JDMac's Autocross

JDMac34

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I finally have a GoPro setup that I'm happy with - figured that I might as well start a thread with my best runs.

This weekend was super fun. Misery Bay SCCA had a weekend at Lake Erie Speedway in North East, PA. Saturday was a test and tune and Sunday was the race. I had just finished installing a lot of suspension components on the car and wanted to take advantage of the test and tune to relearn the car. The course layout wasn't my favorite, but fun and fast for sure.

MBR Event 1 Track.jpg

Saturday:
I found that my tires (275 Falken RT660s on 17x9 wheels) being at 34 psi front and 32 psi rear was best for my setup. I tried running lower pressure, but my tire chalk showed it wearing on the sidewall. My shocks (Koni Yellows) don't have "click" settings, so I go off of half turns and call them clicks. I started the day with all of them set to 2 clicks, which is a middle setting, and softened the front to 0.5 after a couple of runs that I was experiencing a lot of understeer. That 0.5/2 ratio seemed to give me pretty neutral handling. I ran my best time with this setup with a 41.4 sec run.

I wish that I would have played with the shocks a little more. Towards the end of the day, I had the idea to stiffen up the shocks to 2.5/4 clicks. My times did not improve with this setup, but I had just come off a long break from working the track and helping a friend dial in his car. I think that the car felt a lot more planted on the long high-speed turns.


Sunday:
Sunday was...interesting. The weather was all over the place but ended up being super rainy. I wish that I had my street wheels with all-season tires with me. The race tires surprised me with how good they were in the rain considering what they are, but it was still difficult to understand their limits without crossing that threshold.

My best setup was to leave the tires at street pressure (35/34 psi) and soften the shocks back to 0.5/2 clicks. After focusing on finding the right line and not overdriving, I was able to get a decent time of 45.6 sec.


I also got a few good photos of me spinning out lol

DSC06571.jpgDSC06574.jpg

Overall it was a great weekend and a great start to the race season. I'm excited to get a lot more seat time and fine-tune this car!

Any tips or advice is appreciated!
 
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JDMac34

JDMac34

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what times were you putting down in relevance to some fast people out there?
FTD Saturday was somewhere around 37 by a fully-built Miata. I think that FTD Sunday was a 41 by a new BRZ on winter tires. The fast cars seemed to be in the 43-44s. I have some work to do!
 

Warhorse Racing

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Thanks for starting this thread. It's always great to see more Mustang autocross content! Your thread/videos will help inspire more people to autocross their Mustangs.

The runs from both days look pretty smooth. Focusing on the line and not overdriving is always a good plan. It can be a challenge to drive a car with new mods in wet weather, and you did a good job of dialing back your aggression on Sunday. At your next event, assuming conditions are dry, work on raising your aggression level incrementally. You ran a nice line in the sweepers, but it seemed like you could've been more aggressive by looking further ahead. On Sunday, you were turning after some of the cones (being "late"). On both days, there were moments when you were repositioning your hands on the steering wheel. Your hands were better on Saturday compared to Sunday. It also looks like you might be sitting too far back from the steering wheel, but I can't tell. You want to have a noticeable bend in your elbows.

I'm looking forward to seeing your videos from your next event!
 
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JDMac34

JDMac34

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Thanks for starting this thread. It's always great to see more Mustang autocross content! Your thread/videos will help inspire more people to autocross their Mustangs.

The runs from both days look pretty smooth. Focusing on the line and not overdriving is always a good plan. It can be a challenge to drive a car with new mods in wet weather, and you did a good job of dialing back your aggression on Sunday. At your next event, assuming conditions are dry, work on raising your aggression level incrementally. You ran a nice line in the sweepers, but it seemed like you could've been more aggressive by looking further ahead. On Sunday, you were turning after some of the cones (being "late"). On both days, there were moments when you were repositioning your hands on the steering wheel. Your hands were better on Saturday compared to Sunday. It also looks like you might be sitting too far back from the steering wheel, but I can't tell. You want to have a noticeable bend in your elbows.

I'm looking forward to seeing your videos from your next event!
Thanks for the feedback!

I noticed my hands moving around more on Sunday and tried to work on that, but need to keep working. What I am not sure on is the seat. I agree that I need to have more bend in my elbows, but I feel way too close to the pedals if I scoot my seat up. I'd like to move my wheel closer to myself but don't want to move to an aftermarket wheel without a steering wheel quite yet. I'll try having less recline in the seat and see how I fit then.
 

Warhorse Racing

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Thanks for the feedback!

I noticed my hands moving around more on Sunday and tried to work on that, but need to keep working. What I am not sure on is the seat. I agree that I need to have more bend in my elbows, but I feel way too close to the pedals if I scoot my seat up. I'd like to move my wheel closer to myself but don't want to move to an aftermarket wheel without a steering wheel quite yet. I'll try having less recline in the seat and see how I fit then.
I'm always happy to help.

You should be able to improve your seating/steering position by reclining less, not moving the seat bottom. This video details the process:

 
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JDMac34

JDMac34

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I had another fun day Sunday! We had great weather and a super fun course.

MBR Event 2 Track.JPG

There seemed to be 2 important sections on this layout: the hairpin turn (top middle/right) and the loop at the end (top left). Both of those obstacles had tight radius turns with the ability to go wide on the exit in order to set up for the next...which was my game plan.

I had my shocks set to 2.5 clicks in the front and 4 clicks in the rear. This gave the car a more firm ride but it seemed to handle the high-speed sections better. My tires were at 34 psi front and 31 psi rear.


My best run (the one in the video) was a 49.382 raw / 40.295 pax. I probably could have improved my line going into that loop, but otherwise very happy with how I did.

The CAM winner was my buddy/rival in his 1996 Camaro V6 with a 48.760 raw time. His car has a lot of engine work, all the suspension goodies, and he has been racing longer than I have. He has typically been a second or two faster than me, so I was glad to have such close competition with him. My goal is to beat him this year. The fast cars were running low 48s. I typically don't like comparing pax times, but I was within 0.056 sec pax of a C8 Corvette. We had 12 cars within 0.7 sec pax of each other, so this should be a fun season!

Overall I'm really happy with my performance. There are definitely things that I can change on track, but I'm looking to see how I can improve the car during the 2 or 3-week break. I want to look into weight reduction but am struggling to decide how much comfort I want to sacrifice for my hour to an hour and a half drive to the track. Also, I'd like to have more power but don't want to open up the engine...yet.
 

Warhorse Racing

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Great Job! Most of the time, your inputs were smooth and close together. You didn't make a lot of sharp steering inputs, and there wasn't a lot of hesitation between your throttle and braking inputs. Really good fundamentals. You found the rhythm of the course (which is important). There was a moment of what sounded like understeer in the crossover section; I think less front tire pressure might be the solution.

There's time to be found in those long sweepers by increasing your degree and duration of acceleration. Rolling on the throttle a little earlier and trying to get the car closer to the rev-limiter will shave time. If the car feels unsettled in the sweepers, use braking or a slight lift ahead of the sweeper to help the car turn, let the car settle, then feed power through the sweeper. Keeping the car composed will help you find speed.

My attack strategy (once I know I have grip and I have the rhythm of the course down) is to try to get to the rev-limiter in the fast elements. I don't always get there, but that mindset helps me increase the (smooth) aggression of my throttle inputs.

I still saw quite a bit of hand movement on the steering wheel. Some of those turns are really tight and might require a change in hand position, but it's worth trying to see how far you can turn the wheel with your hands at the 9 and 3 position.

The mods that helped my V6 the most are 1.8 Harland Sharp roller rockers and an aluminum flywheel. They made the car more reliable, more powerful and more responsive.
 
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JDMac34

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The mods that helped my V6 the most are 1.8 Harland Sharp roller rockers and an aluminum flywheel. They made the car more reliable, more powerful and more responsive.
Did you have to retune the car or install any other supporting mods for the rocker arms? An aluminum flywheel is on my list, but I'm waiting for my clutch to need work before I dive down that hole.
 

Warhorse Racing

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My V6 doesn't have a tune (that was part of my plan to show that you don't need a ton of hp to autocross a Mustang). A tune would help but is not required for the 1.8 rockers. I went ahead and changed out my pushrods with OEM replacements from Ford, because I found a few bent ones. No supporting mods are required, but a CAI, larger TB and free-flowing exhaust help. You will need to replace the valve cover gaskets and throttle body gasket when doing the install.

There are some install tips in this video:

 
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JDMac34

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It's almost time for another race! In my usual fashion, I'm planning on cramming a bunch of work in tomorrow before the race Sunday.

I installed a set of upper control arms a little ways back. The plan was to do the lowers at the same time but the chassis-side bolt was a pain to get to with the exhaust on. I ran it with just the uppers for a couple of events then tried to get the lowers again when I had more time. An axle-end bolt that was seized to the metal sleeve in the OEM bushing and wouldn't come out when I tried last week. I now have a bolt kit showing up this afternoon and am planning on cutting the old one out. Maybe the 3rd time is the charm?

If I have time, I'll also try to install the new brake calipers and stainless hoses. Busy weekend!

They also posted the courses for Sunday. This is at a 3/8 mile baked oval track. It looks like a lot of transitions on and off the bank. Hopefully, it doesn't upset the car too much.

MBR Event 3 Track.jpg
 
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Warhorse Racing

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When you're attacking the banked sections, you want to have the two side tires go up on the banking first, not the two front tires. That will make the transition easier. The course designers should have allowed for that. There are lots of sweepers on that course. Things will change when you're behind the wheel, but the map allows you to pick some preliminary "attack cones" to tell you when to start rolling on the throttle. Running a tight line, getting on the throttle early, and thinking about the exit of those sweepers will help you find speed.
 
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JDMac34

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It was another fun race! The course was very fast with only a couple of slow sections. My brakes weren't feeling consistent between runs. They would bite at times and other times I would just hear my ABS going crazy but the car wouldn't slow down that well. This really hurt me entering a couple of corners. I have another thread on this issue if you are interested.

I finished with a 48.696 sec raw time, which got me 3rd in CAM class. 2nd place was a highly modified 2014 Mustang V6 with all the suspension goodies. The full results of the event haven't been published yet and I can't remember how I compared, but the S197 was somewhere around a second faster than me.


My main club (Misery Bay SCCA) doesn't have another race until July 10th. Another club close to me (Steel Cities SCCA) has a 2-day event next weekend at Pittsburgh International Race Complex. I've heard good things about that place and it isn't far from me. I might try to check it out if I can finish my brakes in time.
 

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Nice driving! The run looked really smooth. Your hands stayed on the wheel and your steering inputs were good. The first single cone after the start (just past the cone wall) looked like more of a wiggle than a big input. You might not have needed to slow down for that. Limiting the steering input there and staying on the gas longer would've helped you find some time. There were a ton of sweepers on that course. It looked like you might have been a little wide in the first sweeper. You appeared to be tighter in the remaining sweepers (the camera angle makes it a little hard to tell). I think you could have been a degree faster in the 2nd sweeper. The last sweeper into the finish is where you could've attacked harder. You pushed the car closer to the rev-limiter once you had the finish line in sight, but you could've accelerated more before you transitioned onto the banking and been faster all the way through that sweeper (in the video, the transition didn't look that steep). Holding that higher speed over a longer distance would've shaved a lot of time. All in all, your fundamentals are getting much better.
 
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JDMac34

JDMac34

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I'm reanalyzing my run and noticed a couple of things:

(0:07-0:08) That definitely looks a lot smoother on video than I remember it being. I might have been able to enter that gate wider so that it wasn't such a harsh transition, but that line set me up well for the next cones.
(0:32-0:34) This is the braking area where my car seemed to struggle the most. My plan was to brake late (when I was between the two cones) and let off right when I was beginning to turn the wheel. My brakes didn't feel consistent through this, so a short jab didn't always work.
(0:42-0:43) My car seems to do a weird shimmy that I don't remember experiencing. I wonder what that was? I transitioned to the bank at 0:44.
(0:44-0:48.5) I am full throttle here and lifted to partial throttle at the end.
(0:49-0:52) This is all partial throttle. Getting around that inside cone without taking out the wall after was more difficult than it looks in the video.
(0:52-0:55) Full throttle here. You can see when I get on the gas because my inside wheel spins (open-dif) and the tachometer spikes. This was one of the few runs where I was closer to the inside cone wall than the outside. I'm not sure where/how I set up for that better, but it worked.
 

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