Autocross Report
October 1, 2012
By Sean Steinbrueck

Don’t Always Believe The Weather Forecast

Sunday Sept. 16, was a strange day. This would be the first time, that I can remember having a potential rainout at an Autocross event. Cari and I have been doing Autocross for 4 years now. Approximately 22 events. Up until today, we had never had it rain at one of our events.

At 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning the Doppler Radar showed it was raining down at Charlotte Knights Stadium, and the weather forecast was 40-50% rain all day. Neither of us really wanted to putt-putt around in the rain. So we made the decision to leave the car and trailer at home, and just bring all the timing equipment down and run the event. Rain or shine. Right?

By the time we got there at 7:00 a.m. the rain stopped. Checking the weather again still showed 40-50% rain. At about 8:00 a.m. the sky was almost all clear. Weather forecast still showed 40-50% rain all day.

Another hour goes by, and we are getting ready to start the event. Still clear sky, and all of a sudden weather forecast shows 0% chance for the next 3 hours. BUT 60% chance around 1 pm.

So, now Cari and I have to make a decision. Does one of us run back home and get the car & trailer or not? We both come to the same conclusion & Cari takes off to get the Car, while I start running the event.

Now, we are in a time crunch. W e know it’s almost certainly going to rain in the afternoon. So I push to get as many Dry runs for everyone as possible before lunch.

Knock on wood, we did okay. Everyone got 5 runs in before lunch. Never before have we had an event where we got both run groups 5 runs, BEFORE lunch. And as luck would have it, just after we finished lunch and started the event back up, the rain came. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough Umbrellas for the corner workers, and they were getting soaked. So, we called it a day after the first group was going on their 7th run.

Everyone seemed pretty positive that we made the best of a potential crummy day. Getting 5 dry runs finished on a day that began with rain and ended with rain, wasn’t too bad.

A few interesting notes for this event:

We had a new couple join the autocross this weekend. Joan Carney and her husband Kevin brought out their Red Cayman S. Since this was Joan’s First Autocross, Walter was in the car coaching as she navigated the course. The First Lap, she was taking it easy. Then she decided to let Walter driver her car, with her as a passenger, to get a better feel for the course and to see what her car was capable of. He threw down a very fast lap time of 52.5 seconds. After they switched back, on her very next run she dropped 13 seconds off her previous lap. By the end of the day, she dropped 30 seconds from her first run. Outstanding. The best part was the grin she had on her face after each run. That is what Autocross is all about.

Wayne Capwell, Ken Clayton and Andy Rutledge were dead set on breaking my FTD winning streak this year. Wayne set the bar almost immediately, with a 49.465 on his 2nd lap. Ken then one-upped Wayne with a 49.058.

On Wayne’s last “DRY” run, he was able to knock a little more time off and finish with a 49.014, which again, appeared to be the Fastest Time of the Day.

Unfortunately, for Wayne, there was one driver who was also gunning for FTD. Gregg Henderson joined our autocross event for the first time in his “Very Well Prepped” Miata and finished the day with a blistering 48.966. Taking the Men’s Fastest Time of the Day (FTD).

Cari wound up making it back with our car and trailer around 11:00. We unloaded quickly and she got in line to grab a few runs before the run group switched. Neither of us had much of an idea of the course layout because of all the chaos in the morning. But, we each managed to squeeze in 3 dry laps before the sky fell.

Cari pushed hard enough to get down to a 52.132, in just 3 laps, and secured the ladies FTD... “Nice job, Honey.”

I wasn’t so fortunate. My morning wasn’t going well to start, because of the stress of a potential wet event, trying to get the event setup quickly, trying to get everyone as many runs as we could before the rain, “what time was the pizza coming”, would it get here before it rained, leaving the car at home (Why did I do that?), and of course hoping Cari remembered how to hook up the trailer correctly while being in a hurry to get back. My mind just wasn’t in it. I DNF’d my first two runs. Then on my 3rd run, I got a 50 sec lap but, + 1 cone which came out to 52.726. Uggg.

I wished I could have gotten more runs, because, I started to settle down after the 3rd run. And get my head in the game. But, alas, it was my own stupid fault for leaving the car at home.

So, the moral of the story is; Bring your Car. RAIN OR SHINE. Because, the weather forecast is not always accurate. Actually, it’s usually wrong, about 75% of the time. Man, I wish I could work where I only had to be right 25% of the time, and still keep my job.