We just got back from our annual trip to California. This year it was all about good food, beaches, historic automobile racing, and deck building. This year Cooper race cars were the featured marque along with a tribute to Jack Brabham. Once again we enjoyed the hospitality of the Golden Gate and Central California Chapters of the BMWCCA at their Festorics tent. The weekend was also the kick-off for MINI Takes the States and the first delivery of the special edition JCW GP cars. You can listen to that over at White Roof Radio. Unfortunately all we had with us was our trusty Hertz rental car — all of the MINIs present got to drive a parade lap during lunch. There were so many they completely lapped the course. I really enjoyed the historic F1 cars. Toyota also had their current F1 car there with Ricardo Zonta their test driver. He set a new lap record (for noise as well as speed.) Some day I’ll make it out to Laguna Seca for a track day. For now I’ll just enjoy watching the old timers.
Here’s the deck:
There’s an old saying in Motorsports that if you want to go faster, you should start by tightening the nut behind the wheel. It’s easy to blow a big chunk of cash on go-fast goodies for your car, but if you can’t find the line through a curve or you just aren’t smooth, you’ll never be fast.
I’ve recently taken up Autocross. Although I’m waaaaaay at the back of the pack (and unfortunately classified in the mod-till-you-drop Street Mod class) I’m having a blast. It started with a desire to improve my general driving skills. The more time I spend on the freeways around Washington DC, the more I’m convinced most of my fellow drivers are morons. One in four seems to have a cellphone surgically attached to their head. Of the remaining three, two are tail-gaiting each other at 85 MPH in SUVs with under-inflated tires.
Figuring a good offense is the best defense, I started to think about my own driving skills and my ability to avoid bad situations. In the asphalt jungle of “fight or flight” the MINI driver’s only defense is flight. It started with a highway safety course at the Jefferson Circuit at Summit Point put on by the local BMW club. That was followed by a high performance driver’s course on the same circuit.
This past weekend, I attended another driver’s school on the Shenandoah circuit. Now I’m hooked. These are not racing schools. There’s no wheel-to-wheel competition. It’s all about control and knowing your (and your car’s) limits. I hope the skills I’m improving on the track will improve my autocross skills as well.
Looking for a way to find BMW and MINI parts numbers? Check out RealOEM.com online. Search by body R Code and build date (R50 for Cooper, R53 for Cooper S, etc.) Build date is on the sticker on the Driver’s side door jam.