To start, here’s a description of the OS Giken Super Regional (from the event flyer):
“The Southern Pacific Super Regional Autocross Championship is a two day national style solo autocross event consisting of three runs per day, per competitor. Finishing order will be determined by combining a competitor’s fastest score from Saturday’s course with their fastest score on Sunday’s course. The competition will be intense as we expect to see competitors from all 7 Southern Pacific Regions and possibly others!”
Not too complicated and sounds simple right? Well, it was anything but.
Here’s a tip for all those racers who push their car hard on the track: $5 could totally ruin your chances of winning.
How you might ask? Read on.
During my 2nd run on the 1st day of competition, everything was going good up until the point something went BANG-BANG-BANG in the trunk of my car while I was going through the slalom section of the course. And no, it was not the Notorious B.I.G. bumping through a subwoofer box if you were wondering.
It was then that I realized that it was the battery-tie down which decided to snap because it was made out of rubber (yes rubber, not metal which is what it was supposed to be). Upon that epiphany, I started cursing through my helmet at myself for overlooking such a miniscule part as I said “DAMNIT, I knew I should have ##@%% changed that five buck tie-down!” So I shut it down in the middle of the 2nd run and brought my car safely back to grid where the real drama was just beginning…
For 10 minutes I was frantic – I had about maybe less than that before my 3rd final run of the day so I knew what was at stake because if I could not get the battery secured, there was no way I was going back out on track. I dashed back into the pit area and asked around if anyone had a metal battery bracket that I could borrow but after looking at 3 cars, nada. It was then that I remembered my friend had an FR-S so with nothing to lose I asked him if I could take a look at his battery bracket and luckily, his bracket was exactly what I needed!
Dashing back to grid, I slapped the FR-S bracket on and secured my battery making sure that it was FIRMLY held in place (who knew that an FR-S part would save my day?!). I breathed a huge sigh of relief and with only minutes to spare before my 3rd final run, I jumped back in my car and strapped myself in, trying to wait calmly for the signal from the grid chief to come up to the start line.
Being behind the 8-ball and under pressure to put in a good lap time, I knew what I had to do so I went out and did an aggressively-restrained run that resulted in the 3rd best time; it was not really what I wanted but at least it put me in the top 3 which was nothing to be ashamed about. However, it stuck me with the monumental task of making up 1.1 seconds on the top 2 competitors which would be no easy feat to accomplish.
I bought a metal battery bracket from Pep Boys which fit so perfectly over my battery that I was kicking myself for not having installed this piece of hardware beforehand! Feeling more confident that my battery would not go BANG-BANG in my trunk, I felt better about my chances of challenging for 1st place even though I knew it would be a tough task to do.
The runs went off without a hitch as I was able to push the car without fear but I felt that I didn’t push hard enough. Part of it was because I didn’t want to push so hard that I’d end up hitting cones left and right while the other part had to do something with me thinking that if I drove more smoothly through certain sections of the track instead of all-out attack mode, I’d have a faster time. Unfortunately, that didn’t work and so I did not move up in the standings.
Looking back though, I was pretty much knocked out of contention for 1st since I sat about 1 second behind but I still had a chance at 2nd place. It was hard for me to make up the gap barring any mechanical issues or bad luck for my competitors which did not happen. In the end, I finished in 3rd place overall which was satisfying but not something I was totally happy with because I really wanted to get 1st. Nonetheless, I drove the best I could considering the circumstances I was under.
So to sum it all up: A $5 dollar part did me in and essentially broke my rhythm which was being built up from my first run on Saturday. And technically getting 2 runs when the rest of your competitors get 3 runs (on the first day) is something that is very hard to overcome in this 2-day competition especially if you’re trying to get the fastest or “lowest” elapsed time because your fastest times are added up from both days. This carried over into Sunday and basically blew my hopes of getting 1st place. Hopefully, next year I will have better luck and yield a first-place result.
Now if someone were to ask me what $5 means to me, I would say one-dollar followed by six zeros or simply put: