May 19, 2009

Autocross with Tesla


This Sunday at the BMW GGC autocross event in Marina CA, two guys that work at Tesla brought their cars for a spin. Most of the people present had a run in the cars, after they've driven the course in their petrol cars.

The Tesla is about 1,000 pounds heavier than Lotus Exige, and you can feel that in turns. It felt tail happy, at least on the Yokohama Neova AD07 tires it had on. However the car has unbelievable acceleration, so the straight lines were very fast. We were a lot of autocrossers, so each of us got only one run in the car. I've done 46.650 seconds in the Tesla, compared to the 45.584 secs in my BMW e46 M3 convertible. With more time to get acquainted with the car, I could have easily dropped below 46 secs.

As a sport car, the Tesla is definitely promising, but they need to find a way to reduce the weight. I'm afraid this won't be really possible unless the battery technology improves dramatically. The issue of recharging the batteries is also huge. You cannot really drive a Tesla to an event, ride it there and then back home without risking having no juice in the battery.

More pictures can be found in this album.

Posted by ovidiu at 08:26 PM | Comments (1) |

April 13, 2009

Skip Barber 3-day racing school at Laguna Seca

Race car at Skip Barber

It's been a while since I last blogged. I got very lazy and too many things were going on at the same time to make me want to write about something in particular.

This past week I went to a 3-day racing school at Laguna Seca organized by Skip Barber. The class and instructors are really good: you learn everything you need to know about the proper driving line, how to drive it at fast speed and how to handle the fast and loud race car you're given.

Posted by ovidiu at 09:15 PM | Comments (0) |

June 17, 2007

Second autocross


Yesterday was another miserably cold day at Marina. While in Bay Area temperatures finally dropped from the high 90s into low 70s, Marina saw a lot of fog, wind and cold weather. The autocross at Marina was nevertheless very rewarding, this time with a very interesting and challenging course. I ended up 5th in my car's class. While the result was pretty good, I could have done a lot better.

The most challenging part is recognizing the mistakes you make and try to avoid them in a consistent manner. This is easier said than done, as the course's features come at you very fast, and a mistake in a turn happens usually because of another one few turns before. So concentration is key, as well as a good understanding of what your car can do. I still have a lot to learn, but it's fun.

Posted by ovidiu at 06:44 PM | Comments (0) |

April 22, 2007

Autocross - become a better driver


This Saturday I went to my first autocross event ever. It was organized by the local BMW club Golden Gate Chapter, and drew a large number of participants (more than 118 drivers registered).

Autocross is a sport which emphasizes your driving technique, followed by your car's performance. You're the only car on a course setup by traffic cones, and you need to navigate it in the fastest possible time. The course can only be navigated a relatively slow speed, usually less that 40mph (60 km/h), and includes a lot of turns. Driving the course usually takes around a minute or so, so proper technique and car control are essential in getting good speeds.

Besides getting together with a lot of interesting people, you also indirectly learn how to react in a fast developing situation, including daily driving on the street or highway. I think this makes you a better driver, more conscious about what happens on the road around you. It does seem to make you less tolerant towards people driving slowly in the fast lane, keeping the traffic behind them :(

This particular event lasted from 8am until 6pm. It was a long and cold day at Marina Airport, but well worth the effort. A lot of fun an excitement watching people drive all sorts of cars, from heavily modified ones to legal street cars. I drove my BMW M3 convertible, and thanks to the coaching of three experienced people I managed to drop from 71.817 seconds in my first run, to 65.943 seconds in the last one. A pretty decent improvement, considering this was my first autocross event ever. I also made it in the top 10 of my car's category - yeah, I was number 10 on the list, but hey, I was still in top 10 :) Update: The results are here.

Lots of fun and excitement, I'm looking forward to future events.

Update (June 16, 2007): Some of the pictures I took at the April autocross were published in die flüsternde Bombe, the monthly newsletter published by BMW Car Club of America, the Golden Gate Chapter. Check them out!

Posted by ovidiu at 05:02 PM | Comments (0) |

April 05, 2007

Race cars


Last week, at Skip Barber in Monterey, California.

Posted by ovidiu at 09:44 PM | Comments (0) |
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