Autocross in general is pretty new to me. Over the last few years—five to be exact—I’ve had a lot of seat time with our resident C5 Z06, which I often refer to as Twitch. I’ve tried short technical courses and big open tracks that have allowed me to take full advantage of the available horsepower, but it wasn’t until recently that I felt comfortable ... actually, “comfortable” is not the correct term.
I think “natural” is more fitting. I mean feeling confident enough behind the wheel to drive through a course without having to think about each process methodically. It was freeing to have my arms and feet go through the motions while I could focus on what was ahead and prepare for the upcoming turns.
Recently, I headed out to the NMCA West season opener at Auto Club Raceway in Fontana, California, and entered the Street Muscle class. I wasn’t expecting much, only to hang out and have a little fun. Suffice to say, I had a lot of fun, but to my surprise, I found myself in the No. 2 position after the first session. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always competitive in what I do, but autocrossing isn’t exactly second nature to me. It’s a motorsport that I really have to work at.
I didn’t expect to maintain my position; yet after the third session, I was still holding on. By this time, we were well into the late afternoon, but because the crew was doing such an exceptional job of getting the cars down the course efficiently, they decided to add a fourth session. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure how that was going to go for me.
During my first lap of the final session, I had lost my momentum and slowed down significantly. As I waited in line for the last two laps, I started to mentally review the conversation I had with Casey Cronin, the leader in our class with a third-gen Camaro. We discussed a few problem areas I had and he was kind enough to offer suggestions, such as trying different lines and changing up throttle and braking points. It’s amazing what can happen if you listen to the right people. The second lap of that session ended up being my fastest one of the day, and the last lap was only slightly slower, within a couple of tenths. It was fast enough to take the runner-up spot to my new mentor.
While this may not seem like a monster achievement, this was a first for me in corner carving and a moment I will never forget. If nothing else, it’s really created a new addiction that I’m looking forward to satiate. And to Casey, thank you for the help. The next time I see you, lunch is on me, but feel free to keep giving me pointers, because I’ll happily listen.
Practice may not make you perfect, but it’ll always help