Tag - NASA

Lord Byron — Over the river and through the cones: The 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L AWD

by Byron Hurd. Photos courtesy of Honda.

It takes about six seconds to travel from the stop box to the “time writer” official at a NASA Mid-Atlantic autocross (or “NASA-X”). If you’re in it to win it, those six seconds are excruciating. What should really be a short time might as well be an hour-long debriefing. Six. What did I screw up that time? Five.Did that wobbler back at the offset box fall over? Four. Did I tap one in that second slalom? Three. Does Jon Felton hate Miatas? Two.

One.

But this time, I don’t give a damn. I’m not playing for keeps. Brian, this heat’s time writer, is smiling and shaking his head as he leans in to his radio. He writes it on a post-it note and reaches out toward my driver-side window as I roll up. “You are consistent.” He tells me, laughing. I know what that means before I take the slip from him.

Another 67.

That’s a healthy six seconds off what would be my normal pace for a course this size. I normally peak mid-way through my session, and if I’ve settled to a 67.49 on run four, it’s pretty much a given that I’m not going to improve much from here. So why the lack of concern? Simple. Today, I’m not driving a Mazdaspeed3 or an RX-8 or a NA Miata. I’m not even driving our Focus.

I’m driving a 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour. And let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like hanging out the ass end of a 4100lb hatchback-on-stilts.

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Racer Boy: Autocrossing 101, or How to Kill Cones

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Please welcome a new writer to the Speed:Sport:Life, Rob Krider.  Rob was the staff writer for NASA NorCal last year, and has been published in AutoWeek and MotoRacing Magazine.  Rob currently is a columnist for the Santa Maria Sun but wants to share his adventures and knowledge with a great group of car guys such as the readers of Speed:Sport:Life.  His column, Racer Boy, will be running bi-weekly and will cover every type of racing that us normal guys can possibly get involved in…from Pinewood Derby to the Demolition Derby.  This week Rob covers Solo 2 Autocross.  Please welcome Rob to the S:S:L team! — Zerin

One of the easiest/cheapest/safest ways to get into some type of motorsports is Autocrossing, otherwise known as Solo 2. Autocrossing is a timed event where an individual car maneuvers around a coned off twisty racecourse which is usually located in a large parking lot or abandoned air field. Each entrant gets three to five shots at going around the course as fast as possible and the fastest time wins. Motorsports glory is yours to be had.

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Avoidable Contact #25: Exploring the pyramid of speed — the real costs and stories behind entry-level sedan racing.


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It’s sad but true: when I was a kid, Internet access pretty much didn’t exist. I didn’t even start reading USENET until 1990, at which point I was already eighteen years old. In the pre-Web days, if you wanted to know something, you went to the library. If you were lucky, the answer was in a book. If you couldn’t find a book with the answer, you were more or less screwed. For example, my elementary-school library had a copy of “The Car Book 1971” that had all the prices of new cars from 1971, and I memorized the book to the point that I could instantly recall the prices and specs of every new car sold that year. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the same book from 1972, which meant that as far as I knew, there were no cars sold in 1972. Or they were all free. Or they were all $1,999. There was simply no way to know.

The arrival of the Information Age has made that kind of knowledge starvation a thing of the past, with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is information on amateur and entry-level-professional sedan racing. Those who talk about it on the Internet don’t really know; those who know aren’t telling, for a variety of reasons we’ll discuss below. When I started my racing “career” a few years ago, I had to learn about the costs and difficulties of racing firsthand, at my own considerable expense, and my conversations with other racers have indicated that this state of affairs is nearly universal.

Universal it may be, but it isn’t right. So in this episode of Avoidable Contact, I’m going to give you a brief tour of amateur and entry-level-professional sedan racing. Specifically, we’re going to talk about requirements, costs, and results. I can’t put you in the seat of a real race car — only you can do that for yourself — but I can at least give you a reasonable idea of what’s involved. There are resources, both print and Web, which claim to tell the truth about the costs of racing, but trust me: most of them are either pursuing an agenda or making bizarre assumptions regarding your access to things like frame jigs, TIG welders, and $100 Hayabusa engines. Since most people can’t actually do things like “knock together” an SCCA GT-2 tube chassis, a lot of the advice and information that’s out there might as well be fantasy.

To keep things simple and comparable, most of the costs discussed here will be “rent-a-ride” costs; I will discuss ownership costs in a future column, assuming there’s any interest. We’ll start with the 24 Hours of Lemons and go as far as the Speed World Challenge. So, without further ado, let’s climb to the top of the “Pyramid Of Speed” and see what’s there.

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Lord B(y)ron — The Born-Again Baron: Work, Dedication and Competence.

Rest in Peace

Story by Byron Hurd. Photos by the author, Dave Everest, and an uncredited S:S:L team member.

Ayrton Senna once said he had no idols. He admired only the three things mentioned in the title of this piece. As human beings, we prove time and again that adversity can more quickly extract them from us than any other condition. If you ask me though, adversity, at least as an abstract, is incredibly played-out. Go watch a college football game this weekend and you’ll see what I mean. A freshman quarterback has to prove his merit in the face of adversity. Every third athlete has come from a background of adversity. The 24-year-old, super-super-senior wide receiver is more mature than his teammates because he’s encountered ‘adversity.’ Here’s a hint: He’s more mature because he’s 24, and not passing his Chem 200 final because he was out banging cheerleaders until 4:00 a.m. is not evidence of overcoming adversity. Now that I think about it, aspiring sports journos: Please stop using that damned word. Either buy a thesaurus or bite the bullet on that sports management degree. We all know it’s your backup, anyway.

The point? **** happens. And when it happens, you either step up or piss off. That’s the standard by which the real world measures character, and the real world came a-knocking many times this year for Green Baron Motor Sports. This season wasn’t glamorous — Hell, at times, it was barely dignified — but it was a test of personality and commitment.

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