'll try and give you some newbie autox driving advice.

First and foremost, and this is gonna sound weird, but don't drive aggressively. Drive quickly and confidently, but not trying to be the next king of the WRC. Keep the car underneath you and keep up with your steering, sliding around and trying to make up for being late on your car placement will kill you dead. Any time you find you can't put the car exactly where you want to put it, you're in over your head and you're throwing away time like beads at Mardi Gras.

Another nearly universal rookie mistake is responding to understeer. When you're at the car's limit of adhesion usually the front end loses grip first. Manufacturers engineer that into cars because they think it's safer if the car plows rather than swapping ends (if the rear broke loose first, read up on the Corvair or any other car with a swingaxle rear suspension). When the car stops responding to your steering inputs, stop inputting steering! Turning the steering wheel more just puts the tires further from their direction of rotation and makes them less able to turn the car. If this happens you can feel the traction limit in the steering wheel and get the most out of it by "sawing the wheel" back and forth over the limit... up to the limit steering wheel is slightly harder to turn, past the limit it's easier to turn. (In idealworld it's better to keep it under the limit and keeping the tires in the grip zone, not sawing back and forth over it, but that's not possible to do as a n00b; many years experience before you can hope for that, and sawing is how you get the feel for the limit.)

I can't overstress car placement, your time is the average mph, or distance traveled over speed traveled. It's WAY easier to reduce the distance traveled compared to increasing the speed traveled. Make smooth arcs in all your turns and make sure that you're as close as you can be to the cones that define the course. There will be dozens of cones that don't matter a whit, but in the morning when you walk the course you can find those that do (or those that you think will, I've been autoxing for 15 years and I still can't read a course every time).

Brakes. Most people don't use more than half of the car's braking ability in their lives. Brake late but not in a panic.

All the controls need a smooth application in order to work. Brakes, throttle, and steering should all be applied evenly to allow the weight to transfer to the tires that are going to be doing the work. You can use an incredible amount of braking force, but if you don't let the front tires take the weight of the car first they won't have grip and they'll lock prematurely... which means the weight will never transfer and you'll brake poorly and flat spot your tires.

Speaking of tires, you don't need or even want race tires to start out with, lower grip tires are easier to learn to drive on. You do want decent tires at least and you'll want to have enough air in them that you're not scraping the sidewall. Too much air, though, and you're sacrificing grip.

I could go on... but I'll stop here. :)
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby ks_physicist » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:36 pm UTC

Love autocrossing. LOVE it. Can't afford to do enough of it, though, so I suck.

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby AKADriver » Mon Dec 03, 2007 8:25 pm UTC

The most important tip at an autocross? Just be social, because everyone else will be. It might seem obvious, but there's a stereotype among those who don't consider themselves "car people" that "car people" are hung up on themselves, and competitive to the point of being antisocial. Those people exist, and you'll probably find one or two (or thousands, on internet fora), but autocross and amateur racing are often called club racing because that's exactly what they are. It's still a competition, but everyone's there to have fun and maybe take home a ten-dollar trophy or, at the higher levels, a free set of tires or a very small purse.

If you try autocross and you like it, and are looking for a way to accelerate the learning curve, most autocross clubs offer driving school events a couple times a year that provide you with a full day of driving with an instructor, interspersed with "lectures" about driving theory, walking the course, and so on.

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby taptap » Tue Dec 04, 2007 4:47 am UTC

I support the topic of this thread very much.

I used to spend all summer at Indy Raceway Park watching every SCCA, Mazdacup, and ARCA race i could afford. When I was out of moneys, I would just flip on speedvision and watch 24h @ LM. I still do.

I also used to drag race @ IRP, during the tuesday night street legal drags with my 2nd gen SHO. I wish I would have put it on the circut.

I miss doing that, now all I have left is my nitro R/C car.

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Pixel » Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:16 pm UTC

I keep wanting to try autoX, but never seem to have the "running car" and "autoX event" things coincide.

Specifically, I want to try doing it in my 1962 Mercury Comet

Image

First off I think it would be a riot trying to autoX in a 45 year old economy car. Secondly the car has a newer engine/trans/rearend, and uprated brakes. So even though she still handles like a wallowing freighter she'd probably get lumped into the higher classes with serious autoX vehicles.

It'd be a riot to do, and a riot to watch.

Thing is, it isn't entirely a joke. I'd want to do the best I could, given the (extreme) limits of the car.

I'd also like trying it in my '04 xB, but I'd be afraid that'd just fall over on the first hard corner.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby ZeroSum » Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:31 pm UTC

Do it! I'll go with you next season if you bring that thing.

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Pixel » Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:55 pm UTC

ZeroSum wrote:Do it! I'll go with you next season if you bring that thing.



I seriously want to. Hopefully this winter I'll get the latest round of problems sorted (defective master cylinder, rotted exhaust) so that she'll be up for it. The biggest problem is I tend to get distracted by other projects and forget to check the calendar for autoX events.

I also need to locate a helmet.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby MotorToad » Wed Dec 12, 2007 1:45 am UTC

Pixel wrote:Specifically, I want to try doing it in my 1962 Mercury Comet
It'd be a riot to do, and a riot to watch.
I'd also like trying it in my '04 xB, but I'd be afraid that'd just fall over on the first hard corner.
Oh yeah, that should be a riot. I wouldn't expect a trophy, though. :) There was a guy in Dixie region that drove an ex cop car (think Blues Brothers), and drove it well. That was always worth watching.

I wouldn't worry about the xB, though. They're real cars and the C of g isn't as high as an SUV, and it has tiny tires. If you put sticky race tires on it you could probably put it on its roof, though.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby ZeroSum » Thu May 01, 2008 2:59 pm UTC

I signed up for the Novice Driver School and the Auto-x this weekend! So excited!

Anyone who knows what they're doing: What should I do for numbers on my car? Would they have an appropriate marker to use at my local Pep Boys/Autozone? Should I see if a sign shop will do a vinyl cut number? Will they just have the right marker at the meet? I mean, it's an '05 with decent paint so I don't want to mess it up either.

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby MotorToad » Thu May 01, 2008 3:09 pm UTC

Image

Race numbers, rock chip preventer, general save-all. :)
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby ZeroSum » Mon May 05, 2008 1:33 am UTC

Woot! I has a race car! I went to the NHIS Speedway Slalom today and did terribly! But every run was faster than the previous, so that's good. 'twas awesome. A++. Would buy again. (Will buy again.)

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby MotorToad » Tue May 06, 2008 4:35 am UTC

HAHHA, that's awesome. Congrats on constant improvement, it's the hardest thing to keep going. :) Sounds like you did just what you needed to.

BTW, pics or it didn't happen.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby ZeroSum » Tue May 06, 2008 3:58 pm UTC

God damn. I didn't get any pics. But I did rough up my tires some. Maybe I'll take some pics of them tonight. I'll definitely bring a camera and a spectator next time (which should be Nationals, actually.) I have to admit that part of the reason my runs kept getting faster was the track kept getting drier. Though part of it was also that I kept getting tighter on everything and really nailed some elements on the last runs. (Compared to how I did on previous runs at least.)

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Pixel » Thu May 22, 2008 2:20 pm UTC

Got a call back from the local autoX group. Both the Comet and the xB are acceptable to autoX assuming they pass safety inspection.

Next local event is June 8th in Hartford. I'm planning to bring both cars, along with my SO and a good friend. Assuming three drivers can share two cars we'll all be running. If anyone wants to join us for our inaugural (and thus likely quite embarrassing) run you are more than welcome.

http://www.cartct.com/

Things I need before then:
Solid battery tiedown for the Comet (and make sure the xB has a factory one)
install new proportioning valve in Comet & bleed brakes.
Make sure motor mounts are in good shape on Comet.
Double check *everything* on the Comet so something vital doesn't come flying off.
Make sure we all have acceptable helmets that fit.

I'm hoping to acquire a camcorder before then, as the Comet trying to run an AutoX course needs to be documented for posterity.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Pixel » Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:25 pm UTC

Went autocrossing this weekend and had a lot of (very sunburned) fun.

I brought both the Comet & the xB, however upon arrival was told the xB would only be allowed to run if it was lowered and the suspension was stiffened. They claimed it was due to a high center of gravity, which I don't believe, but it was their insurance at risk if something went wrong so I wasn't going to fight it.

I and a friend were both running the Comet. I went first and ran a 49.49, which was very slow, but not the slowest thing out there (a novice in an Evo got a 50.10). My friend ran a 49.82. We didn't get any more runs in as during my friend's run he cracked the welds holding the right front hub together. Since disassembling, grinding, re-welding and truing a hub is *not* a parking lot repair we were done.

I'm disappointed we didn't get more runs, but am not really surprised we broke something running a 46 year old economy car around the track. I'm actually kinda glad the hub broke when it did, as it is clealy a design flaw in the aftermarket hub. I'd much rather it broke there rather than during an emergency maneuver on the highway or something.

there is a video of his run on youtube (keywords "mercury comet autox") but youtube is blocked at work and I can't get google to cough it up. I'll update this with a link once I get home.

Even getting only one run each in we had a blast. And I definitely want to do more of this. I'm hoping I can find a different autox group in the area that will let me run the xB.
Last edited by Pixel on Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:33 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:28 pm UTC

You might run into trouble running the xB. It really does have a high center of gravity, making the potential for a roll much greater than a more standard car.

Of course, once you lower and put in stiffer suspention, you're no longer running stock classes, either, and you'll be waaaaaaaaaay outclassed by guys running their CRXes with $20k in mods in them.

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Pixel » Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:36 pm UTC

The CG is actually relatively low in the xB for all their tall shape. They are built off a Toyota Echo chassis and most of the drivetrain is pretty low in the car (the radiator comes to the top of the front bumper, the "grille" between the lights is a fake). I suppose the look top-heavy to people, but they are surprisingly stable.

I was mostly frustrated because the only one this group has ever had run was one with lowered stiffened suspension. So they haven't even seen a stock one run, but have declared them too unstable.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby MotorToad » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:42 pm UTC

I would hope that they had a reason to not let you use the xB. It's possible that they've had problems with people putting them on their roofs in other regions and the SCCA nixed them. There have been a few cars in history that have shown a propensity for inverting themselves, but it doesn't happen much anymore. It's also possible that you encountered some idiots that thought it was an SUV and not a tall car. Unfortunately I'd put it at better than 3:1 for "idiot." I googled "scca scion xb autocross" and came up with a lot of event results from a lot of regions. Perhaps you could email the R.E. or post something up if they have a forum.

Hrm... Apparently the early Echo was a flipper. I can't find anything on bans for the xB but I've found hints that the Echo was banned.

What a bummer the Comet broke! How'd you get it home? I watched the youtube and I can't imagine the, uhm, conservative grip of your tires would break welds. It looked like a good first run, though, especially given the limits of the car.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Pixel » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:06 pm UTC

MotorToad wrote:I would hope that they had a reason to not let you use the xB. It's possible that they've had problems with people putting them on their roofs in other regions and the SCCA nixed them.


This wasn't the SCCA, it was a local CART group, so the SCCA[1] may have different rules.

MotorToad wrote:What a bummer the Comet broke! How'd you get it home? I watched the youtube and I can't imagine the, uhm, conservative grip of your tires would break welds. It looked like a good first run, though, especially given the limits of the car.


AAA is my friend. My mom renews my gold AAA membership for my birthday every year. Best. Present. Ever. We patched it back together enough to drive it out of the event (so AAA couldn't claim they don't tow race cars) and had them pick it up.

I never looked closely at the hub, but now that I have it is a poor design. There is a machined center section with a separate circular flange that the lug studs are on. The flange was only spot-welded to the center section in a few places and only on one side. So when it encountered a lot of lateral force (we think it broke on the left turn where I'm commenting in the video on him "taking it easy, oh maybe not") it tore the poor-quality welds right out of the center section. Once this hot weather breaks I'm going to start tearing it apart, I'll probably replace these hubs with a set of stock units machined to fit the custom disc brakes, as the stock units are cast/machined as one piece.

[1] I keep typing this as SCA, and I'm guessing the Society for Creative Anachronism is going to have issues with xBs driving around their events.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby MotorToad » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:18 pm UTC

The SCA would probably be okay with the Comet, though! :D
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby ZeroSum » Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:14 pm UTC

I also raced this weekend, though at the SCCA event at Devens instead. Luckily someone grabbed some shots of me mid run:
Spoiler:
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And now I need to get a set of race wheels and tires since my stock tires are quite craptastic.

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Pixel » Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:05 pm UTC

Some people have a genuine gift of poetry, a way with words that surpasses beauty and touches the deepest parts of one's soul... and some people, um, thingy.

"Less bite, more wobble"

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby wst » Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:12 pm UTC

Looks slightly like a whale, tbh. No offence, it's just huge.
Would love to see what a sorted Supra would do around there, or a 911 Turbo. Something tail-happy...
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Pixel » Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:07 pm UTC

Pixel wrote:
MotorToad wrote:I would hope that they had a reason to not let you use the xB. It's possible that they've had problems with people putting them on their roofs in other regions and the SCCA nixed them.


This wasn't the SCCA, it was a local CART group, so the SCCA may have different rules.


Just found the 2008 SCCA Stock class listing and xBs are not eligible. Ah well.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby MotorToad » Tue Jun 10, 2008 1:23 pm UTC

That sucks about the xB. Maybe with some R-compound tires the Comet might understeer a little less... :D

Zero, sweet car! It looks like you're zipping around rather well, too. When you do get race wheels, may I suggest going with 16" wheels. They should even be legal in stock class as the automatic comes on 16x7.5 so even a 16x8 should be within the rules, IIRC. With 245/45-16 tires, you'll get better gearing, less unsprung weight, and lower the car an inch without having to change the suspension. Win-win.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Pixel » Tue Jun 10, 2008 1:31 pm UTC

Zero: I just noticed your car number, well done!
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby wst » Tue Jun 10, 2008 2:17 pm UTC

ZeroSum wrote:I also raced this weekend, though at the SCCA event at Devens instead. Luckily someone grabbed some shots of me mid run:

And now I need to get a set of race wheels and tires since my stock tires are quite craptastic.

:P As you're driving a Mazda, don't forget the massive stereo, big stickers, and neon lights under neath the chassis :P

Nope, because that's dumb. Nice car, want to see video though ;)
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Jun 10, 2008 2:39 pm UTC

I don't think you can fit a massive stereo in an RX-8.

Besides, he has to worry about his apex seals blowing. ;)

(Just kidding, I love rotaries and if the depreciation hit wasn't so terrible, I'd strongly consider an RX-8 for my next car.)

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby ZeroSum » Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:08 pm UTC

Nah, it's an N/A, no need to worry about the apex seals.

I can't wait until the day that someone makes a F/I 32X though...

I think I'll be bringing him (yeah, somehow my 8 is a guy - it's so wrong) out to another one this weekend in Stratford, CT.

MotorToad, I've got a former national champion (granted, he won 20 years ago) who drives an RX-8 showing me the ropes so I'll float the smaller wheel idea by him. (It'd save some cash on wheels and tires, too.) I think he runs 18s but just with a lower profile wheel than even I've got showing there. I do like the idea of less unsprung weight as well.

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby wst » Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:43 pm UTC

You could stretch some smaller tyres (say, 15's) over a set of 16" rims... Looks cool and less sidewall flex.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:49 pm UTC

Ugh, stretched tires do NOT look cool.

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby wst » Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:57 pm UTC

Endless Mike wrote:Ugh, stretched tires do NOT look cool.

You've been in the wrong car cultures then :D
Well, it's cool if you're going sideways then ;)
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby ZeroSum » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:15 pm UTC

And why would I want to go sideways? This is SCCA Solo II, where you aim for lowest time not most burned rubber. So, I have a feeling that Kumho R-compound tires made for 18" wheels should go on 18" wheels.

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby wst » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:30 pm UTC

ZeroSum wrote:And why would I want to go sideways? This is SCCA Solo II, where you aim for lowest time not most burned rubber. So, I have a feeling that Kumho R-compound tires made for 18" wheels should go on 18" wheels.

I was also mentioning the benefits of stretched tyres. They look cool in the going sideways areas of cars, but they also prevent sidewall flex a bit...
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby ZeroSum » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:50 pm UTC

For reference, stretching tires is putting narrow tires on wider wheels. So if I were to stretch I'd put something like a 7.5" wide tire on an 8" rim.

Beyond that, from what I've read any gains in sidewall stiffness are minimal to the point of insignificance. I think I'll continue to trust Kumho and my fellow motorsports participants who, as far as I saw, did not stretch tires to any particular degree.

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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby wst » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:52 pm UTC

ZeroSum wrote:For reference, stretching tires is putting narrow tires on wider wheels. So if I were to stretch I'd put something like a 7.5" wide tire on an 8" rim.

Ah, I thought it was diameter. Go with what you wish, anyway, and I'll stick to trying to look cool :P
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parkaboy
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby parkaboy » Tue Jun 10, 2008 9:06 pm UTC

So I went to my first SCCA event with ZeroSum (as a spectator, though I've never driven either) this weekend - it was Nationals, and now I want to drive. Next season, perhaps, when I have something other than a Kia to put out there.
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby MotorToad » Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:00 am UTC

BAH! Run the Kia. It's under warranty. You'll learn more driving your own car (esp if it's a slow one) than you will watching and waiting. Plus, the local Kia dealer used to advertise "tires for life." I really wanted to take them up on that as I've never owned a tire for more than a year. If they were free I could really put a hurt on them. :)
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parkaboy
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby parkaboy » Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:29 am UTC

Its not under warranty any more and they weren't giving out tires for life when I bought mine. Besides, we've also discussed going halves on a car pretty much strictly for racing - the car, any restoration that needs to be done, cosmetics and so on. We've got a few ideas, but thats all they are right now. *smiiiiiiiile*
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Back in our day we had to walk uphill both ways through the snow on fire without feet to get fucking terrible relationship advice from disinterested and socially maladjusted nerds. Belial

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Pixel
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Re: SCCA autox and getting into grassroots racing

Postby Pixel » Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:15 pm UTC

Any thoughts on what you're looking for?
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