Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sports Car Olymics 2011

The weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving, October 8 and 9 (the 10th was the holiday Monday) I drove my new-to-me BMW to Regina to participate in the 2011 Sports Car Olympics, hosted by the Queen City Motorsports Association (QCMA). I was a member of the QCMA for most of last year (2010), but I only took part in one-third of last year's SCO; this year I decided to do it all.

There were three events. First, on Saturday morning was the rallycross. The term has different meanings depending on where you are in the world; in Canada it means an autocross event on a soft surface of either dirt or gravel (rarely grass, which gets chewed up into dirt pretty quickly). Autocross events are timed runs through a course, usually laid out with bright orange traffic cones, one car at a time, with a handicap system to allow less-powerful (i.e. less expensive) cars to compete fairly with powerful sportscars.

Here's a shot taken by one of the organizers, Rob Howell, of me splashing through the wet part at the far corner. Hurray!

SCO 2011 Rallycross 13
I took some pictures at each event, this is one of Elvis putting his new-to-him Saab 900 Turbo through its paces.

The second event was the Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) rally. TSD rallies are long-ish timed events held on public roads; the point isn't to go as fast as possible (that would be illegal in any case), rather it's a form of precision driving, in which navigation plays as much a role as driver skill during tricky cornering, and penalty points are gained by being too early through a checkpoint as much as too late. I greatly enjoyed last year's TSD, in which I navigated for a man who helped organize this year's events, rather than participate. I navigated for Elvis, in the Saab shown above, partly because I know Elvis is an excellent driver and partly because I didn't want to take my bimmer into that kind of driving environment before I've had a chance to re-tune my reflexes from front-wheel-drive to rear-wheel-drive (and approximately double the horsepower of my previous car).

SCO 2011 TSD 1
Elvis' mighty 1989 Saab 900 Turbo, purchased only days before for $1000 - a hell of a deal, in my opinion, considering the total lack of rust anywhere on it. We had some troubles with it, mainly in the form of a malfunctioning cooling system, but it served us well. Plus, it just looks cool. Those rally lights were just something Elvis had kicking around in his garage, and didn't actually provide any useful additional light at night, though they were wired up fine.

SCO 2011 TSD 14
In addition to a Swedish car, Elvis had inadvertently acquired a crystal ball, which I found under my seat during the rally.

SCO 2011 TSD 19
Rally directions here cover up some of the crud on the windscreen, as we drive slowly along a path through a field.

The third and final event was an autocross, held at the 3 Flags Cart track near Lumsden, about 20 km north of Regina. QCMA often holds autocross events here, which is rather different from the parking lot we use in the Saskatoon Sports Car Club (SSCC); the cart track surface is less rough than a typical parking lot, and the track constrains the possible route choices severely compared to a big empty square.

SCO 2011 Autocross 9
A Porsche Boxter on the opening slalom at 3 Flags.

I drove down Friday night, for registration and because the rallycross started at 8:00am on Saturday. Thanksgiving weekend is a busy weekend for hotels, but I was able to book the last available room at the Sunrise Motel. I'd give it about 1.5 stars, which was perfectly adequate for my purposes.

Sunrise Motel

I only booked one room at the Sunrise because I decided to gamble on somebody in Regina offering me a couch or spare bedroom. Such did not materialize, so I ended up spending more money at the Super 8 motel Saturday night. It was a lovely suite, the last anything at the hotel, though I confess I didn't use most of the facilities at all. Oh well, some gambles don't pay off.

Somehow, I'm not sure exactly how, yet, I won third place overall. I know I did poorly at the rallycross, probably not last but certainly not near the top, and I'm almost certain I came last in the autocross on Sunday. Elvis and I came in second place in the TSD rally, behind the first place winners by a slim margin. But, however it happened, I'm very pleased with my TSD Silver Medal and the additional free T-shirt I got for coming in third overall.

2nd Place TSD SCO 2011

SCO 2011 Rallycross 28
I would like to take this opportunity to point out that this very powerful Subaru rally car, driven by an experienced and skilled driver, was soundly defeated by Elvis and myself in a 22-year-old, $1000 Saab with "one-wheel-drive".


Kitty Hannah said...

So it's true, Elvis is not dead! Instead, he is living in Canada and competing in car events. Who'd have known eh! :-)

Laurence Modithre said...

Whoa, looks like you did pretty well in the sports car Olympics. A third place finish among experienced and skilled competitors is quite a feat. I hope you become the number one driver for Sports Car Olympics 2012.

Jacob Rodman said...

Wait, where did you get that crystal ball? Heh.

Anyway, a car Olympics seems pretty awesome. Some people may think that it's just a test of machines, but driving a car for hours is also an endurance test for the human body...

TheBrummell said...

The crystal ball was literally rolling around under my seat when I was navigating for Elvis in the Saab. He'd never seen it before, I guess the previous owner had left it there (deliberately?).

I drive for hours every week (on my Sunday drives), and I agree that it can be a bit of a physical test. But that's why I like to stop frequently (also, it makes it easier to take pictures when not dodging potholes). And, I love cruise control - Pixie the Prelude lacked this feature, but my bimmer has it and it makes the "transit" stages (highways from Saskatoon to more interesting locales) much less tiring.